Across the 15 counties of the Midlands Northwest, team Carthy is out in force for the final weekend of campaigning.
Matt Carthy is travelling from Stranorlar through to Castlefinn today and is receiving an enthusiastic response from an electorate eager to make their views known.
Speaking in Letterkenny this afternoon Cllr Carthy said:
“There is less than one week left until polling day.
“Everywhere I go people are telling me that they are struggling to deal with austerity measures implemented here at home and in Europe. It is clear that the outgoing MEPs in this constituency failed time and again to stand up for Irish interests. I want to put that to right.
“Voters want to see politics serving the people, and government and public bodies held to account. That is what Sinn Féin offers – on councils, in the Dáil and in the EU parliament.
“I will work for jobs, better pay and conditions for workers and for much needed investment in this constituency.
“Above all as part of a team of Sinn Féin MEPs I will always put the interest of ordinary Irish people first and stand up for Ireland.
“The outgoing MEPs for the Midlands North West failed to speak out when the Irish people were being walked all over by the EU and the ECB. If you cannot or will not stand up for Irish interests then you have no place representing us in the EU parliament. It is time Ireland had credible MEPs in Brussels that aren’t afraid to say it as it is and be critical when they need to be.”
Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called on the British government to release all files on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which killed 34 people in 1974.
Speaking on the 40th anniversary of the bombings, the Sinn Féin justice spokesperson said the families of those killed are entitled to justice.
"34 people were killed in these bombings and many more injured and their relatives have been tirelessly campaigning for truth and justice for 40 years,” said Raymond McCartney.
"The hurt felt by the loss of their loved ones has been made worse by four decades of cover up and silence from the British government.
"Successive British governments have refused to disclose papers relating to the role of its agents in this attack and the subsequent cover up.
"The families of the those killed in the bombings have been forced to take a civil case as a last resort because of the refusal of the British government to fully disclose all papers relating to the bombings and we support the families in that.
"The British government were a party to the conflict and cannot be allowed to shirk its responsibility in dealing with the past.
"As well as failing the families of those killed in Dublin and Monaghan, the British government is failing many other victims by its refusal to sign up to the Haass proposals on dealing with the past.
"The Irish government too has a duty to challenge the British government to disclose the information so the families can get to the truth of what happened that day in Dublin and Monaghan. Ends/Críoch
Commenting on today's opinion poll in the Irish Independent, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has appealed for the biggest possible mandate for all Sinn Féin candidates in the European and Local Government elections.
Mr. Adams said:
“Sinn Féin is fighting very hard to get all four of our EU candidates elected and the response in all of the constituencies is very positive. However, notwithstanding this and Sinn Féin’s high ratings in a series of recent opinion polls, not one vote has been cast and I am appealing to our activists and candidates to remain focused on the task ahead which is to persuade voters to make the change and vote for Matt Carthy, Liadh Ní Riada, Lynn Boylan and Martina Anderson and all of our local government candidates.”
Responding to the Irish Independent story about the killing of Jean McConville Mr. Adams said: “The publication of a poll in which respondents are asked to voice their opinion on my innocence or guilt is an extremely serious departure and another example of the Irish Independent’s campaign against me and against Sinn Féin and their efforts to influence the election results.
“I want to make it clear that we will not allow this to deflect from our mission to secure the biggest mandate possible for change across this island, through endorsement of the peace process and the need for a new citizens centered, rights based society which protects the people instead of the privileges of the elites.
“I appeal to voters to Make the Change. Elect all four of Sinn Féin’s EU candidates to Brussels and send the strongest all Ireland Sinn Féin team into local councils.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald this morning set out the party’s ambitious ten-point plan for Dublin. Calling on Dubliners to make the change and vote Sinn Féin, she said it is time to change from those parties who have failed Ireland and our citizens – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour.
Sinn Féin is standing 39 candidates in Dublin City and County and almost 40% of the party’s candidates are female.
Ms. McDonald said:
“Sinn Féin is ambitious for Dublin and its people. We believe Dublin can be one of the best cities in the world to live and work in, to be educated, to visit and to enjoy. It can have thriving communities and businesses, quality affordable housing, safe clean streets and efficient and equitable public services.
“There has never been a greater demand for real change in society, in the economy and in public life.
“Politics too must change. The old way of doing politics has failed. The way in which ordinary citizens are still being forced to pay for the actions of bankers, developers and politicians is deeply unfair.
“Banking debt, unemployment, emigration, a raft of new taxes, cuts to services and social supports are crushing the hope of Irish citizens and damaging the well-being of our society.
“It is time for change.
“It is time to make a change at all levels of political life – on the councils, in the Dail and in Europe.
“It is time to change from those parties who have failed Ireland and our citizens – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour.
“This can be an historic election. Dubliners can be to the fore in electing new leaders, with new ideas to shape the future for the better. So make the change – vote Sinn Féin."
Sinn Féin’s top ten priorities
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has met with relatives of victims of collusion in Belfast today.
Speaking following the meeting on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings which killed 34 people, Ms Anderson said;
"I met with families of victims of collusion today as part on Sinn Féin's ongoing engagement with victims' groups.
"Earlier this year I hosted a 30-strong delegation at the European Parliament in Brussels made up of a range of victims' groups, including those killed by British state forces and collusion.
"The delegation included Justice for the Forgotten, which represents the families of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, Relatives for Justice, and the Pat Finucane Centre.
"MEPs from other countries were shocked by the powerful testimony of the families as they learned about the extend of Britain's dirty war in Ireland.
"At today's meeting I updated the families on the progress made since then, including a meeting I facilitated between the Human Right Commissioner and Niall Murphy from Relatives for Justice and Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre.
"They discussed Britain's non-compliance with article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to life.
"Meetings have also been held with officials from the European Court of Human Rights over Britain's failure to live up to its responsibilities to meet the demand from victims groups for truth and justice."
Sinn Féin’s Finance Spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, has called on the government to make a clear and immediate commitment that people on medical cards and those over 70 will not be hit with a 3% increase in the USC rate in January 2015.
He said that it is a reminder of Fianna Fáil’s ugly legacy of economic mishandling and, if it goes ahead, is further proof of Fine Gael and Labour’s commitment to the previous government’s policies.
Deputy Doherty said:
“The Universal Social Charge is an unjust and unfair cost to the Irish people who have borne the brunt of banking debt through tax increases, the household charge, a rise in education costs and astronomical levels of job losses.
“Fianna Fáil introduced the USC to cover its losses when it bailed out the banking system. Upon its introduction, there was a clause that meant people on an income of below €60,000 with either medical cards or who are over 70 paid a rate of 4% as opposed to 7%. This clause ends in January 2015.
“It is time for the Fine Gael and Labour government to stop implementing Fianna Fáil’s policies and to ensure that this does not happen. It is not good enough for Minister Noonan to wait until budget time for this matter to be cleared up.
“We were promised a new politics, but this is further proof that this current government is making no effort to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has branded those responsible for a shooting, the issuing of death threats and the burning of a lorry in Ardoyne overnight as criminals masquerading as republicans.
The North Belfast MLA said;
“This series of incidents which included a local man being shot and wounded, the issuing of several death threats and a lorry being burned must be condemned outright.
“Those responsible are simply criminals masquerading as Ardoyne republicans. It's as simple as that and the people in the area know that.
“There is no place for such actions in Ardoyne or anywhere else and I’m calling for the threats to be withdrawn.”
"Most bizarrely, those responsible for burning the lorry have attempted to accuse the contractor of installing water meters.
“For these criminal elements to dress their activity up as an attempt to stop water charges flies in the face of the fact that water meters will not be installed because Sinn Féin secured a political agreement to block water charges.
“Work in underway in the area on a much needed multi-million pounds investment in the water infrastructure which has been hard won on behalf of local residents.”
“The workers involved must be allowed to get on with their work to improve the area's water system and do so free of threats and intimidation.” Ends/Críoch
Following on from months of consultation with youth groups and organisations across the island, the document, Youth Matters: Not For Export!, identifies the biggest issues facing young people today, the government’s response to date and deficiencies in the Youth Guarantee.
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has said that struggling families are to be hit again by Fine Gael and Labour’s austerity policies.
The Midlands Northwest candidate was responding to news that pensioners and families with medical cards look set to pay an increase of up to €700 a year thanks to the government’s hike in the Universal Social Charge.
Speaking from the campaign trail in Co. Mayo today, Councillor Carthy said:
“This government’s austerity agenda has struck again with news today that families are to take yet another hit thanks to an increase in the Universal Social Charge. This is due to the ending of a special 4% rate which will see pensioners and families with medical cards charged at 7% from next January.
“News that high-earners on over €100,000 per year will at the same time receive a reduction in their rate will come as another kick in the teeth to ordinary people.
“This is a disgraceful attack on already struggling families. It is austerity in action. This government, for all their pre-election talk of tax-cuts and easing the burden are clearly more interested in looking after those at the top than standing up for the people who have borne the brunt of their austerity policies.
“This increase in the USC is cruel and will directly impact on the least well off. It shows that this government is heavy on rhetoric and short on action when it comes to standing up for ordinary people.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD and Pearse Doherty TD joined EU candidate Liadh Ní Riada in Cork this morning.
The Sinn Féin team was highlighting the scourge of emigration at a press conference this morning.
Gerry Adams said:
“Emigration has been a scourge of the Irish nation for centuries. Successive governments have embraced emigration as a policy choice in the face of domestic economic challenges.
“The present Fine Gael/Labour Government is no different. Emigration is being utilised as a political safety valve since the economic crash. We are still raising our children for export. It is one of the great failures of modern Ireland.
“And there is a massive human cost. The curse of emigration is causing untold misery to families the length and breadth of this state. I have met parents in tears as they recount the fact that the children they reared and educated have been forced to leave for Canada, Australia and elsewhere.
“In just six years, this state went from having the highest net immigration levels in Europe to the highest net emigration levels.
“Some 1,700 people, mostly young, are forced to leave this state every week. This is unacceptable. Forced emigration is devastating for communities, especially in rural Ireland.
“The Government's austerity policies have made the situation worse. Its policies, including a succession of stealth taxes are damaging the Irish family. Increasing numbers of families are fragmented, with their children scattered around the world. As a consequence this is the Skype generation.
“This Government offers hundreds of thousands of our young people a stark choice – the dole or the plane out. It refuses to introduce credible stimulus strategies. Emigration is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ as this Government has claimed.
“We currently have 400,000 citizens, or 12% out of work, almost half of whom are long term unemployed and most of these citizens see no prospect of getting real jobs. Ultimately this is a question of political priorities.
“This Government chose to saddle Irish citizens with €65 billion of banking debt but refuses to invest €400m in a real youth guarantee. The youth unemployment crisis in this state is not being taken seriously by the Government or the EU. It is being treated with tokenism in terms of the funding being committed by the EU for states to implement their youth guarantee schemes.
“The total comes to 6.5 billion euro of which this state will only get €204 million over the course of four years. This is just over half the funding which Sinn Fein believes is needed to fund a youth guarantee that adequately addresses the nature of the crisis.
“The International Labour Organisation has reported that an effective EU youth guarantee programme should be funded to the tune of €21 billion or 0.5% of Eurozone spending. The ILO also estimated that such a guarantee, like the one being implemented in Sweden, costs roughly €6,600 per participant.
“There are 65,000 young people unemployed in this state. A youth guarantee that would have long term benefits to Ireland would need funding of €400 million. A real youth guarantee would be used to focus on connecting young people with placement that match their education and experience. It would prevent our young people from being exposed underpaid labour.
“This needs to happen now. The rollout of the poorly funded, badly organised Irish Youth Guarantee, for which this Government has responsibility, is to be staggered and will not be ready until the 2015 if we are lucky.
“Sinn Féin has a different set of priorities to those parties in the Consensus for Cuts - Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil.
“Our priorities are economic stimulus, job creation, fair taxation and the protection of public services. Sinn Féin is making emigration an issue in this election.
“Our EU Manifesto sets out real actions at a European Level for a fair recovery that creates the circumstances to end forced emigration.
“The EU can play a progressive role in ensuring a fair economic recovery and in turn help put an end to the emigration crisis.
“Sinn Féin also believes that our emigrants should not be denied a voice in our democracy.
“Sinn Féin proposes:
• A Government Task Force on emigration.
• Extending the right to vote in Presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad.
• Introduce appropriate Diaspora representation in the Dáil by way of a reserved constituency.
• Reform the Seanad to provide Diaspora representation.
• Appoint a Minister for the Diaspora overseas.
“A vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for a future in which all our people can live and work here at home.”
Oráid an Chomhairleora Niall Ó Donnghaile ag an láinseáil ar maidin d'Fhorógra Gaeilge Shinn Féin 2014 ag Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich i mBéal Feirste.
Is í an Ghaeilge teanga dúchais na hÉireann agus tá sé ag croí-lár staire agus oidhreachte rannta ag muintir iomlán na tíre seo.
Is í cuisle an áthbheocháin ná an Gaeloideachais agus faoi cheannasaíocht Shinn Féin tá méadú suntasach tagtha ar an infheistíocht agus ar fhorbairt an áirneáil seo.
Táim bródúil go raibh an deis agam oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge a fháil agus uaidh sin deis agam slí bheatha a bhaint amach atá an Ghaeilge lárnach di.
Anseo i mBéal Feirste agus ar fud na Sé Chontae tá na sluaite de dhaoine óga ag tosú agus ag críochnú oideachas s’acu trí mheán na Gaeilge. Créideann Sinn Féin go dian, go bhfuil fás agus forbairt an earnáil iontach tábhachtach ach tá fás agus forbairt fosta in úsáid na teanga i ngnáth saol na saoranach.
Sin an fáth go bhfuil muid ag dul de tionscadail ar nós Líofa 2015 agus neart samplaí eile.
Anseo i mBéal Feirste, sa Chomhairle Cathrach bhunaigh Sinn Féin grúpa oibrithe Gaeilge as measc ár gcomhairleoirí féin. Tá treoirleabhar inmhéanach déanta acu dár gcomhairleoirí ar na bealaí is fearr leis an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn. I measc na ngníomhartha go dtí seo tá:
· Níos mó comhairleoirí le Gaeilge inár ngrúpa ar an chomhairle
· Spreagadh tacaíochta le haghaidh beartas úr Gaeilge
· Tionscnamh cruinnithe le grúpaí Gaeilge áitiúla sa phobal
· Comhartha ‘Nollaig Shona’ ar Halla na Cathrach le dhá bhliain anuas
· Turais treoraithe ar Halla na Cathrach i nGaeilge
· Imeachtaí Sheachtain na Gaeilge i Halla na Cathrach
. Lá Mór Gaeilge an Ard Mhéara
· Tacú le soláthar áiseanna sa Cheathrú Gaeltachta
. Feachtas ar son comharthaí sráide dhá-theangacha
· Maoiniú do ghrúpaí Gaeilge le haghaidh na n-ealaíon
Tá ár gcomhairleoirí i mBéal Feirste ina gcuraidh ar son infheistíochta i dtionscadail Ghaeilge. Den chéad uair beidh Comhairle Chathair Bhéal Feirste ag maoiniú tionscadail chaipitil tríd an Chlár Infheistíocht Áitiúil, is é sin le rá, ionad pobail Ghlór na Móna agus An Cumann Chluain Ard. Roghnaíodh na tionscadail áirithe sin mar go raibh cistiú meaitseála cinntithe acu leis an Chiste Infheistíochta Gaeilge.
Ta Sinn Féin dubh tiomanta chun Oifigeach Gaeilge a bhaint amach don Chomhairle, le tuilleadh moltaí a chur i bhfeidhm anseo.
Níl anseo ach liosta gairid, gan trácht a dhéanamh ar an mhéid eile atá déanta ag gníomhaithe, ag baill tofa ‘s ag airí Shinn Féin don teanga thar tréimhse fada.
Bígí cinnte go bhfuil sinne ‘Dearg le Fearg’ fosta.
Sin an fáth go bhfuil an méid seo déanta againn don teanga, sin an fáth a bheas muid ag baint amach níos mó don teanga agus níos tábhachtaí arís, sin an fáth a bheas muid ag seasamh suas don teanga agus in éadán iad siúd atá dírithe ar fhorbairt agus ar dhul chun cinn na teanga a stopadh.
Go raibh maith agaibh.
Forógra Gaeilge Shinn Féin 2014
West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has strongly condemned those who threw paint at the Sinn Féin office in Omagh.
Pat Doherty MP said,
“I condemn in the strongest terms the most recent attack on our party’s election campaign in the Omagh District. The attack on our office follows a litany of incidents including the removal and defacing of our posters.
“The despicable act by these culprits was made all the worse as they used the sanctity of church grounds to launch their attack.
“Due to the seriousness of this latest incident, we have reported it to the PSNI who have retrieved material from the scene. CCTV footage has also caught the culprits launching their attack at 11.02pm on Thursday night.
Omagh Sinn Féin representative Catherine Kelly was one of the first on the scene.
“This is a disgraceful attack on our constituency office, which is a vital base where we assist the local community with welfare advice, education, health and many other issues. This is not just an attack on us; it is an attack on the whole community.
“We are also very mindful of the local residents, many of them elderly who may be frightened by this incident.
“Regardless of this, we will not be deterred from representing the people of this district.
“Sinn Féin’s work and growth will not be stopped by the actions of thugs and the people of Omagh will have their opportunity next week to send a strong message that this destructive activity will not be tolerated.” ENDS/CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald today revealed in the Dáil that the Taoiseach’s diary for Sunday May 23rd included a meeting with former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
Deputy McDonald said this diary entry raises a number of questions surrounding the controversy of the taping of phone calls in garda stations and the fate of the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Addressing the Tanáiste Eamon Gilmore in the Dáil today Deputy McDonald said;
“I have obtained, through a freedom of information request, the Taoiseach’s diary from the week in question. It does indeed refer to a meeting or conversation with the Attorney General on Sunday evening, 23 March, at 5.30 p.m. to be precise. However, it also contains a reference to an earlier meeting on that Sunday and it reflects that at 7.30 a.m. the Taoiseach met the Minister for Justice and Equality and his officials. The Taoiseach has made no reference whatsoever to that meeting in his public account of the events or in his account to the Dáil.
“A number of questions arise. Was the Tánaiste aware of the meeting? Did the Taoiseach inform him of it? Could he tell us which officials from the Department of Justice and Equality were present at the meeting? Was Brian Purcell there? Could he tell us what was discussed at the meeting? Was the taping of phone calls to and from Garda stations discussed? Was the fate of the Garda Commissioner discussed? Might that explain the marked reluctance of Brian Purcell to deal with the matter before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality?”
Speaking after the exchange in the Dáil Deputy McDonald called on the Taoiseach to come into the Dáil next week to make a statement on the matter.
Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has welcomed news that the Equality Commission is to investigate whether Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland's department breached equality schemes on housing.Speaking after the Equality Commission announced it will conduct an investigation into "potential failures" by the Department of Social Development to comply with its approved equality scheme in connection with the Housing Executive Strategy 2012-2017, the South Belfast MLA said; "This investigation is a welcome development. We in Sinn Féin have raised concerns on a number of occasions over DSD housing policy, particularly in areas such as North Belfast.
"We have also submitted a complaint to the Equality Commission over concerns surrounding DSD housing issues and met with them to outline our concerns in detail and we will also await the outcome of that."
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said the Policing Board will invite the Director of Public Prosecutions to discuss why the PSNI are not pursuing an investigation into the activities of the Military Reaction Force.Speaking after raising the issue at a meeting of the Policing Board this morning, the North Belfast MLA said;"I raised this at the Policing Board and the Board has agreed to write to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking him to come to and discuss his view of why the PSNI is not pursuing an investigation into the activities of the Military Reaction Force."In a Panorama documentary ex-members of the MRF admitted being involved in attacks against innocent Catholics and nationalists.
"The fact that no one has been arrested or questioned raises serious questions that need to be answered."
Sinn Féin’s Agriculture spokesperson, Martin Ferris TD has given a “guarded welcome” to the inshore fisheries package announced by Minister Simon Coveney today.
Deputy Ferris said:
“Any initiative for the inshore fishing industry is to be welcomed, but we will wait and see.
“We are glad to see that the Minister has introduced some consultation with the establishment of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum and a regional network of forums in each of the Fisheries Local Action Group regions.
“However, we are expecting that when the Minister consults with people in the industry he will find out that the sum of €1 million allocated will not be adequate. He claims it is to provide training and assistance for sustainable, environmentally friendly fishing practices, an enhanced v-notching programme, gear and equipment and improvements in standards of quality and hygiene.
“It seems like it will be the miracle of the loaves and fishes, if the Minister can adequately fund all of that on what his statement says is ‘up to €1 million’.
“However, we welcome the initiative to provide assistance to fishermen who lost pots during the exceptional weather last winter and give the initiative a guarded welcome.”
Speaking after today’s Committee stage of the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill Sinn Féin’s Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Spokesperson Peadar Tóibín TD said it is clear the government remains on the side of the big retailers at the cost of Irish suppliers and smaller stores.
The Meath West TD said:
“Sinn Féin is not opposed to the merger of the National Consumer Agency and Competition Authority however we remain concerned that the new agency will not be adequately resourced to fully maximise its enhanced enforcement powers.
“Disappointingly the Minister did little to assuage my serious concerns about the ability of the legislation to safeguard media diversity.
“Whilst the Bill provides for the regulating of the grocery sector to deal with existing sharp practices and an imbalance of power between suppliers the large retailers, it is Sinn Fein’s view that the legislation does not go far enough.
“Providing for mandatory contracts that suppliers can choose to opt out is just one way to rebalance the supplier retailer relationship as is the copper-fastening of an end to the hello money practice that still remains.
“Continued refusal by the large grocery retailers to disclose annual profits made in Ireland has long been a bugbear of not only suppliers but consumers as well, and could be easily addressed through this piece of legislation.
“There also needs to be a clear distinction made between the large retailers and smaller independent stores in the application of the regulations.”
Sinn Féin vice-Chair of the Enterprise Committee, Phil Flanagan MLA has welcomed the job creation figures released by Invest NI.
Mr Flanagan said; “The 11,000 new jobs supported by Invest Ni in 2013 are to be welcomed especially by those successful applicants.
“Alastair Hamilton in releasing the figures confirmed what Sinn Féin has always maintained – that the majority of new and existing jobs are in fact created by indigenous enterprise. For this reason we have always advocated greater emphasis on support for local entrepreneurs.
“While we should continue to seek maximum Foreign Direct Investment – and I commend the First and deputy First Ministers in their efforts - I believe that we must also increase our focus on assistance for SMEs who it is acknowledged provide 90% of jobs.
“I would also urge Invest NI when consulting with prospective investors to incentivise them to locate in areas of severe unemployment, especially West of the Bann which has suffered from historic underinvestment.”
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has condemned the Israel army’s latest killing of two Palestinians during a Nakba day demonstration near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Nakba day is an annual commemoration for Palestinians, who remember the estimated 800,000 Palestinians who were expelled or forced to flee from their homes and land during the war in 1948.
Deputy Crowe said:
“Every May 15th Palestinians marked The Nabka, or catastrophe, to remember the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that were forced to flee from their homes and land, and the towns and villages that were demolished by Israeli forces in the 1948 war.
“The Palestinians displaced during this time became refugees throughout the region and have been banned from returning.
“According to the Ramallah-based Central Bureau of Statistics, who released new figures this week, the number of registered Palestinian refugees is now at 5.3 million.
“In demonstrations today to mark the Nakba many Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces, as protesters were met with live fire, teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets.
“Sadly we know that two protesters were killed by Israeli forces at a demonstration just outside Ramallah, and I condemn the heavy handed actions of the Israeli forces.
“While it is 66 years since the Nakba, Palestinians still remain vulnerable to expulsion and having their homes and villages destroyed by Israel.
“Israel is continuing to build illegal colonial settlements in Palestine and settlement building actually reached a 10 year high in 2013, including proposed settlement building in East Jerusalem.
“The only solution to this conflict will be a negotiated peace agreement based on two independent and sovereign states, Israel needs to recognise this and end its illegal settlement programme.”