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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed his condolences to the Kennedy family on the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver the founder of the Special Olympics.

Mr Adams said:

“As well as being a member of the Kennedy family, Eunice Kennedy Shriver will be best remembered for her work with the Special Olympics movement which she formed in 1968. Through her work and her campaigning she has helped change the perception of those with disabilities around the world.

“When the Special Olympics came to Ireland in 2003 I was felt privileged and humbled to attend what was a truly remarkable event.

“I am sure that the many thousands of people who have been touched by the work of the Special Olympics movement over many decades will be truly saddened at the news of Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s passing this morning and I would wish to extend my condolences to her family and friends at this time.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has challenged the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin to live on social welfare for a month after the Minister today confirmed that welfare rates will be cut in the upcoming budget.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Mary Hanafin’s announcement today, that the €21billion social welfare budget is ‘a huge drain on public finances’, revealed how our government prioritises its citizens. Committing the necessary funds to maintain an adequate standard of living a burden on the public finances according to this Government and should be cut.

“Minister Hanafin has expressed that in her considerations she is looking for the system fairest to all before she takes the axe to the Social Welfare Budget. I challenge Minister Hanafin and her colleagues to make concerted efforts to live on social welfare for a month, to provide for a small family on the subsistence the State offers to families, to settle the range of debt that Irish people today have accumulated since the death of the Celtic Tiger, all on the welfare payments that the State provides.

“Talking about Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), the Minister said that young people between 25-40 have accumulated ‘debt all over the place that needs to be managed, needs to be controlled’. Following on from this the Minister warned of Social Welfare cuts. Where is the logical reasoning here? In the same breath the Minister talks about the diverse range of debt that has accumulated and then wants to cut the main form of subsistence that most of these people have.

“Putting more staff in MABS will not resolve the underlying problem. The increase in MABS staff is welcome as they will help struggling families to manage their money. However, the Minister has confirmed that she will be making their jobs much tougher by cutting the main source of income that their clients have to manage.

“It should be remembered that these cuts will come on the back of the cut to the social welfare rate for the under twenty-ones and the abandonment of the Christmas bonus for welfare recipients both of which were introduced before the publication of the Bord Snip report highlighting that Fianna Fáil already had its eye on welfare rates. The McCarthy report has simply given the Government the political cover for its ideologically motivated attacks on the unemployed and their families.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Policing Board member Alex Maskey has said that agreement on the process to deliver policing and justice powers into the hands of locally elected politicians is in place.

Mr Maskey said:

“The transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London and into the hands of locally elected politicians is part of the St. Andrews agreement. It is not an optional extra. It is a British government obligation.

“As it stands, an agreement on the process to deliver policing and justice powers is in place. Key stages in that process have been implemented, including the AERC report and legislation passing through the Executive and onto the Assembly. The British government have committed to bringing forward the detail of the financial package in early September. This process is moving ahead, like many other things, with or without David McNarry and the UUP.

“While the UUP haven chosen a semi-detached approach to the Executive it is not surprising that David McNarry’s analysis is so far removed from the real politick of the current situation. David McNarry can, if he likes, adopt the usual UUP approach of ignoring political reality but that will not change it.

“It would be more constructive for the UUP to engage fully in the institutions rather than sniffing around after electoral agreements with the TUV rejectionists. But that is their business. Those of us committed to making this process work and these institutions deliver for the people will simply get on with the real work.” ENDS

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South Down Sinn Féin Assembly Member Willie Clarke and local party spokesperson Sean Doran have both expressed their shock at the announcement on Friday of the loss of over 80 jobs in the Aircraft factory in Kilkeel.

Cllr Clarke said:

“Last week’s announcement of 88 people being paid off from the Aerospace factory in Kilkeel is a major blow to the people of the Mournes. It comes at a time when the economic downturn is already seriously impacting on families who are struggling to make ends meet.

“The loss of these jobs will also have serious implications for the wider economy and everything must be done to find alternative work and training for those who have been made redundant.”

Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson in the Mournes, Sean Doran, described the job losses as yet another serious blow for the town. He continued:

“Considering the decline in fishing and the seafood industry in general, combined with what is happing in the building sector, then quite clearly this is terrible news for the town of Kilkeel and families living throughout the Mournes.

“Kilkeel’s aerospace factory is probably south Down’s biggest employer and its diversely skilled workforce have helped sustain the local economy.

“Sinn Féin will work with the company’s management in a bid to help them in their current difficulties and everything possible must be done to support the workforce of the aerospace factory.” ENDS

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Speaking following today's meeting of Sinn Féin activists in Navan, party president Gerry Adams said:

"Today's meeting, attended by Sinn Féin activists and representatives from across Ireland, was the culmination of a series of party meetings in recent weeks.

"Activists today put forward proposals on a range of pressing issues.

"We discussed Sinn Féin's ongoing efforts to bring forward outstanding aspects of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements, such as the transfer of Policing and Justice powers and an Irish Language Act for the North.

"The meeting endorsed the Ard Comhairle’s decision to oppose the Lisbon Treaty in the upcoming referendum.

"The political establishment in this state has never accepted the decision of voters to reject the Lisbon Treaty last year. The government, assisted by Fine Gael and Labour, are being untruthful by saying that voters concerns on the Treaty have been met.

"Sinn Féin will also be vigorously opposing the NAMA legislation when it comes before the Oireachtas next month. This is not the way to sort out the banks and every euro of public money spent on the banks is a euro taken away from education, from health, from social welfare and from job creation.

"Sinn Féin will be supporting local communities fighting to keep resources for all these essential entitlements.

"We will focus particularly on the Government’s cuts in education in the Autumn. Cutting education is the worst thing the government could do. It will have disastrous long-term consequences for children and for the economy. Sinn Féin is committed to opposing this.

"December's budget is on course to implement savage cuts to public services and social protections. The McCarthy report gave some sense of what can be expected. This is the wrong approach.

“Sinn Féin believes that there is massive popular opposition to these punitive measures. Our party is committed to playing a leadership role in the development of an alternative which will usher in politics based on citizens rights and incomplete contrast to anti-people policies of the Government and its mirror reflection in Fine Gael.”

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Speaking following a meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle today the party’s Vice President Mary Lou McDonald confirmed that the party will launch a vigorous campaign for a second no vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

Ms. McDonald said, “Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for a better deal for Ireland and the European Union.

“Following the decisive defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, Sinn Féin presented the Irish government with a detailed series of proposals for a better deal for Ireland and the EU. We called on Brian Cowen to use the strong mandate given to him by the electorate to go to his European counterparts and secure a better deal.

“However, as with their mismanagement of the economy, the government spent the following twelve months dithering and delaying, ultimately wasting the opportunity given to it by the voters.

“Instead of a better deal, the Irish government has returned with exactly the same Treaty as before. Not a single word has been changed. The so-called legally binding guarantees tell us nothing new and change nothing.

“What has changed, however, is the economic crisis that has engulfed Ireland, the EU and the wider world.

“Twenty years of right wing market fundamentalism has come to an end and with it the politicians and policies that caused the crisis are now being challenged. These same politicians were responsible for the Lisbon Treaty and the right wing economic policies they promoted are contained within its pages.

“Sinn Féin believes that a better deal is still possible, and that now, more than ever, a new Treaty is required. The Lisbon Treaty is part of the failed economic consensus of the past. We need a new Treaty for the new times in which we find ourselves.

“In the forthcoming referendum Sinn Féin will campaign vigorously for a no vote. Our campaign will be based on a serious and honest analysis of the Treaty and its implications for Ireland and the EU. However, as with the previous campaign, we will also outline what we believe are the positive and progressive alternatives available for those of us who believe that Ireland and Europe can and must do better.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein MLA and New Chair of the Committee for Finance & Personnel Jennifer McCann has welcomed todays decision by the Minister not to pay bonuses to senior civil servants. 

Ms McCann said:

"The Committee for Finance & Personnel recommended an Independant review of bonuses handed out to senior civil servants here.   It was believed that senior civil servants were already paid large salaries and shouldn't als be recieving these added bonuses. 

"There is no justification for bonuses of this scale - an average of £8,000 each last year being paid to staff working at a senior level in the Civil service including permanent secretaries while the base pay increases for people at the lower grades are not on the same scale.

"I welcome this decision by the Finance minister not to pay bonuses to senior civil servants and I would ask him to ensure that the issue of those civil servants who were unjustly treated by the British Treasury for years through inequalities over pay scales be resolved. Monies owed to these civil servants should be given to them now." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Paddy Butcher has announced that applications in the Limavady area for grant assistance under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) has already topped £2.3million across 78 projects when the first call closed at 12 noon last Friday. Cllr Butcher serves on the Joint Committee which governs the distribution of the £18.4 million fund locally.

Cllr Butcher said.

“This is very encouraging. Indeed the level of interest in Limavady Borough has exceeded all expectations. This £2.3million together with 50% match funding would represent a £4.6million boost for our local economy.

"It is a very positive barometer of the confidence and determination of our local entrepreneurs to rise to the challenge of the global economic downturn and get the people of our borough back to work. It is also a credit to the promotional groundwork which Catherine Walsh (RDP Project Officer) and Caitriona Orr (Business and Project Officer) have undertaken over the last six months throughout the borough of Limavady.

“There are six measures in the total fund but we took a strategic decision to prioritize Measures 3.1 Diversification into Non -Agricultural Activities and 3.2 Business Creation and Development because they are exclusively targeted at job creation. The other four measures will be launched in September and hopefully we can reopen 3.1 and 3.2 again before Christmas.”

A number of applications will require planning permission and if they are successful letters of offer will be issued subject to receiving statutory approval within a reasonable period of time say six months. Cllr Butcher, who is also Chairperson of the Planning and Services Committee, has organised a public meeting with the Planning Office on Wednesday 12th August at 2.30pm at the council offices on Connell Street.

“We intend to do everything in our power to fast track grant dependant planning applications under the RDP scheme.” concluded Cllr Butcher.

“We will provide information on the types of applications and forms needed, the policies that need to be addressed in relation to making the applications and then finish with a questions and answers session relating to possible fees and planning constraints. Obviously we will not be able to give individual advice on which schemes are likely to be successful or not but we will direct people towards relevant policy as these applications are usually quite complicated. Anyone wishing to attend this public meeting should advise Catherine or Caitriona so that we can arrange tea and coffee from 2.00pm.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Education Minster, Caitríona Ruane, has launched a 12 week consultation on the Department of Education’s Review of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.

In opening the much awaited consultation the Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, said:

“Over 18% of our school population has a special educational need and up to one in four experiences greater difficulties in learning and progressing than their peers. These policy proposals aim to both strengthen the current provision for our children with special educational needs and address the growing diversity of need in our schools. Raising standards for all children is at the heart of all my Department’s policies.”

The Minister further said:

“I want to establish a robust and accountable framework that identifies children’s learning needs as early as possible and provides support for them. Therefore, set in an overarching inclusive framework aimed at raising educational outcomes, the key themes of the proposals are: a continuum of provision for a diversity of need; early identification and intervention; capacity building in schools; consistency of provision; improved multi-disciplinary and inter-agency working; and sharing of expertise to spread best practice.”

“I look forward to receiving views and comments on the proposals from parents, pupils, professionals and others with an interest in this vitally important area.”

Note to Editors

  1. The Department has undertaken a Review of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion to address a range of issues associated with the current special educational
    needs framework. These included inconsistencies and delays in identification, assessment and provision, growing numbers of statemented children and the
    bureaucracy attached to the current arrangements.
  2. Throughout the policy development phase the review team engaged with a wide range of key stakeholders from the statutory and voluntary sector, parents and
    children and young people. In addition three advisory groups were established consisting of key stakeholders from all phases and sectors in education and also
    included representation from the health and social care sector. This extensive pre-consultation activity contributed to the draft policy proposals through the provision
    of many positive suggestions and ideas about the ways the current support framework for children with SEN could be improved.
  3. The public consultation process will run until 31 October 2009.
  4. Copies of the consultation and response documents, a children’s version and the EQIA document are available at http://www.deni.gov.uk/.
  5. On-line responses can be forwarded to: [email protected]
  6. Paper responses can also be posted direct to the Review of SEN and Inclusion Team, Room G18, Department of Education, Rathgael House, Balloo Road, Bangor,
    BT19 7PR.

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Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has expressed deep concern over recent proposals from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust for new staffing arrangements for Day Care Centres and Residential homes.

Anxious constituents have approached Sinn Féin representatives worried about the provision of health care for their loved ones in the Armagh district. In its latest proposals the Trust is looking to reduce the provision of care for the elderly both in Day Centres and Residential homes.

Cathal Boylan said:

“Once again it seems to be an attack on frontline services, and I, along with the staff and patients, are seeing service provision for some of the most vulnerable people being swallowed up in efficiency savings. If these proposals are to be implemented these vital services will be reduced by October.”

The Newry and Armagh Assembly member continued:

“The new staffing arrangements will effectively lead to job losses, and this will in turn, seriously impact on the service that patients are currently receiving. Also, as a consequence, they could lead to the closure of some of these facilities in the future. We should be developing and upskilling those who deliver care for older people - instead the Southern Trust seem determined to remove services for the elderly completely.”

Sinn Féin Crossmore Councillor Darren McNally, has said that there is, ‘widespread anger and disappointment and a lack of confidence in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust within the District because of the recent decisions in relation to Mullinure, Longstone and St Lukes where the Trust put forward a flawed package to Armagh council regarding the three hospitals’.

Commenting on this recent decision, Cathal Boylan said he shared the disappointment with all those affected by the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey’s decision to support the Trust proposals.

He said:

“We must now ensure the staff, jobs and the provision of service are protected in these latest round of proposals and that services across the Southern Trust Area are not continually decimated; we must seriously question the Trust about why they continue to cut frontline services. The wellbeing of patients should be at the core of any proposals.” ENDS

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Cathal Boylan, Sinn Féin Vice Chair of the Assembly’s Environment Committee will meet with the Utility Regulator, Iain Osborne, on Wednesday 12th August to discuss NIE’s controversial proposal to erect a 400kv overhead power line through large areas of Armagh and Tyrone, part of a joint project with Eirgrid, its counterpart in the 26 Counties. The project is part of an all island strategy between the two main electricity providers in order to meet European regulations.

Accompanying Mr Boylan will be his Sinn Féin colleague Councillor Mary Doyle, and members of SEAT and NEPP, two of the strongest lobby groups across the island opposed to the installation of these overhead power lines.

Mr Boylan said:

"I welcome the opportunity to meet with Mr Osborne to follow up on issues raised through his presentation and correspondence to the Committee. The groups seek answers to outstanding questions which they have on issues such as cost, consumer choice and value for money. We hope these issues will form part of the discussions given it is the Regulators duty to ensure that the interests of the consumer are protected.

"Whilst Sinn Féin are in favour of initiatives which will result in reduced electricity costs for consumers, any proposals must recognise the safety concerns and welfare of people in the affected areas of Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh and Tyrone. Their concerns must be paramount in any proposed project, and these can only be sufficiently met by placing these cables underground." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Coleraine Councillor Billy Leonard says he “wholeheartedly supports” the campaign by students and staff at the University of Ulster to save their crèche facilities.

There are grave concerns that a review and equality impact assessment is the pre-cursor to a radical change by the University.

Cllr Leonard said:

“This crèche facility has helped many people progress their studies and careers for 35 years now and has been a resounding success.

“My youngest child was looked after there as my wife returned to study some years ago. Those studies were central to my wife’s work since so we have personal knowledge of the care and commitment of the staff there and how vital the crèche is.

“If the University was to terminate the facility or introduce an unworkable voucher system it would be a disaster for workers’ livelihoods, University students and staff. It would also totally contradict the University’s claims for inclusion as many of the more marginalised in society will only be able to return to studies if crèche facilities are available.

“A number of representatives met with parents and committee members last week and we have agreed various actions to help their campaign. I wholeheartedly support them.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Road Safety spokesperson Cathal Boylan has expressed the shock felt by the wider community as a second person has died in a road traffic accident within the last 24hrs  in the Crossmore area of County Armagh.

Mr. Boylan was commenting after hearing the news of the death of a young man who has become the latest fatality on our roads.

Mr Boylan said

"Yesterday the community was in shock after the death of a man in an accident in Keady. This second tragedy is further sad news for the area.

"These latest deaths of two drivers serve as a stark reminder of the dangers on our roads and I would appeal to all motorists to pay particular care whilst driving."

Mr Boylan concluded by stating that the families of the two men were in his thoughts and those of the community.

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Sinn Fein councillor, Anne Marie Logue, has demanded the PSNI take action to remove the Union flag erected outside of St Comgall's Catholic Church.

Speaking on the matter, Cllr Logue said, "The erection of this flag, only yards from Antrim PSNI station, was clearly motivated by sectarianism.

“ I , along with other Sinn Fein representatives, have been contacted by many parishioners and a number of non-catholic local residents who have been united in their anger and dismay that the flag was, firstly, erected and, secondly, that the PSNI has done nothing to remove the flag.
 
"There can be no doubt that the motivation behind the positioning of the flag outside of the Catholic Church was to intimidate Antrim's minority catholic community. The bombing of the home of a catholic family, as well as similar flag flying stunts and graffiti by loyalists in recent weeks, suggests a degree of premeditation and planning, with the clear aim being to intimidate and instil fear into the hearts and minds of the minority catholic population of Antrim.

“Flags and emblems need to be respected and not used as tools of intimidation. Sinn Fein has equally spoken against the painting of kerbstones by some from within the broad nationalist community and have made very clear our opposition to any such behaviour.

I have been told by the PSNI that they have the powers to remove this flag but refuse to do so. This is wholly unacceptable.  


"Sinn Fein is calling for the immediate removal of this flag by the PSNI, and we would also call on political and religious leaders within unionism and the local protestant churches to add their voices to protect the sanctity of places of worship."

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Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has criticised a five-figure bonus paid to head of the Strategic Investment Board (SIB) David Gavaghan

“The latest accounts from the SIB reveal that it’s Chief Executive David Gavaghan received a bonus of £46,000 last year on top of his £164,000 salary,” Ms. Anderson commented.

“David Gavaghan is already the highest paid bureaucrat in the North, earning more than the British Prime Minister. And I think – in the current economic crisis - many people will be struggling to see how a bonus of £50,000 can be justified. What exactly has he done to earn such a reward?

“All across the North, ordinary families are struggling to survive. Low-paid civil servants have still not received the backpay to which they are entitled. Other public sector workers like nurses and teachers face an uncertain future. Even at the top-end of the Civil Service, bonuses have been scrapped this year.

“When you consider the public anger that was rightly directed at the bonus culture within the banking system which caused the economic crisis, it is unfortunate to say the least that we are still witnessing these kinds of payments.

“At the very least, I believe we should now be scrapping bonuses for all top-earners within the North’s public sector and redirecting that money into protecting front –line services and low-paid workers.”

Notes

- SIB is an Executive owned body tasked with three main roles:

- to prepare and oversee the Investment Strategy (ISNI), the Executive’s 10-year plan for infrastructure investment across the region, and advise Ministers on effective implementation;

- to support the procurement and delivery of major projects and programmes at the request of sponsoring departments in order to help accelerate delivery timetables and obtain better value for the taxpayer; and

- to foster reform in systems and processes across the public sector through investment in better infrastructure.  

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Speaking today in advance of tomorrows party meeting in Navan, Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald said:

“Tomorrow in Navan there will be meetings of the party Ard Chomhairle and also a wider meeting involving senior party activists from across Ireland.

“A key part of the day’s proceedings will be to formulate the party approach to the forthcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. In addition to this activists will be briefed on the current state of play with regard to the institutions in the north and in particular efforts to ensure the speedy transfer of powers on policing and justice and other outstanding matters.

“We will also of course be assessing the current political situation in the 26 counties and in particular the impact of planned government cuts. We intend to lead a the campaign against this government and its policy of rewarding its cronies in the banks while at the same time penalising the most vulnerable and those ordinary working families up and down this state.

“So we intend to emerge from tomorrows gathering totally focused on the challenges ahead as we drive forward the agenda of political, social, economic and constitutional change on this island.” ENDS

Editors Note: Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Vice President Mary Lou McDonald, Dail leader Caoimhghin O’Caolain and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will be available to speak to the media in a break in the meetings at 3.30pm, in the Ard Boyne Hotel in Navan.

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Sinn Féin Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has met with representatives from the Cappagh Village Regeneration Group to discuss village regeneration initiatives.

Cappagh is a small rural village in County Tyrone, situated between Pomeroy and Ballygawley. A Village Regeneration Group was formed at the start of the year to look at ways of regenerating the area to meet the social, physical, economic and environmental needs of the village and the community.

The Minister walked around the village and met community representatives to hear first hand about the challenges and opportunities for the rural village.

Minister Gildernew said:

"Cappagh is one of only a few examples left of a village that has been forgotten in terms of regeneration. The need for services and job creation is obvious, and I believe we have an obligation to redress the years of neglect that this community has suffered. Having walked around the village and discussed the proposed developments, there is a huge amount of potential for revitalising this rural village and I would encourage the local community to get involved in improving their own area. The regeneration of Cappagh is vital to the long term economic sustainability and growth of the village."

During the meeting the Minister highlighted some of the key initiatives currently being progressed by the Department, including the Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Framework, the Rural Childcare Programme and opportunities available through the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP).

She said:

“The Rural Development Programme represents the largest single investment in rural areas in the North. Opportunities exist through the ‘Basic Services for the economy and rural population’ and ‘Village renewal and development’ programmes that aim to improve the living conditions of those living in rural areas through the development of basic services and village initiatives, which promote community development and regeneration.

“I believe that the people on the ground know best when it comes to meeting local needs. The Cappagh Village Regeneration Group are making a valuable contribution to developing their area and I would urge them to work closely with the Local Action Group responsible for the delivery of this aspect of the RDP.”

Cathy Clarke, Chair of Cappagh Village Regeneration Group said:

"We welcome Minister Gildernew here today to meet our group and are encouraged to gain an insight of potential resources which will be available including childcare, business development, farm diversification in addition to culture, heritage, tourism and basic services for rural areas."

Further information on the Rural Development Programme and the assistance available can be found at www.rdpni.info or by calling 0845 3044 509 to request an information pack. The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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Speaking after meeting with Noel Williams, head of the Energy Saving Trust, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has said that energy efficiency and sustainable transport must be priorities in the time ahead.

Ms de Brún is a member of the European Parliament Environment Committee.

Speaking after the meeting Ms de Brún said: 

“75,000 homes across the constituency have no cavity wall insulation and up to 500,000 homes don’t have the correct level of loft insulation.  This is madness at a time when older people die prematurely every winter because of fuel poverty and we are far from being able to meet EU targets on energy efficiency.

“A well co-ordinated scheme to better insulate homes could cut down on energy loss and could make a real contribution to not just the environment but also the economy. At a time of job losses in the construction industry, the Executive needs to respond to the potential benefits from such investment.

“The Energy Saving Trust makes a valuable contribution, helping people to use energy more efficiently and to reduce waste in a way that can lower their bills as well as acting on climate change.

“Another key area is sustainable transport policy and I will be meeting with DRD Minister Conor Murphy to ensure we make progress in this area, including public transport and lower carbon transport.”

Speaking afterwards Head of the Energy Saving Trust Noel Williams said: “We had an extremely positive meeting with Bairbre de Brún which touched on a range of important issues that will help people’s pockets and the environment.

“People clearly recognise that they can do more to help the environment by cutting down car use as well as energy use in the home. As a recent Energy Saving Trust study showed that fifty-five per cent of people would drive more efficiently if they had more information as to how it would save money and carbon dioxide emissions, we were delighted to take the opportunity to discuss how consumers and fleet owners can benefit from practical advice offered by the Energy Saving Trust.

 “It is also clear that in the current economic climate and with the price of energy, steps need to be taken now to tackle fuel poverty. By focusing on making homes more energy efficient we can not only help families make real savings but we can also help build a green economy providing much needed jobs and investment.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Margaret McClenaghan has hit out at a gang claiming to be from the Continuity IRA who ordered workmen off a building site in Ardoyne this afternoon.

“Men claiming to be from the Continuity IRA approached workmen on a building site in Jamaica St today and ordered scaffolders to leave the site and warned them not to return,” she said.

“The intimidation of these workers who are building much-needed social housing in an area with a huge housing waiting list is particularly despicable.

“The threats have already caused great distress to the workers targeted and they can only delay the building of new homes.

“This is the latest in a long line of threats coming from people claiming to represent this group this year, a list which has included local community workers.

“What makes this incident even more reprehensible is that Ardoyne is already tense due to an Orange Parade on the Crumlin Road tomorrow.

“The people behind these threats have absolutely nothing to offer this community and I call on them to cease their criminal activities immediately.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has described the live register figures released today, which showed a jump in unemployment of 10,500, as a direct result of months of Government inaction on the jobs front.

Speaking today as the figures were released Deputy Morgan said:

“The seasonally adjusted Live Register total increased from 412,900 in June to 423,400 in July, an increase of 10,500. This is a direct result of months of Government inaction on the jobs front.

“We need to see action now, we do not need press conferences announcing measures; we need these measures to be implemented.

“I find it very convenient that the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment yesterday re-announced her employment subsidy scheme for export companies the day before the CSO figures are released. This is a flaccid, empty attempt by the Government to cushion, and indeed hide the grim realities of unemployment facing the people this country.

“The Minister said the temporary €250 million employment subsidy scheme would protect up to 27,400 vulnerable jobs. In the course of a month 10,500 people signed onto the Live Register, bringing the standardised unemployment rate to 12.2%. In the course of a month, just under half the number of those jobs that are projected to be saved from the subsidy scheme have been lost.

“If the Government produced a job creation and retention scheme at the time of the emergency budget then the numbers signing onto the Live Register would have been significantly less.

“Ms. Coughlan needs to take swift action to implement her subsidy scheme rather than to dress it up to try mask the crippling figures that have emerged today. Clearly, yesterday’s re-announcement was a feeble attempt to take the sting out of the CSO stats today.” ENDS

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