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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams this afternoon met President Bill Clinton and a number of his senior staff while attending the Clinton Global Initiative event in New York.

Mr. Adams, who is a member of the CGI, is attending the first two days of the Initiative.

Speaking after the meeting Mr. Adams said:

“President Clinton continues to retain a close interest in Ireland. His invitation to the First and deputy First Ministers to address a session of the CGI this evening is evidence of that.

I briefed the President on the current political situation and on the delays arising from the refusal of some to properly work the partnership government arrangements of the Executive and the other political institutions.

I also expressed my dissatisfaction at the failure of the British and Irish governments to deliver on their outstanding obligations under the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreements.

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Sinn Féin senator Pearse Doherty has said that the refusal of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny TD to rule out a third referendum if the Lisbon Treaty is again defeated as “ludicrous” and “yet another affront to democracy”.

Doherty challenged Enda Kenny, who was addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs, on a number of issues including whether if he would run a third referendum on Lisbon in the event of it being defeated and his party being in government.

Doherty said:

“Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny today refused to rule out another re-run of the Lisbon Treaty if it is defeated on the 2nd of October. We now have the ludicrous prospect that if Fine Gael were to be returned to government there could be a third referendum on Lisbon.

“This demonstrates that Fine Gael has no intention of listening to the will of the people and raises questions regarding that party’s suitability for government. Another referendum if there is a second defeat would be a monumental waste of public money as well as being yet another affront to democracy

“I challenged Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny on a number of other issues including his party’s record on workers right, its support for common defence and assertions the party has made on voting strength as well as nonsensical claims it has made, and which Kenny could not back up, about the impact of a yes vote for employment and the economy.

“And despite any claims by Fine Gael or anybody else on the yes side the fact remains that if the Lisbon Treaty is passed Ireland’s voting strength at the Council of Ministers will be reduced by over 50% from 2% to 0.8% while larger states such as Germany and Britain will see their voting strengths increase by more than 50% to 17% and 12% respectively.“ ENDS

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Speaking today from the Ploughing Championships in Athy, Co Kildare where Sinn Féin is holding an information day on the Lisbon Treaty, Director of Sinn Féin’s referendum campaign Cllr Pádraig Mac Lochlainn described the Lisbon Treaty as ‘the single biggest threat to the future of family farming in a decade.’

Cllr. Mac Lochlainn said:

‘The Lisbon Treaty and the significant new powers it gives to the European Commission is the single biggest threat to the future of family farming in Ireland in a decade.

‘Article 2b of the Lisbon Treaty gives the EU exclusive rights over Common Commercial Policy. Article 188C makes qualified majority voting the general rule for international trade agreements, effectively ending the Irish governments veto in this area. Article 10 mandates the EU to end all ‘restrictions to international trade’.

‘What these articles do is transfer the power for the negotiation and conclusion of international agreements into the hands of the European Commission. This is a major departure and could have a detrimental effect on Irish farming and weakens the stance of all future Irish governments.

‘The fact is that if Lisbon is passed the Irish government will immediately lose the ability to block the kind of trade deal that Peter Mandelson was seeking to agree at the World Trade Organisation talks in Geneva in 2008.

‘That deal would have seen a massive drop in the income of family farms in Ireland and across Europe, forcing more families off the land.

“When you combine this with the fact that Ireland could lose it’s permanent Commissioner from 2014 and that our voting strength on the Council of Ministers will be cut by half it is clear that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for Irish farming.

‘Sinn Féin believes that both the government and the EU must promote family farming and the rural economy. The best way to do this is to vote no to Lisbon on October 2nd.’

Councillor Mac Lochlainn can be contacted for interview @ 087 2771958

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Speaking outside the Department of Foreign Affairs this morning Sinn Féin spokesperson on European Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said “The Lisbon Treaty is crystal clear – Article 28 directly states that the Treaty ‘will lead to a common defence’ and no amount of guff from government spokespersons changes that fact one iota. The government’s guarantee on neutrality is meaningless. It won’t stop a common defence. It won’t stop the creation of mini-military alliances acting in the name of the EU and with EU resources. It won’t stop the government using even more tax payers’ money to support the EU Defence Agency. I would call on anyone who supports neutrality to reject this treaty out of hand.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Contrary to the claims of Fianna Fáil and their supporters on the yes side, the Lisbon Treaty is crystal clear on the issue of a common defence policy. Article 28, which is one of the most readable articles in the Treaty states that Lisbon, ‘will lead to a common defence’. This is the first time that an EU Treaty will definitively state that there will be a common defence. The article then goes on to outline what that means in practice.

“The Treaty states that the common defence must be NATO compatible.

“The Treaty places new financial obligations on member states to contribute to a new start up fund; to progressively improve military capabilities; to provide rapid access to funds; and to support the European Defence Agency. In Sinn Féin’s view these obligations will lead to an increase in military spending by this state.

“The Treaty also includes a new provision for the creation of mini-military alliances, which may embark on military missions. While an Irish government may choose not to send Irish troops on such missions, they will happen in the name of the EU and use the resources of the EU.

“The Treaty also significantly expands the list of permissible military missions beyond the traditional mandate of peacekeeping and humanitarian aid. These include joint disarmament missions; assistance to non-EU countries in combating terrorism; and military advice and assistance. The first two additions were the justifications used for the US led invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, while the third can mean anything to anyone at any time.

“All of these provisions significantly undermine the positive neutrality of this state and draw us into a common defence. While Irish troops can only be deployed abroad with the consent of the Irish government, neutrality is about much more than what a state does with its defence forces. It is about the alliances a state is part of and the obligations that those alliances place on you.

“If you are opposed to an EU common defence, or if you are uncomfortable with the common defence framework that the Lisbon treaty outlines the on October 2nd your only choice is to Vote No.’ ENDS

Note to editor: Below is a list and text of Lisbon treaty Articles relevant to issues of defence policy and neutrality:

Article 11 (TEU) “The Unions competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Unions security, including the progressive framing of a common defence.”

Article 25b(d)(3) (TEU) “The Council shall adopt a decision establishing the specific procedures for guaranteeing rapid access to appropriations in the Union budget for urgent financing of initiatives in the framework of the common foreign and security policy.”

Article 25(d)(3)(TEU) “Preparatory activities... which are not charged to the Union budget shall be financed by a start-up fund made up of Member State’ contributions....”

Article 28 (a)(1) (TEU) “The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets.”

Article 28(b)(2) (TEU) “The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously so decides. It shall in that case recommend to Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

Article 28(c)(3)(TEU) “Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy.”

Article 28A(c)3 (TEU) “member states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities.”

Article 28A(c)(7) (TEU)“Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.”

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Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD will outline the threat to Ireland’s Neutrality contained in the Lisbon Treaty at a media event at the Department of Foreign Affairs tomorrow at 11am.

There will also be a photo opportunity with members of Sinn Féin and a visual representation of the threat to our Neutrality.

For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.

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Speaking in response to Conradh na Gaeilge’s report to the Joint Committee on Arts, Sports, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said that Sinn Féin will do every thing in its power to resist the forthright attacks on the Irish language and the Gaeltacht as contained in the McCarthy report.

Speaking in the Committee the Donegal Senator said:

“I support Conradh na Gaeilge in their campaign not to have these recommendations implemented. Many of the recommendations show a distinct lack of understanding and indeed disregard for the Irish language community.

"To recommend the abolition of the department for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs shows the utter contempt that the Dublin 4 economists – the authors of this report - have for the Gaeltacht and for rural Ireland.

"Údarás na Gaeltachta, Gaeilge Institutions, Coláistí samhraidh, Gaeltacht schools, naoínraí, Gaeltacht education at all levels and all language based organisations are pivotal to the preservation and development of our Gaeltachts.

"To do away with any of these would be a deadly blow to a region which is already under serious threat.

"To propose ending the Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge is ludicrous. The Coláistí Samhraidh, a successful industry in the Gaeltachts for over a hundred years will be forced out of business if this recommendation is implemented.

"Last year 27,000 students including adults availed of the Gaeilge learning scheme in our Gaeltachts, this gives the local economy an enormous boost which is vital to the Gaeltacht.

"As well as the 27,000 students there are the teachers, the colleges, the local businesses and more importantly the Mná Tí and the families who keep these students, all who benefit from this industry.

"We in rural Ireland and in the Gaeltacht are being dealt a double blow. Not only must we face cuts in health, education, transport to name a few, we in the Gaeltacht face the challenge of trying to preserve the only Irish speaking communities in Ireland. It is possible to say that the cuts suggested if implemented, could very likely be wipe out Gaeltacht communities in this generation.

"These uninformed cuts have the potential to devastate the Irish language and the Gaeltacht communities across the state. I and my party will do every thing in our power to resist them." ENDS

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The question before us tonight is whether or not the Lisbon Treaty is good for the Irish economy.

Before I outline why Sinn Féin believes that the Treaty is a bad deal for the Irish economy I want to address some of the arguments presented to us by Fianna Fáil and their supporters on the yes side.

To date the yes campaign has been based on two arguments.

Firstly we are told that that voting no would lead to loss of investment, jobs and in the words of Ireland for Europe, economic ruin.

Secondly we are told of all the positive benefits of existing EU membership and existing EU Treaty provisions.

Of course we are not debating our membership of the EU or the impact of previous Treaties on Ireland. We are debating the Lisbon Treaty. To date the yes side has offered no arguments as to how this Treaty if ratified will positively impact on the economy. Indeed it appears as if Fianna Fáil and their supporters in Fine Gael and Labour appear willing to talk about anything other than the Treaty itself.

As referendum day approaches the yes side’s claims on investment and jobs become more outlandish.

Of course the truth is very different.

In July of this year IDA CEO Barry O'Leary said: ‘It should be noted that 2008 saw a 14 per cent increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) on the previous year bringing the total number of FDI investments in 2008 to 130.’

Saying no to Lisbon in 2008 had no impact whatsoever on inward investment. The same will be true if we rejected the Treaty on October 2nd.

Speaking to the Oireachtas sub-committee on the Future of Europe on 21 October 2008 Paul Rellis, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland said, ‘I have not seen any material impact on jobs, market access or sales in recent months attributable to the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty’.

Saying no to Lisbon in 2008 had no impact whatsoever on jobs. The same will be true if we rejected the Treaty on October 2nd.

But don’t believe me. Listen to one of the most respected US financial newspapers. The Wall Street Journal in an editorial published on September 16th described the Irish government’s claims on jobs and investment as “patent absurdities”. They accused Brian Lenihan of “peddling phantom terrors to scare the Irish people into voting yes” and described the government “chief strategy” in the campaign as consisting of “preying on fears.” The editorial went on to state clearly that US investors were smart enough to know the difference between rejecting an EU Treaty and withdrawing from the EU and that US investors would not interpret a second No vote as any kind of withdrawal from the EU.

Despite all of this Brian Cowen keeps telling us that ‘were stronger in Europe’ and that we will loose jobs and investment if we vote no on October 2nd. Enda Kenny tells us that saying yes to Lisbon means saying ‘Yes to Jobs’.

But voters need to ask themselves whether these political leaders are really in a position to offer advice on job creation. Brian Cowen has presided over the loss of 200,000 jobs in the last 12 months. Enda Kenny proposed the sacking of 14,000 public sector workers in Fine Gael’s April pre budget submission.

It was Brian Cowen as Finance Minister who initiated the policies that led to the property bubble, the banking crisis, the collapse in tax revenues and the fall in Irish competitiveness. As a consequence thousands of Irish families now live in negative equity, have lost their jobs and are being driven into poverty. Meanwhile banks and developers are bailed out to the tune of over €50 billion, with the taxpayer shouldering the risk.

So long as Brian Cowen remains in charge jobs will continue to be lost and competitiveness will continue to decline. And if you think he’s bad, just wait till Enda Kenny is Taoiseach.

And remember the Lisbon Treaty was negotiated by Fianna Fáil. It is their Treaty just as much as NAMA is their response to the banking crisis and savage cuts to vital public services is their response to the deficit in our public finances.

It is these same policies, promoted and implemented by Fianna Fáil over the last two decades, that underlie the current economic crisis at home and across Europe. And these same failed and discredited right wing economic policies are contained in the Lisbon Treaty.

For the past 20 years the EU has been pushing a right wing economic agenda, promoting deregulation and liberalisation irrespective of its social impact. Existing EU rules attempt to limit member states spending and place restrictions on government support for failing companies. The EU aggressively promotes competition, in all areas of the economy, including public services. All of this weakens the ability of the state to manage the economy and leads to privatisation and inequality.

The Lisbon Treaty contains seven important articles and a protocol that together will further accelerate the EUs right wing neo-liberal economic agenda.

Article’s 10A, 16, 2B and 188C give the European Commission significant powers over the negotiation and conclusion of international trade agreements. This will have a liberalising impact on agriculture and services, including health & education. In turn this will result in lower incomes for farming communities and increased privatisation of public services.

Article 57 limits the ability of the EU to reverse recent liberalising policies of movement of capital to and from non-EU countries. At a time when the public is calling for greater regulation of international banking and finance such a restriction be utter madness.

Article 115A strengthens the powers of the Commission to police what they call ‘excessive budget defecits’ by member states giving it increased powers to limit government deficits to 3% of GDP.

Article 176A sets out the EUs new energy policy and explicitly places this in the context of the ‘market’ where the rules of competition and restrictions on state apply.

And finally the Protocol on the Internal Market provides a general rule on 'distortions to competition'. This is important in cases where say the rights of workers clash with the ‘rights’ of business. The Protocol will allow the Commission and Court of Justice to side with companies over workers every time pushing down wages and undermining collectively agreed terms and conditions.

So to return to our central question, is the Lisbon Treaty good for the Irish economy. The answer is a resounding no. It is an out of date Treaty, containing discredited economic policies none of which allow Ireland or the EU to face the very serious economic challenges of our times.

When listening to the Government on Lisbon voters need to constantly ask themselves, if they got it so wrong on NAMA, if they got it so wrong on employment, how can they be trusted on Lisbon.

On October 2nd vote for a better deal for the Irish and European economy by voting No to Lisbon.

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Sinn Féin deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caolain has described the decision by the European Commission to clear the Polish Government’s €54.5 million aid package to Dell as “a disgrace.”

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:

“The European Commission in announcing this decision today said that the Polish Government’s aid package to Dell was acceptable as it ‘aided regional development and job creation in a disadvantaged area.’

“Earlier this year Dell announced that they were relocating the European centre of operations from Ireland to Poland with the loss of 1,900 jobs from their plant in Limerick.

“Taking much needed jobs from one of the most economically deprived regions of one member state and allowing them to be relocated in an equally deprived region of another member state simply defies logic.

“This is yet another decision by the European Commission that is being taken to facilitate big business to the detriment of ordinary working families in Ireland. It is an example of the race-to-the bottom in action.

“This decision will be greeted with outrage in Limerick and across Ireland. It is another example of the folly of EU policy which prevents Governments from investing in State enterprises to secure jobs but which allows massive subsidies to multinational corporations which abandon workers in one country in order to make greater profits from lower paid workers in another.

“The Irish Government needs to explain how giving additional powers to the European Commission on a wide range of economic policy areas, as envisioned by the Lisbon Treaty, will assist economic recovery and job creation when the European Commission makes decisions such as this.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called on Coca Cola to accept the ruling made by the Labour Relations Court yesterday. There is currently 130 staff members involved in a dispute with the company which is attempting to force redundancies, despite being profitable, with worse terms than redundancy packages given two years ago.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The Labour Relations Court made two recommendations yesterday – one, that the company offer workers the same redundancy package as two years ago, and two, that it conduct a feasibility study on the number of jobs that can be kept in Dublin.

“Sinn Féin is calling on Coca Cola to accept both these rulings so workers remaining with the company can return to work and those who wish to accept redundancy packages can do so. Coca Cola remains a hugely profitable company and this is the least they can offer their workers after choosing to outsource at a time when it will be hard for anyone to find a new job.

“If Coca Cola refuses this recommendation, Sinn Féin will lend its support to those workers at the picket lines and will up the ante on its boycott of Coca Cola products.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin EU Affairs Dáil Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD will debate Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley tomorrow (Wed Sep 23rd) at 7pm in the Oak Room in Buswells Hotel on Molesworth Street in Dublin on the proposition – ‘Is the Lisbon Treaty Good for the Economy’. Irish Times Journalist and Author Deaglán de Bréadún will chair the debate.

As the second Lisbon referendum campaign enters its final phase the debate is now sharply focussing on if and how the Lisbon Treaty will be good for the Irish and European economies. Tonight’s debate offers the media and the public an opportunity to listen to two very different views and put their questions to both TDs.

Sinn Féin Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh will argue that the Lisbon Treaty will impact negatively on the Irish economy by bringing down wages, farming incomes and undermining our public services. He will also debate the elephant in the room of this public debate – can a political party who, since taking the reigns of government in 1997, has recklessly used the Irish economy as its own electioneering fund, blew the boom, inflated the bust and now finally intends to bankrupt the state with NAMA really be trusted on Lisbon?

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Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris today launched a report on the future of farming and fishing in the West of Ireland at the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, County Kildare. The 60-page report, which has been endorsed by the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, highlights a “huge level of anger” around the country regarding the plight of farmers, fishermen and rural communities and calls for recently announced cuts to the sector to be reversed. It also calls for a complete reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Speaking at the launch at the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, Co. Kildare, Deputy Ferris said he was delighted to have been able to present the report to the Oireachtas All-Party Committee and to have received endorsement for the range of measures outlined in it that he believes are necessary to secure the sectors future.

He said, “This report is the fruit of much work in consultation with a wide range of people involved in the farming and fishing sector. As such it represents an accurate picture of both the current state of the rural economy, particularly in the West, and of the sort of strategies needed to move us forward.

“I think that is particularly important in the context of the current economic situation and the opportunities as well as the problems facing farming and fishing. Indeed one of the key themes running through the submission that form the basis for the report and its recommendations is that there is major scope to place more emphasis on the indigenous rural economy.”

The Kerry North TD also pointed out that although the report was extremely critical of Government policy and indeed the overall manner in which both farming and fishing have been treated the Government majority on the Committee did not oppose anything in the report. He said, “I believe this represents a keen understanding, especially on the part of the Fianna Fáil members of the Committee, that there is a huge level of anger around the country regarding the plight of farmers, fishermen and rural communities in general.”

Deputy Ferris concluded by saying he hoped the report and its recommendations would “form the basis for a wider debate within rural Ireland that will engage with everyone involved to frame a future strategy for the rural economy.”

While the report contains an overview of current state of the sector it also has number of specific recommendations some of which are listed below and a survey on Farmers Outlook for the Future. The full report can be accessed online at www.sinnfein.ie

Some of the main recommendations:

· Defend Single Farm Payment (SFP) against any attempt to undermine it through World Trade Organisation

· Abolition of SFP for large businesses not directly involved in farming

· Full payment of SFP each October

· One week’s notice for all farm inspections

· Retention of milk quota

· Incorporation of water preservation measures into REPS

· Promotion of traditional cattle and sheep breeds

· Increase national energy crop grant to €125 per hectare

· Promote community based wind energy projects

· Maintain ban on Brazilian meat imports

· Full country of origin labeling for all beef and lamb products

· Encourage provision of local food outlets

· Revoke cuts to Suckler Welfare Scheme and Disadvantaged Area Payments

· Renegotiation of the Common Fisheries Policy

· Introduction of Administrative sanctions for fisheries offences

· Country of origin labeling for all fish products

· Measures to address the issue of fish discard

· Increase in quota in proportion to share of fishing waters

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Sinn Féin Dáil group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as “dangerous and disingenuous” government claims that a second No to Lisbon on October 2 would represent a “withdrawal from Europe” and would damage any prospect of “economic recovery.” The Cavan-Monaghan TD also asked “If the government have it so wrong on NAMA how can they be trusted on Lisbon?”

Deputy Ó Caolain said:

“In recent days we have seen a significant increase in outlandish claims by the government and their supporters on the yes side regarding the economic consequences of a second No to Lisbon on October 2nd. There seems to be no depths to which the government and their supporters will not go in an attempt to frighten voters into supporting the bad deal that is the Lisbon Treaty.

“The government’s claims have been described by the influential Wall Street Journal as ‘patent absurdities’. The editorial of September 16th described Brian Lenihan as ‘peddling phantom terrors to scare the Irish people into voting yes.’ And described the government's ‘chief strategy’ in the campaign as consisting of ‘preying on fears.’

“Contrary to the government claims on inward investment made during the last referendum campaign the IDA have confirmed ‘that 2008 saw a 14 per cent increase in foreign direct investment.’

“Contrary to the governments claims on jobs Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland Paul Rellis told the Oireachtas sub-committee on the Future of Europe on 21 October 2008 that he had not, ‘seen any material impact on jobs, market access or sales in recent months attributable to the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty’ in 2008.

“The fact is that the biggest threat to the Irish economy comes from this government. They are out of their depth in dealing with this economic crisis and they are out of their depth on the EU stage. If Lisbon is passed our ability to take decisions to get the economy back on track will be weakened. We will have less political strength at EU meetings where key decisions are taken. Workers’ pay and conditions will come under further attack from the European Commission and European Court of Justice. The rural economy will be in danger as the government would be unable to veto the kind of deal which was promoted by Peter Mandleson at the World Trade Organisation last year. And the Commission would have new powers to subject vital sectors of the economy such as energy and public services to the rules of competition and restrictions on state aid.

“The government knows that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland. That is why they want to talk about anything but the Treaty. Indeed you have to ask yourself if the government have got it so wrong on economic policy in general, and with NAMA in particular, how can they be trusted on the Lisbon Treaty?” ENDS

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Speaking ahead of a presentation to the DCAL committee from language experts from the Dublin, Welsh and Scottish governments tomorrow (Thursday 24th), Chair of the committee Barry McElduff said;

“This presentation will no doubt be a very insightful and informative opportunity for our committee; the representatives will be in a position to share their wealth of experience in relation to best practice in terms of indigenous language promotion.

Their presentation comes in the same week that the European Committee of Experts have been visiting the north and meeting with key stakeholders regarding the implementation of the European Charter.

Caitríona Ruane met with the committee on Tuesday and outlined the work her department has been engaged in and also took the opportunity to raise Sinn Féin’s concerns at the lack of progress in implementing the Charter.

Tomorrow’s presentation comes against the backdrop of the failure by the DUP and the British Government to introduce an Irish Language Act, the failure to bring forward an Irish language strategy and failure to implement the Charter. It also comes at a time when the EU is putting increasing pressure on the British government for failing to honour their commitments under the Charter and the St Andrews Agreement.

Sinn Féin will not provide a fig leaf of cover to the DUP failure to have a rational position in relation to Irish.

For our part, Sinn Féin is totally committed to securing effective, rights based legislation for Irish speakers here in the north, this process is an ongoing and important piece of work. The DCAL Minister will be before the committee on December 10th and we will be demanding a response from him on his failure to bring forward a strategy and failing to implement the European Charter.” CRÍOCH

NOTES TO EDITORS / NEWSDESKS:

This section of the DCAL Committee business will be from 10:45am - 12:15pm tomorrow.

The presentations will be from:

- Huw Onllwyn Jones (Head of Welsh Language Unit and Media Policy Unit) Welsh Assembly

- Joe Hamill (Assistant Secretary) Deaglán Ó Briain (Principal) (Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs) Irish Government

- Michael Napier (Policy Officer - Culture, External Affairs and Tourism Directorate) Douglas Ansdell (Head of Gaelic and Scots Unit) Scottish Government

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has attacked the Labour party for deliberately misleading workers after Eamonn Gilmore claimed Sinn Féin should use its position in government in the Northern Assembly to increase the minimum wage. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the minimum wage in the Six Counties is set by London and cannot be increased by the Assembly government. He accused the Labour party of going on the offensive with Sinn Fein in an attempt to cover up its own betrayal of workers.

Deputy O Snodaigh said:

“Everybody knows the Labour party gave up on workers years ago when it decided to pursue coalition power over workers’ rights. Its marriage to Fine Gael shows the extent it is willing to go in its quest for power, but it appears willing to undermine its own guiding principles – as can be seen by its policy stated twice this year to withdraw trade union membership tax reliefs from workers.

“Its attacks on my party yesterday are an obvious attempt to cover up its own betrayal of workers. The Labour party knows the minimum wage in the North is set by London, not the Northern Assembly. This is just one of the many problems Sinn Fein continuously highlights concerning the setting of laws by a London government for Irish people. We would welcome Labour’s support in trying to change those laws, but puerile and misleading insults are hardly the way to go.

“In 2006 Sinn Fein highlighted the problems with the minimum wages north and south in our Workers’ rights policy document, a comprehensive paper received well by trade unions on both sides of the border. Our position on the wage is that it should be set at 60% of the average industrial wage across the island.

“The Labour party are welcome to join our campaign on the minimum wage and get back to their alleged roots of supporting workers. Their support of Lisbon however reveals that Labour is an establishment party that just wants the crumbs of power, not to instigate any real change on this island.” ENDS

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South Down Sinn Féin MLA Willie Clarke has welcomed the replacement of the three mobile classrooms which were recently destroyed in an arson attack at an Irish language school in Castlewellan, County Down.

Mr Clarke said: “The work at Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche has been carried out over a two week period and the determination of everyone involved in getting the school operating to its full capacity is highly commendable.

“My daughter attends the Bunscoil in Castlewellan and as a parent, as well as an elected representative, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in securing the replacement of the mobiles in such a limited timeframe. Deserving of special mention are the teachers, the staff of the South Eastern Education and Library Board, council employees, the Board of Governors and parents.

“The South Eastern Education and Library Board have been tremendous and their officials have worked really hard and provided great support for the staff and pupils attending Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche. They have brought in contractors at short notice and addressed all the needs that were brought to their attention. Likewise, the construction workers deserve much praise for all their hard work rebuilding the gutted classrooms.”

Mr Clarke, who is also a member of the board of governors at Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche continued:

"Our own staff have been very supportive and have been working very hard since the tragedy and the fruits of their labour are beginning to be realised.

“We have obtained planning permission for a new school and the start date for it construction is fast approaching. Indeed, it is hoped that the first sod will be cut in December. I am delighted and looking forward to reaching the next phase in Irish medium education in south Down. Instead of being demoralised by this mindless arson attack on an important community building, we are going from strength to strength."

“The hard work in ensuring a strong vibrant Irish language will continue and I would like to pay tribute to the community for their fund raising efforts and showing solidarity towards the school during its darkest hour.”

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Speaking in relation to media reports which suggest the introduction of water charges by 2011, Sinn Fein Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy has in response to such reports said;

"I want to be clear - No decision has been taken by either myself, Sinn Féin or indeed the Executive to introduce household water charges and no work has commenced on a draft bill in relation to this matter as suggested by some media.”

“This is a collective Executive issue and thus far we have not agreed the future funding arrangements for water and sewerage services. However this will require examination service provision and continued investment in the longer term.”

“I brought a proposition paper to the Executive before the summer which proposed deferring any Executive decision being taken until beyond 2012 in which we would reassess the economic conditions facing the North at that time.”

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Sinn Fein Assembly Member Willie Clarke has welcomed the progress made on the Forestry Bill in the Assembly after it had its second reading last Tuesday. Cllr Clarke, who sits on the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, believes the new legislation will have significant benefits for South Down

Cllr Clarke continued:

“This is the first piece of forestry legislation being implemented in the North of Ireland in over 50 years so it’s absolutely vital we get it right.

“During the summer recess I had discussions with a number of stakeholders, including officials’ from the Woodland Trust, and members’ of the private sector.

“The creation of new woodlands in the North has fallen to below fifty percent of the target that was set at 550 hectares per annum. This new act needs to address this major shortfall as a matter of urgency.

“The use of our natural environment to help in the development of recreational and sporting pursuits must be given serious consideration and has to be balanced with the commercial aspects of timber production.

“Local communities need to be able to benefit from our forests and there is the potential for community groups and the reconstituted and expanded councils to investigate working with Forestry Service in order to build high quality play parks that will benefit local people and tourists alike.

“I also welcome the possibility of Forestry Service land being used for other uses including the production of fuel for renewable energy, through for example wind farms, as well as the development of environmental friendly tourist facilities.

“During the Assembly recess I along with other interested parties visited Yorkshire to investigate the potential for forestry to diversify into sporting and eco holiday provision. There are numerous benefits to utilising our forests and in my own constituency of South Down there are endless opportunities that can be availed off if we get this legislation right.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD will respond to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s ‘scaremongering’ on the economic consequences of a second No to Lisbon from the Irish people at a media doorstep at the Kildare Street entrance to Leinster House tomorrow at 12 midday.

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Sinn Féin south Down MLA and Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has today met with the European Committee of Experts in relation to the implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

Speaking after the meeting in Stormont this afternoon Ms Ruane said;

“Today’s meeting with the European Committee of Experts was a welcome one; I took the opportunity to give the committee a comprehensive report on the extensive work carried out by my department in relation to its commitments under the Charter.

I stressed with the committee that the work that my department and others, such as the Department for Regional Development, have been engaged in is taking place in the absence of both an effective rights based Irish Language Act, despite the British Government committing themselves to this at Saint Andrews, as well as in absence of the ‘Languages Strategy’ as promised by successive DUP Culture Ministers.

For our part, Sinn Féin is totally committed to securing effective, rights based legislation for Irish speakers here in the north, this process is an ongoing and important piece of work, I have no doubt that the Committee of Experts will use their time here to exert further pressure on the British Government, as well as DCAL to live up to their obligations.” CRÍOCH

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Bhuail Caitríona Ruane, Aire Oideachais agus CT de chuid Sinn Féin don Dún Theas le Coiste Eorpach de Shaineolaithe i dtaca leis an Chairt Eorpach ar Theangacha Réigiúnacha agus Mionlacha a chur i ngníomh.

Ag caint i ndiaidh an chruinnithe in Stormont tráthnóna inniu, dúirt Bean Uasal Ruane;

“Ba thráthúil cruinniú an lae inniu leis an Choiste Eorpach de Shaineolaithe; thapaigh mé an deis chun tuairisc chuimsitheach a sholáthar don Choiste maidir leis an saothar atá déanta ag mo Roinn i dtaca lena dualgais faoin Chairt.

Chuir mé in iúl don choiste go bhfuil an saothar seo againn agus an saothar atá déanta ag ranna eile macasamhail an Roinn Forbartha Réigiúnaí, á chur i ngníomh cé nach bhfuil aon acht cheart bhunaithe mar Acht na Gaeilge ann. Thug Rialtas na Breataine tiomantas go mbeadh acht dá leithéid ann i gComhaontú Chill Rímhinn. Tá an saothar seo á chur in ngníomh fosta agus ‘Straitéis Teanga’ in easnaimh, seo straitéis a bhí geallta ag Aire Cultúir i ndiaidh Aire Cultúir de chuid an DUP.

Maidir linne, tá SF tiomanta go huile is go hiomlán do reachtaíocht a bheidh bunaithe ar chearta a bhaint amach do lucht labhartha na Gaeilge anseo sa Tuaisceart. Is próiseas seo atá idir láimhe agus atá iontach tábhachtach. Tá mé cinnte de go mbainfidh an Coiste de Shaineolaithe feidhm as an am atá fágtha acu anseo chun tuilleadh brú a chur ar Rialtas na Breataine, agus ar an Roinn Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta..” CRÍOCH

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