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Sinn Féin Chief Whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the Legislative Programme published by the Government today is full of holes. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the Government needs to explain why there is no commitment to bring forward legislation for referenda on Children’s rights and the abolition of the Seanad.

He said:

“This Legislative Programme is full of holes. There are some good things contained in it but no urgency about them.

“There is no commitment to update legislation on domestic violence and the commitment to cut the pay of judges seems to be gone as well.

“The Government must explain why there is no commitment to legislation for the referenda on Children’s rights and the abolition of the Seanad.

“Also of note is the inclusion of the legislation to increase the retirement age to 68 which will not only force elderly people to work longer but will prevent job opportunities arising for younger people. At a time when we are in a major unemployment and emigration crisis this beggars believe.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in the Dáil today in the debate on the murder of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr called on those involved to stop. Mr. Adams urged citizens and political representatives but especially government, to ‘be in the leadership of opposition to these groups.’

The Sinn Fein leader took the opportunity to speak directly to those “responsible for violent actions and those who might tolerate them.”

Mr. Adams said: “Sinn Féin offered some time ago to meet with you and to outline our strategy, it’s ability for advancing republican objectives and our belief in the futility of armed actions.

So far you have refused to speak to Sinn Féin. But I make the same offer again. I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with Sinn Féin. That is your right. But you have no right to attack anyone.

That is clear from the overwhelming public rejection of the attack which killed Ronan Kerr.

The people of this island demand that you stop.”

Text of Mr. Adams remarks:

“I want to thank the government for providing the time Sinn Féin requested for Teachtaí Dála to comment today on the murder on Saturday of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr.

On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to state our unequivocal condemnation of Ronan Kerr’s murder.

And I would appeal to any citizen with any information relating to what happened to bring that information to the PSNI.

Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a thabhairt uaim féin agus poblachtánaithe i ngach áit to Nuala Kerr agus dá clan ar fad.

I want to extend on my own behalf and that of republicans everywhere, our solidarity and sincerest condolences to Nuala Kerr and her children, Cathair, Dairine and Aaron.

Like many others I watched Nuala Kerr on television on Sunday, standing with her children beside her, and speaking with love and affection about Ronan.

Is am iontach brónach atá ann do Nuala Kerr agus dá clann.

It was a desperately sad moment, made all the more poignant because it was mother’s day - a day Nuala should have been celebrating with her family but was instead grieving for the loss of a son.

Ronan’s late father Brian was from Andersonstown in west Belfast.

Tá a lán meas ag daoine ar chlann Kerr. The Kerr’s are a well known and respected family.

His grandparents and other family members live there and Ronan was a regular visitor.

This week’s Andersonstown News has photographs on its front page of Ronan’s late father and his mother Nuala at a family reunion in the Andersonstown Social Club – formerly known as the Prisoners Dependents Fund (PDF) Social Club, which used to raise money for republican prisoners and their families, and provide transport for families to visit loved ones in Long Kesh, Armagh and Portlaoise.

Ronan was a keen GAA member.

He played for Beragh Red Knights at under 12, under 14, under 16 and at minor level. He was also an enthusiastic Tyrone fan.

He is one of many young nationalists and republicans who, following fundamental changes to policing, decided to join the PSNI.

Ronan wanted to serve his community and had just completed his training a few weeks ago.

He was 25. That means he was only 8 when the first IRA cessation was called.

For most of his life and all of his short adult life, he had like all of his generation no experience of conflict.

Don cuid is mó dá saol agus dá ghlúin ní fhaca sé mórán den choimhlint

Speaking on Sunday Nuala Kerr, whose late husband was from Andersonstown in west Belfast, spoke for all of us when she said:

“It’s a sad day for our community. Ronan was a valued member and he had much to offer.

This is at a time when we are striving for a neutral police force for the good of our country and I urge all Catholic members not to be deterred. We all need to stand up and be counted and to strive for equality. We don’t want to go back to the dark days again of fear and terror.”

And she is right.

We all have to stand up for our community.

We have to stand up for equality and a non partisan, civic policing service in the north.

We have to encourage young nationalists and republicans to join the PSNI.

And we have to confront and challenge those responsible for Ronan Kerr’s murder.

Thus far no one has said they murdered Ronan Kerr.

Those actions and others since are attacks on the peace process.

They are attempts to turn the clock back.

They have failed and will continue to fail.

I believe the shock and outrage and anger surrounding the murder of Ronan Kerr will unite and bind together more strongly than ever before all of those who want the peace process to succeed.

There has been evidence of that across this island, within community’s, from the GAA, and among political representatives and parties.

But we have to go beyond condemnation.

It is imperative that everyone make clear their opposition to the murder of Constable Kerr.

It is imperative that every citizen across this island defends the peace process.

That especially means political representatives.

Caithfear cinnireacht a thabhairt in éadan na grúpaí seo.

We must be in the leadership of opposition to these groups.

That means all of us in this chamber and especially in government.

We must demonstrate to those who want to tear down the Good Friday Agreement process and institutions that we are resolute and determined to defend and build on them.

Practically this means that there is an onus on all of us, but especially the government, to implement all of those aspects of the Good Friday Agreement that are still outstanding, and to strengthen the all-Ireland institutional structures.

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those responsible for violent actions and others who might tolerate them.

Sinn Féin offered some time ago to meet with you and to outline our strategy, it’s ability for advancing republican objectives and our belief in the futility of armed actions.

So far you have refused to speak to Sinn Féin.

But I make the same offer again.

I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with Sinn Féin.

That is your right. But you have no right to attack anyone.

That is clear from the overwhelming public rejection of the attack which killed Ronan Kerr.

The people of this island demand that you stop.

Bualfaidh mé leat aon uair, ag aon am.

I will meet you anywhere, at any time to listen to what you have to say and to tell you that there is now a democratic peaceful way to unite our people and our country on the basis of equality.

Your achievement has been to unite us all in opposition to your actions.

It is time to end these futile attacks on the peace process.

They will not succeed.

Tá an cogadh thart. The war is over.

The IRA is gone.

These other groups have no coherent strategy and their actions do not advance any political agenda.

They are unrepresentative of the community and have no support.

They claim to be republican but by their actions they undermine and damage the potential for Irish reunification.

They are anti-republican and anti-peace.

Almost 20 years ago, through hard work and effort Sinn Féin developed a peace strategy and with others created a peace process that has brought about fundamental and positive change.

Tá athraithe cuimsitheacha taréis tarlúint.

Significant progress has been made.

One example of this is the fact that in four weeks there will be an election to the power sharing Assembly and Executive at the end of a successful four year term.

The Good Friday Agreement provides a peaceful and democratic means to achieve republican goals.

In referenda and in every subsequent election the people of this island have voted for this.

There is no excuse, justification or explanation which can validate the murder of Ronan Kerr or any of the other actions of these groups.

Our goal in the time ahead must be to defend the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement institutions.

Nuala Kerr is right.

This is a time to stand up and be counted; against those who would seek to drag us back to the dark days and against those who are wedded to senseless and futile militarism.

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Sinn Féin Education spokesperson John O’ Dowd has said in response to an opinion poll by Ipsos MORI on public attitudes toward integrated Education:
“Previous opinion polls have also shown a high percentage of the public support for an integrated education system.
“Sinn Féin support parental choice in education and have shown our active support for Integrated schools under the tenures of Martin McGuinness and Caitríona Ruane as Education Ministers.
“Where demand for an integrated school is established we will continue to support the provision of integrated schools.
Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said:
“There is an onus on all our education sectors to work together, for the betterment of education and our society. There is clear evidence this is happening more and more.
“Under the establishment of the Educational Skills Authority sharing of services and school planning will no longer be an aspiration but a reality; it is up to politicians to make ESA a reality.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien and Energy and Natural Resources Spokesperson Martin Ferris have called on the Garda Ombudsman to begin an immediate investigation into a recorded conversation between Gardai involved in policing protests against the gas pipeline and refinery in north Mayo.

They were responding to a recording made on a camera confiscated by the Gardai from a protestor in which the Gardai are heard to joke about raping one of the women from whom the camera had been taken. They also speak about the manner in which they police the protests, making it clear their hostility to those involved.

Deputy O’Brien said: “It is extremely disturbing that members of the Gardai in whom women are expected to place their trust would speak in such a manner about raping persons who they are taking into custody. This is only the latest in a series of incidents in which the Gardai and members of private security companies have been shown to behave in an overly aggressive and hostile manner towards people engaged in legitimate protests. It is vital therefore that the Garda Ombudsman conduct an immediate investigation.”

Deputy Ferris said: “Apart from the appalling nature of this incident, there are huge questions surrounding the policing of the Corrib project. Not alone are there legitimate local concerns but it is also obscene that well over €20 million has been spent on Garda policing of the protests in recent years. We are at a time of unprecedented economic and financial crisis and yet this Government is presiding over the surrender of a natural resource potentially worth many billions of Euro. However, the current licensing and revenue terms mean that very little of that value will accrue to the Irish exchequer or people.”

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Kelly calls for 'Public Awareness' ahead of May 5th Election

 

Speaking ahead of leading a Sinn Fein delegation to the electoral commission, Gerry Kelly said,

 

"On May fifth people will face the most complex elections to date in the north.

 

We are urging maximum public awareness from the Electoral Commission and the Electoral Office to prepare and fully inform voters of the complexities of voting this May.

 

The fact that there are three elections on the same day -Larger numbers of voters in each box - and fears that queues may see some lose their vote, means that preparation and public information is key.

 

The Electoral Commission share many of our concerns. It's in everyone's interest that people grasp their right to vote by getting to the poling station early in the day.

 

Sinn Fein will be following this engagement with a meeting with the chief electoral officer to press for staffing increases and a common sense approach on May fifth." concluded Gerry Kelly. CRIOCH

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún today lent her support to a European Parliament resolution which highlights the role of women in agriculture and rural areas.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said "I welcome this report which not only highlights the difficulties many rural women face on a daily basis, but also focuses on their invaluable contribution to rural life."

"In this report the European Parliament calls on the Commission to maintain the current budget for agricultural expenditures well as recognising that diversification of the rural economies will provide and encourage sustainable economic development. It also focuses on the vital role played by women's networks, particularly in terms of how they promote rural life.

"The report recognises the importance of women's and farmers organisations to new development programmes and diversification, and stresses the way rural tourism can help combine family obligations with work.

"It is good to see that the EU is now focusing on, and indeed supporting, this often-neglected area. We all need to work together to ensure the future prosperity of our rural and farming communities." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has responded to the revelation that Department of Health briefings to the Minister for Health James Reilly signal further public hospital bed closures.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Further closures of public hospital beds cannot be tolerated. Such closures would plunge our healthcare system into deeper crisis and put the lives of patients at risk.

“Health Minister James Reilly must not allow further beds to be closed. On the contrary he must bring forward a plan to reopen the hundreds of public hospital beds that are closed across the State."

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty has said that the exchequer figures released today are another strong reminder as to why this Government needs to stop pumping billions of taxpayers’ money into zombie banks.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Sinn Féin indicated during the debate on Budget 2011 that further austerity measures would depress the domestic economy. Today’s figures show that this is exactly what has come to pass.

“The end of March exchequer returns released today shows that in the first 13 weeks of the year that the combined VAT and Income Taxes are €304 million behind Government projections. This is extremely worrying for the domestic economy and shows the very real impact that these austerity measures are having on the local economy.

“If this trend were to continue until year end this would lead to a €1.2 billion shortfall in these combined taxes.

“The cost of servicing our debt has increased in the first 13 weeks of this year by €663 million compared the same period in 2010 which is mainly as a result of the failed banking policies of this and the previous Government.

“While the exchequer deficit for the first 13 weeks of 2011 stands at just over €7 billion, 43% or €3,060 million of this is made up of money that was transferred to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide on Thursday last.

“Today’s figures are another strong reminder as to why this Government needs to change course and stop pumping billions of taxpayers’ money into zombie banks. This failed strategy is having a real impact on the domestic economy and can only lead to further austerity, further stagnation and higher unemployment.”

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Energy Martin Ferris TD has said that while ESB’s announcement of a price cut for consumers is welcome the cut should also be applied to the bills of those customers currently in arrears.

Deputy Ferris said: “While the cut in electricity prices is certainly to be welcomed, I would also like to see that applied to those 100,000 or so ESB customers currently in arrears.

“That would surely help to cut those arrears and to go a long way to helping those customers to address their financial difficulties.”

The Kerry North/Limerick West TD also stated that he did not believe that An Bord Gáis ought to be granted a price increase given the current pressures on household incomes.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, along with Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald this morning formally launched the party’s election campaign for the Assembly on May 5th.

Sinn Féin will be fielding 40 candidates in 18 constituencies.

Gerry Adams said:

“Following the murder on Saturday of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr Sinn Féin considered carefully whether or not we should proceed with this mornings launch.

But the more we thought about it and discussed it the more important it seemed to us that the political process cannot become a hostage to the unrepresentative group which murdered Constable Kerr.

The peace process is too important for that.

So we stand here determined to keep making politics work. To keep defending the political institutions and keep delivering for ordinary people and demonstrating what republicanism is about.

We are obviously conscious of the grief and pain being felt today by the family of Ronan Kerr, and Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson spoke for all of us over the weekend when they extended solidarity and support to the Kerr family.

Ceithre bliana ó shin dúirt muid go raibh rogha agaibh.
D'iarramuid oraibh vótáil ar son athrú atá fíor, vótáil ar son ceannaisaíocht dearfach agus chun vótáil ar son an t-aon pháirtí leis sin a sheachadadh.
Four years ago we offered the people a choice. We asked you to vote for real change, to vote for positive leadership and to vote for the party that delivers - to vote for Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin promised to promote equality, to deliver stable and inclusive power-sharing government in the north, to bring about the transfer of policing and justice powers, and to advance towards Irish unity and national reconciliation.

We pledged to continue to be bold and decisive, to stand up for ourselves by standing up to the governments and to those opposed to change.

Sinn Féin said we would deliver for all citizens in a continuous process of change. We delivered.

We asked for your vote as an endorsement of our peace strategy.

We asked for your vote to build a dynamic for change throughout Ireland.

We asked for your vote to help us shape the future in the way that you want, in the way that benefits all and in a way that builds the Ireland of Equals to which we aspire.

In our May 2007 manifesto, we promised to prevent double taxation water charges. That’s exactly what Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, did.

We promised to end academic selection and replace it with a new post-primary transfer system grounded in equality. That’s exactly what Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane, did.

We promised to redress the decades of under-investment and inequalities faced by rural dwellers. That’s exactly the process now begun by Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew.


We promised to prioritise the promotion of equality on the basis of objective need to tackle the structural inequalities faced by sectors and groups across this society.

That’s exactly what Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuiness have done in the Office of First and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM).

And that’s why we’ve ensured that £100 million will be spent over the next four years between OFMdFM and the Department of Social Development to target the most structurally disadvantaged sections of this society on the basis of objective need.

And we promised to deliver the transfer of policing and justice powers away from London. And that is what we achieved.

So don’t let the naysayers tell you that a locally accountable Executive and Assembly haven’t made a difference. They have. And will continue to.

Sectarianism remains a major problem which must be confronted.

All forms of intolerance are unacceptable. Promoting equality for all is the key.

The future lies in Irish unity and national equality.

In February this year, on the same platform of republican values of citizenship and equality, we presented the electorate in the 26 Counties with an opportunity for them to make a stand.

Fourteen Sinn Féin TDs were elected to Leinster House, the largest number since partition 90 years ago.

Sinn Féin is an all-Ireland party. We are the only all-Ireland party. We are now in a position to effect significant change north and south and we are committed to doing so.

Tá go leor oibre le déanamh romhainn go fóill.

Ach is féidir linn a chinntiú nach mbeidh aon dul ar ais ná cúlú. Beidh muid ag gluaiseacht ar aghaidh.

Tá straitéis againn le deireadh a chur leis an deighilt sa tír seo agus chun Éire nua a thógáil – tír úr gur féidir libh cuidiú a mhúnlú.

Vótáil ar son athraithe ar fud na hÉireann, vótáil ar son ceannasaíochta ar fud na hÉireann, vótáil do Shinn Féin
Vote for change across Ireland, vote for leadership across Ireland, vote for Sinn Féin.

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Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou was today joined by the party’s election candidates for the forthcoming Assembly poll at the formal launch of the Sinn Féin 2011 assembly election campaign.
Speaking at the event in the Waterfront Hall Mary Lou said:
“I would like to welcome people to this event – the formal launch of our Assembly election campaign.
Obviously nobody could have envisaged the terrible circumstances in which we find ourselves gathering today.
Once again we offer our condolences to the family of Ronan Kerr.
The fact we are here, launching an election campaign to all-Ireland and power
sharing institutions demonstrates in its own way the necessity to protect and defend the primacy Of politics and protect and defend the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement political institutions.
When we discussed over recent days whether or not to proceed with this launch we felt that it was vital that those responsible for Saturday’s murder could not be allowed to disrupt the political and democratic process.
As republicans gathering here this morning and appealing for support from the electorate for the democratic demand of Irish unity and Independence we are making an important stand.
Everyone of our Assembly candidates goes forward to the people on our platform of a peaceful roadmap to a united Ireland .Each one is making their contribution in standing up to those small unrepresentative groupings who seek to subvert Irish republicanism for their own narrow selfish ends.
Sinn Féin with the support of the people will never let this happen.
So the message from this launch is very clear. Sinn Féin will continue to defend the peace process. We will continue to defend the political process and we will continue to demonstrate that politics does work and will work in the months and years ahead.
The recent election results in the 26 counties demonstrated clearly an all-Ireland and united Ireland political strategy that is working and working well. There is a peaceful and democratic path to a united Ireland.
I wish all our candidates and their teams well in the coming weeks and I look forward along with the rest of the Leinster House team to joining with you in constituencies across the north in the coming weeks – because make no mistake about we are fighting this Assembly election as an all-Ireland team – the only all-Ireland team.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the ending of the plan to co-locate private for-profit hospitals on the grounds of public hospitals. He described the plan as a fiasco which should never have been undertaken.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The decision by the HSE not to allow further time for consortiums to put financial arrangements in place to develop private for-profit hospitals on the grounds of public hospitals spells the end of the co-location plan. This brain-child of former Health Minister Mary Harney, fully supported by her Fianna Fáil and later Green Party colleagues, was a fiasco from start to finish. It was inherently inequitable, it would have reinforced the two-tier hospital system and should never have been undertaken in the first place.

“The futile co-location plan has been a monumental waste of public money and of the time and effort of those in the public health system tasked with facilitating it.

“The co-location plan was allegedly put in place in order to provide 1,000 badly needed additional public hospital beds which supposedly were going to be ‘freed up’ when private beds moved to the new hospitals. As predicted by Sinn Féin and by many in the health sector, this promise has turned out to be a mirage.

“It is now up to the new Health Minister James Reilly to provide those additional beds in the public system, beginning with the opening of closed wards and beds in hospitals across the State. We will be pressing the Minister to do so in the weeks and months ahead.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed a commitment from the Government to allow time in the Dáil this Tuesday for statements on the bomb attack in Omagh which killed PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.

Time will be set aside after the order of business on Tuesday following contact from Sinn Féin today.

Mr Adams said:

“It is important that the political representatives in the Dáil are afforded the opportunity to express their condemnation of the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr.

“For that reason Sinn Féin contacted the Government today and I welcome its commitment to allow time on Tuesday.” ENDS

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Responding to Eamon Gilmore’s announcement of a diplomatic drive Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has said it would be more appropriate if the issue of burden sharing was not already taken off the table.

Speaking today Deputy McDonald said:

“Eamon Gilmore’s diplomatic crusade would be more appropriate if the issue of burden sharing was not already taken off the table. It is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

“We all know that there will be a cut in the interest rate for the EU/IMF bailout. This is about Eamon Gilmore trying to claim credit for it while deflecting attention away from the key issue of burden sharing which the Government has already given up on.” ENDS

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Responding to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s interview on RTÉ Radio One today Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said it is clear that the Labour Party has already begun to unwind its election manifesto while in Government having taken instructions from Europe not to introduce burden sharing with senior bondholders.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Labour went into the election with the battle cry of Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way. Having increased its mandate and entering Government it is now clear that the Labour Party has already begun to unwind its election manifesto.

“The announcement of €24 billion more for defunct banks and burden sharing being taken off the table at the behest of Europe show’s clearly that it is in fact Frankfurt’s way despite the election promises of Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party.

“No amount of spin or bluster from Eamon Gilmore can change the fact that hard working Irish tax-payers will continue to pay the debts of private profiteers while children go to school hungry and families struggle to heat their homes across Ireland.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has again strongly condemned the murder yesterday of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr.

At a press conference in Belfast this morning Mr. Adams said:

“I want to express in the strongest possible terms Sinn Féin’s condemnation of the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr.

"Martin McGuinness speaks for all of us when he says this is an attack on the community, an attack on the peace process and it has left a family grieving for the loss of a loved one. It is a futile attempt to destroy the progress that has been made and which has the overwhelming support of the people of this island.

"This action and those responsible for it must be totally rejected. I am calling upon those involved to stop and to stop now.

"The political response must go beyond condemnation. It is imperative that everyone make clear their opposition to the murder of Constable Kerr. Every citizen must defend the process.

"Sinn Féin has been in touch with the Government in Dublin and I have asked that time be set aside at the beginning of business in the Dáil on Tuesday for TDs to have the opportunity to express their revulsion at Saturday’s attack.

"This action does not define republicanism and those involved do not represent republicanism.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has condemned those responsible for today's bomb attack in Omagh.


Speaking this afternoon Mr Adams said;

"Firstly I want to condenmn what happened in Omagh this afternoon.


While not all of the infromation has yet come to light in relation to this incident it is understood that a young man has lost his life. I want to send my condolences to his family at this hugely traumatic time.

Sinn Féin is determined that those responsible will not set back the progress of the Peace and Political Process'." CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has accused the Labour Party of reneging on their election promises after they refused to introduce burden sharing and committed to pumping a further €24 billion of Irish taxpayers’ money into failed banks.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh was campaigning in Dublin today against the Universal Social Charge.

He said:

“On Wednesday evening Labour Party TDs voted against a Sinn Féin motion to abolish the Universal Social Charge yet on Thursday they committed to putting €24 billion more into failed banks.

“There is no talk of burden sharing with the gamblers who caused the mess yet they expect ordinary struggling families to continue paying a regressive charge.

“The Labour Party has reneged on their election promise to introduce burden sharing with bondholders. In voting against our motion to abolish the Universal Social charge they have turned their back on the communities from which they have traditionally received most support.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose the Universal Social Charge and the pouring of billions of euros of Irish taxpayers’ money into toxic banks.” ENDS

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Speaking following the announcement by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that the government are planning to review the decision to build Thornton Hall, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD said the review was to be welcomed and this presented an “opportunity to take a new direction with prison policy.”

Deputy O’Brien said,

“Fianna Fáil in government spent millions on a badly thought out idea. By December 2010, spending on the prison had reached €43.3 million for purchasing additional land, surveys, landscaping, professional fees and security. When it came to this project the previous Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, threw money around like snuff at a wake so the decision to review the Thornton Hall plans are to be welcomed.

“I intend to contribute to this review and urge Minister Shatter to use this opportunity to take a new direction with prison policy by acknowledging that creating a couple of hundred extra cells is not a sufficient mechanism to tackle the prison crisis. What is really needed is a strategy to deal with increasing rates of imprisonment.

“There have been massive increases in prisoner numbers over the past few years. Justice policy must acknowledge the causal factors in these increases – poverty, embedded disadvantage, inequality and addiction – and address them accordingly. Sinn Féin is also calling on the Minister to improve prison conditions of the existing Mountjoy prison. The chronic over-crowding has created serious health and safety issues. Such overcrowding is dangerous and inhumane.

“I would urge the Minister, in the context of this review and all justice policy, to look at ‘what works.’ Unless proper drug and rehabilitative supports in prisons are resourced, alongside educational facilities, and other steps to address recidivism are focused on, we will simply be ignoring what actually needs to be done.”

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Speaking in the Dáil after the Minister for Finance announced that there is to be a further €24 billion pumped into the defunct banking system Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said that it is the ordinary people who are suffering for the failings of Government to deal with bank debt.

Deputy Doherty said:

“It beggars belief that this so-called alternative Government is to pump another €24 billion into the defunct banking system.

“This open-ended commitment to cover bank losses plainly exceeds the fiscal capacity of the state. The losses of the banking sector have become the losses of the taxpayer. Bank debt has become sovereign debt. And that is the problem and it is the ordinary citizens who are suffering for these failings.

“The reality is that this Government is continuing on with the reckless policies of the previous Fianna Fáil Government. Like Fianna Fáil they have placed more priority on bailing out bank bondholders than bailing out ordinary people trying to make ends meet.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are fighting for their survival. Nearly half a million people are unemployed. 50,000 of our young people are leaving our shores each year. A growing number of people face eviction. Families struggle to feed their children and provide warmth. These are the people Fine Gael and Labour want to foot the bill for the banks.

“The Government has not acted in the interests of the people today; it has acted purely in the interest of the banks.

“There should be no choice: you need to impose aggressive burden sharing on unguaranteed bonds. You need to go after bondholders.”

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