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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Responding to remarks on RTÉ this morning by Labour Party Minister Pat Rabbitte, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said:

"There is no point in Pat Rabbitte seeking to blame Sinn Féin for the disastrous position in which the Labour Party now finds itself.

"Pat Rabbitte is the man who at the 2007 General election led the charge on auction politics, promising income tax cuts at a time when it was clear that the economy was on verge of collapse and that the exchequer was over reliant on property and consumption taxes.

"Pat Rabbitte's problem is that he and the Labour Party promised to govern differently from Fianna Fail and this has proven not to be the case.

"They said they would not cut child benefit, social welfare or supports for those citizens with disabilities.

"Labour Ministers have breached pay caps for their Ministerial advisors but have non problem with cuts to the Carer’s Allowance or to Home-Help hours

"Minister Rabbitte is in record as dismissing his own election promises as just "what you tend to say during an election campaign".

"Unlike, the Labour Party and Pat Rabbitte in particular, Sinn Fein will not make election promises we cannot keep and Sinn Fein will keep every commitment we make.

"Citizens are looking for a fairer way to deal with the economic problems we face.

"That is what Sinn Féin offers and it is that message that people are responding to in ever bigger numbers.

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Sinn Féin will use its Private Members time next week to table a motion which calls on the Government to establish an independent inquiry into the controversy surrounding GSOC.

The motion will be debated in the Dáil on the evenings on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

Speaking from Leinster House today, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD said:

“Sinn Fein will use its Private Members time next week to call for a fully independent inquiry into this matter.

“The Government’s response to the controversy has indeed undermined public confidence in GSOC whereas the Government, and in particular the Minister for Justice, has a clear responsibility to uphold the integrity of An Garda Síochána and of GSOC. That has not happened.

“We believe that the only way public confidence can be re-established is through a fully independent inquiry.”

Speaking on the role played by Minister Alan Shatter, Deputy Adams said:

“Every utterance from Minister Shatter has further undermined public confidence.

“I think that there is an inherent resistance, within the Government, to the type of accountability and oversight that GSOC represents.

“The impression that the Taoiseach gave, stating GSOC was in breach of the law, when he misquoted the legislation, the fact that the Minister sent for the Commission even though the Commission is independent and that the Minister has put a version of what he was told, into the Dáil record, that has been contradicted by what the Oireachtas committee was told by the Commission itself are all issues of controversy.

“Somebody with objectivity and expertise must be brought in to inquire into all these matters.

“GSOC itself has said, while there is no definite evidence, at the same time there was a credible threat to its security and that these three threat or anomalies have not been explained.

“All that needs to investigated. The Commission itself had access to only limited level of technological expertise

“Let Minister Shatter, GSOC and the Garda Commissioner all go forward to an independent inquiry.

“It is such an inquiry that Sinn Féin is calling for through the PMB motion that the party published today.”

DÁIL ÉIREANN

Fógra Tairisceana : Notice of Motion

GNÓ COMHALTAÍ PRÍOBHÁIDEACHA
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS

“That Dáil Éireann:
notes:

that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is an independent statutory body established under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to provide an independent and effective civilian oversight of policing in this State;

that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has a hugely important role in ensuring that public confidence in the Garda Síochána is maintained;

the reports that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s offices may have been subjected to covert surveillance; and

that the obfuscation by the Government, thus far, to these reports has only served to obscure the situation and undermine confidence in both State agencies, including statements made by members of the Government into the Dáil record which have now been flatly contradicted by the Ombudsman;
recognises that:

significant public concern now exists in relation to this matter and that there is an urgent need to ensure that public trust and confidence in the Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is maintained; and

there is now a compelling case to establish an independent inquiry into this matter without delay and to be undertaken by a suitable person(s) with the appropriate experience, qualifications, training and expertise; and
calls on the Government to establish an independent inquiry into the matter without delay and consider options including a Commission of Investigation, as provided for under existing legislation through the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.” — Gerry Adams, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Martin Ferris, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Dessie Ellis, Brian Stanley, Sandra McLellan, Jonathan O'Brien, Peadar Tóibín, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

[13 February, 2014]

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has congratulated Queen University on opening up new research into prostrate cancer in conjunction with Manchester University.

 Mr McMullan stated,

 “The centre of excellence will be divided between Queens University in Belfast and Manchester University and will be funded by Prostrate Cancer UK and funds raised through the Movember charity fundraiser where men grow moustaches during the month of November.

 “Many men who participate in the Movember challenge have to put up with a few funny looks and laughs so it is good to see the practical results of all their efforts coming to fruition and I would thank everyone who took part.  Seeing this money being invested locally will also encourage more men to take part next November.

 “Prostrate cancer is the largest cancer facing men so it is important that we fund research into finding a cure.

 “Queens University was chosen as a partner due to their previous record on medical research and the University is fast establishing itself as a leading facility into research into cancer.

 “I am also calling on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to begin an awareness campaign to alert men to the symptoms and dangers of prostrate cancer as early detection means a higher survival rate.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said improving outcomes for children and young people is essential to give them the best start in life.

Speaking at the launch of the Delivering Social Change Consultation in North Belfast this morning the West Belfast MLA said:

“We want all our children to be healthy, safe and secure and have the opportunities to fully contribute to society now and in the future. They all deserve the opportunity to thrive and look forward with confidence to the future.

“To do that we must ensure they get the best possible start in life by developing policies and programmes to ensure the most urgent problems effecting children and families are addressed.

“Reducing poverty and improving children and young peoples health, well-being and lifetime opportunities are key to this.”

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Tá uachtarán Shinn Féin, Gerry Adams ag impí ar dhaoine teacht amach agus tacaíocht a thabhairt do Lá mór na Gaeilge.

Beidh an ócáid ar siúl an Satharn seo ag an nGairdín Cuimhneacháin, Cearnóg Pharnell, Baile Átha Cliath, ag a 2 a chlog.

Don phríomh páirt, spreagadh Lá Mór na Gaeilge nuair a d’fhógair an Coimisinéir Teanga go raibh sé ag éirí as a phost, agus freisin, tar éis an tuairisc a tháinig ó Chomhairle na hEorpa a léirigh go bhfuil cosc ar fhorbairt na teanga ó thuaidh mar gheall ar droch meonta i Stormont.

Dúirt an tAire Adams:

“Tá pobal na Gaeilge agus pobal na Gaeltachta ó thuaidh agus ó dheas ag lorg comhionannais d’ár dteanga dúchais. Freisin, tá siad ag iarraidh seirbhísí stáit trí Ghaeilge a bhfuil d’ard caighdeán a bheith curtha ar fáil, díreach cosúil leis an mBéarla.

“Is damnú ar pholasaí Gaeilge an Rialtais a bhí sa fhógra a rinne an Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, go raibh sé le éirí as a chuid dualgais, ar bhunphrionsabail.

“Faraor, i Stormont caithfidh gaeilgeoirí dul in iomaíocht le meonta aischéimnitheach daoine áirithe, maidir le forbairt na teanga sa tuaisceart.

“Is léir go gcaitheann an rialtas anseo sa deisceart i bhfad níos lú ar fhorbairt ár dteanga dúchais per capita, i gcomporáid leis an méid a chaithtear sa Bhreatain Bheag agus sa Chatalóin.

“Caithfidh seo a bheith athraithe.

Ach ta sé thar a bheith tábhachtach freisin go n-athraíthear meonta, sna dá stáit, maidir le forbairt na teanga.

“Táim ag impí ar achan duine a bhfuil buartha faoi dul chun cinn ár dteanga, teacht amach agus tacaíocht a thabhairt do Lá Mór na Gaeilge an Satharn seo.

Adams urges support for ‘Lá Mór na Gaeilge’ on Saturday

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has urged people to support Lá Mór na Gaeilge.

The event takes place this Saturday at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin at 2pm.

The organising of Lá Mór na Gaeilge has been motivated primarily because of the resignation of the Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin and the report by the Council of Europe which highlighted that the promotion and development of the Irish language in the north is being blocked by hostile attitudes in Stormont.

Deputy Adams said:

“The Irish Language and Gaeltacht community north and south want equality for the language and want state services to be available in Irish at the same standard and level as they are provided in English, especially in the Gaeltacht.

“The reasons provided by Mr. Ó Cuirreáin for his resignation are a damning indictment of the Government views of the language rights of the Irish Language community in the south.

“Sadly, in the Stormont, Gaeilgeoirí still have to contend with the regressive attitude, of some elements, towards the development of the Irish Language in the North.

“Government spending, per capita, on the promotion of our national language is dwarfed by similar spending in Wales and Catalonia.

“This has to change.

But, as important, is the need to change the attitudes, of both states, towards the development of the language.

“I am calling on all those concerned with the promotion of our language to come out and support Lá Mór na Gaeilge on Saturday.”

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Welcoming the announcement yesterday by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, that funding will be made available to repair storm damage to piers and fisheries infrastructure as well as to help fishermen replace lost gear, Sinn Féin spokepersons on Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Affairs, Martin Ferris TD and Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh have said the minister needs to do more to keep fishermen afloat.

According to Ó Clochartaigh:

"We are glad that the minister has taken note of the concerns of the fishing industry, particularly small inshore fishermen.

"However, the minister has underestimated the extent and amount of money needed and will have to make more money available. This was not the last storm of the winter.

"The scheme cannot deal with the full extent of the losses of gear and it does nothing for the damage to vessels, engines and other tackle. We are calling him to extend the scheme to ensure that active fishermen can be returned to the situation they were in before the storms.

"We would hope that the scheme will be efficient and not over cumbersome with paperwork as at this stage fishermen are under a lot of pressure financially and personally to get back on the sea and earning a living."

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed today’s decision of the Public Accounts Committee to reverse its decision to deny whistleblower Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe a transcript of his evidence to the committee.

Deputy McDonald said:

“I welcome today's decision by PAC members to reverse the decision made last week to refuse a request made by Sgt Maurice McCabe that he be provided with the transcript of his own evidence.

“The matter has now been referred to the Committee on Procedures & Privileges and the PAC has requested that the committee conclude its deliberations in a timely manner.

“It has been my strong view all along that Sgt McCabe be provided with a copy of the transcript if he so requested.

“Whilst Sgt McCabe’s testimony was given during private session, it was always the case that should he request a copy of the transcript that he should be provided with it.”

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Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said new figures from the Department on Finance on mortgages show that 82% of struggling homeowners who are in arrears of over 90 days are still not in a permanent solution.

Deputy Doherty said:

“These figures show that there is still even at this stage a need for an independent body to step in and make reasonable deals that both the banks and customers can live with.

“Yet another set of figures on mortgage arrears show that the banks are not being realistic about providing sustainable solutions. At this rate we would be into the next decade before our mortgage crisis is over.

“This pace is dictated by banks trying to squeeze blood from a stone in many cases and from a government not willing to stand up to them.

“It is nearly a year since the Central Bank announced a set of targets for the banks to reach. We know they responded by ramping up the issuing of legal letters. I welcome the overall reduction in the number in arrears but three years into the life of this government and six years from the banking crisis a 1% reduction each month in those not in a permanent solution is far too slow.

“The fact that 82% of those with mortgage in arrears of over 90 days are not in a permanent restructuring shows that the banks are dealing with the mortgage crisis on their own terms and the government is letting them.

“We cannot afford to let the banks drag out this crisis until the next decade. Minister Noonan says that legal letters won’t count towards the targets but has failed to show that he means it. The government has talked tough but the banks have called their bluff and struggling homeowners are suffering as a result.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has welcomed a commitment from Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore this morning that IBRC mortgage holders will be protected.

The Tánaiste gave the commitment in response to Deputy Doherty’s queries in the Dáil this morning.

Speaking afterwards he said;

“I welcome today’s commitment from An Tánaiste that Minister Noonan will deal with the protection of the IBRC mortgage holders.

“The Sale of Loan Books to Unregulated Third Parties Bill needs to be fast-tracked but in the meantime Minister Noonan should spell out what steps he is planning to protect the mortgage holders before that Bill comes in.

“This is a bigger problem than just the IBRC mortgage holders. The Bank of Scotland is close to selling off its loan book to an unregulated company and action is needed to protect the rights of mortgage holders too.

“Sinn Féin has raised this issue with Minister Noonan a number of times and we will be ensuring that the government follows through on this commitment.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this morning during Leaders Questions Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD called on the Tánaiste to commit to independent inquiry, and to categorically state that no agency was authorised to carry our surveillance of GSOC.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Following the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s evidence to the Public Service Oversight and Petitions committee yesterday it has become evident that the government has misled citizens about the bugging controversy.

“Members of a government oversight agency were forced to hold meetings in cafes to avoid surveillance. They stopped using their mobile phones, using texts or holding meetings in their office.

“Both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice have made statements to the Dáil that have been flatly contradicted by the Ombudsman.

“It is clear that the government tried to shut down the demand for transparency surrounding the bugging scandal at GSOC yet the Ombudsman believes and has the evidence to support that a ‘credible threat’ to the organisations security existed.

“We now know that the security sweep of GSOC’s office was sparked by ‘heightened concerns’ of breaches of ‘confidentiality’ last May.

“We also know that after assessing the threats identified in the sweep in September the Ombudsman’s office ordered a public interest investigation as they believed an authorised or unauthorised element of the gardaí may have been involved in this surveillance.

“Information provided by GSOC to the committee yesterday is completely at odds to what with the Justice Ministers statement to the Dáil earlier this week. Clearly Alan Shatter sought to muddy the waters and this is absolutely unacceptable.

“When the bugging of GSOC’s offices was the Government’s first instinct was to undermine the organisation, and the Taoiseach did so by misquoting the Garda Síochána 2005 Act repeatedly.

“Does this style of political leadership really sit comfortably with the Labour party?

“Last year Minister Shatter was quick in his attempt to rubbish the Garda Whistleblowers and run to the Commissioners defence.

“Government’s failure to act with impartiality is undermining the Garda Síochána.

“It is time now for government to commit to independent inquiry, and to categorically state that no agency was authorised to carry our surveillance of GSOC.”

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Sinn Féin Agricultural spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the opportunity to visit three of the biggest agri food businesses in the North but said that the successes are in jeopardy of being reversed due to the DUP court case.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “The Assembly Business Trust team accompanied by the Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Association Michael Bell visited three of our biggest companies in the Agri-Food sector.

 “We began with a visit to Irwin’s bakery, a family run business that now supply all of the major supermarket chains.

 “Next we visited another family run business P McCann's and Sons who are one of the major importers and exporters of apples in Ireland who have now invested in new plant and machinery which has allowed them to expand into the drink sector with a new range of ciders and fruit drinks.

 “Finally our visit ended with a tour of one of the biggest poultry product producer in Europe, Moypark Chickens. Again this is a business that has and continues to invest in new plant and machinery to keep them leaders in the food product market.

 “These three agri food businesses alone employ over 1600 people and are examples of the success of the Agri-food industry.

  “The Agricultural Minister Michelle O'Neill has managed to move agri food to the top of the Executive agenda and the Minister has now put in place a strategic plan for the industry that could create up to 15,000 jobs.

 “It is becoming abundantly clear that the DUP have made a serious strategic mistake in taking the court case and that the growth of the agri food sector is in jeopardy of being stalled

 “The recent court case, brought by the DUP, stopped the Minister transferring 7% funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 means the Minister now has to go to the Executive to make up the short fall in funding in the Rural Development Programme (RDP) so that the agri-food strategy can be delivered on."

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has praised the community in the Kings Island area of Limerick City who have been dealing with the consequences of severe flooding over the past two weeks.

Speaking today as he viewed damage to houses in the area and met with local residents, accompanied by Sinn Féin Councillor Maurice Quinlivan, Gerry Adams said:

"This is a proud working class community which has shown great resilience in the face of recent flood damage.

"The great work of local people, especially women, in looking after their neighbours has been phenomenal.

"It is time that the efforts of the local community were matched by an urgent response from state agencies in ensuring that citizens who have been adversely affected by the floods receive their entitlements.

"The immediate needs are to ensure that the 80 families who have been displaced can be got back into their houses as soon as possible and that emergency repairs are completed speedily.

"Most of the affected households in Kings Island have been denied flood insurance cover.

"I have raised with the Taoiseach the need for a specific financial aid package to assist those who, through no fault of their own can't get insurance.
This issue needs to be dealt with as a matter of priority."

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has appealed to all farmers to use the online system to apply for Single Farm Payment this year.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “The Department of Agriculture has just launched their on line application form for Single Farm Payments.

 “Last year there were 37,633 applications, of which only 20% applied online leaving staff to deal with over 29,000 paper applications.

 “At the end of May, the last two weeks of the application period, 65% of the total applications were submitted which meant staff had to deal with 24,461 hard copy applications in that fortnight period alone.

 “It takes 10 weeks to scan and key in the data from all paper applications, and over 50,000 errors were identified in the first validation.  That gives a sense of the scale of the operation.

 “I would advise farmers that the online version of doing this is quicker, easier, avoids standing in long queues and makes correcting mistakes easier. 

 “It is therefore crucial that we get the message out to farmers that by applying early and online it will speed up the entire process.  If a farmer has not got the confidence to fill the form online they should seek assistance by contacting their local DARD office or any local Sinn Féin representative.

 “The system is set up to save information as it is imputed so even in areas where there is a bad broadband connection farmers can apply online knowing that if the network goes all down the information will have already been saved.

 “The Minister has promised that if over 40% of the Single Farm Payment applications were online then she would attempt to have over 90% of the payment out by December so farmers should be getting online now if they want an early return of their Single Farm Payment.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and Finance spokesperson Daithí McKay has stated that British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers is attempting to paper over the cracks when it comes to economic well-being in the North of Ireland.

His comments follow a speech made by Ms Villiers to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce International conference where she claimed that the British government had 'comprehensively won the economic argument' in terms of an austerity agenda.

Speaking today Mr McKay said:

“The British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers speech has ignored the economic reality in the north of Ireland. Under the Tory driven austerity agenda it is very clear that  economic development in the North is the last thing on the agenda in Westminster.

"The policies of austerity, from both London and Dublin, have failed and economic recovery will be even longer and harder while both governments fail to recognise this. The fact that the British Secretary of State says we are still in the early stages of economic recovery is an admission that we have been that way since her government came to power in 2010!

“She completely ignores the facts that we are still waiting on the promised peace dividend from Westminster, that the Welfare cuts agenda will remove up to £750m from the local economy and that £4bn was taken from the block grant under the Tory led coalition.

“Only last week a report by the Resolution Foundation highlighted that the North of Ireland suffered the worst in the recession yet this receives no mention in Ms Villiers speech. Incomes fell by 10% compared to 3.3% in the south of England.

“It is clear that Theresa Villiers is attempting to paper over the cracks of the British government's austerity measures.

“We are still waiting on the British Government to provide us with the exact figures for all revenue generated in the North. We will only know the true economic picture pertaining here by demanding full fiscal powers and taking control of our own economy. Only then will we be able to fashion policies and programmes tailored to our specific needs.”

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Jonathan O’Brien TD has expressed his grave concern at the news that the North Mon Primary School may be to close, and called on the Edmund Rice Schools Trust to explore all options, in order to keep the school open.

“Everyone in Cork, and even further afield, knows the contribution the Mon has made to Cork City, and in particular the Northside. As a past pupil, I know well myself the value of the school. Not only in producing well known past pupils of the calibre of Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Rory Gallagher, Tomas MacCurtain, and many more, but in providing an Education of the very highest standard to tens of thousands of working class boys over generations. In recent years the school has also become a welcoming home to the new Irish as well.”

“The news that has emerged in recent weeks, that the Edmund Rice Schools Trust intends to close the school, came as a tremendous shock to the staff, to the boys, and to their families.”

“It has been presented as a fait d’accomplit, despite no prior consultation with the community or staff whatsoever, and I am very disappointed at the approach of the ERST.”

“I believe that they have failed to even consider the particular role of the school in the community, the standard of the education provided, and its open enrolment policies and the inclusive approach to new Irish and minority communities. They are proposing to throw away 200 years of tradition in high quality education for a disadvantaged area. It is very clear that there are huge problems with the proposal to move the boys to St. Vincents, in particular, the fitness of facilities in St Vincent’s to accommodate them, and it is grossly unfair on the boys.”

“I am calling on ERST to work with the staff, and with the Local community, to consider alternative arrangements and proposals to ensure the Mon is not closed, I will provide what assistance I can and I am calling on the Bishop of Cork and Ross to intervene to protect the Mon. All options must be explored, to preserve the contribution of the Mon to the life of Cork’s Northside.”

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Tourism & Sport, Sandra McLellan TD, has expressed, “deep concern at reports that number 18 Moore Street is set to be demolished.”

McLellan, speaking in the Dáil today, said:

“According to today’s Irish Times, Chartered Land is preparing to demolish number 18 Moore Street. This is deeply concerning and needs the full and immediate attention of Minster for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan.

“It is a national monument and should not be simply bulldozed to make way for a shopping centre.

“The Taoiseach must encourage Minster Deenihan to meet with the Cross Party Group on Moore Street to discuss the preservation of Moore Street.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile has said Minister David Ford and the Department of Justice must act to reassure the fears of residents living along Strand Walk. His calls come after the installation of new security ‘netting’ which, as yet, remains unclosed.

Cllr Ó Donnghaile said;

“At the time of this fence going up I said it was regrettable and that no one in the Short Strand wanted to live in an area surrounded by walls; but we also accept the fears of our neighbours who live on the interfaces.

"The latest security measure was hailed as a perfect balance, to ease tensions and add to the security of residents, but up until now it remains unclosed and residents are as vulnerable as they ever were.

"Community organisation in the area are frustrated that in the run-up to the summer the netting still hasn’t closed and we now discover in order to close this, it takes in the region of four hours and a cherry-picker. I’m not sure if Minister Ford has ever been on the ground during violence at our interfaces but I can assure him that four hours and cherry-picker will be of little solace to the elderly and disabled residents living along Strand Walk.

"The Minister also claimed on radio this morning that he wasn’t sure if there was a connection between ‘flag protests’ and recent violence inflicted on the Short Strand; after months of illegal parades and roadblocks, orchestrated attacks on the Short Strand area and indeed attacks against members of his own party, I find that claim somewhat disingenuous.

"While I reiterate that no one wishes to see the erection of more so called ‘peacelines’ the reality for residents living in Strand Walk and St. Matthew’s Court is that until the Minister closes his ‘curtain’ they will continue to feel that little less safe in their own homes.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has welcomed the latest re-assurance from the Executive that it remains committed to the A5 Dual Carriageway, and that public consultation exercises will commence in April.

 Mr McAleer stated,

 “I tabled a question to OFMdFM asking about progress on the A5 Dual Carriageway.  The answer I received from the First and Deputy First Minister re-stated their commitment and outlined the next stage in the project.

 “I very much welcome the commitment of the Executive to this strategically important project. I also welcome the fact that after months of trying to get a start date for the public consultation from the DRD Minister, that OFMDFM have taken the lead by announcing that it will begin in April.

 “Whilst I would have wished that the dual carriageway was well under construction at this stage, I nonetheless welcome this latest commitment and timeline for the start of the public consultation as an important step forward.

 “The A5 project is important as an economic catalyst for the entire North West region and connecting it to Dublin and has also the support of the Irish Government.

 “Along with my party colleagues and our MP Pat Doherty, we will continue to use our influence in the Executive, at the Assembly and in Leinster House to make sure that the A5 dual carriageway remains a top priority. The people of the West deserve no less'.

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Sport & Tourism, Sandra McLellan TD has said the current state of emergency requires the government to take immediate action.

Speaking during a Dáil debate on recent flooding, McLellan said:

“The devastating effects of flooding have been reported on our TV screens over the past six weeks. Homes and businesses are being washed away.

“Households struggling to rebuild their lives are being hit with repeated flood warnings and down pours.

“Terms like code orange and code red are becoming everyday phrases.

“It is not acceptable that it has taken six weeks before Minister for Environment, Phil Hogan, came before the Dáil to make a seven minute speech.

“My own home town of Youghal, like so many other coastal towns, has suffered more than its share. In fact it has now been flooded three times in the recent past.

“The government must take immediate action on three levels.

“Firstly the immediate needs of people must be met. Homeowners, businesses and service providers need urgent practical and financial aid from government, outside the terms of their private insurance if they have any, to alleviate the impact on people.

“Next, the government must put in place measures to minimise flooding and flood damage. This will require capital funding to expand and strengthen flood walls and defences. This must be done in consultation with local authorities.

“Meanwhile longer term solutions must be found. It is nothing short of a disgrace that after three years in power you still have not published a Climate Change Bill. Not to take action on climate change is a total abdication of responsibility. The government must publish a climate change bill as a matter of urgency.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Lynn Boylan has described Bank of Ireland Chief Richie Boucher’s comments at today’s IBEC conference for CEOs as proof in itself that that macho culture that drove the financial system over a cliff is still alive and well.

Speaking from Brussels where the young candidate is taking part in a number of cross party women’s events, Lynn Boylan added:

“Likening the Bank of Ireland’s reckless lending practices to that of a good girl getting herself into trouble at a wild party is offensive on so many levels.

“It’s no surprise that under Richie Boucher’s watch the Bank of Ireland does not have a single female executive member on its board.

“Richie Boucher may well be right to refer to the banking crisis as a wild party for himself and his senior banking buddies but it’s the elderly, the disabled and struggling homeowners who were left to pick up the tab.

“It is absolutely astounding that any senior executive would believe it is okay to get up in front of a gathering of his peers and use such a base analogy in 2014.

“Boucher’s belittling of the years of hardship families across this state have endured thanks to the reckless lending practices is mind boggling.

“There is no place in any organisation for the kind of macho culture Riche Boucher represents.”

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