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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Speaking in the Dáil this evening on a Sinn Féin Private Members’ Motion on the Dublin Monaghan Bombings Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the scheduling of the first day of the visit of the British Queen on the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings showed gross insensitivity.

Deputy Ó Caoláin criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s record on the issue describing it as less than satisfactory and said British Prime Minister David Cameron should take the opportunity while in Ireland tomorrow to give a commitment to release all files in Britain’s possession relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

He said:

“The purpose of this motion is firstly to reaffirm and reiterate the call made unanimously by the Dáil on 10 July 2008. That resolution, as set out again in our motion, urged the British government to open all relevant files on the atrocities inquired into by Judge Henry Barron.

“The responses of the current Taoiseach Enda Kenny have been less than satisfactory. I accept that he has not been long in office. Nonetheless this should be a priority item in any meeting on Irish-British relations between the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister until the request of the Dáil motion is complied with.

“It is especially frustrating that successive Taoisigh have failed in this regard in the context of the current visit of the Queen of England. Scheduling the first day of that visit on the very anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings showed gross insensitivity. Clearly, this major outstanding issue, this legacy of the conflict, was far from the minds of those who initiated, planned and organized this visit.

“Does the British government really recognize the suffering of the victims of collusion? Does it acknowledge the legitimate attempts of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and other fatal, cross-border acts of collusion, to seek redress?

“If it does, then let David Cameron act accordingly.

“He should do it tomorrow when he is here in Ireland by making a commitment to release the files. If he fails to do so then he must be continually pressed on this matter by the Taoiseach, as mandated in this further all-party motion.

“The unanswered questions remain. Now is the time for answers.” ENDS

Full text of Deputy Ó Caoláin’s contribution follows:

Sinn Féin Private Members Motion 17.5.11

Caoimhghín O Caoláin TD (Cavan-Monaghan)

I wish to formally move the motion on behalf of the Sinn Féin Teachtaí Dála and I welcome the co-signing of this motion by An Taoiseach and the other party leaders.

The purpose of this motion is firstly to reaffirm and reiterate the call made unanimously by the Dáil on 10 July 2008. That resolution, as set out again in our motion, urged the British government to open all relevant files on the atrocities inquired into by Judge Henry Barron.

It should not have been necessary to put this motion before the Dáil. The motion and the debate reflect the frustration of the survivors and the bereaved of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974 and of the other atrocities inquired into. They have waited for almost three years now for the British government to act on the motion. They have also waited for the former Taoiseach to press his British counterpart to act. On both counts they have been deeply disappointed.

The motion also reflects the patience and endurance of the survivors and the bereaved. The unanimous call of the Dáil on 10 July 2008 was not a one-off event.

It was the latest step in a long process in which the Oireachtas engaged with the families, initiated investigations, established committees, held public hearings and published reports.

Through all of this the Oireachtas received no real co-operation from the British authorities. The reports themselves expressed frustration at this lack of co-operation.

It was a logical step then for the Dáil to adopt the motion of 10 July 2008 calling on the British government – and I stress the British government – to act. I regret that successive Taoisigh in answer to questions from myself and others have attempted to present this as somehow a matter for the Clerk of the House of Commons or even for the Whips in this House. The July 2008 motion stated clearly, as quoted in the motion before the Dail now, that it called on the British government to release all the relevant files to an independent, international figure.

It would be difficult to count the number of times I questioned former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on this matter. Again and again I urged him to press the case for openness, truth and justice with the British government. While not often enough, nor vigorous enough, I can and will say that in fairness to Bertie Ahern he did raise the matter with Tony Blair. The motion of 10 July 2008 gave a strengthened mandate to the Irish Government to pursue this matter. I regret to have to say that they failed to take up that mandate. Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen showed no embarrassment whatsoever when he admitted that he had not raised the issue with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a failure he repeatedly confirmed.

The responses of the current Taoiseach Enda Kenny have been less than satisfactory. I accept that he has not been long in office. Nonetheless this should be a priority item in any meeting on Irish-British relations between the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister until the request of the Dail motion is complied with.

It is especially frustrating that successive Taoisigh have failed in this regard in the context of the current visit of the Queen of England. Scheduling the first day of that visit on the very anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings showed gross insensitivity. Clearly, this major outstanding issue, this legacy of the conflict, was far from the minds of those who initiated, planned and organized this visit.

I salute the fore-bearance of the relatives who turned the insult into an opportunity. They have asked that the British Prime Minister David Cameron take this opportunity to agree to release the files. He should do so without further delay.

There are some who argue that all this should be forgotten or set aside. It was forgotten by most except those immediately affected by it. It was set aside. That was why the group representing the survivors and the bereaved was called Justice for the Forgotten.

This was for years the tragedy that was deliberately forgotten by official Ireland.

The Garda investigation was closed down within a matter of months. In the aftermath of the tragedy the then Fine Gael/Labour Government attempted to place responsibility for the bombings on the shoulders of Irish republicans. In fact they effectively parroted the argument of the unionist paramilitaries that it was provocation from republicans that led to the bombings.

The rationale for the massacre was obvious. It was designed to ensure that the Irish Government was put in its place and that the public in this State were terrified.

The spectre of the backlash was created in order to suppress any expression of solidarity with the plight of nationalists in the North, any expression of the legitimate republican demand for an end to partition and British military withdrawal. Within the British state system there were clearly forces, closely allied with unionism and with loyalist paramilitaries, who had a common interest in toppling the Stormont Executive. If this also destabilized the Labour government of Harold Wilson, then well and good as far as many of them were concerned.

There are those who will accuse us of raking over old issues and opening old wounds. But these are unresolved issues of truth and justice. Wounds are still open.

It is quite galling that many of those who make such statements did little themselves to aid the search for justice or, worse, actually impeded that search.

Similarly, we are being implored, in the context of the current State visit, to set these matters aside, to ‘move on’ even to ‘grow up’ as a nation. These are patronizing and insulting attitudes. They might have some shred of credibility if those who uttered them had any kind of track record in challenging the British state on its role in Ireland. But their record is mostly blank. In fact, many of them would have welcomed the current State visit even at the height of the conflict.

We make no apology for returning to this issue of justice. We do so conscious of the fact that there are victims on all sides of the conflict and many unresolved issues. We have called for an international truth process and we have said that Irish republicans would be prepared to play their part in such a process. But there is no such process in place and it is only right that those who seek the full facts on events such as the Dublin and Monaghan bombings should be accorded their right to truth by the British government.

I recall the 17th May 1974 when tragedy visited my home town of Monaghan and seven of our citizens lost their lives. That left a deep scar in our town and a memory that is still vivid. More than three times that number were killed in Dublin where 26 people lost their lives on that day – 10 in Parnell Street, 14 in Talbot Street and two in South Leinster Street.

And our focus is not only on 17 May 1974. The investigative process initiated by the Oireachtas and which led to the publication of the Barron reports had a wider remit in terms of other incidents.

As well as his inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, cases Barron examined, to a greater or lesser degree, the bombing of Belturbet, County Cavan in December 1972 in which two teenage civilians were killed, the Dublin bombings of December 1972 and January 1973 in which three bus workers were killed, the killing of IRA Volunteer John Francis Green in County Monaghan in January 1975, the Kay’s Tavern, Dundalk bombing of December 1975 in which two civilians were killed, the Castleblayney bombing of March 1976 in which Patrick Moen was killed and the killing of civilian Séamus Ludlow in County Louth in May 1976.

In a process arising out of the Barron reports, Senior Counsel Patrick McEntee carried out a probe of the Garda investigation of the 1974 bombings.

While the process, from the beginning, fell far short of the public inquiry demanded by justice campaigners, it did throw a spotlight on these events. It is clear from all the reports that there was collusion between agents of the British state and those who carried out those bombings. All the evidence and experience of that time and of later years points to extensive use of unionist paramilitaries as a key component of British counter-insurgency strategy in Ireland.

Hard evidence for that lies somewhere in the archives of the British state. It must be brought to light.

In other circumstances the British government itself has been quick to point out the need for truth and justice and support for the victims of violence and conflict.

It was reported last week that a group was proposing to travel from the North of Ireland to Libya, reportedly to represent relatives of people killed by the IRA. They were advised by the British Foreign Office to speak to the Libyan Transitional Council in London. The Belfast Newsletter on 13 May reported the following comment from the British Foreign Office:

“It is clear that if the Libyan people choose a new future for themselves and their country there might be huge opportunities to find out about the support for terrorism that did so much damage to the UK.

“The government attaches huge importance to acknowledging the suffering of victims and to their legitimate attempts to seek redress.”

Does the British government really recognize the suffering of the victims of collusion?  Does it acknowledge the legitimate attempts of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and other fatal, cross-border acts of collusion, to seek redress?

If it does, then let David Cameron act accordingly.

He should do it tomorrow when he is here in Ireland by making a commitment to release the files. If he fails to do so then he must be continually pressed on this matter by the Taoiseach, as mandated in this further all-party motion.

The unanswered questions remain. Now is the time for answers.

ENDS

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During Leaders Questions today the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD urged the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to accept that “the full normalisation of the relationships within Ireland and between Ireland and Britain can only be fully achieved by ending partition and reuniting our people and the country”.

Today is the 37th anniversary of the Dublin Monaghan bombs. To date the British government has refused to release documents on the role of its security agencies who in collusion with the loyalist UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) carried out a series of bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974 which left 34 people dead.

Speaking after Leaders Questions the Sinn Fein leader Mr. Adams said:

“I regret that the Taoiseach did not grasp the opportunity of today’s debate to support my proposal that the Irish and British governments should invite a reputable and independent international body to establish the creation of an Independent International Truth Commission as part of a viable truth recovery process.

“Genuine national reconciliation, an inclusive healing process and the closure which victims, victim’s families and survivors deserve, demands that all of us have to pledge ourselves to tell and to hear the truth about the past.

“For my part I would actively encourage republicans to co-operate with such a process."

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Speaking today following the recent RTÉ report on the failure of Taxi regulation to safe-guard customers Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Dessie Ellis said

“Most Taxi drivers are hard working honest people who deserve our support and good legislation which ensures they are not tarred by criminals and rogue elements”.

He went on;

“Last night’s Primetime was a damning example of the failures to properly legislate for driver vetting, deal with double jobbing issues and guarantee that all taxi drivers are safe and legitimate.

“We saw that convicted rapists had been awarded licences, people who had been involved in hit and runs were still on the road and some drivers were on the road up to 90 hours a week. This is not just unacceptable in the interests of public safety but as well for the hard working, law abiding majority of taxi drivers who are trying very hard in this economic climate to make ends meet.

“This will unfortunately damage greatly the reputation of Taxi drivers but what we really need is solutions to these serious problems. We need these solutions urgently to restore public confidence.

“The Regulator needs to meet with Taxi drivers and their representatives and end the elitist approach which has been taken in the past where policy was foisted on Taxi drivers without proper consideration for their need and the realities of the industry following deregulation.

“We need a new vetting system along the lines of the Private Security Industry.

“We also need a new licensing system. Making licences non-transferable and supplying a register of licence holders and information on them to Gardaí, revenue commissioners and the Dept of Social Welfare.”

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To coincide with the English Queen’s visit to the Garden of Remembrance, Sinn Féin today released black balloons in the sky over Dublin City to remember those who have given their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom.

Speaking from Parnell Square, Sinn Féin Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said:

“Sinn Féin believes the English Queen’s visit is premature and will cause offence to many Irish citizens, particularly victims of British rule.

“During Elizabeth Windsor’s 60 year reign almost 400 people have been killed in Ireland by the forces of which she is Commander and Chief – this figure does not include the many Irish people killed as a result of collusion between her forces and loyalist death squads.

“Today marks the 37th anniversary of the Dublin Monaghan bombings, in which 33 people died. It is widely believed that this attack was carried out with the involvement of British military intelligence. The British government are still refusing to hand over their secret files in relation to these deaths. It's time for the truth.

“We are living in changed and changing times but the fact that €30 million is being spent on security surrounding this visit and Dublin City is on lockdown for the week makes it clear that the relationship between the two islands is still not ‘normal’.

“Sinn Féin wants to have good relations with all our neighbours but that can only happen in an atmosphere of equality and mutual respect and with the reunification of our country. Republicans have been to the forefront in working to bring this about and we will continue to do so.”

ENDS

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Newly elected Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said he ‘will not be intimidated by sectarian thugs’ after he received a bullet in the post this morning.


Speaking from his constituency office, where the bullet was sent, Mr McMullan said;


“This is another in a series of death threats sent to democratically elected Sinn Féin representatives.
A bullet was posted to our office with a card reading “Loyalist Action Force”.


I am honoured and privileged to be elected by the people of East Antrim to serve them in the Assembly and no amount of threats from sectarian thugs will intimidate me from carrying out my work on their behalf.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin will use its Private Members’ Time this evening to debate the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings and anticipates the support of the house on the issue.

The debate will be concluded tomorrow.

Cavan-Monaghan Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

“This motion reiterates the all-party resolution of 10th July 2008 which called on the British Government to release all files relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

“To date no action has been taken despite the motion receiving unanimous backing from all parties and it is for this reason that we are taking the opportunity to restate that call and are urging An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to press this matter directly with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Today is the anniversary of those bombings which many believe were carried out with the involvement of British intelligence. Today is also the first day of the queen of England’s state visit, a visit which we in Sinn Féin oppose.

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Sinn Féin deputy Chair of the Justice Committee Raymond McCartney MLA has condemned the move by the British Secretary of State Owen Patterson to revoke the licence of Marian Price.

Speaking this evening Mr McCartney said;

“Marian Price is entitled to due process and the revoking of her licence is completely unacceptable.

The move by Owen Patterson amounts to detention without trial; this runs contrary to natural justice. The justice system needs to be based on human rights protection; the revoking of Marian Price’s licence runs contrary to that.

We have already raised our concerns on this issue with the British Secretary of State and will do the same with the Justice Minister as a matter of urgency.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today announced the party’s Ministerial appointments to the Northern Executive. The party leader thanked all the outgoing Sinn Féin Ministers and wished the new team well.

The appointments are as follows:

Sinn Féin Ministers

Deputy First Minister – Martin McGuinness

Department of Education (DE) – John O’Dowd
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) – Michelle O’Neill
Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) – Carál Ní Chuilín

Junior Minister OFMDFM – Martina Anderson


Parliamentary Under Secretaries

DCAL – Barry McElduff

Education – Mitchel McLaughlin

DARD – Pat Doherty

SF Committee Chairs

Finance and Personnel – Conor Murphy

Health – Michelle Gildernew

Social Development  – Alex Maskey

Public Accounts Committee – Paul Maskey

Committee on Procedures – Sue Ramsey

SF Vice Chairs

Justice – Raymond McCartney

Regional Development – Pat Doherty

Social Development – Micky Brady

Enterprise, Trade and Investment – Daithí McKay

Assembly Executive Review Committee –  Alex Maskey

Policing Board representatives

Gerry Kelly

Caitríona Ruane

Pat Sheehan

Sinn Féin Assembly group appointments

Assembly Group leader – Raymond McCartney

Whip – Jennifer McCann

Deputy Whip – Paul Maskey

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, TD, has condemned today’s attacks by the Israeli Army on peaceful Palestinian protesters marking the 63rd anniversary of Al-Nakba Day (when Palestinians mourn the foundation of the state of Israel and the displacement of the Palestinian people throughout the region).

Dozens of Palestinians were injured with bullet and shrapnel wounds in an attack on Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border with Egypt and latest reports suggest some protesters may have been killed. In separate attacks, it is reported that at least eight more protesters have been killed on the Israeli borders with Syria and the Lebanon.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“I condemn today’s murderous attacks by the Israeli army on Palestinian protesters. For too long, the Palestinian people have had to endure the occupation of their territories and oppression of their people while the world looks on and fails to intervene”.

“The recent resignation of George Mitchell as the US Middle East Peace Envoy was deeply worrying and his departure must not mark a further period of inaction by the US and the European Union. Today’s attacks demonstrate once again the urgent need for a real resolution to the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict with dignity and equality for all the people of the region”.

“The recent Palestinian unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas can make a positive contribution to a lasting peace. Today’s attacks must not be the start of attempts by Israel to provoke a Palestinian response and disrupt that agreement. The US, EU, and international community need to immediately intervene after today’s actions”.


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