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Rasharkin Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay has condemned an attack on a Catholic Church in the area over the weekend. A number of windows were smashed at St Columba's Church outside the village.

Cllr McKay said

"To attack a church of any denomination is a sickening and reprehensible act and this attack must be condemned by all political parties.

"Anyone with information on this sectarian attack should bring it forward to ensure that those who carried it out are prosecuted. Local people are sick, sore and tired of these attacks. Those who carry out sectarian attacks on the Catholic or Protestant community here represent no-one." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Margaret McClenaghan has expressed her 'disappointment’ at the decision by the Parades Commission to allow yet another contentious parade, this time the Apprentice Boys of Derry, to march past the Ardoyne community.

Speaking this afternoon Cllr McClenaghan said;

“Once again we see a determination from the Parades Commission which flies in the face of the desires of the people within the Ardoyne community. This is a parade which will see the marchers pass by this community, simply to get onto buses to take them to Derry; there is no logic or no rationale for this.

You would have thought that following the recent stress caused to this community as a result of Orange parades being facilitated and those who sought to use this as an excuse to inflict great trauma on our community, the Parades Commission would have acknowledged and accepted the need for a sensible resolution to this issue.

I am once again calling on the Loyal Orders to engage directly with Sinn Féin as well as community representatives and step up to the mark in terms of playing their part in resolving the issues around these contentious parades.” CRÍOCH

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Coleraine Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard is to take his petition against the cumulative effect of four waste management sites in the Ringsend area of Co. Derry to Brussels in the autumn.

 

Cllr Leonard raised the petition on behalf of the community claiming that our local planning and environment authorities have, contrary to EU directives, not considered the cumulative effect of all the various sites and applications. He will appear before the EU Commission in early October or November.

 

Cllr Leonard said:

 

“I am pleased that we have got this far and the European Commission have now thought my case worthy enough of a formal hearing.

 

“I put together a paper based solely on EU Directives and put it to the EU Petitions Committee that the authorities here have not considered the cumulative effect of four sites in such a small area, as directed by Brussels. They have accepted that my argument is worthy of further consideration.

 

“It is interesting to note that when Sammy Wilson was Minister for the Environment his reply to my correspondence on this issue was less than poor. I have since put the same points to his successor Edwin Poots and it seems he is taking longer to consider the matter.

 

“Obviously there will be more work preparing for this hearing but you have to make the best of getting the process this far. I have already received great assistance from our MEP Bairbre de Brún and her staff and now that Bairbre is to serve on the new Petitions Committee her advice will be invaluable.” ENDS

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after the SDLP produced a paper on the parading issue, Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O’Dowd said that it was crucial that the SDLP, in trying to appear relevant on the issue, did not allow the primary focus - which needs to be on the Orange Order - to shift.

 

Mr O’Dowd said:

 

“When the issue of contentious parades is stripped back to its core it is an issue which like so many within the broader peace process can and will be resolved through dialogue and courageous leadership.

“Out of thousands of Orange parades only a very small number are contentious. Residents in these areas have genuine concerns and a collective negative experience of the Orange Order and its worst excesses. The onus is on the Orange Order to deal with these genuine and deeply felt concerns.

 

“At present the Orange Order refuses to talk to nationalist residents. They refuse to talk to Sinn Féin, the biggest party in the six counties. In recent times the Parades Commission has rewarded Orange Order intransigence with favourable determinations. This has exacerbated an already difficult situation.

 

“So while the decision making structure around parading is crucial, and Sinn Féin have made a submission to the Ashdown Review, what is required now is for the Orange Order leadership to step up to the plate and begin to enter the real world. The Orange Order leadership have to power to take the heat out of this situation overnight by a declaration that they will no longer seek to march through communities where they are clearly not welcome.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein Councillor Maeve McLaughlin has called on InvestNI to explain exactly what initiatives it is taking to halt the hemorrhaging of jobs in the North West and to attract new investment. 

 

Councillor McLaughlin said:

 

"Once more the North West has been hit with a major job loss announcement. In the past two years this Region has hemorrhaged over 2,500 jobs with an approximate loss to the local economy of 7 to £10million annually. This can not be allowed to continue. InvestNI was set up with the specific remit of regeneration and job creation. What is it doing to encourage investment in Derry? Where are the jobs? When was the last announcement of new jobs in Derry that actually materialised?

 

"The Sinn Féin Council Group received cross party support in December 2005 for a Motion calling for the North West Region to be declared an 'Area of Exceptional Economic needs'. The Motion pointed out that since the Region consists of a general travel to work area with workers traveling in both directions between Derry and Donegal then it is the responsibility of both administrations to address this issue. This Motion was also endorsed by the North West Region Cross Border Group.

 

"As a member of the NWRCBG I will be encouraging it to lobby both administrations, because of the natural travel to work area encompassing both jurisdictions, to urgently designate the North West Region an ‘Area of Exceptional Economic Needs’. InvestNI and the IDB should also pool their resources to address the dire situation of job losses in this region.

 

""While I welcome the commitment given by Employment Minister, Reg Empey to do all he can to assist I am also calling on other Ministers who have responsibility for investment, such as DETI, Social Development and Regional Development to look at ways of expediting projects that have already been identified for delivery in the lifetime of this Assembly.

 

“At last weeks AGM of Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau, NI Tourist Board confirmed they are developing a new business strategy for Derry. I would urge that this strategy be rolled out without delay. But if we are to capitalize on increased tourist numbers we need urgent investment in low level infrastructure such as the provision of additional public toilet facilities and adequate coach parking.

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Sinn Féin Assembly Group Leader John O’Dowd has accused the SDLP of being in complete disarray and confusion about their approach to the Assembly and Executive. Mr O’Dowd’s comments come after the SDLP have now decided to oppose the transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London and into the hands of locally elected politicians.

Mr O’Dowd said:

“While it may not surprise some that the SDLP now oppose powers on policing and justice being transferred away from Westminster, given their party leader’s and other MPs fondness for the British Parliament, it is however telling that a party demanding to become a future Justice Minister is opposing the mechanism to see these powers being transferred in the first instance.

“This is a classic SDLP approach. It has typified their approach not just to policing and justice but to these institutions. It is borne from an arrogant disregard for the decisions taken by the electorate in making Sinn Féin the largest nationalist party. In ways they are a party in denial.

“Not once during any talks process did the SDLP demand the transfer of powers. Indeed after the Mandelson policing legislation they decreed that no further policing legislation would happen. Not once during their period in the Deputy First Ministers Office did they ever seek to out in place a mechanism to allow the transfer of powers on policing and justice. Such was their blind approach that the issue wasn’t even on their radar.

“So from a position of not even realising this was an issue, to one of lukewarm support they have now hitched up with Jim Allister to try and keep these powers at Westminster.

“But this is too important an issue to allow SDLP and TUV negativity and politicking to get in the way. Sinn Féin are determined to keep driving this process forward and we are determined to see this process concluded swiftly.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today issued an open letter to the Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson. The letter published in the Belfast Telegraph challenges the Order to talk to Sinn Féin and also details links between the Order and loyalist paramilitaries.

An Open Letter to Drew Nelson

 Drew a chara,

After personally reflecting on the statements and resolutions issued by the Orange Order I would like to outline a personal perspective for consideration.

As Grand Secretary you call for ‘Respect’.  This I fully endorse.  But respect, if it is to be meaningful, must be mutual.  Accordingly, I would call for mutual respect between all parties to parading disputes.  If the Orange Order seeks ‘respect’ from others, then it in turn must respect the views of those who differ from them, and address their concerns in a peaceful and dignified way.

This applies particularly to parades through or fringing sensitive areas, where little or no respect has been shown to local residents.  The annual insistence on contracting Loyalist paramilitary or ‘kick the pope’ bands, the appearance of UDA, UVF and YCV flags and bannerettes and the refusal to countenance alternative non-contentious routes, is hardly indicative of a manifestation of respect or Christian forbearance.

Mutual respect could also be demonstrated if the Orange Order and indeed all the Loyal Orders could agree to a process of meaningful dialogue with the political representatives of the Nationalist community.  This should not present a difficulty for the leadership of the Orange Order whose members have over the years held discussions in Belfast and beyond with myself and other Republicans.

Furthermore on the Orange website you declare your organisation to be Christ-centred, Bible-based and Church grounded.  As a Christian institution in 1998 you agreed with the heads of the main Protestant Churches that you ‘cannot refuse to talk to anyone made in the image of God’.  How do these declarations reconcile with your continued refusal to meet with Sinn Féin?

After the 12th this year, as a prerequisite to dialogue, you called on me to apologise for and to stop glorifying IRA killings and ‘the murder of those 273 members by the Provisional IRA’. 

I have never glorified IRA killings. I made it a point in my media interviews after your public comments to directly address your request. I expressed my sincere regrets for the deaths and injuries caused by republicans. I do so again. This includes members of loyal institutions.

In my opinion all of the deaths and the bereavement of families from all sides should be a matter of regret for everyone, republican and Orangeman alike. A commitment to prevent such deaths should also be the responsibility of republicans and Orangemen.

This year’s 12th resolutions declare, “As an institution which has lost 335 members to a vicious terrorist campaign”.  So who was responsible for the deaths of the remaining 62 members?  Was it a direct or indirect result of membership of Loyalist paramilitaries? Were some brethren killed by members of the British Crown Forces, the same Crown who you reaffirm your devotion and loyalty to every 12th?

How many nationalists were slain by Orangemen in Loyalist paramilitary groups? Or in the British Crown Forces? Perhaps I could offer some examples of paramilitarism. A Belfast lodge, renowned for its UVF connections, is the ‘Old Boyne Island Heroes’ LOL 633.  On their bannerette were listed 6 UVF lodge members who were killed in the recent conflict. 

·                         Aubrey Reid was killed in a premature explosion while on ‘active service’ for the UVF;

·                         Noel Shaw was killed in an internal UVF feud;

·                         John Bingham, a UVF commander was shot dead in 1986; He received an Orange funeral with members of his lodge flanking his coffin wearing traditional regalia;

·                         Brian Robinson a UVF and lodge member was shot dead on 2/9/1989 by a British Army undercover team, just after he shot dead a catholic resident of Ardoyne, Patrick McKenna.  He also received an Orange funeral.

·                         Bobby ‘Basher’ Bates, also a UVF and lodge member, who was part of the Shankill Butchers gang which savagely killed many Catholics. He was shot dead by a fellow Loyalist in a revenge attack.

·                         And finally, Colin Craig, another UVF and lodge member, was shot dead by the INLA in 1994.  He initially featured on the bannerette but was removed when it was alleged that he was an informer.

Furthermore, on June 28th 2003 the ‘Old Boyne Island Heroes’ LOL 633 walked in the contentious Whiterock parade along the Springfield Road.  Carrying their bannerette depicting Brian Robinson was none other than Eddie McIlwaine, adorned with Orange sash who was sentenced to 8 years for his part in the Shankill Butcher’s campaign of terror.

These UVF links extend to leadership figures within the Orange Order.  The former District Master of No.9 District who file for the Whiterock parade every June, was described in death and subsequent anniversary notices as Vol. John Bradshaw McFarlane, Chief Medical Officer, UVF.

As a self proclaimed Christian institution the Orange Order should take cognizance of a relevant reference from the Bible, Matthew 7:3-5 (King James Version) “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote of thy brother’s eye”.

Irrespective of the differences which exist between us, let us all focus on how to resolve the remaining handful of contentious parades in a spirit of mutual respect.  As a society, we cannot afford the negative and unsustainable political, financial and social costs from parading disputes.

The Orange Order and Orangeism is a part of who we are as a nation.

Irish republicans want a dialogue with the Orange in order that we can each understand and appreciate the position of the other.

There are over 3000 orange marches each year. Irish republicans accept the right of the Order to parade and to promote its sense of orangeism. But this has to be on the basis of equality and mutual respect and tolerance. The overwhelming majority of orange parades take place without rancour or dispute. But there are a small number which each year give cause for concern.

I am again asking you and the Orange Order to engage in dialogue with local residents and with Sinn Féin and let us together seek to resolve these in a common sense and respectful manner. Our door is open.

Le meas

Gerry Adams MP MLA

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Sinn Féin Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has announced the opening of the first three measures under the current European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

The measures, which will provide grant support to the fish catching, processing and aquaculture sectors totalling £6.5million over the next six years, open for applications on Monday 3 August. The measures are: Collective Actions; Productive Investments in Aquaculture; and Investments in Processing and Marketing.

Minister Gildernew, in making the announcement stated:

“The European Fisheries Fund will provide over £30million (€36million) in assistance to the local fishing industry over the next six years. We are now in a position to open the first three measures of this fund, which will provide opportunities for three key sectors within our fishing industry. These measures will, over the next six years of the programme, provide up to £6.5million (around €7.5million) in grant assistance to promoters who bring forward good, sustainable and viable projects that will develop and restructure the local fishing industry.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in European Fisheries Funding to visit the DARD website, which provides the documentation and guidance required, or discuss their proposals with Fisheries Grants Unit staff in order that we can start disbursing the funding. It is my intention that all remaining measures within the programme will open for applications immediately upon approval of each measure-level business case.”

Application forms and guidance notes will be available from the DARD website, www.dardni.gov.uk/eff, from Monday 3 August 2009 or by contacting the Fisheries Grants Unit Office, telephone 028 9037 8319 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Note to Editors

  1. The European Fisheries Fund Programme will provide the NI fishing industry with €36.2million of grant assistance until it closes on 31December 2015. The European Commission is providing €18.1million of support with the remaining €18.1million being provided by Executive funds.
  2.  EFF support is provided under 4 Priority Axis, namely: Priority Axis 1 Measures for the adaptation of the Community Fishing Fleet; Priority Axis 2 Aquaculture, Inland Fishing, Processing and Marketing of Fishery and Aquaculture Products; Priority Axis 3 Measures of Common Interest; Priority Axis 4 Sustainable Development of Fisheries Areas
  3. Council Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006 of 27 July 2006 on the European Fisheries Fund provides further information on what proposals are eligible for support under the Programme.
  4. It is anticipated that the Fishing Ports, Landing Sites and Shelters Measure will open in early September 2009 with further measures opening as measure level business cases are completed, with the aim of having all measures open by 30 June 2010.
  5. Further information is available on the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s website at www.dardni.gov.uk/eff
  6. Application forms and guidance notes will be available from 3rd August 2009 on the website at www.dardni.gov.uk/eff
  7. For further information please contact the EFF Grants Unit on 028 9037 8319.

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Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast Gerry Kelly has stated that a full disclosure from the British Government and acknowledgement that the British army were involved in a cover up in the McGurk’s Bar bombing should now be forthcoming.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“The document surrounding what happened at the McGurks Bar in 1971 points clearly to the cover up that followed the bomb attack on the bar and the smear campaign, which attempted to blame the innocent victims for the bomb, went to the highest level of the British army and government.

“For the victims families this is hardly a revelation. It is what they have been campaigning on for over 37 years now – to highlight what happened and to seek a full apology and admission of what occurred on the night and in the subsequent weeks, and months.

“However what is dismaying is that it was a relative of one of the victims who uncovered this document and that it was not released by the British government who were clearly hiding the evidence and deliberately giving false information.

“What we need to see now is the British government releasing all the files surrounding this and many other cases in order to get to the truth.

“Without this there will not be closure for the families of those who have suffered through collusion and the British states role in the conflict.”

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Commenting after the Bill to allow for the transfer of powers on policing a justice passed through the Executive today, despite opposition from the SDLP, Sinn Féin Junior Minsiter Gerry Kelly said:
“The SDLP really need to sort out their heads when it comes to transferring powers on policing and justice. Having previously stated it was not possible, they then belatedly supported it and demanded to become Minister and today they have reverted to their oppositional stance a position they share with rejectionist unionism.
"Given the SDLP record on dealing with policing legislation it should come as no surprise that they are once again in some disarray on the issue. Remember it was the SDLP who when faced with the Mandelson Bill which gutted Patten first voted for the legislation, then against and then abstained.
"For two years the SDLP held the position of Deputy First Minister yet never once raised the issue of transferring powers on policing and justice. Unlike the SDLP who have done nothing to secure the transfer of Policing and Justice powers Sinn Féin has remained committed to this key issue. We are working to ensure that the process led by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson will lead to the transfer of powers happening. Today was another step along this road.
"Achieving this will remain the focus of Sinn Féin in the time ahead and we will not allow ourselves to become distracted from that task by Margaret Ritchie or anyone else.
"Sinn Féin have said that we would support the SDLP for the position of Justice Minister. That remains our position. It must be asked have the SDLP even bothered to arrange specific meetings with any other parties to seek their support or do they expect Sinn Féin to conduct that negotiation for them also.
"The latest 'poor me' position from the SDLP is fairly typical of the malign approach that they are taking to anything that the Assembly or the Executive are doing. Having previously argued that the transfer of powers on Policing and Justice could not happen, they now sit on the sidelines and criticise Sinn Féin for bringing it about."

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Speaking following the release of CSO statistics that childcare costs for parents in the Dublin area are significantly higher than other areas of the state, Sinn Féin Dublin TD Aengus O Snodaigh called for the Government to address their failed childcare policies.

The Dublin South Central TD said;

“A report from the CSO has shown that on average childcare costs in the state outside of Dublin are around €125 per week and they are up to €200 per week for the same service in the capital city – over a 15% increase in two years. This impact’s hugely on both parents, as well as childcare providers who will receive the same payment for children regardless of their location under the new Government scheme of providing a year’s free pre-school for each child. Less than a third of parents in Dublin believe they have access to high-quality, affordable, childcare in their community. This is an unacceptable situation for the Government to leave parents in.

“Representatives of childcare groups have said that many crèches will face closure because rising unemployment means fewer children using services, whilst other parents are working fulltime to merely pay for their childcare costs.

“During the good times, the Government failed to establish a proper childcare infrastructure and now in the bad it intends to withdraw the Early Childcare Supplement, despite a UNICEF report rating Ireland last in a league table of OECD countries in provision of childcare.

“Sinn Féin is committed to establishing a universal state provision of pre-school children from the age of three to five years. The only way the problems of childcare can be solved in this state is if government delivers a universal provision of early childcare and education based on the best international models.” ENDS

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Cathal Boylan commenting on planning approvals in the countryside under draft PPS21, has stated:

 

“The figures released clearly show that the new policy provisions within the draft particularly in relation to farm dwellings and replacements are providing some much needed opportunities for various sectors within the rural community.

 

“However these figures should be taken in the context that planning service are currently holding all applications which have been recommended as refusal under draft PPS21.

 

“The majority of these applications have yet to be determined. We must recognise that the figures released today are incomplete in that they are, by and large, only applications

 

“The figures are not a true reflection of planning permission given the number of applications awaiting determination. Within these fall applications for rural people not involved in agriculture. It is important that we continue to support the rights of these people to ensure that their needs be addressed in any final policy.

 

“We have clearly seen an increase in opportunities since the introduction of the new draft proposals, however the figures released by the department should not deter and undermine the task of the independent working group assigned to address the issue of non-farming rural dwellers.”

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Sinn Féin Dublin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called on the Department of Health to deliver a targeted swine flu vaccination programme for drug users and front line health workers.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“High-risk groups include young people and those with long-term illnesses. Drug users suffer from a myriad of health problems including HIV, AIDs, Hepatitis and respiratory problems, all of which make them susceptible to additional infection. As the swine flu symptoms are similar to the regular flu drug users might not seek medical advice which in turn could increase the rate of infection in communities.

“However drug users are an easily identifiable group so a vaccination programme could be easily rolled out through the various health and support services they access on a regular basis. In the absence of a national vaccination programme the HSE needs to identify vulnerable groups and ensure they are vaccinated against the swine flu in order to slow down the spread of this potentially fatal illness.

“Front line health workers must be vaccinated against swine flu as a matter of urgency. The existence of MRSI in our hospitals is evidence alone of how quickly and fatally infection can spread in hospitals. Workers must be protected from patients presenting to hospitals unaware that they are carrying the virus and in equal measure patients must be protected from swine flu when being admitted to hospital.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Tierna Cunningham today described the early morning attempt to burn classrooms at St Mary's Star of the Sea Primary School on the Shore Road as a "sickening sectarian attack".

"This is the second time the school has been targeted by arsonists in a month," she said.

"It is a sickening sectarian attack on a place which should be a safe haven for children.

"The staff of St Mary's has worked hard to give local children the best possible start to life through a good education and it beggars belief that anyone could target a school to vent their hatred.

"The recent spate of attacks on schools is robbing all our children of the best opportunities that education can provide as much-needed resources are being diverted to deal with this wanton destruction.

"These attacks should stop now and I appeal to anyone who has any information on those behind the attacks to contact the police."

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Sinn Féin Assembly member John O’Dowd today met the Independent Reviewer of the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007 Robert Whalley. Speaking after the meeting Mr O’Dowd said that the retention of so called security provisions was completely unacceptable.

Mr O’Dowd said:

“A stable society will not be built with the assistance of repressive and draconian legislation. This throwback to the failures of the past must be removed. We made this clear in our meeting with Mr Whalley today.

“Sinn Fein are opposed to draconian legislation. The retention of the provisions of Part VII of the Terrorism Act in this piece of legislation is unacceptable. This legislation has no place in our society.

“We believe that the ‘Independent Reviewer’ should recommend that the British Secretary of State repeal these powers without delay.” ENDS

 Note to Editors

 Under section 40 of the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007 the British Secretary of State is obliged to appoint a person to review the operation of sections 21-32 of 2007 Act (which provide the British army with various powers). This appointee must carry out such a review as soon as practicable after the 31st of July each year and forward any findings in a report to the British Secretary of State.

Robert Whalley has been appointed the ‘Independent Reviewer’ of this piece of legislation.

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has slammed the latest attack on St Mary’s star of the sea. The school was targeted in a second asron attack within two weeks.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“This attack on St Mary’s Star of the Sea is the second arson attack within two weeks. In the first instance there was sectarian graffiti painted on the school as well as damage at several parts of the school from fire so we cannot rule out the same motive for this attack.

“Again last night we were lucky that the school was not destroyed. We can see the impact of arson attacks on schools with the razing to the ground of Whitehouse Primary School last week and we are extremely fortunate that this was not the case last night.

“Schools should in no way be targeted. They are attacks on all of our children and on their futures. Schools are not just centres of learning for our children but they also provide, on an ever increasing basis, services and facilities for the wider community.

“I am adding my voice to the chorus of voices across society for an end to these attacks. There is no justification for these actions whatsoever and anyone with any information on any of these attacks should bring it forward to the PSNI.

“In the meantime we need to start exploring initiatives to protect our schools from attacks whether they be sectarian in nature or acts of vandalism and protect our children’s right to education.”

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Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún has called for all parts of Ireland to be opened to allow for Guantanámo Bay detainees to be given humanitarian access and has welcomed the Irish governments commitment to allow two of the detainees to travel to the south of Ireland.


Speaking today Ms de Brún said:


“The detainees being held at Gauntanámo have had their basic human rights severely abused both thought he means in which they were held and the rendition process that led to them being held in the camp. These people should be freed.


“Obviously on humanitarian grounds many of the people who were held in Gauntanámo would not be able to travel to their homes for fear of further persecution. This leaves them essentially homeless and stateless.


“I believe that European countries should be open to allowing access for many of the Guantanámo detainees. I welcome the commitment by the Irish government to take a two of those held and would call for all parts of the island of Ireland to allow access for the cleared detainees.”

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Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has announced the award of a £1.8million contract to three local organisations to provide counselling services to all post-primary schools in the north.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to announce that the new contracts have been awarded. All pupils of post-primary age will continue to have access to counselling support. Counselling can assist young people during difficult and vulnerable periods in their lives and so, by having this service available, we aim to address the barriers to learning therefore improving the educational outcomes of all our pupils.”

The new contracts have been awarded to New Life Counselling, Counselling4Youth and Family Works. The counselling support provided conforms to the current best practice and professional standards for school-based counselling, specifically in respect of counsellor qualifications, continuous professional development, supervision policy and safe working practices.

The Minister added: “The service will be in place for the start of the new school year in September. All post-primary schools have been notified of the new arrangements and have already begun holding meetings with the providers.”

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Commenting on figures showing the PSNI spent almost £300,000 on informers in the last financial year, Sinn Féin Policing Board member Martina Anderson said:

 

“Everyone knows that police forces the world over use informants, but given our history here and in particular the use of informants to manipulate, control and direct loyalist death squads people will be rightly concerned with this revelation.

 

“There is also a widely held belief that many informants currently operated by the PSNI are active within various dissident groupings. Many questions, for instance, have been raised by the media in respect of Paddy Murray. There is also a suspicion that many of these individuals are involved in criminal actions while others act as agents provocateur and no decisive police action is being taken to prevent it. This perception clearly undermines confidence in the PSNI in their task to deliver an accountable civic policing service.

 

“This information should first of all have been brought to the Policing Board and discussed there. Now that it is in the public domain I expect a statement on the issue from the Chief Constable at our next meeting.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin west Belfast MP Gerry Adams will meet the Holland family next week to discuss and agree what representations we make to the British Attorney General.

 

Commenting on the decision by the PPS to refer the convictions in the Harry Holland case to the British Attorney General Mr. Adams today said:

 

“Harry Holland was murdered in September 2007. He was a gifted, generous and loving family man and his killing shocked the west Belfast community. There is widespread community support for his family who since then have demonstrated enormous courage in dealing with the subsequent trial.

 

The family and community were outraged at the deal done to reduce the charges in the case of two of those involved and of the leniency of the subsequent sentences.

 

Like the family I am deeply dissatisfied with the way this case has been handled by the Public Prosecution Service and by the judiciary.

 

The decision by the PPS and what representations we make to the British Attorney General will be discussed at our meeting next week.

 

The family’s campaign for justice has placed a focus on the criminal justice system and in particular the serious deficiencies within the Public Prosecution Service.

 

The PPS needs to change. There needs to be a root and branch examination of how prosecution cases are conducted.

 

We must ensure that we attain a prosecution service which is truly independent, accountable and which has the confidence of all sections of the community.

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