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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said provisions contained in the Childcare Act 1991 can be used by Gardaí and the Courts to address the sale of a number of so-called legal highs to persons under the age of eighteen. And, according to Deputy Ó Snodaigh, this legislation could be easily and quickly amended to prohibit the sale of all of these drugs to persons under eighteen.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said he will be in contact with the Garda Commissioner urging him to issue a directive along with guidance to all members of the force to increase the enforcement of this law and to commence a focused operation targeting head shops.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“In the course of preparing our own comprehensive bill to tackle problems associated with head shops and so-called legal highs I reviewed the existing legislation. In doing so, I have identified an immediate step that can be taken by Gardaí pending the passage of comprehensive legislation.

“It is our belief that existing legislation provides Gardaí and the courts with the power to address the sale of dangerous powders to persons under the age of eighteen. The sale of substances to children where there can be a reasonable belief that these may be inhaled to cause intoxication is an offence under the Childcare Act 1991 punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. That Act also gives Gardaí powers of confiscation in public places.

“I am writing to the Garda Commissioner. I will be urging him to issue a directive along with guidance to all members of the force to increase the enforcement of this law and to commence a focused operation targeting head shops.

“I will also be contacting the Minister for Justice requesting that he introduce a simple amendment to the legislation which would extend this ban to include the sale of non-powder psychoactive substances to persons under the age of eighteen. I am confident that such an amendment would receive all party support and could be made next week on the return of the Dáil if the Government was willing to introduce it.

“In addition on the back of the existing law An Gardaí Síochána should launch an operation targeting those involved in the sale of these inhalable substances via the internet where it is impossible to ascertain the age of the purchaser.

“The government have delayed taking action for too long. Comprehensive legislation such as that which I am currently developing is overdue. At a minimum they should act immediately to protect our children.” ENDS

Note to the editor:
While originally intended to address the sale of glue to children the wording of the Childcare Act 1991 can be interpreted to apply to any substance that may be inhaled for the purpose of causing intoxication.

Childcare Act 1991
Sale etc of solvents. 74.—(1) It shall be an offence for a person to sell, offer or make available a substance to a person under the age of eighteen years or to a person acting on behalf of that person if he knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the substance is, or its fumes are, likely to be inhaled by the person under the age of eighteen years for the purpose of causing intoxication.

(2) In proceedings against any person for an offence under subsection (1), it shall be a defence for him to prove that at the time he sold, offered or made available the substance he was under the age of eighteen years and was acting otherwise than in the course of or furtherance of a business.

(3) In proceedings against any person for an offence under subsection (1) it shall be a defence for him to prove that he took reasonable steps to assure himself that the person to whom the substance was sold, offered or made available, or any person on whose behalf that person was acting, was not under the age of eighteen years.

(4) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

(5) Subject to subsection (6), a court by which a person is convicted of an offence under this section may order anything shown to the satisfaction of the court to relate to the offence to be forfeited and either destroyed or dealt with in such other manner as the court thinks fit.

(6) A court shall not order anything to be forfeited under this section unless an opportunity is given to any person appearing to the court to be the owner of or otherwise interested in it to show cause why the order should not be made.

(7) A member of the Garda Síochána may seize any substance which is in the possession of a child in any public place and which the member has reasonable cause to believe is being inhaled by that child in a manner likely to cause him to be intoxicated. Any substance so seized may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of in such a manner as a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of Superintendent may direct.

(8) This section is without prejudice to the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 and 1984.

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Speaking today after the release of the ESRI’s Quarterly Economic Commentary, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on the Economy, Deputy Arthur Morgan, has condemned Government job creation policy as it will fail to create employment during the current Government term and will result in the emigration of 100,000 Irish people.

Deputy Morgan said:

“The ESRI have forecast that jobs will not grow between 2010 and 2011. The rate of unemployment will decrease by less than 1 per cent, not because of Government policy to tackle unemployment coming to fruition, but rather because of predicted net emigration of 100,000 by April 2011.

“The government will not implement a €3.218 billion economic stimulus package to get Ireland back to work and to stop the over-reliance on emigration as a solution to unemployment, but they are willing to pour €80 billion of taxpayer’s money into fixing the banking system.

“This report and the Central Bank Quarterly Bulletin lay bare for all to see the failures of the Government and how there are no prospects of employment in the current Government term. Nevermore has it been more obvious that the Government need to step aside and make way for a party who has costed job creation proposals, proposals that do not rely on emigration.

“In the past year Sinn Féin has published two documents to get Ireland back to work including proposals to tackle youth unemployment. None of these proposals hinged on exporting 100,000 people. When the ESRI said that annual growth will be led by exports, they did not mean our people. ENDS

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Speaking today after a survey by Retail Ireland found more than half of traders were struggling in the current business climate and that 40 per cent of retailers expect employee numbers to fall over the next three months, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called on the Government to reduce the costs of doing business, so that vital jobs can be retained.

Ó Snodaigh said:

“Today’s survey by Retail Ireland has shown conclusively that unless there is Government intervention to make running a business easier and more cost effective, vital jobs in the retail sector will be lost; Jobs that cannot afford to be lost.

“Sinn Féin recently proposed, in our policy document to tackle youth unemployment, the establishment of a firm or co-op, either by the State or by a co-operation between enterprises, to provide tax preparation, payroll and legal services, accounting, preparation of business proposals for requests for capital and regulatory compliance services for businesses, thus reducing costs.

“Everyday businesses are closing their doors for the last time and jobs are being lost. The Government are doing nothing, and their inaction is fuelling unemployment and emigration. Today’s figures need to be taken seriously and the Government should intervene to reduce the costs of doing business.

“If the Government are not up to the challenge of helping businesses, saving and creating jobs and bringing about economic recovery, then they need to step aside for a party who are. Sinn Féin has put forward a range of measures including a €3.218 billion economic stimulus package and a policy document to tackle youth unemployment.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey today described the intervention by the Orange Order into the election campaign in South Belfast, as’ the latest example of the cultural mask slipping’.

Mr Maskey said:

“For some years the Orange Order have sought to claim that they are little more than a cultural organisation who offer no threat to anyone. The reality for those nationalist communities through which the Orange Order seeks to march is of course very different.

“Over the weekend in Sandy Row Orange Hall the cultural masked slipped again. Hot on the heels of their alliance with the British far right in protesting against the papal visit to Britain the Orange Order in a very public fashion have sought to intervene in the Westminster election. The weekend statement seeking a unionist unity candidate in South Belfast is not the work of a cultural body. It is the work of a political organisation with an anti-Catholic ethos at its core.

“It also raises the issue of what involvement the Orange Order had in the grubby little sectarian carve up agreed in Fermanagh and South Tyrone last week and what involvement the unity candidate has with these anti-Catholic organisations.” ENDS

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Speaking in after powers on policing and justice were transferred away from London and into the hands of locally elected politicians, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:


“Today’s the day we were told would never happen. There was great opposition from the unionist parties. And the SDLP threw in the towel on Policing legislation almost 10 years ago in 2001.


“They said at that time that it would be impossible to get any other legislation. Sinn Féin stuck at it. We have delivered an increased policing and justice budget and a whole raft of new legislation. We have secured the transfer of policing and justice powers; and won the support of most of the other parties.


“So this is yet another important step forward in the ongoing process of change. The peace process is being challenged but the peace process is working.


“Sinn Féin is very pleased with today’s progress and we are determined to keep moving forward.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Deputy Arthur Morgan has today welcomed the announcement by Abtran to create 300 new jobs in its call centre operation in Cork.

Deputy Morgan said:

“In a county where there are currently nearly 45,000 people on the Live Register, the creation of new employment is vitally important. Abtran currently employ 1,000 people in Ireland and the expansion of employment is critical for the people of County Cork and for the local economy.

“The Government in tandem with Enterprise Ireland should be concentrating now on bringing these types of employment opportunities to every county in Ireland. While job creation in the current climate is always welcome, 300 jobs is nowhere near enough. What this country needs is 430,000 jobs and that is what the Government should be focussed on.” ENDS

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South Dublin Sinn Féin representative Shaun Tracey has slammed Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for sitting on 102 empty apartments while thousands desperately await to be housed.

Mr Tracey called on the council to release the apartments to social housing and said it is ridiculous that the Council would keep these units empty while thousands of people await social housing.

Speaking today Mr. Tracey said:

“A report in today’s Irish Times has revealed that Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is in possession of 50 one bed apartments and 52 two bed apartments which were purchased for use in the affordable housing scheme but which have not sold.

“These units could be costing the Council anything up to and possibly beyond €100,000 a month to keep empty. That is a disgrace. It is ridiculous that the Council would abuse taxpayers money in that manner, especially when there are thousands of families desperately waiting to be housed by the Council.

“The Council should immediately move to release these houses to social housing under the Rental Accommodation Scheme. At least then the rent from the tenants would cover the Council’s costs and over one hundred housing applicants will have been housed.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said young unemployed people, and particularly apprentices, must be given opportunities for employment in public sector construction contracts taken out by the Government and by local authorities throughout the state.

Senator Doherty called on the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe to introduce social clauses in local authority and public sector construction contracts to ensure that a sufficient number of apprentices and young unemployed are employed on each project.

Such a scheme has been introduced by the Minister for Regional Development in the Six Counties Conor Murphy MLA and can be seen working in the major A5 road project.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said:

“Sinn Féin’s recently launched policy to tackle the rising problem of youth unemployment examined the possibility of including a social clause in local authority and public sector construction, service and procurement contracts requiring the hiring of a set number of apprentices and young unemployed. Such criteria were introduced by the Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy in the Six Counties.

“Such a clause would pay dividends in terms of creating local employment opportunities and getting young skilled workers back to work. However the reality is that the political will simply does not exist to implement such an initiative. The Government is more interested in bailing out failed banks than it is in tackling the jobs crisis.

“Sinn Féin has shown, in our recent policy document on youth unemployment and through our campaign, that there is an alternative to dole queues, social welfare cuts and unemployment. This proposal is one of them. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment would do well to look into this proposal and to take a lead out of Minister Conor Murphy’s book.” ENDS

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Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has called on people in the constituency to ‘unite and defeat the sectarian candidate’. Ms Gildernews call comes after the unionist parties cobbled together an agreement on a single candidate in the forthcoming Westminster election.

Ms Gildernew said:

“I have been the MP for all the people in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Rodney Connor wants to return to the days when nationalists in this area were unrepresented. We need to unite to ensure that this does not happen

“The unionist parties have cobbled together a regressive deal based on a negative agenda. It is about base sectarianism, and the old agenda of division and inequality.

“Sinn Féin represent something completely different. We are about the future, we are about the needs of ordinary people not the narrow requirements of the unionist parties in Fermanagh.

“I remain confident that we can defeat the sectarian candidate and win this seat. Unlike Rodney Connor I have been on the doorsteps, I have been representing people across this constituency and we have been getting a positive feedback. So I am heading into this campaign confident that we can win and can retain this seat.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called for a huge turnout from Dubliners for next week’s march and rally in support of the Family of Toyosi Shittabey and calling on communities to unite against racism.

The rally is due to take place on Saturday 10th of April, gathering at the Garden of Remembrance at 2pm.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The tragic killing of Toyosi Shittabey must serve as a wake up call to the Government that racism in Ireland is on the increase.

“It is right that communities should come out in big numbers and unite against racism and I am calling on all available Dubliners to come out and show support and solidarity with Toyosi’s family and to send a message that racist attacks will not be tolerated in our city.” ENDS

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Tallaght Sinn Fein Councillor Seán Crowe has accused the ESB of adopting bullyboy tactics against customers who owe small and medium debts on their bills.

Crowe said he has received a growing number of complaints and claimed that this new aggressive approach in collecting small sums from the ESB would inevitably lose loyal customers and lead to more and more people "making the switch".

Councillor Seán Crowe said:

“I have been contacted on number of occasions over the last few weeks from irate ESB customers angry at the letters they are receiving threatening them with court and legal action, followed up by phone calls promising more of the same.

“One customer from Tallaght said she received a letter coming up to Christmas and saying she owed 3 euros 72 cent.

“Another loyal customer that was contacted has told me that she owed 50 euro, through a simple mix up, and after receiving this type of letter, threatening to bring her to court, she has decided to make the switch and go to An Bord Gais..

“Most Irish people in this State have remained loyal to the ESB despite the fact that many other rivals are offering substantial cuts of between 15% and 20% in bills and packages.

“No one, including even loyal customers likes to get letters in the post threatening legal action. The ESB needs to wise up to this fact.

“I am not suggesting they write off debts but I am suggesting that they show a bit of sensitivity and courtesy to their customer base.

“In the middle of this economic recession most companies are at present experiencing cash flow problems but the stark reality is that so are many of their customers.

“I realise every company large and small are under pressure regarding outstanding bills and debts but this type of new aggressive mode adopted by the ESB will inevitably lead to more loyal customers making the switch to other more competitive companies.

“Most sensible and modern companies would have their ‘dunning letters’ set at a reasonable and cost effective rate.

“The ESB needs to stop their bullyboy tactics on their loyal customers and do the same.

“If the ESB continues with its present campaign more and more will inevitably make the switch.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Senator and spokesperson for the ‘Jobs for the unemployed’ campaign Pearse Doherty has today called on the government to immediately implement a youth jobs fund in light of the huge numbers of young people unemployed.

He said:

“There are currently 84,991 young people under 25 on the live register. This is an indictment of this government’s failure to implement any sort of a structure to deal with youth unemployment. Many of these young people are college graduates; they are skilled workers and an absolute asset to the future recovery of our economy.

“The government had the opportunity to implement a strategy for getting these young people back to work. They didn’t do it. Instead they implemented cuts to social welfare which saw many of these young people having to try and scrape by on €100 a week. They did this to push them into jobs and training which simply did not exist.

“It is an absolute imperative that the government and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Batt O’Keeffe, act now and act fast to implement a youth jobs fund. In my party’s document “No Job? No Future? No Way!” we recommended this as a priority. Such a fund, we have found, would create 20,000 new jobs at a cost of €500 million – mere pennies in contrast with the €22 billion currently being used to prop up the banks and their corrupt followers.

“We in Sinn Féin are serious about job creation. We believe that there is an alternative and we have set out that alternative through our ‘Jobs for the Unemployed’ campaign. We believe that emigration is not a solution. Cutting dole payments is not a solution. Cutting or driving down wages is not a solution. The issue of youth unemployment isn’t just about tackling a problem, but rather it is a matter of accessing an untapped potential and using that potential to build a better future.

“Our young people are crucial to that future. The government must implement a youth jobs fund immediately if they are serious about tackling rising youth unemployment.”

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Sinn Féin are to hold ten public meetings in constituencies across the six counties over the next two weeks. The meetings announced at a press event in Belfast this morning by South Belfast Assembly member Alex Maskey will see Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and other senior party leaders present Sinn Féin’s vision for the future and allow the general public to engage with the party.


Mr Maskey said:


“Since the political institutions where re-established after the successful negotiation at St. Andrews Sinn Féin have annually hosted large public meetings for the general public across the six counties. We are the only party who do this as a matter of course. It is a vital part of our Ministers and Assembly members being accountable to the communities we are elected to serve. These meetings are an opportunity for the public to put their issues directly onto the Executive table.


“As we face into this Westminster election campaign this run of public meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to engage with the Sinn Féin leadership and more importantly an opportunity for us to engage with the public. Sinn Féin never take the electorate for granted and we are part of the community we represent. That is why we see these engagements as so important.


“These meetings will be the first since the conclusion of the negotiations at Hillsborough and come after the transfer of powers on policing and justice. There is no substitute for local politicians engaging with local people and these meetings will form a central part of our ability to get our message directly across to the electorate in the coming weeks.” ENDS

The schedule of Public Meetings are as follows:

13th April – Newry & Armagh – Newry Town Hall - Martin McGuinness, Conor Murphy, Bairbre deBrún


13th April – Derry City – Tower Hotel – Gerry Adams, Martina Anderson


14th April – Tyrone – Craic Theatre – Martin McGuinness,Michelle Gildernew
14th April – Belfast – St Kevins Hall - Gerry Adams, Gerry Kelly, Alex Maskey, Bairbre deBrun
15th April – Fermanagh – Clinton Centre, Enniskillen – Martin McGuinness,Michelle Gildernew
15th April – Upper Bann – Ashburn Hotel, Lurgan – Gerry Adams, John O’Dowd, Bairbre deBrún
16th April – West Tyrone – Gerry Adams, Pat Doherty
19th April – North & South Antrim – Dunloy - Gerry Adams, Daithi McKay, Bairbre DeBrún
19th April – South & East Derry – Guladuff Hall – Martin McGuinness
22nd April – South Down – Martin McGuinnes, Caitriona Ruane

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At a recent selection convention Waterford City Councillor David Cullinane was selected as the party’s candidate in the upcoming by-election to fill the seat vacated by Martin Cullen. Cllr Cullinane said a by-election would put Waterford centre stage and allow the County to seriously impact on national politics.

He said the campaign must be about issues and not individuals. He committed to conducting a positive and constructive campaign by robustly challenging the Government and providing solutions to the country’s problems. Cllr Cullinane gave a key note speech at a party dinner in the Tower Hotel on Easter Sunday night.

Speaking to a packed room of over 300 people Cllr Cullinane said:

“I am humbled and privileged to be selected as the candidate to represent Sinn Féin in the upcoming by-election. I commit to conducting a positive and constructive campaign. I will robustly challenge the Government on their absolute failures and provide real solutions to the country’s problems. This election must be about the issues facing the people of Waterford and not personalities.

Waterford taking centre stage

“We have an opportunity to seriously impact on national politics and set the political agenda. We have an opportunity to properly hold those responsible for the economic collapse and the jobs crisis to account. In doing so we must also provide a credible alternative and offer hope to those who are hurting.

“Things do not have to be the way they are. 26,000 people in Waterford do not have to be out of work. We do not have to accept that Waterford will remain without a University. We can take a stand and say enough is enough. We should demand a new economy, a new kind of politics and a new Government.

New Economy

“The Government has presided over the collapse of the Irish economy. Our banking system has caved in on under its own greed. The Irish people have been saddled with a €80 billion debt as we pump billions into five wayward banks. Put simply, our economy was serving the few and not the many.

“We need a new economy. We need to protect jobs and create jobs. We need to save jobs today and create the jobs of tomorrow. I set out four areas where the potential to create jobs exist:

Tourism
Green Technology
IT and Digital Sector
Agri-business

“Tourism has the potential to be a key economic driver for the city and county. It can be the hook on which we underpin economic recovery locally. It is also an area where huge progress is being made. Green Technology and the IT and Digital Sectors are emerging industries internationally and Waterford is well placed to take advantage.

“These are areas where Waterford Institute of Technology is excelling in research and development. It is vital that educational providers, enterprise agencies and Government Departments work together and produce a new generation of entrepreneurs in these growth areas and in doing so create employment. Agri-business provides enormous opportunities for rural communities in Waterford.

New Politics – Renew the Republic

“It is not good enough simply to rail against the system or blame the Government. The people of Waterford must stand up and be counted. We must demand real reform of the political system. A system which is dominated by special interests, tainted by corruption and is resistant to change.

“The entire political system needs to be reformed. The Oireachtas has consistently failed to exert sufficient scrutiny over the government and public bodies, and its composition, reflects neither the talents nor the diversity of our people.

“A political system which is a carbon-copy of the British model, largely unreformed since partition, does not equip Ireland to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We need to renew the Republic to one which serves the people and not vested interests.

Rebuilding society:

“The birth of the Celtic Tiger brought about an undermining of society. Many of those who were celebrated as wealth creators were actually wealth destroyers. It is this individual greed which collapsed the banking system and saddled the taxpayer with the debt of dozens of big developers.

“On Good Friday 1,200 loans from the top ten developers in the country were transferred to NAMA. We need to rebuild the idea of a society and a community. In a society we all have a responsibility to each other. This goes for big bankers as well as the ordinary worker. Robust regulation of the banking and business sector must be put in place.

“People also have a right to live free from the fear of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour. Rebuilding a sense of community is vital if we are to recover economically and bring about a fairer Ireland.

“I am looking forward to the election campaign. I look forward to engaging in a battle of ideas with other candidates. I look forward to engaging with the people of Waterford. This is Waterford’s chance to set the agenda and send the Government a powerful message. We want real change.” ENDS

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Fermanagh and south Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew will attend a demonstration in Enniskillen tomorrow (Thursday 8th 6:00pm), at the request of the employees of the Quinn Group.

The rally, which is to be held at the Diamond in the town centre, is a further continuation of the ongoing protests being held by workers at the Quinn Group in opposition to the decision of the Financial Regulator to place Quinn Insurance into administration and put a ban on the company writing new insurance policies in the north of Ireland and in Britain.

Encouraging everyone to attend the meeting, Ms Gildernew said:

"Rallies such as this provide an effective way for employees and local residents to express their anger and frustration with these decisions, and hopefully, with pressure mounting on the administrators and the regulator, something positive can be done to resolve this pressing matter." CRÍOCH

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Waterford Sinn Féin by-election Candidate Cllr David Cullinane has reacted angrily to news that a new contract to treat public patients at Whitfield Clinic has not been put in place after the current contract ended. Councillor Cullinane said the HSE must put patients first and avoid a two-tier situation emerging where private patients are treated and public patients are not.

He said it would be “wholly unacceptable” and indeed “scandalous” if public patients are asked to hit the long road to Dublin when treatment facilities exist on our doorstep. He also re-iterated his long standing call for the full implementation of the National Cancer Strategy which includes provision of public radiotherapy services at Waterford Regional Hospital.

Cllr Cullinane said:

“This news is truly shocking and shows that patients are not being put first. It is completely unacceptable that we have arrived at this situation. It is the responsibility of the HSE to ensure that all patients have access to the very best health care. It is the responsibility of the HSE to ensure that all cancer patients have access to regional radiotherapy and cancer services. The HSE must sort out this mess and ensure that public patients have access to all cancer services available in the region.

“This situation again re-enforces the need for public radiotherapy services to be made available at Waterford Regional Hospital. A contractual arrangement with a private hospital is not the best way to deliver equality of access. We need holistic public cancer services at Waterford Regional Hospital. International best practise is that all three modalities of cancer care should be provided giving multi-disciplinary care.

“The short-term solution is for the HSE to sort out the situation at Whitfield. The real solution is for the Government to deliver on its promises and deliver the regional oncology centre of excellence promised under the National Cancer Care Strategy. It is unacceptable that private patients could be treated while public patients take the road to Dublin. There is no place for apartheid in health care or cancer care in a Republic.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly was this morning on the campaign trail in his constituency. Gerry Kelly is the only candidate in the field who can win the Westminster seat for nationalism.

Speaking from the ‘Cricky’ pitch on the Cliftonville Road Mr Kelly said:

“The figures in the last number of elections clearly show that a nationalist candidate can win the North Belfast Westminster seat. They also clearly show that Sinn Féin is the only party who can win this seat from Nigel Dodds and the DUP.

“Of course this is most likely if nationalists unite around Sinn Féin and unite around the common goal of Sinn Fein's equality campaign. Winning this seat for nationalism for the first time in this constituency's 125 year history would break the DUP veto on equality for all. Sinn Féin have been steadily closing the gap on the DUP in the North Belfast constituency in recent years. We are now best positioned to take this seat. A vote for any other nationalist candidate is a wasted vote.

“The DUP under Nigel Dodds in North Belfast have used their status to block every aspect of equality, especially in relation to leisure provision and house building programmes aimed at tackling chronic need. We now have a huge opportunity to make an historic breakthrough for the whole community.

“The victory achieved last week at Belfast City Council when the SDLP finally joined with Sinn Féin to ensure proper changing facilities on the ‘Cricky’ pitch site for local GAA teams is an example of what can be achieved. It is an example of how a negative, sectarian agenda can be defeated.

“It shows us that nationalists uniting in North Belfast to defeat the old agenda is possible and it is possible again on May 6th.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member Caral Ní Chuilín has called on the prison authorities to treat Republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison with respect and dignity.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

“Regardless of why anyone is in prison they are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. It is clear that the regime in place for republican prisoners in Maghaberry falls well short of this.

“Prisoners should not be held in 23 hour lock up, they should not have been denied the right to wear Easter Lillies and the decision to remove 28 men to the punishment blocks as a result of the weekends protest is wrong and counterproductive.

“There is a widely held belief that many of the problems in Maghaberry are directly linked to a POA which is still firmly wedded to the past. The Prison Service is one of those institutions that has to date escaped widespread scrutiny and much needed reform. This needs to be a priority for a new Justice Minister.” ENDS

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Responding to a new book by a former member of the RUC acknowledging collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane, Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly said:


"The cover up of the involvement of British military intelligence and Special Branch in Pat Finucane’s murder has been going on since 1989. Despite this very deliberate policy of concealment the Finucane family have remained steadfast in their demands for the truth. The Finucane case will not go away. Only a fully independent, judicial inquiry into this killing will uncover the truth.”


“The revelations from a former member of the RUC investigation team that collusion was part of the Finucane murder and that an Assistant Chief Constable warned him off getting too close to the investigation will not surprise those of us who have supported the family in their campaign.


“The involvement of British military intelligence and the Special Branch in Pat Finucane's death, their manipulation of the loyalist death squads and the political authorisation of these activities, must be properly investigated and exposed.” ENDS

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Speaking after a hectic day on Tuesday, on which she met with employees of the Quinn Group, The Cavan Chamber of Commerce, The Central Bank of Ireland, the Administrators and the Financial Regulator, Ms Gildernew said:

“After lengthy discussions with both the administrators and the regulator, I made it perfectly clear to them that my primary concern was the security of the thousands of jobs at stake and the welfare of those employed by the Quinn Group. I urged them to bear these workers in mind when they made their decision on how to proceed with this matter.

“I can understand the difficult position that they find themselves in, and it is clear that they have a genuine desire to protect the jobs at Quinn Insurance and within the wider Quinn Group. The administrators and the financial regulator are both very keen to resolve this issue, but there are complicated legal matters for them to take into consideration.

“There is much more work needed before a satisfactory resolution can be reached and I am ready to continue playing whatever role I can in this process.”ENDS

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