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Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty, has secured a debate in the Seanad tonight on the cuts been imposed on Home Help services in Donegal. Senator Doherty tabled a motion in the Seanad calling on the government to reverse their decision to cut in the space of a year up to 27,000 hours of home help services in county Donegal.

Speaking before the debate Senator Pearse Doherty said:

“Tonight’s debate with the minister gives the government the ideal opportunity to reverse their decision to cut supports for our elderly. Over the past few weeks I spoken to dozens of home help workers, their clients and family members of those receiving home help, all of them share one message, a message of Disgust. Disgust that our elderly are been treated in this way, Disgust that this government continue to pump billions of our money into failed bank while they rob of elderly of their dignity, Disgust that Fianna Fáil are shaping a new Ireland that none of us can be proud of.

“Tonight is the last chance of this government to do the right thing otherwise they will face the wrath of thousand of angry Donegal people who will take to the streets of Ballybofey on Saturday demanding that our elderly are protected.” ENDS

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Coleraine Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard has said that “there will be even greater community concerns and tensions” in the Coleraine area because of the UPRG’s statement which claimed that they were withdrawing their support for the police and political institutions.

He said:

“Republican, nationalists and even some unionists have always believed that loyalists in Coleraine ran their semi-independent little empire. Therefore in one way there won’t be any surprise at the statement.

However, there will be great community concern as the implications of their approach are thought through and perhaps witnessed as tensions around Kevin McDaid’s murder and the marches in the area continue.

It has been claimed in court that the UDA was involved in Kevin’s murder. How then can the UPRG blame everyone else in their statement as if they were the injured party? How can they make outlandish accusations when the dogs in the street know what happened and what has happened in this area over many years?

If they were even concerned about all drug dealers in the area and how they feed off each other and all cases of intimidation that at least would be a small step.

It is now definitely time for Unionist politicians to play their part. They have been semi-detached on many issues. They cannot allow the UDA / UPRG to, as I said only last week dictate the agenda around this area.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel MCLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has welcomed the announced £9.2million investment in Crumlin based Randox Laboratories.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"The announcement of this significant investment by Randox Laboritories in Research & Development at its Crumlin plant is very welcome indeed. It is of particular significance coming amidst a litany of negative announcements in other sectors. The fact that Randox is an indigenous company that continues to show the way worldwide in this highly specialised field is also a cause for celebration and demonstrates the potential that exists if local companies are given the support that they deserve.

"Randox employs over 500 people in the North and many more in its overseas operations. It is one of the fastest growing clinical diagnostic companies in the world supplying a diverse range of customers from research labs to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and veterinary laboratories with over 90% of its products being exported.

"Congratulations to Founder and Managing Director Dr Peter Fitzgerald and al of thos involved in the bringing the Copmpany to its present world leader status and I hnow that a workforce and management of the calibre that is obviously present at Randox will continue to lead the way and buiold on their already well deserved success. ENDS

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The Fianna Fáil/Green Government scraped through a Dáil division by only two votes this morning in a vote called by Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin in response to the announcement by the HSE yesterday that all acute medical services at Monaghan General Hospital will be axed on 22 July. The three Fianna Fáil TDs for Cavan-Monaghan voted with the Government.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“I called this morning’s vote on the Dáil Order of Business to give all members of the House the opportunity to protest at the sentence of death on 22 July for Monaghan General Hospital. Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and Labour Deputies joined the protest vote and the Fianna Fáil/Green Government scraped through the division by 68 votes to 70.

“If the three Fianna Fáil TDs – or even the two of them who are Monaghan-based – had abstained the Government would have suffered major embarrassment on the issue of Monaghan General Hospital.

“Deputies Margaret Conlon and Rory O’Hanlon yesterday claimed to be opposed to the removal of services from Monaghan on 22 July on the grounds that there has been inadequate preparation and insufficient support services put in place. This morning was the test of their claims and they failed that test by saving the Government from being called to account by the people of Counties Monaghan and Cavan.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has severely criticised the Oireachtas Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Bill for allowing serving TDs in receipt of Ministerial pensions to retain a massive proportion of their pensions. Deputy Morgan accused members of the Oireachtas in receipt of Ministerial pensions of feathering their nests while thousands of workers nationwide have lost their pensions completely.

Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Morgan said, “Under this Bill, Ministerial pensions paid to serving TDs, senators and MEPs will be cut by 25% and will then be abolished completely after the next general election. For the rest of this Dáil term, instead of getting 50% of the pension, serving members will get 37.5%. Does the government want us to give them a pat on the back? Shall those people standing for hours in queues for social welfare congratulate these public representatives.

“My issue with this Bill and the government that is charged to get this country through a recession is that the pension has not been scrapped entirely. It would seem that these 28 members of the Oireachtas, that are in receipt of the pension, are feathering their nests in anticipation of the complete abolition of the pensions after the next general election – these pensions are a nice little earner and a nest egg, why would they want to give them up?

“It is totally ironic that we are standing here, on the last week of sitting, deliberating a Bill aimed at cutting a meagre 25% off ministerial pensions when workers nationwide have lost their pensions completely. It is ironic that the Government congratulate themselves on their selflessness to cut 25% off a pension when people, after having paid pension contributions all their working lives, find that their pension benefits have dwindled. It is ironic that workers at pension age, the most vulnerable time of their lives, may not be able to claim from pension funds while Members of this very House are able to claim these ministerial pensions WHILE drawing a salary.

“This is not leading by example. The behaviour of retaining any proportion of a ministerial pension until the next general election is simply ludicrous. Latching onto these pensions at the height of a severe recession, when 87,400 people have signed onto the Live Register since January alone is pathetic, and frankly disgusting.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim Daithi McKay has said that the overnight attacks on three Catholic churches in Ballymena were motivated by the same anti-Catholic sentiment articulated by the Culture Minister Nelson McCausland when he publicly states that he will not take part in events in Catholic churches.

Mr McKay said:

“Since he came into office less than a week ago Nelson McCausland has engaged in a media campaign attacking the GAA, the Irish Language and now the Catholic Church. The sectarianism which underpins his politics is exactly the same as that which motivated the overnight attacks on the three Catholic Churches in the Ballymena area.

“It is no good for individual DUP members to condemn sectarian attacks when one of the people selected by their party leader to serve as a Minister in the Executive is directly helping to create the conditions within which sectarianism is justified and motivation is provided for disgraceful attacks like we witnessed last night.

“Once again a senior figure in the DUP has failed the test of political leadership when it comes to confronting sectarianism. We recently saw a similar abdication of leadership from Gregory Campbell in the wake of the brutal murder of Kevin McDaid in Coleraine.

“When sectarian attacks emanate from within the nationalist community I have no problem condemning them and no problem confronting those responsible or those attempting to create the conditions within which sectarianism can flourish. Indeed I see that as a key part of the work of any elected representative.” CRÍOCH

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has called on the Minister for the Environment to provide assurances that farmers with traditional turf cutting rights will not be prevented from continuing to do so on the basis of EU legislation being made Irish law. He also called for those who have agreed to stop cutting turf to be paid the compensation promised.

Deputy Ferris said: “While I recognise that there are environmental issues at stake, I do not see the point in putting an end to a traditional practise that provides a small but essential part of the income and survival of many small and medium farmers, especially in the western counties. I would therefore call on Minister Gormley to provide assurances on this, and to ensure that the compensation agreement is honoured immediately.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member Martina Anderson has branded a statement from the UPRG in Derry and Coleraine withdrawing support from the PSNI and the political institutions as ‘a pathetic whinge on behalf of a discredited criminal gang’.

Ms Anderson said:

“It has been well known for sometime that there are ongoing tensions within the UDA. This statement certainly confirms that. However the vast majority of people, myself included, were completely unaware that the UDA, who are engaged in drug dealing as well as racist and sectarian attacks, were ever supporters of either the PSNI or the political institutions. In that context their rather grand announcement of a withdrawal of support will have little real impact.

“In many ways this statement represents a significant challenge for unionist political leaders. This criminal gang is very clear that it has no intention of going anywhere. Their defence of the murder of Kevin McDaid is telling. I have to say this statement is little more than a pathetic whinge on behalf of a discredited criminal gang.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education has today been requested by the Union of Students Ireland (USI) to deliver the student’s alternative to Batt O’Keefe’s proposed student loans system. Senator Doherty said it is a disgrace that the USI was excluded from negotiations on the reintroduction of third level fees.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said:

“The USI, the organisation representative of thousands of students across the state, has been excluded from any negotiations with regards to the reintroduction of third level fees.

“It is utterly disgraceful that the Minister for Education, himself a former lecturer, has refused to listen to voices of those who are actually going to have to suffer the affects of his flawed new system.

“I intend to deliver the USI’s proposals to cabinet ministers today in an effort to force those in power to listen to the people.

“If these student loans come into being the affects on students will be monstrous. Students could be paying anything from €7,000 per year for an arts, law or business degree to over €10,000 a year for science and engineering and up to about €30,000 a year for the clinical stages of a medicine degree.

“Let’s be serious here. Does the Minister honestly believe that these fees are not going to act as a barrier to third level education? With upwards of €120,000 in debt hanging over their heads? Is he for real?!

“We all knew the Minister was intent on imposing these fees. However he has cynically waited until after the local and European elections to bring forward his proposals.

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the 175,000 students who are opposing these fees.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Regional Development Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has welcomed a call for the Government to address the problem of unbalanced regional development in a report from Friend First Chief Economist Jim Power. Senator Doherty, author of the report, ‘Awakening the West: Overcoming Social and Economic Inequality’, said the report should help to focus the Government’s attention on harsh economic realities in the regions caused by years of bad development policies.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said, “I welcome the frank recognition, contained in this report, of unbalanced and unfair development throughout the regions, particularly in the West, North West and the Midlands.

“The West has suffered the withdrawal and downgrading of vital services, such as public transport, post offices and Garda Services. As a result of the systematic undermining of our public hospitals these communities have endured a loss of vital health services. The destruction and collapse of traditional employment sectors, such the textile and fishing industries, coupled with the exodus of small farmers from the land has resulted in depopulation and led to unemployment and poverty.

“The report should help to focus the Government’s attention on harsh economic realities in the regions caused by years of bad development policies.

“I hope this report, along with the Oireachtas Committee report which I compiled on inequalities in the West will serve as a call to action to the Government and, by extension, to all those who care about the survival of regional and rural Ireland and equality between the regions.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP along with deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP and Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD today held talks with An Taoiseach Brain Cowen and Minister for Foriegn Affairs Micheál Martin at Government Building in Dublin.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Adams said:

“Today’s meeting was at Sinn Féin’s request. There has clearly been some turmoil within Unionism in the wake of the EU elections. However it is crucial that the political process continues to move forward.

“That means all of the outstanding issues being addressed and resolved. This includes the Transfer of Powers on Policing and Justice and issues around the Bill of Rights, as well as on Acht na Gaeilge. We raised these and other matters with the Taoiseach and his team today.

“On the wider issues I have to say we do have some concerns about the lack of commitment of some within the leadership of Unionism to equality and partnership government. There is a section of Unionism who hark back to the failed politics of the past. However Sinn Féin is determined to see the power sharing institutions working effectively and delivering for citizens. The Irish Government has a very significant role in this project.” CRÍOCH

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Following the government’s announcement that it will re-run the Lisbon Treaty referendum on October 2nd Sinn Féin European Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has accused the Taoiseach of failing the people of Ireland and Europe adding, “Until such time as we have a new Treaty that responds to the deeply held concerns, not only of the citizens of this member state, but the millions of people across the EU for a better Europe, Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for a better deal, for Ireland and the EU as a whole.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Irelands place is at the heart of Europe. Those of us who campaigned against Lisbon and the overwhelming number of people who voted against the Treaty last year did so because of a belief that a better Europe is possible. A Europe that is democratic and accountable; that promotes workers rights; that protects public services and that seeks to play a role in the wider world that is positive and progressive.

“In June 2008 the Irish people gave Brian Cowen and his government a mandate for change and strong hand to play at the Council of Ministers. Following the example of the people of France and the Netherlands, we called on our government to reopen the Treaty negotiations and secure a better deal not only for Ireland but for the EU as a whole.

“But once again Brian Cowen and his government have failed the people. Like their disastrous mismanagement of the economy Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have squandered an opportunity to secure a better Treaty and a better for the future for all of us.

“In his statement to this House on June 24 following the European Council meeting, An Taoiseach told us that the Council had agreed a ‘package of legally-binding guarantees that respond comprehensively to the concerns of the Irish people. I wish that were true. If it were Sinn Féin would be taking a very different position in this debate today.

“The most salient fact to be drawn from the Council of Ministers meeting of last month is that Brian Cowen and his government failed to secure a single change to the text of the Lisbon Treaty.

“When we come to vote on this matter in October we will be voting on exactly the same Treaty as was rejected on June 12th 2008. No amendments, no additions, no deletions. Exactly the same Lisbon Treaty as was rejected by 53% of the electorate.

“The so-called ‘legally binding guarantees’ are in fact nothing more than clarifications of the Lisbon Treaty. For those of us who took the time to read it the first time round, they tell us nothing new, and in now way alter the content or our analysts of the Treaty.

“They are simple an attempt to provide the government with sufficient political cover to re-run a referendum on a Treaty that has already been democratically rejected by the people.

“There are also a large number of issues that the EU leaders studiously chose to ignore. No mention of the reduced influence of smaller member states as a consequence of the new voting arrangements at Council. No mention of the 60 or so member state vetoes that will end. No mention of the controversial changes to international trade negotiations that were opposed by farmers and trade justice groups alike. No mention of the opening up of vital public services such as health and education to the vagaries of the market.

“It is Sinn Féin’s firm view that Irelands place is at the heart of Europe. We have a responsibility both to our selves and our European partners to build an EU that meets the needs of its peoples. This member state is one of the few where the citizens are being asked their opinion. We have already expressed that opinion loud and clear. Until such time as we have a new Treaty that responds to the deeply held concerns, not only of the citizens of this member state, but the millions of people across the EU for a better Europe, Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for a better deal, for Ireland and the EU as a whole.” ENDS

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Dúirt uachtarán Shinn Féin Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh inniu go raibh díomá air cluinstin nár glacadh leis na hargóintí ó foireann dleathach Caoimhín Mac Giolla Chatháin faoi phéindlí Acht 1737.

Ag labhairt dó inniu dúirt an tUasal Mac Ádhaimh;

“Tá an cás seo ag dul ar aghaidh ar feadh tamaillín anois agus tá ard mheas tuilte ag Caoimhín as seasamh an fhód ar son cearta an phobail gaelach sna Sé Chontae.

Níl na sonraí uilig ar fáil faoi láthair ach is cinnte go mbeidh Gaeilgeoirí fud fad na tíre ag leanúint san fheachtais chun deireadh a chuir leis an sean dlí inghlactha seo.

Ba chóir go raibh cead ag Gaeilgeoirí a cuid gnó sa chúirt a dhéanamh trí mheán na Gaeilge, níl áit ar bith ann sa lá ata inniu ann, don chineál sean dlí coilíneach seo.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries Martin Ferris TD has welcomed the clarification given today by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority regarding its position in relation to both the Minister and the Oireachtas Committee. The Kerry North TD was speaking following a meeting at which the SFPA board were subject to intense questioning by members who relayed the high degree of dissatisfaction within the sector about the body.

Deputy Ferris said: “First of all I welcome the fact that the SFPA has recognised its statutory relationship to the Minister and to the Committee. For over a year now, almost all questions on fishing have been refused response by the Minister on the grounds that the Authority is not responsible to him. That meant effectively that TDs were unable to get responses regarding important issues.

“Myself and others also pointed to the high level of concern among fishermen at what they perceive to be the heavy handed approach of the SFPA which they claim is both out of proportion and overlooks the high level of abuse by non Irish fleets. Hopefully these concerns will now receive the attention that is due to them.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has accused the Government of running scared of a debate on blasphemy. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the guillotine imposed on the Defamation Bill today is purposely designed to avoid a debate on the blasphemy laws contained in it.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh has put forward amendments to the Bill including the removal of the offence of blasphemy and a proposal to change the composition of the Press Council and to give it more powers.

Speaking ahead of the debate in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “The Government has purposely imposed a guillotine on this Bill in order to avoid a debate on the blasphemy laws contained in it. There is no way the amendments concerning blasphemy will be reached within the one hour timeframe which has been allocated for the debate.

“I have proposed an amendment to the Bill to remove the offence of blasphemy from it. There is no place in a democratic secular society which practices free speech for a criminal offence of blasphemy. That said however, my party would urge all publications to pay special attention to the views and sensitivities of each and every religious and cultural group that makes up Irish society.

“I have also tabled a motion which calls for the Press Council to be given statutory powers and for it to increase the representation of journalists relative to media owners.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin west Tyrone MLA and chair of the Assembly’s Culture Arts and Leisure Committee Barry McElduff has contacted both Minister Nelson McCausland and the Permanent Secretary of his department, seeking to find out why DCAL feels the need to act as an administrator for the Orange Order.

Speaking this afternoon Mr McElduff said;

“I was surprised to see a media invitation, issued by DCAL, for journalists to attend the launch of this years ‘OrangeFest’ at the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road in Belfast.

I support cultural diversity and appreciate that the Orange heritage is an integral part of the historic fabric of Ireland.

I am however surprised at the singular focus continuing to emanate from the department, focusing on certain aspects of our rich cultural make-up and not others.

For example, today also saw the launch of one of the largest community festivals in Europe, Féile an Phobail, a festival which undoubtedly draws thousands upon thousands of tourists to Belfast year after year, generating a huge stimulation in the local economy. No such invitation to this launch was issued by Mr McCausland’s department.

People are growing increasingly concerned that the DUP Minister’s for ‘culture’ are not living up to their responsibilities as Ministers for all.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as “a disaster for our health services” the announcement by the HSE that the axing of all acute services in Monaghan General Hospital is now scheduled to go ahead on 22 July. He said lives would be put at risk.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“The announcement this morning by the HSE that the axing of all acute services in Monaghan General Hospital is now scheduled to go ahead from 22 July represents a disaster for our health services. This decision flies in the face of all appeals from front-line healthcare workers, including nurses, GPs, consultants and support staff and from the community in County Monaghan across all political and religious divides.

“Having sentenced Monaghan General Hospital to death with its plans for centralisation of all acute services, the Fianna Fáil/Green Government and the HSE have now announced the date of execution. From 22 July we will lose vital hospital services, including emergency services and inpatient medical care. Lives will undoubtedly be put at risk. When Monaghan General Hospital was ‘off-call’ for emergencies in the past, the result was loss of life.

“This decision is also a sentence of hard labour for Cavan General Hospital. Some 3,000 medical admissions per annum to Monaghan are to be transferred to Cavan General Hospital without the provision of a single additional bed in Cavan which is already operating at full stretch and beyond.

“This decision represents a mortal attack on the health services of the people of County Monaghan by this Fianna Fáil/Green Government and a betrayal of the people by the Fianna Fáil TDs for this constituency – Deputies Margaret Conlon, Rory O’Hanlon and Brendan Smith. They should hang their heads in shame because their inaction has helped to bring about this attack on a hospital that has served generations of our people.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein Minister Conor Murphy, MP, MLA attended today’s All-Ireland NSMC meeting in trade and business sectoral format alongside DUP Minister for enterprise Arlene Foster and Tánaiste Mary Coughlan at Dublin Castle.

The focus of today’s discussion's, which follows Monday's All-Ireland NSMC plenary summit held at Farmleigh, Dublin centred around the work of Inter Trade Ireland and the invaluable work which the body has undertaken in developing economic co-operation on an island-wide basis.

Speaking after the meeting, Conor Murphy said,

"I am delighted to be here at Dublin Castle today alongside DUP Minister Arlene Foster and Tánaiste Mary Coughlin. The continuing progressive work of bodies such as Inter Trade Ireland is critical as we strive to maximise economic benefit on an island-wide basis and drive the island economy, particularly in the current economic downturn.

This week has and will continue to be a busy one for all-Ireland co-operation. We saw this weeks plenary meeting of the NSMC as well as today’s meeting and another sectoral meeting will take place in Gaoth Dobhar tomorrow.

More and more people are realising the necessity of all-Ireland cooperation and development and the potential it has for citizens during the current economic downturn" CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster Martin McGuinness has called on the Chief Constable Hugh Orde to end his policy of cover-up and concealment and release files on a number of controversial killings in order to allow Inquests to proceed.

Mr McGuinness said:

“In the course of recent years Hugh Orde has adopted a policy of concealment and cover-up with regard to co-operating with Inquests into the controversial killings of a number of nationalists and republicans. Some of these people were killed directly by British State forces others by their surrogates in the loyalist gangs.

“Hugh Orde is deliberately and quite consciously denying these families their right to the truth by continuing to withhold files and preventing Inquests proceeding in an open and transparent manner.

“This is unacceptable. Sinn Féin have raised this issue both with Mr Orde and the British Government. Quite simply this policy has to change. Sinn Féin will continue to support these families in their search for the truth. But people should be under no illusion where the problem lies. It lies directly with Hugh Orde, he has the power to release these files and finally fulfil his obligations to the Inquest process.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein west Belfast MP Gerry Adams has welcomed the publication today of Féile 09, the West Belfast Festival programme.

The Féile is the biggest community arts festival in Ireland.

Mr. Adams said:

“I want to commend the Féile organisers for all of their hard work and for once again putting together an outstanding programme for this 21st birthday celebration of Féile.

Over the 10 days that the festival will take place - from July 31st to August 9th - almost a quarter of a million people, including many visitors from overseas, will attend Féile events.

Féile has always been about community. One of its key roles when first established 21years ago was to spotlight the positive side of the west Belfast community and to provide a stage for the enormous energy and creativity of the people who live in west Belfast. This year will be no exception.

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