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Sinn Fein Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy today visited City of Derry Airport to meet with Airport Manager Damien Tierney along with Party colleague and Foyle Assembly member Martina Anderson.

The visit comes after he welcomed the funding of £8.6million for essential safety works at the airport announced in the February Monitoring round.

The Minister said:

“I welcome the opportunity to visit City of Derry Airport today. I have long supported the City of Derry Airport as a significant gateway to the North West of Ireland and the £8.6million funding for essential safety works will allow for further improvements at the airport.

“I bid for this funding which will now allow my Department to pay grant towards essential safety works at City of Derry Airport, for the upgrade of its runway and infrastructure to meet the safety requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority.”

Martina Anderson MLA said, "This is a further demonstration of the Sinn Fein commitment to rebalancing our infrastructure investment in the North West."

"Conor Murphy's visit today to open both the A2 and award Derry Airport funding totals an investment of over £50m and is very much welcome as we strive to build the local economy with Derry as the capital of the North West."

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Speaking at Sinn Féin’s final press event of the General Election Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams called on voters to make a stand this Friday and vote Sinn Féin.

He said:

“Sinn Féin has made a stand against the bad political choices of the last Government – choices that bankrupted the state, undermined sovereignty and forced ordinary working families to pay the price.

“Fine Gael and Labour are committed to the same bad choices – billions of taxpayers’ money for toxic banks and cuts for those on low and middle incomes

“There is a better way. Through job creation, tax reform and eliminating waste Sinn Féin have shown how the deficit can be reduced over six years.

“Sinn Féin is calling for a referendum on the bank bailout. The people being asked to pay should have their say.

“Sinn Féin seeks to:

• End the political gravy train by cutting the salaries of ministers and TDs
• Abolish the Universal Social Charge and replace it with 48% tax rate on individuals earning over €100,000.
• Reverse cuts in social welfare – the government cut social welfare by €873 million and then paid out €750 million to Anglo bondholders.


“Whatever the outcome of this election, the Dáil needs a strong party of opposition. Sinn Féin is the only party that will stand up for ordinary citizens. All the other parties are for cuts. Sinn Féin is for jobs not cuts, for employment not emigration, for building the economy not cutting it.


• Sinn Féin will get people back to work.
• Sinn Féin will protect working families, the low paid, those on social welfare and public sector workers from attacks on their living standards
• Sinn Féin is for a decent, universal public health system available to all and based on need, not ability to pay.
• Sinn Féin is for Irish interests above those of the IMF.
• Sinn Féin stands for a united Ireland and a new republic.


“It is time for citizens to make a stand. The most effective way to do that is to come out on Friday and Vote Sinn Féin.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty will join party collegues on the General Election canvass trail in Dublin tomorrow afternoon Wednesday 23rd February.

Mr Doherty will be canvassing in Dublin North West with Sinn Féin candidate Cllr Dessie Ellis from 12.30 to 2pm and in Tallaght with Dublin South West candidate Seán Crowe from 2.30pm to 4pm.

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Speaking in support of the Davenport workers’ strike after attending the workers' picket yesterday outside the O'Callaghan hotel, Sinn Féin's TD for Dublin South Central Aengus Ó Snodaigh said it was exploitative and an outrage that the hotel's employees have been removed from the roster.

He said:

"It is an absolute outrage that these workers have been made jobless for refusing to sign new contracts reducing their National Minimum Wage rate by almost 1 euro an hour. 

"Mr. Brian Lennihan assured workers on the NMW of 8.65 that it would not be reduced without their consent. The Davenport Hotel workers have been removed from the roster for refusing to sign the new contracts being unjustly forced upon them.

"I am asking people to support these workers by boycotting all O'Callaghans establishments until these workers have been reinstated to their rosters on their original rate of pay. I also urge people to show their support by attending the picket which is taking place daily outside the Davenport Hotel." ENDS

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Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Paul Maskey MLA has said that the details from the latest investigation with the Housing executive must be made public.

Speaking from the Assembly this evening Mr Maskey said;

“The reality is this; for some considerable time now I have been expressing my very serious concerns at issues of openness and transparency within the Housing Executive to the Housing Minister Alex Attwood as well as his predecessor Margaret Ritchie for over two years now.

At present there are a number of inquiries as well as police investigations ongoing into matters of serious concern within the Executive.

I would urge the Minister to make the findings of these various inquiries available to the public as these matters affect countless people within all of our constituencies.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said that all TV election debates should be fully inclusive of all political parties represented in the Dail.

Gerry Adams said:

“The three parties represented in tonight’s RTÉ  leaders debate are united in their broad approach to the IMF/EU bailout for banks and on the agenda for cuts that will hurt ordinary working families and damage society.

“RTÉ, a publicly-funded broadcaster has a duty ensure that all election debates are open and inclusive.

“The exclusion of Sinn Féin from tonight’s debate is wrong.

“The electorate are entitled to hear all political views in order to make an informed decision.

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Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has accused both the UUP and SDLP of lobbying for public money for their parties in talks with the British government at a time when others were seeking to find money to offset the worst of the Tory cuts.

 

Mr McGuinness said:

 

“Much of the recent commentary from the SDLP and UUP has deliberately ignored the fact that the cuts to our budget have been imposed by the Tories in Westminster. The Tory approach has created a very difficult situation. We are working hard to get the budget right, to develop additional revenue, protect public services and sustain and create jobs.

 

“It is up to all Ministers on the Executive to act collectively in order to deliver the best deal possible. Peter Robinson and myself have been relentless in seeking the British government honour their agreements and reinstate our budget entitlements.

 

“While doing this I was disappointed to learn that both the UUP and SDLP were lobbying for public money for their parties in talks with the British government in exchange for adopting an oppositional role in the Assembly. At a time when frontline services are under attack, the priority of the UUP and SDLP has been to use their influence with the Tory government to try and extract money for their party coffers.

 

“It is time that both parties began to act with the rest of us in the Executive, began to hold the Tories to account and began to play a collective and constructive role in the Executive and most importantly put the needs of ordinary people in front of their narrow party financial interests.” ENDS

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Responding to reports of massive pension pay-offs to teacher TDs, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has described the situation as ‘a slap in the face’ for tax-payers who are already crippled with government austerity measures, banking bailouts and debt.

Mr. Adams said:

“More than 20 teacher-turned-politicians are in line for a double or triple pension – even though some have not taught for decades. This is on top of the massive salaries they already receive as TDs.

“People out there are really struggling. The poorest of the poor have been targeted for cuts. In many cases people are having to choose between paying bills and putting food on the table. Some politicians pontificate over how times are tough and how sacrifices have to be made. But these same politicians will walk away with massive pensions on top of their salaries as TDs.

“This is nothing more than a slap in the face to people who have been crippled with government austerity measures, banking bailouts and debt.

“Tax-payers are being left to carry the can for the extravagant lifestyles of elite politicians. They should not receive these pay-offs.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Cavan/Monaghan candidate Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has challenged Fine Gael Health spokesperson James Reilly to state if he will reverse recent cuts to healthcare, including the imminent cuts to out-of-hours GP services in Counties Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath.

Ó Caoláin said:

“James Reilly is hoping to be Health Minister if there is a Fine Gael-led Government. I challenge him to state now if he will reverse recent savage cuts to healthcare. We have heard much about Fine Gael's 'Faircare' plan but very little about whether unfair and unsafe cutbacks to public health services will be reversed by a Fine Gael-dominated administration.

“The HSE is planning on 1 March, four days after the General Election, to cut the out-of-hours GP service in a whole region covering Counties Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath. These cuts will mean that, for example, from midnight until 8am one out-of-hours GP will be expected to serve all of Counties Cavan and Monaghan.

“As a GP himself, James Reilly must know that this cut places lives in danger, especially considering the closure of emergency departments in Monaghan, Dundalk and Navan hospitals. Will he restore the services removed from these hospitals and from hospitals across the State?

“I call on James Reilly to make a public commitment to reverse the out-of-hours cut immediately if he gets into office and, indeed, to improve the service.

“Fine Gael's 'Faircare' plan promises much but is fundamentally flawed in that it introduces a privatised model of healthcare that would give health insurance companies undue influence on the delivery of care. The real test of Fine Gael on health will be exactly what they do if they get into office and if they will reverse the savage cutbacks.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA and vice chair of the Justice Committee Raymond McCartney has welcomed the finalisation of the first Justice Bill to passed through the Assembly.

Speaking ahead of the Bills passage Mr McCartney said:

 “Sinn Féin welcome the fact that this will be the first Justice bill to be put through the Assembly and that having justice powers transferred to locally elected representatives, who are aware of what is needed in terms of delivering for the needs of our communities, is a huge step forward.

“It has passed through rigorous scrutiny at the committee stage and Sinn Féin have tabled amendments that if accepted will strengthen the bill significantly.

“While we welcome the amalgamation of the DPP’s and the Community Safety Partnerships we are not satisfied with the proposed structures for Belfast which will we will seek to amend this to improve community safety overall." Crioch

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Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has called on PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggot to immediately meet with the families of those killed and survivors of the McGurk's Bar bombing in December 1971.

Mr Kelly's comments come after remarks made by Matt Baggott on the media this evening.

Gerry Kelly said;

"I attended today's launch of the Ombudsman's report into the McGurk's Bar massacre - which formally vindicated the victims and survivors after the long campaign for justice.

Within his findings the Ombudsman called on the Chief Constable to "acknowledge the enduring pain caused to the families by the actions of the police following the atrocity."

Instead of taking this opportunity to apologise for the failed investigations; for the deliberate propagation of the lie that the IRA were responsible for the bombing or for the fact that no subsequent Chief Constable has addressed the erroneous accusations against the victims, Matt Baggott used his response to tell families "there appear to be no further investigative opportunities available to them."

What the families deserved from the Chief Constable today was an apology. What the got was a Chief Constable trying to defend the indefensible in refusing to accept the evidence of investigative bias by the RUC.

After reading Matt Baggott's press release and speaking with him over the phone this evening I am convinced that he has failed the families who have suffered so much already.


I have asked the Chief Constable to immediately meet with the families and survivors to hear their position directly." CRIOCH

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Sinn Féin MLA and vice chairof the Justice Committee has warned people of the dangers of knife crime and the use of knives on our streets.

 

Speaking aftertwo stabbing incidents this weekend, one in west Belfast and one in Ballymoney Mr McCartney said:

 

““This weekend has seen a number of knife attacks across the north. Two young men are now in hospital as a result of wounds received by their assailants.

 

“It clearly shows what can go greatly wrong when people lift knives as weapons. The outcome could have been much worse with the deaths of two young men.

 

“I would make an appeal on two counts, firstly to those who would thing of using knives - it solves nothing and is highly dangerous and secondly if anyone has information on the two attacks at the weekend to bring it to the PSNI.

 

“Those who use knives on our streets must realise the seriousness of their actions.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, responding today to an attack on his party from Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin, said the “real acts of lunacy where taken by Mr Martin and his party over the past 14 years leading us to an unprecedented economic crisis.”

Mr Adams said: “Sinn Féin didnt create the economic crisis. Sinn Fein didn't give away what remains of our sovereignty. Sinn Féin didn't put big bankers and golden circles before Irish citizens.

“Sinn Féin makes no apology for saying that Irish taxpayers cannot afford the EU/IMF money. Our view on this is shared by many prominent economists including a Nobel Prize winning economist.” ENDS

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Commenting at the launch of the Police Ombudsman report into the bombing of McGurks bar, Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly said:

“The loyalist bomb in McGurks bar killed 15 innocent people. It was one of the first and most brutal atrocities carried out against innocent civilians in the course of the past 40 years.

“Within hours of the bombing the RUC were beginning to spin the lie that the attack was an IRA ‘own goal’. Within days the RUC had the evidence that the bomb had been carried out by loyalists. Yet despite this the campaign of disinformation continued and gathered pace with Brian Faulkner, John Taylor and Reginald Maudling all playing significant roles in shifting the blame from those who carried out this attack and in the process blackening the reputations of those killed and injured on the night.

“The political, policing and military establishment in the six counties continued to pedal the lie for years. Indeed John Taylor did not meet the Police Ombudsman investigators in relation to the bombing in McGurks Bar.

“Today’s report by the Police Ombudsman into the RUC investigation vindicates the long campaign fought by the families of those killed for the truth. Sinn Féin will continue to support the families in their continuing campaign for the full truth. There are still huge questions to be answered by the British military and unionist and British politicians of the time.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) commenting on SDLP criticism of the Draft Budget proposals said;

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the SDLP are devoid of imaginative thinking when it comes to budgetary matters. Its spokespersons seem to think that taking every media opportunity available to criticise the Draft Budget proposals compensates for their failure to participate in the drafting of the proposals.

"During the drafting process Sinn Féin was proactive in our determination to identify efficiencies in present Departmental spending practices as well as new revenue streams where possible. In our deliberations Sinn Féin identified £1.86Billion to alleviate the effects of the Tory imposed cuts to the Executive Budget.

"In contrast to Sinn Féin's proactive and imaginative approach to these matters the SDLP only published its Economic paper the week before the Draft Budget was produced. It consisted mainly of a regurgitated version of a paper it published a number of years ago. In an effort to freshen it up they included a number of ideas discussed during the all-party Budget Review Group meetings to which they did not contribute one single proposal.

"Now in the mouth of an election they propose an amendment to the Draft Budget which they claim would generate £22.1million.

"The only manifestation of the SDLP’s ‘hokey cokey’ relationship with the Executive that is visible so far is it is increasingly identified as an ally of the UUP/Tory party.

"The SDLP say this Budget isn’t good enough, no one is denying that but Sinn Féin rather than sit back and lick the wounds inflicted by the British Exchequer went about identifying an additional £1.86 Billion of efficiencies and revenue raising opportunities in our document, ‘A Better Way’.

So I would advise the SDLP to stop playing politics with people’s future in advance of an election. They would serve the people better by joining with us in working to ensure a better deal for all instead of playing party politics with all of our futures.” CRÍOCH

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Speaking today Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh has reiterated his party’s commitment to reversing Fianna Fáil’s budget cuts and to standing up for the unemployed and lowest paid.

Speaking from the Social Welfare office on Tara Street Ó Snodaigh said:

“Fianna Fáil’s austerity measures have attacked the lowest paid, those on social welfare and the working poor. They have been at the helm of an unemployment crisis and have placed more of a priority on bailing out toxic banks and bondholders than protecting the most vulnerable and creating employment.

“Social welfare payments have been drastically cut and people are struggling to cope. The poorest of the poor are being punished because of a lack of an affective job creation plan.

“The Universal Social Charge is an unfair and regressive flat tax and should be scrapped. It should be replaced with a progressive taxation system which makes those who have more, pay more.

“The cut to the minimum wage is an affront to workers rights and is yet another targeted attack at the least well off in society.

“Unlike Fine Gael and Labour we in Sinn Féin have stated unequivocally that if elected to government we would reverse these draconian measures. We would implement our alternative budget based on burning the bondholders, making the wealthy pay their fair share and creating employment. I am reiterating that statement today.

“We in Sinn Féin are committed to:

- Reversing the social welfare cuts
- Abolishing the Universal Social Charge
- Reversing the cut to the minimum wage
- Introducing refundable tax credits
- Changing PRSI rules to protect the self-employed if their businesses fail

“It is not good enough to claim to oppose these measures while refusing to commit to overturn them. All parties must outline where they stand on these issues. Any new government must, as a priority implement a new budget and consign these despicable cuts and to the dustbin of history.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Cavan-Monaghan candidate and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on voters to support Sinn Féin candidates to ensure that Fianna Fail wins the minimum number of Dail seats.

He said:

“In key constituencies across the State the final seat will be a battle between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil candidates. Maximising the number one votes for Sinn Féin in those constituencies can ensure that Fianna Fáil candidates do not succeed and that people have the effective and principled leadership of Sinn Féin TDs.

“Supporting Sinn Féin candidates can also help ensure that in the 31st Dáil both Government and Opposition are not dominated by the two IMF parties, the parties of savage cuts – Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

“If Fianna Fáil do not receive the electoral drubbing that they so richly deserve they will provide further backing for the draconian regime of cutbacks and the IMF-driven economic policies of Fine Gael. Those policies are a continuation of the Fianna Fáil/Green policies that have brought the economy to the edge of total melt-down.

“For generations, hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens supported Fianna Fáil in the belief that they served the nation. They were seen as a party representing ordinary working people and in cities, towns and rural areas across Ireland voters supported them on that basis. But instead of serving the nation they served privileged vested interests and abandoned those who had loyally supported them.

“Now people have an opportunity to vote for Sinn Féin, a genuinely republican party that puts people before banks and the nation before the privileged elite.

“I urge the electorate to maximise the vote for Sinn Féin candidates in all constituencies. This is a chance to support real change in Irish politics and to build a real republican alternative to the politics of the golden circle.” ENDS

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Gerry Adams Sinn Féin President and General Election candidate for the Louth constituency is in Cork today to join the five Sinn Fein Cork candidates, Paul Hayes; Sandra McLellan; Des O Grady; Jonathan O Brien and Chris O Leary.

Speaking at a press conference this morning Mr Adams repeated his call for a referendum on the EU/IMF bailout so that the Irish people can have a say in the handing over of taxpayers money to failed banks.

Mr. Adams said: “The banking system is bust. The government and Fine Gael and Labour plan to pour tens of billions of taxpayers money into a broken banking system.
This approach will push the state further along the path of sovereign default.

“It is the wrong approach. It will not work and it will impose a huge burden of debt that will cause increasing distress for the vulnerable and low and middle income earners in the years ahead.

“The people have the right to be heard in a referendum on this vital issue for our future.”

The Sinn Féin leader also spelt out Sinn Fein’s alternative strategy.

Mr. Adams said:

“In January in Cork I set out Sinn Féin’s programme for future economic stability and growth.

• The Regeneration of the economy
• The protection and creation of jobs
• Ending the two-tier health system
• Root and branch political reform to produce a genuine republican form of Government which empowers citizens
• The proper use of Ireland’s natural resources for the common good
• Continued support for the Peace Process, Good Friday Agreement and further outreach to the unionist community

“The need for this strategy, and in particular for a job stimulus to create employment, is very apparent here in Cork and in Munster which have been devastated by the bad decisions of the Fianna Fáil /Green Party government.

“Sinn Féin is making job creation a priority. We have launched a ten-point plan which lays out clearly how our policies and our proposals would make huge inroads into addressing the current unemployment crisis.

“Sinn Féin is the only party proposing to invest in a jobs stimulus fund.

“Our stimulus is about providing immediate and direct employment in key sectors such as infrastructure in the immediate term.

“It’s about creating jobs and giving people hope for the future.

“Here in Cork that means:

• Investing in key infrastructure such as the Eastern Gateway Bridge to open up docklands and an Outer Ring Road on the city’s Northside
• Building and staffing a network of 21 primary care centres across the city
• Developing the potential of agribusiness and food products in Cork
• Investing in publicly-run childcare facilities in the city
• Helping indigenous businesses in Cork access export markets outside Britain and the US

“This economic strategy will ensure that working families are better off.

“Next Friday voters have the opportunity to change the face of politics.

“A Fine Gael Government, with or without Labour, will continue to target the low paid, those relying on welfare and public sector workers.

“Sinn Féin is the only party that can and will offer robust opposition to this agenda.
Strong opposition will be needed to curb the worst excesses of Fine Gael in government. Sinn Féin will stand up for ordinary working families.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has challenged the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour to support Sinn Féin’s proposals to cut Ministers’ wages by 40% and TDs wages by 20% if they are really committed to ending the gravy train culture.

Mr. Adams said:

“The fact is that former ministers from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour have all personally benefited from the gravy train culture in Leinster House. They all drew down massive salaries and severance payments, and received massive pensions while they were still working.

“They should be hanging their heads in shame about what went on and not trying to score dubious points off of each other.

“If the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are really committed to ending the gravy train culture they should support Sinn Féin’s proposals to cut Ministers’ wages by 40% and TDs wages by 20%. To date they have all declined to do so.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has said “Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has a brass neck saying that the consensus that the economic fundamentals were sound should have been challenged. Does he seriously think that the entire country has been asleep and we have all forgotten that it was Fianna Fáil Ministers in his government who were repeating this mantra up until very recently.”

Ms. McDonald said:

"Micheál Martin has a brass neck saying that the consensus that the economic fundamentals were sound should have been challenged. Does he seriously think that the entire country has been asleep and we have all forgotten that it was Fianna Fáil Ministers in his government who were repeating this mantra up until very recently.

“There is no point in Micheál Martin acknowledging Fianna Fáil’s mistakes when it is the exact same policies he is putting before the people in this General Election. It is Fianna Fáil’s disastrous policies that have brought the economy to the brink of economic ruin and it is their policies which would risk sovereign default if they are now implemented.” ENDS

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