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East Belfast Sinn Fein representative Niall Ó Donnghaile and South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey have welcomed yesterday’s stand taken by the Planning Appeals Commission which has halted the public inquiry into the proposed runway extension at George Best Belfast City Airport.

Alex Maskey MLA said,
“Sinn Féin have consistently backed calls by residents for a full public inquiry into the proposed runway extension at Belfast’s George Best City Airport. There are serious environmental, economic and social concerns around any planned extension to Belfast City Airport.

“However, the suggestion by the Planning Service that the airport could submit further information once the inquiry hearings were underway would have disadvantaged the various residents groups who have opposed the extension.”

East Belfast representative Niall Ó Donnghaile said,
“I would welcome the fact that this inquiry has been halted until the Department of the Environment obtains adequate data from the airport.

“Clearly, there are concerns about the noise pollution data submitted to date and this, coupled with the Planning Service’s suggestion that would have allowed the airport to submit information after the inquiry had began, would have destroyed the credibility of the inquiry.”

CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly has welcomed the announcement by the First Minister and deputy First Minister that following the consultation on the Parades Bill a number of changes have been made to ensure that the primary purpose of the legislation – dealing with Loyal Order parades is guaranteed.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said;

“The purpose of this legislation is to deal with the issue of Loyal Order parades. In our party submission to the consultation we argued that changes should be made to the draft Bill to remove any confusion and to deal with concerns put forward by the Trade Union movement and others.

“This has now happened and as a result public meetings and other gatherings are being removed from this draft legislation.

“The whole purpose of the consultation period was to allow key stakeholders and concerned groups to make submissions on this important piece of legislation.

“This legislation will see a new way of dealing with the issue of Loyal Order parades on the basis of equality and human rights. The right of all citizens to live free from sectarian harassment will be at the core of the legislation.

“At the heart of the new proposals will be an emphasis on dialogue. There will be mechanisms to encourage local people to resolve local issues of concern regarding contentious parades through locally based dialogue.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the two-tier hospital system is still killing patients, three years after the death of Susie Long, with more than 1,000 people waiting for more than three months for a colonoscopy.

He said:

“The attempts by the HSE to defend these figures are not credible. When Susie Long died in 2007 we were promised a dramatic reduction in waiting times for colonoscopy, the test for bowel cancer to which she and so many others were denied timely access. The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that little has changed and public patients are still facing totally unacceptable and potentially fatal delays in diagnosis.

“There is no excuse for such a waiting list – but there is an explanation. The facilities and staff are there in the private health sector to carry out such tests in a timely manner for private patients. These facilities should be opened directly to public patients who should not have to go through the National Treatment Purchase Fund to get access to these vital tests. The grossly inequitable two-tier hospital system must be dismantled because it is quite literally killing patients.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith is living in “fantasy land” after his defence of the new energy levy which will increase electricity prices by 5%. Deputy Ó Caoláin described the levy as “a recipe for more hardship and fewer jobs”.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The decision of the Fianna Fáil/Green Government to impose a 5% increase in electricity prices is indefensible. Agriculture Minister and Cavan-Monaghan Deputy Brendan Smith has attempted to defend this levy but he shows himself to be living in fantasy land, oblivious to the effects of this decision.
“This is a recipe for more hardship for struggling families and individuals. It will be an added burden especially for families on the margins whose incomes are not low enough to qualify for the medical card or Family Income Supplement, but who are struggling to pay mortgages, medical bills and the cost of sending children to school.
“This price rise is also a recipe for fewer jobs, hitting small and medium sized businesses especially hard. Minister Smith should be well aware of that reality, given the high dependence on the sector for employment in his constituency.
“The scandal is that this price rise is unnecessary. The ESB made a profit of €500 million in 2009. Its CEO was paid more than €750,000 in salary and bonuses last year. The Government should reverse its decision and stop this price rise.”

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Caral NíChuilin has welcomed the news that talks between the Prison Administration and the prisoners in Roe House have resumed.

Ms NíChuilin said:

“Since the talks process between the representatives of the prisoners in Roe House and the Prison Administration broke down late last week I have been in contact with the Justice Minister David Ford and the Prison Administration.

“It has long been my view that the situation in Roe House can be resolved if the necessary political will is shown. Prisoners have the right to be held with dignity and respect. The current situation in Roe House falls well below this standard.

“It is now important that the dialogue between the prisoners and the administration quickly comes to a satisfactory conclusion which will see the protest ended and decent humane conditions established in the prison.” ENDS

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Speaking today after the European Commission granted approval for an emergency recapitalisation of over €10 billion for Anglo Irish Bank, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance Arthur Morgan has said that the Government is delusional to believe that pumping endless amounts of money into a zombie bank will restore financial credibility. Deputy Morgan also said that the approval was opening a can of worms where Anglo Irish will be subject to endless recapitalisations by taxpayers.

Deputy Morgan said:

“This recapitalisation has been approved because it has been sold as a method of preserving confidence in Irish financial markets, but nothing could be farther from the truth. This Government is delusional if it believes that pumping endless amounts of money into this zombie bank will restore our financial credibility.

“Anglo Irish bank is a zombie bank, of which no return can be made for the ordinary people of this State who are being made fund these continuous recapitalisations. No credibility and confidence can be gained from exposing taxpayers to these liabilities.

“The ramifications of today’s decision of the European Commission are such that the amounts of capital that can be pumped into Anglo Irish surpass the €22billion previously mentioned by the Minister for Finance. Essentially it is opening a can of worms where Anglo Irish will be subject to endless recapitalisations by taxpayers for whom Anglo Irish did nothing, while savaging essential services for ordinary people.

“What is clear from today’s approval is that this is not the end of the debacle of Anglo Irish. This Government is content for the Irish people to continue to foot the bill for a decade of speculation and property binges by some of the most corrupt figures in this State and the European Commission are sanctioning this injustice.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for Mid UlsterFrancie Molloy has slammed those behind a car bomb attack on a civilian worker at the Cookstown PSNI station.

 

Speaking earlier Mr Molloy said:

 

“This attack on a civilian worker is wrong. He has had a very lucky escape with the device only partially exploding. This man has the right to work anywhere he wishes and should not come under any threat in doing so.

 

“The groupings behind this, and other attacks earlier in the week, need to come forward and tell the people of Ireland how this will advance the goal of achieving a united Ireland?

 

“Certainly the overwhelming number of republicans have endorsed a peaceful strategy to achieve this goal through moving society forward in a progressive way, not by wreckless bomb attacks.

 

“These groups need to reflect on the political realities of Ireland in 2010. They have little or no support and it is very clear that armed actions have no place in today’s society.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for Mid UlsterFrancie Molloy has slammed those behind a car bomb attack on a civilian worker at the Cookstown PSNI station.

 

Speaking earlier Mr Molloy said:

 

“This attack on a civilian worker is wrong. He has had a very lucky escape with the device only partially exploding. This man has the right to work anywhere he wishes and should not come under any threat in doing so.

 

“The groupings behind this, and other attacks earlier in the week, need to come forward and tell the people of Ireland how this will advance the goal of achieving a united Ireland?

 

“Certainly the overwhelming number of republicans have endorsed a peaceful strategy to achieve this goal through moving society forward in a progressive way, not by wreckless bomb attacks.

 

“These groups need to reflect on the political realities of Ireland in 2010. They have little or no support and it is very clear that armed actions have no place in today’s society.”

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Commenting on the decision by the Parades Commission to allow an Apprentice Boys feeder parade to pass Ardoyne North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said;

“The proposed parade this weekend should not be taking place, it is not welcome nor wanted by the residents of Ardoyne, Mountainview or the Dales. It is a feeder parade and will see those participating passing nationalist areas simply to get on a bus to go to Derry.

It is welcome that the grossly offensive Loyalist Flute Band which honours the UVF Killer Brian Robinson, who murdered Paddy McKenna, has been barred from taking part. Supporters have also been banned from taking part.

The issues of contentious parades cannot be resolved without dialogue with the host community. This particular parade is happening in the aftermath of a very bad decision by the Parades Commission regarding the 12th of July. I would call on everyone to ensure that we do not see a repeat of the trouble which flared in the aftermath of the 12th July – the people of Ardoyne do not want this parade inflicted upon them, but neither do they want or deserve to see a repeat of last months violence.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin’s Energy spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has said that the government’s plans to introduce a new levy which will push electricity prices up by 5% will punish already struggling families and will hit businesses who are already struggling to deal with crippling costs.

Deputy Ferris said that the decision to introduce a levy at a time of unprecedented hardship for households and businesses was ludicrous.

Deputy Ferris:

“The decision by the government to introduce this new levy at a time of unprecedented hardship for households and businesses is simply ludicrous. This will punish already struggling families and will heap further pressure on small and medium businesses who have to deal with already crippling costs and a lack of credit.

“I would seriously question the need for this levy given that the ESB only recently reported profits of €500 million. At the very least the government should delay its introduction. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and further highlights how clueless this government is when it comes to turning our economy around.

“Only recently we heard absurd calls from Brian Cowen and Dermot Ahern asking people to spend their money, despite the fact that people are barely surviving as it is. This extra cost on households will further reduce peoples spending power and ultimately cost more jobs.” ENDS

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Commenting on Sinn Féin efforts to engage in dialogue with the with the political representatives of those linked to armed republican factions Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:


“The attempt by Sinn Féin to initiate dialogue with the political groups linked to some armed republican factions is a genuine attempt by us to put very directly to these groupings that ongoing armed actions have no place in the struggle for Irish unity. This is not a stunt.


“Everyone is well aware of our position on the armed groups These groups have the absolute right to disagree with the Sinn Féin strategy. They have every right to oppose us politically and in elections. Indeed they have done in the past and the republican community has delivered their verdict.


“There is a peaceful and democratic path available to a united Ireland – the vast vast majority of republicans are on it. As the party elected by republican communities to lead – we have a responsibility to provide political leadership. This is what we are doing.


“We want these groups to reflect on the political realities of Ireland in 2010. Their activities play into the hands of rejectionist unionism and those elements of the British system who seek to limit and frustrate the process of change.


“This engagement is about pointing out to these groups the futility of ongoing armed actions and the political space that is there for them to move into. We have also been active in trying to assist in a resolution to the situation in Maghaberry.


“Clearly some of the groups contacted by us do not wish to engage. Others do and I would expect these meetings to take place shortly.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has praised all of those involved in Feile an Phobail as the festival draws to a close.


Mr Adams said:


“Feile an Phobail has grown into one of the biggest community festivals in Europe. This weeks Feile has been a brilliant mix of politics, entertainment, sport and debate. Thousands of people have passed through West Belfast in the course of the past seven days.


“I wish to pay tribute to the staff and organisers of the Feile for their work in showcasing the West Belfast community and delivering a magnificent programme of events in this years programme.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe has called for extra Garda resources to be deployed in the Tallaght area after four people were stabbed in Kiltalawn last night.

Councillor Crowe, a member of the South Dublin County Policing and Justice Forum, said knife crime in Tallaght is a particular problem and it’s only a matter of time before a fatality occurs if action is not taken.

He said:

“Four people were stabbed in the Kiltalawn area of Tallaght last night. While none of the victims’ injuries are believed to be life threatening knife crime in Tallaght is a growing problem and it is only a matter of time before a fatality occurs if action is not taken.

“I highlighted this problem back in March after three separated stabbings took place over three consecutive nights in the Jobstown area.

“While many of these attacks would not be reported to the Gardaí for fear of retaliatory attacks the local accident and emergency department in Tallaght Hospital would be fully aware of the scale of the problem particularly at weekends. There needs to be a formal structure put in place for communication between the hospital and the Gardaí.

“Extra Garda resources need to be deployed to the Tallaght area with a proactive approach to tackling knife crime. We need to tackle the culture that sees young people feel that it is necessary and acceptable to carry knives on them as they go about there daily lives.

“I would propose a knife crime awareness and education campaign which would include a type of knife amnesty for the Tallaght area that has been successful in other areas before, where young people are encouraged to give up their weapons to Gardaí without fear of being charged for carrying the weapon.

“If we can take a chunk of these weapons off the streets then we will be going some way to solving this type of problem. A community awareness campaign might go some of the way to convince and educate some of theses young people on the real dangers of carrying knives.” ENDS

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Speaking as the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle met in Dublin this morning Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called on party members and supporters and the wider Republican community to turn out in huge numbers for the annual Hunger Strike Commemoration which takes place in Bellaghy, County Derry next Sunday, 15th August.

Mr McGuinness said:

“Tomorrow August 8th marks the 29th Anniversary of the death of Tom McElwee on Hunger Strike in Long Kesh. Tomorrow morning along with members of Tom’s family and the local republican community we will gather at Tom’s graveside for a short commemoration.

“Then next weekend the National Hunger Strike Commemoration takes place in Bellaghy, County Derry, the area where two of the Hunger Strikers, Volunteer Francis Hughes and Volunteer Tom McElwee came from.

“Republicans in Derry are busy putting together the final preparations for what is expected to be a very well attended commemoration.

“This is one of the biggest events on the Republican calendar and I appeal to all Sinn Féin members and supporters, to the wider Republican community, to the people of Ireland and international sympathisers to mobilise and show support for the ideals for which the Hunger Strikers gave their all.

“While 29 years have now passed since this pivotal period in the course of Irish history, the pride with which the H-Block Martyrs are remembered is ever enduring and I would urge republicans from throughout Ireland to reflect this sense of pride by making a special effort to attend this major commemorative event.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe has called on the Government to produce a specific plan to tackle unemployment black-spots after Tallaght’s unemployment figure jumped by more than 500 in July to 11,169.

Councillor Crowe said this is one of the highest increases in unemployment throughout the state with only Cork City, Limerick City and Galway City recording higher jumps.

Speaking today at a protest outside the Tallaght Social Welfare Office Councillor Crowe said:

“The state-wide unemployment figure rose by 8,500 during July. Of that 8,500, 507 were in Tallaght alone.

“Clearly we have a problem with unemployment black-spots and the Government needs to bring forward a specific strategy, as part of an overall job creation strategy, to tackle these areas.

“Tallaght has seen its fair share of job losses over the past couple of years with the loss of companies such as APW, Packard, Gallaghers, Jacobs, Sujitsu and now we are possibly facing the threat of further possible job losses at the CityWest Hotel.

“There has been little or no effort from Government to replace these jobs or to provide training for those who lost their jobs and to adapt to new emerging industries.

“Clearly, if we could make a concerted effort to stem the loss of jobs in unemployment black-spots throughout the state then this would go a long way to stemming the national figures.

“The tide of emigration is masking the true extent of the jobs crisis in this state and the Government is shamefully turning a blind eye to this. Exporting our young people is not the way to tackle unemployment.

“Jobs can be created. Solutions exist. The government needs to take immediate actions now.

“Sinn Féin has put forward a comprehensive set of costed proposals to retain and create jobs.

“We have concrete proposals that can reverse these jobs losses and give the growing number of unemployed access to real jobs.

“These include:

• €500 million youth jobs fund to create 20,000 new entrepreneur and business jobs.
• Create jobs through essential construction– hospitals, schools, public transport networks and roll-out of broadband.
• A new green technology body – Eolas Glás Éireann – for research, promotion and funding of green energy and environmental technologies.
• Introduce specific job-creation strategies in agri-food, tourism, digital media and IT.
• €600 million job retention fund to subsidise workers in struggling small and medium businesses – potential to save 96,000 jobs

“Our full job creation proposals can be accessed at www.sinnfein.ie.

“Behind today’s latest figures are 507 individuals and families in crisis with no real chance of any new employment prospects for the immediate future.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has condemned the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey for using the Government jet and a chauffeur driven Ministerial car to get to the MacGill Summer School in Donegal last month.

Senator Doherty said the Minister’s actions were particularly disgraceful given that he was travelling to Donegal to take part in a debate on the need to change political culture in Ireland.

Speaking today Senator Doherty who took part in the same debate as the Minister said:

“There is absolutely no reason why the Minister could not have drove to Donegal on his own and got a commercial flight to London from Derry the next day. The fact that he stayed overnight in Donegal shows that he had plenty of time to book a flight but instead the Minister made a conscious decision to waste taxpayers’ money and indulge in the type of extravagant luxuries that are out of reach of the vast majority of people in Ireland.

“Also the event finished at six in the evening so there is no reason why the Minister could not have been back in Dublin that evening. He had plenty of other options open to him.

“The fact that the Minister was travelling to Donegal to take part in a debate on the need to change political culture in Ireland makes his actions all the more disgraceful. I argued at that the debate for a step change in the culture of waste, mismanagement and corruption that is endemic in Irish politics.

“But of course Minister Dempsey is part and parcel of that culture as this whole episode proves.

“The Minister needs to be made face an investigation into this issue and ultimately should be made to pay back the money he has wasted just as his colleague Ivor Calelly must do.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin activists are holding a day of action across the state tomorrow as local unemployment figures are published.

Protests and pickets will take place across the state at TDs and Minister’s constituency offices, at town centres and at airports and ports.

Speaking this evening ahead of tomorrow’s actions Dublin Sinn Féin TD said:

“Tomorrow’s actions are part of an ongoing Sinn Féin campaign to increase the pressure on the government to take action to create jobs.

“The prolonged Dáil break is an insult to the unemployed when urgent action is needed to create jobs. Our message to the government is create jobs to stop emigration.

“Jobs can be created. Solutions exist. The government needs to act now.” ENDS

Details of tomorrow’s protests and pickets:

Cork City
Protest at Cork Airport Mid Morning at 10 - 11am with City Councillors posters Banners and cards

Cork North West
Protest at FF Minister Batt O Keeffe new constituency office in Macroom Time TBC later today

Cork East
Protest at FF Junior Minister Michael Aherne TD constituency office in Midleton on Saturday 7th Time TBC later

Cork South West
Protest at constituency office of FF TD Christy O Suillivan

Tipperary South
Protest at clinic of FF Junior Minister Martin Mansergh TD

Louth
Protest in Dundalk town centre at 12noon

Meath
Protest in Navan Town Centre at 12noon

Westmeath
Protest in Athlone Town Centre at 12noon

Laois
Protest in Portlaoise Town Centre at 12noon

Offaly
Protest at Tullamore Town Centre at 12noon

Monaghan
Protest at Monaghan Town Courthouse at 4pm

Donegal
Activists will be giving out leaflets at Saturday’s rally against the cuts at Letterkenny Hospital

Dublin
Picket at Tallaght Social Welfare office at 12noon

Picket at Ballyfermot Social Welfare office on Tuesday

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Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has called for a full review after the death of a 19 year old man in custody in Hydebank Young offenders.

Speaking today Ms Anderson;

“Firstly our thoughts are with the family of this man following their tragic loss.

In terms of international human rights standards as applied to advanced democratic states the Prison Service here is in serious crisis.

Despite there being 10 suicides over eight years, a history of alcoholism within the jails, a severe lack of care and a culture of apathy from staff towards reform there remains an urgent need for the review of accountability mechanisms.

Failings within the prison system, including at Hydebank have been consistently exposed and highlighted by several, knowledgeable agencies including the Coroners service, by Prison Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate, and the Independent Monitoring Board, yet recommendations remain mostly unimplemented, warnings ignored and vulnerable prisoners die as a result.

This latest tragedy must act as an urgent catalyst for the new Justice Minister to act on Prison reform.” CRÍOCH

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Bairbre de Brún MEP praised the exhibitors at this year’s Fermanagh County Show and especially the young handlers who have ‘made Fermanagh proud’.

Ms de Brún attended the show on Wednesday 4 August and said “I thoroughly enjoyed a great day out at Fermanagh County Show. I profited from a warm welcome, a fine sunny day, the great atmosphere and high standards for cattle, sheep and rare breeds.

“I am full of praise for all the exhibitors, but especially for the young handlers who have made Fermanagh proud. They clearly know their business and are competent and confident in their approach.

“There has also been a very wide range of trade stands, with the Local Food Festival a particular winner.” ENDS

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One of the highlights of this weekends Poc ar an Chnoc on the Stormont estate will be the celebrity Poc Fada for the Edward Carson Trophy.

Carson was a member of Trinity College hurley team and Saturday will see the current Captain Martin Phelan and four team colleagues travelling to Belfast to participate in this first ever Poc Fada at Stormont. Martin will be participating in the senior event and the others in the Open Longest Poc.

This is a new competition for the day – an Open Longest Poc – best of two pocs. Anyone wanting to participate in this has to register at 10 am on the morning.

The celebrity Poc Fada for the Edward Carson trophy will see Martin Rogan; Martin Lindsay; Mark Sidebottom; Bairbre de Brún MEP, Geraldine McAteer of the west Belfast Partnership Board;

Newly crowned All Ireland Poc Fada Champion Down’s Graham Clarke has confirmed that he will be taking part in the seniors competition on Saturday

Others confirmed for that event include: James McGarry; Christy O Connor; Davy Fitzgerald; Sambo McNaughton; Grainne Connolly; Claire O Kane; Sinead O Neill; Katrina O Kane; Ruairi Convery; Paul Shiels, Brian McGilligan, Martin Phelan and Noel Sands.

As well as the senior Poc Fada event which will include Hurling and Camogie figures the event will also include an under 10 Camogie and Hurling Blitz which will be held on the top lawn in front of Parliament Buildings and a celebrity Poc Fada for the Carson Trophy.

West Belfast MP Gerry Adams MLA said that August the 7th at Stormont will see a full day of events on the grounds of the Stormont estate. It will be, “a day in which young and old, all stars and first timers can exhibit their sporting prowess.”

Any money raised will go to the ‘City of Angels Foundation’ which through the medium of the arts tries to prevent children of the shanty towns of Sao Paulo from falling victim to the drug culture, to violence and organized crime. Their website is www.cityoftheangelsfoundation.org

Gerry Adams said:

“This will be a great day out. So if you want to help good people trying to save children from the scourge of drugs and crime, or if you just want a good day out – then come along to the Stormont estate on August 7th”.”

Note to Editor:
Martin Donnelly long time sponsor of the M Donnelly All Ireland Poc Fada in Cooley and whose famous MD logo has graced many sports including GAA Football, Hurling, Camogie and Handball, Boxing and Cycling, is the main sponsor of the event and the Dublin based businessman stated that he too is looking forward to the day.


The running order for the day will be:

10.00am – 10.30am Registration for teams of U-10’s and longest Pocf

10.30am – 12.30pm U-10 hurling & camogie blitz

10.30am – 12 noon Open Longest Poc Competition

12.30pm – 1.30pm Celebrity Poc Fada

1.30pm – 3pmpm Senior men’s and womens’ Poc Fada

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