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Adams dismay as Kenny again rejects European Debt Conference

"The financial and economic crisis in this State was caused by a small, unrepresentative, wealthy elite. €62 billion in bank loans were in the hands of just 190 borrowers. 50% of the Irish loan book of Anglo Irish bank was held by just 20 individuals.  Ordinary citizens cannot understand the Taoiseach’s refusal to pursue options that could make our debt sustainable and fair." – Adams

I have been made aware of a warning put through my constituency office that stated that there is a bomb planted outside of my home. The cowards behind the threat and their accompanying actions are beyond contempt.


An increased role for pharmacists is essential for the future of Irish healthcare. The western world needs radical change in the way it deals with health care provision. We currently see up to 1 in 7 attendances at GPs and 1 in 12 at Emergency Departments that could and should be dealt with by pharmacists.



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MLA, Sue Ramsey, who is also the  chair of the Health Committee, has stated that there needs to be particular attention paid to the call out times for ambulance service in rural areas.

Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:

“The recent report highlighting the longer call out times for Ambulance cover in rural areas is concerning.

“I do have to however commend the Ambulance service for the high percentage of call out targets being met across the north.

“This call out time for some rural area, but in particular North Antrim, Fermanagh and Tyrone is an issue that we have been aware of for some time and we will be examining ways in which this can be redressed this such as rural ambulance stations, improved road infrastructure, something the Executive is already delivering on, and protection of vital frontline services.

“What we need is an approach bringing targeted investment to get these arrival times up to speed. Many are too close to the "golden hour" of emergency services delivery.“As such the Health Committee will be meeting with the Ambulance Service Control Room in a number of weeks as part of the process examining what can be done to improve these times.”

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Newry & Armagh MP Conor Murphy said he was hoping for a positive response from the Parades Commission in their review tomorrow of the decision to allow 40 loyalist bands to march through Armagh City on the evening of St Patrick’s Day.

Conor Murphy said:

“When the decision was revealed to allow 40 loyalist bands to march through Armagh City on the evening of St Patrick’s Day, Sinn Féin immediately asked for a review of what has to be the one of the most ridiculous determinations ever made in relation to marching in the North.

 “The input from the PSNI on this occasion has been totally disastrous. They have actually influenced the determination by unbelievably claiming there are ‘no local concerns or sensitivities’ around this march.

 “Don’t they know it is going to be St Patrick’s Day on Saturday?  Either the PSNI in Armagh have a total lack of understanding of the nationalist feelings in the area or there are other agendas at work.

 “At the same time the Parades Commission cannot wash their hands of this and ultimately the buck stops with them – they made this flawed determination.

“Hopefully common sense will prevail tomorrow at the review and we can put this ridiculous decision behind us and enjoy the St Patrick’s Day festivities in Armagh on Saturday.”

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Speaking today Sinn Fein spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn called on the government to stop trying to bully people with claims that rejection of the Austerity Treaty will prevent access to emergency funding in the future and to “come clean on the link between bailout funds and the Austerity Treaty”.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“In recent days the government has said that failure to ratify the Austerity Treaty would leave Ireland unable to access emergency funding if the state needed a second bailout.

“However what the government isn’t telling people is that they have a veto on the Treaty change upon which the bailout funds link is based.

“The European Stability Mechanism is to be the EU’s emergency funding mechanism from the middle of 2012. It is based on a European Stability Mechanism Treaty which has not yet been ratified. Its ratification is dependent on the ratification of an Amendment to Article 136 of the EU Treaties.

“While the Government cannot block the ratification of the ESM Treaty, it does have a veto over the ratification of the amendment to Article 136 of the European Treaties. The ratification of this amendment will come before the Dáil shortly in the form of a European Communities (Amendment) Bill.

“The link between ratification of the Austerity Treaty and future access to ESM funds was supported by the government in February this year. They could have blocked it but chose not to.

“Sinn Fein is now calling on the Government to do the right thing and insist that this clause is removed from the ESM Treaty and the Austerity Treaty. It has a veto on this matter and must use it.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has given a qualified welcome to the announcement by Minister Ruairí Quinn of 275 major school projects to be completed over the next five years.

Deputy Crowe said: “In Sinn Féin’s pre-budget submission we put forward proposals for a comprehensive school capital build programme that if implemented, would provide a much needed boost to our education system and the hard pressed construction industry. Our fully costed plans included, over a three year period, the building of an additional 100 schools at a cost of €300 million and the refurbishment of 75 more at a cost of €50 million.

“Today’s announcement by Minister Quinn that 106 new schools at primary level and 43 at second level are to be built over the next five years, along with 114 large-scale extensions goes some way to addressing the projected rise in school enrolment numbers. The capital expenditure to be made on primary and post primary schools is also a vindication of Sinn Féin’s pre-budget proposals and therefore welcome.

“I am particularly concerned however, that as recently as recently December 2011, Minister Quinn stated that €2 billion was to be spent on refurbishing and building new schools to supposedly meet a projected increase in enrolment numbers of 80,000 new pupils. Today’s announcement, less than four months later has seen it reduced to €1.5 billion to meet an estimated increase of 70,000 in the number of new pupils starting school.

“When challenged on the Morning Ireland programme on RTÉ radio to explain why the government’s own estimates have been revised significantly downwards, the answers given by Minister Quinn were, to say the least, vague and unconvincing. What has changed in four months? It is a case of the minister getting his sums wrong or have an estimated 10,000 pupils been lost on the way to RTE?

“At the same time that the government is announcing the building and upgrade of schools it has postponed the summer work’s programme which is essential in ensuring the upkeep of existing schools. This short-sighted policy decision will result in schools becoming increasingly run down as a result of poor maintenance and will end up costing schools and Irish taxpayers more in the long run.

“The government has also introduced cuts in school staffing schedules that will increase pupil-teacher ratios (PTR) without considering how this will affect classroom sizes. This is reflected in confusion surrounding changes to the PTR of DEIS schools that the Minister claimed were increasing from 15:1 – 18:1 only for the Department's own website to publish a 20:1 figure.

“It is important that priority is given to schools that are currently struggling to cope with a rising pupil intake and demographic changes that have resulted in increasing numbers of families having to cope with rising levels of poverty that have been precipitated by the economic downturn.

“We need to have in place modern, high quality accommodation for pupils as this can make a significant difference when teaching in the classroom.

“The new school builds will likely provide a much needed and welcome boost to the construction industry with an estimated 15,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs expected to be created over the period of the programme.”

ENDS

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 Sinn Féin Paul Maskey MP said the murder of Joe Jones and Eddie Burns five years ago raised a lot of questions around the investigation and the involvement of British Intelligence agents.

The west Belfast representative was speaking after himself and Carál Ní Chuilín MLA attended a press conference organised by the families of Joe Jones and Eddie Burns who were murdered in Belfast five years ago. The family are seeking justice and have many questions around the police investigation after the murders.

Paul Maskey said:

“We were at the press conference first and foremost to give our support to the families who are seeking justice and who have decided to speak out for the first time five years after the murderers.

“We will be raising their concerns around the investigation at the Policing Board and with the Justice Minister. It appears that the hands of British Intelligence are all over these murders and there were serious flaws in the investigation, with a repeated failure to arrest chief suspects.

“The question has to be asked, is any of the suspects being protected by British Intelligence agencies?”

North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín, in whose constituency one of the men was brutally murdered said the killing was reminiscent of something done by the Shankill Butchers.

Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“This was a Shankill Butchers style killing and shocked the whole community at the time. The families want justice and we are fully behind them.

“Obviously people who carry out such a killing need to be brought to account but that process appears to have been ignored in order to protect one or more of the suspects.”

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Martin McGuinness has today called on vigilante group RAAD to issue a clear and definitive statement removing all threats to young people in Derry and disbanding the group.

Mr McGuinness said:

“RAAD have nothing at all to do with Irish Republicanism. As oppressors of the community in Derry they are anti-Republican. There is a groundswell of support in the city for RAAD to get off the backs of our community. That is now what needs to happen.

“RAAD are a tiny group of people. They are not representative and are not accountable to anyone but themselves. They are driven entirely by ego not by any desire to tackle drug abuse in Derry or anywhere else.

“There is also a very strong perception that some individuals associated with RAAD have profited financially from those involved in the drugs trade.  Shooting young people who have become addicted to drugs or threatening them from their homes does nothing to tackle this very serious issue. Indeed it makes the situation worse. In the most recent incident in Derry, RAAD shot two young people from a prominent Republican family who had no involvement at all in drugs.

“Drug dealing can only be tackled through on one hand the PSNI taking decisive action against drug dealers and on the other through proper support for our young people who have become addicted to drugs.

“Those people who lead RAAD and who are well known in Derry need to understand that their activities make no positive contribution whatsoever to improving the lives of the people of Derry. In reality the opposite is the case.

“The necessity for a civilised and progressive approach to drugs and those affected by them is being undermined by the brutal, thuggish and bullying actions of those who use patriotic labels for their criminality. They need to issue a clear and definitive statement removing all of the threats they have issued and disband their group once and for all.” ENDS

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has made a decision on the future of assessment at GCSE level in the north of Ireland.

Following a 12-week consultation the Minister has decided not to follow England where, following a decision by Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, assessment of GCSEs will be taken at the end of the two-year period (known as the linear route). Instead, schools here will be free to choose between unitised GCSEs (where assessment can be taken throughout the two years) or linear GCSEs.

The Minister said: “I believe that schools are best placed to make decisions in light of what they believe is in the best interests of their pupils. For some schools, the unitised option may be the most suitable, while others may feel the linear route is more appropriate.

“Many of the views expressed during the consultation here, and in the workshops held with school leaders, acknowledged that whilst many of the issues identified in England might well exist, unitised GCSEs have only been in place here for two years in some subjects. It was therefore felt that change of this nature was too early and the decision to change by Michael Gove did not appear to have been taken on the basis of clear evidence or educational justification.”

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Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill has announced the commencement of the public consultation on new Reservoir Safety Policy proposals.

The policy proposals will be used to establish a legal and administrative regime for the management and regulation of reservoir safety. The public consultation period will
run from 12 March until 1 June 2012.

Minister O’Neill said: “Many reservoirs were designed as water storage but are also important environmental and community assets. These policies will form the basis of new legislation to provide increased protection to the public, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity from the risk of flooding from reservoirs in this region. They have been developed with the help of key stakeholders from across the public sector as well as private owners and operators.

“I want us to get this legislation right but without creating an unnecessary burden for owners and operators. I welcome comments on these proposals and I would encourage attendance at the information events which will be held during the consultation period.”

The policy proposals will support the Reservoirs Bill which is to be introduced in 2013 to ensure reservoirs are managed and operated to minimise the risk of reservoir failure.

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Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness this evening said: "There is no doubt that RTÉ should not have broadcast a tweet during the Frontline presidential debate which incorrectly claimed that Hugh Morgan would appear at a press conference the following day.
“None of this however takes way from the fact that Seán Gallagher had legitimate questions to answer. The facts are that Seán Gallagher did solicit money on behalf of Fianna Fáil and was deeply involved in the culture of money buying access to politicians. It was Seán Gallagher’s lack of clarity and credibility in relation to straight questions on these issues from myself in the course of the Frontline debate which was his undoing."

Mr. McGuinness said:
"There is no doubt that RTÉ should not have broadcast a tweet during the Frontline presidential debate which incorrectly claimed that Hugh Morgan would appear at a press conference the following day. The tweet had nothing to do with the Martin McGuinness presidential campaign and RTÉ could have checked this with any of a number of representatives of my campaign team who were present in RTÉ on the night. They didn’t do this.
“It is also clear that RTÉ was negligent in failing to broadcast a corrective tweet from the official campaign twitter account which made it clear that the Martin McGuinness campaign had made no statement on the night in relation to the Seán Gallagher and Fianna Fáil donations issue.

"None of this however takes way from the fact that Seán Gallagher had legitimate questions to answer in relation to the issue of his involvement in Fianna Fáil and fundraising for that party, questions which he had refused to fully answer in the presidential election campaign up to that point.

"It was Seán Gallagher’s lack of clarity and credibility in relation to straight questions on these issues from myself in the course of the Frontline debate which was his undoing. The facts are that Seán Gallagher did solicit money on behalf of Fianna Fáil and that in particular he was involved in soliciting money for the fundraising event at the Crowne Plaza in Dundalk. Sean Gallagher was, as I correctly pointed out, deeply involved in the culture of money buying access to politicians — a culture which the electorate had rejected at the previous general election.

"I had a duty to the electorate to put these questions to Seán Gallagher during the Frontline debate which I did. I am proud to have run in the presidential election and of the part I played in it. The electorate made up their own minds about who they wanted for president and I fully respect their democratic decision. I think all candidates and commentators should now do the same."
ENDS

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