Speaking as Batt O’Keeffe prepared to present his proposals on college fees to the cabinet this week Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty described as ‘ridiculous in the extreme’, the Minister’s notion that fees will not affect the less well off.
Speaking today Senator Doherty said, “As predicted O’Keeffe has waited out the local and European elections before moving on his plans to reintroduce fees to third level students.
“As yet the Minister has given no indication of what mode of fees he intends to introduce, be it upfront tuition fees or Fine Gael’s equally regressive and dishonest graduate tax. He has said that his proposals will be signed off on by September when pupils start back at college.
“His notion that these fees ‘will not affect the less well off’ and are ‘family-proofed’ and that families will be ‘pleasantly surprised’ is ridiculous in the extreme. The minister is obviously living in cloud cuckoo land. These comments are insulting to all those who will now have to scrimp and save and in a lot of cases completely forgo their education because of the incompetence of this government and this minister. It really shows just how out of touch the Government is with everyday life.
“Figures from the Minister for Education and Science’s economist show that, at most third level fees would raise less than €30 million per annum. This is before tax relief on tuition fees of 40% are included. Given the nature of the chronically under-funded tertiary sector, this amount will have no real financial impact and any potential benefit would be lost as thousands of students are forced out of higher education.
“Sinn Féin is totally opposed to this attack on education and to the dishonesty and disrespect shown to students and their families by Fianna Fáil, the Greens and Fine Gael.
“The Minister needs a reality check. His proposals will force thousands of students out of education. He should be ashamed of himself.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has encouraged people to become more involved in the debate about renewable energy and to respond to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) consultation on a more sustainable energy future in the Strategic Energy Framework.
Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:
“Climate change represents one of the most serious issues facing us. We need a joined up approach that puts the green economy at the heart of economic development. Ireland is also one of the best placed countries in Europe to take advantage of renewable energy.
“I believe the Executive and the Irish Government should put renewable energy production at the heart of all-Ireland economic planning and become world leaders. The best way to achieve some of the economies of scale required to progress this is by planning on an all-Ireland basis.
“The world economy is moving to meet this challenge and the Executive needs to ensure that we don’t get left behind. We have wind, wave and tidal resources here and we have some great individual projects. The Executive must provide the push and the incentives for the development of renewables on both a small-scale and large scale, and to move beyond individual projects to put the development of renewable energy firmly centre stage in our economic development plans.
“Now more than ever we need to fully commit to progressing to a green economy and to investing in innovation and clean technologies. The economic downturn should embolden us to make the jump to the new, green economy more quickly so that many of the old problems of oil demand and energy consumption can be dealt with.” ENDS
Note to Editors
Ms de Brún was a member of the European Parliament Environment Committee, and the European Parliament Temporary Committee on Climate Change in the last term of the Parliament and was part of the delegation to the UN Climate Change talks in Poznan, Poland earlier this year. She recently gave evidence to the Assembly Environment Committee Inquiry into Climate Change (June 11th).
Sinn Féin MP for Newry/Armagh Conor Murphy has said that the people of Newry are missing out on the benefits of the transatlantic submarine communications network, Project Kelvin which recently arrived in Portrush and will be housed in Derry.
Project Kelvin is a cross border project linking the Northwest of Ireland to the transatlantic submarine communications network, which is linked to North America. The project’s function is to reduce the time it takes to exchange data with North America, making the cost of international communications the same as Dublin and major cities in Britain.
However, while the initiative will connect 14 towns in Ireland to the high-speed channel and while the cable runs along the Northeast coast of Ireland on its way to Dublin – Newry will not benefit from the project.
Mr Murphy has said,
“While I welcome the fact that Armagh will be linked to the project I am disappointed that Newry will miss out. The economy in Newry has been hit badly recently with 300 jobs lost from Teleperformance, it is crucial that we now attract modern businesses and companies to the area in order to create employment.
“Newry’s participation in Project Kelvin would allow the area to attract large knowledge-based companies to the area, and would facilitate the promotion of Newry as a business centre on the main route between the two largest cities on this island. This area would subsequently benefit from greater transport and communication infrastructure.
Mr Murphy concluded by stating that he raised the issue as at today’s North-South Ministerial Council meeting,
“I raised the issue as a matter of priority at today’s meeting, I will again raise it at the next North-South Ministerial Council meeting on Wednesday as the Northern Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Invest and the Tanaiste will be present."
His party colleague and Deputy Mayor of Newry, Charlie Casey, said that he will ask for Newry and Mourne District Council to support Mr. Murphy’s call at tonight’s sitting of the Council.
Sinn Féin representatives have stated that all attacks on Orange Halls must stop. This follows attacks on two Orange Halls over the weekend in Rasharkin and North Belfast.
Speaking on the North Belfast attack Carál Ní Chuilín said:.
“This attack has no justification behind it other than blatant sectarianism. Let me make it clear- sectarianism has no place in North Belfast.
“The Orange Hall has just had restoration work on the front carried out as part of the arterial route scheme which is designed to improve the appearance of our neighbourhoods. The removal of security shutters and cages on the building was a move in the right direction.
“Given the work that was done to have paint pattered over the front of the building for purely sectarian reasons is completely unacceptable and those behind the attack have no right to do this.”
Daithí McKay, MLA for North Antrim regarding the attack on Rasharkin Orange hall commented:
“Rasharkin has seen a series of sectarian incidents over the past months with both communities being affected. This is the 4th attack on Rasharkin Orange Hall this year.
“Let me be clear these sectarian attacks serve nobodies interest and people want them to end. They do nothing but break down community relations in the area.
“Any attacks of this nature need to be stopped immediately and those behind the attack need to realise there is no support whatsoever from the vast majority of both sections of our communities.”
Sinn Fein Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has called on the Housing Executive to carry out an urgent review of its decision to halt grants to houses in a dangerous condition.
Fra McCann said:
“I have received a number of queries form Sinn Fein representatives in rural areas who are concerned that the decision to halt these grants is forcing people to live in not only deplorable conditions but also dangerous conditions.
“The Housing Executive has a duty of care to people and normally there are many grant applications which are made on the grounds of health and safety.
“The Housing Executive needs not only to review the decision to withdraw these grants but it also needs to carry out inspections of these properties to ensure people are not being forced to live in conditions which are life threatening.
“Over the past few months I have challenged the Housing Minister to explain why she ordered that finances be directed away from these grants that are designed to improve the standards in some of our worst housing stock.
“Sinn Féin MLAs have been raising this at the Assembly for some time and calling for additional resources to be made available to break this deadlock. We are also asking for any additional money to be ring-fenced by the Executive to ensure these grants and replacements are continued.
“Sinn Féin have said failure to do so forces people to live in atrocious conditions.” ENDS
Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP MLA Pat Doherty says that many elderly constituents have been dealt a double blow by being not only told that Housing Executive Improvement Grants for long awaited improvements to their homes have been suspended but by also being told that they would have to reapply afresh if and when additional funding becomes available for these grants.
Pat Doherty has now written to Department of Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie asking for a timeframe for the re-instatement of funding for this improvement work to homes and requesting that existing applications are allowed to stand and be granted in order of approval once additional funding becomes available.
Mr Doherty said,
“I have been contacted by constituents who are deeply distressed at having received letters from the Housing Executive Grants Office stating that all grant funding for improvement work (with the exception of Disabled Facility Grants and Landlord Public Health Notices) has been suspended and that they would have to now make a fresh application for grant assistance when additional funding becomes available.
“Most of the applicants awaiting grant assistance are elderly and have already went through a prolonged process of application and assessment (many to a point whereby they were informed that their applications had been approved) only to be now told that not only is the improvements grants scheme being suspended but that they would now have to make a fresh application once again.
“I have now written to Margaret Ritchie asking her to provide a timeframe for the re-instatement of funding for Improvement Grants and as to whether she has made a bid to secure additional funding for this purpose in the June monitoring round.
“Moreover, as there is no rationale for making existing applicants re-apply, I have asked her to ensure that existing applications are allowed to stand and that they are subsequently grant funded in order of approval once additional funding become available. ENDS
Sinn Féin health spokesperson and deputy Chair of the Assembly Health committee Michele O’Neil MLA has expressed her deep concern at proposed cuts to ambulance provision in the Six Counties.
Speaking this morning Ms O’Neil said;
“A number of proposed cuts to ambulance provision have been suggested under the spending review and it is clear that people across the north, but particularly in rural area’s, are deeply concerned about this matter.
The Minister has said that he will consider the recommendations carefully, I believe that he must. He must also listen to the genuine fears, concerns and most importantly, the experiences of people who have already been negatively effected as a result of the lack of ambulance cover at present.
Cuts should not be made to front-line services and it doesn’t get more front-line than ambulance services.
While Rapid Response Vehicles have an important and vital role to play in our emergency response provision, people must feel confident and safe in the knowledge that, particularly in rural areas, they will be properly served by the health service here.” CRÍOCH
Fermanagh and south Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has slammed the lack of response from the PSNI to a live robbery of a vital ATM machine used by the community in the Newtonbutler area of County Fermanagh.
Speaking this morning Ms Gildernew said;
“The people responsible for this robbery have absolutely no regard for the safety or well-being of the community; they put numerous lives at very serious risk as a result of their senseless actions and deprived people of an asset they have campaigned long and hard for.
Residents are not just baffled by the lack of response from the PSNI but also infuriated by the fact that it took them twelve hours to respond to this incident.
Numerous residents contacted the PSNI who informed the callers that they were ‘aware’ of the situation. Not only was a digger used to ram this vital community resource but the digger was set on fire on a the forecourt of a petrol station.
The PSNI have cited ‘safety concerns’ as their main reason for not entering the area, the reality is that the PSNI are public servants and that my main concern is the safety of my constituent. The days of hiding behind such vague statements are over, what were the safety concerns and can they now make them public in order to justify why they allowed this situation to take place uninterrupted?
On this occasion the PSNI truly failed to do their job and have set community confidence back a great deal as a result. I have contacted the PSNI this morning to highlight my anger and deep disappointment at this incident.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has criticised the actions of the Israeli government in boarding the ‘Spirit of Humanity’ boat, arresting international peace activists including Mairead Maguire, and preventing the cargo of goods and medical supplies reaching the people of Gaza. He called for their ‘immediate release’.
Mr Adams who has recently visited the region and published a detailed report on the situation facing the people of Gaza said:
“The passengers and crew of the ‘Spirit of Humanity’ boat are peace activists, human rights workers and journalists from 11 countries. They include local Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire. She is currently being held in a high security prison in Tel Aviv along with former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
“The purpose of their mission is very clear. They were intent on bringing much needed humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza. There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Israeli government need to open the crossings immediately and allow the free flow of aid.
"I call on the Irish government and on other EU states to demand the release of Irish and other citizens illegally arrested in international waters, that the confiscated humanitarian aid on board, which had been cleared by the customs of another EU country, Cyprus, be returned and that the boat be released and allowed proceed on its way.” ENDS
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon during a debate on the recently published International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Ireland’s economy Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD said; “there is no stimulus plan contained within the IMF report on the Irish economy, just proposals for more inequitable cuts and bad bank bailouts.”
The Louth TD said:
“If the recommendations of this report were to be implemented, we would see this economy spiral into depression. There is no stimulus here, just slash and burn policies. It is what we have come to expect from the IMF and this government.
“When the IMF was set up it was meant to monitor free markets and keep them from going astray. However very quickly, it developed a speciality for seeing financial crises as opportunities to push a right-wing free-market agenda. It became and advocate and tool for the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
“I make this point because we have to look at this report in the context of who and what the IMF actually is. This is not a body any government should either be looking to for advice.
“At the time of the first emergency budget Sinn Féin stated that we could not tax or cut our way out of this situation. We pointed out that if job losses continued to mount and jobs weren’t created for those already unemployed, the situation would deteriorate further.
“Now, we have a contracting economy. Sinn Féin has been proved correct – earlier this week we saw the levels to which the economy has shrank and they are the worst since the 1960s. The measures this government continues to pursue with Bord Snip Nua will contract the economy even further.
“It’s important what the IMF does not say about the lead-up to this crisis. It focuses on how wages are allegedly too high and on how that has impacted on our competitiveness. It doesn’t point out that we have had soaring energy bills. It doesn’t point out that we don’t have universal broadband.
“It doesn’t point out that our infrastructure, from schools, to hospitals to rail and roads, has been described as third world because this government chose to invest tax breaks in private property development rather than useful assets for the state. All of these things and more have led to our loss of competitiveness.
“The orthodox line being pushed by the IMF, IBEC and their ilk, that wages and social welfare payments must be reduced is a very strategic, very cynical attempt to target the vulnerable not just in this crisis, but for years to come. This approach is short sighted and reverts to type.” ENDS
Full text of Deputy Arthur Morgan’s speech:
Ceann Comhairle, I welcome this opportunity to contribute to this debate here today.
Much of what is in this IMF report regarding the history of the economic crisis is correct. But for a moment I want to highlight what exactly the IMF is and its own economic history. It is important to do this so the government does not get away with using the recommendations of this disreputable body as cover for its own right wing agenda. If the recommendations of this report were to be implemented, we would see this economy spiral into depression. There is no stimulus here, just slash and burn policies. It is what we have come to expect from the IMF and this government.
Ironically, when the IMF was set up at Bretton Woods after the Second World War, it was meant to monitor free markets and keep them from going astray. John Maynard Keynes, an economist I subscribe to, was a proponent. However, very quickly, the IMF developed a speciality for seeing financial crises as opportunities to push a right-wing free-market agenda. It aligned itself to powerful country’s ideologies and became advocates and tools for the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 80s.
The IMF is a product of Milton Friedman’s and the Washington Consensus philosophy – the same economist who is behind, in spirit, the current banking crisis.
The IMF’s agenda entails low taxes, expenditure cuts, minimum government intervention and privatization.
The kind of ‘structural adjustment’ that the IMF advocates had a devastating impact on Latin American, Africa, Russia and Asia. In one example, Argentina, Domingo Cavallo’s IMF backed plan sold off virtually all the riches of the country. By 1994, 90% of all state enterprises were gone and 700,000 public workers had been fired. Eventually half the country was pushed below the poverty line, and it became too expensive for indigenous industries to make goods in the country.
I am making a point of all this because we have to look at this report in the context of who and what the IMF actually is. This is not a body any government should either be looking to for advice or receiving criticism from. It is certainly not a body you should become economically dependent on, and this government presses us a step further in that direction each day.
As I said at the start, some of the basic facts set out in this report are correct. However, a lot of what the IMF says about what went wrong with the economy includes policy decisions that they would have advocated at the time. The property taxes that were constantly increased and expanded by government, the lack of regulation of the banking sector, these are both ideological positions that the IMF subscribes to. In the same way that both these policies failed and caused an economic crisis, the solutions offered by the IMF and currently being pursued by the government – expenditure cuts and economic contraction – are also destined to fail. Last October, in the first emergency budget brought by the government, Sinn Féin stated quite clearly that we could not tax or cut our way out of this situation. We pointed out that if job losses continued to mount and jobs weren’t created for those already unemployed, the situation would deteriorate further. The government did not share our view, choosing instead to engage in a book balancing exercise, the kind favoured by the IMF and ECB. Now, we have a contracting economy. Sinn Féin has been proved correct – earlier this week we saw the levels to which the economy has shrank and they are the worst since the 60s. The measures this government continues to pursue with Bord Snip Nua will contract the economy even further.
It’s important what the IMF does not say about the lead-up to this crisis. It focuses a lot on how wages are allegedly too high and on how that has impacted on our competitiveness. Surprise, surprise. It doesn’t point out that we have had soaring energy bills because the government has steadily increased indirect taxes like VAT on utility bills. It doesn’t point out that we don’t have universal broadband because the government privatised the main communications line provider and then left us at their mercy for broadband communication. It doesn’t point out that our infrastructure, from schools, to hospitals to rail and roads, has been described as third world because this government chose to invest tax breaks in private property development rather than useful assets for the state. All of these things and more have led to our loss of competitiveness. The orthodox line being pushed by the IMF, IBEC and their ilk, that wages and social welfare payments must be reduced is a very strategic, very cynical attempt to target the vulnerable not just in this crisis, but for years to come. It is also short-sighted and economically naïve. Our economy is contracting. Taking money out of people’s pockets so that they cannot consume, while we still have a heavy dependence on indirect taxes such as VAT, will contract it further.
Sinn Féin is not blind to the problems facing the country with regard to competitiveness, or indeed employers with regard to wages bills when they are barely able to keep things going, let alone turn a profit. That is why in our jobs retention and creation document last March we focused on ways to help employers through a subsidised jobs retention fund. We want to see the cost of doing business reduced and have made several proposals on how to do this. Slashing wages and social welfare won’t lift us out of this crisis. Making the right choices on budget day – going after those who can afford it – investing in infrastructure and public jobs, helping businesses keep afloat, stimulating the economy, will right this mess.
There is a way out of this crisis. Neither the IMF, nor this government, can see it. They are reverting to type. They want to strip the country of all economic activity, of all wealth, of all hope. Be careful Minister, reducing a deficit in a time of recession has rarely worked. Try to see some sense for all our sakes.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon on the Criminal Justice Amendment Bill Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said the Bill will do absolutely nothing to reduce gangland crime and absolutely nothing to protect witnesses, their families and communities. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said his party will oppose the Bill and urged the Minister to implement the practical measures to tackle serious crime which Sinn Féin launched this week.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “The bottom line is that this Bill won’t work. It will do absolutely nothing to reduce gangland crime and absolutely nothing to protect witnesses, their families and communities. Rather than continuing with this PR exercise the government should instead deliver real action along the lines of that proposed by Sinn Féin.
“The particularly odious sections of the Bill include the introduction of non-jury trials as the default situation for a whole range of very broadly and vaguely defined offences.
“Jury intimidation and witness intimidation are two very different things. There is no evidence to suggest that jury intimidation is a problem requiring a response of this magnitude. Steps short of this Bill including anonymity, segregation from public view, the use of video-link and trial relocation in circumstances where these are evidentially justified may well be sufficient to address any problems of jury intimidation that exist.
“Witness intimidation, the intimidation of and violence against their families and indeed against whole communities is a major problem. But this Bill ignores that problem. It will do nothing for witnesses at all.
“This Bill will do nothing to reduce gangland crime or protect to protect witnesses. It sacrifices core aspects of our justice system for no good reason. It is nothing more than a cynical PR exercise. Sinn Féin is fundamentally opposed to this Bill and will be voting against it. I again urge the Minister to pursue and resource the gangland action plan proposed by myself and my party this week.” ENDS
Full text of Deputy Ó Snodaigh’s contribution follows:
I want to put on record my profound objection to the manner in which this Bill is being rushed through. I will not dwell on this point as others have done because I have just 10 minutes available to me to address the Bill itself.
The bottom line is that this Bill won’t work. It will do absolutely nothing to reduce gangland crime and absolutely nothing to protect witnesses, their families and communities.
Rather than continuing with this PR exercise the government should instead deliver real action along the lines of that proposed by Sinn Féin. We demand that government:
Introduce practical protections for juries and witnesses. Explore allowing anonymity and segregation of juries or relocation of trials in certain circumstances. Develop and place a revamped full-spectrum witness protection programme on a statutory footing;
Put in place arrangements to educate and upskill all relevant Gardaí and officials from the DPP’s office in how to use the provisions of the Surveillance Act to best effect in investigations and prosecutions in order to achieve sound convictions;
End current recruitment, promotion and overtime embargos. A far reaching process of civilianization to free-up fully trained Gardaí from administrative and other duties to fight crime is essential and must be expedited. Roll-out secure digital radio and increase the number of criminal assets profilers to eliminate more of the proceeds of crime;
Guarantee the future of the ‘Dial to Stop Drug Dealing’ non-Garda phoneline which offers a secure route through which members of the public can confidently and confidentially report drug-related crime;
Ensure that an Garda Síochána, the office of the DPP, the Courts Service and the state forensic lab are properly resourced and equipped, to detect, investigate and secure sound convictions.
Despite having very little time at all to scrutinize the Bill I am satisfied that my initial concerns were warranted. Both the Human Rights Commission and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties are in agreement with me.
The particularly odious sections of the Bill include the introduction of non-jury trials as the default situation for a whole range of very broadly and vaguely defined offences.
Section 8 of the Bill contains a blanket declaration that the ordinary courts are insufficient to secure justice for these scheduled offences. But the government has brought forward no evidence to support this contention. In fact the evidence points in the opposite direction. Irish juries have actually demonstrated a very high conviction rate. The statistics prove that juries are more than willing to convict when a solid case is made before them. Juries themselves are not the problem.
Remember the 2003 Ciarán Keane murder trial. In this instance public fear amongst ordinary people of Limerick resulted in the trial being aborted because the state was unable to select a willing local jury. But did the solution to that problem involve eliminating the right to a jury trial altogether? No. They simply relocated the trial to Dublin and a jury ultimately convicted those involved.
Jury intimidation and witness intimidation are two very different things. There is no evidence to suggest that jury intimidation is a problem requiring a response of this magnitude. Steps short of this Bill including anonymity, segregation from public view, the use of video-link and trial relocation in circumstances where these are evidentially justified may well be sufficient to address any problems of jury intimidation that exist.
Witness intimidation, the intimidation of and violence against their families and indeed against whole communities is a major problem. But this Bill ignores that problem. It will do nothing for witnesses at all.
This government likes to quote the Hederman Committee which conducted the review of the Offences Against the State Acts ad nauseum … when it suits them. But the Minister certainly is not quoting the Hederman Committee today. The Committee considered the Constitutionality of the similar declaration contained in the Offences Against the State Acts which underpins the use of the Special Criminal Court i.e. non-jury trials. The Hederman Committee Minority Report recommended that the Special Criminal Court should be dispensed with altogether. And the Majority of the Committee concluded “the constitutional jurisdiction to try an accused in the non-jury courts rests on an assessment in that individual case that the ordinary courts are inadequate and that these constitutional requirements are not satisfied by the scheduling of certain offences by the Oireachtas itself since the very act of scheduling permits the trial of those very offences … without any consideration of the individual merits of the case at hand and whether or not the ordinary courts are inadequate to try that particular case.”.
Sections 7 and 21 of the Bill greatly extend the use of and reliance on Garda opinion evidence. The non-jury court will be relying on the word of a Garda as to whether a criminal gang exists subject to a dangerously vague and loose definition of what constitutes a gang. There is no minimum Garda rank requirement for the giving of opinion evidence. In addition in the context of the new secret hearings uncorroborated Garda and hearsay evidence is to be relied upon.
The supposedly ‘new’ offence of directing any activity of criminal organisation and definition of criminal organisation contained in Sections 3, 5 and 6 of the Bill are both objectionably vague and also unnecessary. The activities covered are already offences under criminal law, both common and primary. Offences of conspiracy and accessory already exist. In terms of the definition of a criminal organisation - this very week just three years ago the previous FF government rushed into being an equally impractical and almost identical definition which has never been used.
Part 4 of the Bill introduces a new provision for secret detention hearings from which both the detainee, who has not been charged with any offence, and his solicitor will be excluded. Following the previous tradition of the government I will again quote the Hederman Committee who considered the Constitutionality of ‘ex parte’ hearings, in that instance with regard to applications on the location of trials. They concluded “In the absence of independent counsel procedure, the Committee considered this option to be unsatisfactory, not least because the constitutional requirement of fair procedures seems to render any such proposal to be unconstitutional: if the Oireachtas were to confer such powers on the High Court, “fair procedures” requires that both sides be present before any final order is made.”.
Section 9 of the Bill further undermines the right to silence. The right to silence is a core principle of a decent justice system. The Minister has presented no persuasive evidence that would justify this dilution. Maybe with a perfect police force it could be considered but we are operating in a very different reality. Need I remind the House of the case of Dean Lyons. He is precisely the type of vulnerable individual, going cold-turkey through withdrawal from drugs, who is most in need of the full protections afforded by this right. What was done to Dean Lyons by the Gardaí who fitted him up will undoubtedly be done to others and particularly if this fundamental protection – the right to remain silent in the face of interrogating, heavy handed officers – is removed.
Far too much reliance is placed on confessions to achieve convictions in this state and this has allowed Gardaí like the heavy gang to force confessions out of innocent people – not criminals, innocent people! E.g. Sallins Train Robbery.
How will the caution work in practical terms? If Gardaí are interrogating an individual about an incident involving a number of greater and lesser offences in relation to some of which the caution applies but not to others. How will the Minister be sure that individuals, and vulnerable ones in particular, understand at all times the differing consequences of the failure to answer different questions.
In the past we have had circumstances of Gardaí writing confessions i.e. putting words in innocent people’s mouths to get them convicted. Will this Bill simply make that easier – they can ‘claim’ an individual remained silent or refused to answer a question knowing that this will be read as guilt.
This Section must not be gifted in the absence of further reform and in the absence of the right to meaningful access to a solicitor before and during interrogation.
This Bill will do nothing to reduce gangland crime or protect to protect witnesses. It sacrifices core aspects of our justice system for no good reason. It is nothing more than a cynical PR exercise. Sinn Féin is fundamentally opposed to this Bill and will be voting against it. I again urge the Minister to pursue and resource the gangland action plan proposed by myself and my party this week.
Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Jennifer McCann has stated that she hopes that the operation last night against car crime in West Belfast is the beginning of a concerted focus by the PSNI against this particular crime.
Speaking today ms McCann said:
“The move by the PSNI against car crime is to be welcomed. For too long now so called joyriders, who became known as death drivers due to their activities, have been able to steal family cars with near impunity and drive at reckless high speed though our streets and as a result many families have been bereaved.
“With a clearance rate of just over 13% for car thefts in the West Belfast area I hope that this is the beginning of a concerted focus by the PSNI to tackle these crimes. The current clearance rate is nowhere near acceptable.
“Sinn Féin have been to the fore of putting this critical issue to the PSNI at local DPP meetings and the Policing Board and until it is satisfactorily addressed it will continue to be placed high on any agenda in relation to the policing of West Belfast.”
Sinn Fein MLA for South Antrim Mitchel McLaughlin has stated that Sinn Féin will be opposing the proposal to site an incinerator on the Ballyutoag Road. The proposal was submitted to Planning by Irish Recycling Services for an Energy from Waste facility over a 10 hectare site.
Speaking earlier Mr McLaughlin said:
“Local residents are anxious and apprehensive at the news of an incinerator plant in the Belfast Hills has been applied for by Irish Recycling Services.
“Incineration is not the best way to dispose of material and studies have shown that generation of heat and energy from incineration is not that efficient as heat is lost through cooling processes and the energy used for enabling the incineration seriously offsets any real benefits.
“On top of this there is the fact that incineration does produce pollution and increases the risk of contamination to the immediate environment. Considering that this will be situated on the Belfast Hills there could be implications for tourism, biodiversity and access to historic monuments given smells or contaminants released.
“While the proposed site is within the south Antrim boundaries it will also have a clear impact on North Belfast. Other alternatives to incineration must be found and not just because of the pollution threat but also from the mass transportation that would be required to bring the material to site.
“It is essential that local people are made aware of the potential implications and impact that the proposed incinerator will have on their lives, health and well being. Due to its contentious nature it I will be calling for an Article 31 inquiry to consider the full environmental and health impact of the proposal.”
Léirigh Uachtarán Sinn Féin díomá ar imeacht Foinse – an nuachtán Gaeilge. D’iarr an tUasal Adams cruinniú práinneach ar chathaoirleach agus ar phríomh-fheidhmeannach an Fhorais le plé ar na céad céimeanna eile atá de dhíth láithreach le nuacht seirbhís úr as Gaeilge a chruthú. Caithfear cinntiú go bhfuil sé I gcló agus ar líne agus ar aon chaighdeán le Nuacht TG4 agus RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Dúirt Gerry Adams:
"Cúis mór díomá dom go bhfuil teipthe ar na straitéisí a chuir an Foras i bhfeidhm le nuachtán Gaeilge a chur ar fáil do phobal na Gaeilge.
Ba chóir go mbeadh sé mar chuspóir ag Foras na Gaeilge, creidim féin ná nuacht sheirbhís laethúil ar líne agus i gcló a chuir ar fáil, nuacht seirbhís Gaeilge a bheas ar aon chaighdeán le nuacht TG4 nó Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Is é an sprioc a bheadh ann ná nuacht sheirbhís laethúil ar líne agus i gcló a chur ár gcló féin, mar phobal teanga, ar imeachtaí náisiúnta agus idirnáisiúnta.
Dúirt an tUachtarán Sinn Féin:
B'fhiú don Fhoras idir phlé gasta a bheith aige leis na grúpaí Gaeilge agus le dreamanna eile soláthar nuacht Ghaeilge, ina measc Nuacht 24 i mBéal Feirste, leis an bhealach is fearr chun cinn a bheartú.
Tá ról ar leith sa díospóireacht seo le himirt ag an BBC, RTÉ, TG4 agus Raidió na Gaeltachta chomh maith le Raidió na Life agus Raidió Fáilte. Murar féidir leis an earnáil phríobháideach nuachtán agus nuacht sheirbhís Ghaeilge a chur ar fáil mar tá riachtanach, an féidir leis na craoltóirí an cúram breise seo a ghlacadh orthu féin le cuidiú an Fhorais agus/nó Údarás na Gaeltachta.
Is den riachtanas é ag aon teanga 21ú céad nuacht sheirbhís láidir chlóite agus ar líne a bheith aici ní ar mhaith le soláthar eolais amháin ach maidir le cruthú poist, oiliúint iriseoirí agus cothú phobal na Gaeilge.
Creideann Sinn Féin go gcaithfidh an Foras bheith chun tosaigh ag plé leis na tosaíochtaí seo.
Tá mise ag iarraidh bualadh le cathaoirleach an Fhorais agus leis an phríomh fheidhmeannach amach anseo leis na moltaí seo a chur chun tosaigh, agus le buarthaí Shinn Féin fá dhruidim nuachtáin eile a phlé." CRÍOCH
Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s Dáil debate on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on the Irish economy Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan said, ‘whilst the reports substantive historic analysis of how the government, the banks and the developers brought Ireland into recession is broadly correct, the IMF’s recommendations going forward will make a very bad situation worse.
Deputy Morgan said:
“Fianna Fáil led governments were warned for years in advance of the recession that measures needed to be taken to curb the dangerous over-inflation in the housing market and the dangerous over dependence of the exchequer on taxes generated from consumption and construction.
“For years Sinn Féin doggedly put forward alternative equitable economic models that would have substantially cushioned the blow for Ireland from the global financial crisis. Fianna Fáil’s Charlie McCreevy, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen chose instead to treat the economy like a cash cow to the benefit of their developer and financier friends. And the people are now picking up the tab.
“Sinn Féin opposed the reduction in capital gains taxes which made it more profitable to speculate in property than to run a business, we opposed tax breaks that favoured investors over those trying to secure their first family home, we asked the government to explain why it was allowing the banks to over-lend to first time buyers (including through the provision of 100% mortgages) we supported the introduction of a tax on second homes that would have curbed the escalation of house prices and the development of a bubble.
“Throughout my time as Sinn Féin’s housing Spokesperson between 2002 and 2007 I vigorously pursued those issues in the Dáil. Time and time again Fianna Fáil Ministers dismissed this, claiming that there would be a soft landing in the property sector. In equal measure Sinn Féin has for years questioned the sustainability of the existing tax system. Fianna Fáil bought the 2007 election on economic promises that they could not deliver. They either lied to the people at that time or were so economically illiterate they did not see the crash coming.
“And let’s call a spade a spade, either reason makes Fianna Fáil unfit for government.
“However there is much in the IMF report that Sinn Féin strongly disagrees with and we do so in the context of noting the global agenda that the IMF like the World Bank represents. The reality is that the policies of the IMF and the World Bank have locked third world nations into a vicious cycle of borrowing and repayment of loans and interest on loans that can never be paid. To make matters worse, these countries are forced to adopt economic policies that force further reductions in social spending.
“There is much in the IMF report that is in agreement with the government’s current policies, for example the inequitable slashing of Ireland’s public finances and the government’s black hole approach to bailing out developers and bad banks. This report, like the IMF agenda, is a damning indictment of the low taxation – low public spend ideology of western governments that have dominated global economic decisions since the 1980s.
“Both the IMF and government now advocate saddling future generations with unprecedented debt. Undermining Ireland’s social and economic future is not a recovery plan; it’s a perpetuation of bad policy and inept decision making.
“Yes public expenditure needs to be reduced and the economy needs to be stimulated but it is the method and ideology by which government approaches this job of work that will determine how fast or how slow Ireland’s economy can be turned around and how long it will take the state to pay off its borrowings.
“Sinn Féin’s ‘Getting Ireland back to Work’ and public finance documents published in advance of the April Budget contain solid strategic policy proposals on taxation justice, efficiencies in public spending and how we can retain and create jobs. We will publish our proposals for rectify Ireland’s banking system in advance of the NAMA legislation due before the Oireachtas at the end of this month.
“Sinn Féin had the right solutions in the good times and we have the right solutions now for the bad times.” ENDS
Sinn Fein Policing Board member Alex Maskey MLA has accused the DUP members of whipping up fears and stoking tensions over the issue of personal firearms for purely selfish political gain.
Speaking today Mr Maskey said:
“Despite the DUP members being present at the Policing Board and hearing the evidence and rationale behind the new regulations governing the issue of personal firearms they have gone on an all out media assault in order to prey to people worst fears, paint a doomsday scenario and reduce this issue to its lowest common denominator.
“Time and again we hear the DUP stating the Chief Constable is a man of integrity and that we mustn’t question his judgement yet on this issue they clearly see that they can get a fair amount of airtime and newspaper column inches and so completely disregard Hugh Ordes review of the criteria regarding personal firearms being issued to all ex PSNI or RUC members.
“The only reason I can see for this is an opportunity to score political points and the DUP are ignoring the reality of the situation for political gain.”
Sinn Féin’s east Belfast Representative Niall Ó Donnghaile has commended all those responsible for ensuring that last night’s ‘Mini Twelfth’ parade in east Belfast passed off peacefully.
Speaking this afternoon Mr Ó Donnghaile said:
“Last night, I joined with other Short Strand residents in a protesting to this contentious parade being allowed, once again, to pass by the Short Strand area.
This particular parade has certainly been one of the most contentious over the past number of years, it is unfortunate that once again I saw a number of Loyalist paramilitary flags on display during the course of the march.
I also recognise the fact that the parade and protest both passed off without any incident and I am grateful for that fact. This is primarily down to the hard work and mature engagement being carried out at numerous cross community and multi statutory levels within the east of the city.
The onus remains on the Parades Commission to acknowledge that there is not logical argument for this particular parade to pass the Short Strand area, other routes are there and are much more practical in allowing this parade to take place without it being subjected to a community who object to it.
It is now time that we moved towards full and final closure regarding the small number of contentious parades in this part of the city.” CRÍOCH
Chief Constable Hugh Orde has been forced to clarify the position regarding the PSNI’s attitude to Gaelic Games, Policing Board member and Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has revealed.
It comes after an incident last week when police officers allegedly told a group of Derry teenagers who were playing hurling near their Waterside homes, that their hurls constituted offensive weapons.
Martina Anderson said:
“I raised this matter directly with the Police Ombudsman and the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde.
“I asked Hugh Orde to clarify the PSNI’s position in regard to Gaelic Games and to confirm that hurls would not be treated any differently than any other sporting implement.
“He has now confirmed to me that a hurling stick is not – in itself – regarded as an offensive weapon.
“Like any other instrument, it can only be regarded as an offensive weapon if the person in possession of it intended to use it as such. That could be true of a hockey stick or a golf club, just as much as it could be of a hurl.
“Any suggestion that police officers would attempt to criminalise Gaelic games would be entirely unacceptable and I hope Hugh Orde’s response will communicated to the rank and file in the PSNI so that there is no repetition of ths incident. I also welcome the fact that the local Area Commander has offered to meet the family concerned in order to address their concerns.”
Cuireann John O’Dowd fáilte roimh an scéal inniu go bhfuil tuairisc ó Ollscoil na ‘Ríona i ndiaidh taispeáint na buntáistí a theas le gaeloideachas.
Rinne na hollúna Dr. Judith Wylie agus Dr. Gerry Mulhern ó Scoil na Síceolaíochta san ollscoil, staidéar a chomharthaigh go bhfuil buanna nach beag nuair a fhaigheann páistí oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge.
Ag labhairt leis um tráthnóna, dúirt an tUasal O’Dowd:
“Is comhartha eile iad na cinntí seo ar na buntáistí a theas le oideachas dátheangach. Taispeánann na cinntí seo go bhfuil oilteacht na bpáistí sa earnáil Gaeloideachais ag leibhéal Eochair-chéim 2 níos airde ná an meán grád sa tuaisceart.
Is gné lárnach anois é, an Gaeloideachas sa chóras oideachais agus tá sé feicthe againn arís agus arís eile gur dócha go déanfaidh páistí a thagann fríd an córas dátheangach go ndéanfaidh níos fearr ná na páistí eile.
Caithfidh an Roinn Oideachais leanúint leis an tacaíocht agus le chur chun tosaigh Gaeloideachas le cur leis an chumas agus acmhainneacht do na páistí siúd a theann fríd an córas Gaeloideachas.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has welcomed a Garda operation involving the arrest of eighty people in Dublin over the past forty-eight hours on suspicion of drug offences. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said this is the type of solid, intelligence based police work that is needed to tackle drugs and serious crime rather than the measures included in the Criminal Justice Amendment Bill which the Minister published this week.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “I welcome this Garda operation which has resulted in the arrest of eighty people on suspicion of drug offences and I congratulate the Gardaí involved in the operation.
“Hopefully these arrests will now lead to the seizure of larger quantities of drugs, weapons, proceeds of crime and ultimately to convictions.
“This is exactly the type of solid, intelligence based police work that is needed to tackle drugs and serious crime rather than the measures included in the Criminal Justice Amendment Bill which the Minister published this week.” ENDS