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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for a Dáil debate on the Tallaght Hospital x-ray scandal.

He said:

“The fact that over 57,000 x-rays taken in Tallaght Hospital were not reviewed by a consultant radiologist can only be described as a scandal.

“This is hugely distressing for patients not only of Tallaght but across our health services. After all the promises of better governance and accountability in our hospital network following previous cancer diagnosis scandals, we now find that this gross neglect went on from 2005 to the end of 2009.

“I am calling on the Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney to initiate an urgent review of management and supervision of consultants at Tallaght and throughout the hospital network arising from this development.

“I am also calling for an urgent Dáil debate with questions to the Minister to be held tomorrow (Wednesday).” ENDS


Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the vote in the Northern Assembly for the transfer of policing and justice powers from Britain to the Six Counties.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said it was a good day for the peace process and a good day for Ireland.

He said:

“Despite the blatant electioneering of the Ulster Unionist Party the vote on the transfer of policing and justice powers from Britain to the Six Counties has been comfortably passed.

“This transfer of powers is a long overdue part of the Good Friday Agreement which was signed almost twelve years ago. I welcome today’s vote which allows for the final transfer of powers to take place on 12th April. Today is a good day for the peace process and a good day for Ireland.

"The importance and significance of this should be lost on no-one, least of all the Governments in Dublin and London who need to ensure that they play their part to the full in ensuring that the Agreements continue to be fulfilled and that the Executive, Assembly and All-Ireland structures are fully supported. The Conservative Party in Britain also needs to learn the lessons of its dalliance with the discredited Ulster Unionist Party."



Dublin South West Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe has welcomed ESB’s initiative to take on 400 apprentices to finish their training and called on the government to encourage other public and private companies to make similar moves.

Speaking today Councillor Crowe said:

“Figures from FAS indicate that over 5,700 apprentices are currently not in training as they have been made redundant. Such apprentices cannot complete their training and become qualified without work experience. The collapse of apprenticeship numbers can also be seen in those entering courses. Only 83 new apprentices were registered in January 2010 compared to nearly 500 in January 2008. Unless something is done there will be real shortages of qualified trades people in a few years time.

“I welcome the decision by the ESB to take on up to 400 electrical apprentices to allow them finish their training. This decision shows that, even in times of economic difficulty, companies with a good public record can make a real difference. Other public companies such as Bord Gais and the CIE group also need to make an effort here and the government should offer incentives to such companies rather than simply allowing apprentices go onto social welfare and allowing a national skills shortages develop. Large public contracts should require the successful bidder to support apprentices.

“Between social welfare and lost taxes every redundancy costs the state an average of €20,000. We need to be much more proactive in keeping jobs. Cutting enterprise spending is the last thing we should be doing in an economic crisis.” ENDS

Editor’s note:
The next meeting of the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly Social Inclusion sub-committee on 12 March in Waterford will discuss a proposed letter to Táinaiste Mary Coughlan on the crisis for apprenticeships.

The Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly Social Inclusion sub-committee will also discuss a motion calling on the government to reverse cuts to cuts in funding for the City/County Enterprise Boards.


"I asked for today's meeting to seek a ban by the PSNI of a planned march by the 'Pride of the Village Flurte' band through the village of Stoneyford on St Patrick's Day. This band has never before paraded on St Patrick's Day but they have paraded many times on other days through out the year."I welcome the Parade Commission's strict determination, restricting this band's movement in the village on that day. As it stated itself this band's actions are a source of tension in the village. "But I am seeking more than a restriction."I want to see this parade banned and the PSNI have the power and authority to impose a ban."I seek this ban not on the basis that I believe that the Orange Order or indeed flute bands behaving responsibly with due regard and respect to other's feelings are entitled to march."I accept they have rights in relation to expressing publicly their cultural identity."But this band and the village of Stoneyford are a special case which require special attention and special measures to uphold community harmony and oppose displays of sectarian behaviour."The history of this band and the campaign of intimidation in this village against the catholic community deservesd such a ban."


Sinn Féin Human Rights Spokesperson, Martina Anderson MLA, (Foyle) has slammed the Social Security Minister Margaret Ritchie for refusing to lobby for winter fuel payments to be extended to cancer patients.

Martina Anderson said:

“I am disappointed but not surprised at the Minister Margaret Ritchie’s response to my call for her to seek reform of the way the winter fuel payments are made.

“In particular, I argued that the payments should be extended to people of all ages who are suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses and for whom, a warm home is a vital part of their treatment.

“I also criticised the fact that these payments are paid to those over 60’s living abroad while cancer patients in the North of Ireland receive no assistance whatsoever.

“For example, last year, 65,000 people over 60 living in European countries including Spain, Portugal and Greece received the payments of between £125 and £400.

“I believe that this is a total disgrace while cancer patients are refused assistance and I asked the Minister to lobby for a reform of this system with a view to having winter fuel payments extended to cancer sufferers. Unfortunately, her response didn’t even acknowledge that there is a problem, let alone indicate a willingness to do anything about it.

“Rather than defend the status quo – as Margaret Ritchie has done – she would be far better off putting her energies into seeking the transfer of the benefits system away from unaccountable British Ministers and into the hands of local representatives so that we can get on with the job of building a better future for the people we represent.”


The Executive will soon be presented with an options paper exploring the possibility of establishing an inquiry into historical child abuse here.

Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) said the possibility of establishing a Ryan Report-style inquiry here had moved a step closer following an Assembly debate last year.

Martina Anderson said:

“In November the assembly passed a motion calling for the full extent of abuse and neglect in institutions in the Six Counties to be investigated.

“I wrote to the Health Minister recently asking what steps his Department had taken towards establishing an inquiry into child abuse in light of the Assembly motion.  

“He has now confirmed that – following consultation with other Departments and Ministers - his officials are finalising an options paper which will be presented to the Executive.

 “I welcome the fact that the Minister has continued to work on this issue and I look forward to seeing the proposals when they are completed.

“Those who were abused in state or church institutions deserve justice for the horrors they were forced to endure and the Assembly and Executive should do everything possible to ensure that they receive justice.”


Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney and Councillor for the Rural Ward Paul Fleming have held a meeting with DRD Road Service to discuss access to the Temple Road area from the dual carriageway between Gransha and Maydown roundabouts

Following a meeting Councillor Paul Fleming said

‘I am particularly satisfied that Roads Service are aware of the issues with the Temple Road.I am satisfied that Roads Service will now come up with a system which will allow access to the Temple Road but will not compromise the safety of road users.

Roads Service has informed us that they will continue to canvass views and where possible will make adjustments in the interests of all road users’.


 Sinn Féin Councillor for the Northlands Maeve McLaughlin has said a long term solution is needed to solve traffic problems along the Park Avenue area of Rosemount

  Councillor McLaughlin said

  “Last year Sinn Féin did a door to door in the streets along Park Avenue and got a petition signed calling for urgent traffic reform in the area which has been a major problem  there, particularly at peak times of the day.

Traffic congestion along Park Avenue also has had an impact on the quality of life of local residents and businesses. Because of the geography of the area it’s clear that finding a solution that could help alleviate the problems there with traffic congestion is not going to be easy

 I felt  it was very important to keep this on the agenda of the DRD Road service .I met them again today and they are exploring the possibility of a formal or pilot scheme for the area. This may include a one way system for traffic along Park Avenue

 Local residents will have to be fully consulted before anything can be put in place. A new road scheme could be in place for a minimum of six months or a maximum of eighteen months .If it worked it couldbe applied for to be permanent, if not it can be removed


Cllr Dessie Ellis has called on the Minister for the Environment Noel Dempsey to intervene as a matter of urgency to resolve the dispute which has led to a sit in by members of the Irish Taxi Council at the Office of the Commission for Taxi regulation in Fitzwilliam square.

Speaking this afternoon Councillor Ellis said:

“I have spoken to the men who are engaged in the occupation and I am concerned about the potential for an escalation of this dispute. The situation for full time taxi drivers has deteriorated seriously in recent months and for many drivers their livelihood is now at risk. This is what has led to today’s actions.

“Despite the deteriorating situation in recent months the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has done nothing to bring this situation to a conclusion. It is clear that immediate intervention from the Minister is necessary to prevent a further escalation of this dispute.

“It is quite clear that the deregulation of the taxi licensing regime had been a complete failure. The Minister needs to face this reality even if the Commissioner cannot.” ENDS


A report authored by Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún was voted on and passed through the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.

The legislative text adopted today allows for Ireland, Britain and three other countries to continue to apply more stringent regulations regarding the non commercial movement of domestic animals for the next 18 months, while ensuring that pet owners can continue to travel across EU borders with their pets.

After the vote, Ms de Brún said "The modified regulation acknowledges the progress made so far and so that the rabies situation in the EU can improve even further, it extends the life of a transitional regime in five Member states until 31st December 2011, at which time provisions on the non commercial movement of pets will be the same across the EU."

"Great progress has been made to date in eradicating rabies but this transitional regime for 5 member states will allow even further progress to be made to get rid of the threat altogether.  It will allow countries in which rabies is not present to keep their animals protected."

The de Brún report, which was agreed at its first reading, is the first legislative text of its kind to go through the European Parliament since ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and it includes the new scrutiny procedures allowed for by the Lisbon Treaty.

Led by Ms de Brún, all three institutions, including groups across the political spectrum in the European Parliament, were able to agree on how these new powers would be implemented for this revised regulation. ENDS


de Brun report passed
For 618
Against 17
Abstention 5


Six MEPs who participated recently in the largest delegation of European parliamentarians to visit Gaza met this morning in the name of that delegation with Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, accompanied by Mazen Kahel and Arafat Shoukri, Chair of the European Campaign to End the siege of Gaza, an umbrella organisation of 30 NGOs across Europe.

The MEPs present at the meeting were Roberto Goebbels, Alexandra Thein, Bairbre de Brún Malika Benarab-Attou, Nessa Childers and  Helmut Scholz.

The delegation reported to President Buzek on the outcome of the recent visit to Gaza, in advance of his meeting with Baroness Ashton.

The delegation stressed the humanitarian and political aspects of the situation faced by people in Gaza and the important role and responsibilities of the EU in this regard.

The delegation emphasised that Baroness Ashton must go to Gaza and that the EU must act not only in terms of  humanitarian aid but needs to play a bigger political role in the peace process.

The people of Gaza need a strong voice and the EU should talk to all parties in the region.  The EU also has an important role in helping to secure reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and in ensuring that the siege of Gaza is lifted.

The delegation were pleased that President Buzek accepted to convey the remarks of the delegation to Baroness Ashton and at his keen interest in seeing the European Parliament play a helpful role.


Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has revealed that approximately €150million has been seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau since its establishment in 1996.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the money seized by CAB must be put back into the communities in which the criminals and drug dealers were operating in.

In reply to a Dáil question tabled by Deputy Ó Snodaigh it was revealed that CAB has seized €128million in assets, €14million from social welfare fraud and €12million in cash from criminals.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“With the exception of the social welfare fraud the vast majority of the money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau has been extracted from the communities in which the criminals have been active. It must therefore be returned to these communities.

“Sinn Féin has always advocated that any money seized by CAB be ring-fenced and put back into communities to tackle disadvantage and in particular to fund prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services in the fight against drugs.

“At a time when we are witnessing significant increases in drug dealing and abuse we are also seeing funding cut for vital drug projects. This will have a detrimental impact on these communities.

“I am calling on the Minister for Finance to use the money seized by CAB to reverse the cuts and increase funding to community and drug projects throughout the state.

“I believe that all money seized by CAB should be pumped back into the communities in which the criminals were most active.” ENDS


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD, responding to AIBs annual report which showed the bailed-out bank paid its top managers €3.6 million last year, called on unions and ordinary staff at the bank to join Sinn Féin in the fight against these wages at the top.

Deputy Morgan said:

“This government is throwing billions at banks whose management have shown time and again how incapable they are of running their businesses. The future of ordinary Irish taxpayers and business is being held to ransom by these banks and government policy, yet we have seen very few people being held to account.

“The news of this pay bill to top managers today is disgraceful. This is money that is coming direct from taxpayers who have not only seen their rights and services cut by government to fund this pay, but are about to be doubly hit by increased charges at the banks.

“As AIB and BoI limp along relying on state subsidies, it is becoming increasingly apparent that staff in both these banks are going to be let go in huge numbers. I am urging the unions and the ordinary staff at these banks to join Sinn Fein and fight-back against the greed of their managers.

“Every manager who receives hundreds of thousands of euros in their salary is robbing the future of an employee in these banks. Staff need to take a stand against this and Sinn Féin will support them in it.” ENDS


Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has expressed sympathy with Martin Cullen on his resignation due to ill health. Deputy Ó Caoláin said Minister Cullen’s further resignation as a Dáil Deputy was a shock that will no doubt have an effect on the stability of the Government.

He called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to now call a general election.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“While I and my colleagues in Sinn Féin have had many harsh words to say about the former Minister it is always a sad occasion when someone is forced to resign as a result of an illness and I sympathise with Martin Cullen and wish him a return to better health in the future.

“While is was widely expected that he would resign from the cabinet his resignation as a Dáil Deputy has come as a shock and it will no doubt have an effect on the stability of the Government.

“This now leaves Brian Cowen and his Government facing three by-elections. The most honourable thing for Taoiseach Cowen and this Government would be would be to stand down and allow for a general election without further delay.” ENDS


Responding to claims by the UUP that Martin McGuinness ‘threw them out’ of a meeting in his office today, Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said:

“It probably says much of the current state of the UUP that they go running to the media claiming that Martin McGuinness threw them out of his offices this afternoon. What actually happened was that the UUP requested a meeting with Martin McGuinness, Martin facilitated that meeting. Early in the meeting Fred Cobain stated that he wasn’t at the meeting with Martin McGuinness to listen to anything the Deputy First Minister wanted to say. Martin correctly pointed out that if that was the case there was little point in Mr Cobain continuing to be there. At that point Mr Cobain left the meeting followed in dribs and drabs by his party colleagues.

“I have to say it seems the UUP are determined to remain on the rejectionist hook they have put themselves on. The proposals they put forward last week to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, introduce multiple Executive vetoes and introduce majority rule by the back door are further evidence of this.” CRÍOCH


Speaking following an event to celebrate International Women's Day at the Assembly today, Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann praised the contribution women have made in their communities throughout the world.

She said,

"International Women's Day was first celebrated back in 1911 when women came together worldwide to campaign for better pay, voting rights and an end to discrimination.

Today it continues to be celebrated by women everywhere, and has become a global day of recognition of women's contribution to society celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women.

This years theme is "Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities and Progress for All"and is dedicated to honour inspiring women and to recognise their achievements.

Unfortunately Gender Inequality is still very much prevalent in Irish society. Women here still do not enjoy Equal Pay, and they continue to be under represented in public and political life.

They face barriers when accessing work due to a lack of childcare provision and are more likely to suffer from economic hardship.

Having to deal with issues such as domestic violence can leave women feeling isolated and can have a detrimental effect on their lifetime opportunities.

We must change those inequalities and ensure that everyone is treated as an equal." CRÍOCH


 After attending the ongoing legal wrangle in the High Court today between the PSNI and the Coroner over access to the Stalker Sampson Report in regards six men shot dead by the RUC in North Armagh in 1982 Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd said:

"The adjournment of today’s hearing is yet another delay faced by the families’ in their pursuance of the right to have an Inquest into their loved ones deaths completed

“It is imperative that the PSNI release the Stalker/Sampson report to the Coroner and the families legal representatives.

“The families of Gervais Mc Kerr, Eugene Toman, Sean Burns Roddy Carroll, Seamus Grew and Micheal Tighe have been campaigning for nearly 3 decades for the completion of their Inquest.

“Last Monday Sinn Féin met new PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott, and called for the full disclosure of the Stalker/Sampson reports to the legal representatives of  these families.

“It is disgraceful these men’s families have had to wait for decades for Inquests into the murders of their loved ones to be completed.

Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said

 “Sinn Féin has made it clear to Matt Baggott that while this delay is not directly of his making he has now responsibility to resolve it.

“The resolution lies in the full disclosure of the Stalker/Sampson Reports to both the Coroner and the legal representatives of the families without further delay.”


Sinn Féin’s team in the Assembly, including Ministers, MLA’s and party support staff will join thousands of citizens across Ireland in marking the beginning of “Rith 2010”.

Rith 2010 will kick off in Belfast tomorrow evening and continue across Ireland throughout Seachtain na Gaeilge, finishing in Galway on Saint Patricks Day.

Sinn Féin Ministers and MLA’s across the North have already been supporting the initiative in purchasing kilometres along the route, in order to help fund and develop Irish language projects across Ireland.

The Sinn Féin Assembly Team have organised tomorrow’s event to coincide with the main Rith and encourage others to come out and take part in what will no doubt be a fun event around the Stormont Estate.


Beidh foireann Sinn Féin sa Tionól, Airí, CTR agus foireann tacaíochta ina measc ag marcáil tús "Rith 2010" ag Cnoc an Anfa amárach.

Beidh Rith 2010 ag toiseacht amárach i mBéal Feirste, ag leanúint ar aghaidh i rith Sheachtain na Gaeilge, agus ag críochnú i nGaillimh ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig.

Tá Airí agus CTR Shinn Féin ar fud an Tuaiscirt ag tacú leis an tionscnamh cheana féin trí chiliméadair a cheannach, agus iad ag léiriú a gcuid tacaíochta d’fhorbairt tionscadail Ghaeilge uile-Éireann.

Foireann Tionól Sinn Féin a d’eagraigh an lá amárach mar chomhtharlú leis an phríomh-Rith chun daoine eile a spreagadh le teacht amach agus páirt a ghlacadh san ócáid spraíúil ar fud an Eastáit Stormont.


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will speak in Strasbourg today on a report she authored on the non-commercial movement of pets. This legislative text is the first modified regulation coming to the plenary, falling under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty

The report allows Ireland, Britain, and three other member states, to continue to apply more stringent regulations regarding the non commercial movement of domestic animals for the next 18 months, while ensuring that pet owners can continue to travel across EU borders with their pets. This will allow those countries in which rabies is not present to keep their animals protected.

Ms de Brún said "The proposed modified regulation acknowledges the progress made so far and in order to ensure that the rabies situation in the EU improves even further, it extends the life of a transitional regime in five Member states until 31st December 2011, at which time provisions on the non commercial movement of pets will be the same across the EU.

"The end of the proposed extension coincides better with the period when the European Commission expects to terminate EU funding of vaccination programmes to eradicate sylvatic rabies in some Member States, which is the main rabies problem in the EU."

This report, which has been agreed on its first reading, is the first report of its kind to go through under the new scrutiny procedures allowed for by the Lisbon treaty.

Led by Ms de Brún, all three institutions, including groups across the political spectrum in the European Parliament, were able to agree how these new powers would be implemented on this report.

The report will be voted on tomorrow.

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