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Gerry Adams launches Sinn Féin proposals for 1916 Revolutionary Quarter

Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that 2016, the 1916 Centenary is marked in the most appropriate way possible, as a fitting popular acknowledgement of the past but also, and just as importantly, as a pointer to a better future.

Sinn Féin is not opposed to sensible welfare reforms. We are opposed to the agenda, which seeks to make the most vulnerable and ordinary working families pay for the greed and excesses of the bankers


 “The PSNI were on the scene but despite the gang committing a criminal offence and acting aggressively the PSNI failed to take any action.”



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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill, today outlined the role that agri-food sector can play in driving export led growth in the local economy.

The Minister was speaking as she attended a meeting of the Executive Sub-Committee on the Economy. At the meeting the Minister outlined a number of key points on how the agri food sector can make a contribution to rebalancing the economy, delivering jobs and promoting prosperity.

She said: “First of all, the agri-food sector has shown itself to be a strong and resilient sector. It has weathered the recession superbly well, but looking beyond that, it has been delivering solid growth for the past decade, despite major competitive pressures. That growth has all been generated from external markets, so it offers an excellent platform from which to build.

“Secondly, this is a sector which has exciting opportunities for growth. There is an increasing awareness of the projections for global population growth, the rising demands from the rapidly growing economies such as China and India and the increasing pressures on agricultural production systems around the world to try and keep pace with rising demands. All of this creates significant opportunities for our local industry, not just directly, but in terms of the knock on effects to existing markets.

“Thirdly, this is a sector that is deeply embedded within our economy. Recent research has demonstrated that for every job created in food and drinks processing, a further two are created elsewhere the economy. That is quite a bit higher than for many other industries. Therefore, growth in the agri-food sector will stimulate significant growth elsewhere in our economy.

“The fourth key point is that the agri-food sector is almost entirely located outside of the Greater Belfast Area. Therefore, it can make a hugely important contribution to delivering balanced sub-regional growth and can deliver jobs and prosperity to parts of our economy that other sectors simply can’t or won’t match.

“My fifth point almost goes without saying - we need jobs; not just jobs at the top end of the spectrum but jobs for all parts of society and for all levels of skill and educational attainment. We can’t leave anybody behind in our drive for economic growth. The agri-food sector can provide a broad spectrum of jobs. The average wage in the processing industry is at least as good as the average across the private sector as a whole. Agri-food can provide exactly the kinds of jobs we need now, today.

“Finally, in my view, investing in the likes of education, skills, innovation and research right across the economy are all exactly the right things to do to drive the economy. We have to do this, and indeed we are doing this in agri-food. It is an investment in our economic future, but the benefits will inevitably take time to come through in full. However, I believe that the agri-food sector is well placed to deliver relatively quick returns on investment.”

The Minister concluded: “This is a strong sector with excellent prospects, a sector that can stimulate jobs and growth right across the north and a sector that it keen to grow. I am convinced that the time is right for government and industry to come together to grab the opportunity that sits before us.”

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Sinn Féin TDs and Senators are calling on people to join them in a campaign to ‘Stop the Handover’ of billions of euros to Anglo bondholders. The first bond payment comes in 14 days and will cost €700 million. This unguaranteed senior bond will be paid out on 2 November. In January €1.2 billion will be paid out. This is against the backdrop of an austerity budget that will take over €4 billion out of the economy.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams announced details of a petition and urged the public to use their voice and tell the government parties to ‘Stop the Handover’. He also gave out the numbers of the Taoiseach’s and Tanaiste’s office and asked people to contact them.

Speaking from the launch Mr Adams said:

“On 2 November, this government will pay out a €700 million unguaranteed senior bond in Anglo Irish bank. This bond payout comes just one month before an austerity budget which will inflict hardship on children, on carers, on the disabled and on the working poor. In January a further €1.2 billion will be paid out – the 2 November is only the first payment of billions of taxpayers money.

“The government plans to take between €3.6 and €4 billion out of the budget. A €700 million saving could mean no household charge. It could mean no welfare cuts. Even the smallest cut has the potential to wreak so much damage. The cut of 200 Special Needs Assistants this year caused untold damage for families with special children and saved the state only €6 million.

“I am encouraging people to make their voices heard. People power can stop this outrageous payout. I am asking everybody to sign the petition and lobby the Taoiseach and their local TDs directly and tell them to ‘Stop the Handover’. The Taoiseach can be reached at 01 6194020 and the Tánaiste at 01 4780822.”

The ‘Stop the Handover’ petition can be accessed at the following link
http://www.petitiononline.com/a1b23456/petition.html

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Seán Crowe, TD, has challenged Minister Ruairí Quinn to explain why the Postgraduate Diploma in Education at University College Dublin has been renamed and downgraded from Level 9 to Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Deputy Crowe was speaking after he raised the matter with the Education Minister upon receiving representations from students who have already enrolled on the course and are angry that the exam’s designation has been changed.

He said: “I have asked Minister Quinn to explain the reasoning behind the decision to downgrade the Postgraduate Diploma in Education at University College Dublin (UCD) from level 9 to level 8 and why was this decided after students had already enrolled in the course and paid their registration fees.

“There can be no justification for the devaluing of this very important qualification and UCD must also explain when they were made aware of the Department’s plans and why were students not informed what was happening before they applied for the course under PAC in 2010 for entry in 2011.

“Students who have contacted my office believe they have been hoodwinked into enrolling for a course without being informed that the designation of the exam they were studying would be downgraded. This has implications for when they apply for teaching positions in what is a very competitive market and it may reduce their future pay scales and act as a barrier if they decide to gain employment outside of Ireland.

“The consensus amongst students is that this decision has been made for financial reasons and is an attempt to force those studying for the Diploma to stay on at University and gain an additional qualification. Minister Quinn must clarify the situation immediately.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Dublin City Council group leader Councillor Larry O'Toole, has today expressed, grave concern at the City Manager’s attempt to give away millions of Euros of Dublin City’s Council assets.

Speaking after last night’s special Dublin City Council meeting to discuss the privatisation of Dublin’s waste collection services, Councillor O’Toole said:

“For the third time in two months a full meeting of Dublin City Council has voted against waste collection privatisation. The first time was in September when Sinn Féin was the first party to put down such a motion. All parties and groups on the Council, except Fine Gael, are against this privatisation. Yet the City Manager is prepared to drive ahead. This is a travesty of democracy.

“Sinn Féin has very serious concerns about how this City Manager is operating. He has attempted to ignore the elected councillors of this city and has now ignored those employees providing the waste collection service. He is attempting to rail road through the privatisation of the City’s bin services.

“We predicted this would happen when bin charges were first introduced. Extra powers were given to the City Manager by Fianna Fail’s Environment Minister Martin Cullen to make him unaccountable and allowed him to enforce bin charges. We now see the sorry outcome of this decision. The City’s assets are being stripped and given away to a private waste collection service.

“The Manager aims to give away recycling plants and waste depots to a private company on December 5th. Waste collection is an essential public service. It must remain in public ownership if we are to provide a sustainable and efficient service to everyone in the city.

Councillor O’Toole explained, “City Council management has given a public commitment to privatise the bin collection service in this city by December 5th. This is unacceptable and we will continue to resist it every step of the way. We have met with IMPACT and with SIPTU. We will be seeking legal advice following last night's meeting.

“We believe that it is illegal for the City Manager to give away assets that belong to the public. He must understand that the Management are accountable to those of us with a democratic mandate.”

In conclusion Councillor O'Toole said, “We will be demanding answers to these serious questions from the City Manager. I hope the Manager sees sense and calls off his sale of the family silver.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has called for clarity of all information regarding previous instances of pollution of the Sixmilewater river.The Sinn Féin MLA was speaking ahead of an adjournment debate in the Assembly on pollution of the river. Several years ago after work was done on protecting the river from pollution and poaching, and restrictions placed on fishing methods, there was a return of salmon to the river along with brown trout and dollaghan.
However there have been recurring instances of pollution on the river and the Sinn Féin MLA wants to know if anyone was found responsible and if so that they should be named and shamed.
Mitchel McLaughlin said:“We need a clear statement on who and what was the source of the pollution. Is it coming from industry or farming and what sanctions/fines were imposed on those responsible?
“If there was no-one brought to book over these recurring incidents then we need to know why not. At the very least this Executive needs to send out a clear message to polluters that every possible avenue will be used to bring them to account and that the punishment should fit the damage done. 

“Our rivers are not only a crucial asset in the life of any land but they are also something that brings great joy to those that use them for recreation including fishing and the tourism that also brings. We should make sure they are passed on to the next generation in the best possible condition.”

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The Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has roundly condemned the system of checks and balances which allowed the uninhabitable Priory Hall to be built.

Deputy Ellis has asked for a Dáil discussion on the issue and speaking on it today warned that this could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of below standard housing given the green light during the boom.

Deputy Ellis said:

“Priory Hall was signed off on based on the word of contractors and insufficient visual inspections. Now 240 people, many young families, have been forced to evacuate due to the risk posed by the condition of the apartments. Dublin City Council are footing a €4,000 a day bill for emergency accommodation.”

“The developers, the contactors and the inspectors must be investigated and those who have been negligent or guilty of cutting corners must be held accountable. The families, who have been uprooted, who've had to live in these terrible conditions, who were betrayed must get justice.”

“I will be calling on the Minister for Environment to investigate the possibility of using NAMA controlled housing to securely house these people who have been failed by the State’s checks and balances.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has reiterated his calls for Ombudsman Al Hutchinson to leave his office immediately so that damage done to the reputation of the office can be repaired.

The Sinn Féin Police & Justice Spokesperson’s comments come prior to the screening tonight of a BBC programme in which former Chief Executive of the office Sam Pollock said he had ‘basically lost confidence in the direction of the office and the independence of the office in relation to very serious matters’.

Gerry Kelly said:

“Following three critical reports into the Ombudsman’s Office and this confirmation by the former Chief Executive that the office had lost its independence, it is clear that Al Hutchinson remaining in place will just further damage the reputation of the office.

“Sinn Féin believe in the Ombudsman’s office and that it is a crucial mechanism to make sure we have accountable policing. However with the independence of the office being yet again called into question the credibility of that office is at rock bottom.

“Al Hutchinson carries full responsibility for this unprecedented damage.  The rights of victims must be paramount and they have already stated that they’ve lost any faith in Al Hutchinson to investigate the deaths of their loved ones. The revelations in this programme will no doubt confirm their belief that Al Hutchinson must go now.”

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