Sinn Féin MLA and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said there needs to be renewed urgency to find an accommodation to the Ulster Covenant parade in North Belfast, which takes place in less than two weeks time.
Martin McGuinness said:
"The Black Institution calmed the situation with their apology and the statement from the Orange Order that followed but since then we have seen no movement from the Loyal Orders to engage with the residents of Carrickhill.
“While we have heard talk of 'quiet conversations' going on this must involve those who file for the parade, the Grand Lodge and those who file for the related protest, the Carrickhill Residents Association.
“Time is running out to reach a local accommodation and with the Parades Commission due to meet on Tuesday, the Loyal Orders need to step up to the plate and engage directly with those concerned as soon as possible.
“Direct dialogue is in everyone's interest and the most logical way of reaching a resolution.” CRÍOCH/END
Speaking after a demonstration in Dublin today to demand the release of Marian Price, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North West, Dessie Ellis called on the new British secretary of state for the North to act on her case and those of Martin Corey and Gerry McGeough.
“The wrongful imprisonment of Marian Price, Martin Corey and Gerry McGeough continues to cause serious concern, particularly so as Marian Price is not well.
"These citizens are entitled to due process which they have been denied. They should be released and the North’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, is raising these with the new British Secretary of State.”
Sinn Féin continues to be proactive on these prisoners and is in contact with Marian Price’s legal team. Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney and Jennifer McCann have made representation to Marian Price’s parole board and also met the US consul regarding her case.
The party will continue to do all it can to secure the release of these prisoners.
McGuinness to raise Price and Corey with new secretary of state: Adams
Speaking after his party’s ard comhairle meeting in Dublin today, Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, commented on the appointment of a new British Secretary of State for the North: Theresa Villiers MP.
Deputy Adams said:
“I hope that Theresa Villiers will bring a new and more progressive focus to the issues which need attention now. They were not dealt with properly by her predecessor, Owen Paterson.
“There are outstanding matters from the Good Friday and Hillsborough Agreements, such as a bill of rights for the North, corporation tax and cross-border development, which the British government needs to deliver on.
The Sinn Féin leader also highlighted the continued imprisonment of Marian Price and Martin Corey, saying: “These citizens are entitled to due process, which they have been denied. They should be released and Sinn Féin will be raising their case with the new secretary of state. The Irish government also needs to seek their release.”
The Sinn Féin president also confirmed the party’s nominees to the Constitutional Convention: Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister of the North and deputy party leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD along with Deputy Adams.
“Sinn Féin has nominated its party’s leaders because of the seriousness with which it takes the process and will participate fully in the convention.
“This is an opportunity for the government to begin to form a truly national consensus for fundamental change and to transform the constitution taking account of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is an opportunity to reimagine Ireland in the 21st century. It is a chance to put in place a constitution that has all the citizens of this nation, of this island, at its heart, to deliver on the promise of the 1916 Proclamation.”
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has called for the release of the group known as the Cuban Five.
The Cubans, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez, were arrested in Miami 14 years ago this month.
Deputy Crowe this week met Magali Llort, mother of Fernando Gonzalez, and Dr Haymel Espinosa, who is the daughter of the co-pilot of the civilian Cubano plane which exploded after a bomb on board exploded in Barbados in 1967.
After the meeting Deputy Crowe said:
“On this the 14th year anniversary of the imprisonment of the Cuban Five, I would like to be associated with the calls for the release of these men.
“Magali Llort and Dr. Haymel Espinosa spoke in-depth about the case and subsequent trial of the Five, and it seems quite evident that these men did notget a fair and independent trial. Additionally some of the families of the five men say they have never received visas to see their loved ones, and those who have face enormous barriers in obtaining them. I support them in their quest to find justice for their family members.
“Major human right organisations such as Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Council share concerns that the men have not received a fair trial and throughout their detention they have had their human rights violated.
“One of the men René Gonzalez has now been released. He is being forced to stay and remain in Florida for three years on probation despite the real and daily threat to his life; he should be allowed return to his family in Cuba.
In the interest of fairness the other prisoners who pose no threat should also be released from jail and allowed return to their families and loved ones in Cuba.
Note: There is a public meeting organised by the Free the Cuban Five Campaign in Connolly Room, Liberty Hall at 6.30pm Wednesday 19 September 2012, at which Magali Llort and Dr Haymel Espinosa will speak. All concerned people should attend.
Following yesterday’s economic meeting by the Executive, Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Paul Maskey has called on the Executive to concentrate their efforts and initiate a Jobs Task Force in the areas affected by the FG Wilson jobs losses led by DETI and DEL.
Paul Maskey said:
“There should be a special Jobs Task Force given focus to the areas most affected by the job losses and in particular West Belfast which has the highest unemployment rate in the North.
“Following several engagements today including one with Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary of the trade union Unite, there needs to be a particular jobs focus on the areas affected by the FG Wilson announcement.
“We have contacted DETI Minister Arlene Foster and DEL Minister Stephen Farry asking for an urgent meeting to see what focus they will be putting into West Belfast following this further blow to employment in the area. We have secured a meeting with Invest NI at the start of next week.
“I think that it is scandalous that FG Wilson has not confirmed a meeting with me as the MP for west Belfast and even further unbelievable that they still have yet to meet the main trade union Unite, to discuss their member’s futures”
“If FG Wilson think, by not responding to calls from elected reps or meeting with the trade unions, means that we will all go away then they’re wrong, we are here for the long stay even if FG Wilson are not.” CRÍOCH/END
Sinn Féin councillor and mayor of Clonakilty, Cionnaith Ó Suilleabhain, speaking from the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland conference in Ballinasloe, said today:
“Minister Hogan cannot dismiss councillors and make us disappear. He must fully engage with us on any proposed local government reform.
“The conference adopted an emergency motion from the Independents and Small Parties Alliance demanding Minister Hogan reveals his reform plans and engages with democratic structures and with the communities we represent.”
Cllr Ó Suilleabhain said: “This AMAI centenary conference has distinguished itself by the level of anger and frustration being expressed by councillors from all political parties towards Minister Hogan.
“There were many false dawns in the announcement of proposals for local government reform. On Tuesday Sinn Féin will question the minister in the Dáil on his plans for town councils, his criteria and what consultation will happen.
“Experience on household charges, septic tanks and the proposed water charges, does not give us much hope. Minister Hogan depends on megaphone diplomacy and spin.
“Sinn Féin welcomes the opportunity to reform local government with the needs of our communities centre stage. Reform should not be an opportunity to strip power from local authorities and further centralise power around the Customs House.
“Sinn Féin’s proposals will focus how best to deliver local services; devolving powers from central government to local authorities and adequate funding to pay for these services.”
Motion passed at the AMAI conference:
"That in this centenary year of the AMAI, the Independents and Small Parties Alliance, call on Minister Hogan and the Government to publish the proposals for Local Government Reform by 18/10/2012 at the latest".
Sinn Féin’s newly appointed education spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien and his party colleague, Sean Crowe, TD, met this week in Leinster House with June Tinsley, the policy development officer at Barnardos and Catherine Joyce, the organisation’s head of advocacy.
Describing the meeting as “very worthwhile”, Deputy O’Brien commended the important work carried out by Barnardos in support of vulnerable children and their families. During the meeting a number of issues were discussed including the implementation of schoolbook lending schemes, the impending Children’s Referendum and Budget 2013.
Deputy O’Brien said: “Sinn Féin has lobbied hard for a schoolbook lending scheme and it is important that Education Minister Ruairí Quinn implements measures that can alleviate the financial burden on parents when equipping their children for school.
“I will continue the work of Deputy Crowe and lobby to ensure the publishers honour their commitments and implement a more ethical code of practice.
“It is feared that frontline education services will be targeted for more cuts in the budget. A priority for Sinn Féin is protection of children and young people in schools, ensuring fairer access to higher education and that newly-qualified teachers are paid a decent wage.
“We also assured Barnardos of our support for the Children’s Rights Referendum. Children's minister Francis Fitzgerald needs to stop prevaricating and publish the wording of the legislation so there is time for informed debate about change to the Irish constitution.
“These are just a few of the many issues Sinn Féin will be working on and today’s meeting with Barnardos was very worthwhile and useful, as we work towards developing policies to counter the punitive cutbacks that are being imposed on the Irish education sector.
“I look forward to working with June and Catherine and their colleagues in Barnardos over the challenging times ahead.”
Caption for attached photo: Sinn Féin Deputies Seán Crowe and Jonathan O’Brien are pictured outside Leinster House with Barnardos policy development officer June Tinsley and Catherine Joyce head of advocacy.
Commenting on the revelation that the promised provision of free GP care to people on the long-term illness scheme may be delayed by at least a year, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:
“The extension of free GP care to all, beginning with people on the long-term illness scheme, was supposed to be a corner-stone of the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition’s health reforms. Free GP care for long-term illness patients was promised by Minister Reilly for 2012 but we now find that it may be delayed by at least a year.
“Legal issues are being cited for this delay. If this is the case it is incredible that it took more than a year in Government for the alleged legal difficulty to come to light given that the commitment to start the roll-out of free GP was a Fine Gael and Labour promise from long before the 2011 General Election.
“Many will suspect that the alleged legal difficulty is a convenient excuse to cover a retreat brought about by the financial crisis in the Health sector, a crisis worsened by this Government’s policies.
“If there is a real legal difficulty then the whole basis of the promised reforms of Minister Reilly and his Coalition colleagues is in question and they must be challenged on their failure to provide a proper legislative foundation for those reforms.” ENDS
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe is looking forward to the challenges his new role as Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and the Diaspora will bring. Crowe replaces his party colleague Pádraig MacLochlainn TD as the Foreign Affairs spokesperson and he praised the work Pádraig has done.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today announced a reshuffle of the Oireachtas team. These changes will see Deputy Crowe move from the position of Education spokesperson to the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio.
Speaking after the reshuffle Deputy Crowe said: “With the forthcoming Irish Presidency of the European Union fast approaching the issue of Foreign Affairs and Trade will take on an enhanced importance.
“I would like to commend my party colleague Pádraig MacLochlainn on the fantastic work he has done as our Foreign Affairs spokesperson in the Oireachtas.
“The world is constantly evolving and I will work tirelessly to ensure that Ireland’s independent voice plays a key role in promoting peace, human rights and development around the world.
“The upcoming months are sure to be very important in relation to foreign affairs, with the continuation of the Arab Spring, the release of the new White Paper on Irish Aid, the continued worsening of conditions in Syria and Palestine, the deterioration of the Israeli-Iranian situation, and increasing food insecurity in Africa.
“Additionally I will work with interested groups to ensure that Ireland is successful in securing trade deals around the world which will benefit the Irish economy, by creating jobs and stimulating growth. Any expansion of trade with developing countries must also ensure their right to growth and respect human and workers’ rights.
“I would also like to wish my party colleague Jonathan O’Brien TD the best of luck in his new and important role as Education spokesperson, and I am sure he will work extremely hard in his new and demanding portfolio.
"I also look forward to fighting for the rights of the Irish diaspora, especially the undocumented Irish in America, and all those who have recently emigrated"
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has said that he is looking forward to the challenge of taking on an additional brief as Junior Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence.
The Galway West Senator had already held the portfolios of party spokesperson on Gaeilge and Gaeltacht Affairs and Rural Development.
Speaking from Leinster House today, Senator Ó Clochartaigh said, “I am very pleased at the announcement today that I have been allocated the portfolio of junior spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Defence, and I am looking forward immensely to the challenges and opportunities it presents.”
“This is a hugely significant portfolio, and I am looking forward to working with Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn in shadowing this key department. There have been very significant changes to the justice system in recent years, and I am particularly concerned on the affect the cutbacks to Garda Stations and reductions in court sittings will have on rural communities. “
“I do not believe that consideration has been given to the value of Garda and Courts services being available locally in preventing crime and this is an area on which I intend to focus.”
“I also intend to use the portfolio to highlight the need for Ireland to live up to its human rights commitments. This would be in terms of a strong equality infrastructure and protecting the rights of minorities and vulnerable persons such as immigrants.”
The Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions today launched the petitions system. This system will allow citizens a direct route to raise their experiences and recommendations for public services with the Oireachtas.
Chairperson of the Committee, Sinn Féin TD Peadar Toíbín, has overseen the development of the community over the past year. The committee has developed a working practise based on consensus and with the support of all parties.
Peadar Tóibín TD said;
“This is an important innovation in parliamentary democracy. For the first time in the 93 year history of the Oireachtas citizens will have a direct route to influence the parliamentary agenda.
“Recent history is full of examples of citizens having to campaign for years to change abuses or failings in public services. I would hope that this petitions system will mean that such failings can be addressed directly, in real time, and not at the end of lengthy campaigns
“I believe that those best qualified to comment on the effectiveness of our public services are its users. Therefore the experiences of our citizens will now be placed at the centre of the petitions system which will influence development and delivery of effective public services.”
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has called on people to make sure they have their say during the consultation on proposed changes to planning fees.
The Newry & Armagh MLA and member of the Assembly’s Environment Committee said:
“I would encourage all interested parties to contribute their opinions during the consultation period on these proposed changes to the planning fees.
“These proposed fee changes will affect a wide range of people and it is crucial that they have their say.
“The consultation will run from the 17th September to the 9th of November and submissions can be made on line to the Department of Environment.”
The Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee today heard from representatives of Monaghan, Derry, Donegal, Dungannon and Omagh and Strabane Councils regarding the funding for the A5 Motorway connecting Monaghan to Donegal.
Speaking after the meeting Michelle Gildernew, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, said;
“Sinn Féin has supported this infrastructure project as an essential element in the economic renewal of the north west. Given the high levels of job losses across the Northwest, this road is essential in connecting the region with the rest of Ireland.
“At the Executive in the North, we have supported the continued development of the road and set aside over €400million to develop sections of the road. The decision of the Irish Government to cut its share of the funding will further delay the project and lead to a disjointed road network. Labour and Fine Gael could find the funds to bail out banks and developers but not to support this project.
“The people along the border were promised this road, the Executive has honoured its side of the agreement, it is now time for the Irish Government to review its decisions and reinstate the funding for this road.”
Sean Crowe TD said;
“The Government agreed this in St. Andrews. It remained a key project in government budgets until Fine Gael and Labour came to power. This project was designed to spur economic development, create jobs, open access to public services and promote road safety.
“Sinn Féin is clear that this project is required to tackle the jobs crisis, to join up public services and enhance trade. It is clear that as a signatory and guarantor of the agreements, the Irish Government needs to retain the moral authority, that an agreement made is an agreement honoured.
“The people of Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry and Donegal and the rest of Ireland, expect no less.”
Speaking after Sinn Féin today announced a party reshuffle of Oireachtas spokespeople, newly appointed Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien, TD for Cork North Central said he was looking forward to fulfilling a challenging role within Leinster House.
Deputy O’Brien also paid tribute to his party colleague Seán Crowe TD who he replaces as Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson and is now taking up the Foreign Affair’s brief.
“I am looking forward to meeting the challenges that comes with being Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson in the 26 counties”, Deputy O’Brien said, “and replacing Seán means I have big shoes to fill.
“Education accounts for 17% of total State expenditure – a figure of €8.6bn that in 2012 was cut by €132.3m. Last year, some of our most vulnerable children fell victim to a range of cuts, as did newly qualified teachers and a range of other essential frontline services. This resulted in the loss of school guidance counsellors, reduced capitation grants, rising transport costs and higher third level fees.
“As we approach December’s budget there are fears that Education Minister Ruairí Quinn will continue the slash and burn policies that have hallmarked his Government’s 18 month tenure.
“In my role as Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson I am determined to put forward alternative proposals that will protect and enhance our education system by ensuring the fairer allocation of resources.
“I am excited at this new appointment and I greatly look forward to working with all of the various stakeholders, trade unions, teachers and parents in the time ahead.”
North Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Conor Maskey said the Loyal Orders need to immediately enter into talks with the residents of Carrickhill.
The North Belfast councillor said:
“It is worrying that there has been no direct contact between the Loyal Orders and the residents of Carrickhill as the Ulster Covenant parade approaches.
“The Loyal Orders are saying that conversations ‘are taking place away from the public gaze’ and as it is not with the residents, who is it that they are talking to?
“If talks between the Loyal Orders and residents do not take place immediately then their recent statements will be seen, along with the claim of quiet conversations, as little more than a PR exercise.
“There needs to be immediate talks between the Loyal Orders and the Carrickhill residents. Direct dialogue is the way to resolve these contentious parades and anything else will just be seen as a smokescreen.”
Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann has called for a major investment package to help the construction industry deal with the biggest slump in many years.
The west Belfast MLA said if finance was made available to bring empty houses back into play and resources made available for home owners to bring their houses up to decent standards this would be a major uplift for this hard pressed sector.
The Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson said:
“Thousands of houses remain empty which continue to cause problems for neighbouring houses and give a picture of dereliction.
“If finance was made available this would not only provide jobs but begin to deal with the serious problems of huge waiting lists.
“It would also see the Assembly to fulfill its obligation to the green
“Not only would it provide jobs in the construction sector but also have a major impact on the local business community such as local shops, building suppliers and the many other businesses who rely on the house building sector to survive.”
The west Belfast MLA also said many thousands of homeowners have seen the withdrawal of financial assistance and this has see the continued deterioration of their homes with no means to bring them up to decent standards.
Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, has announced a reshuffle of the party’s Oireachtas team.
Gerry Adams said: “This coalition is already boasting about the severity of the budget it intends to inflict on the people in December and the series of further cuts it will introduce. It is like a kind of Fianna Fáil Light, implementing the policies of the last government.
“Our new Oireachtas team looks forward to strengthening Sinn Féin’s role as the real opposition in the Dáil, where we will continue to defend working people against the onslaught of cuts, charges and unfair burdens being inflicted on them by this coalition.
“After a very successful year, for what was a mainly new Oireachtas team, I held a review of our work with all TDs and senators.
“After consultation some portfolio changes are being made for the new term to suit people to areas relevant to them."
SINN FÉIN OIREACHTAS TEAM RESHUFFLE
(WITH EFFECT FROM SEPTEMBER 2012)
New Portfolio from Sept 2012
Shadowing An Taoiseach
from Communications, Energy, Natural Resources
to Agriculture, Food, Marine & Rural Affairs
Housing and Transport
to Foreign Affairs, Trade & Diaspora
from Agriculture, Food and Marine
to Communications, Energy, Natural Resources
from Justice, Equality Defence
to Education, skills, training, science & research
Mary Lou McDonald
Public Expenditure & Reform
Arts, Heritage, Sports, Tourism
Environment, Local Government & Community
from Foreign Affairs & Trade
to Justice, Equality & Defence
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
Health & Children & Young People
Youth Affairs, EU Affairs, All-Ireland Economy
Trade Union Outreach/Workers Rights, Political Reform
Added portfolio to existing brief -Junior Oireachtas Jobs & Enterprise Spokesperson
Trevor O Clochartaigh
Gaeltacht, Irish Language & Rural Affairs
Added portfolio to existing brief -Junior Oireachtas Justice, Equality & Defence Spokesperson
Jobs, Enterprise, Innovation
Jobs, Enterprise, innovation & Gaeltacht Affairs
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has said that the latest call by the Fiscal Advisory Council for the government to add an extra €1.9 billion in spending cuts and tax rises between now and 2015 are ‘reckless’ and ‘would damage the economy, further undermine vital front line public services, and hurt families.’
Deputy McDonald said:
“Today’s proposal by the Fiscal Advisory Council that government should add an extra €1.9 billion in spending cuts and tax rises between now and 2015 are reckless. If implemented they would damage the economy, further undermine vital front line public services and hurt families.
“The deficit reduction strategy outlined by the council simply won’t work. The single biggest obstacle to fiscal sustainability is the absence of growth. The deficit cannot be properly reduced when more than 400,000 people are on the life register.
“The economy urgently needs more investment not more austerity. Investment in jobs is crucial. Getting people off the dole and back paying taxes is the surest route to deficit reduction. Cutting government spending and the disposable incomes of low and middle income earners will further depress the domestic economy and lead to more job losses.
“Once again the Fiscal Advisory Council has shown that it simply does not understand what is happening in the Irish economy. I would urge the Government to ignore the latest advice from the Fiscal Advisory Council as they did to the Council’s advice in advance of budget 2012.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has written to DSD Minister Nelson McCausland to ask that the "central role" of culture, arts and language is recognised by the DSD in its proposed policy framework for urban regeneration — which is currently out for consultation. The role of culture, arts and language as drivers of regeneration is not explored in the Policy Framework.
"This week, I have been contacted by the the pioneering Irish language umbrella body Pobal which fears that DSD officials are gearing up to cut its funding because they do not recognise language development as community development. This attitude is hardly surprising when the DSD is promoting a document which ignores the rich resource for regeneration afforded by culture, arts and language.
In his letter to the Minister, the South Belfast councillor who is Deputy Chair of the Development Committee in City Hall writes: "There are countless examples of how arts, culture and language development has contributed positively to the success of cities and regions.
"Among the most celebrated in language terms are Sabhal Mór Ostaig on the Isle of Skye, Oideas Gael in Gleann Colm Cille in southwest Donegal, and, of course, the Cultúrlann projects in Belfast and Donegal. In terms of arts and culture, we can start with the Guggenheim in Bilbao (where the language also plays a vital role) and work our way across Europe.
"The DSD should recognise language development as community development. The benefits to Belfast from the last 40 years of vibrant Irish language renaissance are manifold and well-documented but there is no doubt that the community confidence and self-belief which underpins the success of communities in areas such as West Belfast is linked to the transformational language revival. Promotion of language, like promotion of arts and culture, aids and complements urban regeneration. It should be recognised as such and, therefore, supported by DSD."
Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast, Paul Maskey, has called on both the Enterprise Trade and Investment Minster and the Employment and Learning Minister to assist in whatever way they following the news that over 700 jobs may go at FG Wilson.
Speaking today Mr Maskey said:
“The jobs losses at FG Wilson are a huge blow to the local and are significantly higher than predicted.
“We need to examine why this is the case given that FG Wilson doubled its pre-tax profits to £7.8m in 2011 and how much Invest NI have contributed to this company over the past number of years.
“This move will leave many workers and their families facing hardship in what are already difficult economic times and our primary focus needs to be with them.
“What we need to see is the Department of Employment and Learning and the Department of Trade and Investment jointly setting up a unit to advise those facing redundancy ofemployment opportunities, benefit entitlements, mortgage advice and skills retraining.
“The Ministers also must ensure that those being made redundant are also given their full entitlements.
“Sinn Féin Ministers made this issue a priority at the Executive jobs meeting this morning while Martin McGuinness, who is currently in the United States, has been fully briefed and will be raising his concerns on the FG Wilson job losses.
“I will be raising this and placing a strong a focus on the need for all Ireland economic development and job creation with members of the All Ireland Good Friday Agreement Committee in Dublin today.”