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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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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD was speaking today at the “International Conference to Promote the resolution of the conflict in the Basque country” in San Sebastian.

Mr. Adams said:

“Seize the moment

The Nobel Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s ‘The Cure Troy’ catches at once the despair of conflict and the hope of peace and justice.

For many, the conflict in Ireland, rooted in centuries of war and division, and violence seemed intractable.

Every generation had known war – and between the cycles of violence there was the despair of oppression and discrimination, of instability and institutional violence.

The cycle seemed destined to continue into a depressing future.

Seamus Heaney wrote:

‘Human beings suffer
They torture one another
They get hurt and get hard …’

But there were some who dared to dream and to hope of a different way; to look to Heaney’s ‘far side of revenge’ and to believe it is possible to achieve peace.

And this is where it must begin.

To believe it’s possible to break the cycle to see beyond the conflict, to make hope and history rhyme.

I am here as a guest. Not to be prescriptive, not to pretend I know more than the people who live here, about what caused your conflict.

I am here on behalf of Sinn Féin to help.

Ireland enjoys a long historic relationship with the Spanish, the French and the Basque people.

I am here as a friend.

The participants in the conflict in the Basque country have different views of its origins and of its solution.

The key to making progress, the first step that is needed, is a willingness and a determination from all involved to agree to talk to each other.

This needs leadership.

Violence usually occurs when people believe that there is no alternative.

Transforming a situation from conflict to peace requires therefore that an alternative is created.

A good faith engagement is essential.

Anything less is counter productive and wrong.

Making peace therefore is hugely challenging and enormously difficult.

It demands that we seek to understand what motivates, what inspires, what drives their opponent.

Ultimately, as Madiba - Nelson Mandela - said, we have to make friends with our enemy.

Each conflict is different but in the course of our efforts Irish republicans learned that there are general principles of peace making, methods of conflict resolution, that can be applied elsewhere and which can help end conflict if applied properly.

These elements include:

• The imperative of dialogue. That means talking to the enemy.
• The process must tackle the many causes which lie at the heart of the conflict
• There must be a good faith engagement by all sides
• The process must be inclusive – with all parties treated as equals and mandates respected
• All issues must be on the agenda.
• There can be no pre-conditions
• There can be no vetoes
• There can be no attempt to pre-determine the outcome, or preclude any outcome
• And there should be time frames. This will provide a dynamic and a measurement of progress.
• Participants must stay focused and be prepared to take risks and engage in initiatives and confidence building measures.

But if there is a starting point it must be dialogue.

Over and above all other elements this is the foundation upon which any progress will be built.

At this point trust does not exist. That is a reality. But trust will be built as the process succeeds and advances.

Dialogue is the key first step.

And creating the climate in which dialogue can take place is crucial.

In this context confidence building measures are crucial.

In Ireland this meant, among other things improving conditions for prisoners, including moving those who were in England closer to their homes in Ireland.

It meant demilitarizing the environment and ending the use of emergency laws and repression and a new beginning to policing.

It meant respecting and acknowledging the democratic rights of all political parties and treating them as equals.

It means the electorate having the right to vote for candidates and political parties of their choice.

That requires the release of political prisoners so that they can help build a new dispensation.

Peace processes are challenging for every participant but especially for governments.

There will be ups and downs. There could be breakthroughs and breakdowns.

But in Ireland Sinn Féin never gave up. So you must never give up.

I believe there is a real opportunity at this time to achieve a peaceful outcome to decades of conflict.

The onus is on all political leaders and others to grasp this opportunity.

I wish you all well in this historic endeavour.

Tapaidh an deis – seize the moment.”


Sinn Fein’s Jennifer McCann MLA (West Belfast) has called on Education & Learning (DEL) Minister, Stephen Farry to assess and recognise that projects such as ‘Training by Choice’ situated in Swan House in East Belfast is a lifeline for young people in the 16-19 age bracket who have left formal education with little or no qualifications.

Jennifer McCann said:

“I attended a protest at Parliament Buildings, Stormont today in support of the young people who were participating in the ‘Training by Choice’ project at Swan House on the Albertsbridge Road for which funding has run out.

“I spoke with some of the 32 young people who are affected by this situation and they are devastated at the prospect that the project will be discontinued if funding is not restored.

“This is a DEL funded alternative education course focussing on music technology, digital photography and 3D websites. It is the type of project that grabs the attention of many young people in this age group who did not find similar stimulation in formal education.

“Considering the efforts put in by the Office of First and deputy First Ministers to attract major performing arts projects such as ‘Game of Thrones’ I would think that this project is precisely what we should be encouraging. I urge the Minister to assess and recognise the need to develop local talent through projects such as ‘Training by Choice’ to service these valuable performing arts projects.”


Sinn Fein MLA and spokesperson on Agriculture, Oliver McMullan, speaking ahead of a Sinn Féin motion in the Assembly on the issue, has called for the examination of the Crown Estate along the coastline of the north of Ireland  with a view to realising the potential financial return for the Assembly. 

Speaking ahead of the motion Oliver McMullan said:

“The Crown Estate controls the revenue raising possibilities of the coastline and marine habitat along the coast of the North of Ireland. The current value of this is £10.9m with an annual income of £1m each year, derived from pipelines, marinas, fisheries and cablings and other such marine enterprise goes straight into the British Treasury.

“It is Sinn Féin's view that bringing this power under Assembly control would be highly beneficial to the local economy. 

“Not only would it bring the revenue of £1m a year directly into the local budget but could also stimulate further enterprise and investment along our shoreline. 

“It would allow the Assembly to regulate any existing or new leases including our ports, marinas, cables, gas pipelines and local authorities, shellfish operations and the future asset of the sea bed around Rathlin Island, the electric interconnector, wind turbines and tidal turbines.

“Local councils could further be encouraged to explore the options for building new developments on our shores aiding the construction industry and stimulating local enterprise.

“I all this is an initiative that can realise the massive potential our unique shoreline contains and we would be remiss to ignore such an economic opportunity.”


Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Daithi McKay has said that Sinn Féin are determined to ensure that rural schools are not only delivering a first class service but remain at the centre of rural communities.


Speaking to a rural school motion Mr McKay stated,


“There are those who are scaremongering that planned reforms by Education Minister John O’Dowd will lead to a decline in the number and quality of rural schools.


“This is totally unfounded and I have submitted an amendment that will reflect the Sinn Féin position.


“Sinn Féin is committed to reform of the entire educational sector that will ensure that each and every school is delivering not only a first class education to the children but is also at the heart of every community.


“Rural schools play a very important role in the life of isolated communities but we must make sure that they deliver their primary function; that is educating our children to the highest standard.


“The review initiated by the Minister does not differ between rural and urban schools in that regard and each school will be judged on its own merits. The Minister has also made it quite clear that the viability of a school will be judged against a range of criteria - not simply enrolment numbers. Therefore, small schools - particularly in rural areas - are not unsustainable schools. If people are interested in the education of our children then they should support this motion and stop scaremongering about the number of rural schools that will be closed."


The Assembly will today, Monday 17th October, debate a Sinn Féin motion calling for the development of an all-Ireland Job Creation Strategy.

Speaking ahead of the motion, the Party's Enterprise Spokesperson, Phil Flanagan MLA said:

"The length and breadth of Ireland, people are suffering as a result of this economic crisis, which is not of their making. The main item on most people's agenda is the lack of jobs. This is something that the Executive in the North and the Dublin Government need to work much more closely on.

"As the motion states, we are calling for the establishment of an all-island job creation strategy, under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council. This would be chaired jointly by both Enterprise Ministers on the island - by Arlene Foster in the north and by Richard Bruton in the south. This strategy would focus on areas of high unemployment across the island.

"It is no coincidence that the areas closest to the border suffer from even higher incidence of unemployment and lack of services than other areas. If we do not take immediate and effective action to address the ever rising levels of unemployment across Ireland, then we will simply continue exporting our best asset, our people.

"Unemployment and emigration is an island wide problem and therefore it requires an island wide solution. It doesn't matter whether you're from Tralee, Tallaght or Tempo; if you don't have a job, the challenges faced are the same.

"In this time of economic frugality, it makes no sense to waste resources on duplication in our approach to employment problems, as we already do in our health, emergency and welfare services.

"We cannot allow another generation to be failed by ineffective government policies - an all-Ireland job creation strategy would be a very important step towards the recovery of this island's economy."


The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Martin Ferris TD has strongly criticised this morning’s announcement by Minister Pat Rabbitte to issue 13 new oil and gas licenses.

Deputy Ferris said:

“The Minister claimed this morning that the Irish offshore has real potential. It obviously does given the interest expressed by the exploration companies. However, no real benefit will accrue to the people or the exchequer until the licensing and taxation terms are radically revised.

“I also regret that the Minister has proceeded with the granting of the licenses before having the Committee conduct the review of all aspects of oil and gas exploration in this country, as he promised several months ago in response to a Sinn Féin Private Members Motion.”


Sinn Féin has confirmed that party President Gerry Adams TD is travelling to the Basque country on Monday to take part in a major international initiative aimed at assisting a resolution of the conflict in the Basque country.

The conference is being held in San Sebastian in the Basque country on Monday October 17th.

The conference has been organised by Lokarri, the International Contact Group, the Basque Citizen Network for Agreement and Consultation and four other international foundations, peace/conflict resolution organisations, including the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

Also taking part will be former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan; Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff to Tony Blair; former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern; Pierre Joxe, former French Defense and Interior Minister;  Gro Harland Bruntland, former Norwegian Prime Minister, and others.

Gerry Adams said:

“Monday’s initiative is a consequence of considerable behind the scenes efforts, involving Sinn Féin and others in recent months and years.  I am very hopeful that the San Sebastian conference will lead to significant progress in the conflict resolution process.”


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