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No alternative to dialogue and agreement , says McGuinness in major statement on 20th anniversary of IRA cessation

Delivering a keynote address in Derry on Sunday morning on the 20th anniversary of the IRA announcing “a complete cessation of military operations”, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said there is a real threat to the political institutions in the North from political stagnation and the absence of progress.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD in a keynote statement today has warned that the “political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998.”


Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



Latest Statements

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D’áitigh an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh ar an Aire Coimirce Sóisialaí Joan Burton sa Seanad inné, cur ina luí ar FÁS cur chuige níos solúbtha a úsáid in athuair maidir le fad rannpháirtíochta ar Scéimeanna Fostaíochta Pobail

Bhí an Seanadóir ag ardú na ceiste de bharr gearáin a bhí déanta leis le seachtain go bhfuil treoir tugtha ag FÁS do lucht riartha na scéimeanna seo an riail rannpháirtíochta trí bliana a chur i bhfeidhm go docht daingean feasta. Roimhe seo bhíodh díscréid áitiúil dhá úsáid le cheithre bliana nó níos faide a thabhairt do dhaoine ar na scéimeanna.

Ag labhairt dó leis an Aire, dúirt an Seanadóir as Gaillimh nach bhfuil mórán réasún ag baint leis an gcur chuige seo ag FÁS, i bhfianaise an tairbhe a bhíonn an pobal ag fáil as na hoibrithe seo le linn dóibh a bheith ar na scéimeanna - agus nuair nach bhfuil postanna le fáil dóibh ina gceantar féin nuair a chríochnaíonn siad.

Dar leis an gClochartach, ‘Níl blas céille leis seo. Cuirtear dream amháin ar an dól, a bhfuil taithí acu a bheith ag déanamh sár obair sa phobal chun dream eile a bhaint den chlár beo. B’fhearr go mór fada lena bhformhór fanacht ar an scéim, lá oibre a dhéanamh agus dul amach as an teach. Má chuirtear ar ais ar an dól iad is beag sábháíl a bheadh ag an státchiste dá bharr’.

‘Inniu thagair mo chomhghleacaí i Sinn Féin, an Seanadóir David Cullinane don ghéarchéim dífhostaíochta atá againn sa tír seo faoi láthair. Is í an aidhm atá leis na scéimeanna seo ná daoine a ullmhú chun dul amach ag obair, ach de bharr drochpholasaithe rialtais le blianta beaga anuas, is beag obair fhiúntach atá ar fáil dóibh, go háirithe sna ceantair scoite amach faoin dtuath .’

D’iarr sé ar an Aire treoir a thabhairt do FÁS cás eisceachtúil a dhéanamh do cheantair a aithnítear mar cheantair gearchéime fostaíochta, de réir treoirlínte na heagraíochta POBAL, chun cur chuige níos solúbtha a úsáid ó thaobh fad freastal ar na scéimeanna fostaíochta pobail.

Chuir an Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh béim ina chuid díospóireachta leis an Aire chomh maith ar an gá di gníomhú maidir leis an gcruachás ina bhfuil siad siúd atá féinfhostaithe, ach nach bhfuil aon obair acu agus nach bhfuil ar an gclár beo. D’iarr se an aird ceanna orthu siúd a bhfuil gearradh siar mór ar a gcuid uaireanta oibre agus rátaí pá.

‘Fáiltím roimh fógra an Aire maidir leis an scéim ‘TUS’, ach iarraim uirthi an 10,000 áit breise a mhol Sinn Féín a chuirfí ar fail ar na Scéimeanna Fostaíochta Pobail, a chur sa gcóras láíthreach’, a deir an Seanadóir. ‘Ní amháin go mbainfeadh muintir Chonamara agus na Gaillimhe an-bhuntáíste as seo, ach bheadh fiúntas ann chomh maith ins an iarracht an geárchéim dífhostaíochta a shárú go náisiúnta’, a deir Ó Clochartaigh.

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD calls on the government to study in detail the recommendations of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in relation to white collar crime. These were reiterated in the annual report of the ODCE for 2010 published this week.

Commenting on this report Deputy O’Brien said:

“ There is an urgent need to publish legislation which will introduce mechanisms such as plea bargaining and immunity programmes, where necessary, in return for real and meaningful disclosure of corporate gangsterism.

“This could have the same impact on the Irish corporate mafia as the witness protection scheme had on the US mafia. It could deal with the omertà type silences of the ten 'reluctant' witnesses in the Anglo Irish Bank investigation. The weakest link breaks the entire chain.

“We need to ensure that we get the measures right in the ‘white collar’ Criminal Justice Bill going through the Dáil at the minute so that we have another effective weapon in combating corporate wrongdoing.

“Sinn Féin reiterates the absolute requirement for the promised legislation to give protection to whistleblowers, willing to open the lid on the murky depths of corporate misconduct in Irish life.

“None of this will have any impact though if the state doesn’t adequately resource those who need to investigate such crimes. The report of the ODCE tells the usual tale of a capacity limited by a lack of resources; it stated that ‘the availability of garda resources for ODCE criminal investigations was severely reduced by the Anglo work’.

“Nobody has to be told of the damage, suffering and financial harm caused to ordinary people by white collar crime and commercial greed.

“Sinn Féin calls for immediate legislative action and resources to ensure we tackle corporate criminality and replace this with an ethos of accountability and sound sustainable enterprise.”

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 Sinn Féin Deputy Mayor of Derry  Kevin Campbell  has stated today that those behind exploding a bomb at a house in Brandywell last night  need to realise that the community does not want these type of attacks to occur and that they need to stop.

Speaking today Kevin   Campbell said:

"While it is not yet known what group or individual may have been responsible for leaving this device, what is known, is that it was detonated in a built up area and caused   damage to a number homes just off the Lecky Road and could have caused serious injury to anyone in the vicinity of the blast at that time .

It’s just sheer luck that several young children sleeping in their beds weren’t injured after shrapnel went through a number of windows of homes adjacent to the site of the bomb.

"I am making it clear to those responsible that the people of Derry do not want this and those behind it need to stop. Those behind this bomb attack need to consider their actions. In detonating this device they have shown no regard for the wider Brandywell community

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Raising educational standards and delivering improved outcomes for young people is a top priority.

That was the message from Education Minister, John O’Dowd, as he addressed the the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) Annual Conference.

Speaking at the event in Belfast, the Minister said: “Since becoming Education Minister I have been keen to engage with educational partners across the spectrum. I welcome the opportunity to meet with the ATL as representatives of the classroom practitioners who play such a pivotal role in our education system.

“A top priority for me during my term of office will be raising standards and delivering improved outcomes for young people. Education plays a central role in the development of a modern and prosperous society and economy. Many of our young people do well at school and achieve good results. Last week, for example, figures were released which showed continued improvement in the achievement of our school leavers at GCSE and A-Level. We should rightly celebrate that success and I pay tribute to the work of the teachers who have helped make it possible. But the figures were also a reminder, if one were needed, of the major disparities entrenched within our system.

“Young people from disadvantaged communities are half as likely to achieve five good GCSEs including English and Maths. They are more than half as likely to achieve two or more A-level passes and to enter higher education. The gulf is wide, it is damaging to our young people and our economy, and it is unacceptable.

“During my time on the Education Committee, I had the opportunity to hear at first hand from the many schools already putting the school improvement policy – Every School a Good School - into practice. Those schools show that, where we have effective leadership and high aspirations, high quality teaching and learning, child-centred provision, and strong links with parents and the community, it is possible to achieve good outcomes for our most disadvantaged young people.”

The Minister went on to comment on the particular importance of literacy and numeracy and the important role that teachers have in raising standards.

He said: “Literacy and numeracy are fundamental to a young person’s future employability and to our economy. Standards are rising, but we still have substantial challenges. The new strategy, 'Count, read: succeed', sets out a renewed focus on literacy and numeracy. Teachers have the central role in this strategy, for it is through the work of teachers in classrooms across the north that we will raise standards and close the achievement gaps that currently exist. Teachers, along with school leaders and parents, will get the support they need to raise standards. I firmly believe that by fostering a more collaborative approach, involving all educational stakeholders, we can become a driving force for improvement.

“Much good work has been done in recent years to raise standards but we clearly have some real challenges to address, not least the financial climate we currently face. I look forward to working with all our stakeholders to address these challenges and to deliver improvements in educational attainment for all our young people.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has hit out at Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore’s "diplomatic initiative", branding it a “charade”.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“When the Government’s "Diplomatic Initiative" was announced in conjunction with the ECB/ EU/ IMF Memorandum of Understanding, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamonn Gilmore outlined what he called a “coordinated diplomatic drive by Ireland to win political support for the discussions we are having with the European Central Bank”.

“This was a pledge from the Tánaiste to embark on a drive to gain support for a better deal for the Irish people. In his own words, he was going to ‘put it right’.

“Conversely, however, comments made in the Dáil today by Minister of State for Europe Lucinda Creighton confirm that the focus of this Diplomatic Initiative focus is to deliver a different message – the one sent out by the Taoiseach in recent days that “we will pay our debts”.

“This weak message reinforces the ECB-driven narrative that the Irish people as a whole were reckless and feckless. Is the Tánaiste's project, which he launched with great fanfare on April 3rd, anything more than a PR exercise? The question has to be asked. What has the Tánaiste achieved since the launch of this project? What concrete objectives have been achieved? The only outward sign of work done has been giving meaningless prep talks to Ambassadors, Diplomats, and delivering a weak message that Ireland is a good country? At this crisis point in our nation’s history, Ireland needs so much more than this".

“It is clear that this Government has no real strategy to stand up for the interests of the Irish people in Europe.

He concluded:

“Respected international opinion, such as that of Nobel Prize winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, have heavily criticised the crippling impact of the ECB/ EU/ IMF austerity programme on the Irish economy and people. The Irish Government needs to utilise the immense reputation of these economists and many others domestically and internationally to support Ireland’s call for a better, fairer deal. We are not with friends and indeed advocates. However, judging from the comments of Minister Creighton today, the government would prefer to dismiss these opinions, continue to be the obedient ‘partner’ in an unequal union, and pay up".

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Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has challenged the minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to adopt a more flexible approach to Community Employment Scheme workers in unemployment blackspots.

The scheme has come under the spotlight recently due to concerns regarding the strict limitation on working for longer than three years on such a scheme.

Addressing the Minister the Galway West Senator stated that this approach failed to recognise valuable contributions made by these workers to their local communities.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“The logic doesn’t stack up. This creates a revolving door scenario where people in employment are taken out of jobs and put on the dole after a determined period without regard to the benefit to themselves or indeed the benefit to their community.

“My fellow Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane highlighted earlier today the unemployment crisis we face nationally. The wisdom of such an approach in the midst of such a crisis is questionable. The purpose of the FÁS CE schemes is to prepare people for work but at present due to failings of previous administrations these participants don’t have any meaningful employment to take up.

The Senator specifically called on the minister to direct FÁS to use the leniency which was previously shown in areas of high unemployment.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh also highlighted the plight of those not on the live register such as self-employed and under employed and asked the minister to put measures in place which will assist them in their road back to employment.

“I do welcome the announcement of the rollout of the TUS programme, but I would call on the Minister to put in place an additional 10,000 CE Schemes in line with the Sinn Féin proposals. This would not only be of great benefit to such projects in Galway and Connemara, but could also play a significant role in the effort to combat the unemployment crisis.”

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Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has accused the government of implementing “the failed banking policy of the previous government” following this week’s approval by the European Commission of the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG). The ELG makes the taxpayer liable for any losses of the €110.6 billion in liabilities held by the six banks covered by the scheme.

Deputy Doherty said:

“This week the European Commission approved the extension of the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee for the next six months. This is the blanket guarantee that makes the taxpayer liable for any losses to the €110.6 billion of liabilities held by the 6 covered banks, including Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

“Minister for Finance Michael Noonan described the extension as necessary to facilitate the restructuring of the banking system.

“What the Minister failed to say is that this guarantee was the primary reason why interest rates on Irish government bonds spiralled out of control last year, as the markets were increasingly concerned about the States ability to honour the guarantee. It is also the principle reason why the Government remains dependant on the diktats of the EU, ECB and IMF.

“The only way the government can return to the international bond markets is by ending the blanket guarantee and return the toxic debts of the developers back to the banks.

“When the European Commission approved the extension of the Guarantee in June 2010 the then Labour Finance spokesperson Joan Burton attacked the decision and criticised the Government for having ‘no exit strategy’.

“In a week of Labour party U-Turns this is clearly the most damming. Not only have the Government no exit-strategy from this disastrous guarantee, but they are clearly committed to implementing the failed banking policy of the previous government.”

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe has concerns that up to 327,000 children in Ireland are either obese or overweight.

Deputy Crowe continued: “According to Dr Donal O’Shea, a consultant endocrinologist at St Columcille’s Hospital in Dublin, 20% of Irish children are obese or overweight and we will face a US style epidemic if the Government does not act immediately.

“Parents must do everything possible to ensure their children are not putting their health at risk through poor diets and lack of exercise.

“There are numerous barriers preventing children from adopting healthy lifestyles and the importance of having a balanced diet and regular exercise cannot be overstated. Schools and Third Level Institutions need to be proactive on this matter and introduce measures such as banning soft drink dispensing machines and junk food on their campuses.

“To compound matters further, television and other mass media advertising of unhealthy sugar rich foods and drinks can adversely influence children and young people when making lifestyle choices. It is our view that this type of advertising needs to be limited and regulated in a way similar to the promotion of alcohol and tobacco products.

“Greater focus needs to be placed in encouraging sports and after hours activities in schools and this must be combined with healthy eating programmes so that children are at least able to eat one health meal per day.

“In the North of Ireland, my party colleague Caitríona Ruane, in her role as Education Minister, funded the GAA and IFI for coaching programmes that were delivered to 33,000 children in 551 primary schools. These type of schemes can go some way to addressing the rising levels of obesity in children and should be an integral part of the school curriculum.

“Sinn Féin shares the concerns of health professionals and health user groups about the increasing prevalence of obesity in children and young people. We believe that there is a need for an All-Ireland Taskforce to implement an effective and comprehensive strategy to deal with this increasing health problem and the education of our young people can make a real difference.” ENDS

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’ Neill MLA, has said that the one-stop-shop for farmers, DARD Direct, was proving a great success.

The Minister was speaking at her recent visit to the DARD Direct Office in Thomas Street, Dungannon. DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) Direct
offers farmers the opportunity to access the Department’s farm business services in one place and provides a greater choice in how business is conducted.

The DARD Direct, Dungannon Office is one of 12 planned DARD Direct offices which offer a one-stop-shop service for DARD’s customers.

The Minister said: “Key to the success of DARD Direct is the establishment and development of a unified approach with admin and technical staff working in

partnership to meet customer needs. This is supported by the refurbishment of customer-facing facilities to support farm businesses accessing the services they require.”

The Minister added: “I am aware that through the recent Single Farm Payment process over 1,000 customers accessed advice and support through the Dungannon office which is just one example of how DARD Direct is delivering, and will continue to deliver real benefits for farmers and rural dwellers across the north.”


The roll out of the DARD Direct Office network has been ongoing since 2006 and to date 6 offices have been completed. The most recent additions are in Downpatrick and Mallusk and a new office will also open in Magherafelt shortly. It is planned to complete 2 further offices in this year.

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Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


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Gerry Adams at Hungerstrike rally in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh