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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

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



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson and Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said there is “anger again across Co. Monaghan” that yet another roadside birth has taken place, minutes from Monaghan General Hospital but miles from Cavan General Hospital, the only maternity services provided by the Department of Health and the HSE in Counties Monaghan and Cavan.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Last Thursday, Holy Thursday, a little girl was born in a car that had to pull in at the side of the road at Smithboro while en route to Cavan General Hospital. A very short labour saw the birth of a baby girl.

“Her brother assisted the woman to safely deliver her little girl, her second child. The family speak highly of the ambulance crew who arrived within ten minutes of being summoned and praise the care provided to mother and baby in Cavan General Hospital. But the family are furious that the pregnant woman was placed in this situation by the closure of Maternity services at Monaghan General Hospital back in 2001.

“I was contacted by the family on Good Friday and asked to highlight this latest roadside birth in Co. Monaghan.

“There is considerable anger that yet another almost full-term young woman in Co. Monaghan was forced to attempt the long and difficult journey to Cavan.

“The mother lives some ten to twelve minutes drive from Monaghan General Hospital, yet she was obliged to face the fifty minute plus journey to Cavan General Hospital. Thankfully on this occasion both mother and baby are well. It has not always been this fortunate. It is simply not good enough that there is no service or assistance available, in appropriate conditions, particularly when a baby is already on the way, at Monaghan General Hospital.

“We have now had a full decade of women being turned away from Monaghan Hospital, a once proud General Hospital facility, including excellent maternity services. It is long past time that this service, and others removed over the years, were restored to Monaghan Hospital.

“I urge all Co. Monaghan citizens to write to public representatives and to the new Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, urging the restoration of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to Monaghan Hospital and as an interim measure, to allow for the presentation of women in labour to Monaghan Hospital rather than face the prospect of a roadside birth with all the risks that that entails.”

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Speaking as he attended the three national teachers’unions conferences, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe has hit out at Minister Ruairí Quinn’s refusal to reverse the cuts that have been a millstone around the neck of the education system.

Deputy Crowe said that education cuts hurt disadvantaged children hardest and urged the Minister to bear this in mind when engaging in his proposed spending review.

Deputy Crowe said:

“As an opposition party spokesperson on Education Minister Ruairí Quinn correctly pointed to the fact that the education sector cannot take any further cuts. He correctly stated that the cap that has been placed on the number of Special Needs Assistants will mean that children with Special Educational Needs will not receive the help they deserve in order to see them through their education.

“The Minister was very right in his assessment back then but what he is doing now is very wrong. He has refused to reverse any of the previous budget cuts brought about by the previous Fianna Fáil government, he has said that he will not lift the cap on Special Needs Assistants and is currently examining ways to further cut resources from the education sector.

“Education cuts hurt disadvantaged children the hardest – those with special needs, those from disadvantaged communities, those who are new to the country. The Minister knows this and I would urge him to bear this in mind when engaging in his proposed spending review.

“Of course savings must be made in the public sector and of course wasteful spending must be tackled but this has to start at the top – by cutting TDs’ and Senators’ wages, by ending the culture of bonuses and obscene salaries in the state and semi-state sector, by asking those who have most to pay most.

“The education of our children and providing for disadvantaged children from all communities must not come second to paying off private bank debt and servicing the EU and IMF”.

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Responding to reports that Labour Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is to introduce new rules where people on unemployment benefits will face financial penalties if they fail to take up offers of training or education, Sinn Féin Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh accused the Labour Party of engaging in yet another u-turn which will further impoverish struggling families.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The Labour Party is committing yet another u-turn as Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is lauding the introduction of measures that she herself voted against one year ago.

“The Bill which provided for the reduction of job seekers payments was opposed at the time by both my own and the current government parties.

“The Labour Party's then spokesperson Roisín Shorthall agreed with my objections and stated that the proposed system whereby a job seekers payment can be cut or withdrawn if they fail to take up what is deemed by an official to be a 'reasonable offer' is "wide open to abuse".

“Our objections focused on the fact that the cost of participation in education and training was ignored by the proposal. For example a job seeker with young children may have no choice but to turn down a number of educational opportunities because they cannot afford the cost of childcare that would be required to attend. It would be outrageous to further impoverish such a family by reducing their social welfare payment.

“The Minister is making this proposal without a cursory glance as to how this might affect job seekers, in particular families who are already trying to cope with rising costs and government cuts. The reality is that there are few supports available.

“If this Government is serious about getting people off the dole and into work they must first and foremost create the jobs. All the requisite supports to participate in education and training must also be brought on stream.

“People do not want to be on the dole. They want to work. Punishing unemployed people for the sins of the banks is not acceptable and I am urging the Labour Party to stop this flawed proposal in its tracks.”

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Sinn Féin Assembly Candidate for South Antrim Mitchel McLaughlin has said that Sinn Féin in government has delivered on its pledge to block water charges and will continue to do in the new Assembly and Executive.

Mr McLaughlin said

“In our 2007 manifesto Sinn Féin promised to block the introduction of water charges for households and that is exactly what we did. In this year’s Assembly manifesto we pledge to do the same again and commit to do this whilst other parties try to soften up householders for the introduction of water charges and privatisation of this vital service.

“Just because a handful of economists believe that water charges should be introduced based on the amount of revenue it would generate for government does not make it right nor does it justify the pressures that would be put on struggling households as a result.

“The Alliance Party is in full support of water charges. The SDLP want to mutualise NI Water and bring in water charges by the back door. People should not be fooled by this. They should look at the example of Welsh Water, which is a mutualised company, and charge customers £411 annually which is actually higher than the average charges for privatised companies over in Britain! The SDLP’s proposals will inevitably lead to water charges and that is why Sinn Féin will block any such proposals at the Executive.

“People already pay for their water through their rates and any double taxation proposals from other parties are totally unjust no matter how they dress them up. Many households are already struggling to deal with rising fuel costs, rising food costs, negative equity on their homes and unsympathetic banks. Water charges should not be added to that list and Sinn Féin is the only major party who is opposed outright to their introduction.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster Martin McGuinness today addressed the Easter commemoration the Loup in County Derry.

Below is the full text of Mr McGuinness speech.

Easter week 1916 was one of the greatest historical events of the last century.  It started the bush fire of decolonisation, which was to engulf what, was the then British Empire.  It inspired generations of Irish Republicans and peoples throughout the world who rose up against the tyranny of colonial rule, imperialism and oppression.  It is a fire still burning in the heart of every Irish republican. 

This is also the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike of 1981. Our comrades who gave their lives and those of us who survived to take up their mantle were and are about bringing about achieving a free independent and united Ireland based on equality for all those living on this island.

Let there be no doubt about it. We are for the removal of partition, the end of British jurisdiction in Ireland and the reunification of our nation and, in the words of Pádraic Pearse, the people are the nation.

It is fitting, therefore, poignant that we stand at the graveside of Seán Larkin of County Derry. He was one of the first victims of partition rule in our country, one of the 77 republican prisoners of war executed by the Free State government during the Civil War, one of over 100 who were killed in prisons and on roadsides after capture by Free State forces.

Consider the plight of Seán Larkin. A native of County Derry, he saw his country divided by the British government. He saw the province of Ulster cut in pieces and Derry divided from Donegal. But worse than this, he saw a Treaty signed by Irish representatives in London which agreed to the partition of Ireland and then established a Government in Dublin which made war on republicans at Britain’s behest.

Seán rejected the Treaty and stood by the Irish Republic. He came to Donegal and found a welcome among the republicans of that County before his capture and execution at Drumboe on 14 March 1923. Executed with him on that day were his comrades of County Kerry – Charlie Daly, Daniel Enright and Timothy O’Sullivan. Republican soldiers in Kerry, they came North to stand with the people of the Six Counties during the reign of terror imposed on them as the Orange regime, hand in glove with the British government, established the Northern state, the Orange State. How tragic it was that these IRA Volunteers from Derry and Kerry who symbolised the unity of Ireland should die at the hands of an Irish Government.

Today is not a day for high politics. Today is a day when we have the opportunity to pay tribute to our fallen comrades and extend ongoing solidarity to their families and friends.

We remember with pride the fallen County Derry IRA Volunteers of the present phase of the struggle for freedom and we extend our continuing sympathy and solidarity to the families of Volunteers Martin Lee, John Bateson, James Sheridan, Francis Hughes, Thomas McElwee, Danny McMullen, Antoine Mac Giolla Bhrighde, Francis Bradley and James Kelly.

We remember all republicans who have died and who gave service in the current phase of the Irish people’s long struggle for national self-determination. And we remember all who have died in the tragic conflict in our country and sympathise with all who were bereaved.

The IRA fought a long guerrilla war in these hills and in towns and cities and villages across the north for over 30 years. The IRA forced the British government to the negotiating table. But the IRA were not war mongerers. They were a revolutionary force who when an opportunity to advance the struggle for Irish unity through peaceful means was established it removed itself from the political equation.

The IRA by its nature was of the people and for the people. It could not have survived and fought the British state the way it did if it was small and unrepresentative. People should be under no illusion, the small factions currently engaging in armed actions are not the IRA and they are not advancing national and democratic objectives by their activities.

Irish people are united in support of the Good Friday, St. Andrews and Hillsborough agreements, attempting to overturn the will of the Irish people is not only futile it is stupid and selfish. Ireland can now only be reunited by the further development and outworking of the power sharing and all-Ireland institutions which were endorsed by the Irish people in the referendum in 1998. No act of violence will advance the cause of reunification by one millimetre. It is patently not possible to advance towards Irish reunification by any means other than peaceful and democratic processes. Those who believe that Ireland can be reunited without the support of the Irish people are living in a fool’s paradise.

The recent election results in the 26 counties show an all-Ireland and united Ireland political strategy in action. Sinn Féin have made the breakthrough in the South. It didn’t happen by accident. It happened because republicans faced harsh realities, rebuilt after previous disappointments and pressed ahead with the struggle. We did not become deflected by the media spin, we did not allow our opponents in the media and elsewhere who sought to undermine our electoral project in the south at every turn to gain the upper hand. Our people stuck to their task, done the hard work and got the result, and I pay tribute to each and every person who stood for Sinn Féin, worked for Sinn Féin or voted for Sinn Féin in that election – you are all agents of change.

When our 14 TDs joined with our 26 MLAs and our MEP recently at Stormont, a powerful and irrefutable symbol of Leadership across Ireland and of a project advancing was clear for all to see. However on its own it is not enough. We need to build the party in every parish in Ireland. People need to come forward and join Sinn Fein – people who were involved in the past, those who help out at election time, ex POWs, republican families, young people – we need everyone involved. As we drive forward towards the Republic people need to continue to make a stand.

In the north we have led in government.  Four years ago we offered the people a choice. We asked the electorate to vote for real change, to vote for positive leadership. We promised to promote equality, to deliver stable and inclusive power-sharing government in the north, to bring about the transfer of policing and justice powers, and to advance towards Irish unity and national reconciliation. We delivered.

On May 5th, the anniversary of the death of IRA Vol. Bobby Sands, citizens in the six counties will go to the polls in the Assembly election. We want to build on the momentum of our success in the 26 counties. That means an all-Ireland effort. It means activists from every county in Ireland playing their own part in this campaign. It means continuing the process of change. The future lies in Irish unity and national equality.

I am asking the electorate to speak loudly on May 5th, to come out in large numbers and in doing do take this opportunity to make it clear that the Irish people have a vision for a better future.

Sinn Féin has become the largest political party in the North.  We became the 3rd largest party in Ireland.  We are the only all-Ireland party.  Republicans have the capability of achieving a united Ireland and we are constantly building the capacity to achieve that goal.

We will only do that by leading with courage and imagination, by taking initiatives and above all by hard work.  More and more people in Ireland North and South are joining us and looking to us for leadership.  It has been the Republican ability to face each new situation, each new obstacle to overcome, in an open and imaginative way which has proven the versatility and ability of the Republican activist.  There is no lack of work in this struggle and make no mistake the work that republicans put into this struggle is the envy of political struggles the world over.

Sinn Féin believes in people.  Sinn Fein believes in empowering people, in working in partnership with local communities to tackle problems and map out new policies.

Sinn Féin is a republican party.  We are the only All-Ireland party.  Our goal is to see a United Ireland, which delivers real social and economic change.  We are the only party with a strategy and policies for achieving Irish unity and independence.  An All Ireland democracy.  An Ireland of equals

We will never again accept the status of second-class citizens.  Neither will we ever impose second-class citizenship upon anyone else.  

However, in this process we also have to remember that for many unionists the change we have embarked upon is a terrifying prospect.  Change is always difficult.  When taken in the context of a conflict resolution process, change can be traumatic.  And this can be made even more difficult when there are those, both within sections of unionism and within the British political and military establishment who still want to hold on to the old ways.  

Our goal as Irish republicans is an Irish unity that is inclusive, that unionists will feel welcome in, that they are a part of.

There is much work to do.  But we believe that we are in the countdown to a united Ireland.  We believe that together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever.

We are all on the journey.  It is always easier to begin a journey.  The hard thing is to end it.

Sinn Féin is in this process to the end.  We want the British government and the Irish government and the unionists to work with us and to finish the work we have all started.  The length of the journey can be shortened and the ups and downs on the road can be smoothed out if we go at it collectively.  If we do it together.

All of you here today are part of the fastest growing party in Ireland.  Whether it is here in South Derry, or in Derry or Upper Bann, or North Antrim or Wexford, or Dublin or Belfast, or South Armagh, or Cork it is clear that Sinn Féin is winning more and more hearts and minds right across the island.  Everyday there are more and more Irish republicans.  We are building our political strength. 

 Republicans are not chained by history. We learn from it and use it.

We face difficult challenges ahead but also with great opportunities.  We stand on the threshold of great change.  Previous generations have struggled for a united Ireland.  It is, however, our generation who will achieve that goal.  So go out and do what we do best.

Bígí cinnte go dtiocfaidh ar lá

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Speaking at Sinn Féin’s main Easter Commemoration in Dublin this afternoon the Party’s Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD accused the political establishment in this State of trampling on the 1916 Proclamation.

Ms McDonald said:

“That Proclamation asserted the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland.

“Never was it more necessary to assert that right than it is today because the political Establishment in this State have trampled on the 1916 Proclamation.

“They have wrecked the Irish economy and sold what remains of our economic sovereignty to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

“They have bowed the knee to international bankers and capitalists, to the IMF, the ECB and the EU Commission.

“The Golden Circle of politicians, bankers and developers have virtually destroyed the Irish economy – and they were bank-rolled by the same international bankers and capitalists and approved by the IMF, the ECB and the EU Commission.

“They committed these crimes against our economy but they want us, the Irish people, to pay the price.

“Well, our answer to them is ‘No!’  ‘No’ to the surrender of our sovereignty. ‘No’ to the IMF/EU deal. ‘No’ to the attacks on the pay of low to middle income workers. ‘No’ to savage cuts to health and education and social welfare.

“The political Establishment wants to tear apart the very fabric of our society and our economy in order to pay back the international speculators and money-lenders who gambled on the property bubble in this State.

“Sinn Féin stands with communities across this city and this country who are experiencing these attacks. We are campaigning for a reversal of the disastrous economic strategy begun by Fianna Fáil and the Greens and now continued by Fine Gael and the Labour Party.” ENDS

Full text of Deputy McDonald's speech follows:

Comóradh na Cásca 2011 Baile Átha Cliath

Mary Lou McDonald TD

·      Tagaimíd go dtí an áit stairiúil seo, Ard Oifig an Phoist, chun cuimhniú ar Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916 agus chun omós a thabhairt dóibh siúd a fuair bás ar son na Poblachta.  

·      Táimíd bródúil as na daoine sin uile, ach go háirithe iad siúd as Baile Átha Cliath.

·      Irish Republicans gather here today, Easter 2011, at the historic GPO to remember with great pride all those who died in the cause of the Irish Republic.

·      We take special pride in the memory of the Republicans of Dublin who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom.

·      We make no distinction between the Republicans who died in 1916 and those who died in the struggle of our own time.

·      This year marks the 95th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the 1916 Easter Rising.

·      We honour the brave men and women, boys and girls who challenged the British Empire and asserted the right of the people of Ireland to national self-determination.

·      Dublin is a great city and it’s great to be a Dub – in football, in hurling and in Irish Republicanism!

·       This is the city that fought an Empire. This is the city where the Volunteers of Óglaigh na hÉireann and the Irish Citizen Army lit a beacon in 1916, a beacon that inspired freedom-loving people across the globe.

·      Without question, our forebears, the soldiers of the Irish Republic, hastened the end of Empire.

·      The Proclamation read by Pádraig Mac Piarais on this very spot 95 years ago set the agenda for the Irish people.

·      That Proclamation asserted the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland.

·      Never was it more necessary to assert that right than it is today because the political Establishment in this State have trampled on the 1916 Proclamation.

·      They have wrecked the Irish economy and sold what remains of our economic sovereignty to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

·      They have bowed the knee to international bankers and capitalists, to the IMF, the ECB and the EU Commission.

·      The Golden Circle of politicians, bankers and developers have virtually destroyed the Irish economy – and they were bank-rolled by the same international bankers and capitalists and approved by the IMF, the ECB and the EU Commission.

·      They committed these crimes against our economy but they want us, the Irish people, to pay the price.

·      Well, our answer to them is ‘No!’  ‘No’ to the surrender of our sovereignty. ‘No’ to the IMF/EU deal. ‘No’ to the attacks on the pay of low to middle income workers. ‘No’ to savage cuts to health and education and social welfare.

·      The political Establishment wants to tear apart the very fabric of our society and our economy in order to pay back the international speculators and money-lenders who gambled on the property bubble in this State.

·      Sinn Féin stands with communities across this city and this country who are experiencing these attacks. We are campaigning for a reversal of the disastrous economic strategy begun by Fianna Fáil and the Greens and now continued by Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

·      We are campaigning for a real way forward out of this economic crisis, a republican way forward, based on the rights of our people.

·      It is entirely fitting that the political Establishment that has bowed the knee to the IMF/ECB is the same Establishment that is now preparing to bow the knee to the English queen when she comes here next month. Sinn Féin is opposed to that visit and we will demonstrate our opposition with organized events here in our capital city.

·      Our events will be peaceful and democratic. They will make clear our opposition to a visit that is inappropriate, ill-timed and premature. There can never be normal relations between the Irish people and the British head of state while our country remains partitioned.

·      I also want to support the call of Justice for the Forgotten for the British government to release for international, independent scrutiny all the relevant files in their possession on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974. If that is not done before the arrival of the English queen on that very anniversary then insult will be added to injury.

·      I said at the start that it’s great to be a Dub. Let me add that it’s great to be one of four Sinn Féin TDs for Dublin and one of 14 in this State.

·      I want to thank the great people of this city for electing Seán Crowe TD, Dessie Ellis TD, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and myself on 25th February.

·      It was a magnificent result for Sinn Féin in Dublin. It’s still hard to believe the score for this city: Sinn Féin 4 – Fianna Fáil 1.

·      I commend all those who have worked so hard for Sinn Féin in this city not only in the past year, but over many years, to achieve renewed and increased political strength.

·      We are determined now to use our political strength to provide radical and principled leadership for the people of Dublin and for the Irish people as a whole and to advance, with them, towards a New Republic on this island.

·      We have made tremendous progress. The North of Ireland has been transformed almost beyond recognition. What has brought this about?

·      The Republican peace strategy, the Peace Process, the agreements negotiated by Sinn Féin, the partnership administration in which we share power with Unionists, the all-Ireland structures on which we insisted – all these have transformed the Six Counties for the better.

·      The days of one-party rule, British direct rule and second-class citizenship for nationalists are over. Policing has had a new beginning. There has been demilitarization. The status of the Irish language has been enhanced.

·      But much, much more remains to be done; above all we have to re-unite our country and our people, to end partition and to start building a New Republic for the 21st century.

·      That’s the spirit in which Sinn Féin is fighting the Assembly and local elections in the Six Counties. The election campaign needs to be an all-Ireland effort and I would encourage people to play their part in those elections.

·      Polling day in the Six Counties is a day of historic resonance for Irish Republicans – 5 May. On that day Bobby Sands died on hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

·      We remember Bobby, Frank, Ray, Patsy, Joe, Martin, Kieran, Kevin, Tom and Mickey. Ba laochra iad uile agus ní dheánfaimíd dearmad orthu go deo.

·      The best way to honour their memory is to continue our work to achieve the New Ireland, the All-Ireland Republic for which they and so many others gave their lives.

·      I urge people to become involved. Join Sinn Féin. Become active in your community, in your trade union, in your workplace, in your college. Join us on this historic journey and bring others with you. In the words of James Connolly in 1916: “Never had man or woman a grander cause; never was a cause more grandly served.”

·      And in the words of the song: “This land is our land”. Let’s take it back!


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Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams today spoke at republican commemorations in Drogheda and Dundalk.

The Sinn Féin leader said that the leaders of 1916 would be appalled by the policies of this and previous Dublin governments:

“Never was there greater need for republican politics on this island than today. The republic which was proclaimed in 1916 has been set aside by those in the political establishment, and the limited freedom won after the Rising has been squandered.

Imagine what James Connolly would say were he to visit the Louth County Hospital or the A&E at Drogheda?

What would he say about elderly hospital patients stuck on trolleys for days?

What would his response be to the half a million people unemployed across this state? Or to the Universal Social Charge?

What would he say about the way working people are being treated while big bankers are paid millions?

We can imagine Pearse’s response to the sell-off of our natural resources.

We can say with certainty that the men and women of 1916 would not be part of the golden circle of greedy financiers and developers and corrupt politicians who have practically bankrupted the state.

In the north, Sinn Fein is fighting hard to secure fiscal powers from London, while in this state this government and its predecessor have given away our economic sovereignty.”

Gerry Adams said “In their time the leaders of the Rising warned against partition and its divisive and debilitating potential.

Connolly predicted it would cause a carnival of reaction. He was right. Partition is uneconomic and inhibits Ireland’s potential for economic growth. People here in County Louth and in other border counties know this.

The commemoration of the Rising and the run into the centenary anniversary needs to become a rallying point for Irish citizens to stand up for our rights.

The usurpation of citizen’s rights and the continued power of social and economic elites could not happen in a real republic.

Apart from the indomitable spirit of the people, and the resilience of communities,  there is nothing in this state today which bears any resemblance to the republic proclaimed in 1916.

The establishment parties – Fine Gael, Fine Fáil, the Labour leadership pay lip service to the republic.

The new government is only in power for 7 weeks but yet already the Labour party leadership that is part of that Fine Gael government has shed what remained of its radical politics.

And for its part Fine Gael has u-turned on its pledges and is now implementing a Fianna Fáil manifesto.

They will continue to do this until and unless a real alternative is created.”

Gerry Adams said Irish unity “makes political and economic sense” and he said that “an important element of the struggle has to be about persuading unionists that their future and that of their children, lies with the rest of us on this island.

This won’t be easy, but already there is a recognition by the business community of the economic sense of an all-island economy, or joined up health services or agriculture.

There is a logic to greater and closer co-operation between north and south. So, let us use our collective imagination and our political strength in the first instance to eraze the border. Let us make it irrelevant.

Let us demonstrate in practical ways, no matter how small, that Irish people organised and working together, can overcome any obstacle, and build a new and better society, based on equality, that works for everyone. And let us do it in our time.

Our aim is to build Sinn Féin in every community on this island and to make republicanism relevant to people in their daily lives.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein Assembly Candidate for West Belfast, Jennifer McCann, has hit out at the latest price hike of 40 per cent by Phoenix Gas stating:

"Once again we are seeing a huge rise in gas prices locally.  Only last Friday  I attended an event organised by the Fuel Poverty Coalition which highlighted that stark fact that almost half the households in the north of Ireland are already living in fuel poverty. 

“This included 76 per cent of people over the age of 75 years and 90 per cent of cancer patients who cannot afford to heat their homes.  The harsh reality is that there is in excess of 1,000 deaths per year in the north of Ireland alone due to fuel poverty.

“While many people still rely on oil for heat there are an increasing number of people, particularly in social housing, that now use gas.  This 40 per cent hike by Phoenix Gas will have a major impact on the weekly household budget and will effect those who are already struggling due to low incomes and cuts in welfare benefits.

“I would strongly urge the Utility Regulator and Phoenix Gas to review this decision. I will also be pressing for, in the new mandate, that the Executive set up a Cross Departmental Ministerial Taskforce to prioritise and tackle the issue of fuel poverty as it is disgraceful that anyone should be dying because the cannot afford to heat their homes." 

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Speaking this evening while questioning the Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore on the issue of Palestine, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Pádraig MacLochlainn said that in light of the Israeli attacks on Gaza last week, “Ireland must unequivocally condemn Israel’s outrageous and illegal activity which the world continues to ignore” , and asked the Minister to visit the region immediately to observe the effects of the attack and of the on- going siege on the lives of civilians there.

Deputy MacLochlainn said:

“I was scheduled to visit Gaza as part of an International Parliamentarian mission this month; however, it was cancelled as a result of safety conditions deteriorating and an escalation in attacks and bombings. This speaks for itself in how the situation in the region has deteriorated even further, a region which is being described as an ‘open- air prison’

“I have appealed to the Tánaiste to give a commitment to visit Gaza as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs to witness the effects of Israel’s outrageous on-going illegal activity which the world continues to ignore. Activity including the on-going blockade, Israeli attacks and bombings on Gaza and the continuation of building of illegal Israeli settlements.

“Over fifty Palestinians have been killed by Israel in Gaza this year; over 170 since Operation Cast Lead which ended in January 2008. Not to mention hundreds of Palestinians killed during that operation. These actions must be called what they are, reprehensible and illegal. This Government should take a stand and clearly condemn Israel for them immediately.“ ENDS

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Demand for Israeli ambassador to Ireland to be expelled reiterated


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Michael Colreavy TD & Cllr Darren O'Rourke