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Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty today said the irony of DUP MPs Nigel Dodds and Ian Paisley Óg standing up in the British House of Commons demanding that Gerry Adams remains as an MP is not lost on anybody.

Mr Doherty said:

“It was ironic that over the course of the last number of days DUP MPs Ian Paisley Óg and Nigel Dodds have been using up their Commons time demanding that Gerry Adams remains as an abstentionist MP.

“People watching DUP U-turns since the days of ‘Smash Sinn Féin’ through outright opposition to the Good Friday Agreement before operating it, or Nigel Dodds waiting political lifetimes to transfer Policing and Justice powers may not be totally surprised by their new found desire to see Sinn Féin MPs keep seats in Westminster but nevertheless I am sure plenty of their party grassroots will be surprised by the latest DUP policy.

“But it says much about the role of local MPs at Westminster when at a time when people are struggling with the implementation of the Tory cuts the DUP priority is defending some outdated constitutional nicety rather than defending public services or the jobs of frontline workers.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has criticised the new Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin for refusing to engage in an inclusive debate with all party leaders during the upcoming election campaign.

Speaking this evening Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Here we have a new leader of Fianna Fáil but in one of his first announcements as party leader he has refused to engage in a fully inclusive debate with all party leaders during the upcoming election campaign.

“Once again we have a Fianna Fáil leader engaged in the politics of exclusion and only willing to debate with parties from the consensus for cuts.

“Unfortunately Fianna Fáil’s new leader has started off with more of the same. Ahern, Cowen, Martin – will it ever change?” ENDS

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Reacting to the news that the iconic Gallagher’s Bakery in Ardara is to shed 124 jobs, Donegal Sinn Féin TD has said that urgent action needs to be taken, even in this late stage to save as many jobs as possible.

Doherty said that this will be a devastating blow, not just to the families of the bakery workers, but it will also have a knock-on affect on the whole community, with many other service-providers connected to the bakery to be affected.

Doherty said:

“My first thoughts are with the families of the workers in Gallagher’s Bakery. This news will be devastating for them, especially given the current climate.

“Gallagher’s is a home grown business which provides much valuable employment to Ardara and surrounding areas. This news will come as a devastating blow, not just to the families of the bakery workers, but it will also have a knock-on affect on the whole community, with many other service-providers connected to the bakery to be affected.

“Donegal is haemorrhaging jobs left, right and centre. We have over 21,000 people unemployed. We cannot underestimate that damage that this is doing to us as a county with many of our young people expected to emigrate this year.

“We need action and I am urging the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Údarás na Gaeltachta to urgently intervene to save as many jobs as possible.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe today attended a crisis meeting with Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment as part of a constituency delegation of politicians to discuss the threat to 75 jobs in the West Tallaght area.

The jobs are part of the Jobs Initiative and the Community Employment Scheme and were under threat this week after FÁS threatened to withdraw funding and support the scheme.

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Crowe said:

“We have been told that the jobs have been secured as Minister Ó Cuiv informed us that there is a new sponsor available for the Jobs Initiative and Community Employment workers. I welcome that news from the Minister.

“These jobs are crucial not just to the people employed but also to the local community which depends so much on their vital work.

“Tallaght is one of the Country’s worst unemployment black-spots and I have been calling on successive Ministers to bring forward a strategy to retain and create jobs in this area and its hinterland.

“I reiterate that call today.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast Gerry Kelly has commented after a Party delegation met with Belfast Town Planners in relation to controversial proposals for development at Nelson Street in the City.

Mr Kelly said;

“Objections from Sinn Féin and local residents ensured that this planning application for 238 private apartments on a site that was zoned for social housing has been blocked.

The waiting list for social housing within Nationalist north Belfast remains at over 80% - this is simply unacceptable.

However we have serious concerns that this application could again return to the Council's Planning Committee. We were also concerned about the fact that this application was able to proceed despite those clear objections and took the opportunity today to raise our concerns directly with the Chief Planner.

We also expressed concerns given the fact that two investigations are currently ongoing in relation to this site; an internal one by the Housing executive but also one being carried out by the PSNI.

We asked the planners directly if they had contacted the PSNI in relation to the application, they told us they had and that the Police had not responded.We have sought meetings with the PSNI and Housing Eexcutive to raise these matters further.

Obviously many questions remain unanswered in relation to this site; for our part Sinn Féin will continue to support the legitimate demands of the community for this site to be used for much needed social housing provision.” CRÍOCH

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Commenting after today’s vote on the Finance Bill, Sinn Féin’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said, tragically it was politics as usual as evidenced by the Independent’s guessing game of which way the would vote, and the eventual passing of the Finance Bill.

He said:

“Fine Gael and Labour side-stepped and double talked and confused even themselves – trying to pass off their support for the Finance Bill as a protest vote.

“Then the Independents joined the fray – shadow boxing with tough talk and veiled threats - and getting the high media coverage they craved.

“The passing of the Finance Bill is not in the national interest - the bill is in the interest of the IMF and EU who have come to Ireland and are dictating our sovereign fiscal matters. The loan which the bill is tied to is not to pay public servants’ wages as the Labour party falsely claims - it is to pay out to international bank bondholders, bondholders who took a risk in our risky banks and now, to the incredulity of the whole world, are receiving a full bail out with the aid of the EU/IMF, the Irish taxpayers, FF, FG, the Greens and the Labour party, rather than taking their market losses.

“It is bank debt, not sovereign debt. Eamonn Gilmore in facilitating the passage of the Finance Bill is guilty of the very thing he accuses the Taoiseach of - economic treason.

“It is outrageous how the pantomime involving three TDs and the question of which way they would vote was played out. This kind of charade of politics has become so tragically predictable.

“A cosy last minute talk with the Finance Minister, Brian Lennihan saved the day - in the ‘national interest’, of course. But the Irish people know the real reason for their acquiescence. It’s all about saving their seats. Politics as usual.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commenting on a claim by British PM David Cameron that he has accepted a post as “Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’ said:

“The only contact I have had with the British Parliament is a letter I posted to them last Thursday.

“That letter said, ‘A chara, I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat. Gerry Adams’.

“When I was told of the British Prime Minister’s remarks today this was the first I heard of this development. I understand Mr. Cameron has claimed that ‘the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown.’

“This is untrue. I simply resigned. I was not consulted nor was I asked to accept such an office. I am an Irish republican. I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system.

“I am proud to have represented the people of west Belfast for almost three decades and to have done so without pledging allegiance to the English Queen or accepting British parliamentary claims to jurisdiction in my country.

“It was a wrench for me to give up the West Belfast seat. I am very grateful to all those citizens who worked and voted for Sinn Fein through good times and bad times in defiance of the British government and its allies in Ireland. But I gave a commitment that when the election to the Dáil was called I would resign the West Belfast seat to stand for the Louth and East Meath constituency and I have.

“Mr. Cameron’s announcement that I have become Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, wherever that is, is a bizarre development . I am sure the burghers of that Manor are as bemused as me. I have spoken to the Prime Ministers Private Secretary today and he has apologised for today’s events.

“While I respect the right of British parliamentarians to have their own protocols and systems, no matter how odd these may appear to the rest of the world in general and Irish people in particular, the Prime Minister should not make claims which are untrue and inaccurate. The onus is on the Westminster parties to call a bi-election as soon as possible in the West Belfast constituency. In the meantime let me assure the people of West Belfast that the Sinn Fein party will continue to provide our first class constituency service and representation.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commenting on a claim by British PM David Cameron that he has accepted a post as “Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’ said.


Mr. Adams said:


“The only contact I have had with the British Parliament is a letter I posted to them last Thursday.


That letter said:

“A chara, I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat. Gerry Adams”


When I was told of the British Prime Minister’s remarks today this was the first I heard of this development. I understand Mr. Cameron has claimed that ‘ the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown."


This is untrue. I simply resigned. I was not consulted nor was I asked to accept such an office. I am an Irish republican. I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system.


I am proud to have represented the people of west Belfast for almost three decades and to have done so without pledging allegiance to the English Queen or accepting British parliamentary claims to jurisdiction in my country.


It was a wrench for me to give up the West Belfast seat. I am very grateful to all those citizens who worked and voted for Sinn Fein through good times and bad times in defiance of the British government and its allies in Ireland. But I gave a commitment that when the election to the Dáil was called I would resign the West Belfast seat to stand for the Louth and East Meath constituency and I have.


Mr. Cameron’s announcement that I have become Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, wherever that is, is a bizarre development . I am sure the burghers of that Manor are as bemused as me. I have spoken to the Prime Ministers Private Secretary today and he has apologised for today’s events.


While I respect the right of British parliamentarians to have their own protocols and systems, no matter how odd these may appear to the rest of the world in general and Irish people in particular, the Prime Minister should not make claims which are untrue and inaccurate. The onus is on the Westminster parties to call a bi-election as soon as possible in the West Belfast constituency. In the meantime let me assure the people of West Belfast that the Sinn Fein party will continue to provide our first class constituency service and representation.”

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Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty described the Finance Bill as the depressing end-product of a government whose political career spans some of the most disastrous economic policies ever witnessed.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The politics that created the current economic mess cannot bring us out of it. That politics is the politics of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – it is the politics of cronyism and inequality- it is politics that believes in dismantling public services, cutting incomes, socialising debt and privatising profit, and deflating the economy.

“This is not a Finance Bill, it is the depressing end-product of a government whose political career spans some of the most disastrous economic policies ever witnessed, not just in this State, but throughout he world.

“The Government have failed to protect the vulnerable and, most importantly, in terms of ensuring economic growth, they are penalising rather than rewarding working families.

“Even worse is that the hundreds of thousands of working families whose efforts drive this economy have all but been abandoned in this bill – they have been condemned to endure higher taxes and more stealth charges, all to fund the policies of failure.

“We, unlike Fianna Fáil, the Green party, Fine Gael and Labour, realise that you cannot reduce the deficit by adding to the dole queues; you cannot stimulate the domestic economy by cutting incomes; you cannot claim to represent the best interests of people by facilitating the passage of a savage Finance Bill.

“The charade this week by Fine Gael and Labour highlights their contempt for the people of this State. The Government is in minority. A motion of no confidence would have been the straw to break the camels back. We would have gotten the general election that the people of this State need. So, why the sense of urgency to push through the Finance Bill, when they are so opposed to it?

“It would be funny if the consequences were not so devastating.

“The people of this State want change. They don’t want tweedledee substituted for tweedledum. There is no room for this type of politics in Ireland anymore. We can't afford it.” ENDS

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North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has slammed those responsible for causing major disruption on the Antrim Road this evening following phone calls claiming that there is an unexploded bomb on the Antrim Road.

Speaking on the matter Mr Kelly said;

“I understand that the PSNI have received three calls, accompanied with a codeword, claiming that there is an unexploded bomb on the Antrim Road. The caller did not give any specific details, therefore it is difficult to know the location or if indeed is a bomb.

In the last call in 24 hours the caller claimed that the unexploded bomb was in a dangerous condition. If this is true the organisation responsible should give the specific location of this device so that people’s lives will not be in danger.

As it sits the Belfast Council Emergency Evacuation Team are being forced to evacuate a substantial numbers, perhaps hundreds, of people from their homes and business’.

The people involved have no support for any of these actions and I condemn it outright. They have put countless lives at risk by their reckless actions.”

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Speaking to the media today Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said there is a credible alternative to bailing our banks and burdening ordinary citizens and future generations with massive debt.

He said:

“There is a credible alternative. The money exists in the National Pension Reserve Fund and in Exchequer funding to fund the state for this year.

“The focus for the next twelve months must be on protecting and creating jobs, growing the economy through a stimulus package and returning to the bond markets in 2012 to negotiate funds at an acceptable rate.

“This means breaking the connection between the private bank debt and sovereign debt.

“It is unacceptable that every man, woman and child has been saddled with the banking debt.” ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris TD, has called on the Government to intervene in the ongoing impasse at Aer Lingus, to ensure that the company agrees to talks in order to resolve differences over new working arrangements.

Deputy Ferris said: “The situation regarding Aer Lingus cannot be allowed to continue. Members of the work force have in effect been locked out and many people have suffered severe inconvenience due to flight cancellations.

“This situation is of the company’s making. The cabin crew have already agreed to a pay cut, a reduction in holidays and other cost cutting measures. The changes which Aer Lingus are attempting to impose were not part of the agreement. Therefore the company should be compelled to enter into talks with the workers representatives and submit to arbitration through the Labour Court.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast and member of the Social Development Committee, Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the fact that the proposed development in Nelson Street by Big Picture Developments Ltd has been blocked by Belfast City Council however will be meeting with the planning authorities to seek clarity on media reports that planning permission had been granted .

Speaking earlier Ms Ní Chuilín said:

“There are mounting concerns amongst residents and community organisation surrounding the proposed building of over 230 apartments at Nelson Street in North Belfast.

“Last week, as the planning authorities put the proposal in front of Belfast City Council, the council saw fit, due to the high number of objections from residents, the Housing Executive and Sinn Féin to block the development yet only yesterday media reports had suggested that planning permission had been granted.

“Obviously this has caused upset to many who thought that the development would revert to the building of 66 family homes under the initial plan for social housing.

“Sinn Féin will be meeting with the planning authorities tomorrow in order to address these concerns. The fact that so many are against this development and are strongly behind keeping the spirit and make up of the local community intact cannot be ignored.

“I would hope that at tomorrows meeting many of the issues surrounding this controversial development can be cleared up.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for west Belfast Paul Maskey has said that this morning’s statement by the Social Development Minister is welcomed in that investigations are ongoing, but that a number of serious issues remain unanswered.

Speaking from the Assembly this morning Paul said;

“I welcome this investigation into governance arrangements at the Housing Executive; many of us have been raising concerns about this issue going back some considerable time. In fact I have tabled questions to this Minister and his predecessor since early 2009 in relation to both Housing Executive staff and their contractors within his own constituency of west Belfast.

The investigations, including that currently being carried out by the PSNI, into governance and other issues of concern at the Housing Executive are ongoing and we await their outcome with interest.

It is important to remember that the Housing Executive avail of a considerable amount of public monies and must be subjected to vigorous checks and balances.

The recent adverse weather highlighted further failings in the management processes within the Housing Executive. Both failure to act as well as a substantial breakdown in communication led to unprecedented disruption and distress to countless Housing Executive and Association tenants. We await a statement from the Minister in relation to this live and ongoing issue.” CRÍOCH

NOTES TO EDITORS: Questions submitted by both Paul Maskey MLA and Carál Ní Chuilín MLA in relation to their concerns about governance arrangements and practices within the Housing Executive and their subcontractors

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Sinn Féin MLA for west Belfast and member of the Health Committee at the Assembly, Sue Ramsey, has stated that damning report by IMAS which has only come to light is a clear indication that the Health Minister must now bring forward as a priority the Women and Children’s Hospital at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Speaking this morning Ms Ramsey said:

“The report by the IMAS into the state of care in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children is startling. It has stated the hospital is cramped, under staffed and falling below standards.

“In May of last year Gerry Adams made a statement saying clearly that many sections of the present Children’s Hospital and the Royal Maternity were very old and as a result there were problems with general maintenance and with space for patients and administration.

“This report by the IMAS reinforces that position.

“If anything this report highlights further the urgent action that needs to be taken by the Health Minster in bring forward and committing to the building of a new, purpose built Womens and Children hospital at this site.

“We were all reassured by Michael McGimpsey that a new state-of-the-art hospital would be built on the site. That was supposed to have been in the 2005-08 spending cycle. However, we are now very close to the 2008-11 spending cycle and not a penny has been allocated to the building project.

“The campaign which began in the 1990’s calling for the a new regional hospital for women and children at the Royal Hospital is now in its 17th year.  As pressure continues to grow on the current facilities and staff it is another indication of Michael McGimpsey's failure as the man in charge of our health system.”

Note to Editor:

Ms Ramsey MLA has today submitted an Urgent Oral Question for the Health Minister detailing the concerns on this issue which is listed below:

To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, given today’s media coverage on the leaked report into standards of care at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children suggesting that there may be a very real risk that children will come to harm, to outline the main recommendations in the report and may give an assurance to patients, parents and staff that the services are up to standard.

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Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey and spokesperson on higher education has called for the Education and Learning Minister, Danny Kennedy, to once and for all, rule out any increase in tuition fees.

Speaking today Ms Ramsey:

“Danny Kennedy has within his powers the  ability to decide on tuition fees. In the budget that was brought to the Executive there was no provision in the budget that would indicate an increase in tuition fees for students of third level education.

“However Danny Kennedy has not ruled an increase in fees out. He needs to this once and for all, and stop the passing of the buck. University students and those in the last years of school need clarity and certainty.

“Any increase at all will have a detrimental impact hitting those who can least afford it the most. It is totally unacceptable that the ability to pay for higher education has now become the benchmark for accessing educational opportunity.”

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Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty has claimed the SDLP are in ‘disarray’ when it comes to their approach to the upcoming General election in the south.


Mr Doherty said:


“Over the Christmas period the SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie returned from Westminster to tell us that she didn’t wish ‘to interfere in Irish politics’ when she was asked about her party approach to the General Election in the south. She then went on to urge voters not to support Sinn Féin. On Sunday on the Politics Show she claimed that Brian Cowen had performed well as the Finance Minister!! I would suggest she is in a minority of one with that view.


“Now we hear that the SDLP Minister Alex Attwood intends to canvass for the Labour Party in the upcoming election, the one which his leader doesn’t wish to ‘interfere’ in. No doubt those within the SDLP on the Fianna Fáil wing will be going in that direction and likewise those on the unionist wing of the SDLP will be nailing their colours to the Fine Gael mast.


“Like much that has gone on within the SDLP since Margaret Ritchie has taken over as leader it seems that confusion and disarray are the watchwords.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has criticised Fine Gael and the Labour Party for helping to prop up ‘a discredited government in its dying days’.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:

“The actions of Fine Gael and the Labour Party today in helping to prop up a discredited government in its dying days is a disgrace.

“Sinn Féin has opposed Brian Lenihan’s Budget and the Finance Bill from the very begining. We have always said that what is needed is an immediate General Election and a new Dáil with a fresh mandate which would bring in a new Budget and a new Finance Bill.

“Today presented an opportunity to end the life of this Government, to bring about a General Election and allow the people to have their say.

“But while Fine Gael and the Labour Party have huffed and puffed for a long time now about wanting to replace this Government, when the opportunity came they failed the people yet again.

“Both these parties agreed to prolong the life of this awful Government and to help introduce a Finance Bill which will facilitate the Budget cuts which they claimed at the time to oppose.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast and member of the Social Development Committee, Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the fact that the proposed development in Nelson Street by Big Picture Developments Ltd has been blocked by Belfast City Council.

Speaking earlier Ms Ní Chuilín said:

“The proposed development at Nelson Street by Big Picture Developments Ltd is shrouded in controversy. Initially the site was zoned for social housing and there was a plan to build 66 family homes there.

“It still remains zoned for this purpose but the company behind the plans has radically reduced the social housing element to 20% out of over 230 apartments.

“The initial plan has clearly been turned on its head with the involvement of Big Picture Developments,  in residents views to the detriment of the local community and outrage across the board.

“Last week, as the planning authorities put the proposal in front of Belfast City Council, the council saw fit, due to the high number of objections from residents, the Housing Executive and Sinn Féin to block the development.

“This is a welcome development that is only tempered by the fact that the planners may well resubmit the same plans.

“I would urge those behind the development not to do so, to listen to the community and press on with the original social development that the people of North Belfast want.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and member of the health committee at Stomont, Sue Ramsey, has stated that the only way to get the Health Minister to speak on the swine flu crisis was to place a priority question to compel him to come to the floor of the Assembly

Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:

“Following the deaths of 21 people as a result of swine flu within the space of twelve weeks we finally have heard from the Health Minister, Micheal McGimpsey, in the Assembly.

“Unfortunately, he had to be forced by Sinn Féin compelling him following the submission of a urgent oral question.

“Today he has finally accepted that there is a lack of information, he has also accepted that there is a lot of misinformation out there, yet he will still not come forward and make a definitive statement to provide clarity and outline an action plan to the Assembly to deal with this crisis.

“Last year, with two less deaths, the Minister made a public statement on this issue, so what has changed this time around? The reality is that more people may still die due to swine flu over the coming weeks.

“Quite clearly the Minister seems resigned to ride out this term as easily as he can dealing with as little as he can, whether it be addressing with swine flu crisis or taking his budgetary responsibilities on in order to protect front line services.”

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