Sinn Féin EU affairs spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly has today welcomed the decision of the European Affairs Committee to adopt a report on the need for a Youth Guarantee to help address the youth unemployment crisis.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee report for which Senator Reilly was rapporteur will be launched in the coming weeks.
Senator Reilly said:
“Today the European Affairs Committee discussed a report on youth unemployment and the need for a Youth Guarantee, for which I was rapporteur.
“Central to the report is the need for a high quality and fully funded guarantee of employment, training, education or apprentice within four months of becoming unemployed.
“The report received a positive response from all political parties and was adopted with a number of constructive amendments from committee.
“The full report will be launched by the committee on Wednesday 3 July.
“There are 53,800 under 25s officially unemployed and many more disengaged from employment services. Despite the scale of the crisis the government has been slow to respond to the youth unemployment crisis.
“Today’s cross party call for a youth guarantee to be implemented as a matter of urgency is to be welcomed.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed the publication of the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) Follow-up Report on State Involvement in the Magdalene Laundries.
Deputy McDonald has called on Government Ministers to ensure the IHRC Follow-up Report recommendations and conclusions inform their consideration of the impending Magdalene redress scheme.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“Today’s publication of IHRCs Follow-up Report on State Involvement in the Magdalene Laundries is timely. The Justice Minister has committed to bringing Mr Justice Quirke’s redress scheme proposals to cabinet shortly, and the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) recently wrote to the Minister for Justice setting out a number of very serious concerns regarding the Magdalene Laundries Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) Report.
“UNCAT Follow-up Rapporteur Felice D Gaer notes that the IDC report did not conduct a full independent investigation into allegations of arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment despite the state receiving extensive survivor testimony in the form of reports by Justice for Magdalenes. She also states that the Inter-Departmental report lacked many elements of a prompt, independent and thorough investigation, as recommended by UNCAT in its Concluding Observations.
“The IHRC report recommends that the state should ensure that all credible allegations of abuse which involve a breach of the state’s human rights obligations should be independently investigated with defined terms of reference and statutory powers.
“The report also concludes that in the absence of the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme including in its terms of reference the treatment of persons in laundries, including Magdalene Laundries, that a statutory mechanism be established to investigate the matters advanced by Justice for Magdalenes and in appropriate cases to grant redress.
“To date the government has set its face against putting the impending Magdalene redress scheme on a statutory footing, or indeed in providing justice to women incarcerated in laundries not dealt with by the Inter-Departmental Report.
“Government Ministers must ensure the IHRC report and UNCAT concerns inform their consideration of any and all proposed redress scheme proposals.” ENDS
Féin MLA Cathal Boylan said that rural areas must be to the fore in tourism
planning. The party’s Environment spokesperson was responding after
Minister Alex Atwood's statement on tourism.
The Newry and Armagh MLA and
member of the Assembly's Environment Committee said:
The Newry and Armagh MLA said,
"While I welcome today's planning policy statement I am keen that rural communities are not forgotten.
"That is why I directly questioned the Minister about the potential of rural communities in developing business ideas under the new proposals.
"There are opportunities to fully utilise rural tourism potential including the promotion of self-catering accommodation and guest houses that can target the angling community.
"While this new planning policy will go some way to promoting and facilitating rural tourism more needs to be done to develop a proper rural tourism strategy."
Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan while welcoming the statement from the Minister Stephen Farry on the new Steps 2 Success programme has said that the outcomes need to be better than the previous Steps to Work scheme.
Ms. McGahan stated,
“The new programme is designed to get young people who have been on benefits for over nine months the chance to experience employment and attain training that would allow them to return to full time employment.
“The previous programme Steps to Work while providing the basic principles of putting people into companies to experience employment did not provide the long term outcomes that were expected.
“The Steps to Work programme saw over 36,000 people pass through it over a four year period but over 22,000 went straight back onto benefits.
“It is important that the new Steps 2 Success programme learns the lessons and is more training and qualification focused than the previous programme.
“I have known of people who have been taken on by companies with no prospect of full time employment and received no training that would benefit them to gain meaningful employment elsewhere.
“This programme needs to be gauged by the number of people who are able to return to full time employment and I will be asking the Minister to have an evaluation process put into place so that employers do not exploit the scheme for basic cheap labour and that it is not used to massage unemployment figures.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Ciaran Archibald has expressed his thanks to all those who have wished him ‘good luck’ as he takes up the position of Chairperson of Environmental Services.
Councillor Archibald stated,
“This is the first time that Sinn Féin has held the position of Chairperson of one of the committees on Coleraine Council although we have had seats on the Council since 2004.
"I am looking forward to the challenge of this position and serving all the people of Coleraine. Being the first Sinn Fein Councillor to Chair a Committee is a privilege and is a step forward for Coleraine Borough Council.
“Not only does it shows that progress towards inclusivity is being made but that relations are improving and that by showing mutual respect for each others tradition we can all work together for the benefit of all the citizens in Coleraine and district."
Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has accused Stormont Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson of using insults and exaggeration to deflect from his inability to face economic reality.
Conor Murphy said:
“Sammy Wilson’s promotion of the union with Britain is a legitimate political position to adopt but he should do it by presenting the argument with facts and figures, not by insults and exaggeration.
“Mr Wilson’s latest foray into fantasy economics was his inflammatory and insulting accusation that the Irish government is ‘stealing UK taxes’. He then - as he regularly does – grabs figures out of the air to support his penchant for exaggeration.
“The Finance Minister’s claim that the Irish government obtained a £7.9 billion loan from Britain is way off the mark. In fact a law enacted in Westminster to give effect to the loan limited any lending to £3.2 billion (€3.76 billion), of which £2.42 billion (€2.85 billion) has so far been released and due for repayment in 2019 and 2020. A simple financial contractual transaction between two parties!
“While it is welcome that the G8 leaders will be discussing tax evasion and ‘aggressive’ avoidance in Fermanagh over the coming days, Sinn Féin has already initiated procedures to examine the tax regime in the South where Pearse Doherty TD has led the call for tax avoidance to be addressed in the Dáil by having a sub-group of the Oireachtas established to examine these issues. Sinn Féin’s position is quite clear – ALL tax avoidance loopholes should be closed.
“And if Sammy Wilson wishes to retain any credibility as a Finance Minister then he should also be demanding transparent and accurate statements of all forms of revenue generated and expenditure in the north of Ireland so that we can devise an economic strategy focused on the specific needs of this region.
“The economic package negotiated with Westminster by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson, is a welcome intervention and will assist us in developing the much-needed infrastructure which is required to stimulate economic growth. But it is no substitute for a factually based discussion on the best economic model to build financial sustainability on this island in the long term.
“No amount of political posturing can disguise the exaggerated fantasy economics promoted by Sammy Wilson in his attempts to support continued fiscal control over our affairs by a British Chancellor. Any objective analysis of British fiscal policy will expose that it is always drawn up with the selfish interests of the island of Britain at its core – any beneficial effects on the North of Ireland are only incidental. It is time we had a proper debate on the potential of constructing an island economy which would be within the control of politicians elected by and answerable to the people of this island.”
South Down MLA Chris Hazzard has welcomed confirmation from DARD Minister Michelle O'Neill that she will initiate a swift review of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) in order to help our local fishing industry.
The Sinn Féin MLA said:
"Given the challenging times that our local fishermen have experienced in the last number of months, it is positive news that the Minister has agreed to review the current EFF process and explore ways in which this can be made more accessible for our local fishing industry.
"Bearing in mind the increasing overhead costs of fuel, fees and the age of some of our vessels, anything that helps future proof and sustain our local fishing industry is a hugely beneficial step.
"I am sure our local fleet will welcome today's announcement from Minister O'Neill which follows the establishment recently of three separate funds to help mitigate some of the challenges emanating from the reformed Common Fisheries Policy - including a Research & Development fund, a Training & Skills fund, and a 100% funded scheme for the upgrading of satellite navigation equipment.
"Finally I would also like to commend the Minister for agreeing to engage with the local banking sector in an effort to aid the flow of credit within the sector and hopefully the banks will respond in a positive and worthwhile manner."
The Assembly will tomorrow debate a Sinn Féin motion calling for greater investment in rural broadband to provide equitable broadband speed, cost and reliability.
Speaking ahead of the motion, the Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee Phil Flanagan said:
“Since 2007, tens of millions of pounds of public money has rightly been invested in improving rural broadband provision across the north. However, there still remain a large number of areas where householders and businesses are unable to access even the most basic of broadband services.
“In 2013, this is unacceptable.
“The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment (DETI), in conjunction with the Department for Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD) is currently working on a tender to award further funding to broadband providers to fill in many of these gaps.
“What now needs to happen is that all forms of technology are explored to see which can best improve the situation. While the use of fibre optics to every cabinet has been a great success for many areas, it will never deliver broadband to every property.
“By utilising the latest advancements in telecommunications technology, significant improvements can be made to the current coverage areas in a much more cost effective manner.
“The planned rollout of 4G spectrum, improvements to wireless transmitters and further developments in fibre cabling all mean that the provision of broadband can greatly improve in the coming years, but government policy needs to enhance rather than prohibit further developments.
“An assessment needs to be made as to whether we should introduce a Universal Service Obligation, so that like postal services and landline phones, broadband providers would be obligated to serve every single property, regardless of its remoteness. To date, no work has been to assess the potential cost or economic benefits of such a measure but it needs to be a central consideration as we move forward.”
The text of the motion is:
That this Assembly welcomes the investment by the Executive into improving access to high speed broadband; recognises the continuing need for improvements in broadband infrastructure in many rural areas; and calls on the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to work with local stakeholders to identify the areas that are in greatest need and to target investment into those areas to provide equitable broadband speed, cost and reliability.
Speaking in the Assembly, the West Belfast MLA and Chair of the Health Committee said:
“Endometriosis is a condition which many people know very little about, despite it affecting around one in every ten women between the ages of 25 and 45. The exact cause of the condition remains unclear, although the disease has been known of for decades.
“The disease not only causes extreme pain, but if untreated can lead to reduced fertility and indeed infertility. There is also a strong link with depression.
“While there is no cure for endometriosis the symptoms can be managed with pain relieving drugs, hormone therapies and surgery.
“Currently a single dedicated endometriosis clinic staffed by a consultant gynaecologist runs once a month in the Belfast Trust. This is not sufficient and there is a need for a multi-disciplinary team to be set up.
“This would improve waiting times for surgery, which currently can be up to 18 months. It would also allow a more holistic form of care to be provided to help women manage the condition. For example, therapies such as counselling and pain management have been shown to be effective.
In my view this sort of service should be provided in a new women and children’s hospital. We need a hospital dedicated to women’s needs, which goes much wider than maternity issues.
“Conditions such as endometriosis can have a devastating impact on women’s lives – on our sisters, our daughters, our nieces, our friends. Effective and timely treatment needs to be prioritised so that women are not suffering in silence, or without the proper support and help they deserve.” END
Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said Health Minister James Reilly is imposing higher charges for shrinking health services and that the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s health policy is “full of contradictions”.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The Health (Amendment) Bill 2013 which has been published by Minister Reilly increases the daily charge for public in-patient services in acute hospitals from €75 to €80 and increases the asset contribution under the so-called ‘Fair Deal’ nursing home scheme from 5% to 7.5%. These increases, arising from Budget 2013, have received little attention.
“The reality is that Minister Reilly is imposing increased charges for shrinking public health services. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has reported an average of 79 patients each day placed in overcrowded and inappropriate environments on inpatient wards, above the stated bed complement of those wards. That is in addition to those on trolleys and chairs in emergency departments.
“It is right that the insurers of private patients should pay the full cost for the use of scarce public beds. But this needs to be seen as an interim measure towards a fully public system with equal access to hospital care for all based on medical need alone.
“The truth is that the health policy of the Fine Gael/Labour Government is full of contradictions. They claim to be aiming for free GP care for all yet they have further restricted access to the medical card.
“They claim to want universal healthcare yet the private health insurance model they favour would see everyone who already pays tax to fund public health services also compelled to pay private health insurance with a significant profit margin for the private insurers.”
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has called on the DUP to ensure that Councillors on Craigavon Council do not jettison a £6m peace fund which is designed to create shared space in Portadown’s Peoples Park.
The £6m was awarded to the Council by the SEUPB to upgrade the park and create a shared space for the town. The money was awarded in recognition that Portadown has deep divisions which require leadership and vision to overcome.
Mr O’ Dowd said:
“DUP councillors on Craigavon Council at the behest of the Orange Order plan to push through a motion at the Council’s Monday night meeting which will see the Council reject £6m of European peace money.
“The DUP leadership have quite rightly endorsed efforts to build a shared community, they have recognised there is no quick fix solution and that stunt politics will not create shared space or a united community.
“The DUP should not allow the Orange Orders stunt politics over Portadown Peoples Park to set the agenda. The DUP recognise that it will take up to 10 years for peace walls to come down, are they seriously suggesting shared space in Portadown will happen overnight?
“The SEUPB supported the project to build shared space in recognition it did not already exist anywhere in Portadown. The DUP leadership surely recognise to reject the EU peace money will make shared space less likely than more.
“Creating Shared Space and building an united community was never going to be easy but to reject £6m of EU peace money because of one stumble will be a huge mistake which will be difficult to recover from.”
In a statement this evening
in advance of the start of the G8 summit in Fermanagh on Monday, Sinn Féin
Leader Gerry Adams said:
“County Fermanagh will host the G8 summit next week.
“The G8, representing some the world's most powerful economies is the source of immense wealth and economic and political power.
“It has huge influence over the lives of millions of people and in relation to economic policies across the globe. It needs to make decisions that support the interests, rights and wellbeing of the world's citziens.
“However, the policies being pursued by the G8 are clearly failing and have deepened the problems facing many countries.
“This can be seen in growing unemployment, increased poverty, hunger and human rights abuses. There needs to be an urgent change of direction by the G8.
“A more enlightened and socially conscious approach would assist those citizens in the developing world to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and preventable disease.
“Sinn Féin supports the right of peaceful protest in relation to the summit and Sinn Féin members and representatives will participate in protests organised by Trade Unions, Amnesty and Friends of the Earth.
“I would encourage all demonstrators to express their views peacefully and democratically. This is the most effective way to communicate a message of the need for global solidarity, justice and human rights.”
Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh this week called for a debate on racism in the Seanad after he was contacted by constituents who are concerned about racist comments on Facebook and an increase in racist attacks reported in the media.
Speaking today Senator Ó Clochartaigh said;
“I am happy that the leader of the house Maurice Cummins has said he will try to facilitate a debate with the Minister for Justice.
“I have been contacted recently by constituents who are concerned about racist comments on Facebook which they say the company is refusing to remove.
“They are also concerned about a rise in racist attacks reported in our national media.
“Racism in all its forms must be tackled head on. It cannot be allowed to prevail without being challenged.
“I am hoping the minister will outline what plans he has to tackle the growing levels of racism in Irish society.”
Ó Clochartaigh ag lorg díospóireacht Seanaid ar arduithe in eachtraí ciníochais
An tseachtain seo sa tSeanad d'iarr Seanadóir Shinn Féin, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, díospóireacht ar an gciníochas tar éis do roinnt daoine ina Dháilcheantar teagmháil a dhéanamh leis maidir le ráitis chin
íocha ar Facebook agus an ardú ar líon na n-ionsaithe ciníocha atá dhá thuairisciú sna meáin.
Ag labhairt dó inniu dúirt an Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh;
Tá mé sásta gur dhúirt Ceannaire an tSeanaid, Maurice Cummins go gceadóidh sé díospóireacht faoi seo leis an Aire Dlí, Comhionnanas agus Cosanta.
Tháinig roinnt daoine i dteagmháil liom le déanaí a bhfuil imní orthu maidir le ráitis chiníocha ar Facebook agus deir siad nach bhfuil an comhlacht sásta iad a thógáil anuas.
Tá imní orthu freisin faoin ardú ar líon na n-ionsaithe cin íocha atá dhá thuairisciú sna meáin náisiúnta.
Caithfear dul i ngleic le ciníochas de chuile chineál. Ní féidir scaoileadh leis an iompar seo gan dúshlan daoine a thabhairt.
Tá mé ag súil go dtabharfaidh an tAire soiléiriú maidir lena bhfuil beartaithe aige le dul i ngleic leis an ardú ar na leibhéalacha ciníochais atá i sochaí na hÉireann.”
As part of the Agreements arising for the Good Friday Agreement, both the Irish and British Government agreed to implement an Irish Language Act in the North to protect rights and promote Irish Language.
The meeting was addressed by various Irish Language Activists form the North.
Speaking after the meeting, Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh said,
‘Both governments committed to implement an Irish language act for the north as part of agreements arising from the Good Friday Agreement. The act would safeguard the rights of Irish Speakers and the promotion of the language in common with the approach adopted in the south and for native languages in Scotland and Wales.
The Irish Language belongs to all our people and is part of our common heritage This is an issue of equality and test of the commitment of parties to respect the cultural diversity of society. Equality and respect are the principles that must underpin our society.’
Conor Murphy MP said,
‘Today we had a very good and wide-ranging discussion on the outstanding issue of an Irish Language Act for the North. We heard of the concerns of unionist community and the expectations and hopes of the Irish Language Activists. The safeguarding and promotion of Irish cannot and should not be seen as a threat to any other identity. It is simply about developing equality and respect. The issue of an act was agreed by the governments and if the agreements are to be of value they need to be fully implemented.
It is clear that those opposed to an act must engage, must outline their concerns and must be part of the discussion on the type of Act that is required to make good the agreement of the governments. Such progress cannot and should not be allowed to be vetoed by any one community.
Senator O’Clochartaigh called on the Taoiseach to
raise the issue with the British government and to develop a strategy to ensure
that the Bill is legislated for in either Westminster or the Assembly.
He further called on the Irish Government to ensure that funding is continued to the Irish Language Broadcast Fund as per the Good Friday Agreement.
Senator O’Clochartaigh raised the issue of funding from Peace Funds to promote understanding and acceptance of Irish Language.
Mar Pháirt de na comhaontuithe ag éirí as Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta, d’aontaigh rialtais na hÉireann agus na Breataine ar Acht Gaeilge a chur i bhfeidhm sa Tuaisceart chun cearta agus chur chun cinn teanga na Gaeilge a chosaint.
Dhírigh ghníomhaithe Gaeilge éagsúla ón Tuaisceart ar an gcruinniú.
Ag labhairt tar éis an cruinniú, dúirt Seanadóir Trevor O’Clochartaigh:
‘Thiomnaigh an dhá rialtais le Acht Gaeilge a chur i bhfeidhm sa tuaisceart mar pháirt de na comhaontuithe ag éirí as Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta. Déanfaidh an acht cearta muintir na Gaeilge a chosaint agus cuirfidh sé chun cinn an teanga mar a tharla sa deisceart mar aon le teangaí dúchais na hAlbain agus an Bhreatain Beag.
Is linn go léir an Ghaeilge agus is páirt í d’ár n-oidhreacht coitianta. Is ceist cothroime é seo agus trial tiomanta na pháirtithe polaitíochta le meas ar éagsúlacht chultúrtha an sochaí. Caithfidh gur bhun phrionsabail an sochaí iad cothromas agus meas.
Dúirt Conor Murphy MP:
‘Bhí díospóireacht an-mhaith agus fadréimseach againn inniu faoi ceist Acht na Gaeilge den Tuaisceart. Chualamar imní an phobail aontachtaigh agus ionchas agus dóchas ghníomhaithe Gaeilge. Ní cóir féachaint ar chosaint agus cur chun cinn an teanga mar bagairt ar féiniúlacht ar bith eile. Níl i gceist ach cothromas agus meas a fhorbairt. Bhí ceist an acht rite ag an dhá rialtais, agus, b’éigean na comhaontuithe a chur i bhfeidhm chun a luach a shlánú.
Tá sé soiléir gur b’éigean dóibh atá i gcoinne an acht bheith i dteagmháil, a imní a imlíniú agus bheith páirteach don díospóireacht ar an saghas acht a bhfuil de dhíth chun chomhaontú na rialtais a shlánú. Ní chóir d’aon phobal dul chun cinn mar seo a dhiúltú.
D’iarr Seanadóir O’Clochartaigh ar an Taoiseach an cheist a chur chuig rialtas na Bhreataine agus chun straitéis a fhorbairt chun a chinntiú gur reachtaítear an Acht i Westminster nó an Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann.
D’iarr sé freisin ar rialtas na hÉireann chun a chinntiú go leanfar ar aghaidh le maoiniú a chur ar fáil den Chiste Craoltóireachta Gaeilge mar a léirítear i gComhaontú Aoine an Chéasta.
D’ardaigh O’Clochartaigh ceist maoiniú ón Chiste Síochána chun tuiscint agus glacadh le teanga na Gaeilge.
The announcement that the G8 Summit to be held in Fermanagh this month will no doubt showcase the tourist potential of the Irish countryside and provide the opportunity for prospective investors to consider investing in a country that is at peace.
I welcome President Obama and the other world leaders visit to this part of Ireland for the first time.
I also believe that more important than the location of the summit is the impact that it will have on many millions of people throughout the world. Our world is very unequally divided, poverty, disease and conflict is rampant. The leaders of the G8 countries need to find solutions to the economic crisis that faces the world and also to resolve the very grave situation in the Middle East.
Ireland, north and south, has suffered terribly as the result of the world recession caused by the wreckless behaviour of financial institutions facilitated by blind-eye government policy and deregulation.
In the face of endemic unemployment not just here in Ireland but across Europe and further afield the focus of the Summit must be on devising an economic strategy which puts people and not financial institutions, including the banks, first and foremost.
I urge G8 leaders when they come to Fermanagh to recognise and accept the need to do something deep and profound to assist people who have lost their jobs, businesses and homes, and most of all too many of whom have already lost hope.
As for the cost of staging the Summit in Fermanagh, I have previously stated that the British Government must step forward and accept that it will be responsible for providing funding to cover all costs associated with this event.
Neither the Executive nor Fermanagh District Council can afford to divert finance from already depleted budgets in order to facilitate a summit to which we have had no substantive input. I, therefore, welcome the commitment by Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the British Treasury in the last few days, that most of the cost will be borne by the British government and that all of the equipment and specialist facilities installed to accommodate the summit will remain in place for our use once the event has concluded.
On the world stage the G8 leaders must find solutions to the growing instability in the Middle East and the threat to the region posed by the escalating conflict in Syria.
I believe that the failure by the EU Foreign Ministers to reach agreement on continuing the arms embargo to Syria when they met is a major set-back to efforts to negotiate a ceasefire. I would urge the other G8 leaders to impress on the British government the folly of its efforts to allow the arming of opposition forces in Syria. I believe that this would only exacerbate and prolong the conflict.
The international community should be seeking a political solution to this conflict. The one lesson that Britain should have learned from the conflict here is that you cannot resolve a political conflict through military means.
The civil war in Syria has already claimed over 80,000 lives and created 1.5m Syrian refugees. More weapons and fighters will increase the bloodshed and deepen the conflict. It would also have the potential to further destabilise other countries in the region, which are already struggling to accommodate huge amounts of refugees, especially in the Lebanon.
It must be recognised that the rebels in Syria are not one unified group, with an organised command structure or shared goals. They are made up of a variety of disparate groups and have been accused of large scale human rights abuses, as have the government.
Adding more weapons to this volatile situation could destabilise the entire region. The best way to stop the conflict is through peace talks and a peace process. The USA and Russia have recently shown an interest in creating a forum for the Government and rebels to try start peace talks.
This is a welcome initiative and needs to be given more time. Exporting weapons to Syria will only continue to fuel this civil war and claim more lives. I hope that the USA and Russia will further explore this initiative with the other participants at the upcoming G8 Summit in Fermanagh.
Our Peace Process is hailed as the most successful in the World today. We achieved this because there was both a will and a desire to end conflict and to pursue a political Agreement. The G8 represents some of the most powerful nations on Earth. With a collective will and desire they can make a difference to the lives of those tens of millions of human beings afflicted by poverty, disease and war. There is no better place to make that difference than at the Fermanagh summit.
Speaking in the Dáil today on the Access to the Countryside Bill, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Tourism and Heritage Sandra McLellan said:
“Access to the countryside is an important, complex and sensitive issue. There is a dilemma in how to balance rights of way or rights of access for the walker and tourist, with the rights of the farmer?
“There are important questions that must be addressed if this issue is to be dealt with in a meaningful and balanced way that respects the rights of both parties to on the one hand roam the countryside, and on the other to maintain the privacy of farmland and to preserve rural landscapes in a sustainable manner for the benefit of everyone.
“Of course when it comes to discussions around access, emotions and opinions about privacy and rights tend to cloud other equally important issues.
“For example, towns, and parishes across rural Ireland are experiencing a dramatic process of decline in terms of jobs, inward investment, the closure of vital public services, and the mass exodus of young people to emigration.
“Therefore when we discuss the issue of access to the countryside, and more importantly the case for modernising Ireland’s land access law we need to take a holistic view of the range of issues involved, and focus on the broader political and economic context in which they occur.
“Sinn Fein is in favour of modernising Ireland’s land access law with a view to preserving the countryside and creating sustainable rural communities.”
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer and member of the Regional Development Committee has welcomed the decision to invite the Dail's Joint Committee on Transport and Communications to Stormont to discuss all island infrastructure and transport matters.
Mr. Mc Aleer stated,
“At our joint meeting in Leinster House in February it was agreed that we should prioritise island-wide infrastructural projects and meet regularly to see how we can mutually advance these.
‘There are many areas of strategic importance but high on the agenda is progress on the A5 Western Transport Corridor. This is one of the most crucial pieces of infrastructure, which will connect the North West to Dublin, and will also create an important east-west corridor to promote trade, investment and reduce deaths and injury on our roads.
“In addition to the delay on the actual A5 getting underway, there are also many knock on effects. For example, the 300-metre bridge over the river Finn outside Strabane, which will provide a seamless link to the N14 to Letterkenny and the North West, is also on hold due to the A5 legal challenge.
“The repercussions of the A5 delay are widespread. The Irish government have committed to funding a section of the A5 so it is important that we have this discussion with the committee, particularly in the context of their discussions on the budget.
“The meeting which will be scheduled for the Autumn is the latest in highlighting the benefits of working on an all Ireland basis in delivering projects that are beneficial to communities on both sides of the border.”
Sinn Féin MLA and member of the Regional Development Committee, Declan McAleer has called for Park and Display tickets to be transferrable across car parks with similar rates.
Mr. McAleer stated,
“Many of the DRD car parks especially in regional towns have car parks that charge similar rates for parking. Many of these car parks also have a minimum price that means that motorists usually leave the car park with spare time still on their ticket.
“If they travel to another part of town and enter another DRD car park they are forced to pay again even though they may have time still on their original ticket.
“I am calling on the DRD to look at have a transferrable ticket or to have a one day parking tickets that can be used in all DRD car parks.
“This would encourage more people to come into town and stay longer increasing turnover for many retailers.
“I have now written to the Minister to review the current procedures on park and display tickets so that they can be transferrable.”
Responding this evening to comments by Peadar Toibín TD that he intends to vote against the X Case legislation even if he is mandated to vote for it by the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle, party leader Gerry Adams TD said:
“Sinn Féin’s position on this issue is very clear and was reiterated at our recent Ard Fheis. The government needs to legislate in line with the X Case to protect pregnant women when their lives are at risk and to give legal certainty to medical practitioners.
“The party is currently analysing the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill and the Ard Chomhairle will take it’s decision on the legislation in the coming days. All party representatives will then be mandated on how to vote in relation to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
“It would be a serious breach of party rules for any TD to vote against the party position and they would be subject to party discipline.”