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Sinn Féin in government will axe the water tax – Mary Lou McDonald TD

"Sinn Féin in government will reverse water charges. These charges will only cause further hardship for families already struggling to make ends meet."

Today, Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD launched the party's vision for water services accompanied by both Brian Stanley TD and Cllr. Cathal King who is the Sinn Fein candidate for the upcoming by election in Dublin South-West.

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“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



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Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey has welcomed the end of the IMC with their final report published this afternoon.

Mr Maskey said:

“The IMC was established for no other reason to give political cover for unionism and has proven to be a money spinner for those involved with vast amounts of public money, to the tune of millions, being wasted on this organisation.

“It never had any basis to exist under the architecture of the Good Friday Agreement. It is welcome that its negative role in the political process has now come to an end.

“The money previously wasted in the IMC should now be redirected into frontline services.”

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Commenting as the IICD issued its final report, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said that there was a view that the issue of arms has not yet been properly dealt with by unionism given recent UVF activity and the failure of Ulster Resistance to engage with the IICD at all.

Mr Adams said:

“The IICD was set up under the GFA to deal with the issue of arms. It has now completed its mandate.

Throughout its work there were attempts by unionist parties to interfere in its work. It was always Sinn Féin view that the IICD should be allowed to get on with its job alongside the various armed groups.

Sinn Fein’s role was to develop the political process to the point where the armed groups themselves moved to deal with this issue.

We welcomed the IRA engagement with the IICD and in common with the vast majority of people on this island are happy that the process of dealing with IRA weapons has been completed.

Given the activities of the UVF in particular in recent times and the failure of those established Ulster Resistance to engage at all with the IICD there is a view that the arms issue has not been properly dealt with by sections of unionism.

With the end of the IICD mandate that is now a matter for the PSNI to pursue in the time ahead.”

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for the publication of the review of the proposed Mater Hospital site for the National Children’s Hospital.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“I understand that Health Minister James Reilly has received the report of the review of the Mater Hospital site for the National Children’s Hospital. This report should be published so that all concerned can assess it.

“Sinn Féin called for a review, given the concerns on location and the financial question marks over the project.

“A key concern is what happens in the interim to Temple St, Crumlin and Tallaght. These hospitals need to be properly resourced and supported to continue to provide excellent hospital services for children, while we await the opening of the new facility.

“If the National Children's Hospital goes ahead on the Mater site provision for child-focused services at Tallaght should remain and the Crumlin Hospital site should be used for public healthcare provision.

“If a decision is made to proceed at the Mater at least it is a decision to give the go-ahead for a National Children’s Hospital which is required. Some will regard this as the least attractive option. There is a worse option – no decision to go ahead with a National Children’s Hospital at all. The concerns regarding access to the hospital must be comprehensively addressed.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has welcomed the Exploring Enterprise II programme announced today to give unemployed people the opportunity and skills to become self employed.


Mr McElduff stated,


“It is important that people who find themselves unemployed are given opportunities to find meaningful employment.


“This initiative announced today will give 2000 people the chance to get the skills to become self employed through an accredited course over a three year period.


“Many people have the ability to become self employed but lack the knowledge and confidence and these courses are designed to give those people the ability to be successful in their own business or trade.


“It is however important that this scheme is rolled out in a way that will maximise the number of people who can benefit from it so I am calling on the Minister to ensure that it is properly advertised and promoted.

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill, MLA, has today chaired her first North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh.


The Council met in Aquacultural and Marine sectoral format, in which the work of the Loughs Agency of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission (FCILC) is overseen.

The Minister said: "The work of the NSMC is a key area of my Department’s work and I am very keen to see it maximise its potential. I was very proud to host the delegation from the south here in Armagh today at my first NSMC sectoral meeting and also to meet some of the people involved in the FCILC.

“These meetings are important as they help to strenthen and develop further the already close co-operation between my department and the Department of Communication, Energy and natural Resources, as the Agency's two co-sponsors.”

During the meeting, the Agency's Corporate Plan for 2011 to 2013 was discussed, along with the Business Plan and budget for 2011. The Council received a progress report from the FCILC Chairperson, Tarlach O'Crosain, and the Agency's Chief Executive, Derick Anderson. The Council also approved a small grant scheme through which the Agency intends to support marine tourism and recreational angling and gave the go-ahead for the Agency to appoint its third advisory forum.

Minister O'Neill said: “I have assured Minister Rabbitte of my continued commitment to the work of the FCILC in the sustainable development, and conservation and protection of fisheries in the Foyle and Carlingford Areas. I look forward to furthering the close working relationship that exists between NSMC, FCILC and the sponsor Departments.”

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Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Brún has called on the Greek government to overturn its decision to detain Freedom Flotilla II ships bound for Gaza. The flotilla plans to take much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza to challenge the illegal Israeli blockade.

"It is appalling that Greek authorities have bowed to pressure from Israel to 'outsource' this illegitimate blockade which has had far-reaching negative consequences for the 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are children, living in the Gaza strip. The stiff restrictions placed on movement and commerce by the Israeli government have resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis for the people of Gaza.  Given that the majority of the population (80%) depend so heavily on humanitarian aid, it is completely unacceptable that the flotilla should have been halted by Greece.

"I call on the Greek authorities to reconsider their ban on the flotilla setting sail from its ports and allow the activists to continue with their essential work, bringing desperately-needed aid to those who have been cut off from the outside world by this blockade.

"As the Israeli authorities are intent on placing a stranglehold on the economy of Gaza, I would be sceptical about assurances that the much-needed humanitarian aid will reach the Gaza strip through what they call 'existing channels'.  If enough aid was getting through these channels then people of goodwill throughout the world would not be organising ships to bring the aid themselves."

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Sinn Féin, Enterprise, Trade and Investment spokesperson, Phil Flanagan MLA (Fermanagh/South Tyrone) has said that the long-term solution to economic recovery and sustainability can be achieved by imaginative forward planning on an all-Ireland basis.
 
Phil Flanagan said:
 
“What is required is imaginative forward planning and attraction of alternative employment opportunities through both foreign direct investment and by assisting indigenous companies to find new markets and expand their workforce.
 
“Making political arguments against all-Ireland economic development only prolongs the difficulties that we are now experiencing. From any perspective, political or economic,   duplication and replication of service provision is inefficient and cannot be justified. These redundant policies impose an unnecessary administrative and financial burden not only on the two governments but also on those wishing to do business in both jurisdictions.

"A single investment and job creation agency for instance, would eliminate this counterproductive anomaly of competition for inward investment, eradicate the waste of duplication and open wider opportunities to business throughout the island and generally contribute to growing the economy.

“Politicians throughout the island need to recognise a growing all-Ireland economy already exists. The clear cost-effectiveness of this new reality has long been recognised by the business community and the island economy is becoming more interdependent and integrated every year. Increased cooperation on an all-Ireland basis in relation to the economy is the accepted way of the future. We should be getting on with dismantling existing barriers and establishing a united approach to attracting investment and job creation.
 
“Common Chapter commitments made under the GFA commits both governments to advance all-Ireland economic development through joint planning in nine specified areas.  Energy, Communications, Electronic Commerce, Human Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Tourism, Transport, Environment, Education, Health and EU funding. These should be seen as only the beginning of a strategy for all-Ireland development in all facets of life and not a limitation.

 
“In building and strengthening the all-Ireland economy we should be striving to overcome obstacles to mobility, harmonising fiscal and business environments, and adopting and implementing proactive measures to ensure strong economic development. We will not progress in these areas by adopting a dismissive or insular attitude to opportunities for change.”

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Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has today extended Sinn Féin’s support of the Bethany Home Survivors demand that Justice Minister Alan Shatter extend the remit of the inter-Departmental Committee investigation to allow Senator McAleese examine the Bethany case alongside the Magdalene Laundries.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The previous Government’s decision to exclude the Magdalene Laundries and Bethany Home from the residential institutions redress scheme was deplorable, however Fine Gael and Labour now have a real opportunity to right this wrong.

“Just last week Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh called for an investigation into the deaths of at least 219 children in Bethany Home in Dublin between 1922 and 1949.

“There is a need to investigate the fact that at least 219 children died in the years 1922-49 in Bethany Home in Dublin, and to further acknowledge the state's failure to save the children and especially the remaining survivors from the cruelty perpetrated against them.

“This Government failed to consider amending the 2002 Redress act to give recognition to the children who suffered unnecessary illness, neglect and death, due to indifference, incompetence, sectarianism, complicity of the state.

“Excluding Bethany Home from the work of the Magdalene Laundries inter-Departmental Committee would be yet another affront to the women and children who were so grievously wronged by the States neglect of Bethany Home’s residents.

“Justice Minister Alan Shatter must extend the remit of the inter-Departmental Committee investigation to allow Senator McAleese examine the Bethany case alongside the Magdalene Laundries.” ENDS

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Commenting on the delay in providing transport to 14-year-old Maedhbh McGivern which caused her to miss the opportunity of a liver transplant in London, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:

“Lessons must be learned fast from this incident so that nothing of the kind is allowed to occur again. The Minister for Health James Reilly should provide a report this week about where the system fell down, leading to this very disappointing result. I am calling on him to make a statement to the Dáil on the matter.

“Many questions arise, not least the discrepancy between the two accounts of the incident given by the HSE and the Department of Transport.

“It must be questioned also whether too many agencies are involved in this process – the HSE, the Department of Transport, the Coast Guard and the Emergency Medical Support Services.

“Another key question is whether any attempt was made to secure air transport from North of the border – Enniskillen is a relatively short distance from Ballinamore.

“I wish Maedhbh McGivern and her family well and fully support their call for this incident to be properly investigated and lessons learned and applied so that Maedhbh and other people who need emergency transport are not let down again.”

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Mary Lou McDonald TD