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

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

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


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



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Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said, racism has no place in sport. His comments follow reports in the media today that Derry City Player and Libyan International Eamon Zayed suffered racist insults during a match against St Patrick’s Athletic played at Richmond Park at the weekend.

Raymond McCartney said

“Firstly I want to utterly condemn who ever were behind the reported sickening racist insults that were directed at Eamon Zayed. No sportsperson, their family and friends attending any sporting event should have to put up with racist insults.

Racism has no place in sport in Ireland .Great efforts have been made over recent years to try and eradicate it out of soccer through the “Show Racism the Red Card” project. Show Racism the Red Card is now present in Britain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Ireland.

We need to challenge racism through providing education resources and intercultural activity which support integration. There is a need to be constantly promoting tolerance and respect across the many different cultures in Ireland.

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Speaking on the Sinn Féin anti-water charges motion which will be heard in the Dáil on Thursday, Environment Spokesperson Deputy Brian Stanley said that the government must abandon its plans to charge people for water which is a basic human right.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“The Sinn Féin motion opposes the proposed introduction of water charges and calls on the Government to abandon these plans. These proposed charges will only add to the huge burden of debt which already hangs over citizens’ heads. We have seen ruthless Government cuts to services, massive unemployment rates and a huge increase in the level of personal and mortgage debt. People simply cannot afford to keep paying for this Government and the previous Government’s mistakes.
“On Thursday afternoon my party will table a motion which calls on Fine Gael and Labour to abandon their plans to impose water charges on households. We are calling for the Government to stop their plans to spend between €500 million and €1 billion on the installation of water meters. This money would be put to far better use upgrading the antiquated distribution network which would more than pay for itself as well as being a much needed job creation mechanism.
“We believe that the central taxation system is the only appropriate funding mechanism for domestic water.
“This is an important motion and I am calling on both Government parties to stand true to their pre-election promises and reject these unfair regressive stealth taxes. We are calling on Labour in particular to not be party to the implementation of these charges which will place an unbearable burden on many working families.”
ENDS
Note to editors: Full text of motion below
Sinn Féin Private Members Business Motion for Wednesday 15th June, 2011
That the Dáil –
Affirms that access to water and sewerage services for domestic use is a universally recognised and basic human right
- Acknowledges that the right to water includes the right to clean and safe water, the right to equitable access to water without discrimination (including on grounds of income), and the right to freedom from contamination or arbitrary disconnection of the water supply.
- Recognises that water is a valuable resource that is expensive to treat and distribute and that everyone has a duty to conserve it;
- Believes that responsibility, including operational responsibility, for water production, treatment and distribution must remain with local authorities and within full public ownership;
- Affirms that public authorities must take effective management decisions to protect and improve water quality, and to promote and ensure water conservation and sustainability in an equitable manner consistent with the principle of progressivity.
- Rejects the creeping privatization of our most vital resource evidenced by the preferred option status of Design, Build and Operate contracts with private companies in the area of water production and treatment services;
- Alerts the government to the danger that the current policy trajectory will shortly bring us to a situation where water services are entirely in private hands leaving the Irish public vulnerable to the profiteering price hikes and water poverty that have been witnessed elsewhere in the world, and particularly in countries under strong IMF influence such as Argentina and Bolivia;
- Notes the record of privatisation of water services in other jurisdictions is abysmal demonstrating that the pursuit of such policies are not in the best interest of the people of this State;
- Notes that the introduction of metering with any form of charge for domestic users signals the end of the Irish derogation from the EU’s Water Directive which exempts only our current practice from the full cost recovery principle, the consequence of which would be much higher household water bills than those currently signalled by government
- Condemns the chronic and on-going lack of investment in our water infrastructure, especially during the time of budget surpluses, with the result that up to 58% of treated water is lost by the distribution network before it even reaches households
- Considers that the €500 million which the government intend spending on the installation of household water meters, rising to €1 billion due to the funding options being considered, would be better spent upgrading the antiquated distribution network and such investment would more than pay for itself in a relatively short time and both retain and create jobs in the local economy
- Notes that local authorities have substantial funding in the Water Services Capital Accounts which they are prevented from using due to the conditions imposed by the European Growth and Stability Pact
- Promotes the establishment of an All-Ireland Water and Sewerage Authority the purpose of which would be only to ensure that water quality and environmental standards are met and to facilitate co-operation between local authorities on the island, reduce costs and maximize efficiency, leaving the operational responsibility with local authorities
- Rejects the use of stealth taxes and other forms of regressive double-taxation.as a funding mechanism for domestic water whether said stealth taxes consist of a flat charge under any name or a flat rate charge with a meter, and
Affirms that the central taxation system is the only appropriate funding mechanism for domestic water.
Brian Stanley, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Mary Lou McDonald, Sandra McLellan, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Jonathan O'Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Peadar Tóibín.

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Limerick Sinn Féin Councillor Maurice Quinlivan has again criticised the use of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to build the Limerick Tunnel after it was revealed today that €1.24 million in penalties was paid by the NRA to the Tunnel operator to cover a four month period late last year.

At more than €10,000 a day Councillor Quinlivan described the situation as shambolic and said it shows that a bad deal was achieved for Limerick motorists and for taxpayers.

City Councillor Maurice Quinlivan said: “Sinn Féin constantly warned that the tunnel would be a missed opportunity as it would unfortunately not reach its full potential because it is being tolled and built so close to the City Centre. Now we see that the NRA had paid the private operator €1.24 million in penalties to cover a 4 month period late last year. This is more than €10,000 a day. And worryingly there is no sign in the immediate future that the Tunnel will achieve the 17,000 vehicles a day needed to pass through the Shannon tunnel to avoid these penalties. My Understanding is that less than 13,000 vehicles a day are using the tunnel. The taxpayer therefore stands to lose millions over the duration of the contract.

“When the Government and the NRA signed the PPP contract to build the Shannon tunnel they agreed a penalty fee to be paid by the taxpayer if a certain number of vehicles failed to use the Shannon Tunnel on a daily basis. To avoid penalty payments 17,000 vehicles need to pass through the Shannon tunnel every day. Under the agreement the signed by the Government taxpayers maybe liable for bills of tens of millions of Euros in penalties during the lifetime of the contract. This is crazy. The tunnel, albeit an excellent piece of infrastructure, was built far too close to the City Centre and the toll too high for many motorists for it to reach its maximum potential of removing traffic from the streets of Limerick City. An opportunity to really liberate the streets of Limerick via a dramatic reduction in city traffic has been missed we are now suffering massive financial penalties.

“This road project was approved by the Government at a time when the country’s coffers were awash with monies. There was no need for the Government to have a PPP to build this project. There certainly was no need to agree a penalty clause at such a potentially huge cost to the taxpayers.

“The policy of tolling motorists has been a disaster in Dublin on the M50 and the government should not have repeated this mistake at the expense of Limerick and Clare motorists. Will we be in a similar situation in a number of years where a future government will have to buy out the Shannon Tunnel as was done with the M50 toll charges at huge expense?

“The fact that Limerick people are paying for a tunnel is in stark contrast to the situation with the toll-free Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork. However the fact that taxpayers, many of whom will never use the tunnel, will pay more than €10,000 a day in the penalties is outrageous.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Deputy Seán Crowe, has expressed disappointment that no joint initiatives are currently planned by the National Council for Curriculum Assessment to advance the development of the Irish language sector on an all-Ireland basis.

Deputy Crowe, who raised the question in the Dáil with Education Minister Ruairí Quinn during the week said:

“The National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NCCA) and its counterpart in the North, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA), have held periodic joint meetings in the past that are designed to promote a number of key strategic goals. Minister Quinn confirmed that presently, no joint initiatives are under way despite the fact that in the past both Councils engaged in joint work on the use of mobile phones to support the teaching of Irish, and on guidelines for schools in supporting exceptionally able students.

“On a more positive note, An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG), which is funded by the Department Education and Skills, is to co-ordinate the provision of teaching resources for Irish medium schools, and will work in partnership with CCEA to jointly plan the development of resources where appropriate.

“I welcome the fact that COGG has recently agreed to invite CCEA to appoint a representative to its board to further develop this partnership.

“The COGG, CCEA and An tÁisaonad in St Mary's University College, Belfast have a database of all resources available for Irish medium education on the island of Ireland. An early literacy programme is currently being developed by these three organisations and the first stage will be available this September.

“Sinn Féin will continue to promote with others the development and growth of the Irish language on an all-Ireland basis and I will be meeting the North’s Education Minister, John O’Dowd shortly to discuss how we can progress these important matters further.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s South West Inner City councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh has called on councillors from all sides to support tonight’s motion supporting a statutory inquiry into the abuses suffered by tens of thousands of women held in the Magdalene laundries.

Cllr Ní Dhálaigh said:

“Tens of thousands of women and girls were placed in Magdalene laundries in Dublin and across the state. They were treated as prisoners, worked like slaves and subjected to horrifying levels of physical and psychological abuse. These were so-called fallen women, held against their will and dehumanised by the people in charge of these institutions.

“Justice for the Magdalenes is campaigning for justice for these women, for an apology from the State, for reparations and to ensure those responsible for what happened behind the walls of the laundries across the state are held accountable.

“Last week the United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed its grave concern at the failure by the Irish state to protect the girls and women involuntarily confined in the Magdalene laundries.

“The position of the previous government was that the laundries were privately owned and operated and this was the argument used for excluding the laundries from the terms of the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

“But the UN Committee against Torture heard that the courts regularly sent women and girls to the laundries as an alternative to jail and others were transferred into them from industrial schools, which were the absolute responsibility of the state. The Gardaí were also responsible for capturing and returning women to these institutions, if they managed to escape.

“The State cannot duck its responsibility. It must end the long history of failing the survivors and victims of the Magdalene laundries and the Government must issue an immediate formal apology and launch a statutory inquiry into the abuses.

“I hope the motion will receive the support of all councillors tonight and that we can send a unanimous message of support for the thousands of women condemned to the Magdalene laundries in Dublin and across the state and for the campaign of Justice for the Magdalenes.”

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Sinn Féin Health & Children Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caolain TD has described as "savage" the cuts proposed for health services in the Dublin/North East region in an internal HSE document revealed in the media today. He called on Health Minister to rule out such cuts.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The cuts proposed in this HSE document are nothing short of savage. It is proposed to slash services for pregnant women and young children, immunisation programmes and support for survivors of sexual abuse. There is also an outrageous threat to close Monaghan General Hospital and the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk

"Such savage cuts will be fought tooth and nail. I call on Health Minister James Reilly immediately to rule out what would be an all-out attack on health services in the Dublin-North East region. If cuts of this nature are imposed here they will be extended to other regions.

"Any attempt to make health service users pay with their health for the gambling debts of international financiers must be resisted."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD writing in his twice weekly blog (http://leargas.blogspot.com/) for the Belfast Media group has repeated his call for the establishment of an Independent International Truth Commission.

Mr. Adams said:

“The legacy of the past is one of the big issues which remain to be resolved in the outworking of the peace process. This includes the truth about formal and informal collusion and the wider desire of many victims and families for an effective truth recovery process…”

Mr. Adams’ blog deals with the Cory inquiry, the establishment of the Smithwick Tribunal and the engagement of former IRA Volunteers with it.

Mr. Adams writes in his blog:

“The Sinn Féin leadership helped to facilitate this engagement because we sincerely believe there is a responsibility to assist families bereaved in the conflict if and when we can, though this may not be possible in all cases.

Republicans are very conscious of the hurt and suffering which has been caused through conflict in our country.

Sinn Féin believes that there needs to be an effective process for dealing with all legacy issues. Weston Park only dealt with six cases. But there are many more families who seek truth and closure.

Therefore, the British and Irish governments should invite a reputable and independent international body to establish an Independent International Truth Commission.

Sinn Féin has been consistent on this issue. Our proposition would be independent of any state, combatant groups, political parties, civil society and economic interests.

It should have a remit to inquire into the extent and pattern of past violations as well as their causes and consequences and would be dependent on the full co-operation of all the relevant parties.

Of course, such a process would not be easy. There are vested interests who do not want the truth and who will oppose the creation of a meaningful truth recovery process.

It will also be a difficult and painful process and experience, particularly for bereaved families. It must therefore be conducted in a sensitive and generous way. And there can be no hierarchy of victims. All victims must be treated on the basis of equality.

The closure which victims, victim’s families and survivors deserve, demands that those who contributed to the conflict have to pledge ourselves to tell and to listen to the truth about the past. Over time this will contribute to genuine national reconciliation and an inclusive healing process.

For my part I would actively encourage republicans to co-operate with such a process.

Building a united harmonious society demands that these difficult issues are dealt with in an inclusive way as a necessary part of putting the past behind us. Looking after victims and victims’ families and survivors is a significant and important part of this.

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“Ní mór don Aire Oideachais Ruairí Quinn tábhacht na scoileanna beaga tuaithe dá phobail a thógáil san áireamh san athbhreithniú atá ar siúl aige ar an earnáil sin”, a deir an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh leis an Aire.

Bhí an Seanadóir ag labhairt le linn diospóireachta ar an athló sa Seanad an tseachtain seo caite. Dúirt sé go raibh na moltaí i dtuarascáil McCarthy don Bord Snip Nua, go gcuirfí scoileanna le níos lú na 100 dalta le chéile, aineolach ó thaobh tábhacht na scoileanna seo dá bpobail féin.

“Ní amháin go bhfuil scoileanna náisiúnta riachtanach d'oideachas páistí na gceantair seo, tá siad lárnach do spiorad agus féin mhuinín na háiteanna chomh maith. Is í an scoil náisiúnta croílár gníomhaíochta an phobail faoin dtuath, agus in áiteanna go leor tá tithe tabhairne, siopaí, agus oifigí poist caillte ag na ceantair seo cheana féin, dá bhrí sin tá an scoil náisiúnta níos tabhachtaí ná riamh dóibh.

“De réir taighde sa Bhreatain, is minic a chaitear aon airgead a sábháladh de bharr scoil tuaithe a dhúnadh, ar chostais iompair agus eile,' a deir an Seanadóir. 

“De réir taighde eile atá deánta ag Líonra Priomhoidí Bunscoile na hEireann, b'fhearr leis an bpobal, na daltaí agus na múinteoirí go gcoinneofaí na scoileanna beaga ar oscailt. Dá bhrí sin, caithfear an cheist a chur - cén fáth go ndúnfaimís iad i bhfianaise an damáiste fad-téarmach a bhíonn ann, agus gan mórán sábhailt don Státchóras dá bharr”, a deir Ó Clochartaigh.

Léirigh an Seanadóir don Aire chomh maith, gur mór an tionchar bheadh ann don Iarthar dá gcuirfí comhnascadh scoileanna den tsórt seo i bhfeidhm gan cúinsí pobail a thógáil san áireamh.

“Is Seanadóir ón Iarthar mise, agus tá sé soiléir domsa go mbeadh tionchar tubaisteach ar phobail an Iarthar dá dtosófaí polasaí comhnascadh den tsórt seo, mar tá formhór mór de na scoileanna seo ins an Iarthar. Tá 68 scoil a bhfuil an tAIre ag déanamh athbhreithnithe orthu i nGaillimh, 68 i Maigh Eo, 41 i Ros Comáin, 20 i Sligeach, 41 sa Chláir, agus 60 i nDún na nGall.” 

“Tá rialtas i ndiaidh rialtas tar éis faillí a dheánamh ar an Iarthar, agus tá an méid sin fós le mothú inniu sa réígiún. Feictear an gearradh ar mhaoiniú d'aerphort na Gaillimhe, an moill mór i soláthar seirbísí leathanbhanda, agus an easpa seirbhíse Iarnróid san Iarthar. Dá ndúnfaí na scórtha scoileanna sa réigiúin, dhéánfaí a thuilleadh damáiste do phobail atá faoi go leor brú mar atá, de bharr eisimirce agus an dífhostaíocht.”

Dhearbhaigh an Seanadóir as Conamara chomh maith, gur gá don Aire tábhacht an éiteas Gaelach i scoileanna a thógáil san áireamh le linn an phroiseas athbhreithnithe.

“Tá na scoileanna lán Ghaeilge riachtanach do chaomhnú agus forbairt na teangan, agus ní amháin i gceantair Gaeltachta. Bá chóir don Aire a bheith fíor-chúramach nach gcuirfear constaici roimh fás na teanga, agus na scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge, de bharr cur chuige gearr-radharcach i leith scoileanna beaga tuaithe.”

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The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn needs to take into account the huge contribution that small rural schools make to the community in any review of the sector, according to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh

Speaking in the course of a debate on a matter on the adjournment last week, which Senator Ó Clochartaigh had succeeded in obtaining, he stated that the proposals in the McCarthy report, which proposed to merge all schools with less than a 100 pupils, did not take into account the reality of these schools.

“The local national school, as well as being vital for the education of local children, is central to an area’s identity, and its view of itself. It's often the focus of community activity, and where an area may have lost its shop, its pub and its post office, it still has its National School.

 “Studies in Britain have shown that any savings made in closing a school can be offset by the cost in transporting students to larger schools and similar costs.

“According to a report by the Irish Primary Principals Network, the teachers, the students and the communities would all rather the system was kept as is. So why would we change it and potentially do lasting damage to communities, for the sake of tiny savings, which would be defrayed by transport and other costs anyway?”

Senator Ó Clochartaigh also highlighted to the minister the effect any policy of closures would have on the west of Ireland

“Speaking as a West of Ireland Senator, I would note that any policy which would lead to wholesale closures of schools would hit the West particularly hard, where a huge number of small schools are concentrated. There are 68 schools under review in Galway, 68 schools in Mayo, 41 schools  in Roscommon, 20 schools in Sligo, 41 schools in Clare and 60 schools under review in Donegal.

“Successive governments have long neglected the west, and we can clearly see that that trend has continued in recent years, with the failure to reinstate funding for Galway Airport, the poor road network, the appallingly slow rollout of Broadband, and the failure to build a western railway corridor. Closing scores of small schools would contribute to this neglect and  damage the fabric of the community many of which are under enough pressure as it is due to emigration and unemployment

 The Galway West Senator also affirmed the need for the minister to consider the importance of Irish Language ethos within schools in the course of the review

“Gaelscoileanna are absolutely essential for the development of the Irish language, both in Gaeltacht areas and without. The minister should be particularly careful that the growth of the language and of Gaelscoileanna isn’t hampered by a restrictive approach to the area of small schools.”

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


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Martin McGuinness speaks to media