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Responding to the Finance Minister’s suggestion that the minimum wage could be reduced Sinn Féin Dublin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said that any such move is simply not an option and noted, “the minimum wage has played an important role in keeping Ireland’s lowest paid workers out of the poverty trap. Brian Lenihan knows that the right to an annual wage of €18,000 has not adversely affected Ireland’s competitiveness.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The politics behind the demand of business representative groups for the minimum wage to be reduced is as old as history.

“What IBEC and the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan know but will not admit is that Ireland’s competitiveness has been held back by decades of underinvestment in critical infrastructure and services, an over reliance on FDI, a failure to foster and development a widespread culture of innovation and bloated senior management pay in the private and public sectors. Wage restraint needs to happen from the top down, not the bottom up.

“Cutting the minimum wage would be a massively retrograde step and far from addressing the shortfalls in Irish competitiveness it would instead increase the numbers caught in the poverty net thus further burdening the public purse. Someone always had to pick up the tab and naturally representatives groups like IBEC and individuals like Colm McCarthy fight to ensure that the most privileged and well off in Irish society are protected. However government’s role is to support and protect the interests of all Irish citizens equally.” ENDS

Responding to the Finance Minister’s suggestion that the minimum wage could be reduced Sinn Féin Dublin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said that any such move is simply not an option and noted, “the minimum wage has played an important role in keeping Ireland’s lowest paid workers out of the poverty trap. Brian Lenihan knows that the right to an annual wage of €18,000 has not adversely affected Ireland’s competitiveness.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The politics behind the demand of business representative groups for the minimum wage to be reduced is as old as history.

“What IBEC and the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan know but will not admit is that Ireland’s competitiveness has been held back by decades of underinvestment in critical infrastructure and services, an over reliance on FDI, a failure to foster and development a widespread culture of innovation and bloated senior management pay in the private and public sectors. Wage restraint needs to happen from the top down, not the bottom up.

“Cutting the minimum wage would be a massively retrograde step and far from addressing the shortfalls in Irish competitiveness it would instead increase the numbers caught in the poverty net thus further burdening the public purse. Someone always had to pick up the tab and naturally representatives groups like IBEC and individuals like Colm McCarthy fight to ensure that the most privileged and well off in Irish society are protected. However government’s role is to support and protect the interests of all Irish citizens equally.” E

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Policing Board member and Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson is calling on the PSNI to investigate under incitement legislation a Derry UDA magazine which she branded a ‘blatant and sinister incitement to hatred’.

“I have been given a copy of an edition of the UDA magazine, ‘Warrior’ by a concerned constituent after it was distributed in mixed areas of the Waterside this week,” Ms. Anderson said.

“This is a magazine which is produced to promote the UDA in Derry and North Antrim and it gives a worrying insight into the mindset of that organisation.

“As well as the racist and sectarian rants that we have unfortunately come to expect from the UDA – including what can only be described as a party political broadcast for the BNP - it also makes a number of implied threats against named individuals.

“It contains a sickening defence of the murder of Kevin McDaid in Coleraine and makes a number of wild and unsubstantiated allegations against the McDaid family and the wider Catholic Community in Coleraine. Of great concern to me is the fact that it also printed a photograph of Kevin McDaid’s son with an arrow identifying him. That is clearly sinister and should be investigated by the police.

“It also glorifies the intimidation which forced Romanian families out of South Belfast as well as launching into a vitriolic attack on south Belfast MLA Anna Lo. And while I will not repeat the vile statements contained in this publication, the fact that Anna has already been told of a death threat against her, I believe they represent a clear incitement and should be treated seriously.

“The magazine even laments the fact that former Beirut hostage, Brian Keenan was not murdered by his captors. Again, the language used is too offensive for me to repeat.

“We are well aware of tensions within the UDA and this magazine seems to confirm that, by attacking their Belfast counterparts over the recent decision to put some weapons beyond use.

“This publication is a blatant incitement to hatred and even murder. It should not be distributed anywhere, particularly as it is coming from a criminal gang like the UDA, who continue to engage in drug dealing as well as racist and sectarian attacks.

“I have submitted a copy of this magazine to the PSNI who are now investigating it and I will be insisting that all possible steps are taken to put it out of circulation and to take action against anyone selling or distributing it.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan has welcomed the announcement by the Financial Regulator on the publishing of its Annual Report today that the body now takes a more intrusive and intensive hands-on approach to its work. However the Louth TD warned that the Chairman of the Financial Regulators statement that the task of regulation in Ireland was hindered by the global financial crisis suggests that not all the necessary lessons have been learnt.

Deputy Morgan said:

“The global financial crisis exposed the deficiencies of the Financial Regulators office, it did not create them. The fall out from its practices, powers and regulatory regime will be felt for years to come. Generations are now saddled with unprecedented debt and thousands of SMEs unable to access credit will have what should have been a sustainable future cut short, and Ireland’s international reputation will be coloured by sleeveenism. Of course the buck stops with government but the Financial Regulator is also responsible for Ireland's banking crisis. Improved practices are welcome but if the Regulator is to fully learn from its massive mistakes it must first acknowledge that it is partially responsible for a great disservice to the Irish people. That is the only basis upon which it can truly go forward.” ENDS

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West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP MLA Pat Doherty says today’s announcement of the preferred route for the A5 Western Transport Corridor Dual Carriageway represents a pivotal turning point in terms of re-dressing the infrastructural imbalance west of the Bann and in the north west region of Ireland.

Sinn Féin has been to the fore in the campaign for the upgrade of this strategic road transport corridor and many Sinn Fein representatives were present in Omagh this morning as the preferred route was officially unveiled by DRD Minister Conor Murphy and Transport Minister Noel Dempsey.

Speaking at the event local MP Pat Doherty said,

“Up until this point talk of the A5 dual carriageway has been a largely abstract concept to most people but today’s unveiling of the preferred route by both Ministers, coupled with the joint commitment north and south to finance this the largest ever infrastructural project west of the Bann, means that people will now be in a position to enjoy the tangible benefits that will flow from this project within a matter of a short few years.

“These benefits include: significant cuts to journey times along the route; increased roads safety; reduced traffic congestion in built up areas and the resulting environmental improvements such as improved air quality; as well as the key issue of enhancing the economic competitiveness of the region by bringing the region into line with the standard of road infrastructure in other parts of the island.

“I was assured in a meeting with Minister Conor Murphy last month that every conceivable effort had been made to keep disruption and upheaval to dwellings at an absolute minimum and I welcome that fact the comparatively small number of dwelling owners who are directly impacted in terms of the preferred route will be first contacted by Roads Service and project consultants Mouchel over the next few days, and before the detailed maps go to public exhibition at 4 venues along the route. It is important that the concerns of people who are directly impacted by the proposed route are addressed and hopefully through this form of direct consultation, the upcoming statutory public consultation, and public inquiry their concerns can be fully addressed

“Further important details will emerge in the days to come about how towns and villages along the route will be connected to the dual carriageway it is clear that today’s announcement represents a pivotal turning point in terms of re-dressing the infrastructural imbalance west of the Bann and in the north west region of Ireland.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA has expressed his deep sadness at the death of Frank McCourt and has extended his condolences to Frank’s wife Ellen, his daughter Maggie and his brothers and family circle and friends.

Mr. Adams said:

‘Frank McCourt was an exceptional teacher and natural storyteller.

He was a gifted and inspiring writer and his books revealed aspects of life in Ireland which touched the hearts of millions.

I want to extend on my behalf and that of Sinn Féin our deep sadness at his death and extend our sincerest condolences to Frank’s wife Ellen, his daughter Maggie and his brothers and family circle and friends.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MLA and deputy chair of the health committee Michelle O’Neill has said that anybody who was in affected by C-difficile outbreaks or have concerns around the infection sites should come forward to take part in the inquiry that began its first stage today.

Speaking today Ms O’Neill said:

“Sinn Féin called for a public inquiry into deaths where the C-Diff virus has been identified as either a direct or contributory factor in the deaths and this is the out workings of that.

“This is an essential inquiry and could find some answers for those who have lost loved ones due to the outbreak of C Difficile.

“It should be wider than just those who have been directly affected however.  I would encourage anybody who was apprehensive due to conditions in a hospital or left a ward due to hygiene concerns to come forward in order to have an extensive a range of views as possible into the overall problems and conditions that led to outbreaks of C Difficile.

“However there also is an onus on the inquiry team to take a proactive role in ascertaining the facts and actively contacting those who were affected.

 “Answers must be forth coming on the causes and possible future solutions in combating and reducing the incidence of C Difficlie within our hospitals, for the sake of patients, their families and our hospital workers.”

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Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has hosted the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Sectoral meetings on Aquaculture and Marine on Monday 20 July and Agriculture and Rural Development on Tuesday 21 July at CAFRE's Greenmount Campus.

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State Conor Lenihan TD represented the South at the Aquaculture meeting on Monday, with Junior Minister Robin Newton MLA also in attendance. Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith TD and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon O'Cuiv TD attended today’s agricultural sectoral meeting, along with Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA.

Referring to progress on the All Island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Minister Gildernew said: “Progress continues to be made on the development of the Strategy, the ultimate aim of which will be the free movement of animals on the island of Ireland. My officials continue to work closely with their counterparts in DAFF to develop this Strategy.

“Minister Smith and I will be hosting a conference in the Autumn with our respective key industry stakeholders to discuss the outworkings of the Strategy and how it is to be delivered.”

Turning to the benefits of the ongoing co-operation with the south in the field of animal health, particularly with regard to disease control, the Minister said: “Close co-operation on animal health issues on the island of Ireland has the potential to help reduce and prevent animal disease spread, to facilitate trade and to improve the sustainability of farming in the north.

“In the event of an outbreak of a serious epizootic animal disease in either or both jurisdictions, it is recognised that sustained co-operation between both administrations will be essential to prevent the further spread of disease. The problems in Britain due to Foot and Mouth, Avian Flu and Bluetongue have put the spotlight on the value of this approach on the island.

“Contingency plan common chapters have now been agreed for Foot and Mouth Disease, Avian Influenza and Bluetongue. These chapters put protocols in place to ensure timely communication in the event of a disease outbreak. They set out agreed lines of communication at various levels in each Department and with key external stakeholders.”

In addition to dealing with these three key diseases, the model can be adapted in order to deal with any new and emerging diseases, therefore it provides a sound basis for the development of other contingency plans that may be needed.

Discussing other developments at the agriculture sectoral meeting, the Minister said: “In March we agreed to strengthen co-operation in dealing with major incidents such as the recent animal feed contamination issue. We can confirm that an early warning system has been agreed to deal with major incidents of this nature.

“These interim arrangements build on the rapid notification systems that already exist for serious animal disease outbreaks. These systems have now been extended to cover any issues that have a potential impact on animal health and welfare or on animal products or the food chain.”

Minister Gildernew concluded by noting: “At today’s meeting I also briefly outlined my proposals for new legislation on Dog Control and Animal Welfare. I also highlighted the fact that puppy farming needs to be tackled on an All-island basis.

“Both today’s meeting and yesterday’s Aquaculture and Marine meeting have been very constructive and I look forward to the next meetings of both sectors later this year.”

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Transport Minister Conor Murphy and his southern counterpart Minister Noel Dempsey TD, today announced the preferred route for the A5 Western Transport Corridor, the proposed 86 kilometre long dual carriageway from Derry to Aughnacloy, estimated to cost between £650million and £850million.

Speaking in Omagh, Co. Tyrone the Minister said: “The A5 Western Transport Corridor is one of five Key Transport Corridors identified in the Regional Transportation Strategy for the North of Ireland. This major road improvement scheme represents quite a significant step in improving connections between Dublin and Derry and Donegal in the North West of Ireland. Today’s announcement of the preferred route marks the achievement, on time, of the second key milestone for this project agreed between both the Executive and the Irish Government.

“The proposed road is a high standard dual carriageway and will have no private accesses, no central reserve crossovers and the minimum of junctions. Many of the local roads will not be connected to the dual carriageway but will be taken over or under the new road or stopped up. This standard of dual carriageway has significant safety benefits for the road user. The new dual carriageway will also bring an estimated saving on journey times of approximately 20 minutes. This time saving is very important. I, along with my Executive colleagues, am committed to reversing decades of underinvestment West of the Bann and helping realise the economic and investment opportunities in the region through balanced regional infrastructure.”

“In environmental terms, the towns and villages along the route of the existing A5 will benefit greatly from this project. The new dual carriageway will attract most of the long distance traffic, particularly the heavy goods vehicles, away from the existing A5. The reduced traffic volumes through the towns and settlements will create a safer environment with better air quality and reduced noise giving an overall better quality of life for the residents.

“Unfortunately it is not possible to construct a road project of this size without adverse effects on dwellings, property and land. I am pleased to say that our designers have succeeded in developing a preferred route which impacts directly on only a very small number of dwellings. Over the next few days, in advance of public exhibitions to be held next week, staff from Roads Service and its project consultants, Mouchel, will be visiting those dwelling owners to personally inform them of the line of the preferred route."

The Minister outlined the preferred route saying: "It starts at the Derry end with a new single carriageway by-pass to the west of New Buildings. Immediately south of New Buildings there will be a roundabout which will be the start of the new dual carriageway. This roundabout will also facilitate possible future road links between the A5 and the A6 and also across the River Foyle to the west of the City and Donegal. Running southwards from New Buildings, the preferred route tracks west of Magheramason, east of Bready , west of Cloghcor and Ballymagorry and by-passes Strabane to the west.

"The preferred route passes between Sion Mills and Glebe, passes west of Victoria Bridge and Newtownstewart and continues west of Mountjoy and Omagh. At the southern end, the preferred route tracks to the west of Garvaghy and Ballygawley before bypassing Aughnacloy on its east side to meet with the A28 Armagh/Newry route. From this point, a short section of single carriageway will facilitate connection to the proposed improvements to upgrade the N2 route in County Monaghan."

Public exhibitions, at which more detailed maps will be available to inform the public about the Preferred Route, are being held at the following locations:
The Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh on Monday 27 July from 12.00noon to 9.00pm
The Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane on Tuesday 28 July from 12.00noon to 9.00pm
The Everglades Hotel, Derry, on Wednesday 29 July from 12.00noon to 9.00pm
St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley on Thursday 30 July from 12.00noon to 9.00pm
Staff from Roads Service and their advisors will be available to answer questions.

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Commenting after the home of an elderly couple on Workman Avenue was attacked last night by stone throwers, local Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Hartley said:

Cllr. Hartley said:

“For many years community and political representatives from both communities have been working tirelessly to stop these sorts of disgraceful attacks on homes along the interface. Regardless of where an attack emanates from or whose home is attacked these actions must be condemned.

“It appears that this particular attack took place from the Invest NI site on the Springfield Road. This is not the fist time young people have breached the fencing on the site and engaged in anti social and sectarian behaviour. Ourselves and local community organisations have been calling for sometime for Invest NI to properly secure this site. Unfortunately that has not happened.

“I would appeal to people and particularly young people not to get involved in this sort of behaviour. It is unacceptable and must stop.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on Human Rights Martina Anderson has stated that the publication of a report into Maghaberry prison today is the fourth report this year to focus on the need for a serious overhaul of practices and conditions at the prison.

Speaking today Ms Anderson said:

“Successive reports have been published this year have highlighted the need for a radical overhaul of the systems and procedures in place at Maghaberry prison. This latest report points out 200 recommendations and taken with earlier reports made this year the number of recommendations add up significantly.

“The fact that Maghaberry is ranked as one of only three prisons out of 169 inspected to fail in safety and that it failed in all four of the internationally recognised tests for prisoner welfare is a damning indictment.

“If we have this many reports pointing to systematic problems within the prison action needs to be taken immediately. Clearly something is seriously wrong and root and branch surgery needs to begin. Each and every one of these reports have pointed to a culture of inadequate service provision or non-compliance with human rights norms and poor conditions within our prison service.

“In all these findings clearly highlight the need for a radical overhaul of the Prison Service. Currently this is the gift of Paul Goggins and there is an onus on him to begin such an overhaul immediately given the seriousness of the situation and the findings of four separate reports this year alone.”

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Sinn Féin west Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has branded comments from DUP MLA Simon Hamilton in yesterday’s Irish News as ‘entirely motivated by party political considerations’.

Speaking this afternoon Mr McElduff said,

“The reality is that North/South approach saves money.

There is an economic imperative that compels us to look not where Simon is suggesting but at the fact that there is vast amounts of money being wasted on service duplication across this small country. Two health care systems, two educations systems, two social welfare systems, two transport systems do not make sense on an Island with a population of almost six million.

Today I along with many others will attend the announcement of the new route for A5 carriageway. This is another example of where an All-Ireland approach makes both economic and social sense; it allows greater access and connectivity between people and improves transportation for trade. This is but one example.

Simon Hamilton should take on board all of these factors before allowing party political considerations to ensure he gets a few lines in the paper. I put it to Simon Hamilton, would he recommend that the Irish Government end its funding programmes within disadvantaged, working class loyalist and unionist areas? I would imagine that the people working and living in those communities, who work so closely with and benefit so greatly from north south cooperation would feel somewhat differently from him on this issue.” CRÍOCH

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Speaking after the publication of the final report of the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner, Séanna Breatnach, Chairperson of Sinn Féin’s Cultural Department, said:

“It is with great disappointment that Sinn Féin notes the refusal of the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner to consider recognition of bilingual English and Irish ward names in his report to the D.O.E. This comes after a consultation process where Gael’s in various areas in the six counties voiced their support for such a move, with some attending the hearings where they had the opportunity to address the commission as Gaeilge. The Commissioner’s stated reasons for not giving this long overdue recognition are dubious at best. We are not told for example why the Commissioner does not consider his Commission to be an associated body under the EU Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, and on what he bases his belief that the Charter does not apply to them. Stranger still is his questioning of the demand for this recognition in the face of overwhelming demand in certain areas, like Belfast where a majority of all submissions – 82% at the first stage – included a call for bilingual ward names. The Commissioner has declined to explain how he squares this with his acceptance of the Duncairn and Blackstaff names “for reasons of history and geography/heritage of the area and the associations which local residents have with the name”
There is a vibrant and growing Irish speaking community in the north of Ireland. Place names in most areas reflect their strong and long link with the Irish language. The Commissioner’s recommendations show complete disregard for the wishes of the Irish speaking community in general and an ignorance of the nature of the areas being dealt with by the Commission.
There is an onus on government, as outlined in the Good Friday Agreement and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, to actively take steps towards officially recognising the identity of Irish speakers in the north of Ireland, and the final report of the LGBC has missed a clear opportunity to facilitate that.” CRÍCOH

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Ag caint dó i ndiaidh foilsiú tuarascáil deireanach an Choimisinéir um Athruithe ar Theorainneacha an Rialtais Áitiúil, dúirt Séanna Breatnach, ar cathaoirleach é ar Roinn Cultúir Shinn Féin, dúirt sé:
“Tá díomá mhór ar Shinn Féin i ndiaidh do Choimisinéir na dTeorainneacha Rialtais Áitiúil ó thuaidh diúltú d’aitheantas a thabhairt do leaganacha dátheangacha na mBardaí sa thuairisc a chuir sé chuig an Roinn Timpeallachta.
Tháinig a thuairisc amach as próiseas comhairlúcháin ina léirigh Gaeil ar fud na sé chontae tacaíocht don bheart seo, cuid acu a labhair as Gaeilge leis an Choimisiún ag na héisteachtaí a bhí mar chuid den phróiseas. Níl na fáthanna a thug an Coimisinéir dá dhiúltú, cóir ná ciallmhar. Níor dúradh linn, mar shampla, cad chuige a gcreideann an Coimisinéir nach foras gaolmhar é a Choimisiún faoin Cháirt Eorpach do Theangacha Réigiúnacha agus Mionlaigh, agus cén fáth ina thuairim nach mbaineann an Cháirt leo. Tá sé níos aistí arís a cheistiú fán éileamh atá ann don aitheantas seo agus an t-éileamh chomh mór agus a bhí in áiteanna áirithe. Cuir i gcás Béal Feirste mar a raibh formhór na n-aighneachtaí ar fad – 82% i ndiaidh na chéad tréimhse – ag tacú le haithint na leaganacha Gaeilge de Bhardaí. Dhiúltaigh an Coimisinéir míniú cén dóigh gur féidir leis neamhaird glan a thabhairt ar mhianta na ndaoine sa chás seo, agus glacadh leis na hainmneacha Duncairn agus Blackstaff ag an am céanna “ar chúiseanna a bhaineann le stair agus tíreolaíocht/dúchas an cheantair agus an baint atá ag daoine áitiúla leis an ainm.
Tá pobal bríomhar Gaeilge ann atá ag fás i dtuaisceart na hÉireann. Nochtann an chuid is mó de logainmneacha an nasc stairiúil láidir idir áiteanna agus an Ghaeilge. Déanann moltaí an Choimisinéir neamhaird ghlan ar mhianta phobal na Gaeilge go ginearálta agus léiríonn siad cé chomh haineolach atá sé maidir le fíor-nádúr na gceantar lena bhfuil a Choimisiún ag plé.
Tá sé de dhualgas ar an rialtas, mar a leagtar síos i gComhaontú Aoine an Chéasta agus sa Cháirt Eorpach do Theangacha Réigiúnacha agus Mionlaigh, céimeanna a ghlacadh go gníomhach chun aitheantas a thabhairt ar fhéiniúlacht phobal na Gaeilge ó thuaidh. Is léir ón méid atá i dtuarascáil deireanach an Choimisinéir go bhfuil deis maith chun sin a chur chun cinn caillte anseo.”
CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MLA for west Tyrone Barry McElduff has congratulated the Ulster championship winning Tyrone side.

Speaking today, the chair of the Assembly’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee said;

“Firstly I want to congratulate Tyrone on yesterday’s victory, it comes on the back of victory of the ladies team in the Ulster Championship, the Camogie victory as well as the Lory Meagher Cup victory in the hurling.

Sunday’s match displayed all the positive qualities of the Gaelic Athletic Association; family fun, sport and culture. Anyone who attended yesterday’s match will have seen a colourful and fantastic display of all three qualities.

Antrim are also worthy of genuine congratulations on their campaign during the Ulster Championships and I wish them well against the Kingdom!

The minor match displayed the continuing work going on day in and day out by volunteers throughout Ireland to make the GAA the envy of sporting organisations right across Europe.

Tyrone’s achievements will be appreciated by everyone in the county as well as right across Ireland and beyond. We wish them continuing success.

Comhghairdeas agus go n-eirí libh!” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Fein Assembly member for Upper Bann John O’Dowd has expressed serious concerns after the PSNI shot the occupant of a stolen range rover in Gilford last night. It is reported that the range rover was stolen from a house in Craigavon in the early hours of this morning.

Mr O’Dowd said:

“The exact circumstances of what happened in the early hours of this morning are not yet clear. What seems to have been established is that a range rover was stolen from a house in Craigavon after its occupants were threatened and sometime after that the PSNI shot and injured a man who crashed the stolen vehicle and was running from the scene.

“This individual was clearly involved in criminality and we must also bear in mind the distress of the family he threatened. However this is in our view a wreckless use of firearms. It is completely unacceptable for the PSNI to fire live rounds in what was essentially a stolen car incident. This incident happened in daylight hours. There are numerous other non lethal options available to stop stolen cars and indeed apprehend unarmed people running from a situation like this.

“This incident clearly could have resulted in the death of the driver of the range rover and it is now important that the Police Ombudsman begins his investigation and completes it speedily in an open and transparent way.” CRÍOCH

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Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said Colm McCarthy and the members of Government are so far removed from the reality facing the hundreds of thousands of people dependent on social welfare that they are unqualified to recommend cuts to social welfare payments. Senator Doherty said the Government has no mandate to implement the report from An Bord Snip Nua and a general election should be called.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said, “Colm McCarthy and the other members of An Bord Snip Nua are all significantly high earners who are so far removed from the reality facing the hundreds of thousands of people dependent on social welfare that they are not qualified to recommend cuts to social welfare payments. This also goes for the members of Government who will now try to implement the disgraceful cutbacks contained in the Bord Snip report.

“The reality is that the Government has no mandate to implement this report. A general election should now be called so all parties can put their plans for economic recovery before the people and let them decide the way forward.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Fianna Fáil/Green Government has no mandate to implement the sweeping measures in the McCarthy report which would “devastate healthcare for the sick, education for children, care for older people and social supports for all those who need them”. He called for a national debate on the way forward and a General Election.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The sweeping measures in the McCarthy report, if implemented, would slash and burn across our public services. They raise fundamental questions about what type of society we want to live in and have provoked widespread responses across the country, something that will continue to grow in the weeks and months ahead. A major national debate about the way forward is beginning but this is happening in a political vacuum.

“The Fianna Fáil/Green Government deliberately waited until the Dáil and Seanad were in recess before publishing the McCarthy report. The Government hopes to play clever political games and manage news over the summer months. Having refused to accept responsibility for the economic recession which was caused by its policies, the Government will now use the McCarthy report as the basis for cuts that will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. At the same time it will try to claim credit if it does not implement some of the harshest measures.

“The McCarthy proposals would devastate healthcare for the sick, education for children, care for older people and social supports for all who need them.

“The Fianna Fáil/Green Government has no mandate to implement any such programme. Therefore it should put this programme before the people in a General Election. Let the Government parties and all parties set out their plans to address the economic crisis and let the people decide.” ENDS

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Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has announced that just over £100million has now been paid out in grant aid under the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme (FNMS) to date.

Detailing the latest FNMS figures, the Minister said: “Good progress has been made to date in completing remaining inspections in line with DARD’s recently published inspection timetable.

“But I want to also remind those farmers, who have yet to be inspected to please ensure that all outstanding issues, however minor are resolved well ahead of their inspections. To help farmers ensure that they are fully prepared for inspections we are providing them with a checklist in readiness for their inspection.

“ I want to see as many farmers as possible avoid the situation where there has to be a repeat inspection , as this would of course further delay the payment of their claims."

The Minister concluded: “The end is almost in sight for successful completion of FNMS and it is in all our interests to avoid any further delays in its’ roll-out.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has described Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelsons rejection of talks with Sinn Féin as ‘disappointing’.
 
Mr. Adams said:
 
“I listened to Drew Nelson's radio interview this morning. It is clear that he is allowing his personal feelings to undermine his leadership responsibilities and obligations. Republicans could put up exactly the same pre conditions as Mr Nelson. We very consciously refrain from doing so.
 
“Dialogue is a necessary part of any human discourse. It is especially so in a conflict resolution process. It is also in the interests of the Orange Order. Apart from the small numbers of disputed Orange parades which require solutions, the Orange Order leaderships refusal to talk makes a nonsense of their other initiatives like Orangefest.
 
“How can the Orange Order hope to be a constructive part of the new political dispensation if they refuse to accept the electoral mandate of the largest party in the north?

“Mr Nelson calls on me to apologise for and to stop glorifying IRA killings. For the record I have never glorified IRA killings. My position on the IRA is a matter of public record. Mr Nelson disagrees with me. He, like me, is entitled to his opinion. I have also stated my regrets at the deaths and injuries caused by republicans. This includes members of loyal institutions.
 
“All the deaths and the bereavement of families from all sides should be a matter of regret for everyone, republican and Orangeman alike. A commitment to prevent such deaths should also be the responsibility of republicans and Orangemen. Upholding the primacy of dialogue and engaging with each other in the public interest and the common good is part of this.” ENDS

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Responding to reports that the Inquiries into the murders of Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright have so far cost £95m, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Truth issues Francie Molloy said that ‘it is not the inquiries themselves which have cost money, it is the British government policy of concealment and cover-up which gave rise to them which has caused these costs’.

 

Mr Molloy said:

 

"Once again when dealing with the issues of inquiries into people murdered directly by the British State or through their surrogate gangs, elements of the British establishment seek to hide behind the costs of these tribunals rather than focus on why they are in place in the first instance and secondly why their governments actions have contributed to such high costs. In March Shaun Woodward already indicated in the British House of Commons that these inquiries would cost £300m.

 

"It is not the inquiries themselves which have cost money; it is the British government policy of concealment and cover-up which gave rise to them which has caused these costs. The approach of the British government to these inquiries shows that their concealment policy is alive and well.

"So it would do victims and survivors a much greater service if the British government instead of playing a bogus numbers game announced that they were finally prepared to come clean on their past involvement in collusion, state murder and other human rights abuses." ENDS

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