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Speaking at the Dublin Easter 1916 commemoration at the GPO, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD called for the rejection of the Austerity Treaty in the forthcoming referendum. 

He said:

“The 1916 Proclamation declared ‘the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland’.

“Today the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland is denied by the continuing partition of our country and by the selling out of our economy to the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. Our people are being forced into unemployment, emigration, poverty and increased social division in order to pay to international bank bond-holders a debt that the people did not incur.

“Last year the electorate of this State gave Fine Gael and Labour an unprecedented electoral mandate. It was a mandate to undo the disastrous legacy of the outgoing Fianna Fáil regime – including the outrageous impositions of the Troika, the unlimited bank guarantee and the totally unjustified pledges to un-guaranteed Anglo-Irish Bank bondholders.

“Far from removing or even loosening the Fianna Fáil straitjacket, this Coalition Government wants to make it permanent by signing up to an Austerity Treaty that will tie this and future governments to a narrow, rigid economic doctrine, condemning our people to more long years of economic stagnation, unemployment, poverty and emigration.

“I want to make a call here at the GPO, where James Connolly commanded in 1916, to the leaders of the Irish trade union movement to oppose this Austerity Treaty and to campaign against it. Many trade unionists have already pledged opposition to the Austerity Treaty and we commend them for that. But others have so far failed to do so. I call especially here today on the leadership of the largest union, SIPTU, to join the campaign against the Austerity Treaty. The SIPTU leaders have a clear choice – represent their members and represent trade unionists across Europe who oppose austerity or join with the Parliamentary Labour Party in acting as a mud-guard for Fine Gael. 

“We in Sinn Féin have already commenced our campaign against the Austerity Treaty and I urge everyone here to play their part. Bring the message to every door in Dublin and ensure a massive ‘NO’ vote on 31st May. Let us assert, in the words of the Proclamation, our ‘right to national freedom and sovereignty’. Reject this Treaty, reject austerity, there IS a better way.”

Referring to the Household Charge, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The people have voted with their feet on Hogan’s Household Charge. We will continue to oppose the charge and to defend local government against this latest assault by Fine Gael and Labour. They are trying to blame those campaigning against the Household Charge for the funding crisis in local government. But, make no mistake, that crisis has been caused by the Government cut to the Local Government Fund in Budget 2012 and their linking of local government funding to the inequitable and uncollectible Household Charge.

“We want to see viable and equitable funding for local government and we will always defend local democracy. I commend the Dublin Sinn Féin Councillors for the stand they have taken in fighting for local government services, especially for the housing needs of the people of this city.” 

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I thank the Republicans of County Donegal for the opportunity to address you on this the 96th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. It is a privilege to join with you as we recall the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and pay tribute to all those who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom. We make no distinction between the men and women of 1916 and the men and women of 1981. We honour equally the Republicans who fell in the years of struggle 1916 to 1923 and those who gave their lives in our own era since 1969.

To the families, friends and comrades of all those who died we extend our continuing sympathy and solidarity.

We are gathered at a poignant and historic place, the scene of a tragedy of the Irish Civil War. Charlie Daly, Seán Larkin, Daniel Enright and Tim O’Sullivan were put to death on this spot by Free State forces. They stood against the disastrous Partition of our country. James Connolly predicted that the Partition of Ireland would lead to a carnival of reaction. The four martyrs of Drumboe were among the victims of that carnival of reaction which saw thousands imprisoned and interned on both sides of the border, scores of prison executions and roadside killings of Republican prisoners and pogroms against the nationalist population in the Six Counties.

Charlie Daly, Sean Larkin, Daniel Enright and Tim O’Sullivan were executed because they remained firm in their allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916. The Easter Rising is the defining event and the Proclamation of the Republic is the defining document in the history of Irish Republicanism. You have heard the Proclamation read here today. Our task is to apply its principles to the Ireland of 2012 and to build a new Republic on this island.

There are key turning points that change the course of every nation’s history. In Ireland, the 1916 rising was such an event as was the hunger strike of 1981. The Good Friday, St. Andrews and Hillsborough Agreements, and the IRA statement that the war is over were other such landmarks on a road that I firmly believe will lead to Irish reunification.

The historic engagement we are now involved in with unionism within the political institutions provides a solid basis upon which to move forward to a new future for politics on this island.

Sinn Féin is different from other political parties and is proud of that fact and determined to remain so. For us politics is not just about winning seats or achieving ministerial posts. Sinn Féin is a party born in struggle with our membership and elected representatives coming from the communities most under the strain of political and economic exclusion North and South. We must always understand and reflect the needs of people struggling to survive in their daily lives. That understanding and connection with our community is the bedrock of our struggle. 

Here in County Donegal, the people have spoken, the election of Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn just over a year ago have placed our party in the leadership of this proud Republican County,  The Elections saw spectacular growth for Sinn Féin and with further gains for our Party in the Assembly elections shows that as the only all-Ireland party with substantial electoral support we have now, in a decisive step in the last year moved into the mainstream of Irish political life throughout all 32 counties,

We gather here at a time of great challenge in Ireland. Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to survive. Tens of thousands of our most talented young people are leaving our shores. It is unacceptable and the direct result of the actions of corrupt political and business elites whose actions have been laid bare by the Mahon and Moriarty Tribunals.

Partition created two conservative states on our island. They served the needs of the political elites north and south instead of the needs of ordinary citizens across the island. That is why the southern establishment was happy to pay lip service to a united Ireland and why some continue to do so.

Republicans have a different vision. We believe there is a better way. A re-united Ireland and a New Republic built in the interests of citizens is the future.

There is massive potential for Republicans in the time ahead. The Good Friday Agreement has levelled the political playing field. Unionism no longer has a veto over Irish unity.

The Government of Ireland Act by which Britain claimed a part of Ireland has been repealed. While Orangeism may remain, the spectre of the Orange state has gone, and it will never return.

We are in an entirely new situation legislatively and constitutionally. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the British Government has agreed to legislate to end its jurisdiction over the North of Ireland if a majority of people in the North want it.

In that context, republicans have a responsibility to reach out to unionists and to others to engage with them about the nature and form of the future structures on this island. The development of an all-island economy is clearly in the interests of everyone in Ireland. The construction of the new Radiotherapy unit in the North-West will be of huge benefit to the people of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry. We stood by this commitment and we delivered it. We also stood firm and are delivering on the new first class roads from the North-West to Dublin and Belfast with construction to begin in a few months time. These are but two of the many initiatives which bring mutual benefits North and South that can improve the lives of our people no matter what their political or religious affiliation

We seek a united Ireland in which the unionist section of our people feel comfortable and play a full part in the life of the nation. I believe that it is possible for unionists and republicans to stand together without dilution of our beliefs. As was stated to me very clearly by a unionist Leader, ‘Martin we can rule ourselves. We don’t need direct rulers coming over from London telling us what to do’. That statement provided common ground on which we can all stand. We must be open to practical ways of giving expression to the unionist sense of Britishness within a united Ireland.

In the discussions leading to re-unification we will be imaginative in terms of passport rights, symbols and other issues of identity crucial to building a fully inclusive united Ireland respecting the traditions of all our people in all their diversity.

Unionist participation in large numbers at our Uniting Ireland conferences is most encouraging and proves that a large section of unionist opinion is willing to contribute to the debate on the new politics which the Good Friday Agreement has brought. We also must listen to what unionists say. We must truly act as nation builders, and peacemakers. That means always stretching ourselves and always taking risks to advance the task of building a new Ireland.

All Republicans have an obligation to participate in this task. This means, first of all, firmly rejecting sectarianism, bigotry and violence in all its forms – no matter what its source and no matter what its target.

Secondly it means engaging in positive and active dialogue with unionists and demonstrating to them, not just by our words but by our deeds, that equality means equality for all – not just for nationalists and republicans but for all those who share this island.

Ireland as a nation can only truly prosper if we are at peace with ourselves as a people. It means overcoming the historic fracture between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. In the Ireland of 2012 it means building a pluralist, ethnically and culturally diverse society that embraces all citizens.

I want to deepen and expand my role to lead the process of national reconciliation in Ireland - a process that I believe is already underway. There is now a greater tolerance of difference and diversity which is borne out of better understanding of each other.

I am very confident in my Irishness. I am also very aware of my responsibilities as the deputy First Minister and very conscious that I am elected as deputy First Minister for all people – I take that responsibility seriously particularly to the unionist community.

I am also very conscious of my responsibility as a Republican leader –to defend and promote the integrity of our struggle.

Let the message go out very clearly from Drumboe today - Sinn Féin will not be deflected from the historic work we are engaged in. We are the Nation builders. We are not motivated by self interest or personal gain. We have set ourselves high standards and even bigger goals – but we are determined and we are united. We are the engine driving historic political, social and constitutional change on this island.

I urge each and every one of you to be part of that movement for real change in our country, for social and economic and cultural freedom, for a real Republic embracing all 32 Counties and all of our people.

Many of you are supporters of Sinn Féin who assist in elections and fundraising and who attend commemorations and other events such as these. I ask you, if you have not already done so, to take the next step and to join Sinn Féin.

Play your part, have your say, empower yourself and your community. Encourage your friends and family to join Sinn Féin. We need a mighty movement across this land to reach our goal of freedom and unity.

We are on the road to freedom. If we go forward together, firmly united and in greater numbers, we will complete our historic task — a united Ireland and a New Republic.          

An Phoblacht Abú!

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I am honored to have been invited to The Loup to speak at what is the most important republican event of the year.

It is fitting that I do so as we stand at the graveside of Seán Larkin one of the Drumboe Martyrs, who found a welcome among the republicans of my own native County Donegal before his capture and execution at Drumboe on 14 March 1923.

Sean was one of the first victims of partition rule in our country, one of the 77 republican prisoners of war executed by the Free State government during the Civil War.

He rejected the Treaty and stood by the Irish Republic.

On Easter week 96 years ago, republicans, nationalists, socialists, suffragettes, Irish language activists, trade unionists, and Irish citizens from across the country came together with a single objective in mind.

To assert the right of the Irish people to govern our own country, free from British rule, in an equal and democratic society.

The 1916 proclamation, read from the front of the GPO in Dublin, outline the kind of revolution that the rebels were trying to start.

It was to be a democratic revolution, acknowledging the sovereignty of every man and woman to determine the course of Irish history.

It was to be an egalitarian revolution, declaring the right of all the people to the common ownership of the wealth of the nation.

Crucially, the proclamation declared:

 The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally

96 years ago, and in every generation since, Irish men and women have struggled, fought and died in an attempt to secure the kind of republic promised in the 1916 Proclamation.

And so today, here in The Loup, across the 32 county’s, and indeed across the world, Irish republicans remember the men and women of 1916; celebrate the ideals for which they fought and died; and commemorate every subsequent generation of Irish republicans who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we, the Irish people, could be free.

We all owe a great depth of gratitude to these men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of republican objectives. They stood up for justice, equality and freedom.  Their vision, their determination, and their courage are to be commended and drive us onwards. 

The Loup

I am always mindful when speaking at the graveside of our martyrs of the human suffering and sacrifice of republican volunteers and their families.

I want to in particular welcome the families of our brave patriots from this county that join us here today and extend our continuing sympathy and solidarity to all the families of our fallen comrades.

Today is a day of remembrance. We remember the men and women who fought and died for our country.

We remember their families- parents, partners, children and friends - who also suffered and continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones.

We pay tribute to them all for their contribution to the republican struggle. And importantly we draw inspiration from that contribution. They are the benchmark against which we must judge ourselves as republican activists.

Their contribution must compel us to increase our efforts to achieve what they so valiantly died for.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the deaths of IRA volunteers Phelim Grant and Charles McCann, the 30th anniversary of Volunteer Danny Mc Mullen, the 25th anniversary of the death of Volunteers Peter Rodden and Liam Casey and the 20 anniversary of the death of Malachy Carey.  

These volunteers and the many others that are on our roll of honor and roll of remembrance were like so many young men and women from the nationalist heartlands. They were motivated to join the IRA by a mixture of anger at the repression of the Unionist and British Governments and a desire to defend their communities from attack by the B Specials and Loyalist gangs.

But they were also motivated by the political ideals of 1916 – the idea that the freedom of their families and communities would be best served in an independent and united Irish Republic. Free from British interference and from Unionist discrimination and misrule.

 In any other time these men and women named on the local roll of honor and roll of remembrance would have lived ordinary lives, growing up to have families of their own, rear children and grandchildren, contribute to the life of their community, their local GAA club or their local Credit Union.

But they lived in far from ordinary times. And young, brave and committed men and women from this county and others took the extraordinary step of putting the well being of their community and their country before their own and in doing so paid a very heave price.

We must celebrate the contribution made by the volunteers of the IRA to the struggle and draw inspiration from that contribution.

The progress of recent years has meant that the struggle for Irish freedom has entered a new phase where peaceful means provide the way forward. The sacrifices of our comrades in the past, those who suffered death or injury or imprisonment, have ensured that there can never be a return to a one-party Orange state, to second-class citizenship, to British militarization and institutionalised sectarianism. But there is still a significant way to go before the achievement of republican goals.

2012

There has never been a better time to be an Irish republican. Across the country, the republican message is growing stronger week by week and month by month.

As a result our objective of a united and equal Ireland is becoming more popular than ever before.

Our campaign to promote our vision of a united Ireland gathers pace all the time. At the centre of this campaign is dialogue – between those of us who want a United Ireland; with those who are as yet ambivalent about a United Ireland; and crucially with those that are today hostile to what they understand to be a United Ireland.

This dialogue is crucial to generating mass public support for an end to partition and the social, economic and political reunification of our country.

In the 6 Counties, the project of unionist outreach is central to this objective. Our vision of a United Ireland is a threat to no one. It is inclusive, embracing and reconciling.

In the 26 Counties, we must reawaken the broad based public support for the Republic that was so evident from 1918 onwards. This means connecting the project of reunification with the day to day realities, needs and aspirations of ordinary people.

Sinn Féin is also mindful that there are republicans across the island who are not members of Sinn Féin. Some are in other organisations, many are in no organisation at all. We invite you to work with us, in whatever way possible, to build together the political strength and popular support needed to realise the Republic.

Sinn Féin is the only political party with a presence in every county and parish in the country. We have a clear and coherent strategy for achieving Irish Unity. It is a strategy based on promoting and popularising an inclusive idea of the Republic, based on the ideals that motivated the men and women of 1916.

There are many difficulties and challenges facing us but there are also many, many opportunities.

Republicans need to have the confidence to rise to these challenges and to seize the opportunities to advance our cause.

We want a society and an economy run democratically in the interests of all our citizens.

A new, agreed Ireland based on the rights of citizens is needed. This is best achieved by unity through a real process of national reconciliation.

National reconciliation

The united Ireland we seek to build is inclusive and where all the elements of the Irish nation are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity.

Republicans have a vision of a society beyond conflict resolution. We are engaged in the business of nation building. So, we need to be prepared to take the lead in shaping a real national reconciliation process. We need to be courageous. We need increased understanding and mutual respect. We need to reach out, to heal differences and create trust with unionists.

Real reconciliation also means dealing with the legacy of conflict. That will challenge everyone — republicans, unionists and Governments in London and Dublin. But it is essential if we are to move from conflict resolution to a New Republic.

Economic challenge

We gather here today at a time of great challenge for Ireland.

Hundreds of thousands of our people are unemployed. Hundreds of thousands of others are struggling to survive. Highly educated, intelligent young people are flooding out of the country in scenes reminiscent of the 1950s and 1980s.

In the North, the British Conservative party policy threatens to destroy the economy through the imposition of a savage cut of €4 billion to public funding.

This is the same policy of austerity that the EU and IMF are imposing in the 26 Counties with the agreement of the Fine Gael/Labour Government.

The question for political leaders is what to do in such circumstances. It boils down to political choices. They can meekly accept the situation and punish ordinary citizens or they can stand with the people, resist austerity and lead a fight back.

Across Ireland Sinn Féin is leading the political fight back.

Sinn Féin alternative

Sinn Féin has spelled out our alternative in detailed, costed proposals. Our big focus is on job creation and stimulating the economy. Our approach is based on fair taxes, investing in jobs, debt restructuring and growing the all-Ireland economy. It is about protecting public services and those on low and middle incomes.

In the North Sinn Féin has led the political resistance to Tory cuts and has worked to offset their effects on the most vulnerable. As a result, the Executive has prioritised finding money to maintain frontline services, protect those on lowest incomes and communities which were subject to decades of economic discrimination. It also committed not to increase student fees or introduce water charges.

There is surely an irony that as Sinn Féin in the North fights to have fiscal powers transferred from London to Ireland, the Fine Gael/Labour Government is meekly surrendering to Brussels whatever remains of this state’s economic sovereignty.

2016

2016 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising. In the coming four years there will be a renewed public interest in that key moment in our national history and its relevance for us today.

In this environment Irish republicans have an opportunity of immense proportions to advance our struggle. No matter what arena of struggle you are involved in – community work, trade unionism, language revival, party politics, campaigning – you have a vital role to play.

As you make your way home from this commemoration today ask yourself a simple question. What am I going to do to advance the republican struggle in the days, weeks and months ahead? What role can I play in bringing about the Republic which the men and women fought and died for?

A chairde. This generation of Irish republicans has made huge progress. The Orange state is gone. One-party rule at Stormont is gone. The RUC and the UDR and the RIR are gone. British militarisation is almost gone.

Good riddance to them all.

They failed to break republicans just as internment and shoot-to-kill and paid perjurers and death squads and prisons and censorship failed to break us. But republicans did not come through all this just to survive. We are moving on.

This Journey has only one end point, there is only one destination.

We will not be broken, we will not give in, we will not give up until we have delivered the republic.

 A unified, free Ireland that truly cherishes all of the children of the nation equally.

It is then and only then that we will have constructed the only fitting monument to our patriot dead.

It is not an easy task but it is an achievable task.

The republic is our destination – join Sinn Féin on that Journey 

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Speaking at Easter commemorations in Cork today the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD called for a No Vote in the May referendum and laid out seven strategic goals needed to achieve Irish reunification. Teachta Adams said:“The Proclamation of 1916 continues to enthuse and motivate Irish republicans. Its message of freedom and equality, and of cherishing all the children, is as relevant today as it was then.

But a counter revolution and partition created two reactionary states on this island which the conservative political, church and business elites shaped to protect their self-interests.

Successive governments in Dublin actively worked to pacify national feelings and to subvert republicanism while paying lip service to its principles.

Corruption replaced idealism. Family dynasties, party connections and donations to political campaigns all entrenched this corruption. Fianna Fáil – and its TACA generation is blamed, and rightly so, for much of what occurred but it does not stand alone.

The other establishment parties colluded by deed or silence in all of this.

Social Consequences

As they now collude in promoting austerity policies. Their policies are a total contradiction of the 1916 Proclamation.

Citizens are paying for the greed of bankers and the bad policies of the former Fianna Fail/Green government. This is wrong. This government boasts of not raising income tax while introducing one new stealth tax after another.

The universal social charge, introduced by Fianna Fáil and pursued by this government; the household charge, water charges; septic tank charges; VAT increases; the reduction in wages while consumer prices rise; fuel increases – and billions cut from public services – all of these and more are tearing the heart out of communities.

The domestic economy is on the floor. People are worried about paying their bills, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads.

And all this while Labour is in government! What value Labour if it cannot protect citizen’s rights?

Employees at Vita Cortex in Cork, in Game shops around the state and at Lagan Brick in Cavan have been forced to hold sit-ins in an effort to get the money owed to them.

The resolve of all of these workers, particularly at Vita Cortex, is to be commended and applauded.

Say No to Austerity

After one year of Fine Gael and Labour in government it is obvious that the austerity policies of this and the last Fianna Fáil-led government are not working.

That is one good reason for opposing the Austerity Treaty in the May referendum. This Treaty would entrench austerity policies in the constitution.

That’s not the vision of 1916. It is the complete opposite of the Proclamation.

It would mean another significant reduction of our sovereignty and a handover of the democratic rights of Irish people to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels, Strasbourg and Frankfurt.

Fine Gael and Labour, backed by Fianna Fáil, want to hand our future over to them! That’s not in the interests of the Irish people.

The Austerity Treaty must be opposed.

I would appeal to the 50% of citizens who refused to pay the Household Charge and the many others who were coerced and bullied into paying it to make a stand against the government’s austerity policies by voting No in the referendum.

A New Start

Today people are looking for an alternative they can trust. Sinn Féin is that alternative.

Sinn Féin has developed effective, costed policies which provide a different and fairer way to tackle the economic challenges.

Key to this is job creation and growing the economy. Our approach is based on fair taxes, investing in jobs, debt restructuring and growing the all-Ireland economy. It is about protecting public services and those on low and middle incomes. Our policies are based on core republican values.

Towards a New Republic

Irish republicans come from that long and honorable republican and internationalist tradition which seeks to unite Irish citizens and break the connection with England.

Tone captured its spirit when he wrote of “a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce.”

This is Sinn Féin’s starting point – a belief in a new union – a cordial union of all the people of this island.

Built through reconciliation.

To achieve re-unification will require the consent of a majority of people voting in referenda North and South.

To secure this Republicans need:

·      To popularise re-unification as viable, achievable and in the best interests of all and to build consensus for this.

·      To encourage all non-unionist political parties and sections of civic society to become persuaders and actors for re-unification.

·      To convince a section of unionist opinion that their identity, self-interest and quality of life will be best served, secured and guaranteed in a united Ireland.

·      To challenge those who would seek to maintain the status quo.

·      To ensure the Irish Government act on the constitutional imperative of re-unification.

·      To encourage the British Government to become persuaders for re-unification.

·      To build on international political and practical support for re-unification drawing in particular on the support and influence of the diaspora.

Ireland north and south is changing. We are an island people in transition. The north is particular has been transformed in recent years.

In this state more and more people realise that we do not have a real republic.

Uniting Ireland makes economic sense. It will bring jobs, create prosperity and deliver a better standard of living for this and future generations.

So, the people of Ireland need to plan responsibly for the future direction of politics on the island. To do that we need a fully inclusive and rational debate.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on foreign affairs Padraig MacLochlainn TD has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore to intervene in the case of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja who is on his 58th day of hungerstrike in Bahrain.Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:“Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is a Bahraini human rights activist who was arrested in April 2011, beaten and tortured during the crackdown against those calling for reform.“He was sentenced to life imprisonment after a grossly unfair trial. Despite the recommendation in the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) that all those who had been tried by military courts should have their cases reviewed by ordinary courts, this has not yet occurred.“Abdulhadi has been on hungerstrike since 8th February 2012 and is now on his 58th day. He is in a critical condition and is close to death.“The Minister for Foreign Affairs and the government must urgently intervene in an effort to save Abdulhadi’s life.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD arrives in County Cork this evening in advance of addressing Easter Commemorations in Bandon and Cork City tomorrow.

Speaking today he urged a No Vote in the May Austerity Treaty referendum.

The Sinn Féin leader warned that the Treaty is not the vision of those who struck for freedom at Easter 1916.

Teachta Adams said:

“After one year of Fine Gael and Labour in government it is obvious that the austerity policies of this and the last Fianna Fáil-led government are not working.

“That is one good reason for opposing the Austerity Treaty in the May referendum.

“This Treaty would entrench austerity policies in the constitution.

“That’s not the vision of 1916. It is the complete opposite of the Proclamation.

“It would mean another significant reduction of our sovereignty and a handover of the democratic rights of Irish people to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels, Strasbourg and Frankfurt.

“The Fine Gael/Labour Government, backed by Fianna Fáil, want to hand our future over to them!

“That’s not in the interests of the Irish people.

“The Austerity Treaty must be opposed.

“I would appeal to the 50% of citizens who refused to pay the Household Charge and the many others who were coerced and bullied into paying it to make a stand against the government’s austerity policies by voting No in the referendum.”

The Sinn Féin leader went on to identify a number of key strategic goals for republicans, which would help achieve Irish unity.

The Louth TD said:

“Irish republicans come from that long and honourable republican and internationalist tradition which seeks to unite Irish citizens and break the connection with England.

“Tone captured its spirit when he wrote that “the weight of English influence in the Government of this country is so great as to require a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce.”

“This is Sinn Féin’s starting point – a belief in a new union – a cordial union of all the people of this island. Built through reconciliation.

“To achieve re-unification will require the consent of a majority of people voting in referenda North and South.

“To secure this Republicans need:

·      To popularise re-unification as viable, achievable and in the best interests of all and to build consensus for this.

·      To encourage all non-unionist political parties and sections of civic society to become persuaders and actors for re-unification.

·      To convince a section of unionist opinion that their identity, self-interest and quality of life will be best served, secured and guaranteed in a united Ireland.

·      To challenge those who would seek to maintain the status quo.

·      To ensure the Irish Government act on the constitutional imperative of re-unification.

·      To encourage the British Government to become persuaders for re-unification.

·      To build on international political and practical support for re-unification drawing in particular on the support and influence of the diaspora.

“Ireland north and south is changing. We are an island people in transition. The north is particular has been transformed in recent years.

“In this state more and more people realise that we do not have a real republic.

“Uniting Ireland makes economic sense. Uniting Ireland will bring jobs, create prosperity and deliver a better standard of living for this and future generations.

“So, the people of Ireland need to plan responsibly for the future direction of politics on the island and to do that we need a fully inclusive, rationale debate.

“It is up to republicans and nationalists and democrats to make the argument for a united Ireland – likewise it is up to unionism to make the case for the union.

“That is good healthy debate. That is good for democracy.”

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Speaking in advance of attending the annual INTO, ASTI and TUI teacher conferences the Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe TD said that austerity measures were forcing many secondary schools to drop one or more Leaving Certificate subjects.

Deputy Crowe said:

“The dramatic impact of austerity measures on schools has been highlighted by the findings of a recent ASTI commissioned survey.

“Since 2009, 47% of schools have already been forced to drop one or more subjects at Leaving Cert level. This most recent report indicates that up to 64% of secondary schools may have to drop Leaving Cert subjects and that many fifth and sixth year classes are being forced to amalgamate due to a sharp fall in teaching numbers.

“All of this is very bad news for our education system that is already reeling from a range of cuts that are impacting on schools right across the State.

“The narrowing of core subject choices in science, economics and languages will prevent schools delivering the type of broad curriculum that is needed to develop a knowledge based economy.

“Subjects such as physics and chemistry are vital to Ireland's economic recovery, yet these are the very subjects being placed most at risk. There can be no smart economy or jobs growth if young people are prevented from studying these subjects.

“As the ASTI General Secretary Pat King rightly states, education cutbacks are affecting all aspects of young people’s education.

“In the past year since the Government came to power there has been increases in class sizes, cuts to special needs supports, attacks on DEIS schools, the ending of the Modern Languages Initiative and the loss of school Guidance Counsellors.

“Sinn Féin is calling on Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to reverse these  regressive cuts that will end up doing irreparable damage to the Irish education system and its economy.” 

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Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien criticised the government’s commitment to ensuring that prisons are drug-free in response to the 4,728 drug seizures in Irish prisons from 2009 to February of this year. These figures were contained in information provided by the Minister for Justice as requested by Deputy O’Brien.

The Cork North Central TD said:
“While there was a small reduction in drug seizures between 2010 and 2011 overall, Castlerea, Cork, Limerick, Midlands and Wheatfield Prisons all saw substantial increases in drug seizures. Previous government policy placed an emphasis on reducing the availability of drugs in prisons at the expense of measures to provide drug counselling, treatment or rehabilitation programmes. Clearly this has failed as there is still substantial demand for drugs in Irish prisons and the current government has simply picked up where the previous left off.
“St Patrick’s Institution saw a rise from 20 drug seizures in 2009, to 206 seizures in 2011. The worrying thing about the figures in all of these statistics is that we do not know whether the increases in seizures are denting the actual scale of drug consumption in Irish prisons. According to National Documentation Centre on Drug Use, almost 44% of prisoners tested in Mountjoy tested positive for opiates in 2010. In Cork Prison in 2010, 23.9% of prisoners tested, were shown to have benzodiazepines in their system. These figures are astonishing.
"Of course measures should be in place to prevent the availability of drugs in prisons but the priority should be on providing effective counselling, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. If you prevent a prisoner from receiving drugs in prison without providing proper counselling and rehabilitation the chances are that the inmate will return to drugs as soon as he/she is released. It renders the entire incarceration system useless.
"I am calling on the minister to place the emphasis harm-reduction, treatment and rehabilitation programmes.”
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Gerry Adams pays tribute to Barney McKenna

Expressing condolences to the family and friends of Barney McKenna, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

"Barney McKenna, through his 50 years on the road with The Dubliners, made an enormous contribution to Irish music and culture. Almost single-handedly, Barney first gave the banjo a central place in Irish traditional and folk music and his skill was world class. From his Dublin childhood to his last days he was immersed in the culture of Irish music and song. Barney's patriotism was seamless and as well as a being a giant of Irish music he was an Irish republican. He regularly attended and performed at Easter commemorations and other republican events.

"Tá Barney ar slí na fírinne anois ach mairfidh a cheol go deo." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said that Marian Price should be moved to an outside hospital after senior doctors said she could not get the care she needed while in prison.

She was speaking after meeting Justice Minister David Ford at Castle Buildings along with fellow MLA Sean Lynch.

Jennifer McCann, who is also a member of the Assembly’s Justice Committee said:

“Senior doctors have assessed Marian Price’s mental condition and said that she could not receive the medical care she needs in prison. It is now incumbent on David Ford to move her to an outside hospital so that she can receive the care needed.

“The doctors have also stated that she is not fit to participate in any legal proceedings. The fact that she has twice been released on bail by senior judges, who have seen evidence not available to her solicitors, raises the question, how is she a threat to anyone?

“This is an abuse of natural justice. On humanitarian terms alone she should be moved to an outside hospital never mind the fact that her continued imprisonment damages public confidence in the justice system.”

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Sinn Fein Cllr. Micheal Mac Donncha has accused Minister Phil Hogan of double standards after it was revealed that he hosted disgraced TD Michael Lowry and a business delegation just days after the publication of the Moriarty Tribunal. Cllr. Mac Donncha said:

"Minister Hogan is guilty of gross double standards. This is the Minister who doggedly refuses to meet the residents of Priory Hall who have been put through a terrible ordeal because of scandalous neglect by developers, the local authority and the State. Yet a few days after the publication of the Moriarty Report Minister Hogan hosted Deputy Lowry and a business delegation in his Customs House office.

"The evacuated Priory Hall residents have had to picket the Dail, to march and demonstrate to highlight their case and demand justice while Minister Hogan treats them with disdain. If he can facilitate Michael Lowry why can't he meet citizens who have been so badly wronged and who need Government intervention to address their plight?"

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD has claimed that today’s, Planning Guidelines Implementation Annual Report 2011 was a total non-event.

Deputy Stanley said the report contains nothing new and underlines the need for real, radical reform of local government.

Stanley said:

“'This annual report was heralded as something new by Minster Jan O'Sullivan. The only thing new about it was the date. There is no evidence that the minster intends to challenge developer lead planning. In fact it is this very government that has slashed funding to local authorities by 84% making local government more dependent on commercial rates and developer levies.

“While the report is complementary to regional authorities, emphasising the importance of their role, it fails to mention that these authorities have no real power. In fact, under the current structures, many are no more than talking shops. This report clearly shows that we need radical reform of local government.

“To date local government reform has been an excuse for undermining local authorities. There is no evidence that this is about to change. Democracy has been eroded, with more and more power residing with the Department of Environment and unelected City and County managers who remain unaccountable.

“The power of planning and building regulations currently lies with developers. This has led to 18,000 empty houses with over 2,000 unfinished housing developments. But we now have an opportunity to change that. The proposed reform of local government by Minister Hogan offers a real opportunity to make local government accountable and give real power to regional authorities.

“Sinn Féin has proposed a programme of local government reform that is radical and solution based. We believe that good planning makes all the difference to community and family life. Responsible, ethical and sustainable planning, underpinned by equality considerations, is the right of all who live in Ireland.

“Property developers must not be allowed to build new housing developments without taking into account the need for provision of basic facilities and amenities. To thrive as sustainable, all communities require essential physical and social infrastructure.

“Sinn Féin has developed ‘Sustainable Communities Criteria’ based on the delivery of economic and social rights. All planning decisions must meet these criteria before earning the support of local authorities.

“These criteria include, a sufficient supply of social and affordable housing, safe water supply, adequate sewage systems, access to public transportation, employment, healthcare centres, childcare centres and schools. And reasonable access to local amenities including, shopping, public play and recreational facilities community and social centre and cultural amenities.”

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Oifigeach Forbartha Gaeilge do Pháirtí Sinn Féin
Tá Liadh Ní Riada ceapaithe mar Oifigeach Forbartha Gaeilge do Pháirtí Sinn Féin. Is as Cúil-Aodha I nGaeltacht Mhuscraí ó dhúchas í Liadh. Tá cúlra aici sna Meán Cumarsáide agus í tareis neart cláracha teilifíse a stiúriú agus a léiriú. Le blianta beaga anuas, tá sí tareis bheith ag feidhmiú do eagraíocht áitiúil I gceantar Mhúscraí ag forbairt na traidisiún beil, amhránaíocht ar an sean-nós
ach go hárithe. Roghnaíodh Liadh mar an t’aon rann-phairtí sa Tír chun páirt a ghlacadh I Dioplóma Eorpach a bhaineann le bainisitiócht ar ábhair cultúrtha. Is í an té is óige do chlann Sheáin Uí Riada agus tá sí posta le Nicolas O Fúaráin (dearthóir Deilbh). Tá conaí uirthí féin agus a chlann do triúr inion I mBaile Mhuirne, Co Chorcaí. “Tá sé mar aidhm agam todhchaí agus cultúr na Gaeilge a neartú agus bheith mar pháirt lárnach do an saol Gaelach laethuil atá ag Sinn Féin.”

Sinn Féin appoints Irish language development officer
Sinn Féin has announced the appointment of Liadh Ní Riada as the party’s Irish language development officer. Party leader, Gerry Adams TD, welcoming her appointment said that the party was committed to the revival of the language and that he was looking forward to seeing the positive results of her work.
Liadh is from the Muskerry Gaeltacht of Cúil-Aodha in Co Cork. She is the youngest member of the family of composer Seán O Riada, who was famously influential in the revival of Irish traditional music in the 1960s.
She has produced and directed numerous documentaries for RTE and TG4 and most recently has been working with a group from Múscraí in developing the traditional arts, particularly sean-nós singing.
Liadh and her husband, Ballyvourney man, Nicholas Forde, a statue restorer, live in the Gaeltacht of Múscraí with their three young daughters.
“It is my ambition for Sinn Féin to strengthen our native language and culture and to ensure that it is a living and vibrant part of the daily lives of party members,” she said.
Sinn Féin is the only political party on this island which has employed someone specifically to increase the use of Irish within it and help to develop the party’s Irish language policy.

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Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson, Seán Crowe TD, has said that ASTI findings, that 64% of second-level schools are considering dropping subjects from their Leaving Cert programmes, are “extremely worrying”.
Deputy Crowe said: “The worst fears of many educationalists are being realised as second level-schools are forced to drop a least one core subject from their Leaving Cert syllabus.
“The subjects most at risk include accounting, chemistry, physics and economics, which are essential if we are to develop the knowledge-based economy needed to generate employment.
“Schools are faced with having to amalgamate higher, ordinary and foundation level classes in response to budget cuts.
“The retrograde decision by the government to end the ex-quota teacher allocation for guidance counselling means an estimated increase in the pupil-teacher ratio of .8.
“This will mean that from September 2012 onwards, there will be 700 less second-level teachers. The ASTI sponsored research also shows that seven out of ten schools are likely to reduce guidance provision by an average of 7.8 hours per week.
“This will greatly impact on the levels of assistance and advice schools can offer their students, and comes at a time when pastoral care and career guidance are needed more than ever.
“In addition there is a two per cent reduction in the school capitation grant which will result in the loss of school tours and trips and the postponement of essential building maintenance work.

“The ASTI research highlights the massive difficulties being imposed on the Irish education system through the implementation of cuts that will lead to teacher burnout and the denial to many young people of the opportunity to reach their full academic potential.”
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Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe spoke recently during a presentation in the Dáil on the provision enhanced levels of support when a person is reported missing.

During the engagement presentations were made from students of Davis College, Mallow, County Cark and from representatives of the “Forget Me Not” campaign, the Missing in Ireland Support Service, Trace Missing Persons Ireland, Mountain Rescue Ireland, associates of the Boyne Fishermen’s Rescue and Recovery Service, senior Garda personnel and members’ of the Search and Rescue Dog Association of Ireland.

Describing the presentations as both “moving and informative” Deputy Crowe said that it was important that a thorough examination of existing procedures and protocols was implemented in order to improve the chances of finding a person whenever they go missing.

Deputy Crow said: “Over the past five years there have been approximately 40,500 reports of people going missing with the vast majority being found safe and sound.

“In order to tackle this issue more effectively, we need to build up a better profile that explains why people go missing. In some cases mental health problems are a contributory factor as are family and personal difficulties.

“Relatively simple measures can be put in place that can help family members when a loved one goes missing. Showing sensitivity when a spouse or parent has to deal with welfare related matters is one example and providing practical assistance can make a significant difference.

“There also needs to be put in place clear procedures and protocols whenever an emergency occurs.

“The first 48 hours is vital when responding to a missing person case and in other jurisdictions this is considered particularly important when children go missing. In the United States for example, the first 24 hours is often the period of time that dictates if a child will be found and a similar policy is adopted by Irish authorities.

“The objectives of the Forget Me Not campaign are to raise awareness for the issue of missing people in Ireland; to create funds for continued searches; to ensure change in Ireland so that the suffering and plight of these individuals is recognised.

“One of the considerations put forward at this meeting was to have a national missing person’s day to be declared in Ireland and for a place to be found where loved ones are remembered and Sinn Féin will lobby the Government to have this initiative implemented.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the report from the University of Ulster into the HET confirmed what the party had said from the outset about the lack of independence in the HET investigations.

The Sinn Féin Policing Spokesperson and member of the Policing Board said:

“The crucial part in this report by Dr Lundy is that she does not believe the HET is independent, that interviews with British soldiers were not impartial, effective or transparent. That the HET is investigating the deaths of people at the hands of the British Army differently from other killings is unacceptable

“Sinn Féin supports people's right to engage with the HET and accepts that some families have come away from the HET process with a degree of comfort.

“Any deaths during the conflict need to be investigated with the same vigour regardless of who carried out the killing or the standing of the person killed.Sinn Féin is calling for an independent assessment of how HET investigations have been and are being carried out.” 


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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has approved a development proposal for Cygnet House Preparatory School at Glenlola Collegiate Grammar School, Bangor. 

It has been agreed that Cygnet House will become co-educational with effect from 31 August 2012 or as soon as possible thereafter. The co-educational status would only apply to Cygnet House and not to Glenlola Collegiate Grammar School. 

Commenting on the decision, John O’Dowd said: “This proposal is not to increase the preparatory department’s capacity and hence, due to the numbers likely to be involved, should not have a significant impact on other primary schools in the Bangor area.

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West Belfast Sinn MLA Pat Sheehan said it is a great achievement and honour that Belfast is to be the training base for the Cuban boxing team during the Olympic Games.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on sport said it was an added boost for West Belfast that the boxers would be training in Holy Trinity ABC.

Pat Sheehan said:

“This is indeed a huge coup for boxing here and sport in general. It is a great achievement by all concerned and an honour for Belfast. I congratulate the Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and all those involved in selling the North as the place to stay for the world’s most successful nation in Olympic boxing.

“Ireland also has a tradition of producing world class boxers and with the Cubans coming here it can only have a positive impact for all the local boxing clubs that do so much for young people in our community.”


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Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community & local government, Brian Stanley TD, has demanded that the government “keep to the spirit of the motion unanimously passed by the Dáil last month on the national plan for Ireland’s raised bog Special Areas of Conservation.”
He was speaking in reaction to a statement from environment minister, Phil Hogan TD and arts and heritage minister, Jimmy Deenihan TD after their meeting in Brussels with the European Commission yesterday.
Brian Stanley said: “Their statement suggests that the government has reneged on the agreement which was presented to the turfcutters as a basis for progress.”
“Since then turfcutters have kept their side of the bargain and have stopped cutting turf, but disappointingly the Ministers Hogan and Deenihan have yet to engage meaningfully with their representative organisation.
“The Dáil motion and the TCCA response were solution-based, comprehensive and workable and proposed co-location and compensatory bogs resulting in greater conservation.
“Sinn Féin remains committed to protecting our natural habitats and working on a solution which will suit all stakeholders.
“We want to engage with Minister Hogan and Minister Deenihan, but it must in good faith. We cannot engage with the government if its representatives are saying one thing here in the Dáil and directly contradicting themselves in when they go to Brussels.”
In conclusion, Deputy Stanley urged the government to re-engage the process with the same determination that they showed during the recent Dáil debate. Otherwise we will be facing crisis in rural communities, and that is something we all want to avoid.”
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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has welcomed a consultation that is taking place with families living in the North and South of Ireland that seeks to establish the levels of interest in sending children to schools across the border.

Deputy Crowe said: “I understand that the education departments in both jurisdictions have agreed to carry out a survey in schools and community groups in border areas and that arrangements could be in place as early as September 2013.

“I would urge families to respond to the survey and if appropriate, consider sending their children to a school on the opposite side of the border to where they live.

“As the North’s Education Minister John O’Dowd rightly pointed out, cross-border co-operation has been an accepted and growing practice in higher level education and health.

“With rural communities facing the threat of cuts that may force the closure or amalgamation of many small schools, this is an option that needs to be considered. It may also help secure the future of minority faith based communities throughout the border region who should have the option of sending their children to a school of their religious domination.

“This important consultation is about developing a cross-border partnership that could secure the future of a number of rural schools and it is an example of how the development of an all-Ireland education strategy can help secure the long-term viability of rural Ireland.”

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