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Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on Welfare, Mickey Brady, has stated that the proposed phasing out of Income Support will affect those who are most in need of support and has raised concerns of the capacity of the Social Security offices to carry out such a task.


Speaking today Mr Brady said:

 

“Under the Welfare Reform bill the intention is to phase out income support. This is worrying as currently there exists no viable alternative.

 

“For the 76,000 people who will be switched from Income Support and Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) they will have to face a raft of extra complexities under ESA, in an already complex system.

 

“For example full time carers who rely on Income Support to compliment their Carers Allowance will under ESA have to undergo a work capabilty assessment. They may then have to move to Jobs Seekers Allowance on regularly or prove they are incapable of working or loose their benefits as no viable alternative exists to Income Support has been suggested.

 

“A further concern is the capacity to implement the change-over from Income Support to ESA as it will place a huge strain on Social Security staff. In an economic climate where more and more people are presenting as long term unemployed we see cuts in staff numbers pushing current staff structures to stress levels not experienced before.

 

“This shift will only exacerbate this pressure in an under resourced department in which more job cuts are expected.

 

“Essentially there is little in this new benefit to alleviate the needs of the most maginalised in our society and as things stand circumstances for those seeking benefits will only worsen under this bill.”

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Sinn Féin  MLA for Upper Bann, John O’Dowd has welcomed the determination barring the Orange Order marching from Drumcree down the Garvaghy Road and has stated that it is now time for the Orange Order to show leadership on this issue and accept that they must play their part in the peace process.  

Speaking today Mr O’Dowd said:

“It is now thirteen years since the Orange Order marched from Drumcree along the Garvaghy Road.  

“The Orange Order should accept the reality of the sitaution and play thier part in the peace process, abandoning their attempts to walk down the Garvaghy Road.

“This woud be a huge step forward not only for the people of Portadown but the all the people across the island of Ireland as a whole.

“It would be a gesture that would be seen as the Order, for the first time, playing a positive and constructive role and providing real leadership on this issue, in what are very changed times.”

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Responding to the announcement today of 100 new jobs to be created in Galway by US medical devices firm Merit Medical with a €6.7m expansion of its plant in Galway Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Arthur Morgan has welcomed the creation of new jobs but has said that the Government need to get real about the jobs crisis and put in place comprehensive job retention and creation strategies.

Deputy Morgan said:

“The announcement today of 100 new jobs in Galway by US medical devices firm Merit Medical is welcome, given the fragility of the jobs market at the moment. The further expansion of the life sciences sector in Ireland is evidence that Ireland is to the fore in terms of the quality of the workforce and that we have the human resources required for developing a thriving knowledge economy.

“The creation of 100 new jobs could not come at a better time when, in the last month alone, nearly 6,000 people have signed on. The Government cannot rely on the expansion of firms to create employment in this country. The Government need to be the drivers of change and so far their actions have been inadequate.

“What we need to see is a push by Government to stimulate economic growth and to put in place comprehensive job retention and creation strategies. Indeed, the Minister does not have far to look in terms of solutions to the jobs crisis, as Sinn Féin have put forward countless measures within the last two years that would stem the haemorrhaging of jobs and would create thousands of new ones for the people of this State.

“The Minister and the Government need to get real about the jobs crisis and crunch the numbers: 100 jobs a week will not conciliate the 6,000 additional people a month joining the Live Register. While every little helps, now is the time for grand gestures. We need to see real commitment to job creation and the Smart economy.” ENDS

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Speaking today after it was revealed that Anglo Irish bank, the nationalised State Bank, had incurred the greatest losses by any bank in the entire world, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance Arthur Morgan has said that it was a sorry indictment of where Government priorities lie and that the biggest losers were the taxpayers. Deputy Morgan also reiterated his call for a fund for the financial sector to be developed to cover events in the future, instead of turning on taxpayers.

Deputy Morgan said:

“Fianna Fáil have nationalised the losses of their banking and developer cronies and the revelation that Anglo has incurred the greatest losses by any bank in the entire world is a sorry indictment on where the Government’s priorities lie. Anglo Irish’s loss in 2009 of €15billion was far bigger than those of giant US, Japanese and German banks and the losses incurred by the Royal Bank of Scotland were a quarter of what Anglo lost last year.

“The biggest losers from this debacle are the taxpayers; the taxpayers whose money was spent to nationalise the piggy bank of the most corrupt people in Ireland, the people whose money was pumped into recapitalising this zombie bank and those people who will be subject to harsh budget cuts again this year.

“After lavishing loans on developers, Anglo Irish was saved by the ordinary taxpayers of this State to the tune of billions of euro. This Frankenstein bank is being kept on life support by taxpayers’ money and to cope with future losses, the Government is committed to pumping over €22billion at least into the bank. The losses incurred by the bank are a slap in the face of the taxpayer who is not seeing any productive return on their investment that has selfishly been made by the Government on their behalf.

“The case for a levy or bank tax has never been more wanting as taxpayers are forced to cover the losses of the banking sector. An insurance fund for the financial sector should be developed to cover events in the future, instead of turning on taxpayers. Given the crippling ramifications of financial crises and indeed the colossal losses incurred by the defunct Anglo Irish Bank, the banking sector needs to provide insurance themselves against future crises.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh this evening launched a campaign against the proposed introduction of water charges.

Speaking at a public meeting in the Ballyfermot Civic Centre this evening, which was also addressed by the North’s Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Sinn Féin is totally and utterly opposed to water charges and we will mount a vigorous campaign of opposition to their introduction by the Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government.

“We all recognise that clean water is a precious resource that costs money to produce but this is already paid for through general taxation. Introducing an extra charge is a regressive form of double taxation.

“The Government and the Green Party in particular are trying to bring in this charge in the guise that it is a measure to help preserve water. Tonight I want to put that myth to bed.

“Government officials have admitted that metering will only redcuce houshold water consumption by 16%, while up to 40% of all treated water (used by homes and businesses) is being lost through leaking pipes and poor infrastructure. Anybody seeking to preserve water would come to the logical conclusion that fixing our leaking pipes should be the first port of call rather than wasting further millions of euros fitting water meters to households.

“But of course the introduction of water charges is not about preserving water. That is just the wooden horse. What it is really about is targeting already hard pressed households for additional revenue streams for Government while businesses who already owe almost €30million in water charges to local authorities are not being pursued for payment.

“The Government should be focussed on fixing our crumbling water infrastructure while educating people about the importance of water preservation and assisting in the introduction of water saving technologies. This would not only be the most sensible approach but the best and most fair way to preserve water.

“The fact is that people already pay for water through general taxation. In this current financial atmosphere hard pressed families should not be made pay again. They didn’t create this mess and they need to be protected from the affects of it. Sinn Féin will be mounting a vigorous campaign of opposition to this regressive double tax.” ENDS

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Speaking today upon her election as mayor for County Donegal in the County House in Lifford, Sinn Féin’s Cora Harvey said that Donegal has been faced with many challenges and difficulties over the past year but that her election today signified to her hope and change for the new political year.

She said:

“We are embarking on a new political year. Many of you that voted for me did so without sharing all my views, this I believe is a significant signal of change. You have accepted me as your Cathaoirligh, so from today on I represent you and this County, regardless of political persuasion.

“My aim is to improve public confidence in Donegal Politics, in the democratic process and to make this council efficient, effective and accountable; that is my goal.

“Our County faces mass unemployment with nearly 30% of our work force on the live register, almost 1 in 3 unemployed and our young people are emigrating in their dozens. We must work together to urge the new Minister for Enterprise Batt o Keefe to stand up for Donegal and to immediately implement a job strategy.

“We must target social housing and support the implementation of the recommendations of the homeless strategy; we must eradicate homelessness in Donegal and work in partnership with the HSE in addressing the accommodation needs of those suffering from addiction.

“We need to pursue and progress the major infrastructure projects in our county to name but a few the N14/N15 A5 link and the Stranorlar By-Pass and we need to aggressively tackle the soaring litter problem and illegal dumping in our County and ensure that recent motions in relation to estate takeovers are realised. Furthermore, we need to strengthen our ties with our colleagues and neighbours in the North, we have so much to offer each other and cross border co-operation is vital for a County such as ours.” ENDS


(Full speech follows)

Cora Harvey: Acceptance Speech as Méara of County Donegal.

Elected representatives, manager, members of the Executive – directors and staff, members of the public, family and friends and members of the media.

Ar dtús, ba mhaith liom rá go bhfuil brón orm nach bhfuil a lán gaelige agam, ach tá súil agam roimh deireadh an bliain seo, go mbeidh gaelige maith agam.

I want to thank you all sincerely for joining us here today in the County House in Lifford.

Can I extend a céad míle fáilte roimh Mr. Pat Doherty, MP for West Tyrone and take this opportunity to congratulate him on his fantastic landslide in the Westminster Elections, Comhghairdeas Pat and well done.

I would also like to welcome back into the chamber Senator Pearse Doherty and acknowledge my predecessor Mr. Tony McDaid who unfortunately couldn’t be here. Also I see members from Strabane District Council, newly elected Mayor Ms Macheala Boyle and Councillor Kieran Maguire. It is a great honour to have you all here today. It is particularly touching for me as I have family roots in Strabane and my late father Jim hailed from the ‘head of the town,’ so am delighted that members of Strabane Council came to this occasion today.

I would also extend a warm welcome to my grandfather Johnny, who is approaching his 90th year. Members of the Mc Aleer, Quinn, Harvey and Gallen family, especially my mother Roseanna, Husband Brian, and children Dean-James and Naomh, and finally to members and supporters of the Sinn Féin party, I am glad you could join us today, as without you today would not be the same and actually would not have happened.

I want to take a moment now to reflect on the past year since our newly elected council was constituted and I want to wish out going Méara Mr. Brendan Byrne well in the time ahead. .

Donegal has been faced with many challenges and difficulties over the past year; furthermore the difficulties we endured were compounded by the economic downturn, which led to a huge reduction in Council funding, staff cutbacks, and ultimately a reduced service provision. We also experienced change at an executive service level, where senior experienced public servants retired, this resulted in amalgamation of services and cross cover. The public sector recruitment embargo and industrial dispute were also factors to consider.

To the members of the council who voted for me today, I want to thank you for respecting my mandate and on behalf of the people that elected me and on behalf of Sinn Féin I thank you.

This is a big day for me, for my family, for my constituents and finally for my party, because today is historic for us and indeed for you because you put me here. I believe I am the first Sinn Féin Cathaoirligh in over 90 years, the first ever female Méara and only the second female Cathaoirligh. On that note I wish to acknowledge sentiments by ex –Chairperson and County Councilor Ms Maureen Doohan for her good wishes. I also want to pay tribute today to past members of this council and more specifically to those who are no longer with us. Today we remember Councillor Eddie Fullerton, a man who tragically lost his life because of his political beliefs and because he stood up for what he believed in. Eddie served for 12 years on this council and by no means did he get it easy, it is with great honour and pride that I represent his party here today as Méara as we approach the 20th anniversary of his murder. Eddie will always be remembered by his Sinn Féin colleagues both here in Donegal and further afield and I am sure he is smiling down on us today.

Today for me signifies acceptance, hope and change. We are embarking on a new political year. Many of you that voted for me did so without sharing all my views, this I believe is a significant signal of change. You have accepted me as your Cathaoirligh, so from today on I represent you and this County, regardless of political persuasion. I am now your Cathaoirligh for the next 12 months and I sincerely hope that we can work together. I believe that we can, but if we are to work together effectively change must happen. I am young and I am still learning, you can take political advantage of that, which is your choice. I have made my decision and I have chosen to work with every elected member of this Council and I will respect your mandate. My aim is to improve public confidence in Donegal Politics, in the democratic process and to make this council efficient, effective and accountable, that is my goal and your aim will help. Since my short time in Donegal County Council I have been enlightened by the political unity that can be presented on communal projects, when we work together for the common good of our County we can make great advances and achieve great things. That is what I want to see happen more and more, surely each area will have their own projects and that must continue, that will continue.

We have a difficult job to do, we all have the same job to do and the problem is we have all been trained very differently to do that job, but that I believe can be used to our advantage rather than to our disadvantage. We have a wealth of experience and knowledge within the confines of Donegal County Council and I don’t believe that we have been utilizing these attributes to the best of our ability. We were the subject of negative media controversy over the past year, much to our own doing, we can change that image and increase public confidence and improve our public image, again colleagues I urge you to help me in this endeavor.

The year ahead economically is going to be no better than last, we have another tough year ahead, difficult decisions to make and limited resources to work with, however the show must continue, roads need to be fixed, houses needs to be allocated and water treatment must be maintained.

Our County faces mass unemployment with nearly 30% of our work force on the live register, almost 1 in 3 unemployed and our young people are emigrating in their dozens.
Small businesses are facing extinction, house repossessions are on the increase and debt is spiraling.

We must work together to urge the new Minister for Enterprise Batt o Keefe to stand up for Donegal and to immediately implement a job strategy, in the coming months I will convene a special conference aimed specifically at tackling unemployment in our county pulling together all the relevant stakeholders and I will be requesting that the IDA, Údaras na Gaeltachta and Enterprise Ireland report directly back to us on their efforts for Donegal.

We must target social housing and support the implementation of the recommendations of the homeless strategy; we must eradicate homelessness in Donegal and work in partnership with the HSE in addressing the accommodation needs of those suffering from addiction. We need to pursue and progress the major infrastructure projects in our county to name but a few the N14/N15 A5 link and the Stranorlar By-Pass. We need to aggressively tackle the soaring litter problem and illegal dumping in our County and ensure that recent motions in relation to estate takeovers are realised. Furthermore we need to strengthen our ties with our colleagues and neighbors in the North, we have so much to offer each other and cross border co-operation is vital for a County such as ours.

As I hope the year ahead is a time of change and co-operation I hope to open the office of Mayor to individual and community groups, I want to make the office of Mayor more open and more accessible. I want to encourage civic leadership and encourage active civic representation in this chamber. I intend to acknowledge the active work of volunteerism through civic award ceremonies and honor all those who make a valuable contribution to our society such as carers and youth workers. I intend to keep the spirit of ‘Donegal Live’ alive and work with the tourism bodies in promoting our towns and villages.

Ta a lán obair le déanamh again uilig an bhilian seo, ach creidim ma obríonn muid uilig le chéile, déanfaidh muid an rud ceart fa choinne Dun na nGall. I look forward to being your Méara and thank you once again for supporting me today.

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Sinn Féin MLA and member of the Education Committee, Michelle O’Neill, has put a proposal to the Assembly’s Education Committee calling for the committee to support the Department of Education’s bid to the Department of Finance and Personnel for more money for school builds.

 

Speaking today Ms O’Neill said:

 

“Both the DUP and UUP voted against a motion and stopped a letter ofsupport for extra funding from the Department of Finance going forward.

 

“The DUP and UUP members, including the Chair Mervyn Storey, had an opportunity to to offer practical support to schools awaiting a new build. They failed to do so.

 

“Mervyn Strorey is very good at grandstanding in the media and on the floor of the Assembly but when presented with practical responses to the needs of schools he has clearly failed to deliver.”

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Responding to the Victims Commissioners proposals on the issue of Truth recovery, Sinn Féin spokesperson on victims issues Francie Molloy said that their report was ‘a missed opportunity to recommend a process that respects the rights and needs of all victims and survivors’.

Mr. Molloy said:

“The British Government cannot be arbiters of a Truth Recovery process. The many victims of State violence believe that the actions and policies of the British Government must be part of any truth recovery process. Republicans have made it clear that they will be prepared to take part in a truth recovery process which is international and independent.

“We believe that the Victims and Survivors have missed an opportunity to recommend a process that will respect the rights and needs of all victims and survivors.

“The central thrust of the Commissions proposals is that there must be a political consensus including Unionist support for any truth process. In effect a political veto. Let’s be clear, the rights of victims and survivors to discover the truth cannot be set aside for such. If it had been up to the Unionist parties there would have been no Saville inquiry and the innocence of those killed that day would still be under question.

 ‘Already this morning I have had several comments from victims angry at the view expressed by the Commissioners that the ‘Recognition Payment’ was a ‘scandal’ and echoing former British Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward’s, view that it should not be introduced to appease unionism. This is wrong. All victims need to be treated equally. The ‘Recognition Payment’ was an example of this equality and needs to be introduced immediately.”

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Commenting after recent media reports about the activities of South Armagh man Declan Gregory and his conviction today for gun running, including an Irish News interview with Colm Murphy, part of which contained a handwritten confession from Gregory detailing his role as an MI5 agent, Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy today said that there is a widely held belief locally that Declan Gregory was ‘controlling, manipulating and directing’ the activities of the RIRA for over a decade.

 

Mr Murphy said:

 

“There has been a significant amount of media reports in recent weeks about the activities of South Armagh man Declan Gregory. This includes an Irish News interview with Colm Murphy which contained a handwritten confession from Gregory detailing his role as an MI5 agent.

 

“I have to say that there is a widely held belief in South Armagh that Mr Gregory has been controlling, manipulating and directing the activities of the RIRA in this area for many years at the behest of MI5. The recent media reports appear to confirm this.

 

“According to reports Mr Gregory, who had no previous association with Irish republicanism, agreed to assume the role of an agent provocateur after he was arrested for a serious sexual assault. At that time the authorities did not proceed with any charges against him.

 

“The case of Mr Gregory confirms what Sinn Féin have been saying for sometime with regard to these dissident gangs. In addition to many of them containing known criminals and informers within their ranks there has been a long held view that the hidden and sinister hand of anti-peace process British State Agencies are at work in the background.

 

“Sinn Féin have raised the Gregory case with the PSNI, the Justice Minister and both governments. We will continue to expose the work of these faceless securocrats and continue to campaign to see their malign influence in Ireland brought to an end.”

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Sinn Féin MLA, Barry McElduff, who is also the Chair of the Culture, Arts and Leisure committee has slammed the Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland, for devising ‘a charter to do nothing’ in relation to the Irish language. This follows a three year period of total inaction with regard to developing a language strategy.

 

Speaking earlier Mr McElduff said:

 

“The Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland, will be appearing before the Committee tomorrow morning (10am). It is clear from papers submitted to committee members ahead of the meeting that he is still not yet at the point of bringing forward the long awaited language strategy.

 

“The Minister is in violation of the the Good Friday Agreement, the St Andrews agreement and the recent Hillsborough agreement.

 

“This is wholly unacceptable. Two departmental consultations were held. Both overwhelming endorsed the need for Irish Language Act. Despite this successive DUP Ministers have ignored the findings and stated that they would bring forward a language strategy instead. This has still, in 2010, not appeared.

 

“One of the main stumbling blocks that Minister McCausland has produced is the notion of parity between Ulster Scots and the Irish languages. This is a nonsense and has been challenged by international language experts.

 

“The Irish language and Ulster Scots are at significantly differing levels of development. This is recognised in the EU Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and the European Committee for Experts on languages (COMEX) have stated just this, and that “language measures specifically directed towards each language are needed.”.

 

“So if Nelson McCausland thinks he can adopt a charter to do nothing until he further indulges his ideologically-driven and baseless notion of parity he is sorely mistaken. The time to bring forward a language strategy is now. There can be no further excuses and no further delays.”

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A Sinn Féin delegation led by party President Gerry Adams including Justice spokesperson Alex Maskey and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness this morning met with the Justice Minister David Ford.

 

Speaking after the meeting Mr Maskey said:

 

“This mornings meeting covered a range of issues. Chief amongst them was the ongoing situation in Maghaberry and a number of upcoming contentious Orange Parades.

 

“We made it clear to Mr Ford our firm view that a number of the problems in Maghaberry including 23 hour lock up, restricted movement and access to education and other provisions can and should be sorted out without delay by the prison administration. This is simply an issue of political will and an issue that Sinn Féin are determined to see speedily resolved.

 

“We also took the opportunity this morning to raise with the Minister our concerns around ongoing attempts by the Orange Order to continue to march through areas they are not wanted and the knock on rise in tensions that this causes particularly in interface areas.”

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Commenting on the application by Iaranrod Eireann for a Railway Order to allow work on the Dart underground to go ahead, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has insisted that the project ‘cannot be steamrolled through local communities and must be value for money’.

The Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald said while the expansion of the rail network is to be welcomed she was deeply concerned that there has been no proper local consultation.

She said, “It is deeply concerning that there has been no proper local consultation on the project. At a public meeting in East Wall last night, local residents expressed their anger and frustration that Iaranrod Eireann was attempting to steam roll their plans through the area.

“It is unacceptable that communities will only have six weeks to study and make submissions on a project that will seriously disrupt their lives over the six years construction period. Residents need technical expertise to do this. I am calling on Iaranrod Eireann must make funds available to the local community to avail of independent, expert advice. This approach was adopted by the RPA in the case of Metro North. It is the correct and fair approach that needs to be adopted by Iaranrod Eireann.

“In relation to the over all project, while it is welcome, it is alarming that at a time of massive government cutbacks and economic uncertainty that there is no definitive costing for it. We need absolute assurances that the costs associated with this project will not spiral out of control once works begin. We also need to see a local economic benefit from the project in terms of employment. A local labour clause must be used to ensure that a fair share of the estimated 7000 jobs that this project will go to local people.” ENDS

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Speaking during statements on the Saville Report in to Bloody Sunday in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has urged the Irish Government to support calls for an international investigation in to killings by the same Parachute Regiment of the British Army of 11 civilians in Ballymurphy prior to Bloody Sunday. He went on to describe as “disgraceful” the Taoiseachs failure to raise with the British Prime Minister the unanimous call of the Dáil in 2008 for the British Government to “furnish and international judicial figure with all files in its possession relating to the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.”

Opening his contribution to the Statements on Saville Deputy Ó Caoláin said, “The Report of the Saville Inquiry is a vindication of the 14 dead and the injured of Bloody Sunday, 30 January, 1972 in Derry. It is an affirmation of the steadfastness of the families of the dead who campaigned for truth and justice for all of 38 years. I begin by saluting the families, the survivors and the very brave people of the Irish city of Derry whose courage has long been a beacon for freedom-loving people in Ireland and across the world.

“It has taken nearly four decades for the British state to finally acknowledge that fact. Long, long overdue as the acknowledgement is, it is still hugely significant. It ends 38 years of denial and cover-up by successive British governments.

“In all of its major conclusions Saville consigns Widgery to the dustbin of history.

“Widgery was designed to shield the entire chain of command from Downing Street to the soldiers who fired the shots. It gave them immunity and they acted accordingly afterwards. In July 1972 the Paras shot dead five people in Springhill in Belfast.

“Far less well known is the prelude to Bloody Sunday from August the previous year. Over a three-day period following the imposition of internment without trial on 9 August 1971 the same Parachute Regiment of the British Army shot dead 11 people in the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast in similar circumstances to the Derry killings. All were unarmed civilians, one a mother of eight who had gone to the assistance of one of the injured, another a parish priest administering the last rites, some who were shot on the ground while mortally wounded.

“We support the call of the Ballymurphy families for an international investigation into these killings and we urge the Irish Government to fully back that call and to urge the British government to co-operate with such an inquiry.

“The people of Ballymurphy were attacked by the British Army as it imposed internment without trial, imprisoning hundreds of people indefinitely on the basis of a ministerial order. The people of Derry were attacked by the British Army on Bloody Sunday because they were participating in a Civil Rights demonstration against internment.

“The people of Ireland and friends of Ireland were outraged by Bloody Sunday and the British Embassy in Dublin was burned to the ground. And people in the 26 Counties were attacked by British forces as well. Seeing the upsurge in support for Irish republicanism in the 26 Counties in 1972 the British deployed their counter-gangs, the heavily infiltrated unionist paramilitaries. They bombed Dublin in December 1972, killing two people. In May 1974 they bombed Dublin and Monaghan, killing 34. The purpose was to strike terror into the people in this State, to make them fear any show of solidarity with the oppressed nationalist people of the North. This strategy was complemented by the Irish Government which sought to blame republicans for the bombings and which tightened political censorship and repression in this State.

“The Saville Report has given hope to the bereaved and the survivors of Dublin and Monaghan and of the other cross-border bombings and fatal acts of collusion in this jurisdiction. And they badly need some hope. I have to say that it is a disgrace in the context of this debate on Bloody Sunday and the Saville Report, with its vindication of the families, that we have an Irish Government which has cut funding for the only victims group in this State, Justice for the Forgotten.

“It is equally disgraceful that we have a Taoiseach who has failed to raise with the British Prime Minister the unanimous call of this Dáil for the British government to furnish to an international judicial figure all files in its possession relating to the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and the other fatal acts of collusion in this jurisdiction.

“The Saville Report took so long and cost so much for one reason and one reason only – the refusal of the British government and its agencies to tell the truth. But the truth has triumphed.” ENDS

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Cllr. Larry O’Toole has co sponsored a motion to Dublin City Council, which if successful may save the three Dublin Swimming Pools (Coolock, Seán McDermott St, and Crumlin) which are under threat of closure.

Cllr. O’Toole said: “JC Decaux has a contract with the DCC to provide the now very successful Dublin Bikes Scheme. This contract also includes funding for the provision of public conveniences for the City of Dublin. Recognising the fact that there is no need or demand for stand alone public toilets in the city centre, while at the same time there is clear and urgent need for the essential public pools, in the interest of public amenities, services and common good for all and in pursuit of positive social activity, we are calling on the City Manager to apply the available resources, for public conveniences in the JC Decaux contract, to the provision of public conveniences through the refurbishment of the pools.”


For further information call Cllr. Larry O’Toole at 086-8541940.
MOTION;
JC Decaux has a contract with the DCC to provide the now very successful Dublin Bikes Scheme. The citizens of Dublin have given the scheme strong support from the start. That contract also included funding for the provision of public conveniences for the City of Dublin. Three Swimming pools, under the remit of Dublin City Council, are in urgent need of capital expenditure to repair and restore the pools to modern operating standards.

Recognising the fact that there is no need or demand for stand alone public toilets in the city center, while at the same time there is clear and urgent need for the essential public pools, in the interest of public amenities, services and common good for all and in pursuit of positive social activity the elected members of Dublin City Council call on the City Manager to apply the available resources, for public conveniences in the JC decaux contract, to the provision of public conveniences through the refurbishment of the pools and thereby facilitate Dublin citizens’ needs for positive social and physical activity in Dublin City.

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Speaking today after the release of the Live Register figures for June that showed an extra 5,800 people have joined the dole queue in the last month, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Arthur Morgan has said that economic growth in the absence of jobs is insignificant particularly when there are 444,900 people on the dole.

Deputy Morgan said:

“A combination of austerity and financial repression is failing to deliver economic recovery. Ireland may have technically emerged from recession, with a growth of 2.7% in GDP but this is insignificant to the hundreds of thousands of Irish people on the Live Register today. There is no economic recovery when there is still an absence of jobs.

“The Taoiseach keeps telling us that the economy has turned a corner, but in reality we have turned a corner and hit a wall. We are in a situation where 444,900 people are dependent on the dole. This is a home-grown situation where the absence of stimulus will mean that half a million people will be languishing on the Live Register by the end of the year.

“It is about time that the Government’s humpty dumpty attitude to economic recovery realised that deflationary policies will cripple growth, retard job creation and leave us with out-dated infrastructure.

“In the last two months alone over 12,000 people have signed on, while thousands more have emigrated. This is not a job creation policy. Fianna Fáil’s subservience to keeping a zombie bank afloat is squeezing the lifeblood out of the economy, as today’s figures show.” ENDS

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West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has accused Nigel Dodds of ‘staggering hypocrisy’ after he placed a motion before Westminster calling on constituency services to be denied to those citizens who elect Sinn Féin MPs.

 

Mr Doherty said:

 

“The hypocrisy of Nigel Dodds bringing a motion on Sinn Féin constituency expenses in Westminster is staggering. This is the head of the Dodds family political dynasty who routinely cash in expenses and wages cheques from the public purse from the Assembly, from Westminster and from Brussels and until recently Belfast City Council as well.

 

“He is the deputy leader of a party that has been embroiled in scandal over its relationship with property developers and whose members routinely employ and rent offices from relatives all from the public purse. Only last week the DUP rejected a new expenses regime in Stormont which would have seen a reduction in MLA expenses.

 

“For the record Sinn Féin MPs do not receive Westminster salaries or personal expenses. We do receive an allowance to operate our constituency offices in order to provide much needed services for our electorate.

 

“I think it would be better for Mr Dodds to get his own and his party’s house in order when it comes to expenses, employing relatives and relationships with property developers before he wastes parliamentary time seeking to deny ordinary citizens their rights to constituency services.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP for Newry Armagh commenting on the  incident at Low Road in Meigh in which two  members of the PSNI  were injured has said:

“The incident, which has occurred following a multi-agency operation against smuggling, is to be condemned. As a result two police officers have been badly injured, one of whom is in a critical condition. Our thoughts are with those who are injured.

“We would expect that a full investigation into what happened will reveal more information. I understand that two people have been arrested and I welcome the fact that a significant amount of illegal cigarettes has been seized.”

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Responding to the news that the European Commission has today extended the State’s guarantee over the liabilities of Irish banks until the end of December, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance Arthur Morgan has hit out at the measure that will further expose Irish people to debts that they did not create themselves. He said that the State would be keeping bad banks on life support, while taxpayers themselves are penalised heavily.

Deputy Morgan said:

“The decision by the European Commission today to extend the State’s guarantee over the liabilities of Irish banks until the end of December will further expose Irish people to debts that they did not create themselves, further making them liable for the toxic debts of our financial institutions.

“Both the Government and the European Commission have a brass neck to extend the blanket guarantee further given that they are on a trajectory to inflict a further litany of harsh budgetary measures on the people of this State.

“A report released yesterday from the Bank of International Settlements warned that if measures like extensive bank guarantees were kept in place, never mind extended, there was an inherent risk of creating zombie banks dependant on direct support. Essentially the State would be keeping bad banks on life support, while taxpayers themselves are penalised heavily through pay cuts, welfare cuts and infrastructural
deficits.

“The Government and the European Commission are going down a dangerous road without a map – continuing to extend the bank guarantee without taking the tough decisions and making fundamental reforms will cripple the economy.

“Sinn Féin believes the only way to deal with the current crisis is to nationalise the two main banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland, turning these two banks into a state bank. Sinn Féin has always advocated for creating a state bank that will offer far greater security for the taxpayer, that will give credit to and invest in small and medium enterprises, that protects family homes and that will restore confidence in the Irish economy. With a state bank, the Government can adequately protect the investments and deposits of ordinary citizens and small businesses whilst wisely investing profits back into the public purse to the advantage of all.

“Our current Government needs to leave behind their obsession with the banking sector and worry less about extending the blanket bank guarantee and instead focus on ensuring each and every unemployed person in this State can secure a job.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education spokesperson John O' Dowd has said that it is clear from the Ministers statement today that without an injection of cash by the Executive there will be no new schools built in this financial year as a result of the constraints on the Education budget.

Mr O' Dowd said
 
“Despite the best efforts by some of those in the Chamber and some outside the chamber to muddy the waters the facts are quite clear.Schools affected by the Capital Review will be informed directly of their status by the Minister and despite the protests of some MLAs schools should be informed before anyone else! The school build programme cannot go ahead without an injection of money as the Minister has already spent 99% of her allocated budget in building new schools. What part of those two pieces of information do certain MLAs not understand?
 
"In recent weeks senior departmental officials have reported to the Assembly Education Committee that the new build budget is under severe pressure. Those reports have been confirmed by budget updates.
 
"The antics of the Education committee chair will not result in one brick being laid in any school but if the Assembly and the Executive approach this issue in a mature professional way then I believe we can bring some relief to those schools awaiting new builds.

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Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill has met with Health Minister Michael McGimpsey as part of a delegation to discuss the future of the mid Ulster hospital.

 Ms O'Neill stated:
 
"I met today with the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey to highlight my concerns around the future of the mid Ulster Hospital. I emphasised to him the importance of maintaining the services currently available at the hospital and about the need to ensure that there is equity in health service provision in the Mid Ulster area.

"I will be continuing the campaign on Thursday when I will meet with the departmental officials and management of the local health trust to again underline the importance of hospital services to the people of Mid Ulster." crioch

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