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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has moved an Amendment Bill in the Dáil that would allow survivors of symphysiotomy seek legal redress for the injuries they suffered during what is described as a "barbaric act" in Irish hospitals when they were giving birth to their children.  Deputy Ó Caoláin expressed his hope that the Bill would be supported by all members of the Dáil.

He said, "The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill is brought forward in a non-partisan, non-party political way. It arises directly from the work of the All-Party Oireachtas Support Group for Victims of Symphysiotiomy which has cross-party and non-party support and participation.

"When I published this Bill last week I acknowledged the significant and sincere contribution of TDs and Senators of all parties and Independents in support of the campaign of the victims of symphysiotomy for justice over recent years. We have worked hard and well together and it is my earnest hope that we will see this critically important piece of legislation safely across the line to be fine-tuned, as required, by Government in the Committee, Report and final stages of its passage."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say, "The overwhelming majority of those subjected to symphysiotomy or pubiotomy were young women having their first child and whose knowledge of childbirth was extremely limited.

"Many did not realise that the injuries they suffered were other than the normal effects of childbirth. Nor did they understand, for many years, and in most cases decades later, that these horrendous consequences were the result of childbirth operations that had been performed on them without their knowledge or consent.

"These were, in effect, clandestine operations, which were concealed from them by sections of the medical profession."

He said, "The Bill before us is necessary because the bar created by the Statute of Limitations sets a time limit of two years in initiating actions in personal injury cases. While in other jurisdictions judges retain inherent jurisdiction to allow cases to proceed where justice demands, Irish legislation provides no discretion whatsoever to the courts in determining whether cases may advance."

Appealing for cross-party support for the Bill he said, "This outstanding issue of truth and justice for women who were mutilated in the Irish hospital system is just as grave as the scandal of institutional child sexual abuse or the ordeal of women in Magdalene laundries. In all of those cases the injuries and wrongs done to the women and children concerned was compounded by concealment, lies, denials, decades of silence from the State and then inaction or long delayed action or inadequate action by the State when the reality was exposed.

"What was, in effect, a conspiracy of powerful and unaccountable men in the medical profession made the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy possible in Irish hospitals, with no protection for the women concerned from the health system or from any other arm of Government. They were simply abandoned to their fate.

"Let us not compound these crimes– for crimes they were – by further neglect in this Dáil."

Full text of speech follows:

I formally move the Second Stage of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013.

I want to begin by welcoming once again here to Leinster House many of the women who suffered the barbaric act of symphysiotomy in Irish hospitals. They have come in such numbers that the public gallery has not been sufficient to accommodate them all. Fáilte romhaibh uile anseo.

More than once in the past these women have left Leinster House feeling disappointed and let down by the political system. I sincerely hope that is not the case again tomorrow night and at the very outset of this debate I appeal individually to each and every Teachta Dála, regardless of where they sit in this chamber, to support these women by supporting this Bill.

I believe that the appeal of the women is now being heard by Government and that it will allow passage of Second Stage of this Bill.

Such a decision would be a step towards justice and truth for the survivors of the barbaric act of symphysiotomy.

This would mean that the Bill would pass Second Stage in the Dáil and be referred to Committee.
There should be no question of shelving the Bill at this stage. I urge that Committee Stage be scheduled as soon as possible and that the Government should facilitate its passage there also, with amendments if required.

The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill is brought forward in a non-partisan, non-party political way. It arises directly from the work of the All-Party Oireachtas Support Group for Victims of Symphysiotiomy which has cross-party and non-party support and participation.

When I published this Bill last week I acknowledged the significant and sincere contribution of TDs and Senators of all parties and Independents in support of the campaign of the victims of symphysiotomy for justice over recent years. We have worked hard and well together and it is my earnest hope that we will see this critically important piece of legislation safely across the line to be fine-tuned, as required, by Government in the Committee, Report and final stages of its passage.

At the press conference last week survivors of symphysiotomy again spoke movingly and harrowingly of their ordeal. The physical reality was put starkly and simply by Rita McCann: “If the linchpin of your body is broken, everything else falls apart.”

She said no-one in the hospital where she underwent the ordeal made any attempt to tell her about the operation she was having.   “I was taken in and abused,” she said.

And of course, like all the survivors, she lives to this day with the severe physical pain and discomfort and the deep emotional trauma caused by this barbaric operation.

We could fill the entire three hours of this debate in private members time with identical accounts and it would still not suffice to convey the enormity of what was done to these women.

It is estimated that some 1500 women suffered this form of abuse in Irish hospitals between the 1950s and the 1980s. In many cases it was long years later before they realised or were made aware of exactly what had been done to them. They had to live with the pain and the trauma without any explanation. Even today women are still coming forward, hearing the stories of fellow victims and realising that this too is their story.

The surviving women are now advanced in years. Most of the victims, around 1300 women, have passed on, some only in recent weeks. To their families and the families of all deceased victims of symphysiotomy we extend our sympathy and solidarity. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanamacha.

We owe it to them, the deceased survivors of symphysiotomy, as much as to the estimated 200 living survivors, to act now as legislators in this Oireachtas to support them, as we are empowered to do, by opening the way to truth and to justice.

The Bill before us is necessary because the bar created by the Statute of Limitations sets a time limit of two years in initiating actions in personal injury cases. While in other jurisdictions judges retain inherent jurisdiction to allow cases to proceed where justice demands, Irish legislation provides no discretion whatsoever to the courts in determining whether cases may advance.

The State's refusal to deal with this abuse has left survivors with no option but to seek redress through the courts, although it has taken them several decades or more to amass sufficient knowledge to do so. A small number have never sought legal advice. Lifting the statute bar - unanimously recommended by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in June 2012 - would obviate procedural battles and ensure unfettered access for all to the courts. Judges here have no discretion in relation to the statute bar, as they do in other common law jurisdictions.

The overwhelming majority of those subjected to symphysiotomy or pubiotomy were young women having their first child and whose knowledge of childbirth was extremely limited.

Many did not realise that the injuries they suffered were other than the normal effects of childbirth. Nor did they understand, for many years, and in most cases decades later, that these horrendous consequences were the result of childbirth operations that had been performed on them without their knowledge or consent.

These were, in effect, clandestine operations, which were concealed from them by sections of the medical profession.

As a consequence of this lack of knowledge, some survivors have never initiated proceedings, nor even sought professional advice, while others only did so, in very many cases, decades after the wrongful acts to which they were subjected were committed.

The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 will allow those women currently excluded from taking legal action, to do so if that is their choice.

The Bill is based on the precedent of the Statute of Limitations Act 2000, which lifted the Statute of Limitations for sexual abuse victims of residential institutions. The wording of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 mirrors the wording of the 2000 Act section by section.

The Bill does not establish any new cause of action - rather, it lifts the limitation period for bringing proceedings in respect of existing wrongs. Over 75% of these wrongs were committed in private hospitals who were insured at that time and who are liable for those injuries.

This outstanding issue of truth and justice for women who were mutilated in the Irish hospital system is just as grave as the scandal of institutional child sexual abuse or the ordeal of women in Magdalene laundries. In all of those cases the injuries and wrongs done to the women and children concerned was compounded by concealment, lies, denials, decades of silence from the State and then inaction or long delayed action or inadequate action by the State when the reality was exposed.

What was, in effect, a conspiracy of powerful and unaccountable men in the medical profession made the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy possible in Irish hospitals, with no protection for the women concerned from the health system or from any other arm of Government. They were simply abandoned to their fate.
Let us not compound these crimes– for crimes they were – by further neglect in this Dáil.

We must act now as legislators first, not Government or Opposition or political parties, but as law-makers who have a duty to represent these women and a duty to ensure that they have a clear path to justice and truth.
This is a test of our political system’s ability to act on behalf of the people in acknowledging wrongs and putting them right.

I appeal once again to each and every Dáil Deputy to support this Bill.

If passed at Second Stage the Bill can then go to Committee and the Government can amend it, if amendment is required, providing, at last, a way forward for these women.

I appeal to the Government to facilitate the passage of the Bill’s Second Stage by not dividing the Dáil in a vote tomorrow night.

It is the least that we can do in response to the surviving women’s appeal.

It is the least that we can do in memory of all the deceased victims of this barbaric act.

Let us together show, and proudly, that politics and politicians do care and can and sometimes do act in harmony in the interests of truth and justice.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD, has today demanded the government provide increased staff for the Private Residential Tenancies Board to deal with the extra 20,000 tenants from voluntary housing bodies.
Speaking during a presentation from the PRTB at the Dáil Environment Committee, Stanley said: “The Private Rented Tenancies Board will have to deal with the additional 20,000 tenants from voluntary housing. These are due to come under the remit of the board this year.
“Staff numbers have been reduced by over 50%. There was 70 staff employed in the PRTB during a period when there were fewer tenants, that is set to be reduced to 33. Staff numbers are being greatly reduced yet the sector continues to expand.
“According to Threshold, the private rented sector has grown by 50% in the last five years. One in five households lives in private rented accommodation, yet the government is cutting resources to the PRTB. This flies in the face of reality.
“Tenants will face lengthy waiting lists to have concerns addressed. The average waiting time is ten or eleven months. This is set to increase with the growing number of rented properties and the serious reduction in staff. Issues of anti -social behaviour and repairs will not be tackled. This is unacceptable.
“The government must provide the PRTB with adequate powers and staff to regulate the private rented sector. The board must be able to provide tenants and landlords with a speedy and effective dispute resolution mechanism. ”
ends

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Sinn Fein spokesperson on Housing Dessie Ellis TD has called on the Minister to work to develop a binding code of conduct to avoid rental tenants be evicted in the event of repossessions. He made his comments during a debate requested by him in the Dáil today.

Deputy Ellis continued:
“Across the state and especially in Dublin we are facing a crisis within a crisis. This is the problem of landlords who are not paying their mortgages and in doing so are jeopardising the housing of potentially thousands of people.

“In the last few weeks I have personally dealt with five families in Dublin who are facing eviction due to the repossession of their rented homes. The lenders want to sell and wash their hands of the property, in some cases forcing the landlord to evict the families before they take over.

“I spoke to Emma, a mother of two from Drimnagh: 13 years on waiting lists afraid to leave her home to go to speak to the council because she might come home to find that she has been evicted.

“The long term solution is to provide sustainable public housing which is not endangered by the whims of the market, lenders or profit driven landlords. The more immediate solution is to force lenders to enter into a code of conduct in relation to tenants, especially those with an assessed social housing need who are particularly at risk of homelessness in the event of eviction.

“Banks need to honour tenancy agreements in conjunction with a strategy from Local Authorities to ensure that no tenant is left homeless. As we face increased repossessions due to government policy this will only become worse if nothing is done.”
ends

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SIPTU members’ rejection of Croke Park II is a body blow to the government’s austerity agenda, according to Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD this afternoon.

SIPTU is the tenth union to reject this deal. There is a growing momentum in opposition to it. While we do not yet know the final outcome of other unions’ ballots, if the deal is rejected by a majority of unions, the government needs to go back to the drawing board.

“Workers have signalled loud and clear, that these pay cuts are not fair, and that those on lower and middle incomes simply cannot afford to take any more. They have taken a stand against austerity, and I commend them for that.”

“Sinn Féin has always argued against cutting the pay of low and middle income workers. If the government is serious about reform of the public sector it should deal with runaway pay at the top and eliminate wasteful spending.

“Brendan Howlin now needs to understand that his bullyboy tactics have not worked. Any effort to impose across the board pay cuts through legislation will be opposed, and rightly so.”

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The reported Government decision not to oppose the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 has been welcomed by its proposer Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson.
He said: “The reported decision of Government not to oppose the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 would be a step towards justice and truth for the survivors of the barbaric act of symphysiotomy.
“This would mean that the Bill will pass Second Stage in the Dáil and be referred to Committee. There should be no question of shelving the Bill at this stage. I urge that Committee Stage be scheduled as soon as possible and that the Government should facilitate its passage there also, with amendments if required.
“I pay tribute to the heroic women survivors of symphysiotomy, to tireless campaigners on their behalf and to those Oireachtas members who have worked together in recent years to advance their cause.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane has welcomed the decision today by the Assembly Business Committee to accept a motion submitted by Sinn Féin on marriage equality.

 Ms. Ruane said,

 “Following the decision at the Conventional Convention in Dublin at the weekend to endorse a change to the Irish Constitution on the issue of marriage equality I am delighted that the Assembly have now accepted a similar motion on the issue.

“Sinn Féin ethos is built upon equality and following the success at the weekend we have chosen marriage equality as a motion for the Assembly.

 “The debate will take place on the 29th April and this will be a opportunity for all parties who purport to support equality to show where they stand.  It is important that every citizen is equal under the law regardless of creed, colour or sexual orientation.

 “I was disappointed that no member of the SDLP were present at the weekend debate and that many members of their party were absent the last time this came before the Assembly so I hope that they take this opportunity to unequivocally support marriage equality.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina has joined the European Alzheimer’s Alliance at the EU Parliament.

Martina Anderson said:

“I was pleased to accept the invitation to join the Alzheimer’s Alliance at the European Parliament. As someone with first-hand knowledge of what it is like to care for a family member – my mother-who is a sufferer of this debilitating condition I appreciate the work of the Alliance in bringing a focus to bear on its widespread occurrence.

“As a member of  the Committee dealing with Public Health at the EU Parliament I will take every opportunity to highlight the needs of those suffering  from Alzheimer’s and the predicament that those caring for them  find themselves in. I believe that much more public funds needs to be invested in research into conditions such as Alzheimer’s and I will be calling on the EU to do more to help in the search for appropriate treatment and cure.”

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Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA, Daithí McKay has welcomed suspension of consideration of the Private Member’s Bill, tabled by Jim Allister MLA, designed to exclude political former prisoners from holding positions of Special Advisors to Ministers.

Daithí McKay said:

“I welcome this development and hope that the Member recognises the folly of allowing his anti-republican prejudices to colour his political judgement.

“Jim Allister is not requesting suspension of consideration of this Bill because he has all of a sudden accepted the discriminatory nature of it but because he has no other recourse. In his haste to introduce a Bill that was specifically directed at excluding republican political former prisoners from holding positions of influence in the Assembly he failed to examine the competency of his proposed Bill.

“The fact that Jim Allister, did not check to see if his Bill came under the competency of the Assembly to enact, brings into question, his political judgement .

“The Bill is now in serious trouble. The Speaker should immediately clarify whether the Bill is legally competent and within the remit of the Assembly. If it is not then I call on the Speaker, William Hay to rule it incompetent and Kill the Bill.

“This Bill was in contradiction of both the letter and the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement  and it was particularly disappointing to see the SDLP - a party to the Agreement- supporting the main thrust of a Bill of exclusion brought forward by the Traditional Unionist Voice.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose any attempts to bring forward legislation that is designed to discriminate against not just former prisoners of the conflict, but any section of society. The days of discrimination, exclusion and second class citizenship are gone and Sinn Féin will not allow them to come back.”

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Boston bombings were an appalling attack on civilians - Crowe
Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, has said he was horrified at the bomb attacks on Boston’s Marathon yesterday and extended his sympathy to the families of the bereaved and injured.
Deputy Crowe said: “Yesterday’s bomb attack on Boston’s Marathon was an appalling and callous act, which killed and injured innocent civilians.
“Boston has a strong Irish community and long connections and so it is close to hearts of a huge amount of Irish people.
“I would like to extend my sympathises and condolence to families and friends who’s loved ones were killed or injured in this brutal attack”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has today appealed for calm and for mediation in the on-going and escalating dispute between Minister Alan Shatter and the judiciary.

“The on-going dispute over recent days is unprecedented, worrying and reflects badly on Ireland internationally.

“I am appealing for calm and urgently calling for lines of communications to be established quickly and clearly.”

“A number of the grievances raised by the judges are legitimate and should be listened to. I am calling for an independent mediator to be appointed to examine these grievances.”

“It appears to me that a number of the issues raised are easily resolved if the will is there. For example on the issue of consultation over new legislation judges have the right, like any other citizen, to make submissions upon the publication of heads of bill by government. However their opinions and recommendations should be considered in the same light as those from any other citizen. No citizen has the right to have their submission elevated above those of anyone else.

“The independent appointment of judges has also been raised in the media over the last number of days. Separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive must be upheld. Earlier this year I introduced legislation which seeks to end the system of political appointees, increasing transparency and accountability in judicial appointments.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has moved an Amendment Bill in the Dáil that would allow survivors of symphysiotomy seek legal redress for the injuries they suffered during what is described as a "barbaric act" in Irish hospitals when they were giving birth to their children.  Deputy Ó Caoláin expressed his hope that the Bill would be supported by all members of the Dáil.

He said, "The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill is brought forward in a non-partisan, non-party political way. It arises directly from the work of the All-Party Oireachtas Support Group for Victims of Symphysiotiomy which has cross-party and non-party support and participation.

"When I published this Bill last week I acknowledged the significant and sincere contribution of TDs and Senators of all parties and Independents in support of the campaign of the victims of symphysiotomy for justice over recent years. We have worked hard and well together and it is my earnest hope that we will see this critically important piece of legislation safely across the line to be fine-tuned, as required, by Government in the Committee, Report and final stages of its passage."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say, "The overwhelming majority of those subjected to symphysiotomy or pubiotomy were young women having their first child and whose knowledge of childbirth was extremely limited.

"Many did not realise that the injuries they suffered were other than the normal effects of childbirth. Nor did they understand, for many years, and in most cases decades later, that these horrendous consequences were the result of childbirth operations that had been performed on them without their knowledge or consent.

"These were, in effect, clandestine operations, which were concealed from them by sections of the medical profession."

He said, "The Bill before us is necessary because the bar created by the Statute of Limitations sets a time limit of two years in initiating actions in personal injury cases. While in other jurisdictions judges retain inherent jurisdiction to allow cases to proceed where justice demands, Irish legislation provides no discretion whatsoever to the courts in determining whether cases may advance."

Appealing for cross-party support for the Bill he said, "This outstanding issue of truth and justice for women who were mutilated in the Irish hospital system is just as grave as the scandal of institutional child sexual abuse or the ordeal of women in Magdalene laundries. In all of those cases the injuries and wrongs done to the women and children concerned was compounded by concealment, lies, denials, decades of silence from the State and then inaction or long delayed action or inadequate action by the State when the reality was exposed.

"What was, in effect, a conspiracy of powerful and unaccountable men in the medical profession made the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy possible in Irish hospitals, with no protection for the women concerned from the health system or from any other arm of Government. They were simply abandoned to their fate.

"Let us not compound these crimes– for crimes they were – by further neglect in this Dáil."

Full text of speech follows:

I formally move the Second Stage of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013.

I want to begin by welcoming once again here to Leinster House many of the women who suffered the barbaric act of symphysiotomy in Irish hospitals. They have come in such numbers that the public gallery has not been sufficient to accommodate them all. Fáilte romhaibh uile anseo.

More than once in the past these women have left Leinster House feeling disappointed and let down by the political system. I sincerely hope that is not the case again tomorrow night and at the very outset of this debate I appeal individually to each and every Teachta Dála, regardless of where they sit in this chamber, to support these women by supporting this Bill.

I believe that the appeal of the women is now being heard by Government and that it will allow passage of Second Stage of this Bill.

Such a decision would be a step towards justice and truth for the survivors of the barbaric act of symphysiotomy.

This would mean that the Bill would pass Second Stage in the Dáil and be referred to Committee.
There should be no question of shelving the Bill at this stage. I urge that Committee Stage be scheduled as soon as possible and that the Government should facilitate its passage there also, with amendments if required.

The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill is brought forward in a non-partisan, non-party political way. It arises directly from the work of the All-Party Oireachtas Support Group for Victims of Symphysiotiomy which has cross-party and non-party support and participation.

When I published this Bill last week I acknowledged the significant and sincere contribution of TDs and Senators of all parties and Independents in support of the campaign of the victims of symphysiotomy for justice over recent years. We have worked hard and well together and it is my earnest hope that we will see this critically important piece of legislation safely across the line to be fine-tuned, as required, by Government in the Committee, Report and final stages of its passage.

At the press conference last week survivors of symphysiotomy again spoke movingly and harrowingly of their ordeal. The physical reality was put starkly and simply by Rita McCann: “If the linchpin of your body is broken, everything else falls apart.”

She said no-one in the hospital where she underwent the ordeal made any attempt to tell her about the operation she was having.   “I was taken in and abused,” she said.

And of course, like all the survivors, she lives to this day with the severe physical pain and discomfort and the deep emotional trauma caused by this barbaric operation.

We could fill the entire three hours of this debate in private members time with identical accounts and it would still not suffice to convey the enormity of what was done to these women.

It is estimated that some 1500 women suffered this form of abuse in Irish hospitals between the 1950s and the 1980s. In many cases it was long years later before they realised or were made aware of exactly what had been done to them. They had to live with the pain and the trauma without any explanation. Even today women are still coming forward, hearing the stories of fellow victims and realising that this too is their story.

The surviving women are now advanced in years. Most of the victims, around 1300 women, have passed on, some only in recent weeks. To their families and the families of all deceased victims of symphysiotomy we extend our sympathy and solidarity. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanamacha.

We owe it to them, the deceased survivors of symphysiotomy, as much as to the estimated 200 living survivors, to act now as legislators in this Oireachtas to support them, as we are empowered to do, by opening the way to truth and to justice.

The Bill before us is necessary because the bar created by the Statute of Limitations sets a time limit of two years in initiating actions in personal injury cases. While in other jurisdictions judges retain inherent jurisdiction to allow cases to proceed where justice demands, Irish legislation provides no discretion whatsoever to the courts in determining whether cases may advance.

The State's refusal to deal with this abuse has left survivors with no option but to seek redress through the courts, although it has taken them several decades or more to amass sufficient knowledge to do so. A small number have never sought legal advice. Lifting the statute bar - unanimously recommended by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in June 2012 - would obviate procedural battles and ensure unfettered access for all to the courts. Judges here have no discretion in relation to the statute bar, as they do in other common law jurisdictions.

The overwhelming majority of those subjected to symphysiotomy or pubiotomy were young women having their first child and whose knowledge of childbirth was extremely limited.

Many did not realise that the injuries they suffered were other than the normal effects of childbirth. Nor did they understand, for many years, and in most cases decades later, that these horrendous consequences were the result of childbirth operations that had been performed on them without their knowledge or consent.

These were, in effect, clandestine operations, which were concealed from them by sections of the medical profession.

As a consequence of this lack of knowledge, some survivors have never initiated proceedings, nor even sought professional advice, while others only did so, in very many cases, decades after the wrongful acts to which they were subjected were committed.

The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 will allow those women currently excluded from taking legal action, to do so if that is their choice.

The Bill is based on the precedent of the Statute of Limitations Act 2000, which lifted the Statute of Limitations for sexual abuse victims of residential institutions. The wording of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 mirrors the wording of the 2000 Act section by section.

The Bill does not establish any new cause of action - rather, it lifts the limitation period for bringing proceedings in respect of existing wrongs. Over 75% of these wrongs were committed in private hospitals who were insured at that time and who are liable for those injuries.

This outstanding issue of truth and justice for women who were mutilated in the Irish hospital system is just as grave as the scandal of institutional child sexual abuse or the ordeal of women in Magdalene laundries. In all of those cases the injuries and wrongs done to the women and children concerned was compounded by concealment, lies, denials, decades of silence from the State and then inaction or long delayed action or inadequate action by the State when the reality was exposed.

What was, in effect, a conspiracy of powerful and unaccountable men in the medical profession made the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy possible in Irish hospitals, with no protection for the women concerned from the health system or from any other arm of Government. They were simply abandoned to their fate.
Let us not compound these crimes– for crimes they were – by further neglect in this Dáil.

We must act now as legislators first, not Government or Opposition or political parties, but as law-makers who have a duty to represent these women and a duty to ensure that they have a clear path to justice and truth.
This is a test of our political system’s ability to act on behalf of the people in acknowledging wrongs and putting them right.

I appeal once again to each and every Dáil Deputy to support this Bill.

If passed at Second Stage the Bill can then go to Committee and the Government can amend it, if amendment is required, providing, at last, a way forward for these women.

I appeal to the Government to facilitate the passage of the Bill’s Second Stage by not dividing the Dáil in a vote tomorrow night.

It is the least that we can do in response to the surviving women’s appeal.

It is the least that we can do in memory of all the deceased victims of this barbaric act.

Let us together show, and proudly, that politics and politicians do care and can and sometimes do act in harmony in the interests of truth and justice.

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Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams TD, has condemned yesterday's bomb attacks in Boston and has extended his sympathy and condolences to the families of the bereaved and to the injured.

Teachta Adams said:
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and all of those injured and with the citizens of this fine city.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone and member of the Regional Development Minister, Declan McAleer, has stated that the decision not to appeal the A5 court ruling is a costly mistake.

 Speaking today Mr McAleer said:

 “The decision not appeal the ruling on the A5 is a costly mistake but will not be the end of this project.

 "The fact that despite millions of pounds being paid to consultants on this project, there was a gross lack of oversight by the Department of Regional development who should have identified the issues raised in the court judgement is an indictment of the minister.

 “Questions are also being raised as to why, as Danny Kennedy’s first major roads project in the west and the fact that Tom Elliot was very much lobbying against this road were these mistakes made.

 “However, this is an Executive project that can still be a huge benefit to the local economy. Well accepted figures from the Institute of Civil Engineering state that for every £1 invested in infrastructure £2.84 is generated in economic activity. In these terms this project is worth £1bn and an estimated 10,000 jobs.

 “There is now an onus on the Minister to overcome this hurdle, move on and address this outstanding issue. The DRD must pursue in earnest a resolution that would be acceptable in order to see that this vital roads project goes ahead and proceeds without any further undue delay.”


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Sinn Féin Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has castigated the Fine Gael and Labour for dressing up a proposed income tax cut for higher earners as an economic stimulus.

Speaking today after Richard Bruton floated the idea in the media last week Deputy Tóibín said;

“Sinn Féin’s believes that if you work hard, use your smarts and take risks you are entitled to be compensated properly for doing so. But we also believe that the more you earn the more tax you should pay.

“Labour and Fine Gael regularly state that high income taxes on the wealthiest is anti-jobs. This is clearly hocus pocus. Foreign Direct Investment is interested in making a profit. This is determined by corporation taxes, cost of inputs such as electricity and gas, the skills and education of the workforce, language, access to markets, innovation etc.

“The Netherlands, with one of the highest marginal tax rates in Europe, receives the most foreign direct investment per capita. A fair tax system is not incompatible with a thriving economy. In fact, as we see in many nordic countries, a fair tax system is the foundation of a sustainable thriving economy.

“After heaping new regressive stealth taxes such as the family home tax and water charges on low and middle income earners Fine Gael and Labour now seek a cut in the most progressive form of tax, income tax.

“In recent days Richard Bruton even went as far as to call this economic stimulus. If it were it would first of all be grossly inequitable. Secondly such a stimulus would be blunt and blind, leaking massively from the economy and subsidising the German motor industry or the electronics sector in the Far East.

“This tax break stimulus policy may create jobs, but just not in Ireland unfortunately.

“Contrast this to the Sinn Féin Stimulus proposals with €13 billion euros focused on energy efficiency, energy price stability, communications competitiveness and a healthier better educated work force.

“Our Jobs stimulus, now accepted as necessary by even the architects of current austerity would have low leakage and a high multiplier effect.

“The Sinn Féin Jobs stimulus would have a regional distribution which would combat the emigration of our young people throughout the state.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin met with Invest NI CEO, Alastair Hamilton, ILEX and Derry City Council (DCC) in Derry on Friday last to discuss the lack of investment in the North West and to identify unique selling points for the Region.

Maeve McLaughlin said:

“I hosted a meeting with the CEO of Invest NI (INI), Alastair Hamilton, ILEX and DCC in the City on Friday last to discuss the lack of investment in the North West and to identify the unique selling points of the Region.

“The key message that we delivered to Alastair Hamilton was that INI needs to have a strategy that tackles regional disparities. We identified a number of projects that should inform INI’s strategy of marketing this region.

“Among these unique selling points are the Creative industries and technology , Connected Health -utilising projects such as : C-Tric, Project Kelvin and Research facilities at Magee University Campus to create Centres of Excellence.

“They should also be highlighting the quality of life, the age profile of the available workforce and the fact that it is the Gateway to the North West Region etc.

“I pointed out the need for INI to exploit all of these selling features in a properly constructed marketing strategy.

“The inadequacies in INI’s Investment strategy are glaring and it needs to be re-examined. How does it explain the fact that 60% of investment support offered from 2011-2012 was concentrated on eight constituencies in the north. These eight constituencies were all located East of the Bann and in and around the Belfast Metropolitan Area.

“The remaining 40% was spread across the rest of the north, including Derry which received only 5% of total investment. Given that over 30% of Invest NI funding was directed towards only two constituencies and that 60% was concentrated in and around Belfast, it is clear that Invest NI investment support is concentrated on specific constituency areas. Whether deliberate or not this disparity in allocation is unacceptable and needs to be redressed as a matter of urgency.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey said suicide prevention has to be a priority right across the Executive.

The West Belfast MLA and Chair of the Health Committee was speaking after putting forward a motion to the Assembly from the Health Committee calling on the Executive to prioritise suicide prevention strategies.

Sue Ramsey, who also had a meeting with the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness along with representatives of PIPs and the Niamh Louise Foundation this morning regarding suicide prevention said:

“The fact that suicide is one of the biggest killers in our community is clear with around 300 people taking their own lives each year, making it something that we urgently need to address.

“The overall suicide rate here has more than doubled in the past 30 years and we need a joined up approach and commitment across all government departments to tackle suicide.

“We need to promote good mental health within our schools to give our children the coping skills to deal with life’s problems and supporting those who need help in times of crisis.” CRÍOCH/END

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“There is a need for a full investigation into reports that former head of Cumann na bhFiann, Dónall Ó Lubhlaí, sexually assaulted youths under his care and state support must be provided for any victims who suffered as a result of this,” according to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

“These very serious allegations that have been made in the last number of days, that Ó Lubhlaí, who died a couple of weeks ago, had been systematically abusing a number of individuals and assaulted numerous other youths, are frightening to say the least.

“This is a man who was revered as a pioneer in Irish language and education spheres, was held in very high esteem by people in positions of power in political life, the public and civil service, the church and the community. It is alleged that he abused his position of power to target vulnerable youths to sexually assault them.
“It isn’t known yet how many men may be affected, but new victims are coming forward since the story made news headlines in the last week,” according to the Sinn Féin senator.

“There was to have been a court case at the beginning of the last decade regarding these abuses, but this apparently was thrown out because evidence that had been given to An Gárda Síochána was lost.”

“It is imperative therefore that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence hold an inquiry into this case to clarify whether the gardaí were remiss in their responsibilities – and whether any other state body that had responsibility for child protection was remiss in their duties also, as well as any state agencies which funded the organisations which Ó Lubhlaí was involved with at the time,” according to the Galway West senator.

“It is essential that any victims who come forward be given every support necessary, that they be encouraged to give evidence, as well as being provided with counselling and health services to help them deal with the fallout of the abuses they endured.

“It takes incredible courage for abuse victims to go public and the State has a responsibility to support anyone who reports such behaviour. It is also essential that the details of abuse by Ó Lubhlaí be brought to light, why it may have continued without being stopped, if anyone else in a position of responsibility was aware of what was happening and if the State was in any way remiss in its duty of care regarding the protection of young people from abuse by people in roles of authority as is alleged in this situation,” according to Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
ENDS
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Teastaíonn fiosrúchán faoi chás Uí Lubhlaí – Ó Clochartaigh

‘Tá gá le fiosrúchán maidir leis na tuairiscí go ndearna Iar-cheannasaí Chumann na bhFiann, Dónall Ó Lubhlaí, ionsaithe gnéis ar chuid mhaith ógánaithe a bhí faoina chúram agus tá gá le tacaíocht d’aon duine a d’fhulaing mar thoradh ar seo’, dar leis an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

‘Bhí na líomhaintí sna meáin le seachtain anuas go ndearna Ó Lubhlaí, a bhásaigh le cúpla seachtain, ionsaithe leanúnacha ar dhaoine áirithe agus mí-úsáid ar líon mhór fir óga eile, scanrúil amach is amach. Is fear é seo a raibh stádas tugtha dó mar cheannródaí ó thaobh cur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus an Oideachais di. Gur féar é a raibh an-urraim dó ag daoine móra le rá sa pholaitíocht, sa státchóras, san eaglais agus sa bpobal. Tá sé curtha ina leith gur bhain sé mí-úsáid as an gcumhacht agus an ról a bhí aige le deis a fháil ar dhaoine óga leochaileacha chun ionsaithe a dhéanamh orthu. Ní fios cé mhéad duine a bhí i gceist go fóill, ach tá íospartaigh nua ag teacht chun cinn ó bhris an scéal sna meáin le laethanta beaga anuas’, a deir Seanadóir Shinn Féin.

‘Bhí cás le cur ós cómhair na gcúirteanna faoi seo ag tús na mílaoise, ach thit sé óna chéile de réir tuairiscí, mar go ndeachaigh fianaise a bhí ag an Gárda Síochána amú’.

‘Tá dualgas anois, dar liom, ar an Aire Dlí, Comhionannas agus Cosanta fiosruchan a reáchtáil faoin gcás seo, le soiléiriú an raibh faillí déanta ag an Gárda Siochána ina gcuid dulagais – agus an raibh faillí déanta ag aon eagras Stáit eile a bhí ag déileáil le cosaint leanaí san am atá i gceist, nó a bhí ag maoiniú na heagrais a raibh baint ag Ó Lubhlaí leo ag an am’, a deir Seanadóir Ghaillimh Thiar.

‘Tá sé ríthábhachtach chomh maith go dtabharfar tacaíocht ó thaobh sláinte de d’íospartaigh a thagann chun cinn, go dtabharfar spreagadh dóibh fianaise a thabhairt, chomh maith le seirbhísí comhairleoireachta agus leighis a chuir ar fáil dóibh chun déileáil leis an tionchar a bhí ag an mhí-úsáid orthu’.

‘Tógann sé an-chrógacht ar fad do dhuine ar bith a d’fhulaing mí-úsáid sin a admháil go poiblí agus tá sé de dhualgas ar an Stát tacú leo pé bealach is gá. Tá sé riachtanach chomh maith go dtabharfar chun solais aon eolas faoin mí-úsáid atá curtha i leith Dónall Ó Lubhlaí, cén fáth – más fíor - gur lean sé ar aghaidh gan stopadh, an raibh fhios ag aon duine eile aon cheo faoi, nó an raibh aon fhaillí ó thaobh an Stát de, maidir le cosaint a thabhairt do dhaoine ó mhí-iompar, nó mí-úsáid ó dhuine i ról ceannasach ar an gcaoi atá luaite’, dar le Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

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The Sinn Féin delegates to the Constitutional Convention have welcomed the deliberative body’s decisive vote of 79% in favour of removing any possibility of constitutional discrimination against LGBT citizens by explicitly recognising the equal right of these citizens to civil marriage.

 

Mary Lou McDonald TD, who is representing the party along with Senator Kathryn Reilly and MLA Caitriona Ruane said: 

 

“The decisive result of the Convention vote is a real cause for celebration.  This is a landmark moment for equal rights in Ireland.  The clear direction from the Convention is to recommend amendment of a constitutional provision that has been used to discriminate against LGBT citizens and their families.  The proposed change would allow Ireland to join the thirteen other countries around the world that have recognised marriage equality rights.  This will make a real positive difference to the lives of Irish LGBT citizens and their children. The Government now needs to move quickly to progress this proposal to referendum without delay.  I want to congratulate all those who worked so hard to make this moment happen, and to acknowledge the generally respectful tone on all sides of the debate at the Convention.”

 

The three Sinn Féin delegates voted in favour of amending the Constitution to include an express positive obligation on the State to give effect to a guarantee of marriage equality and to the equal rights of the children of these marriages.

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A chairde,

Tá failte romhaibh uilig chuig Ard Fheis Shinn Féin i gContae Maigh Eo.  Támid an an sásta a bheith anseo san Iarthar.

A special Céad Míle Fáilte also to Friends of Sinn Féin from the USA, Canada and Australia; to our comrades from the Basque country, South Africa, Palestine, Cuba, Britain and to all foreign dignitaries.

I want to extend solidarity from this Ard Fheis to the Palestinian people and urge the international community to take decisive action for peace in the Middle East.

A Border Poll

This week saw the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.  Sinn Féin is proud of the pivotal role we played with others in forging that Agreement.  There would be no peace process and no Agreement without the commitment, initiatives and political risks taken by Irish republicans.  Or, without the great work of individuals like Des Wilson, Harold Good, Inez McCormack and especially Fr. Alex Reid.

It isn’t a perfect agreement.    But Sinn Féin secured the removal of the Government of Ireland Act, under which the British government claimed sovereignty over the North.

The Agreement provides for a border poll on Irish unity.

It’s no surprise that the two governments are saying No.  But Sinn Féin is saying Yes.  And more importantly nationalist and republican Ireland says Yes.  And we now need to work together for a Yes vote.

It’s time to let the people have their say on the future of Ireland.  It’s time for a referendum on Irish unity.

Government Failure

From the 1798 rebellion to Michael Davitt, from the Hunger Strikers Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan, to IRA activist and Sinn Fein Councillor Jackie Clarke, whose wonderful public collection of historic documents and memorabilia charts 200 years of republican resistance, Mayo has a long and distinguished republican history.

So it is particularly appropriate that we meet here.  And proof that the West is Awake.

Is Páirtí Poblachtach bródúil Sinn Féin. Tá muid go hiomlán dílis do fíor phoblacht a thugann tús áite do chearta gach duine.

We stand for equality, social solidarity and freedom.  Sinn Féin has always stood by the people.

Sin ceann de na príomh difríochtaí idir muidinne agus an rialtas i mBaile Átha Cliath.

This government, like the one before it, has failed the people.  Its core values are those of austerity. It has refused to negotiate a write-down on the Promissory Note.  It gave away our natural resources.  It tore up the Croke Park Agreement and is now targeting frontline workers on low and average pay. It cut child benefit, carer’s allowances and home-help hours.

But it has no problem putting taxpayers money into the pockets of bankers and financiers.  It and Fianna Fáil gave €64 billion to the banks.  Over the last five years, Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have taken €28 billion out of the economy in taxes and cuts.

Cuts to hospitals. To schools. To garda stations. Taxes on pensions. On savings. And on homes.

In October the Government will take another €3 billion.  Next year, they will take €2.5 billion more.

They have little thought for the social consequences of their actions, of the divided, polarised, unequal society they are creating.  Of impoverished communities and families hurting from the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.  But the bankers, developers and politicians who created the mess have been untouched.

Despite all the election rhetoric from Labour and Fine Gael this is still the best small country in the world for big bankers, crooked developers or corrupt politicians.

The Family Home Tax

Be sure of this.  When we make promises and commitments we keep them.  Sinn Féin will put manners on the elites and the fat cats. Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the Property Tax. We are against plans to raid salaries, social welfare payments and pensions to get it.

We will fight this family home tax tooth and nail.  We have published legislation to scrap it.  And in government we will abolish it.  Sinn Féin is also opposed to the introduction of water charges and will resist any legislation to introduce them.

The only way to restore our economy and rebuild society is to break with the self-serving politics of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil.  They refused to share the wealth during the boom years.  But they socialise the debt afterwards.  They are taking from those who have least to benefit those who have most.

Fairness

Sinn Féin was right during the era of the Celtic Tiger when we said that the wealth should be used to build public services, infrastructure and sustainable jobs.  Sinn Féin is right when we say the economy needs growth and jobs – not debt and cuts.  We were right in our demand to burn the bondholders.  We are right in our call not to pay the Promissory Notes.  We are right to tackle the high pay of politicians and top civil servants.

Táimid ceart faoin gá atá le smaointí nua agus focas nua ar cruthú poist.

Fairness is at the core of Sinn Féin’s approach.  Of course the deficit must be tackled.  But those with the broadest shoulders must bear the heaviest load.

In a fair Ireland the weak, the vulnerable and the least well-off would be protected.  If this was a real republic working people would not be punished for the greed and corruption of others.

If the Proclamation of 1916 was a reality families would not be punished.  Women would not be punished.  Children would not be punished.  Citizens with disabilities would not be punished.  People in rural Ireland would not be punished.  The poor would not be punished.

Change is Possible Now

But change cannot wait until there is a real republic.  Tá Sinn Féin go han-soiléir faoina príomh cheisteanna seo.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  Change is needed and change is possible now.

Sinn Féin is offering a realistic alternative.  We are committed to investing €13 billion in job creation and retention.  And we have presented realistic and costed, alternative budget proposals to reduce the deficit, create growth, and protect families under financial pressure.

Is seo cloch coirnéal ár bpolasaí.

The mortgage crisis is a direct result of Fianna Fáil policy and this government’s failure to help struggling families.  Sinn Féin proposes the establishment of an independent mortgage distress body to adjudicate and enforce agreements on mortgages between banks and mortgage holders.

Public Services Delivered Fairly

The mark of a real republic has to be in the quality of its public services.

Tá cearta ag saoránaigh.

These include the right to a home; the right to a job; the right to education; to a health service from the cradle to the grave; the right to a safe and clean environment; and to civil and religious liberties.

This is what republicanism is about. This is what real democracy should be about.

Public services delivered fairly and paid for by direct taxation.   This should include decent childcare facilities at affordable prices.  No matter what government Ministers say no parent should be forced from their job because they earn less than the cost of childcare.

Standing up for Rural Ireland

Last year, along with others, I visited many rural communities blighted by unemployment and poverty. In places where our young people should have an opportunity to build their lives we saw at first-hand how emigration is tearing the heart out of rural families.

We met families bereft by the scourge of suicide.

Sinn Féin will shortly publish a comprehensive report - "Standing up for Rural Ireland". This report outlines the need to:

  • Reverse Fianna Fáil’s decision to cut Garda numbers.
  • Provide a full grant to upgrade septic tanks.
  • Overhaul CAP to create a fairer distribution of payments.
  • Ensure that income support for farmers is directed at those who need it most.

Creating jobs, particularly in the agri-food industry, and investing in our fishing industry, are key to ensuring a future for rural communities.  Especially in the west of Ireland.  But people who live in rural communities also need schools, an accessible health service, decent infrastructure, public transport and an end to isolation. 

Gaeltacht areas need active regeneration.  And across this island the Irish language needs to be actively promoted, including an Acht na Gaeilge in the north.

Women Victims Need Justice

Women are among those most shamefully denied their rights under the conservative culture, which has dominated this state.

Mary Lou spoke for everyone on the day that the Magdalene report was published when she said it was time for a full apology to these brave women. That happened eventually. Now they need justice.  The victims of Bethany Home need justice.  The victims of symphysiotomy need justice.

People across Ireland have been moved this week by the reports from the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar and by the grace and great dignity of her husband. I want to extend solidarity to Praveen and his family and friends.  Savita’s death brought into sharp and tragic focus the failure of successive governments to legislate in the X case.

The people have spoken and firmly placed the responsibility upon their Oireachtas representatives to legislate on this issue.  It is time doctors had legal clarity.  It’s time for protection for pregnant women whose lives are at risk.

Progress in the North

Sinn Féin opposes austerity across this island.  Despite £4bn pounds of cuts by the British government, Sinn Féin’s Ministerial and Assembly team under Martin McGuinness’s leadership, has prioritised finding money to maintain frontline services, protect those on lowest incomes and assist disadvantaged communities.

The so-called Welfare Reform Bill is another example of the English Tory Agenda.  Sinn Féin is opposed to these cuts in exactly the same way that we are opposed to the cuts being introduced by our own Tories in Dublin.

We are also working for the transfer of fiscal power to the Assembly and Executive and a harmonisation of the Corporation Tax rate across Ireland.

Dialogue with Unionists and Loyalists

The Orange marching season has begun.  This year sees the added vexation about the flying of flags on public buildings.

Playing party politics with these issues is dangerous and counter-productive.  There are many genuine loyalists and unionists, including former combatants, working in disadvantaged communities who realise the dangers and risks involved.

They also know that it is citizens from these disadvantaged communities who will bear the brunt of any violent or disruptive actions.  These communities have more in common with their republican neighbours than they may realise.

Dialogue between them and Sinn Féin is essential and there is an imperative on republicans, challenging though it may be, to build alliances on social and economic issues with working class loyalists and unionists.

The Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist people are not going away.  And Sinn Féin doesn’t want them to go away.  They are part of what we are and we have to get to know each other better, to listen and take heed of what is being said.  I commit our party, without preconditions, to be part of such discussions as we face into the Orange marching season, and to find solutions to contentious issues and to tackle economic disadvantage.

This is the only way to build a fair society.  It is what the vast majority of citizens want.  The tiny minorities who espouse violence have been rejected.

Tá siad greamaithe san am atá caite agus thart orthu tá Éirinn Thuaidh agus Theas ag athrú.

And there is still work to be done to ensure that policing is non-partisan and civic.  Recent decisions by the PSNI have failed this test. And clearly there are elements in the NIO who are uncomfortable with the new dispensation.  A Bill of Rights is long overdue.  And the continued imprisonment of Marian Price and Martin Corey is wrong. They should be released.

A Truth Process

So, much work still needs to be done including the creation of a victim centred truth and reconciliation process.

Dubhshlán mór a bheidh anseo.

Almost 100 years ago the Tan War against British forces was deadly and vicious. But the civil war left a bitterness and a legacy that still shapes politics to this day. 77 republicans were executed during those terrible years by the Free State – among them six young men from the west who were executed in Tuam 90 years ago this week.

Members of the Free State Army, of the Garda and civilians died too.  There was never any process of truth recovery or reconciliation after these events.

Ba chóir dúinn foghlaim ón meancog sin.

During the recent conflict, Gardaí and other members of the state’s forces were killed by republicans.  Republicans were killed also, including Tom Smith, and Hugh Hehir.

During the era of the Heavy Gang many citizens were brutally assaulted. Innocents were imprisoned.  There was collusion between elements of the Irish establishment and the British system.  Our friend Councillor Eddie Fullerton and John Francis Green and Martin Doherty and others died.  There were bombs in Dublin and Monaghan and Dundalk and elsewhere.  All this needs to be faced up to.

Sinn Féin has argued for the establishment of an Independent International Truth Commission.  The two governments; former combatants, and those in leadership across Ireland and Britain need to be part of such a process.  There can be no hierarchy of victims.

I and others in the Sinn Féin leadership have met many victims and victim’s families in the north.  I am prepared to meet with victims’ families in this state if they believe this will be helpful and I intend to do this in the near future.  Irish republicans will not shirk from our obligations to those who died as a consequence of the conflict.

Imagine a Different Future

Ireland is a great country.  But we are partitioned.  Our people are divided.

Imagine an end to these divisions. Imagine a new agreed Ireland.  Imagine the unity of Orange and Green. Imagine a fair society and an economy run democratically in the interests of all citizens.

Our vision is based on equality. It means equal rights for citizens in same sex relationships, ethnic minorities and those of all creeds and none.

The Challenge for Labour

Our history is replete with challenges, adversity and great injustice. This is such a time. A time for real leadership.

A real Labour Party with a principled leadership should not be in government with Fine Gael. If Fine Gael is set on implementing Fianna Fáil policy then let them do that with the support of Fianna Fáil. Whatever the case for entry into coalition after the last election, there is now only one principled position for Labour.

Fágaigí an bealach ag sloite na bhFiann.   Stand by working people as Connolly and Larkin did.  Leave this government and leave it now!

Building a New Republic

We are internationalists in solidarity with people in struggle everywhere.

So, from this Ard Fheis I want to extend our love and solidarity to our friend and comrade Madiba - Nelson Mandela.

Our people have come through a lot.  In every generation brave men and women have shown the way.

In three years we celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising. The government is contemplating bulldozing the area around Moore Street into the ground in the interests of private developers. I commend the work of the families of the 1916 leaders who have highlighted this hugely important issue.

Every person with a sense of national pride will oppose such a shameful act of vandalism. The Moore Street laneways of history should be developed as a 1916 Revolutionary Quarter.

This year also marks the Centenary of the 1913 Lockout. The Lockout showed the courage and fighting spirit of the Dublin working class. They chose to resist rather than submit. They showed the way.

In Ireland today parents defending children with disabilities, frontline workers defending each other and vital public services, carers, teachers, health workers, citizens who are standing up for themselves and their communities, are showing the way.

Sinn Féin believes in the people of Ireland. Join with us in building a New Republic. Sin é. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile

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I want to extend to all the delegates, visitors and guests míle buíochas for making this Ard Fheis such a successful and lively and inspiring occasion.

We have heard articulate speakers of all ages, people passionate about this country and our future.  We have heard expressed in this hall the anger that is out there in our country about the injustices being done to the people of Ireland.  And we have heard solutions, Sinn Féin plans, proposals and strategies for the way forward.

To put those policies into practice, we need the support of the Irish people and to achieve that support, we need leadership.

Real leadership is not about power over people it is about empowering people.

We are fortunate in Sinn Féin, indeed Ireland is fortunate, to have such a leader.

He has empowered the people he has represented in West Belfast and now in Co. Louth.

He has empowered republicans across Ireland by giving leadership in the hardest of times, by seeing us through to better times, and by guiding at all times with a commitment second to none and with strategies designed to succeed.

He led from the front in the Peace Process and 15 years ago this week he was central to the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement.

In the time since then he has helped to build this party across Ireland and to ensure that we are ready to play our historic role in changing Ireland, in building a New Republic and in empowering the people of Ireland.

A chairde, cuirigí fáilte roimh Uachtarán Sinn Féin Gerry Adams. 

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