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

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

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


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



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Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, who is also the chair of the Health Committee in the Assembly, has reacted to comments by Dr Brian Dunn of the BMA after he stated that at least six Acute Hospitals should be closed. Calling his approach shortsighted and stating that it did not allow for other factors Ms Gildernew said:


"The attitude of Dr Dunn and the BMA is quite shortsighted and does not account for access to acute hospitals across the north.

"I would like to press Dr Dunn on which hospitals he thinks should close and how he stacks this against the need to provide emergency access within the 'golden hour'.

"The simple fact is there is not the infrastructure to support his proposals.

“The previous minister outlined so called efficiency savings in the Northern Trust area which would clearly lead to a black hole in medial provision for that area. Taken alongside cuts to ambulance provision sections of mid Ulster could revert back towards third world provision for health. 

"If this were repeated with five other hospitals as Dr Dunn would see fit then we really would be in a health provision crisis.

"We need to be more imaginative than closing down services. We need to look at centers such as the Altnagelvin Cancer Unit to see that all Ireland co-operation can support increased provision that delivers for local communities as one such success to be repeated."

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Newry and Armagh MLA and member of the Health Committee Mickey Brady speaking during Carers Week has acknowledged the role of Carers in providing 'the hidden health service' and has called for more support to the sector.


Speaking today Mr Brady said:

"Carers are way too often undervalued despite their outstanding, dedicated and time consuming role.

"They face many challenges when discharging a high level of care to family members of friends and are really the hidden health service filling a huge gap in health provision. If the role of the carer were to be done away with the cost to the health service would be phenomenal.

"It should not be forgotten that carers save the £2bn a year to the health service.

"Despite this carers face unprecedented levels of hardship with benefits and support being eroded even more under the so called Welfare reform measures being pursued by the British government.

"Carers week provides us with a unique opportunity to celebrate and recognise the significant role that carers play in our society and raise awareness of their needs and the needs of those they care for. We all need to redouble our efforts to ensure they are adequately  supported for their role to society."

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The voluntary sector plays an important role in the provision of pre-school education locally and should be maintained the Education Minister has insisted.


John O’Dowd was speaking after an Assembly debate on nursery school provision. He warned that today’s motion implied an end to pre-school education provided by the voluntary and private sectors.

Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “The voluntary sector plays a valuable and important role in the provision of a high-quality education for pre-school children.

“Around 8,000 children each year benefit from a year’s pre-school education in a voluntary or private setting. Each of these providers is rigorously inspected by the Education and Training Inspectorate, in the same way nursery schools are overseen, to ensure the highest quality of education for young children.

“Today’s motion proposed the ending of funding for all these settings – currently 380 across the north. This would potentially lead to as many as 1,100 job losses across the early years’ workforce.

“Providing sufficient additional statutory nursery places to fill that gap would cost an estimated £40million in upfront capital costs and an ongoing £30million per year to fund the nursery schools. Given the current pressures facing the education budget, I would have to take this money from elsewhere in the system.”

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North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the Environment Minister’s commitment to accelerate the implementation of a carrier bag levy. The commitment was given in an answer to a question put to the Minister by Mr McKay.

Mr McKay said

“There is clearly a lot of public support for the introduction of a levy on carrier bags and the commitment by the Minister to follow up on the Single Use Carriers Bag Act which I introduced earlier this year.

“The Minister has committed to bringing the implementation of a levy forward and I welcome his assertion that the introduction of a levy in April 2013 is an unreasonable timeframe.

“I look forward to meeting with the Minister to discuss this further and to progressing the introduction of this environmental initiative.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD commenting on this mornings Smithwick Tribunal said:

“The Smithwick Tribunal asked to meet with the Sinn Féin leadership in May 2006.

At that meeting the Tribunal representatives asked if we could facilitate an engagement with the IRA about the killing of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan on the 20th March, 1989 and “suggestions that members of An Garda Síochána or other employees of  the State colluded” in this.

Subsequently, the Sinn Féin leadership established that there could be no engagement with the IRA because, as a consequence of the outworking of the IRA leadership statement of July 2005, the IRA had left the stage.

But we were advised that there was the possibility of former Volunteers engaging on a voluntary basis with the Tribunal.

The Sinn Féin leadership worked to facilitate this.

Having established the process between the Tribunal and these former volunteers Sinn Féin played no further role in the process, though our understanding is that the people involved were in a position to answer all questions about the IRA action in which the two RUC officers were killed.

Sinn Féin facilitated this process because of our commitment to assisting bereaved families if and when we can. This may not be possible in all cases.

Sinn Féin believes that there needs to be an effective process for dealing with all legacy issues. In our view the Irish and British governments should invite a reputable and independent international body to establish the creation of an Independent International Truth Commission as part of an effective truth recovery process.

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

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

The Irish government should proactively engage with the British government on this issue and seek to ensure that such a process is established." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly Group Leader, Raymond McCartney MLA (Foyle) has lodged a Petition of Concern with the Speaker’s Office on a DUP Amendment to a Sinn Féin motion calling on the Regional Development Minister (DRD) to give an assurance that there will be no dilution of the project or delay in its completion.

Raymond McCartney said:

“Sinn Féin secured a debate on the Aughnacloy/Derry Dual Carriageway in order that we could impress on the DRD Minister the crucial importance of this project to the economic regeneration of the North West.

“I am disappointed therefore that the DUP seen fit to put forward an Amendment that would dilute the importance of this project going forward as originally envisaged. I would even at this late hour urge the DUP to consider the detrimental affect it will have on the North West, a region that has been starved of infrastructural investment for decades, if this development does not go ahead as planned. Only last week the Irish government once more confirmed its original financial commitment to its construction.” Críoch

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Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights Spokesperson Senator David Cullinane has welcomed the conclusion of the talks at the Labour Relations Commission between pilots and management at Aer Lingus.

Speaking this afternoon Senator Cullinane said:

“I welcome today’s successful conclusion of talks at the Labour Relations Commission and the suspension of industrial action at Aer Lingus.

“Sinn Féin had concerns about the rostering arrangements for the pilots but we where also concerned to the passengers who face serious disruption if these talks failed.

“I commend both sides for engaging in this industrial relations process.” ENDS

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The State must end the long history of failing the survivors and victims of the Magdalene laundries and the Government must issue an immediate formal apology and launch a statutory inquiry into the abuses according to Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien.

Deputy O’Brien has joined with the Justice for Magdalenes in welcoming the UN Committee against Torture’s calls for a statutory inquiry into the Magdalene laundries and again reiterates the calls for redress and a formal state apology to the survivors.

Commenting from Cork today Deputy O’Brien said:

“Sinn Féin calls on the Minister for Justice to bring forward the Government’s proposals for contending with the State’s sorry legacy of not dealing with the issue of the Magdalene laundries.

“In response to a Sinn Féin question on the 18th May, the Minister stated that a draft submission on the Magdalene laundries would be brought to the cabinet in early June, at the latest and that the Government would bring forward proposals following this.

“We hope these proposals are forthcoming. They should contain a full acceptance of the State’s role in not only allowing these laundries to exist, and surrendering state responsibility to the Catholic Church, but also in using them as an alternative to the Criminal Justice System.

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

“There can, on this basis, be no abdication of the State’s complicity and responsibility for the Magdalene laundries. These were not privately run institutions, with no state involvement, where women or girls were sent 'voluntarily'.

“Sinn Féin commends the bravery and commitment of Justice for Magdalenes and demands that the Government do what little they can at this late stage to right the wrongs of the past.” ENDS

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Commenting after a viable pipe bomb was left at the Homebase store in Newtonabbey, Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast Gerry Kelly has condemned those responsible.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said;


“The leaving of this device will achieve absolutely nothing. Whoever is behind it should realise that the only thing they have done is put the lives of the workers and customers of this store at serious risk.


“It is without doubt a reckless and pointless exercise. I call on those behind it to try to explain their rationale for this attack to the community. Local people can see no logic or reason behind this action.


“Those responsible offer our community nothing other than to cause disruption and create the potential for someone to lose their lives.”

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Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


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Martin McGuinness speaks to media