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Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald has said anyone found to be guilty of corrupt planning decisions as a result of the publication to the reports on the Dublin Docklands Development Authority must be made to face the full rigours of the law.

Ms. McDonald said the reality is that the authority was in bed with Anglo Irish Bank to line the pockets of the fat cats while the return for local communities was very minimal.

Speaking today Ms. McDonald said:

“The reports on the Dublin Docklands Development Authority should have been published immediately by the Minister. It was quite obvious that sections of the media had hold of the documents and they should rightly have been be made available to the general public and their representatives.

“Anybody found to be guilty of corrupt planning decisions must be made to face the full rigours of the law regardless of the political implications for any politician or political party.

“The reality of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority is quite different to the spin that was used at the time of its establishment. Communities in the inner city such as Sheriff Street, North Wall and East Wall were all to benefit from its establishment. However, it turned out the authority was in bed with Anglo Irish Bank to line the pockets of the fat cats and the return to the local community was minimal.

“And now, as a result of this whole mess, the state may well be faced with substantial costs for damages the bill for which will of course have to be picked up by the taxpayer once again.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein MLA and vice chair of the health committee in the Assembly Michelle O’Neill has spoken of her surprise that both the Department of Health’s website and that of the Public Health Agency’s have no information on them regarding mephedrone. This is in comparison to a Google search revealing that the first ten websites are suppliers of this lethal drug.

 

Ms O’Neill raised this at today’s Health Committee meeting.

 

Speaking after the committee meeting Ms O’Neill said:

 

“The current debate surrounding the death of young people through the use of mephadone is startling but also very revealing.

 

“After doing a search for mephedrone on Google the first ten sites are all concerning the sale and availability of the substance. There are however even more sites than this.

 

“The extreme ease of young people being able to access this is worrying however what is more worrying is that following this a search of both the Department of Health and the Public Health agencies, two agencies who are tasked as the main drivers for information into health matters both returned no results for mephadrone.

 

“This is wholly unacceptable. One would think that following the tragic deaths of young people at the hands of this substance there would be advice on the dangers and signs of use of mephedrone on these websites.

 

“We need to see a much more hands on and forthright approach from these two agencies against the usage and availability of so called legal highs.

 

“However there is always a danger that, if and when mephadrone is illegalised and removed form supply another substance will fill this gap.

 

“What we need is a regulatory body that can keep pace with the market for substances that are harmful, one that is both proactive in identifying and stopping those substances that could fill mephadrones place and indeed reactive to examine and move against existing substances that are currently available.”

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Reacting to the comments made by Fine Gael Deputy Alan Shatter on the public sector strike action being taken by officials in the Passport Office, where he encouraged the Government to sue the unions, Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has asked the Labour party to confirm their intentions to enter coalition with Fine Gael.

Senator Doherty said Fine Gael’s focus on the Union and the Workers rather than the Government shows that they are no different than the Government and that industrial disputes are likely to continue under a Fine Gael led Government.

Senator Doherty went on to describe Dinny McGinley’s call on Irish people born before 1949 to apply for British passports as more nonsense from Fine Gael.

“Workers on this island have the right to engage in industrial action to pursue equitable working pay and conditions for themselves. It is a right that has been fought hard for. What the public are suffering as a result of the passport office action is unacceptable, but the fault for it lies with solely the government.

“If proper leadership was given by both the Government and the Unions then this issue could be resolved without delay. This needs to happen as a matter of priority.

“Sinn Fein has called on the unions to refine their actions to ensure the discomfort is focussed at the government and not the public, by doing things such as refusing to take payment for passports issued – but we support the union workers’ right to take action.

“Fine Gael’s focus on the Union and the Workers rather than the Government shows that they are no different than the Government and that industrial disputes are likely to continue under a Fine Gael led Government.

“Alan Shatter’s comments urging people to sue the state and the state to sue unions are to be expected from a party that said it would fire 15,000 public sector workers when it enters government, but there is now an onus on the Labour Party to come out and state their intentions on whether they are willing to go into coalition with such a party.

“Are the Labour Party willing to prop up such an obvious vehemently anti-worker party? Are they willing to jump into bed once again with a party that opposes the fundamental right of a worker to strike? These are the hard questions the Labour Party needs to give answers to. How can a party, funded through a political fund of a trade union, with good conscience forgo a political partnership with a party that undermines their entire constituency?”

Responding to Fine Gael’s call on people born before 1949 to apply for a British passport Senator Doherty said:

“This is yet more nonsense from Fine Gael. Rather than tackle the Government on the policies that have caused the industrial action at the passport office they would rather call on Irish people to declare themselves as British subjects undoing Irish history in the process.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said the need for a new health policy, a new Health Minister and a new Government has been clearly shown just two days after the Cabinet ‘reshuffle’.

He pointed to record numbers of patients on trolleys in key A&E units around the country as well as confirmation from the Tánaiste Mary Coughlan in the Dáil this morning that the Government will proceed with its plan to impose prescription charges on medical card holders.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Two days after the so-called reshuffle of the Cabinet which left Health Minister Harney and her policies firmly in place it is business as usual in our chaotic health service.

“There is a record number of 51 patients on trolleys and chairs in the A&E unit of Galway University Hospital today. This morning my office was contacted by a man whose elderly father has asbestosis and who last week had to spend two days on a trolley in Galway before he was admitted to an acute hospital bed.

“Of the hospitals outside the Dublin region, Galway, Cork University Hospital and Cavan General Hospital in my own constituency are currently experiencing the highest numbers of patients on trolleys. In the case of Cavan, with 23 on trolleys today, this pressure on an under-resourced hospital has been entirely predictable given the axing of acute hospital services in Monaghan.

“To add to the anxiety and the financial burden on patients, the Tánaiste Mary Coughlan confirmed to me in the Dáil this morning that the Government is to proceed with its plan for legislation to impose prescription charges on medical card patients. This will be an attack on low income families who are more vulnerable to ill heath. It is a further blow following the Social Welfare cuts imposed in Budget 2010.

“The need for a new health policy, a new Health Minister and a new Government has been clearly shown just two days after the sham reshuffle of the Fianna Fáil/Green Government.” ENDS

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West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has commended the family of Frank ‘bap’ McGreevy for their dignity and resolve as the man convicted of murdering him was sentenced in court today.

 

Mr Adams said that the extent of community support for the McGreevy family and for the PSNI investigation ensured that the matter was brought before the courts. Mr. Adams said:

 

"The PSNI murder investigation has been successful. The PSNI investigators at an early stage of the investigation indicated to me that they had never undertaken a murder investigation with such widespread community support. Although the McGreevy family has raised concerns about the possible involvement of other people alleged to have been involved, the conviction of Thomas Valliday is something they have welcomed."

 

"There are also questions that need to be asked about Thomas Valliday; who approved his release from prison in the days before the murder of ‘Bap’ McGreevy ; what assessment of risk was made to support his release ; on what basis did the courts approve his release; what safeguards were put in place upon his release, including supervision; and what interactions took place between the criminal justice agencies after he was known to have absconded; and with what urgency was he pursued."

 

"Those questions were not asked during this trial. Those questions still need to be answered, not only for the sake of the McGreevy family but also in the interests of public safety."

 

"One positive legacy in the aftermath of Frank McGreevy's murder and the previous murders of Harry Holland and John Mongan, has been the formation of the West Belfast Community Safety Forum. That Forum has recently received an impeccable report from the Criminal Justice Inspectorate and   NIO Minister Paul Goggins has agreed to contribute funding towards the continuation of the Forum for the next year. I hope that is something we can build on for the future, to esnure that the citizens of west Belfast are free to live in peace and safety, free from harm and crime."

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Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has hailed the success of a multi-million pound sports initiative in improving the health and wellbeing of local children.

Over 33,000 children in almost 600 primary schools across the north participate in the initiative, which delivers a range of fun and educational physical games and activities.

The Department has made £3.7million available for the programme since it began in 2007, with £1.5million allocated in the current financial year. This has funded the involvement of over 60 coaches from the Irish Football Association (IFA) and Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Speaking as she attended a special event at the QUB Physical Education Centre to celebrate the success of the sports initiative, the Minister said: “Training exercises based on lifelong sports, like Gaelic games and soccer, are excellent ways in which to achieve improved physical literacy and develop fundamental skills. I would like to thank both the GAA and IFA for their support and hard work in helping deliver a range of fun and interesting activities to so many local young people.

“Schools have an important role to play in encouraging healthy lifestyles in our young people. By engaging in sports and other physical activity, children can combat and prevent obesity whilst improving their overall health and wellbeing.

“Not only does this have obvious physical benefits, but activity of this kind builds confidence and self-esteem in young people and boosts their concentration levels and motivation to learn. This in turn contributes to them achieving to their full potential, and the feedback from participating schools has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The Minister added: “The scheme also provides training to teachers to help them in the delivery of PE classes and in nurturing a culture of physical wellbeing amongst pupils.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has stated that the Irish government must now move to purchase the Irish tricolour that was captured from the GPO in 1916. The attempted auctioning of this item went ahead but it did not receive the reserve price yesterday at an auction in New York.

Mr McElduff said:

“The attempted sale of this magnificent artefact, the flag that was captured from the GPO at Easter 1916, and any other significant historical artefacts relating to this period of Irish history should not be allowed to occur. They should really be in the hands of the Irish people.

“In previous years there have been sales of such artefacts in a number of auction houses and unfortunately, despite these being throughout the boom years of the Irish economy, the Irish government failed to have the foresight to capture these pieces of our history and return them to the people of this island.

“There is an onus on the Irish Government to direct compulsory purchases of such items and keep them in the National History museum. To sell of ones own heritage to hang on a private collectors wall is tantamount to the theft of this heritage.

“With this flag not reaching the reserve price there now exists a unique opportunity for the Irish government to act now. I would urge them to initiate contacts with the auction house with the aim of returning this flag to its rightful home.” CRÍOCH

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Reacting to a statement from the Orange Order calling for their members to protest against the papal visit to Britain later this year, Sinn Féin Assembly member Daithi McKay today said ‘that the mask had slipped on the Orders claims to be little more than a cultural organisation’.

Mr McKay said:

“For sometime now the Orange Order have been bogusly claiming to be a non threatening cultural club. They have been claiming public monies to promote their activities as open to all. However the reality is they are an anti-Catholic organisation. This statement calling for protests against the papal visit to Britain confirms this.

“They are now firmly in the camp of the British far right in organising opposition to this visit. The mask has clearly slipped and the recent public relations efforts of the Order now lie in tatters.

“At a time when politicians and others are trying to put together a better way of dealing with contentious Orange parades this statement is extremely unhelpful.

“The Orange Order must recognise that this sort of sectarian intervention will inflame tensions especially as we head into the marching season. Given this reality many people will be rightly questioning the motivation behind this statement at this time.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA this afternoon met the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London.

The focus of the meeting was to press Mr. Brown to bring forward new proposals on a Bill of Rights which takes account of the advice from both the Bill of Rights Forum and the Human Rights Commission, and includes social and economic protections for citizens.

Mr. Adams said: “We need a robust, enforceable Bill of Rights that will provide rights-based protection for all our people.”

Martin McGuinness raised the delay in the publication of the Saville report describing it as “unacceptable”.

Mr. McGuinness said:

“The imminent announcement of a British general election should not be used by the British government as an excuse to delay the publication of the Saville report. The families have already faced years of frustration in seeking the truth. After 12 years of the Saville Inquiry there should be no further delays. The report should be published.

During the course of the meeting we expressed our dissatisfaction that the families of those killed were not given preferential treatment to the representatives of Shaun Woodward who have sight of the Saville report before the relatives."

Among other matters raised was the role of British intelligence agencies within so-called dissident republican groups, and in particular the circumstances surrounding the murder of Kieran Doherty; the pension rights of Visteon workers and the demand of the Ballymurphy Massacre families for an International Investigation into the murder of their loved ones in 1971.

On Visteon Mr. Adams said: “I pressed Mr. Brown to ensure that the Pensions Regulator carries out an exhaustive probe into Visteon and in particular the transfer of assets by Ford and Visteon out of the pension funds of Visteon workers.

It’s now approaching the first anniversary of the closure of Visteon and the exposure of this scandal. I think those who lost their jobs, those with pension rights and the public at large deserve to know the cold truth and to be assured that those responsible for this scandal will be held to account.”

The west Belfast MP also pressed the British PM about meeting the families of the 11 people shot dead by the British Army in August 1971 in the Ballymurphy area. Mr. Adams said: “The families want an independent international investigation into the deaths of their loved ones and an apology from the British government. The families want the truth.

We have met as a group with the British Secretary of State Shaun Woodward, however his position that the families should leave any investigation to the HET is unacceptable to them and they want to meet the British Prime Minister.

It’s important that the British establishment face up to what was done in its name in Ballymurphy 40 years ago.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has stated that the Irish government must now move to purchase the Irish tricolour that was captured from the GPO in 1916. The attempted auctioning of this item went ahead but it did not receive the reserve price yesterday at an auction in New York.

Mr McElduff said:

“The attempted sale of this magnificent artefact, the flag that was captured from the GPO at Easter 1916, and any other significant historical artefacts relating to this period of Irish history should not be allowed to occur. They should really be in the hands of the Irish people.

“In previous years there have been sales of such artefacts in a number of auction houses and unfortunately, despite these being throughout the boom years of the Irish economy, the Irish government failed to have the foresight to capture these pieces of our history and return them to the people of this island.  

“There is an onus on the Irish Government to direct compulsory purchases of such items and keep them in the National History museum. To sell of ones own heritage to hang on a private collectors wall is tantamount to the theft of this heritage.

“With this flag not reaching the reserve price there now exists a unique opportunity for the Irish government to act now. I would urge them to initiate contacts with the auction house with the aim of returning this flag to its rightful home.”

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Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Fra McCann MLA has called on the Social Development Minister to elaborate on what exactly the department’s mandatory landlord registration scheme will entail.

Speaking today Mr McCann said;

“Sinn Féin has been lobbying for a mandatory register of landlords here in the north for some considerable time now; Margaret Ritchie’s announcement must now be elaborated upon. What does the scheme entail and how will it protect the rights and entitlements of landlords and their tenants.

Many citizens are currently living in private rented accommodation and unfortunately many of them are suffering poor housing conditions and a lack of understanding of their rights. Many genuine landlords have also been operating in a system which hasn’t supported their needs and has left many of them without proper information or guidance on how to operate as a landlord. This scheme must support and assist them.

The scheme must also be robust in pursuing those landlords who have abused their positions and who have up until now left tenants in poor conditions, with properties in a terrible and sometimes unsafe conditions. Some have not made a positive contribution to the communities within which their properties are; the Minister must ensure that this scheme will right the wrongs of the past.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin’s economic spokesperson Mitchell McLaughlin MLA (south Antrim) has said that any boost to the economy in the north is welcome but that ‘economic policies concocted in Whitehall are designed to benefit Whitehall.’

Speaking from Stormont today Mr McLaughlin said;

“The arguments for greater economic control to be developed to the hands of locally elected and responsible politicians is becoming increasingly relevant within the current economic climate.

No British Budget is about easing the burden of citizens here in the north; there must be greater economic control devolved to our local institutions in Ireland, particularly tax varying powers, so that as our political projects matures we can continue in our work to deliver in amore positive way for the citizens we represent.

In particular we need to see the ability to harmonise the economy on an all-Ireland basis to attract greater economic investment in our workforce and their ability to deliver throughout many industries.

The reality is that economic policies emerging from Whitehall are not designed for the long term benefit of the economy or citizens here in the north of Ireland. The ability to control these issues ourselves should be granted to local and accountable politicians.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn FeinEducation spokesperson John O’ Dowd has said the Governing Bodies Association are clutching at straws in their latest attempt to dissuade grammar schools moving away from the outdated process of Academic selection.

Mr O ‘ Dowd said

“The latest negative intervention by the GBA shows that it is acutely aware that many grammar schools are not only keen to move away from Academic selection but are actually preparing plans to do so.

“The GBA is trying to scare schools off by talk of legal challenges and talk of Development Proposals as if such Proposals were beyond the capability of the schools involved and would in some way be a blockage to progress.

"The Education Minister has made it clear to all that her department’s door is open to such schools seeking change and that assistance will be offered to assist schools through what is a routine procedure."

Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said

The GBA would better serve the grammar sector by engaging positively in the process of change which is coming down the tracks at the them rather than believing that the ways of the 20th century will continue to reign over an education system which requires a 21st century approach.

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Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA today launched the new GAA Academy at the University of Ulster which will be housed in the £20million Sports Institute Facility in Jordanstown.

Speaking at the launch Mr McGuinness welcomed the partnership approach involving the University of Ulster, Ulster GAA Council, GAA County Boards, Private Business, Alumni and the main business sponsor, John Sisk & Sons, in setting up the new facility.

Mr McGuinness said: “This Academy will provide the most advanced facilities not just for the cream of GAA talent. It will also promote the sport at all levels through coaching for local schools, both on and off campus.

“The University of Ulster has a long history of sporting achievement, with many past talented members of the UUJ’s Gaelic Clubs playing at senior levels for their county, including the likes of present students Raymond Mulgrew and Colm McCullagh who won All Ireland Senior titles with Tyrone.

“The holistic package provided here includes residential accommodation, training facilities, physiotherapy and lifestyle management courses as well as scholarships to assist with 3rd level study.

“It is a state of the art facility which can only serve to enhance the University’s reputation for sporting excellence and, at the same time, nurture the sporting talent of the future.”

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Transport Minister, Conor Murphy, is in Brussels today to address a seminar on sustainable transport. The seminar focuses on the challenges faced by a peripheral region in delivering sustainable transport.

The Minister said: “The objectives of this visit are to share our experiences in developing innovative and practical solutions to delivering sustainable transport, in a peripheral region such as the North of Ireland and to discuss with, and gain support from, EU officials for our vision of the future of transport on this part of the island.

“The EU can play a critical role in promoting best practice and ensuring a coordinated and integrated response across member states to the challenge of sustainable transport. I believe there is a real opportunity here to move towards a more equitable and sustainable model which benefits all regions and communities.”

Setting out his commitment to delivering more sustainable transport arrangements locally, the Minister said: “It is clear that current patterns of transport in the North and the high level of dependency upon the private car are not sustainable, economically, socially or environmentally.

“Last year I established a new division within my department to develop integrated and sustainable transport arrangements. Its work will help inform the review of the Regional Transportation Strategy, which will in future provide the strategic direction for transportation here. We must be responsive to local and regional travel needs and make sustainable transport people’s first choice and not last resort.”

The seminar, organised by the NI Executive Office in Brussels as part of EU Sustainable Energy week, will bring together figures from across the EU to listen and debate the work of the Department and explore possible solutions to common issues in respect of sustainable transport.

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Sinn Fein Education spokesperson John O’ Dowd has said the Governing Bodies Association are clutching at straws in their latest attempt to dissuade grammar schools moving away from the outdated process of Academic selection.


Mr O ‘ Dowd said


“The latest negative intervention by the GBA shows that it is acutely aware that many grammar schools are not only keen to move away from Academic selection but are actually preparing plans to do so.
“The GBA is trying to scare schools off by talk of legal challenges

and talk of Development Proposals as if such Proposals were beyond the capability of the schools involved and would in some way be a blockage to progress.


"The Education Minister has made it clear to all that her department’s door is open to such schools seeking change and that assistance will be offered to assist schools through what is a routine procedure."


Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said


The GBA would better serve the grammar sector by engaging positively in the process of change which is coming down the tracks at the them rather than believing that the ways of the 20th century will continue to reign over an education system which requires a 21st century approach. ENDS

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Sinn Féin Policing Board Member, Martina Anderson has called for resolute government government action on so-called 'Head Shops' who are peddling dangerous substances.


Martina Anderson said:

"We have been warning about these substances for a number of years now. Sinn Féin has compiled a comprehensive set of proposals which if adopted by government would effectively bring about conditions in which head shops as we know them could no longer exist.


Ms Anderson said:

“Communities across the Country and parents in particular are very concerned by the rate at which head shops are opening and the absolute lack of regulation governing the substances which they sell. A number of deaths and many more hospitalizations have been associated with the recent proliferation of these 'legal highs'.

“A number of proposals put forward so far in my opinion are inadequate and by their own admission are only interim measures. I am proposing comprehensive measures to address the problems surrounding non-medicinal psychoactive substances or ‘legal highs’ as they are called, once and for all. This issue of Head Shops was debated extensively at my party’s Ard Fheis at the start of the month. Sinn Féin has submitted a motion on the issue to be debated in the Assembly as a matter of urgency.

“I am proposing a stringent substance control model as a consequence of which head shops as we know them, could no longer exist. My proposal involves the establishment of an independent authority who would be tasked with regulating the import, production and sale of all psychoactive substances other than those that are currently covered by existing legislation. The authority would work with the existing drugs bodies and Dept. of Health to introduce and enforce a licensing system under which substances can be quickly identified and then restricted or prohibited as appropriate.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan has said the proposed pay increases for employees at Anglo Irish Bank cannot be justified and should not go ahead. Deputy Morgan said this revelation is the second of its kind in the last few weeks coming after the revelation that the board of NAMA received significant pay increases just weeks after the board’s establishment.

He said it is clear that the Government values the work of the banking sector over the work of other public sector workers such as the gardaí, nurses and teachers.

Speaking today Deputy Morgan said:

“The revelation that 78 employees of Anglo Irish bank have been awarded pay increases is the second of its kind in the last few weeks. This news comes against the backdrop of a 70% pay increase for the Chairperson of the Board of NAMA and significant increases for the other Board members.

“It is clear that the Government values the work of the banking sector over the work of other public sector workers such as the gardaí, nurses and teachers.

“The pay rises that have been doled out, not just to the 78 workers in the nationalised Anglo Irish Bank, but also to the Board members of NAMA, add greater insult to injury as the corrupt banking sector that brought Ireland to its knees, is once again benefiting off the back off taxpayers.

“Only a Fianna Fáil led Government would attempt to justify these pay rises.

“Taxpayers’ money is being wasted on funding extraordinary pay rises for workers in Anglo Irish bank and the Board of NAMA. This is the Bank that the Government’s light-touch regulation allowed to be corrupted and the Board that has been set up to try and clear up the mess that Fianna Fáil and their cronies made of the banking sector in the first place.

“Since the failings of the banking sector and financial regulation were revealed in 2008, the taxpayer has been footing the bill. It was the taxpayers who bailed out the banks and who were forced to take cuts to their incomes and to their welfare.

“The Government cannot justify pay cuts for some people but incredible pay increases for others. The excuse that there has been a greater burden of responsibility put on these people is void when the additional work burden is being heaped on other front line public sector workers, such as nurses, who are stretched to capacity because of the recruitment embargo.

“These pay rises must not go ahead.” ENDS

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Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA today launched the new GAA Academy at the University of Ulster which will be housed in the £20million Sports Institute Facility in Jordanstown.

Speaking at the launch Mr McGuinness welcomed the partnership approach involving the University of Ulster, Ulster GAA Council, GAA County Boards, Private Business, Alumni and the main business sponsor, John Sisk & Sons, in setting up the new facility.

The Minister said: “This Academy will provide the most advanced facilities not just for the cream of GAA talent. It will also promote the sport at all levels through coaching for local schools, both on and off campus.

“The University of Ulster has a long history of sporting achievement, with many past talented members of the UUJ’s Gaelic Clubs playing at senior levels for their county, including the likes of present students Raymond Mulgrew and Colm McCullagh who won All Ireland Senior titles with Tyrone.

“The holistic package provided here includes residential accommodation, training facilities, physiotherapy and lifestyle management courses as well as scholarships to assist with 3rd level study.

“It is a state of the art facility which can only serve to enhance the University’s reputation for sporting excellence and, at the same time, nurture the sporting talent of the future.”

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has announced that his office is n the final stages of drafting a bill which would eliminate head shops from our communities.

Speaking after attending a protest at Leinster House today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said Sinn Féin activists will work to raise awareness of the dangers of the products sold in head shops and join with communities to protest against the presence of head shops in our constituencies.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “My office is in the final stages of drafting a bill which would establish a Non-Medicinal Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority. This Authority would have the responsibility and power to identify and classify non-medicinal psychoactive substances and to prohibit or otherwise restrict and license their production and sale.

“I am confident this would have the effect of eliminating head shops as we know them. Our model would fast-track the process by which dangerous substances can be banned and it would also introduce a new mechanism to provisionally ban substances in the interests of public health while further research into a substance is conducted.

“By focusing on the substances themselves Sinn Féin offers the only long-term and comprehensive solution. We will offer this Bill to government as the solution and urge them to adopt it.

“In the mean time our members will work to raise awareness amongst the public, and young people in particular, of the dangers of these substances. We will work to dispel the myth that ‘it’s sold in a shop so it must be safe’. We will join with communities to protest against the presence of head shops in our constituencies.” ENDS

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