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Massive crowd in Dublin for Right2Water rally

Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to 80,000 people from all across Ireland traveled to attend.

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said documents released today by Sinn Féin clearly show the DUP acted in bad faith over the Welfare Reform Bill.


"If the DUP want to strip benefits from children with disabilities, from adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick; or push children further into poverty, then they need to explain and justify that. Sinn Féin certainly will not accept that approach." - Martin McGuinness 



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson accompanied Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill attending the first ever Open Farm Weekend.

Commenting on the experience Ms Anderson said:

“”I was pleasantly surprised at the numbers of people, many of whom come from non-farming families who attended this inaugural event. Farms across the North were open to the public who were able to witness the behind the scenes workings behind Agri-food production.

“It was a great opportunity for me to interact with members of the farming community and listen and learn of their issues. The Agri-food sector is the fastest growing sector of our economy and it is my intention to ensure that it has the strongest representation possible in Europe.

“I look forward to working with the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) who organised this event and are to be congratulated on this very successful initiative.I believe the information and experience gained by those who took advantage of the opportunity will give a better understanding and appreciation of the hard work that goes into providing the high standard of food produced locally.

“I have no doubt that once the wider farming community become aware of the tremendous success of this year’s event that many more will participate in future."

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Eighteen schools across the north will receive new facilities as part of a £173million investment in the schools estate.

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, made the announcement today as he addressed the Assembly on the future of his capital programme.

Speaking, after unveiling the list of new builds, Mr O’Dowd said: “Since taking on the role of Minister for Education I have visited schools in each and every sector of education provision. The common factor across the estate has been the clear need for considerable investment in infrastructure.

“The need for investment far exceeds the funding available. While I would like to be in a position to fund everything that needs doing now, I must work within the budget available. This means difficult decisions on future investment plans.

“The area planning process currently being undertaken will determine the future pattern of provision in each area. It is estimated that it will be the final quarter of the current financial year, however, before the first plans are formally adopted. It is clear, therefore, that decisions are needed now to influence capital expenditure in the next two financial years, therefore I have decided to move forward immediately with 13 new school builds in the primary and post-primary sectors.

“These schools come from right across the north and were identified as the highest priority projects following a rigorous selection process.

“Furthermore, I am particularly aware of the need to ensure we support the most vulnerable in our education system.

“No-one visiting our special schools could remain unmoved by the needs of the children attending these facilities. I would dearly like to be able to advance every deserving case immediately. However, within the limits of the funding available to me, I am determined that we make progress with a number of cases at this time.

“I am therefore today announcing that the process for building three special schools will be advanced. In addition, I can announce that the preferred option for the former Balmoral High School Facility is that St. Gerard’s Resource Centre in West Belfast will be the long-term tenant. Furthermore, Arvalee Special School in Omagh will be taken forward as part of the Lisanelly Campus project.

“This will be good news for the pupils and communities directly affected. A world-class educational environment will help us deliver the improvements in educational outcomes we are working so hard to achieve.”

In addition to plans for St Gerard’s Resource Centre and Arvalee Special School, the list of projects to proceed is as follows:

  • Coláiste Feirste, Belfast - £11.9million

  • St Clare’s Convent & St Colman’s Abbey Primary School, Newry - £6million

  • St Joseph’s Convent Primary School, Newry - £5.8million

  • Dromore Central Primary School - £11.4million

  • Eglinton Primary School - £2.5million

  • Tannaghmore Primary School, Lurgan - £6million

  • Ebrington Controlled Primary School, Derry - £4.5million

  • Foyle College, Derry - £19.6million

  • St Teresa’s Primary School, Lurgan - £3million

  • Victoria Park Primary School, Belfast - £4.9million

  • Enniskillen Model Primary School - £5.7million

  • St Mary’s Primary School, Banbridge - £5.1million

  • Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin, Belfast - £2.5million

  • Belmont House Special School, Derry - £7.4million

  • Rossmar Special School, Limavady - £6.4million

  • Castletower, Ballymena - £21.8million

Alongside the immediate commencement of these new builds, Mr O’Dowd announced funding to progress a number of additional projects through the planning process. This will enable projects to reach a stage of planning that will allow building work to commence more quickly when future funding becomes available. In the autumn the Minister will unveil a further list of projects to be taken forward.

The Minister also announced the establishment of a new Schools Enhancement Programme. This programme will make available funding of up to £4million for any individual project which is aimed at refurbishing or extending existing schools. Priority will be given to projects aimed at supporting amalgamation or rationalisation. Initially up to £20 million will be available for this programme in 2013-14 with the option of increasing this in 2014-15 depending on the number and quality of proposals.

In conclusion, the Minister said: “This is a pragmatic approach to ensuring that the capital funding available can be used most effectively. I want to stress that today’s announcement in no way implies that other projects will not be considered at a later stage.

“I realise that for every school announced as progressing at this time there are many more which need investment. The budget settlement the Executive was presented with has limited the funding I have available and has prevented me from progressing all the schemes I would have liked.

“For those schools not announced at this time, however, the new enhancement programme offers an opportunity to add to and improve existing facilities. This may prove a more accessible option.

“I have taken clear and decisive action to ensure that we effectively use the capital available in the next number of years and ensure we can maximise the benefits for children across the north.”

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Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha has slammed the increase in bin charges for householders in the City by Greyhound Waste.

He said:

“This bin charge increase is yet another burden on already hard-pressed householders in Dublin City. The hike was signalled at the time of the disgraceful privatisation of Dublin City Council's waste collection service earlier this year. The setting of charges is now in the hands of the private company and householders will have to dig deeper from July in order to maintain the profits of this private company. And because the company is registered in the Isle of Man it does not have to publish its accounts.

“Serious questions also arise about the sale by Greyhound of the commercial customers waste collection business to its supposed competitor Panda last month.

“From the start of 2013 low income people who currently benefit from a waiver scheme in the city will no longer have that protection and will face the full charges. The government should introduce a State-wide waiver scheme as previously called for by the Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking today after the party’s Ard Comhairle meeting said:

Mar is eol daoibh uilig, fuair Martin Mc Guinness cuireadh ó Co-operation Ireland a bheith i láthair ag ócáid i mBéal Feirste an tseachtain seo chugainn chun na healaíonn agus an cultúr ar fud na hÉireann a cheiliúradh.

As you all know Martin McGuinness has received an invitation from Co-operation Ireland to attend an event in Belfast next week to celebrate the arts and culture across Ireland.

The Co-operation Ireland event will also be attended by the President of Ireland, the Queen of England and by First Minister Peter Robinson.

It is unconnected with the Jubilee.

Mar go gciallaíonn seo go gcasfaí Martin Mc Guinness le banríon na Breataine beidh seo iontach deacair ag Poblachtaigh agus ar Náisiúnaithe a d’fhulaing faoi lámha fhórsaí na Breataine in Éirinn thar na blianta.

Because this involves Martin meeting the British monarch this will cause difficulty for Republicans and nationalists who have suffered at the hands of British forces in Ireland over many decades.

However, in the context of conflict resolution and national reconciliation, as well as our own republican national objectives, the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle agreed that Martin should accept the invitation.

This is a significant initiative involving major political and symbolic challenges for Irish republicans.

As the record of the peace process demonstrates Irish republicans have frequently been prepared to take bold and historic initiatives and risks for peace to break stalemates and find agreements.

Is Sinn Féin páirtí Poblachtach Éireannach agus is Ath aontú na hÉireann agus neamhspleachas na hÉireann ár príomh chuspóir polaitiúil.

Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party whose primary political objective is the re-unification and independence of Ireland.

We have a coherent and viable strategy for the achievement of these democratic objectives, including the end of partition and unifying the people of this island through a genuine process of national reconciliation and transformation.

So, Sinn Féin is about nation building.

Sinn Féin is for an Ireland of Equals in which there is space for everyone and for all identities.

An Ireland in which all our citizens can live comfortably and in harmony and mutual respect.

Sinn Féin is for a new dispensation in which a citizen can be Irish and unionist.

Where one can also claim Britishness and be comfortable on this island.

Poblacht Nua ina bhfuil Glas agus Oraiste aontaithe - Sin í an fís atá againne.

Our vision of a new Republic is one in which the Orange and Green unite in a cordial union.

Today’s decision reflects a confident, dynamic, forward looking Sinn Féin demonstrating our genuine desire to embrace our unionist neighbours.

It reflects the equality and parity of esteem arrangements which are now in place.

Tuigim go mbeidh an cinneadh seo crua agus an-deacair ag daoine, go háirithe ag íobartaigh fhorasaí na Breataine in Éirinn.

I accept that this decision will cause genuine and understandable difficulties for some people, not least some of the victims of the British crown forces in Ireland.

It is clear that legacy issues have to be dealt with and Sinn Féin will continue to engage in that work.

Today’s decision is the right thing to do at the right time and for the right reasons.

I ask all Sinn Féin members and all republicans to support this initiative.

I would urge everyone, everywhere on this island to take ownership of our future.

The people of this island deserve the very best society that can be created.

I believe this initiative it will contribute in a symbolic yet significant way to this necessary work.

Contact: Shaun Tracey 0877735218

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has welcomed the decision to move Marian Price from Hydebank Prison to a hospital in Belfast.

The West Belfast MLA, who is a member of the Justice Committee at the Assembly said:

“This is a welcome move. Marian Price should of course be released as her continued imprisonment is an affront to natural justice.

“Along with party colleagues Raymond McCartney and Sean Lynch I have pressed the Justice Minister to, in the absence of her release, move Marian Price to an outside hospital.

“We welcome this move which will see Marian Price get the care she needs and Sinn Féin will continue to press for her immediate release.”

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Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has welcomed the ending of a 24 hour stand-off in Clonmoylan in Galway, and called for further dialogue to resolve the dispute.

“I am relieved that the stand off has come to a conclusion, and would like to commend those who brokered the resolution, including Sinn Féin councillor Dermot Connolly. This was a potentially dangerous situation, and I am pleased that it has been averted.”

“Sinn Féin believe that people have a right to cut turf for domestic use. Those involved in the dispute are ordinary hard-working people protecting their livelihoods, and should not be criminalised.”

“We need to ensure that this situation does not arise again. Dialogue is needed between Gardaí, department officials, and the local Turf Cutters.”

“Ultimately however, the government needs a policy change. “

“The dáil motion on turfcutting and the TCCA response were solution based, comprehensive and workable. Proper application of co-location, relocation and compensatory policies could allow for more conserved bogs, and would allow for those who need to cut turf for domestic fuel.”

“The Government needs to engage with the TCCA and with local turfcutting organisations, find a workable compromise, and avoid situations such as these arising again”

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Commenting on the Report of the Constituency Commission, Cavan-Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has criticised the decision to separate the greater part of west Cavan from the rest of the Cavan-Monaghan constituency.

Deputy Ó Caoláin has also voiced criticism at the decision to reduce the Dáil representation for Cavan and Monaghan from five to four TDs.

He said;

“The decision to separate most of West Cavan from the rest of County Cavan and from the Cavan-Monaghan constituency can only be described as a carve-up. Thirty-six district electoral divisions in West Cavan are to become part of a new constituency with South Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.

“While I welcome the decision to reunify County Leitrim, the decision to split neighbouring counties runs totally contrary to the case for restoring the integrity of that county. The Commission was supposed, as far as possible, to respect County, provincial and local authority boundaries but all three have been breached in the case of West Cavan.
Seat Reduction

“I am also greatly disappointed by the decision to reduce the constituency representation from five seats to four. Cavan and Monaghan were both 3 seat constituencies before their amalgamation. Now the electorate of these two border counties will have their seat representation reduced to two-thirds their pre-1977 level.

“That said, I am confident that Sinn Féin in both Cavan-Monaghan and Sligo-Leitrim will return TDs with increased mandates at the next General Election. Our priority is to represent the people and present a real and radical political alternative, whatever the electoral boundaries.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe, TD yesterday hosted an all-party briefing in Leinster House on behalf of the Munster Survivors’ Support Services, a group representing survivors of residential abuse.

Speaking after the meeting Deputy Crowe said: “Legislation to provide assistance to survivors who were the victims of abuse in Irish residential care homes is presently going through the Dáil.

“Following the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009, the Government agreed to proceed with The Residential Institutions Statutory Trust Fund, legislation that is designed to help support victims of abuse by providing enhanced access to a range of supports.

“There are many strongly held views amongst survivors and victims’ groups as to what should be put in place to help those who suffered abuse and the briefing by the Munster Survivors Support Services LTD allowed some of their actual voices to be heard.

“It is important that in our role as legislators we listen to those survivors as there is serious criticism of the Bill, particularly in relation to the eligibility of those who can apply to the fund which is limited to the15,000 plus people who qualified for support under the Residential Institutions Redress Board. For a variety of very understandable reasons, many survivors of abuse felt unable to go before the Redress Board at that particularly time and it is wrong that they now should be excluded from benefiting from the Statutory Fund Bill.

“The perceived lack of consultation has also caused considerable discontent and there is apprehension at the speed of how the legislation is being implemented. One view expressed at the meeting was that survivors should be entitled to a one off payment and that they should have the final decision whether their children be provided with assistance and support in order to further their education.

“Sinn Féin is determined and committed to put forward amendments to the Residential Institution’s Statutory Trust Fund so that it can provide the type of supports that will help assist people who suffered ill-treatment under the care of the Irish State.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has welcomed the decision by the Court of Appeal to overturn the conviction of local man Liam Holden.

Liam Holden spent 17 years in jail after being convicted of killing a British soldier, his original death sentence was commuted to a life term.

The West Belfast MLA said:

“Liam Holden was one of many innocent nationalists at the time who were taken from their homes and tortured by the British army.

“Being subjected to water torture and brought to a loyalist area where he had a gun pointed at his head and was threatened with being shot, would not have been a rare experience for those arrested.

“There were many victims of British state violence and not all of them died including countless people that suffered in similar ways to Liam Holden.”


Videos

Massive crowd in Dublin for Right2Water rally


Photos

Sinn Féin Dublin South West