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Sights and sounds from Bodenstown 2015

Some sights and sounds from the Annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown, Co. Kildare on June 21, 2015. Main speaker Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD. During the course of her speech she talked about the need for a fair economic recovery north and south; demanded the British to come clean about collusion; and expressed solidarity with the people of Greece.

Martin McGuinness speaking at Stormont said that Sinn Féin's conditional support for the budget bill will create the space to resolve outstanding issues and ensure the executive has workable and sustainable finances and see the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.


Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan of taking the side of EU elite against people...



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said that the Justice Minister needs to look at how the courts are dealing with vulnerable women.

Her comments come after the Prisoner Ombudsman’s report into the death of 23-year-old Francis McKeown in Hydebank Wood in 2011.

The West Belfast MLA:

“When I was in the Justice Committee we visited the women’s part of the prison shortly before this young woman took her own life.

“One of the startling aspects we witnessed was that many of the women were vulnerable with emotional and mental health problems and should not have been in prison in the first place.

“A lot of them were also in prison for non-violent crime including the non payment of fines. The Justice Minister needs to address this situation, which stems from decisions made in the courts.

“The women’s section of the prison is within a male prison and the women were often verbally abused. There is clearly a need for a stand-a-lone women’s prison.

“The recommendations in the Prison Ombudsman’s report need to be acted upon as soon as possible both by the Prison Service and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust but the Justice Minister also needs to look at how the courts are dealing with vulnerable women.”

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Sinn Féin Junior Minister Jennifer McCann has praised Artemis and its partners in ensuring community access to facilities right across the North.

 Ms McCann said,

“I was surprised to find such a range of projects that offer community involvement today in an exhibition by Artemis and its partners in the Long Gallery in Stormont.

“There was everything from fencing clubs, model aircraft, football and hockey clubs and Sports NI amongst others who in conjunction with Artemis provide communities with past times and education.

“We often hear about the lack of facilities in every area yet if we are to examine what is in place and not being maximised to its full potential we may be pleasantly surprised.

 “Artemis works with their partners to utilise facilities such as schools for community use outside of school hours.  The aim of the project is to improve health, encourage cultural life, create employment through education, break down religious barriers and foster social inclusion.

“Every community has a school yet many close after the children leave for the day and lie empty yet they could provide a facility for many a community or sporting group to develop community participation.

“I would commend Artemis for this important work and encourage community groups to work with them to develop the use of facilities that may already be in your community.” 

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Speaking during this evening’s private members’ debate on the Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) Bill Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the Bill should be allowed to proceed to committee state where it can be amended as appropriate.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“Since the tragic death of Savita Halappanaver the issue of abortion has once again become a dominant one in Irish politics. It is indeed a double tragedy that it should take the death of a young woman to again focus minds on the requirement to protect women and to address the unresolved legal issues.

“But the need for greater legal clarity has been there for a long time. Disgracefully that need was neglected by successive governments.

“This Bill seeks to provide legal clarity. It may not be the required answer but Sinn Féin believes that it should be allowed to proceed to committee stage where it can be amended as appropriate.

“Legislation can now be addressed in light of the ‘Report of the Expert Group on the Judgement in A, B and C v Ireland’, the publication of which today I welcome.

“The report reminds us that in the A, B, C case the European Court of Human Rights found that Ms C’s right to private and family life had been violated contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human rights. The court held that there was no accessible and effective procedure to enable her to establish whether she qualified for a lawful termination of pregnancy in accordance with Irish law. That, in a nutshell, sets out the need to legislate.

“The report sets out options for the provision of lawful termination of pregnancy in circumstances where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother which can only be avoided by a termination of the pregnancy. This is the core of the matter on which we have to provide as much legal certainty as possible.

“From the report’s analysis of the options it is clear that primary legislation is required and that regulations alone will not suffice.

“The detail of the report will require careful scrutiny in the days ahead – for example to assess if a combination of primary legislation and regulations would be preferable to primary legislation alone.

“A first reading of the report makes clear that what is most likely required is both primary legislation and regulations. A careful balance will have to be struck between making legislation too prescriptive and leaving too much to be dealt with by regulation.

“It is absolutely crucial that the government now acts speedily on the Report.

“As an immediate next step the government should allow this bill to proceed to committee stage. It is of course then up to the government to determine when committee stage will be taken. This can be done in consultation with all parties and any number of amendments can be brought forward to make this bill fit for purpose.

“We should certainly not have to wait another six months for legislation to be enacted. As an opposition party Sinn Féin is willing to co-operate with the government and with all parties in the Oireachtas to achieve the best outcome.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin's spokesperson on environment, community & local government, Brian Stanley TD, has today called on Minster Hogan to clarify the government's position on Sellafield.

Responding to a report on Sellafield released by Minister Hogan, Stanley said;

“A report released by Minister Hogan concludes that incidents at the Sellafield site resulting in the release of radioactive material would result in ‘no observable health effects in Ireland’.

“But this totally flies in the face of an earlier damning report from Britain’s National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO report says that the cost of decommissioning the plant has spiralled out of control, and some facilities used to store waste have deteriorated.

“Sellafield stores the equivalent of 27 Olympic-sized swimming pools of radioactive waste. The NAO report states that the treatment facilities and some of the older storage tanks on site deteriorated so much that their contents pose significant risks to people and the environment. Minister Hogan must explain how these two reports are compatible.

“Sellafield is situated in Cumbria in north-west England. At its closest point it is only 180 kilometres from the Irish coast.

“We are witnessing yet another u turn from the Labour Party. In their election manifesto 2011 Labour states, ‘We will continue to oppose the Sellafield plant and other installations in the UK which pose a risk to our people’.

“We will be meeting with Minster Hogan tomorrow to discuss this report and we will be seeking reassurances that the government remains committed to seeking the closure of Sellafield.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA has welcomed the announcement that the paying out of the Single Farm Payment will commence in December.

 Mr. McMullan stated,

 “I welcome the announcement by the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill that the over 80% of the Single Farm Payment will be paid out  before Christmas.

 “Many farmers depend on the Single Farm Payment to make ends meet so I am pleased that the vast majority of payments will be in the banks this December.

 “I would congratulate the Minister in introducing new measures that has allowed for the payment to begin earlier this year with a finishing target of May 2013.

 “I am sure that the Department is working hard to ensure that those claims which have not been authorised yet are sorted in the quickest time possible.

 “I would appeal to those farmers who are experiencing difficulties to be patient and work with the Department to resolve any outstanding issues, so that they can receive their Single Farm Payment as soon as possible.”

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The Culture and Agriculture Ministers have today announced substantial additional funding to Ulster GAA over the next three years, including a boost to the Tyrone County Centre of Participation at Garvaghey totalling over £1 million. 

The funding comes as part of a wider £4.5 million package from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure targeted at gaelic, soccer and rugby.

Speaking after meeting Ulster GAA officials today, Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín confirmed an additional £1.5 million each to gaelic, rugby and soccer over the next three years. 

Minister Ní Chuilín said:

“This is an important announcement of extra funding to support the three codes of gaelic, soccer and rugby.

“I am especially pleased to have secured additional funding for Ulster GAA over the next three years, in the context of my Department’s ongoing efforts to promote sporting participation and excellence while tackling inequalities, ill-health and social exclusion across all sports. 

“I have ensured that this money will provide Ulster GAA with extra capital and revenue opportunities over the next three years, including £500,000 towards the Tyrone County Board’s Centre of Participation at Garvaghey.”   

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, who also attended the meeting, confirmed that almost £600,000 will also be allocated to the Garvaghey Centre of Participation under the Rural Development Programme (RDP).  This follows a previous award of £250,000 to the Centre. Minister O’Neill added:

“It is vital that rural inequalities are addressed through programmes like the RDP.  The award of further funding to Tyrone’s Garvaghey Centre of Participation demonstrates that my Department will ensure rural inequalities and needs are properly addressed.

“This is an important centre for enhancing sports participation and excellence, social inclusion, outreach, education and cultural development.”

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Speaking in the aftermath of the European Council agreement on the Greek debt Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, said that “while there are many problems with the deal agreed for Greece last night it once again highlights the failure of the Irish government to secure any progress on our bank debt.”

Deputy Doherty said:
“Last night the European Council agreed a number of significant changes to the Greek bailout programme. They extended the maturities for up to 15 years, reduced interest rates on loans from member states and added an interest holiday of ten years on loans from the EFSF.

“While this may provide some comfort for the Greek government, it will not make their debt sustainable. That can only happen when the European Union agrees to write down a significant portion of the loans to Greece.

“However last night’s deal once again highlights the on-going failure of the Irish government strategy on banking debt. While the Greek government were able to secure extension of maturities and better interest rates on their debt, the Irish government appears unable even to agree a common position with the EU.

“Like Greece, a deal only involving reductions in interest rates and modest extensions of maturities will not significantly reduce the burden of banking debt currently on the shoulders of the taxpayer. Only a write-down on the capital portion of the debt will achieve this outcome.

“While the Greek government made some, if limited progress at this European Council meeting the on-going failure of the Irish government to make any comparable progress speaks volumes.

“While there are many differences between the Greek and Irish situations, the common thread is that our respective debts will only become sustainable when the EU agrees to a debt write down. In Ireland’s case that would take the form of a write down on the promissory note while in Greece it would be a write down on the EU loans.”
ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has said that he is pleased that the ad-hoc committee formed to look at the equality and human rights provision in the Welfare Reform Bill has now met.

 Mr. Maskey said,

“The Department of Social Development Committee in hearing evidence heard from various groups including Equality and Human Rights Commissions and these groups raised serious issues with the Bill in its current form.

“Sinn Féin insisted that these issues be addressed and called for an ad-hoc committee to be set up to examine how we ensure that Human Rights and Equality are at the core of this bill.

“This is the first time that this legislation has been used under the Good Friday Agreement I am glad that the ad-hoc committee has now met for the first time.

“The task of this committee in the next few weeks is to have a detailed and critical examination of the bill so that it complies with both Equality and Human Rights.

“Sinn Féin will continue to scrutinise this Bill line by line to make sure that the most vulnerable people in our community are protected from its worst excesses.”  

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Sinn Féin’s Youth Affairs Spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly has today launched Sinn Féin’s proposals for tackling the youth unemployment crisis. Following the launch Senator Reilly briefed the youth sector and people working with young people on Sinn Féin’s proposals.

Speaking outside Leinster House alongside young Sinn Féin reps from across Ireland Reilly said:

“Today Sinn Féin is bringing forward our view of what needs to be done to tackle youth unemployment in Ireland today. Facilitating emigration of 100,000 people per year and a 30% youth unemployment rate for those who stay is not an acceptable response. Young Irish people deserve a chance and deserve an active government that actually does something about youth unemployment and doesn’t just talk about it.

“We are proposing specific pro-youth jobs policies like extending all CE schemes to everybody under 25 and moving to a situation where all young people unemployed for three months are assessed and given the training or employment opportunities they require. This stands in direct opposition to the government’s laissez-faire approach to youth unemployment.

“We would also rework or scrap anti-youth jobs policies like raising the retirement age and JobBridge. Additionally we will explain how a stimulus package and budget as outlined by Sinn Féin would benefit young people and young unemployed people in particular by kick-starting economic growth and shifting the tax burden onto those workers most able to pay.”

Videos

Sights and sounds from Bodenstown 2015


Photos

Palestinian minister Mohammad Shtayyeh addressing the hearing in Brussels.