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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

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



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has announced the portfolio responsibilities for each of his party’s TDs.

Speaking from Leinster House today Mr Adams said:

“Sinn Féin is putting forward a first class team to shadow the Government and hold them to account.

“I have every confidence that this enhanced Sinn Féin team will play a constructive role in this Dáil.

“Our priority will be to protect those on low and middle incomes, defend Ireland’s national interests and promote Irish unity.”

Sinn Féin Dáil team – March 2011:

· Gerry Adams – Party Leader, shadowing Taoiseach
· Mary Lou McDonald – Deputy leader and Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform
· Aengus Ó Snodaigh – Spokesperson on Social Protection and Party Whip
· Pearse Doherty – Spokesperson on Finance
· Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin – Spokesperson on Health and Children
· Padraig MacLochlainn – Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade
· Peadar Toibin – Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation and An Gaeltacht
· Jonathan O Brien – Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence
· Martin Ferris – Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
· Sean Crowe – Spokesperson on Education and skills
· Brian Stanley – Spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government
· Micheal Colreavy – Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and Marine
· Dessie Ellis – Spokesperson on Transport and Housing
· Sandra McLellan – Spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Tourism and Sport

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The MEPs endorsing the following statement welcome Sortu the “new political and organizational project” presented 7th February and whose statutes reject all kind of violence, ETA´s included. Such an announcement takes us closer to a lasting and sustainable peace in the Basque Country.

We don’t necessarily share the presented political project, but we understand that such a political party has the right to be legal and contest elections as any other party. We call on the Spanish authorities not to put any additional barriers.

We understand that for a resolutive dialogue to be set up, all the parties should take part on equal conditions, and so the Abertzale Left should be legalized.

We want to call on all parties to make an effort for the resolution of the conflict. Peace in the Basque Country is peace in the very heart of Europe, and so we must understand it.

Soutien des MPE à la légalisation du Sortu, le nouveau projet politique et organisationnel présenté le 7 Février

Les députés européens qui approuvons la déclaration suivante, félicitons Sortu le nouveau «projet politique et organisationnel » présenté hier et duquel les statuts rejettent tout violence, celui d´ETA inclus. Une telle initiative nous rapproche d'une paix durable en Pays Basque.

Nous ne partageons pas nécessairement le projet politique présenté, mais nous soutenons le fait que ce parti politique a le droit d’être légal et de participer à des élections de la même manière que tout autre parti. Nous appelons les autorités espagnoles à ne pas mettre d’obstacles supplémentaires.

Nous pensons que pour qu’il y ait dialogue dans un cadre de résolution, toutes les parties doivent pouvoir y participer dans les mêmes conditions. La légalisation de la Gauche Abertzale est donc une nécessité.

Nous appelons à toutes les parties à faire un effort pour la résolution du conflit, car la paix au Pays Basque veut aussi dire la paix au cœur de l'Europe.

March 2011, Brussels
Endorsers:

François Alfonsi, Corsica, EFA/Greens
Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Euskadi, ALDE
José Bové, France, EFA/Greens
Frieda Brepoels, Flandres, EFA/Greens
Bairbre de Brún, Ireland, GUE/NGL
Nikolaos Chountis, Greece, GUE/NGL
Pat the Cope Gallagher, Ireland, ALDE
Catherine Grèze, France, EFA/Greens
Marian Harkin, Ireland, ALDE
Oriol Junqueras, Catalunya, EFA/Greens
Jürgen Klute, Germany, GUE/NGL
Marisa Matias, Portugal, GUE/NGL
Jiří Maštálka, Czech Republic, GUE/NGL
Miloslav Ransdorf, Czech Republic, GUE/NGL
Raül Romeva i Rueda, Catalunya, EFA/Greens
Alyn Smith, Scotland, EFA/Greens
Csaba Sógor, Rumania, EPP
Bart Staes, Flanders, EFA/Greens
Eva-Britt Svensson, Sweden, GUE/NGL
Marie-Christine Vergiat, France, GUE/NGL
Tatjana Ždanoka, Latvian EFA/Greens

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún called on the governments and on fellow MEPs to reject the proposed amendment to the Lisbon Treaty saying it will lead to "the imposition of further austerity measures".

Speaking in advance of the European summit this week, Ms de Brún said:

"The proposed treaty amendment is less to do with economic governance than with the imposition of further austerity measures.

"It is fully in line with the EU/IMF package which Ireland is suffering. It tries to make ordinary people pay for the failings of the banks and does nothing to bring about growth and employment. I am in favour of improving accountability and transparency in our economic governance but cannot support this treaty change.

"It puts further downward pressures on pay, pensions, public services and unemployment benefit, as John Monks, President of the European Trade Union Confederation has said in a letter to MEPs.

"I appeal to my fellow MEPs to vote against this amendment on Wednesday and I appeal to the governments to reject it at the European Council meeting on Thursday." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA (South Antrim) has called for the introduction of a refundable levy on all alcohol containers.


Mitchel Mc Laughlin said:


“The increase in off-premises drinking has created many social and environmental problems. While there are many worthwhile statutory and voluntary bodies dedicated to addressing the social problems created by alcohol misuse, local authorities seem powerless to address the environmental problems caused by outdoor drinking.


“Our parks and streets are strewn with the debris of this behaviour on a daily basis but particularly at weekends. Cans, bottles and blue bags litter every green area available to those, many of them underage, who indulge in this activity.


“Not only is it unsightly but it puts an extra burden on local Councils and ratepayers who have to pay to clean up the mess. It also creates an unwelcoming atmosphere in our public parks for family enjoyment. This situation cannot be allowed to continue unabated.


“I suggest that one way of addressing the negative social and other aspects of this problem would be to introduce a refundable environmental levy on all alcohol containers. Such schemes have been introduced in other jurisdictions with great success. A deposit would be charged on all cans and glass containers, which would be refunded on return to the off-license or retailer. Therefore not only would it contribute to cleaning up our parks and streets it would create employment and entrepreneurial opportunity. In conjunction with proposed restrictions on cut-price drinks promotions it would also help combat the growing problem with underage drinking.


“I realise that local authorities do not have the power to introduce such a levy and legislation would be required. It is obviously an issue that the Assembly in the new mandate should address as a matter of urgency.”

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Speaking after a joint meeting between the Sinn Féin Stormont and Dáil teams, held at the Assembly today, Party President Gerry Adams TD said;

“Today’s meeting is the first of the Sinn Fein teams in Stormont and the Dáil since the Southern election.

No other political party on this island has the depth and geographical spread of Sinn Féin elected representatives. We are the only party with a strategy and a team to deliver all-Ireland political change.

Others talk about the all-Ireland agenda. Today is the all-Ireland agenda in action.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MLA for west Belfast Jennifer McCann has welcomed today’s announcement from OFMdFM that they are to continue funding for Playboard scheme across the north for the next twelve months.

Speaking after questioning the First Minister on the issue in the Assembly this afternoon Ms McCann said;

“Firstly, I want to welcome today’s announcement from the First and deputy First Ministers that they are to continue to fund Playboard schemes for the next twelve months.

I would hope that this funding stream would be opened up for application to groups that provide an invaluable service within local communities.

Over these recent times we have seen a number of childcare services having to close due to lack of funding; the news that the funding for the Playboard scheme will be extended, and that an additional £12 million has been provided for a childcare strategy will no doubt go some way to provide quality affordable childcare.

Following today’s news, it is vital that we continue to work to ensure that those groups who are currently outside of the existing funding stream will be in a position to apply for this funding.” CRÍOCH

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on natural resources Martin Ferris TD, has said that a media report based on a leak from the McCarthy Group on State Assets confirms fears over the future of Coillte and Bord na Mona. According to a piece by Brendan Keenan in today’s Irish Independent the report will recommend a sale of forestry and peat and the establishment of a new company to ‘manage’ the land after the peat and timber are sold off. The Programme for Government is committed to merging the two companies as a new bio energy entity.

Deputy Ferris said:

“I will be raising this on the Order of Business tomorrow afternoon and I also expect to receive replies to several questions I have tabled on the possible sale of Coillte and Bord na Mona and on the contents of the McCarthy report.

“The new Government has said that it will be guided on its sale of €2 billion of state assets by the report. I am calling on them to honour their explicit promises during the election that Coillte would not be sold off.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education John O’Dowd MLA, commenting on today’s report into Educational Underachievement, with particular emphasis on the underachievement of Protestant boys from socially deprived, working class areas.

Mr O’Dowd who attended the launch at the Stormont Hotel later this afternoon said;

“While the findings of this report are deeply concerning in reality they will come as no surprise to those working within the Education and Training sector.

For some years now Sinn Féin has been highlighting the fact that working class protestant boys are the demographic most failed by the educational arrangements which Unionist representatives have fought vehemently to retain.

Sinn Féin is about bringing real change to our education system, about cherishing all of our children equally. That is why under the leadership of Martin McGuinness and Caitríona Ruane we put an end to the discriminatory 11+ exam and are driving the agenda of ‘every school a good school’.

This report highlights the very broad factors that impact directly upon the educational and vocational development of our young people, it recognises that our education system alone cannot solve all of these problems. Sinn Féin has also acknowledged this fact and have been actively developing cross-departmental approaches to the social, psychological and economic well being of our young people.

These figures are a wake up call for those politicians who continue to, for narrow political ends, bury their heads in the sand, when it comes to the realities faced by our communities. The old regime has failed the overwhelming majority of children and young people. For example, the DUP brought Academic selection to the talks table at St Andrews in 2007, and refused to share power with their nationalist and republican neighbours unless the British Government capitulated to the DUP demand that Selection be retained on the statute books.

To date the DUP have not publicly acknowledged on whose behalf such a demand was made, the evidence shows it certainly was not on behalf of the thousand of working class protestant children turned away from grammar schools every year and who are failing to enter university education.” CRÍOCH

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has unveiled an action plan which sets out a vision for the development of rural areas throughout the north over the next 10 years.

The Executive’s Rural White Paper action plan was developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including Government Departments. When implemented, it will make a positive contribution towards service provision in rural areas.

The action plan examines the challenges currently being face by rural areas and identifies innovative ways to target limited resources for the betterment and sustainable development of the countryside. The actions identified will address a wide range of issues including provision of access to services, poverty and isolation, business support, education and training.

Speaking at the launch of a twelve week consultation on the plan, the Minister said: “This action plan is one of the most ambitious pieces of work aimed at supporting rural dwellers ever undertaken in the north. For the first time we have a single document highlighting the actions which each government department will take to support rural communities. This clearly demonstrates that departments and Ministers are taking rural issues and the rights of rural communities seriously and are committed to ensuring a fair deal for them.

“The fact that the initiative will be taken forward across government is a demonstration that there is an Executive commitment to improve the lives of rural dwellers.”

Paying tribute to the work undertaken in its development, the Minister continued: “The Rural White Paper action plan is the culmination of a lot of hard work by stakeholders and government and I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in it. It has been a privilege to lead on it with agreement of the Executive and I am confident that, when implemented, it will bring about meaningful and lasting improvements in the quality of life of those living and working in our countryside. "

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Lynn Boylan MEP