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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has accused Ulster Bank of using bullying tactics to force staff to sign employment contracts.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

“I have been contacted by Ulster Bank employees concerned about the tactics being used in an attempt to force staff to sign new contracts that would reduce their entitlements and could eventually lead to forced redundancies.

“Such is the sense of fear among the Bank staff that employees have made their views anonymously in fear that individual jobs could be at risk if the persons were to be identified. The parent bank RBS has offered alternative compensation to its employees for the loss of their profit share package. Even though regarded as a contractual payment Ulster Bank failed to extend this compensation to its staff.

“After seven months refusal to make this payment Ulster Bank then announced that it would back date it but only on condition that staff were willing to sign new contracts of employment by November 13th with significant deterioration in Terms & Conditions.

“This attempt to bully staff into accepting less favorable terms and conditions of employment is not directed at the senior management and their multi-million pound bonuses but to the most vulnerable employees who deliver a service to the general public. These staff are on salaries starting at £11,250 a year. They didn’t create the crisis in which we find ourselves.

“I call on Ulster Bank to desist from using the present economic crisis to bully its lower paid staff while once more resuscitating the culture of excessive bonuses for those who created the crisis in the first place.


Easier access to more courses with greater relevance to pupils will help them achieve their full potential.

That is the vision set out by the Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, as she published the “Together Towards Entitlement” Report today in the Assembly.

The report covered two areas – the Entitlement Framework and an area-based approach to planning.

Commenting on the Report, the Minister said: “By planning the schools’ estate with the pupils’ needs in mind, rather than the institutions, we can ensure they have greater choice, flexibility, equality and access to a wider range of subjects which they are interested in.

“The ‘Together Towards Entitlement’ Report sets out the steps which need to be taken in order to achieve an area-based planning approach to the schools’ estate and deliver the Entitlement Framework by 2013.

“Since receiving the ‘Together Towards Entitlement’ report in July I have been carefully considering their findings and recommendations. I have concluded that these are a robust set of recommendations which provide a pragmatic approach to delivering the Entitlement Framework and a rigorous testing of an area-based approach to planning.

“One clear message from the report is that the pace of change needs to be quickened. Schools need to demonstrate how they will effectively deliver the Entitlement Framework and maximise choice for young people in the future.

“A key recommendation from the report is that the Sustainable Schools policy should be accelerated, and I have already commissioned a review of current capital projects to validate that all are consistent with our policy framework.

“In order to disseminate the findings of the report across the north of Ireland there will be a series of seminars held for interested parties.

“I would thank all involved in the Central and Area groups, who gave of their time to develop this important document, which has the potential to improve on the delivery of education for our young people.”


Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Martina Anderson has this afternoon commented on the Child Poverty Bill passing through the Assembly today.

Speaking at Stormont Ms Anderson said;

“The Child Poverty Inquiry carried out by the Committee of the Office of the First and deputy First Minister laid bare the extent – the scandalous extent - of child poverty here and demonstrated the need for pro-active and cross-cutting measures to combat it.

Indeed, as a newly-elected MLA, the first thing I did when coming into office was to lobby for this inquiry.

The reason I did so is because I was appalled by the levels of child poverty in this society. In my own constituency, the child poverty rate is 34%. That is an absolute scandal.

In this new dispensation we now have the opportunity - and indeed the responsibility - to begin addressing that legacy.

A number of amendments were sought in relation to this Bill and these amendments and the new mechanisms in place will assist us in terms of monitoring and implementing the kind of cross-cutting measures that will be required to help eradicate the scourge of child poverty.” CRÍOCH


Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler has criticised the SDLP for providing support for DUP Minister Edwin Poots' attempt to gerrymander the new council boundaries that have been determined by the office of the Local Government Boundary Commissioner.
Mr Butler said:

"Sinn Féin condemns the actions of the DUP Minister. We will not allow the day of the gerrymander to return to the politics of the North of Ireland.

''This is not 1969. It is 2009.
''The electoral boundaries have been determined by the Boundary Commissioner following a lengthy process involving consultation and subsequent stages of more consultations. The submissions brought forward by the DUP - and others - for moving the electoral boundary to shift Dunmurry back into Lisburn were heard by the commissioner and, ultimately, rejected.
''We are quite clear as to why the DUP Minister has followed this course of action. DUP councillors in Lisburn have long been a rule unto themselves, and clearly Mr Poots believes he can satisfy the desires of his political cronies in Lisburn by unilaterally acting in this way.
''He is wrong. Sinn Féin has no intention of permitting the DUP Minister to return us to the day of the gerrymander.
''Nationalists will quite rightly be angry that the SDLP have decided to provide the DUP with a fig leaf to cover Mr Poots' actions. Yet again, it is clear that the SDLP are putting perceived self-interest ahead of the rights and entitlements of nationalists.
''Sinn Féin will not be moving on this issue, and we call on the SDLP to oppose this disgraceful attempt at gerrymandering.''


Welcoming the start of a week of various activities and campaigning against bullying, Caitríona Ruane said: “This year’s challenging theme is a reminder to us all that bullying is not only an issue for our schools. Bullying can rear its ugly head in many forms such as racist, homophobic, gender or cyberbullying. No matter what form it takes, or the reason behind it, bullying is not, and never will be, acceptable in our schools. Nor can it be tolerated in our society as a whole. Schools have a responsibility to keep their pupils safe from harm and provide a secure learning environment, but who is responsible once pupils are outside the school gate?

“We must all accept our individual roles in tackling this important issue which can have such a devastating impact on the lives of our children and young people. Only by working together can schools, parents, transport providers and everyone in our community, help to ensure that one less child wakes up on a school day with anticipation and fear.”

The Minister continued: “The experience of learning at school, and indeed that of just being a child, should be a stimulating and rewarding time. We must not allow that experience to become thwarted through the presence of bullying.

“We have seen the disastrous effects of bullying on our young people and must continue to work to seek more ways to prevent bullying, and to do more to support those that have suffered as victims. We need to actively listen to their concerns, encourage young people to have their say and ensure effective support mechanisms are in place when professional help is needed.

“We are all responsible for our young people, we as friends, as parents and carers, as teachers and as policy makers. I hope this week’s campaign will raise the profile and dangers of bullying in the minds of all.”


Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caolain has described as a "crisis situation" the spread of C Difficile in hospitals in the North East region. He called for an emergency response, including the reopening of Monaghan General Hospital for acute care.

He said:

"Following the report to the coroner of deaths that may be C Difficile-related, the closure of 70 beds and three wards and the ban on visiting in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, we now have an outbreak at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan. This is a crisis situation for the North East region. The largest hospital in the region, Drogheda, is severely restricted in its services because of the outbreak. Navan is now in the same position. The Louth County Hospital in Dundalk is set to close to acute patients at the end of the year and Cavan General Hosptial is working at full stretch.

"An emergency reponse is needed, including the reopening of Monaghan General Hospital for acute care. I will be demanding that Health Minister Harney report to the Dáil on this crisis in the coming week, including on her response and that of the HSE." ENDS


Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has condemned as "grossly hypocritical" the claim by Health Minister Mary Harney that her plan to impose prescription charges on medical card holders would be in the interest of patient safety.

He said:

"Health Minister Harney's statement indicates that medical card holders are going to have prescription charges imposed on them. This is a disgraceful decision. Minister Harney and her colleagues want to make the sick and the old pay for the recklessness of Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats governments since 1997. Having got into Government on the basis of her leadership of a now defunct party, Minister Harney has remained there as it suits her Fianna Fáil and Green colleagues to leave her presiding over the disastrous failures of Government health policy.

"Now Minister Harney is set to preside over the introduction of prescription charges for medical card holders. This is nothing short of an attack on the medical card scheme itself. Once introduced, these charges will be increased year on year, thus hitting the most vulnerable hardest. It is grossly hypocritical of Minister Harney to claim that such a charge would be in the interest of patient safety because drugs are over-prescribed. This charge has nothing to do with addressing over-prescription; it would be a revenue raising measure pure and simple.

"Minister Harney has done little to address the gross over-charging for drugs on the part of the pharmaceutical companies and distributors. Instead she proposes to target the patient. Rather than imposing this charge the Minister should be tackling over-pricing and over-prescription, promoting the use of cheaper generic drugs and ending the massive Government subsidies to the private health industry." ENDS


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has said that a speech by Taoiseach Brian Cowen to an Ógra Fianna Fáil conference yesterday harks back to the worst of the Haughey era in Irish politics and that his comments should be a wake-up call to anyone who has forgotten whose interests Fianna Fáil will defend in the current economic crisis.

Arthur Morgan said

“Addressing delegates at the Óga Fianna Fáil conference yesterday, Brian Cowen repeated exactly former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Charles Haughey’s immortal and infamous words that ‘We are living way beyond our means’.

“This harking back to the worst of the Haughey era should be a wake-up call to anyone who has forgotten whose interests Fianna Fáil will defend in the current economic crisis.

“When Haughey told people in the 1980’s that they were living beyond their means, he and others continued to enjoy extravagantly affluent lifestyles. While ordinary people carried the burden of hard economic times, the wealthy were immune from paying their fair share and were facilitated in hiding their wealth in offshore bank accounts.

“Nothing has changed. As in the 1980’s, this Fianna Fáil-led government is determined the bleed ordinary workers dry while protecting an idle elite.

“There is a determined effort to scapegoat those who worked hard all their lives and because of the government’s economic mismanagement find themselves unemployed. They now face the prospect of having their social welfare slashed. Are we really supposed to believe these people and pensioners are living beyond their means?

“Meanwhile, senior civil servants and governments ministers are living way beyond our means as tax payers. Their wages have to be drastically cut.

“Those who made vast fortunes on property speculation and banking during the ‘Celtic Tiger era’ continue to enjoy affluent lifestyles while ordinary taxpayers carry the can for their recklessness. They must be subject to higher taxes and a wealth tax has to be introduced.”

“It is unacceptable to seek to address the current shortfall in public revenue by targeting the least well off. Cuts have to happen but they should start at the top." ENDS

Note to Editor: Sinn Fein will launch its pre-budget submission tomorrow, Monday 16th November, in the Georgian Suite, Buswells Hotel at 12noon.


Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has slammed Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe for being disingenous when he suggests that the Social Welfare budget must be cut in order to make the €4 billion savings in public spending in the next budget. Senator Doherty said Sinn Féin has identified where the €4 billion can be found without targeting social welfare and including the reinstatement of the Christmas Social Welfare payment at a cost of €223 million.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said:

"Sinn Féin accepts the need to save €4 billion in this year's budget. However, unlike Batt O'Keeffe and the Government I do not accept that to do this we must target the social welfare budget for cuts.

"In fact Sinn Féin has identified where the savings can be made without targeting social welfare or public services and we would reinstate the Christmas social welfare payment.

"For example, if a third tax band of 48% was applied to income above €100,000, a return of €355million would be made dwarfing the €223 required to reinstate the Christmas Bonus payment.

"Minister O'Keeffe in being disingenous when he suggests that the €4 billion cannot be saved without cutting the social welfare budget. The fact is that he would rather see the least well off in society pay for this mess rather than targeting those who can actually afford to pay." ENDS


Sinn Féin Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has branded comments from the Taoiseach yesterday that no area of public expenditure could be exempt from cuts as ‘rubbish’ saying that his party would outline how the €4billion target can be made without resorting to cuts in social welfare and public services.

He said:

“Again yesterday the Taoiseach repeated his assertion that he is determined that every section of public expenditure will be targeted in the upcoming budget. This is the completely wrong approach. It is exemplified by the disgraceful axing of the Christmas social welfare bonus in April’s emergency budget. This is one of the meanest and most Scrooge-like cuts ever to be imposed and will have a profound effect on struggling families and the elderly.

“When this government says everyone will have to take some pain they don’t really mean it. We are seeing that some people will be subject to very little pain and others such as social welfare recipients will face unjustifiable cuts. The assertion that we are all in this together with equal blame and equal responsibility and that all sectors have to take equal cuts is rubbish. It is a lie made up by those who are opposed to cuts starting at the top – those who are opposed to targeting the wealthy, those on high incomes, those who pocketed huge windfall profits during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era.

“The government approach is unjust and plain bad economics. There is a fairer way. A way that ensures that those who have more pay more and that those who can’t afford to pay are not forced to.

"Sinn Féin will publish its pre-budget submission this Monday. This will show clearly, and with Department of Finance figures, how the €4billion that the Government is seeking to make can be found without resorting to cuts in social welfare and public services.”



Gerry Adams opening this weekends Ogra Shinn Féin conference in Belfast said the Government has no real strategy to stimulate the economy or create jobs. He said Sinn Féin is for a Budget that invests in the future, creates jobs by building schools, hospitals, houses, the renewable energy sector, and business infrastructure.

Gerry Adams said:

“Though the international economic downturn has been a major factor in the current economic crisis, the Irish government’s mismanagement of the economy, particularly during the boom years, has left the state more vulnerable than almost any other in the world.

“Instead of dealing with this crisis properly the government rushed through cutbacks attacking school children, the elderly and working families.

“Over the last few weeks tens of thousands of citizens have taken to the streets to protest at government policies, including the withdrawal of the Christmas bonus, and to oppose the planned further cuts in the December budget.

“On a visit this week to Dolphins Barn I met local people, active in their community in support of the most vulnerable, who are deeply worried that the Fianna Fáil/Green Party budget is likely to rip the heart out of that community.

“The scrooge-like mentality of the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government knows no bounds. It has consistently underestimated the severity of this economic crisis. It has pursued a fiscal strategy which has not worked and which will drive hundreds of thousands more into poverty.

“It has no real strategy to stimulate the economy or to create jobs.

“The government has clearly indicated that next months Budget will be about cutting social welfare payments and the public sector pay bill, slashing health and education, and capital building budgets. Sinn Féin is fundamentally opposed to these policies. A more imaginative and alternative approach is needed.

“There is a need for new and innovative planning. Sinn Féin is for a Budget that invests in the future, creates jobs by building schools, hospitals, houses, the renewable energy sector, and business infrastructure. Such a long term approach will take the pressure off now while helping to solve longer term problems.

“Sinn Féin has detailed proposals in our pre-Budget submission to raise €7.623 billion. With this money the state can create a package to reduce the deficit by €3.7 billion and a stimulus package to encourage the economy.

“The reality is that the economy can be turned around in a fair and equitable way. On Monday Sinn Féin will publish our Pre-Budget Submission and we will put it directly to the Government in the Dáil debate on Tuesday.” ENDS


Making reference to a letter she received from the Culture Minister Nelson McCausland regarding an Irish Language Act for the north, MEP Bairbre de Brun said she is disappointed by the DUP Ministers stance.

Ms de Brun said;

“This is a disappointing letter particularly that given today Mr McCausland, along with Education Minister Caitriona Ruane, are attending today’s British Irish Council meeting, the focus of which is on minority languages, dealing with how to promote and protect them.

It is ironic also that the question of languages in the other governments attending is not a controversial issue, but taken as an integral part of their history and culture.

People should have the right to live their lives through Irish if they so choose. I am talking about education, work, shopping, leisure and business.

People should also be allowed to use their own native language when they find themselves before the courts. The British Government should repeal the 1737 Act without further delay. It is scandalous that such laws are still in effect in the north today” CRÍOCH


Ag tagairt ar freagra a fuair sí ón Aire Chultúir, Nelson McCausland, ar cheist Acht Teanga don tuaisceart, dúirt an Feisire Eorpach Bairbre de Brún inniu go raibh díomá uirthi leis an dearcadh caol intinne atá á thaispeáint ag an aire DUP.

Dúirt Bean de Brún:
“Tá sé íorónta go bhfuair mé an litir seo inniu nuair atá an tAire McCausland féin thall i nGeirsí in éineacht leis an Aire Oideachais Caitríona Ruane agus an príomh cheist ar chlár an Chruinniú BIC ná ceist na mion teangacha agus teangacha dúchais chomh maith le liosta moltaí chun iad a chosaint agus a fhorbairt.

Tá sé íorónta fosta go bhfuil ceist teangacha na rialtais eile atá ionadaithe ar an BIC, go bhfuil siad aitheanta agus glactha mar chuid lárnach den oidhreacht agus de stair na n-áiteanna eile seo gan imreas ná conspóid.

Ba chóir go mbeadh deis ag duine ar bith gur mian leo bheith ábalta an saol a chaitheamh trí mheán na Gaeilge, i scolaíocht, obair, siopadóireacht, folaíocht agus gnó leis an stát san áireamh.

Ba chóir go mbeadh sé de cheart ag gaeilgeoirí an Ghaeilge a úsáid sna cúirteanna fosta. Ba chóir do Rialtas na Breataine deireadh a chur le hAcht 1737 láithreach. Tá sé scannalach go bhfuil dlíthe den chinéal seo, i dtaca leis an Ghaeilge sna cúirteanna, go fóill i réim.” CRÍOCH


Recent events in the Basque country and the Spanish state have included ongoing acts of violence causing death, abuses of human rights and the arrest of leading Basque political activists including Batasuna leaders Arnaldo Otegi and Rufi Etxeberria. Otegi and four others arrested at the same time remain in custody. Etxeberria and the other four were released on bail. Both men have made important statements on the current political situation in the past week.

Commenting on all of this Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said;

“The ongoing violence, deaths, human rights abuses and arrests will not bring about a resolution of the conflict in the Basque country. But fivty years of conflict indicate that this scenario could continue indefinitely into the future.

“The only victory attainable for the Madrid Government and Basque nationalists is the achievement of a framework and process in which political differences can be addressed and dealt with by purely political means.

“The recent arrest of Arnaldo Otegi and his colleagues is in my view an obstacle to that goal. I have known Arnaldo Otegi for some years now. I believe him to be a peacemaker. I believe that view is shared by the many thousands of protestors, of differing political allegiances, who publicly demonstrated against his arrest. I believe that recent public positions set out by Otegi and Rufi Etxeberria are positive indicators of a willingness to pursue and confront all of the challenges and difficulties inherent in building and developing a peace process. And this is never going to be easy.

“I am therefore calling for the unconditional release of Arnaldo Otegi and his colleagues to allow them to pursue this important task. They must be given the space to develop the substance of the ‘new phase, new strategies and new instruments’ to achieve ‘a new framework in the Basque activists’ country’. Protagonists on both sides have to create that space. But especially Basque independentists who should do this - and understand that they are doing it - for themselves, the Basque people, and for their objectives as opposed to doing it for Madrid.

“Given that space the groundswell of popular Basque opinion in support of Otegi points to the vehicle for future forward movement.” ENDS


Commenting before the first of the Grammar sectors tests on Saturday Sinn Féin education spokesperson, John O’Dowd, said:

“The testing of children at 10 and 11 years of age to decide if they may or may not enter a school is wrong, it has no proven educational benefit and numerous educational social disadvantages.

“I welcome the fact that the Catholic sector will move away from the practice of Academic selection within two years, I hope others reconsider their position and open their schools up to centres of educational excellence for all.

“Much has been made in the media of those pupils who will be sitting the tests, I wish them all well and hope they understand that they are unique valued individuals regardless of what their test results are.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the silent majority, the pupils who will not be sitting a test, who will transferring into a Post primary school which teaches the exact same curriculum as Grammar and offers access to the same level of qualifications as grammar schools.

“These pupils too deserve our attention and regard as they prepare for the next chapter in their academic and vocational lives.

“Our Post primary schools  on daily basis prove why there is no justifiable requirement for the 11 plus, they provide a first class education and produce pupils who go out into society and become leaders whether it be in a Academic or vocational careers

 Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said;

“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.

 “I would call on all those who are genuinely opposed to the socially unjust practice of Academic selection to recommit themselves to ending it, not by accommodating further testing on the false promise of ‘ give us more time and we will change’. The facts are the grammar lobby has had 50 years to change and they have continually held onto their unjust system.

“Now for the first time in a lifetime collectively change can be delivered, now is the time to stand by your convictions and to help remove this socially unjust policy form our education system and our society.” ENDS


Responding to the comments by DUP Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, on his leaked letter to the deputy First Minister and First Minister about local government reform, Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler said:

“In his letter, Edwin Poots has now coupled his demand to gerrymander one small section of Boundary Commission recommendations with threats to crash the entire process of local government reform.

“Sinn Féin will not tolerate selfish unionist attempts to interfere with boundaries that were independently redrawn.

“Observers will surely question whether a conflict of interest exists for Edwin Poots in holding the entire RPA process to ransom over the single demand that one boundary affecting his own Lisburn constituency should be changed.”ENDS

Editor’s Note:

  • Edwin Poots letter to OFMdFM this week was headed “Local Government Boundaries”
  • Poots’ letter states: “If agreement cannot be achieved in relation to local government boundaries by the date of the next Executive… the consequence of that would the collapse of the reform process as currently constituted”.


Sinn Féin’s Pre-Budget Submission 2010 will be launched this Monday, 16th November in the Georgian Suite, Buswells Hotel at 12 noon by party TDs Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Arthur Morgan and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

In the document, entitled ‘The Road to Recovery’ Sinn Féin show’s how the €4billion that the Government wishes to recoup can be made without targeting social welfare, those on low incomes or public services.

Speaking this week ahead of the launch of the document Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan said:

“Our Pre-Budget Submission, backed up with costings from the Department of Finance, debunks the myth that there is no alternative to cutbacks in public services and social welfare.” ENDS


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan has slammed the government’s pre-budget outlook as a ‘charade’, saying it completely ignores the cost implications of NAMA, which is in the final stages of passing through the Houses of the Oireachtas today. Morgan said the document is full of attempts to justify government policy, yet states how this policy has negatively impacted on the economy.

Morgan said:

“This pre-Budget outlook is a charade. Continuous reference is made to NAMA being a separate matter from the public finances. The Special Purposes Vehicle that the government has established for NAMA to push it through its final stages of parliament today is a ruse. This state will borrow €54 billion to pay for NAMA and that is not included anywhere in this document, as it lectures us on fiscal prudence.

“The fact is, the last two emergency budgets brought forward by this government have actually made our economy worse. Measures like increasing VAT last October put the final nail in consumption and the levy increase on low earners in April, further hit consumption taxes, which have all contributed to deflating the economy and deepening the recession. In April they said their measures would leave us with a General Government Balance of -10.75. Now they say it will be -12. They are admitting that their policies do not work.

“Most of this document is the Department of Finance trying to justify policy decisions. So we read we have a narrow tax base, then we read that taxes cannot help to reduce the deficit, ‘unpalatable’ decisions must be taken. I put it to this government that cutting social welfare leaves no bad taste in their mouths. They only policy which would create a knot in Brian Lenihan’s stomach would be one that raised tax on those who can afford to pay more.

“The lies and the myths coming out of the Department of Finance as it attempts to legitimise and prepare the public for the harshest budget in decades, must be challenged. Every step this government has taken to date has been regressive. The measures they take in this budget will leave us facing more ‘unpalatable’ decisions in December 2010. This government is not being led by fiscal prudence at this point in time. It is being led by an ideological position which chooses to target the least well off rather than show any kind of patriotism or vision for this country.” ENDS


Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has urged children who will be sitting the first of the grammar sector’s breakaway tests to remember that regardless of the results of a test at such a young age they can still achieve their aspirations and ambitions in the years ahead.

The Minister was speaking as the first breakaway tests set by grammar schools were due to start on 14 November.

The Minister said: “This weekend eleven and ten year olds will be sitting the first of the breakaway tests set by the grammar sector. I send my best wishes to each and every child and urge them to remember that they can all achieve their ambitions and aspirations regardless of the results they obtain.

"I also wish those pupils who are not sitting a test all the best. They too have a right to a first-class education system and to every opportunity to succeed.

“Our non-selective post-primary sector offers the fullest range in educational choice and achievement and year after year produces first-class results in many areas, all achieved in the absence of selection and rejection.

“It is unfortunate that grammar schools have chosen not to follow suit with their educational partners and engage in Transfer 2010, which is the Department of Education’s policy on how children should move to post-primary schools.

“Those schools which have chosen to use breakaway tests need to be aware of the potential legal pitfalls and risks of tests being set without subjective adjudication in the admissions process.

“Equality must be at the cornerstone of our education system and Transfer 2010 offers schools the opportunity to spare children the ordeal and stress of selection at such a young age.”


This afternoon a Tree dedication ceremony hosted by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was held in the grounds opposite Parliament Buildings to mark the 125th anniversary of An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael.

A plaque was unveiled by Tom Daly, President Ulster GAA and Gerry Adams.

Speaking after the event, which he described as a ‘very special and unique occasion’ Mr. Adams paid tribute to the GAA. He said:

“The positive impact for positive change by the GAA on society in Ireland has been profound. The GAA brings together individuals and communities like no other organisation. It embodies a spirit of pride and identity which enthuses and motivates.

It is right therefore that we are here to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael. Even after 125 years the GAA is still one of the most important and dynamic institutions on this island.
The Sinn Féin President pointed to the statue of “Edward Carson who is identified with militant unionism. But as a student at Trinity College in Dublin he was a member of their hurling team.

Finally, I want to commend An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael for the role which they play in development of our young people, and our communities.

I am very proud to be a member of this great organisation and I wish it well during its next 125 years.”

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