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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Commenting on the announcement of infection concern regarding colonoscopy equipment in Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Sinn Fein Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

“The news from Crumlin Children’s Hospital is of great concern. It is distressing for children and parents that such a vital piece of hospital equipment was contaminated and may have contaminated patients.

“While the hospital states that there is no immediate impact on children’s health, they also state that the bug in question can cause problems for patients receiving intensive care or chemotherapy. As Crumlin is the main centre for treatment of children with cancer this is a serious concern.

“The hospital and the HSE must now do all in their power to reassure parents and children that all necessary remedial measures are being taken and that such an infection incident will not occur again.

“Crumlin provides excellent care for children and it requires enhanced support from Government, something I have repeatedly urged on Health Minister James Reilly.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien has expressed his alarm at the findings of an OECD report that compares the provision of early childhood education in Ireland to other developed countries.

The report looked at school-based education provided for children aged between three and six years and their participation in programmes which are specifically designed to meet both the educational and developmental needs of children, as delivered by specialised qualified staff.

Commenting on the Report Deputy O’Brien said:

“There are an estimated 63,000 children age 3-6 who participated in the State’s Free Pre-School Year programme that was introduced in 2010.

“The estimated cost of this scheme is €166m and a 2005 National Economic and Social Forum study estimated that on average over €7 of returns are achieved for every €1 invested in early childhood education.

“It is therefore very alarming that in the 26 counties, early childhood education accounts for approximately 1.57% of overall education spending, which is over nine times lower than Hungary, where the figure spent is approximately 14.41% of education spending.

“This is the lowest amount within the surveyed sample and to put the findings in context, when compared with the second lowest level of relative expenditure spent by the United Kingdom, they still allocated over three times as much of their education budget towards early childhood.

“The survey also shows that the pupil teacher ratio in Irish secondary schools is 19.8 students to every teaching staff member, the second largest within the sample meaning there are approximately 5.4 more students per teaching staff member in Irish early childhood education programmes than the OECD average.

“The government must study this report carefully as we approach October’s budget, particularly as there is mounting speculation that Minister Quinn might increase the PTR across the sector.

“Smaller class sizes and a more favourable student-to-teacher ratio, are linked with better educational outcomesand is one way of measuring the quality of learning available to children.”

 

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Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien, has urged parents to be prudent in how they use their payment of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) and to shop around for school uniforms and other items of clothing for the start of the new school year in September.

The Cork North-Central TD was speaking after the Department of Social Protection started issuing automatic payments of the allowance from the 15th of July onwards.

He continued:

“At this very difficult time many parents are struggling to pay the hundreds of Euros it takes to clothe and equip a child for school and the BTSCFA can at least go some way to easing this significant financial burden.

“With the issuing of these payments, there is an understandable pressure on parents to use this money for other essential items but in so doing they will find it even more difficult to pay for the back to school costs whenever the academic year starts in September.

“I would therefore urge parents to be as prudent as possible with this allowance and to use the time between now and September to source the most affordable clothing and text books for their children.

“However, regardless of how carefully they spend this limited amount of money it is clear that the cost of sending a child to school has reached unsustainable levels for many families.

“This in part can be attributed to the failure of Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to introduce measures that would ease this burden and his failure to take a proactive approach to this matter is an example of the growing disconnect between this government and the thousands of Irish citizens who are struggling to make ends meet.

“It is an issue the Minister must address as a matter of urgency and he needs to prioritise the introduction a range of relatively simple measures that would greatly reduce the cost of sending a child to school.”

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Sinn Féin Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh described the admission by Minister Hogan today that the government proposes to start charging for water from October 2014 as cynical and unfair.

Senator O’Clochartaigh said:

“Minister Hogan admitted today that the water charges will commence in October 2014. Families will receive the bills in early 2015.

“In a cynical move the government is holding off until after next year’s local elections before anyone receives a bill. Fine Gael and the Labour Party know that to issue the bills before May would certainly mean a loss of council seats. The current proposal to charge households for water was dreamt up by Fianna Fáil but brought to life by Fine Gael and Labour.

“Water charges are wrong. To charge people for the water they drink is unacceptable. The reality is struggling families will be hit with yet another bill. In Denmark, with a population similar to our own, water metering is in place and in 2007 the average cost was €715 per household.

“The government spins a myth that we do not pay for our water.  We pay for our water service in our taxes. Water charges will mean the public pay three times for their water.

“Firstly in their general taxes, secondly through this new charge and, finally, they will pay through the National Pension Reserve Fund, which is being used to fund the installation of water meters. Local Authority Professional Officers have given estimates of €1.2 billion to cover the cost of the installation. It is ordinary householders who will be footing the bill.

“Sinn Féin is committed to opposing the introduction of domestic water charges. We will continue to work with trade unions and residents in our opposition to this process.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane has reiterated the party’s call for transparency regarding donations to political parties.

The South Down MLA said:

“In the Sinn Féin submission to the review into legislation governing donations, we called for an end to the practise of keeping the identity of donors secret and that the threshold for reporting donations be lowered to £750.

“These were rejected by the British Secretary of State after lobbying from other political parties. Sinn Féin is the only party that publish our annual accounts on the party website

“Justifiable public cynicism is generated when it is perceived that political parties are not being open and transparent about their financial affairs.

“Vested interests being allowed to secretly contribute to political parties does a disservice to politics in general. It is a practice which needs to be brought to an end. 

“Sinn Fein and those who vote for us expect the highest standards from all of our public representatives and we will continue to act in an open and transparent manner with regards to our financial affairs and we would encourage the other parties to do likewise.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has condemned the move by the Minister for Environment to cut Housing Adaptation funding for Dublin City by 40% in the midst of the greatest housing need the state has ever seen.

Deputy Ellis made his comments following an announcement by Dublin City Council that the Department of Environment had informed them of this massive cut which will close the scheme.

He said;

“One billion euro has been cut from housing expenditure since 2008 yet need is at its highest ever, with one hundred thousand people on waiting lists. Austerity from this government has hit the most vulnerable hardest. Among the most vulnerable are people with disabilities or mobility issues. They have been cut already with transport mobility grants, carers, and disability services all being cut by this this government.

“Now we face the prospect of the scheme, to provide people with special needs with adapted housing so that they can live as independently as possible, is basically being forced to close.

“This is totally unacceptable. Disabled people have a right to live in their homes and the government has a duty to do all in their power to realise that right. This is not just a moral position but a practical one as those independently living people with disabilities save the state millions in care every year.

“The adaptation grant provides for people to live with dignity and respect in their own home. Cuts like this are an insult to the rights of disabled people especially in the context of the states utter failure and refusal to provide appropriate social housing.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann has called on the PSNI to act against well-known criminals responsible for robbing two French tourists last night at the ‘International Wall’ on the Falls Road.

The West Belfast MLA said:

“The two French tourists had their passports taken along with money and personal items. Local people have passed on the names of those responsible and the PSNI need to act. They criminals have to be removed from the streets and made accountable for their actions.

“The Lower Falls community suffer at the hands of these people all year round. The International Wall is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Belfast and thousands of people visiting our city can be seen daily at the wall.

“These criminals are not welcome in our community and the sooner they are taken out of it the better.”

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Speaking from Leinster House this evening after a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation adopted his draft Economic Development Strategy for the Southeast, Sinn Fein Senator David Cullinane said:

“I am very pleased that the Committee accepted my report. It is now an all-party Oireachtas strategy.

“The strategy is one of the most comprehensive conducted for the South East and it is based on considerable and wide-ranging consultation with groups and individuals from across the region. 

“The report contains over 100 recommendations on what interventions are necessary across key sectors and areas.

The Southeast Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS) which is now all-Party Oireachtas strategy will be launched in Waterford city on Monday 16 September.

The report is the product of much hard work and I want to thank everyone who contributed and helped along the way.

I am passionate about the needs of Waterford and the region.   I am committed to the strategy and I will do everything I can to ensure it is implemented.” ENDS 

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Speaking at the joint committee on jobs, enterprise and employment, Sinn Fein Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh welcomed the growth in employment and exports recorded last year by Enterprise Ireland.

 

Senator O’Clochartaigh said:

“When one considers the current state of our economy and the many difficulties businesses face on an almost daily basis, the work of Enterprise Ireland is of the utmost important if we are to create sustainable indigenous employment.

“However, while I welcome the report, it does bring to the fore a number of important regional anomalies, that as of yet remain unexplained.  

“For example, the figures show a clear regional imbalance between the west and the rest of the country when it comes to job gains. And while the region has below average unemployment, nonetheless, we need to know what the factors are behind such minimal growth.

“It would obviously help if we also knew the spend per region in terms of job creation, and what steps the government plans to take to redress this regional imbalance.  In terms of job creation, this is all about uneven regional development, and this is an extremely worrying trend indeed.” 

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Responding to the Government's decision not to introduce a redress scheme for Bethany Home survivors, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has described the announcement as deeply unjust and cynical.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“There is a wealth of evidence in the public domain proving state culpability in the neglect and harm of children residing in Bethany Home.

"Bethany survivors were unjustly excluded from the Residential Institution’s Redress Scheme by the previous government on a false pretext. It is simply wrong of Fine Gael and Labour Minister's to perpetuate this wrong.

The decision is deeply unjust and cynical and its announcement after the Dáil has gone into its summer recess makes it even more so.

"Bethany was a children’s home, as well as a Mother & Baby Home, and it shared all the harsh and brutal characteristics of the Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries.

"Some 219 Bethany children, who died between 1922 and 1949, are buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.

"Government must revisit this decision." ENDS 

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Chair of the Cross-Party Moore Street Committee, Sandra McLellan TD, has called on the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht to ensure that the wider Moore Street/O’Connell Street area is preserved.
Speaking following a meeting between the Cross-Party Committee and Minister Jimmy Deenihan in Dublin this evening, she called on him to recognise the potential of a wider Historical Quarter taking in the Moore Street–O’Connell Street area.

“We sought this meeting as a cross-party group this afternoon following the Minister's decision last week to grant consent for preservation work on the national monument to discuss the ramifications of his decision, and the wider issues relating to the site.

“We recognise that there are positive aspects to the minister’s announcement. Last week I was among a delegation of TDs who visited the site, and I was appalled at the state of neglect and dereliction of the monument. It is positive that the national monument is to be preserved and restored and the extensive destruction of a great part of the monument sought by Chartered Land is now off the table.” 

“We are also pleased that there is to be a commemorative centre and that the proposed underground car park is refused. However, considerable concerns remain.”

“Apart from 14-17 Moore St, that is the national monument, the remainder of the Moore St terrace is to be demolished.“

“The minister is claiming that he has done all he can to safeguard the site, however he is confining his remit to the national monument alone. As the Heritage Minister he has overall responsibility to preserve this historic area, taking in the full battlefield site. He has the legislative power to intervene and provide protection to these other buildings and streets.”

“I believe there is huge potential for the development of an Historic 1916 Quarter encompassing the entire Moore Street/O’Connell Street area. This could become a huge tourist attraction, would be an asset to the Irish people, and could help regenerate that part of the North Inner City.”

“In order to achieve that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, in partnership with Dublin City Council, should enter into direct dialogue with all stakeholders in order to frame a new plan, and to see how this vision can be realised.”

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has this evening described the Taoiseach’s failure to deliver on his commitment of a decision on Bethany Home following today’s cabinet meeting as “heartless”.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Last month the Taoiseach told the Dáil that the Minister for Justice and Equality would report on Bethany Home before the summer recess. No report was made.

“Last week Enda Kenny told the Dáil the cabinet would make a decision today on an apology and redress for the surviving men and women of Bethany home. No decision has been made.

“The Taoiseach wrote to Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD yesterday stating a decision on Bethany would be made at today’s cabinet meeting. No announcement has been made.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for the Taoiseach to mislead the surviving men and women of Bethany Home in such a heartless manner.

“For the last two and half years the Minister for Justice has been ‘considering’ an apology and redress for the Bethany survivors who were unjustly excluded from the Residential Institution’s Redress Scheme by the previous government on a false pretext.

“There is a wealth of evidence in the public domain proving state culpability in the neglect and harm of children residing in Bethany Home. Bethany was a children’s home, which shared all the harsh and brutal characteristics of the Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries. Some 219 Bethany children, who died between 1922 and 1949, are buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.

“Enda Kenny publicly committed on two occasions to the Dáil that his government would make a decision on an apology and redress for the survivors of Bethany Home. He has reneged on that commitment and by doing so he has compounded the pain felt by survivors.

“This uncertainty for survivors cannot continue. It would be an inconceivable act of cruelty for the Taoiseach to drag out his matter over the summer recess.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD, following the inaugural hearing on multi-national corporation tax planning, which he proposed be held has said the Irish government can become a leader in clamping down on MNC tax evasion if it shows the political will to do it.

Deputy Doherty said:

“In November I proposed that these hearings be held to investigate the way in which multi-national corporations are using the Irish tax jurisdiction to avoid paying tax both here and internationally.

“Sinn Féin supports the 12.5% corporation tax rate and we want to protect multi-national corporation jobs. The best way to do that is to ensure Ireland is not labelled a tax haven by other jurisdictions who can point to loopholes in our tax code.

“At our meeting today, we questioned the head of the OECD’s tax planning centre and a co-author of the organisation’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting document, which looks at multi-national corporation tax evasion.

“It is clear from exchanges with Pascal Saint Amans that, while international co-operation is essential to change the way multi-national corporations use aggressive tax planning, the Irish government can take steps to ensure Ireland is seen as a leader in clamping down on tax evasion. This could include ensuring that all companies that incorporate as Irish, but are non-resident in other jurisdictions for tax purposes, become resident in Ireland for tax.

“The Irish people have suffered greatly under austerity budgets and it’s incumbent upon us as their elected representatives to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. Multi-national corporations who avoid tax are not paying theirs.

“While I’m disappointed that government and Fianna Fáil deputies voted against my proposal for the committee to question heads of multi-national corporations, I still believe the committee can act as a useful light to highlight exactly how the Irish tax system is used.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD was part of the Oireachtas Moore Street support group that met the Minister of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan TD today to discuss the future development of the national monument at Moore Street and the surrounding laneways of history.

Last week the minister set out his proposals for Moore Street but these exclude the battlefield site.

Speaking afterward Teachta Adams said:

“Last Tuesday I was among a delegation of Oireachtas members who visited the national monument in Moore Street. I was shocked by the state of the buildings. They stand in a state of considerable decay. No other state in the world would allow such an iconic national monument, directly connected to the proclamation of its independence, to deteriorate into such a shameful condition.

“The decision by the Minister, announced on the same day, in respect of 14-17 Moore Street changes important aspects of the plan by Chartered Lands for this part of the battlefield site and is good news but it is a mistake to ignore the laneways of history which are an integral part of the story of 1916 and will see most of Moore Street demolished.

“I am also concerned at the lack of consultation by the minister with the relatives of the 1916 leaders or with the Oireachtas group.

“In his remarks last week the minister emphasised that his responsibility was the national monument at 14-17 Moore Street but I believe that this is an abdication of his wider essential role in helping to preserve the battlefield site which includes the location of the death of the O Rahilly; the surrender and the lanes and houses through which the retreating republican leaders exited the GPO.

“I told the Minister that in my view what is needed is a comprehensive development plan that covers the entire battlefield site and not just the iconic buildings at 14-17 Moore Street.”

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Sinn Féin deputies Dessie Ellis and Michael Colreavy today met with representatives of the National Transport Authority at the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications on the issue of restructuring plans for the Rural Transport Programme.

Speaking following the meeting Deputy Ellis said:

“Funding needs to be ensured for rural transport for the services to be properly utilised by the community. If there are savings to be made it must be at an administrative level and there must not be a cut to the direct provision of services.

“Those who currently run the rural transport services deserve praise for the work that they do and the dedication of local people has been an essential factor for these services over the years.

“I also welcome that there will be proper regulation of the rural hackney scheme, where there will be no displacement of other operators and community agreement will be sought.”

Commenting after the meeting Deputy Colreavy said:

“Rural transport is a major issue for many communities, especially those in the north-west region.

“Isolation in rural areas can be a major problem and often the rural transport services are the only means some people have of getting from one place to another.

“It is essential that the National Transport Authority ensures that services are maintained in rural areas and that communities do not suffer from cutbacks.”

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Sinn Féin transport spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, today condemned the call by the toll operator on the M6 motorway, M6 Concession, for a new toll charge for entering and exiting the motorway. This is to make up for their losses due to decreased traffic on the road. Deputy Ellis called on the government to end the subsidy of toll operators.

Deputy Ellis said:

“The state is already subsidising companies to the tune of 15 million because of a drop in traffic numbers.

“The ordinary motorist is struggling just to keep their car on the road with hikes in tax and fuel prices. They cannot bear further costs which they have no real responsibility for.

“The toll operators took on this investment. They took a risk like every other business. Their venture is not as profitable as they had hoped, but the Irish people, either individually as motorists or through the state, are not responsible for these losses, and should not be punished for them.

“No new toll should be incurred on the M6 and the state should do all in its power to end the subsidy of toll operators and the covering of private loss by the public purse.

“This further underlines the very bad value for money of Public Private Partnership deals and should be a lesson to this and future governments.”

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane today welcomed the growth in employment and exports recorded by Enterprise Ireland supported businesses last year.

Senator Cullinane said:

“Given the challenges the economy and our businesses face, the work of Enterprise Ireland is vital in creating sustainable indigenous jobs. While foreign direct investment (FDI) takes much of the limelight it is the work of local businesses that create jobs on the ground and across the state.

“For each job created by an Irish company 1.3 posts are sustained in the economy, while for FDI the number is only 0.7. Also, industries supported by Enterprise Ireland provide employment across regions, while FDI is concentrated in the large urban centres. The indigenous sector provides 78% of employment, compared to 22% in FDI.

“It is clear that real, sustainable job growth across all regions will be driven by the indigenous sector. The government needs to prioritise policy and resources to support this sector and SME’s across the regions.”

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Tá Seanadóir Shinn Féin Trevor Ó Clochartaigh ag lorg díospóireacht Seanaid maidir leis an gCreat Stráitéiseach ar Shláinte Amharc.

Bhí Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh ag labhairt tar éis cur i láthair i dTeach Laighean ón gComhlathas Náisiúnta um Shláinte Amharc.

Deir sé;

“Tá 220,000 duine dall ar fad, nó le drochamharc, in Éireann. Seo in ainneoin gur féidir 75% de na deacrachtaí seo a leigheas.

“Cosnóidh drochamharc agus daille ós cionn €2.5 billiúin sa bhliain faoin bhliain 2020.

“Tá 19 oftailmeolaí comhairleach agus 14 oftailmeolaí pobail bhreise ag teastáil le cloí le rátaí deáchleachtais coimheasa.

“Tá seacht mbliain anois ag an rialtas chun deireadh a chuir le daille gán gá, de réir na gealltanais a thug siad faoi spriocanna 'Vision 2020' de chuid an Eagraiocht Sláinte Domhanda.

“Creideann Sinn Féin gur chóir go mbeadh rochtain comhionann ag gach duine chuig seirbhís sláinte uilíoch.

“D'fhéadfadh straitéis ceart na billiúin euro a shábháíl don Stát, an ualach sóisialta agus eacnamaíochta a laghdú agus caighdeán saoil níos fearr a chinntiú do 220,000 saoránach agus a gcuid teaghlaigh.

“Tá mé ag iarraidh ar an Aire Sláinte teacht isteach leis an ábhar seo a phlé sa Seanad.

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Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has called for a debate in the Seanad on the Strategic Framework for Vision Health.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh was speaking after a presentation for Oireachtas members by the National Coalition for Vision Health.

He said;

“Some 220,000 people in Ireland are blind or visually impaired. This is despite the fact that 75% of blindness is preventable.

“Vision impairment and blindness is expected to cost over €2.5billion per year by 2020.

“An additional 19 consultant ophthalmologists and 14 community ophthalmologists are required to meet best practice ratios.

“The government now has seven years to eliminate avoidable blindness under its commitment to the World Health Organisation objective of Vision 2020.

“Sinn Féin maintains that there should be equality of access to a universal health service provision.

“A proper strategy could save the State billions, reduce the social and economic burden while ensuring a better quality of life for 220,000 citizens and their families.

“I call on the Health Minister to engage in the debate in the Seanad on this issue.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has called on the Orange Order to show leadership stating that the way to resolve contentious marching issues is not through continually applying for a contentious march every weekend but by getting to the table and holding discussions with local residents.

Speaking following the announcement that the Orange Order are to apply for a further three marches along the Crumlin Road past Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales Mr Kelly said:

“The actions of the Orange Order in applying for another three contentious marches past Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales is not the action of a body seeking diffuse the situation.

“The vast majority of people will clearly see this is as an attempt to create a standoff lasting over the summer months which will only raise tensions. The Richard Haass talks begin in September and there should be no escalation of the situation before these talks.

“The irony of these marches is that by calling for them the Orange Order are actually defeating their own argument.

“They Orange Order argue that three lodges cannot get home on the 12th of July yet on a weekly basis they intend to hold a protest march in Woodvale where people can go to and come from with no difficulties.

“The Orange Order must show leadership. It cannot continue to think that weekly protests will move this situation on.

“I am also urging political unionism to use whatever influence it has to to ensure that this situation does not escalate and that talks are presented as the only way forward.”

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