Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has said this morning that the imprisonment of nine Catalan leaders, including the former Vice President of Catalonia Oriol Junqueras, is an “affront to democracy”.
Teachta McDonald said:
“The referendum on Catalan independence in October 2017 should have been a triumph for democracy, no matter what the result was. Sadly, in its aftermath the world witnessed shocking scenes of Spanish police brutality in various parts of Catalonia that day.
“Peaceful citizens who were protecting the integrity of polling stations were struck down and savagely beaten, with over 900 people injured.
“Since then, the Spanish State has behaved disgracefully and in the most anti-democratic manner possible by pursuing political leaders on trumped up, politically motivated charges for their alleged role in facilitating that referendum.
“We now have a situation today where nine of those individuals have been imprisoned on charges of rebellion and sedition for up to thirteen years for pursuing purely peaceful and democratic means in pursuit of Catalan self-determination.
“The Catalan independence movement is a legitimate political movement and must be respected by the Spanish state.
“What has happened today is an affront to democracy and should be condemned by all democrats and political leaders throughout Europe.
“It’s time to end the wall of silence on Catalonia.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Ciarán Beattie has branded the actions of a loyalist flute band parading around Belfast City Hall ‘disgraceful’ after videos emerged on social media.
Councillor Ciarán Beattie said his party has been in touch with the Chief Executive of Belfast City Council and will be demanding answers.
“Video footage posted on social media of a loyalist flute band parading around the corridors and reception of Belfast City Hall on Sunday is disgraceful.
“This sends out the wrong message of the changing Belfast and City Hall which is supposed to be a shared space and open to all.
“I have contacted the Chief Executive to raise serious concerns and demand answers as to how and why this was allowed to happen.
“A Council investigation is now underway to identify a possible breach of protocol and into the conduct of this flute band.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald headed a Sinn Féin leadership delegation which met African National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa today.
Speaking after the bilateral meeting in London, the Sinn Féin President said:
“I led a Sinn Féin leadership delegation today, including our National Party Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA, and Chris Hazzard MP, which met with ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa in recognition of the deep and historic links between our two Parties.
“Sinn Féin has a long history of fraternal relations and solidarity with the ANC, and this was a welcome and important opportunity to meet its Party President.
“Cyril Ramaphosa has a very deep personal investment in the Irish peace process.
“We provided him with a detailed briefing on the political crisis in the north, the threat to the Good Friday Agreement, as well as the repercussions posed by Brexit for the entire island.
“In particular, we discussed the need for international political and diplomatic support for Irish unity, and the relevance of South Africa's transition to national democracy for managing future constitutional change in Ireland.
“We also had useful discussions on areas of mutual cooperation between our Parties, particularly on issues of progressive international solidarity.
“We agreed to continue engaging at a party leadership level on how Sinn Féin and the ANC can continue to work constructively together in the future.”
Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Máire Drumm was born 100 years ago on October 22 1919.
On October 28th 1976 she was shot and killed by a unionist death squad while in hospital for an eye operation.
On Tuesday 22 October a commemoration will be held at Kelly Roads, close to her family home, at a monument erected in her memory.
A wreath laying and re-enactment of some of her most famous speeches will take place, and later Gerry Adams will launch a new book on Máire which he has written.
Gerry Adams said:
“In the years since her death Máire Drumm has become an iconic figure in Irish republicanism. She was an extraordinary, larger than life leader who was a woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a political activist and visionary. She was a gifted leader and organiser, and an inspirational public speaker.
"Máire is best remembered for her leadership in the years following the pogroms of August 1969 when nationalist areas of Belfast were attacked by unionist mobs, the RUC and B Specials. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of men, women and children became refugees in their own city. And citizens died.
"It was a time for courage and leadership and Máire Drumm stepped up to the plate. Despite harassment, death threats, imprisonment and a vicious and scurrilous campaign of hate by the British media, whipped up by the NIO, Máire refused to be bowed or broken and led from the front.
"Her leadership qualities and her enormous courage led to her being elected as Sinn Féin’s Vice President. I met her many times including when I was on the run in Belfast. She was always genuinely concerned about how everyone was doing. When the politics was discussed it was like meeting your Mammy.
"Well-known for her defiant speeches at rallies and in courtrooms, she told a judge on one occasion: 'Interning or putting a middle-aged woman in jail will not quench the flame of the Irish people because nothing but the destruction of the Irish people will ever quench that flame. Long live the IRA! God save Ireland!'
In October 1976, just days before her 57th birthday she was in the Mater hospital for an eye operation. A Unionist gunman, clearly acting in collusion with British forces, entered Máire’s room and shot and killed her.
Four decades later she remains an inspirational figure for today’s generation of activists.”
Note to Editor:
Assemble: McKevitt’s Petrol station at 7.30pm
Walk to the Kelly’s Road monument for wreath laying and re-enactment.
Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald, spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this Sunday lunchtime.
Ms McDonald reminded the British Prime Minister of his obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and told Mr Johnson that there could be no unionist veto on protections for Ireland.
Mary Lou McDonald said:
“Ireland did not consent to Brexit. The people of the north voted to remain. This afternoon I reminded the British Prime Minister of this and of his obligations under the Good Friday Agreement to ensure no hardening of the border.
“I told the Prime Minister that any deal agreed must have legal and enduring guarantees that deliver for Ireland. There can be no customs border on our island. Our livelihoods, our economy and our peace must be protected.
“I also sought confirmation that there would be no veto gifted to DUP Brexiteers on protections for Ireland - such a position would be intolerable.
“The next week will be critical. Ultimately we need a deal that delivers for Ireland. Prime Minister Johnson and I agreed to stay in contact and continue to engage on these and other important issues.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has said her party will continue to support John Downey and his family after he was extradited to the North and remanded in custody to face historical charges relating to the conflict in the North.
Speaking today Teachta McDonald said;
“Our friend and colleague John Downey has been extradited to the North to face historic charges relating to the conflict. He has been denied bail as the judge ruled he is a flight risk despite the fact that John handed himself in to Letterkenny Garda Station yesterday to be extradited to face trial.
“The allegations against John Downey have been dealt with previously and the British Government has publicly stated that he is not wanted in connection with any offence.
“This was tested in the courts and John was subsequently released. That judgement should be respected by the British authorities.
“The extradition request from the British Authorities is vindictive and bad faith and is an attempt to overturn due process.
“It follows a campaign to introduce an amnesty for British soldiers at a time when the spotlight is on them for their actions.
“John Downey is a supporter of the peace process over many years. He should be at home with his family in Donegal.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support John and his family through this distressing time.”
“European Commission admits €1 billion Mercosur farm fund does not currently exist” – Matt Carthy MEP
The European Commissioned has confirmed that it has not set aside any funds or designed a compensation payment for EU farmers affected by the Mercosur deal. The confirmation, which came in a response to a written question submitted by Matt Carthy MEP, will come as a surprise to many considering EU Agricultural Commissioner, Phil Hogan, had previously claimed his department had secured €1 billion worth of funds to assist farmers in the event the deal is signed.
Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament Agricultural Committee, commented:
“The European Commission has confirmed to me that, at this time, it has no details or concreate measures in place to provide supports to farmers adversely impacted by the Mercosur trade deal. In fact no decision has even been made on where the financing would come from.
“Four months ago, Commissioner Hogan announced that he had secured compensation support for farmers for the certain market disruption that would be caused by the enaction of this trade agreement. This was in response to the backlash from farmers and rural communities who had been sold out in the trade deal negotiations.
“The next European budget has not yet been agreed and the current commission proposal would result in a 15% cut to the CAP, in real terms. It is therefore completely untenable to suggest that the compensation fund would from within the CAP budget. So, where these funds could originate remains a mystery.
“It appears that Commissioner Hogan has also backtracked in recent weeks by stating that any aid would be delayed until the European Commission decides the impact of the deal.
“Mercosur is a bad deal for farmers, it is a bad deal for the Irish economy and it is a bad deal for the environment. It should not be supported under any circumstances. A once off compensation package of €1 billion would not offset the damage that Mercosur and other EU trade deals will cause vulnerable agriculture sectors such as beef. However, this confirmation reinforces my view that it is questionable whether farmers would ever see a cent of these supposedly ‘secured’ funds.
“This is simply the latest development that undermines any tenuous argument in favour of the EU Mercosur trade agreement. The Irish Government now needs to formally declare it’s rejection of its ratification and kill this dangerous deal right now”.
Question for written answer E-002496/2019
to the Commission
Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL)
Subject:Financial support for market disturbance caused by the Mercosur deal
On 29 June 2019, the Commission stated that EUR 1 billion of financial support would be made available to European farmers in the event of market disturbance following the EUMercosur trade deal.
Can the Commission clarify which budget line will be used in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) for this new fund, which the Commission has indicated has been ‘secured’?
ENE-002496/2019Answer given by Mr Hoganon behalf of the European Commission(9.10.2019)
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legislation provides the Commission the legal basis to take exceptional market support measures where need be. In the case that this need would emerge following market disturbances attributable to the Mercosur Agreement the EU is ready to support the concerned sectors financially. All the details about the concrete measures and their financing would be decided and described in due time.
Speaking after a meeting on Suicide Prevention in North Belfast, Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said:
“Today my colleagues councillors JJ Magee, Taylor McGrann and Michael Goodman and I met with groups including the PSNI, Department for Infrastructure, the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety and the Public Health Agency to discuss suicide prevention measures in North Belfast.
“Like most communities across the North, North Belfast has lost too many people to suicide.
“One of the major concerns which keeps arising is that over a period of years people have ended their lives using bridges.
“We discussed what improvements could be made in relation to raising and changing the physical infrastructure of the bridges at Glengormley, Hightown, Arthur Bridge and the Westlink.
“We all have a part to play and everyone gave a commitment to look at how best we can support better physical and mental health outcomes for all citizens who live here, to bring positive change to keep people safe and alive.
“Sinn Féin will be holding follow-up meetings to see how these proposals can be taken forward with the statutory agencies.”
Reacting to the meeting between the British Prime Minister and An Taoiseach, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said:
“Now is the time for steadiness, unity of purpose and calm heads. Negotiations are at a very sensitive point. Any deal must have legal and enduring guarantees that deliver for Ireland.
“We’re seeing very little detail from the meeting. What we do know is that there is no Brexit scenario that is good for the people of this island, but we’ve always said that a deal can be done.
“There is a viable option on the table in the form of the Withdrawal Agreement which all parties support, with the exception of the DUP.
“The next week will be critical. Any deal should include the backstop as the bottom line in protecting Ireland and protecting the Good Friday Agreement.
“No veto can be given to unionism on protections for Ireland. It would be unthinkable to place Irish livelihoods, our economy and our peace at the hands of DUP Brexiteers.
“Ultimately we need a deal that delivers for Ireland."
Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has met the newly appointed principal of Crumlin Integrated College during a visit to the school.
The local MLA said he was delighted to welcome Mr Niall O’Hara into his new post and pledged his support for the school.
The South Antrim MLA said:
"Niall O’Hara is joining a very dedicated teaching staff at Crumlin Integrated College. A committed Board of Governors is also in place. Together they have a very positive vision for the future of this great school.
"During our meeting we discussed the needs of the school and the importance of new investment in, and enhancement of the current school estate. An official from the Education Authority also participated in this discussion.
"It is clear that several schemes of work are urgently needed to improve structural aspects of the school estate, and enhance health & safety for the school community.
"While Crumlin Integrated College has been a very important part of the village and surrounding area for many years, I am concerned that the actual potential of the school has been restricted in recent years due to a lack of investment over a protracted period.
"I believe that the future of Crumlin Integrated will be optimised if a joined up approach is adopted, and good will is demonstrated by all stakeholders. I have now written to the Chief Executive of the Education Authority on these specific issues.
"Niall O Hara is coming into his post with great enthusiasm and a desire to ensure the local school community is properly served. I look forward to working with him, his colleagues, and the College Board of Governors in the coming period.”
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South-Central Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said this evening that Minister Eoghan Murphy’s independent investigation into extortion relating to Cherry Orchard building sites runs the risk of becoming a ploy to bury an issue that has exposed major failings by his party colleagues and by the authorities.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh has said the Minister must ensure that the investigation has a tight timeframe, and that its findings be published and acted upon.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said;
“For this investigation to be effective, it must ensure that it looks at whether or not the case before the High Court at present is part of a pattern of intimidation and extortion of building contractors in the area, across the city and in the State in general.
“The announcement by Minister Eoghan Murphy comes on the back of revelations in and outside the Dáil that his predecessor as Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, his colleague the then Minister for Justice now MEP Frances Fitzgerald, and senior Gardaí were made aware of extortionist demands, threats and criminal acts directed at builders of social housing in the Cherry Orchard area as far back as December 2016 and January 2017.
“The concerns that I raised with them were ignored or dismissed and no action was taken on foot of the letters I sent them. These letters had also been sent to senior management in Dublin City Council, the local TD and junior minister Catherine Byrne and to the housing body Cooperative Housing Ireland.
“What’s needed now is for an investigation to address the reason why Ministers and An Garda Síochána ignored my request for a meeting and that in fact Minster Francis Fitzgerald dismissed my concerns.
“It is unacceptable that certain communities are allowed to by held to ransom by criminal gangs as in this case.
“The investigation must contain an action plan to ensure there is no repeat of this crime when the large urban regeneration Cherry Orchard-Park West Local Area Plan, that includes 1,500 new homes, is being rolled out over the next few years.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed the start of works to replace Glenrandel Bridge in Craigbane near Park village.
The East Derry MLA said:
"I welcome news that work has now begun on the replacement of the Glenrandel bridge in Craigbane which was damaged beyond repair in the floods of August 2017.
“I met with the Department for Infrastructure in August and they assured me at that time that work was scheduled to being in Autumn 2019 and that the necessary funding was in place.
“These works will also be welcomed by the local community who have been inconvenienced for almost two years.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has urged AIB to find sustainable solutions in the interests of families, rather than sell their mortgages to vulture funds.
The Donegal TD was speaking after it was confirmed that the majority State-owned AIB was preparing to sell off thousands of family home mortgages under so-called Project Birch.
Teachta Doherty has called for his of his No Consent, No Sale Bill to be progressed immediately, which would ensure banks could not sell mortgage loans without the consent of the borrower.
Pearse Doherty TD said:
“I would urge AIB to do the right thing, and ensure that sustainable solutions are found for families rather than committing them to an uncertain future.
"It should always be remembered that AIB is a State-owned bank.
"It is therefore incumbent on AIB to remember its past faults and ensure that it acts in the interests of consumers and those families that will be feeling unsure and worried today.
“I am hopeful that AIB seek sustainable solutions for these families, including the option of working with not-for-profit organisations who will act find sustainable outcomes for families rather than short-term profits for themselves.
“Vultures are never the solution. That is why it is imperative that my No Consent, No Sale Bill, becomes law, offering families protection in the face of uncertainty.
“Mortgage holders are not safe under the current rules. My ‘No Consent, No Sale’ Bill must be progressed to protect consumers and families in the face of further sell-offs and a future of uncertainty.
"This legislation would ensure that banks cannot sell on loans without the consent of the borrower.
“Despite enjoying majority support in the Dáil, Government and Fianna Fáil have attempted to obstruct the passage of this Bill, enabling banks to continue large-scale sell-offs of properties.
“I would urge parties to support Sinn Féin’s bill, protect families and end the sell-off."
Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has said the EU and the wider international community need to act urgently to address the worsening humanitarian situation caused by the Turkish military onslaught against the Kurds.
The Mid Ulster MP said:
"There is a growing humanitarian crisis in north eastern Syria as a result of the Turkish onslaught against the Kurdish people.
"Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee from their homes as a result of Turkish military attacks.
"And for Turkey to threaten to use the plight of Syrian refugees as a pawn is both cynical and a disgrace.
"The international community, and the EU in particular, needs to act to address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and to challenge Turkish military aggression.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health Órlaithí Flynn MLA encourages people to Take 5 on World Mental Health Day.
“Too often mental health is only seen as the absence of mental illness but it is much more.
“I would encourage everyone to Take 5 and think about their mental health each day just as they would about their physical health.
“Being active, taking notice of something, learn something new, connect or reconnect with someone, and to give, can all help to maintain and improve your wellbeing.
“Everyone has mental health and everyone can take small steps to improve their own.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the news that a “comprehensive public consultation process will be undertaken as part of the review” into the N52 Ardee by-pass.
Teachta Adams said: “However, I am concerned, from the correspondence I have received from Louth County Council, at the length of time the process of preparing terms of reference, appointing a consultant and a new tendering process might take”.
Teachta Adams received a PQ response from Louth County Council on Thursday to questions he had submitted in September.
“In September, a technical review of the Ardee by-pass proposal was announced.
"The current proposal for the Townspark Road and the Mullanstown Road would result in them becoming cul-de-sacs and the Silverhill Road having a staggered ghost island junction.
"In the last 13 years there have been significant community, demographic, sporting and environmental changes which the proposal fails to take account of.
"In addition, the bog land between the Townspark Road and Silverhill Road is now a National Heritage area which seeks to protect our natural fauna, bird life and other wildlife. The current plans pre-date this development and no environmental impact assessment has been carried out.
"I raised this issue in the Dáil and wrote to Minister Shane Ross; Louth County Council, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, asking specifically about the length of time the review would take; if changes are recommended what impact that will have on the current plans; will local residents be consulted and will funding that has been allocated be ring fenced.
"I have written to the Council asking how long the preparatory work will take and when will the Consultant will be appointed.”
In its response Louth County Council revealed that:
"Our Staff and our colleagues in West Meath Road Design Offices are currently working on a Consultants Brief, which will contain a terms of reference for the review, along with the other suites of documents required to procure consultants to bring the scheme through to completion.
"Currently these documents are not yet completed; however the crux of the review will consider the junction strategy for the scheme and the facilities for vulnerable road users.
"The review will commence immediately on appointment of a Consultant. If the outcome of the technical review warrants a change to the layout of the current scheme then this will require Planning Consent.
"The current estimate is that that the scheme would go to tender for construction in twelve to eighteen months depending on the statutory procedures and outcomes of same, however we will endeavour to reduce this time scale where possible
"A comprehensive public consultation process will be undertaken as part of the review to ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to engage in an open and equitable process.
"The ring-fencing of monies for the scheme is a matter for TII. Louth Co. Council receives an annual budget for schemes from TII, the extent of which varies dependent on what phase the scheme is in. TII have indicated that they will provide funding for the N52 Ardee by-pass as project expenditure occurs."
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has condemned the Turkish military invasion in northern Syria saying that the attacks “will destabilise the region and hamper the fight against ISIS”.
Teachta McDonald said:
“Yesterday the Turkish military invaded northern Syria. Their aim is to occupy Kurdish areas and to attack the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
“The SDF liberated areas under ISIS control, rescued tens of thousands of captured Yazidis, and established democratic political structures that respected the rights of minorities. They are now under attack from NATO’s second largest army.
“We have already seen the human rights violations that the Turkish army have committed against Kurds in south-east Turkey and it is clear their brutal tactics will be replicated in northern Syria.
“Turkey’s attacks will destabilise the region and hamper the fight against ISIS and should be condemned.
“I call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to condemn this military operation and outline what Ireland’s response will be.”
Speaking this morning after the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sinn Féin TD John Brady and Senator Paul Gavan, along with representatives from OneGalway, SIPTU, and Unite the Union, expressed frustration at Minister Regina Doherty’s proposed do-nothing tips bill.
Teachta Brady said:
“This bill is a diversion. This bill would not give a right to tips for workers. This bill would not ensure that tips are not stolen by employers.
“This bill would not touch the issue of the service charge. What we heard this morning from the Restaurants’ Association and the Hotels Federation was disgraceful.
"In their view, the service charge belongs to the business. In their view, workers have no right to the service charge – they do not care if consumers think it goes to workers. They do not believe it should.
“The business representatives were very clear – the service charge is a contract between consumers and the business to cover business expenses.
“This means that service charges are used, and in their view should be used, to pay workers their base pay."
Seanadóir Gavan added:
“The service charge, under the Minister’s legislation, will continue to be used to pay basic wages.
“This is tips theft. Consumers believe service charges to go to workers for the extra work. This is not the case, and the RAI and IHF do not want it to go to them.
“This is a five-billion-euro sector, with some of the highest levels of low pay and precarious work.
“Yet, the RAI and IHF believe their members, and not workers, are entitled to the service charge.
“The Minister’s bill does not address the fundamental problems in the sector. It does not give workers a right to tips and it does not make sure that service charges are distributed to workers on top of their wages.
“This bill is nothing but window dressing to make it look like the Government is doing something when it is not. We can and must do better.
“I’m not even sure we should call this a bill. All we saw today were some scattered thoughts on a few pieces of paper.
“This has a serious implication for workers who will continue to be robbed of their just desserts.
“We welcome the obligation on businesses to display their tips and service charge distribution policy, but we know that some businesses lie about this already.
“There is no enforcement mechanism to ensure rogue businesses do not continue to mislead consumers and abuse their staff.
“This bill does absolutely nothing to help workers or consumers, and is a gift to bad bosses."
Speaking after the announcement that the Royal College of Nursing is to begin balloting its members on industrial action, Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said:
“Sinn Féin supports the right of nurses and all healthcare staff to decide on whether to take industrial action.
“Health and social care workers are overstretched and undervalued.
“There are over 7,400 vacancies within the health service - 3,057 of those are nursing posts.
“The pay issue is directly linked to recruitment and retention of staff which is compounding pressures already facing health workers, impacting on front line health services.
“The Department of Health must work with the trade unions on the issue of pay and provide the necessary support ensure delivery high standards of health and social care continues.”