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Sinn Féin Foyle Assembly candidate Mary Nelis speaking at the launch of the party's Charter for Senior Citizens has pledged that Sinn Féin will support and actively pursue the political and legislative changes necessary to establish a decent standard of living, full access to services and the right of senior citizens to fully participate in the life of their community.

Mrs Nelis said:

"In putting forward our Charter for Senior Citizens, Sinn Féin pledges that we will support and actively pursue the political and legislative changes necessary to establish a decent standard of living, full access to services and the right of senior citizens to fully participate in the life of their community.

"Poverty should have no place in our society yet the incomes of many senior citizens are falling radically behind that of the community as a whole. Our senior citizens, are living on inadequate pensions and struggling with spiralling costs of living.

"After a lifetime contribution to our society through their taxes, rates, national insurance contributions and voluntary work in their communities we must ask if the standard of living provided for our senior citizens meets their needs and reflects these contributions. Society must question how governments, who have benefited from these contributions, have repaid them.

"But we need to action and commitments across a broad range of policy areas. Action that supports community initiatives that challenge the violence of those who target our senior citizens and we need to support senior citizens in realising their vital role in our communities - we are all the losers without their contribution."ENDS

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South Belfast Assembly candidate Cllr Alex Maskey speaking at the launch of the party's Charter for Senior Citizens said it is an indictment of society that more than 1,300 pensioners died last year as a result of the cold. Cllr. Maskey said:

"Between April and July this year there were at least 420 attacks on senior citizens in the Six Counties. Over 1,300 pensioners died last year as a result of the cold. This figure should send shock waves throughout our society - 1,300 pensioners dying because they cannot keep themselves warm.

"There are a number of specific policy initiatives that Sinn Féin believe will combat levels of poverty and social exclusion.

"Our main recommendation include:-

· A Commissioner for Senior Citizens

· A Fundamental review of the standard of living of senior citizens, including pension provision, cost of living, fuel poverty and disposable income

· Year on year targets to eliminate unnecessary deaths from cold

· Introduction of free personal care and an adequate level of nursing care in residential accommodation

· Fair access to health care for senior citizens based on clinical need

· Free telephone line rental, free TV licences and examination of potential of free Internet access

· Free public transport across the island of Ireland

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10.00 -- 10.20 Clárú

10.30 Tosú na Comhdhála

10.30 -- 12.30 - Seisiún 1 - Mná i bPróiséis an Chinnidh

Díreoidh an seisiún seo ar chothroime inscne i bproiséis an chinnidh. Aimseofar baic éagsúla atá ann agus léireofar bealaí éagsúla chun iad a shárú.

Mary Kelly (Cathaoirleach Náisiúnta Comhairle Mná na hÉireann)

Rosaleen McDonagh (Gníomhaí den Lucht Siúil/Pointe Pavee)

Cainteoir ó Comhairle Náisiúnta Óige na hÉireann

Bairbre de Brún (Iarrthóir Shinn Féin na Sé Chontae do Phar. na hÉorpa)

Helena Mhic Laifeartaigh (Midas (MFG Teo.))

Eithne Nic Lochlainn (Meitheal Fhorbartha na Gaeltachta)

12.30 -- 1.00- Ella O'Dwyer - Anne Devlin á cuimhneamh

Sos Lóin

2.15 -- 4.30 - Seisiún 2 - Éire Chothrom á Tógáil

Agus Éire chothrom á tógáil, teastaíonn ó Shinn Féin bheith rannpháirteach sa phróiséas. Aithníonn muid an géarghá atá ann cothromaíocht inscne a bheith ann chomh maith le cruthú inscne agus cothroime inscne i bpróiséas an chinnidh. Sa tseisiún seo aimseoidh na cainteoirí na bearnaí atá fós ann agus céard is gá a dhéanamh leis an chirt a bhaint amach.

Mags O'Brien (Tionscadal Inscne agus Pá, ICTU)

Mary Lou McDonald (Iarrthóir Sinn Féin Bhaile Á' Cliath do Ph. na hEorpa)

Margaret Kelly (Leas-Stiúrthóir Pholasaí Barnardo's sna Sé Chontae)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (T.D. Shinn Féin, Baile Á' Cliath Lár-Theas)

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Responding to the IRA statement released this evening, Sinn Féin representative Gerry Kelly said:

"This evening the IRA outlined its view of the events that unfolded last week.

"There is a lot of anger amongst nationalists and republicans, that once again it was republicans who delivered on their part of an agreement and once again others did not.

"The IRA played a key part in this agreement. They issued a statement, they engaged with the IICD and they put a large quantity of arms beyond use.

"It is remarkable that given the manner in which this agreement wasn't followed through on, that these comments are so measured. I believe that this is in line with the ongoing commitment of the IRA leadership to the peace process." ENDS

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Responding to reports that the ESRI mid term review of the National Development Plan will recommend cuts in spending on housing Sinn Féin spokesperson the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Arthur Morgan TD has described any such move as "deeply misguided". ESRI will recommend that spending on local authority housing, voluntary housing and access to affordable housing should be cut. It has also been suggested that the ESRI is blaming spending on social housing for driving up prices due to shortage of supply and other constraints.

Deputy Morgan stated:

"I am disappointed that the ESRI would chose to point the finger at the spending on social and affordable housing as opposed the raft of government policies that have supported developers and speculators attempts to push up house prices.

"How can they recommend cuts in spending on social housing when there are still 48,000 households on the housing waiting lists, approximately 5000 people homeless in the State and couples on average incomes being priced out of the housing market due the government inaction against speculators hoarding land? There is a massive amount of land zoned for residential use in this State which is undeveloped. On the 30 June 2002 there was 22, 456 hectares of undeveloped land which is zoned residential, 3,062 hectares of which are in the greater Dublin area. Is the ESRI suggesting that, in order to bring down the price of houses, we abandon those who need state assistance in order to house themselves and their families?

"I would like to see the ESRI address the lack of action against developers and speculators hoarding land, the shamefully low level of capital gains tax, the gutting of Section V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the removal of the first time buyers grant and the fact that this state is giving tax incentives to speculative buyers of second homes." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking at the launch of billboards for the party's election campaign said that we need to ensure that the political institutions are re-established without delay after the elections."

Mr. McGuinness said:

"As I said yesterday we are going to hit the ground running after this election.

"We need to ensure that the political institutions are re-established without delay after the election.

"We did make progress in our talks with the UUP and the two governments. We reached an agreement. This must be built upon.

"A review is not a substitute for institutions. A review is best conducted in a positive atmosphere. That is with the institutions in place.

"In this election the DUP should not try to fool the electorate about their ability to achieve a renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement. That is not going to happen.

"I believe that privately there are those in the leadership of that party who accept that.

"They should not be dishonest with the electorate." ENDS

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As the Report of Justice Barron on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and a number of other tragedies in the 26 Counties arising from the conflict in the North, is presented to the government today, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called for its publication "without delay". He said:

"There must be no delay in the publication of a Report which is long overdue, mainly because of the refusal of the British authorities to fully co-operate with the work of Justice Barron. In addition to the 33 people killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974, some 14 other people were killed in the 26 Counties in incidents where direct involvement of British forces or collusion with loyalists is strongly indicated. I understand many of these tragedies have been examined by Justice Barron.

"The Government should publish the report without further delay. The Oireachtas Committee hearings should then proceed. It must not be forgotten that the just demand of the relatives is still for a public inquiry and I re-iterate my support for that call."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP will be available to speak to the media tomorrow morning (Wednesday 29th) at 11am at Dromara Street on the Lower Ormeau Road.

Mr McGuinness will be joined by local representative Alex Maskey and other colleagues as he launches a bill board campaign for the forthcoming elections.

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Sinn Féin has confirmed that it will field four candidates in the Mid-Ulster Constituency for the Assembly Elections.

Joining the two sitting MLA's, Francie Molloy and Martin Mc Guinness MP will be 34 year-old mother of five Geraldine Dougan and 22 year-old History and Politics graduate Cora Groogan.

Speaking after endorsement of the Candidates by the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle, the constituency MP, Martin Mc Guinness said:

"I am delighted to welcome Geraldine and Cora on to the Sinn Fein team that will fight this election. They both come from strong republican families and have contributed to the lives of their community in their own particular way.

"Geraldine, a long time resident of Maghera, as well as having to busy herself with the everyday requirements of raising a family of 5 children aged between 9 and 15 is also active in the campaign for pre-school education provision and an avid GAA supporter. She is also a member of the Sinn Féin Mid-Ulster Women's Forum.

"Cora, from the Ballinascreen area is a 22 year-old Queens University History and Politics Graduate. She is also a Past Deputy President of Queens Student Union with a particular interest in combating Student Poverty. She was Chair of Queens Sinn Féin Cumann and Organiser of Ográ Shinn Féin in the Six-counties.

"The qualities that these two Candidates bring to the ticket in Mid-Ulster will undoubtedly assist the continued growth of Sinn Féin's political strength and enable us to provide even stronger representation for the electorate of Mid-Ulster."

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP, speaking in Belfast today along with Lagan Valley Assembly Cllr Paul Butler has said that the new relationship between the UUP and Sinn Fein is something which holds great potential for the future.

Mr McGuinness said:

"The new relationship between the UUP and Sinn Fein is something which holds great potential for the future. We have been able to sit down and talk through the difficult issues. Unfortunately the UUP were not prepared to move forward at this time but real progress was made and we will return to this work after the election.

"So despite the present difficulties the dialogue between Unionism and republicanism must be built upon. It is key to a new, shared and peaceful future.

"Our troubled history has left a legacy of division and mistrust on this island. These are real problems. But Sinn Fein sees these as difficulties to be overcome. We approach them as problem solvers and with a realistic sense of what is achievable.

"Sinn Fein is not going to walk away from the difficult issues. Nor will we be deflected by those who have done nothing over recent weeks except criticise our efforts.

"In the meantime the two governments must fulfil their part of the agreement in terms of honouring the commitments which they made. ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD has attacked the threat by dairies to cut the price it pays for milk bought from farmers, due to the milk war between the major retailers. Dunnes, Supervalu and Tesco are currently engaged in a price war that has seen the price of own-label milk cut to 99c per two litres. As a consequence of this, the main dairies have warned farmers that they may be forced to pass on the cuts and to pay them manufacturing prices.

Deputy Ferris said: "There is no reason whatsoever that farmers should have to bear the brunt of the price war between the major retailers. If Dunnes Stores or any of the rest of them want to use milk prices as a means to seduce consumers into believing that they are getting better value then they ought to be prepared to subsidise that themselves and not expect the milk suppliers to pay for their phoney war. It is ironic that such a tactic used to be known as 'loss leading'. It is clear, however, that the only people to lose out here will be dairy farmers." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster Assembly candidate Cllr Francie Molloy has hit back at DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson's accusations that the main political parties are 'fiscally irresponsible'.

Cllr Molloy said:

"The DUP are strong on rhetoric yet when it comes to the issue of responsibility the DUP consistently abdicate any responsibility in building a just and lasting peace or how we tackle the legacy of under investment that affects all of our public services.

"The DUP live in a fantasy world where they believe that undermining the All Ireland architecture will generate the resources required to meet the infrastructure deficit. In the real world we need to have fiscal control. If a comparison is made between the expenditure of the All Ireland architecture and its benefits and expenditure on the British war machine the numbers will show a real peace dividend could generate hundreds and millions of pounds.

"The DUP fail to address the issue of a peace dividend and the need for the British government to transfer expenditure on the British war machine to rebuilding a society emerging from conflict that could generate somewhere in the region of £800 million to £1billion. The British government are no doubt delighted that they managed to con people into the Reform and Reinvestment Initiative while not coming under any pressure to put the money spent on maintaining the British war machine to more productive use.

"If we investigate the DUP controlled Castlereagh Borough Council we see cutbacks leading to the withdrawal of services and the closure of the Peter Robinson leisure centre, among others. Castlereagh council is facing serious financial difficulties so its' hardly an advert of financial responsibility or perhaps it is a monument to politically motivated 'fiscal irresponsibility'.

"The Executive needs the power to target resources and investment to those areas and people most disadvantaged. There is inequality and poverty in our society, and both must be eradicated if we are to build on the promise of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement.

"Unless the people running the DUP are complete morons I fail to understand how they could have missed the fact that the money in people's pockets is already being assailed from all directions. Unless we build the political momentum to stop it, they will also have to dig deep to pay for the imposition of water charges and massive rates increases to meet the demands of the Reform and Reinvestment Initiative.

"The reason why decent hard working people here are being put in this position is that being tied to the British Exchequer requires us to mirror a British government obsession with indirect taxation, double taxation, back door taxation or whatever you want to call it.

"This means that we will have more taxes that are not linked to either what people earn or their ability to pay. This means that people on low and medium incomes are being forced to pay a significantly higher proportion of their disposable income and are consequentially poorer as a result.

"Greater economic sovereignty would put a local Executive in a powerful position. It would enable them to roll back these unfair forms of indirect taxation. The DUP deride the use of targeted tax breaks as a vital tool to support employment and sustain and develop the strength of the local economy yet such mechanisms have been shown to be effective in many places throughout the world." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking in Belfast tonight said "The task facing all of us has been made much more difficult by the position adopted by the UUP but we will return to this in the wake of the election. Sinn Fein is not going to walk away from this process."

Mr. Adams said:

"I am bitterly disappointed that the UUP is not prepared to move forward.

"The recent, intense dialogue between the UUP and Sinn Féin is a hugely important development in itself. Whatever about the present difficulties this must be protected. It is key to future political progress.

"The discussions were thorough and business like and were conducted throughout in an atmosphere of cordiality. The focus was to see the election conducted in the most positive, pro-Agreement climate possible and to have the political institutions restored on a stable basis

"Republicans listened carefully to Unionist concerns, pain-stakingly talked these through and, eventually, we developed a way to address these stated concerns. All of this culminated in an Agreement between the UUP, the two governments and Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin delivered our part of this sequence as agreed. The IRA delivered their part of the sequence as agreed. General de Chastelain presided over a substantial act of putting arms beyond use and reported this. The UUP, at the point of delivery on their side, effectively walked away. Only they can explain why they did so. But it beggars belief that the entire peace process should be put on hold because the UUP were not satisfied with the IICD description of the IRA initiative in putting arms beyond use.

"There is a particular onus of the two governments to fulfil their part of the agreement in terms of honouring the commitments which they made as part of the overall agreement.

"There is also a need to defend the integrity and independence of the IICD. The effort and commitment of General de Chastelain and Andrew Sens is greatly appreciated.

"The task facing all of us has been made much more difficult by the position adopted by the UUP but we will return to this in the wake of the election. Sinn Fein is not going to walk away from this process."ENDS

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Sinn Féin North Antrim Assembly candidate, Cllr Phillip McGuigan has said that today's announcement that the SDLP have recruited a number of 'election experts' from the British Labour Party and right wing political parties such as the Progressive Democrats in the South, suggests that they lack confidence in their own ability.

Cllr McGuigan said:

"The need to draft in outside 'election experts' to help with the SDLP Assembly campaign sends out a clear message to their supporters. We are in difficulties and we don't have the people inside the SDLP to help us.

"The message that they are looking to defend seats in nationalist heartlands such as Newry and Armagh and West Tyrone and make gains in unionist strongholds such as North Down and Strangford highlight a gathering sense of desperation and panic.

"People on the ground will not be fooled. A gathering of a right wing electoral strategist from the PDs, a British Labour Party activist and various other assortments of so-called experts may bring the outside help that a floundering party obviously needs but many people will be asking what about after the election. If they don't trust people in the SDLP to drive an election campaign what confidence can people have in their leadership after an election." ENDS

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Commenting on the ongoing efforts to put the peace process back on track, South Belfast Sinn Féin Representative Cllr. Alex Maskey has said that there is 'a belief that the UUP have effectively walked away for this phase of the process'.

Cllr. Maskey said:

"The recent intense dialogue between the UUP and Sinn Féin in itself a hugely important development. Whatever about the present difficulties this must be protected. It is key to future political progress. So I want to be measured in my words today.

" The forthcoming Assembly election could have been conducted in a positive, pro-Agreement climate. That is in our collective interests. That has been the focus of our collective efforts in recent times.

"We had an agreement; an agreed and choreographed series of statements and events to give expression to that and David Trimble committed himself to this in the discussions between the UUP, Sinn Féin and the two governments. Sinn Féin delivered our part of this sequence as agreed. The IRA delivered their part of the agreement as agreed. General de Chastelein presided over a substantive act of putting arms beyond use and reported this. Others did not fulfil their part as agreed.

"Instead the UUP put up new demands. We have spent the days since then trying to find a way through this. But this must be set firmly in the context of what has already been agreed between the UUP, the British Government, the Irish Government and Sinn Fein. However, I believe that the UUP have effectively walked away for this phase of the process. I could be wrong. I hope that I am wrong. Mr Trimble needs to tell us. He needs to make his position clear. It now over to David Trimble and the UUP leadership to decide." ENDS

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Sinn Féin East Antrim Assembly candidate Oliver McMullen has accused the PSNI of standing by as known Loyalists tore down Sinn Féin election posters in Glenarm.

Cllr McMullen said:

"Sinn Féin election posters were taken down this weekend in Glenarm by known Loyalists yards from a PSNI barracks.

"The active intervention of known Loyalists in the Assembly election is a matter of concern, particularly given the history of Loyalist violence throughout East Antrim. The fact that PSNI members in a barracks just yards from where some of these posters were torn down is also very worrying.

"Throughout this area the tacit refusal of the PSNI or the RUC before them to challenge Loyalist violence and intimidation has made the situation very difficult for nationalists and republicans.

"I would urge leaders within political and paramilitary unionism as well as community and church leaders to ensure that we do not have an escalation of this type of intimidation." ENDS

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Gerry Adams: We are continuing to engage with the unionists and with the two governments but until there is an acceptance that the IICD is the Commission which was established to deal with this arms issue, until that is endorsed and upheld and actively accepted then I think we are going to continue with these difficulties in the short term.

It is hard to calculate the damage done by the arrest of the process. I have David Trimble's statement. I have the statement of the two governments. Whatever is said, everyone in this process, everyone in the sequence of statements knew what was going to proceed. There has been huge damage done by the unionists stepping out of that.

We have tried in Sinn Féin, to be very measured in how we describe all of that. But have no doubt that if we don't get this together, we can prove in terms of the sequence and in terms of the range of commitments how all of this was put together.

We sat down with the unionists and the two governments to re-configure the sequence but the sequence remained essentially the same.

These commitments were worked out not just over weeks but over months. There was detailed work done. Do you not think that David Trimble had sight of the IRA statements? Would he have agreed to go with the sequence without seeing what the IRA was going to say?

Do you think he did not play some part in what I was going to say? Of course he did. We can look for reasons and excuses for what happened and I have not been given yet any credible explanation for what occurred. I have my own view of it but I don't what to say anything at this time

The effort now is to try and make this work in the very short time that we have

People are conscious of how far the Peace Process has progressed from ten years ago. They are amazed that lack of details over something that has already taken place are sufficient to put this process on hold - why can you not give these details, why not give a full description of what took place?

First of all, it is not over to me. There is a Commission and it was satisfied to put out a statement. It should be left at that. The integrity and the independence of the Commission (IICD) should be accepted

Secondly, how do we know it would be enough? Last Spring we were told one word was all that was needed. Every time that we move the process forward from the republican perspective, there is another extra little bit demanded. We are told that we can't go forward without that. That is why I make the point that it is impossible to quantify the damage, which has been done by the Unionists stepping outside of an agreed sequence, a series of agreed statements

The imperative has to be to get this right. If we get this right and it moves ahead, and there will be more difficulties up the road, but at least public confidence will come back and people will have some sense that we pulled it off. That is the intention of the Sinn Féin leadership. The fact that the Unionists are engaging with us at this time shows that there is some acceptance by them that they too have a responsibility to try and sort this out.

Is it not also true that in the past when problems have been sorted out, the process is stronger? There is a problem here, if the information is provided you will see if the Unionists are genuine about the peace process?

What happens within republicanism? We have a huge job of work to do to manage all of this. I heard some comments earlier on from a leading Unionist saying that this is a problem to do with backwoodsmen from the bog holes of South Armagh and that unionists are dragging republicans forward.

Anything republicans have done we have done by choice because we understand that there is a need to build confidence and to move this process forward. But confidence building is a two way street. There needs to be confidence among Republicans in the two governments. And it is not just the unionists who have not made their part clear.

The two governments also have not put forward their position yet and I presume that they will.

Unionists need to understand that republican confidence in the UUP has been shattered by this week's events. Let's try and rescue all of that in the short term.

One person's act of decommissioning is another person‚s act of humiliation. That is the reality.

Why is it humiliating?

If you and I, as enemies or opponents are trying to build confidence in each other, it means that you and I have to able to make agreements that are kept. We had an acceptance on Good Friday five and a half years ago that the arms issue would be dealt with by an Independent International Commission. That is where it should be dealt with.

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Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP has said that David Trimble should 'concentrate on getting the agreement he reached with Sinn Féin and the two government back on track'.

Mr. Doherty said:

"The fact is that we had an agreement between Sinn Féin, the UUP and the two governments. David Trimble, for whatever reason, choose not to go through with that agreement at the last minute.

" This has created very obvious difficulties for the process. However we all should now concentrate on trying to build on the progress that was undoubtedly made over recent weeks and months and get this process back on track.

" That is a collective responsibility and Mr Trimble must now move to undo the damage caused by his actions on Tuesday." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly candidate and Agricultural and Rural Development spokesperson, Cllr Gerry McHugh, will lead party members at the Rural Affairs Summit hosted by the Rural Development Council on Monday and Tuesday next week. This summit brings together all of the main decision makers in Rural Policy and delivery from across Ireland and Britain.

Speaking ahead of the Rural Affairs Summit Cllr McHugh said:

"Sinn Féin will ensure that a stronger bottom up approach is implemented in Rural Policy, and that the departments North and South come closer together to deliver a better, more effective Rural Policy. Both governments will have to place greater emphasis on the rights of Rural Families, and deliver jobs and services into Rural Ireland.

"We will peruse this agenda on an all-Ireland basis both in the Assembly and the Oireachtas.

"One of the key areas of Rural Development is its delivery mechanisms and strategies. This is something which will be discussed at the Summit and which formed part of the recommendations of the recent PWC Report into PEACE I and mid-term evaluation of PEACE II.

"The widely accepted failure of DARD‚s Rural Development programmes is born out in the report, and five out of six measures which have had NO approved applications are implemented by DARD. This is out of 34 measures and 22 sub measures in the whole of the PEACE II programme.

"We welcome the report and its findings and I am surprised at this stage in the PEACE II programme that some of the logistical and implementation problems still are unresolved. I welcome the recommendations, which put some greater emphasis upon Cross Border Reconciliation and creating a new measure - Innovative Actions. The simplification of the language in the programme, and a reduction in the number of implementation Bodies, which is causing great confusion is badly needed.

"Sinn Féin are also concerned at the number of ongoing evaluations, within the different programmes being delivered by DARD - PEACE, LEADER and BSP. There should be one evaluation for the agricultural and rural development bits of these programmes, including the Country Side Management scheme and the Environmentally Sensitive Scheme, and the Suckler Cow, Beef Special Premium, and the others that form the agricultural parts. All of these different evaluations serve little to inform the effectiveness of DARD in the implementation of all of these schemes. In effect these different evaluations are used as a tool to keep us from seeing the bigger picture." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Social and Family Affairs Seán Crowe TD has called on the Minister for Finance to put tackling poverty at the forefront of the forthcoming budget. Deputy Crowe attended the launch of Combat Poverty's Pre Budget Submission earlier this week

The Dublin South West TD said:

"Almost 6,000 people die prematurely in Ireland as a direct result of poverty. Three hundred thousand Irish children live in poverty and one in five Irish people live in poverty. These are the real achievements of the Celtic Tiger. Poverty levels in Ireland have risen from 18.1% to 20.9% since Fianna Fáil and the PDs came to power.

"Many of the cuts the Government has made in public services have fallen heaviest on people struggling to get by. The massive cuts in Community Employment for example devastated community resources on which thousands of people had become reliant.

"This state is one of the most unequal in the developed world and it is time the Government took steps to seriously address this. The past seven budgets have redistributed the wealth of the state to the well-off and wealthy in Irish society. Over the last six years the gap between rich and poor has widened by €276 as a result of this Government's Budget decision.

"Tackling poverty should be at the core of this year‚s Budget. The thousands of people getting by and raising a family on less than €150 a week, hit hard by stealth taxes and services charges, need for once, to have their concerns addressed by the Budget." ENDS

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