Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice matters Conor Murphy has said that the minimalist nature of the information given to Gerry Adams at the weekend about a threat on his life is a high profile example of an unacceptable situation that frequently arises
Mr Murphy said:
"Frequently the PSNI call at the doors of republicans and nationalists and inform them that their lives are in danger. They refuse to give any further details of the nature of threat or the level of danger that they believe you to be in.
"This policy is wrong. The principle when dealing with such incidents should be maximum information not the minimum which is currently the case. Giving out the minimum amount of information actually adds to the anxiety and worry individuals under threat feel." ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty commenting on media allegations about the editor of the North Belfast News Sean Mag Uidhir has said:
"These allegations are the latest in what is a British securocrats strategy of misinformation aimed at damaging the republican constituency and undermining the peace process.
"Mr Mag Uidhir has categorically refuted these allegations.
"These allegations come from the same people who killed Pat Finucane, who armed the Loyalist death squads, who continue to target ands gather intelligence, who at the most sensitive points in the peace in the peace process maliciously brief and leak misinformation to create crises and bolter anti-agreement elements.
"This is part of a British securocrats agenda. These faceless and unaccountable agencies must be brought under control by the British government." ENDS
Commenting after Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was visited by the PSNI and told that dissident republicans were Œactively targeting‚ him, West Belfast Councillor Michael Ferguson said:
"Obviously republicans take all threats of this nature seriously, particularly at a time when the political process is in crisis.
"If this threat is true then I am sure that many republicans in West Belfast and further afield will be disappointed and indeed angry. However these republican micro organisations operate without either a mandate or a strategy to achieve change or deliver a united Ireland.
"Sinn Féin are absolutely committed to the peace process and we will not be deflected by threats from loyalists, the British or indeed so called dissident republicans." ENDS
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has highlighted the need to address the continuing fall in farm incomes. According to the latest Teagasc National Farm Survey, family farm income fell by 5.8% in 2002. Other figures show an increasing dependence on direct payments from the EU and that output fell by over 2%.
Deputy Ferris said:
"These figures are a serious cause of concern. What they prove is that falling incomes are an integral part of Irish farming. In real terms there has been a 16% decline since 1995. Although this has been partly compensated for by the increase in direct payments, the situation on the ground is that tens of thousands of small to medium farm households are finding it increasingly difficult to survive. Even with growing numbers choosing to take off-farm work, this has led to a consistent fall in farm numbers.
"While the CAP reform package with full decoupling does provide an opportunity to tackle the crisis, this will only be effective if combined with a radical new strategy designed to address long term structural defects. With farmers no longer dependent on production based subsidies, a conscious decision can be made to reorient farming towards higher quality and value added systems that will boost incomes, and increase the value of Irish exports.
Unless that takes place, and unless smaller producers can improve the value of their output, we will continue to witness a steep decline in farm numbers". ENDS
Commenting on the significant rise in unemployment, Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the government was adding to the total by cutting 5,000 Community Employment places this year. He said:
"The highest July unemployment figures since 1999 are an indictment of the economic strategy of this Government. While it has repeatedly claimed that it is adding value to jobs located here by the multinationals, it is predominantly these firms that are laying off workers as they relocate in the global market. The Government has presented no coherent strategy to address this trend. As the most open economy in the EU we are more vulnerable to economic downturn and a jobs slide such as this could turn to disaster in a relatively short period if remedial action is not taken.
"Ordinary working people are now paying the price of the Government's failure to consolidate the economic advances of recent years. They have failed to deliver the essential infrastructural improvements that are necessary. They are over-reliant on the computer and pharmaceutical sectors and they have failed to tackle obstacles to the development of smaller indigenous enterprises such as the scandalously high cost of insurance.
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP has accused the British government of 'being mesmerised by the divisions within unionism'.
Mr McGuinness said:
"Despite British government denials, everyone knows that their refusal to accord the electorate their right to vote is in part driven by the crisis within unionism. Where else would a key democratic process be suspended because of the internal difficulties of one political party? Where else would an election be cancelled because the outcome is not acceptable to a government?
"The British government is mesmerised by the divisions within the UUP. The peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement have been frozen as a result. This inertia in the peace process has caused a dangerous crisis which others, opposed to political progress, have sought to fill. This includes people in the British system.
"Against this background political and community activists and republicans on the ground have done sterling work to reduce tension and ensure a peaceful summer. Their work has been made much more difficult by the political vacuum which the British government has created. But despite the difficulties, and on-going sectarian attacks by loyalists, their work has borne fruit and the summer marching season has seen considerably less conflict than before.
"Their efforts and energy is in stark contrast to the political inertia of the British government.
"If the crisis in the political process is to be resolved the British government must end its patronage of the Ulster Unionist Party. A firm date for the postponed election must be set. The British government's moratorium on politics must be ended." ENDS
Newry & Armagh Sinn Féin Representative Conor Murphy has hit out after fares on the Belfast - Dublin Enterprise service will from Monday be increased by 9.5%, three times the rate of inflation.
Mr Murphy said:
"From Monday a basic day return fare on the Enterprise will increase to £23.00.This increase comes at a time when according to the General Consumer Council standards on the route are falling, particularly in relation to punctuality.
"Translink and Irish Rail need to realise that given an improvement in the roads infrastructure south of the border these fare increases risk forcing people off the train and into the car.
"Those operating the Enterprise Service need to focus on improving the existing service rather than seeking five star fares for a three star service." ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs Seán Crowe TD has slammed the Catholic Church's statement attacking gay marriages. In a strongly worded statement Deputy Crowe described the Church's comments as 'reactionary and homophobic' and called on the Church to end 'its campaign of vilification' against homosexuals and same-sex marriages.
The Dublin South-West TD said: "The reactionary and homophobic teachings of the Catholic Church on this issue are the real threat to society, not same-sex marriages. Sinn Féin fully supports the right of same-sex couples to marry and adopt children and calls on the Government to introduce legislation to this effect, which we would be happy to support.
"For the Church to suggest that allowing children to be adopted by gay couples is tantamount to acts of violence against children is especially nauseating, coming as it does from an organisation whose institutionalised cover-ups of terrible acts of violence against children leaves it with no credibility on this issue.
"It is long past time the Catholic Church started embracing positive social change and ended its campaign of vilification against homosexuals." ENDS
Lagan Valley Sinn Féin Representative Cllr. Paul Butler has criticised graffiti referring to himself which has appeared at the entrance to the Seymour Hill estate in Dunmurry close to where three young catholics were attacked on Sunday. Cllr. Butler said:
"This graffiti has appeared since the assault on the three young catholics on Sunday and is clearly an attempt to intimidate myself from continuing to highlight the loyalist sectarian campaign against Catholics in the Lisburn and Dunmurry areas.
"It is inaccurate, homophobic and sectarian. Community and political leaders in the estate should ensure its immediate removal.
"This sort of graffiti will not intimidate me or my party from continuing to campaign actively against sectarian attacks in this area or continuing to represent the people who elect us. Loyalist and unionist political leaders would serve themselves and their community better if they stood up against sectarian attacks and began to treat their catholic neighbours on the basis of equality." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today met President Bush's special envoy Richard Haass in New York.
Speaking after their meeting Mr. Adams said:
"Everyone I have spoken to in the US believes that the political imperative for the British government is to set a date certain for the election. I told Richard Haass this. I also told him that we welcome Mr. Blair‚s statement on Wednesday. I hope this is evidence of the British government realising that the cancellation of the elections was a mistake.
"The logic of Blair's position is that he should set a date certain for the elections and that in his words we can see the political institutions back up and running again." ENDS
Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has welcomed today's publication of the InterTradeIreland report on North South Trade but has called for the creation of a single measure on trade within the Ireland and a greater focus on developing the potential of trade within Ireland.
Mr Doherty said:
"Today's report from InterTradeIreland (North South Trade: a statistical ground clearing exercise) marks an important point in understanding the dynamics and importance of trade between the north and south of Ireland.
"However, the fact that data has had to be gathered from three different bodies points the urgent need to develop a single measure for monitoring economic activity between the two parts of this island.
"It is clear that the volume of trade has significantly increased over the past decade. The value of all manufacturing goods 'exported' from the north to the south has doubled and now account for 25% of our non-UK exports.
"While the overall value and volume of goods from the south to the north has also increased it is clear from this statistical analysis that there is a far greater potential for growth in the volume and value of internal trade. In particular southern businesses need to wake up to the opportunities that exist in doing business with their northern counterparts.
"Work on removing barriers to developing the all Ireland economy needs to continue. In recent weeks there has been the recognition about the importance of a single energy market, we now need to wake up to the other opportunities that exist particularly in developing and growing indigenous business." ENDS
Responding to an interview by the PSNI Chief Hugh Orde in today's Irish News Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly accused Mr Orde 'of making a blatant political intervention and electioneering'.
Mr Kelly said:
"When Hugh Orde took on the job of PSNI Chief Constable he declared that he was a policeman not a politician and that policing would be his only concern. He promised to be the man who would change the old system. From today's interview it is clear that rather than change the RUC the RUC has changed Hugh Orde.
"He concentrates the majority of his commentary and attention on alleged republican actions while ignores and seeks to minimise the extent of the ongoing loyalist campaign against Catholics. He doesn't comment on the admission by one of his senior colleagues Roy Suitters who admits the PSNI know the identities of those who killed Gerard Lawlor but have decided not to pursue them.
"He also seeks to continue the cover-up around collusion. He tries to explain the policy of state sponsored murder away with tired old line about a few bad apples and he contends that no members of the PSNI should face trial for their role in hundreds of murders. None of this washes with the nationalist community.
"The PSNI under Hugh Orde continues to be a highly political force at the centre of efforts to frustrate the advance of the peace process. Briefings to selected journalists at crucial and sensitive times in the process continue to emanate from the PSNI. Now we have its Chief Constable engaging in a political attack on Sinn Féin. Hugh Orde and the PSNI still have a considerable journey to make to reach the threshold of the acceptable and non-partisan policing service demanded by the Agreement." ENDS
West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty has called on the DSD Minister John Spellar to come clean and admit that the ever-increasing backlog in the processing of Child Benefit, Incapacity Benefit, DLA and Attendance Allowance applications from Castlecourt and the Child Support Agency is the result of a repeated breakdown in the EISIS computer system which is operated by the private multi-national company Electronic Data Systems (EDS).
Mr Doherty said,
"There has been a serious and significant increase in the length of time people are waitng to have their benefit claims processed through Castlecourt and the Child Support Agency since the British government entered into a multi-million pound contract with EDS.
"There have been cases of claimants being told that there is no record of claims having been made despite the fact that people are adamant that they have forwarded their applications.
"I have now learned that all these problems can be sourced to the continued failure of the EISIS Computer system.
"The British government‚s privatisation of this aspect of the benefits system has turned into a fiasco. Millions of pounds have gone to this private company in the name of increasing efficiency in the benefits system. Yet the system is not working and the terms of the contract mean that there are no financial sanctions against the company and apparently no get out clause.
"The result has been serious hardship faced by many people as well as a massive increase in the workload of Social Security Agency workers who are having to pick up the pieces of this computer system failure and revert to the manual processing of claims.
"Rather than increasing efficiency the net result has been to create chaos. Child Support Agency workers have also been issued with a dictatorial memo by senior management that forbids workers to mention anything about the computer system failure to claimants or elected representatives phoning in about benefit processing delays.
"This is nothing short of a scandal.
"Unfortunately with the suspension of the Assembly, the Public Accounts Committee cannot investigate the matter. However people have a right to know what is going on, and I am now writing to senior management of the Social Security Agency and the Child Support Agency requesting the disclosure of the problems that both agencies face as a result of this contract with EDS. I will also be the questioning the DSD Minister John Spellar as to the wisdom of continuing this contract with EDS given the failure of the EISIS system.
"This fiasco calls into question the continued push by the British government to privatise services. In this instance as in many other cases privatisation has and will increasingly cost the taxpayer more and lead to a diminution not only in services being provided but also in the working conditions of employees." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP arrived in New York last night where he continued to press the message that the British Government "has to set a date certain for the elections".
The Sinn Féin President told a meeting "not only is this a matter of political principle but I believe Mr Blair can be persuaded to go ahead with the elections if US opinion joins the growing lobby in Ireland demanding that this should happen".
Mr Adams left Boston after briefing a Massachusetts Congressional delegation on the current state of the political process. This two hour meeting with the delegation led by Congressman Richard Neal and which included Congressman Jim McGovern, Congressman Stephen Lynch and Congressman John Tierney, also focused on the very important issue of Collusion.
Mr Adams said:
"Collusion is a word which doesn't accurately describe the reality of British agencies arming, training, providing intelligence and directing death squads.
"In the conclusion to his third report John Stevens accepted that "my enquiries have highlighted collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder.
"In any other country in the world this would lead to the fall of governments.
"This issue and the role and policy of British Governments over the last 30 years is a key matter which Mr Blair has to face up to." ENDS
Belfast Sinn Fein Cllr. Michael Browne commenting on todays bomb alerts across the city said:
"The people who were behind these alerts are opposed to the Peace Process and opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and these actions were clearly designed to cause maximum disruption to ordinary people.
"These republican micro groups have little or no support and operate without neither a mandate or indeed a strategy to achieve political change or a united Ireland. These attacks are wrong and they should stop."
Sinn Féin Chief Whip Cllr. Sue Ramsey has announced that in the first two days of the new party web site there were over 350,000 hits from 70 separate counties worldwide.
Cllr. Ramsey said:
"In the first two days of operation the new Sinn Féin web site received a staggering 350,000 hits from 70 countries worldwide. This has surpassed any predictions made in advance of the new site becoming operational.
"After enduring years of state censorship and hostile media coverage it seems that thousands of people are now utilising this opportunity to access up to date information on the Sinn Féin message and the republican project of Irish Unity." ENDS
Responding to comments made today by British Prime Minister Tony Blair where he claimed he wanted to see the political institutions back up and running, Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew said:
"The cause of the current difficulties in the process is the decision of Mr Blair to suspend the political institutions and cancel the Assembly elections at the behest of negative unionism.
"If he is serious about wanting to see a resolution to the current difficulties in the process then there is now a real need for him to come forward with a definitive date, without qualifications or conditions, for the Assembly elections to proceed." ENDS
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP this morning led a party delegation to meet with the Human Rights Commission. The delegation included Human Rights spokesperson Bairbre de Brún and Belfast Councillor Chrissie McAuley. Speaking after the meeting Mr McGuinness said:
"The establishment of the Human Rights Commission was a key component of the Good Friday Agreement which Sinn Féin strongly argued for and supported. We are therefore deeply dissatisfied at the approach of the Human Rights Commission, particularly in relation to its approach on fair employment provisions which could have highly damaging implications for equality as well as the Chief Commissioner?s highly inappropriate behaviour in the Holy Cross case.
Fair employment is a cornerstone of building a new society. If you cannot even measure what?s wrong in respect of fair employment how can you possibly hope to tackle it? Ordinary people will not accept having the clock turned back to the days before monitoring of fair employment was introduced. Nor will they accept a society in which the rights of little children depend on the area in which they live or the religion of their family.
The Chief Commissioner?s response to the Holy Cross case has undermined gravely public confidence that rights will be promoted regardless of political background. The resignation of one quarter of the Commission's membership is a further cause of deep concern. A Westminster Joint Committee on Human Rights recently identified serious problems with the Commission.
And actions, which threaten fair employment monitoring, 50:50 recruitment as recommended by Patten or voting safeguards in the Assembly will further undermine public confidence.
The Chief Commissioner has failed to provide satisfactory answers to the concerns expressed about the way the Commission has developed under his stewardship. We have sought a meeting with both governments to discuss these concerns and the way ahead. We need to look at a restructuring that will include the composition and appointments, the powers and resources of the Commission. The Human Rights Commission is broken. It needs fixed.
We approach this issue on the basis of wanting the best possible Human Rights Commission in place to drive forward the human rights aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.
In our view there is a need for the British government to put in place the measures required to guarantee the integrity, independence and effectiveness of the Commission. We will vigorously pursue this matter with both governments in the time ahead." Ends
Sinn Féin Representative Conor Murphy has hit out at the individuals responsible for an extortion attempt on two South Down businessmen.
Mr Murphy said:
"Yesterday people masquerading as republicans demanded £3000 from two South Down businessmen. They were warned not to approach Sinn Féin or the PSNI about this matter and were given an address to drop the money off at. The men were told that if local republicans got involved their business premises would be destroyed and they would end up paying £20,000.
"Thankfully these businessmen did not pay this money and have decided to go public to alert others to this activity. These people are not republicans. They are criminal elements masquerading as republicans.
"If any other businessmen have been approached in this manner they should not hesitate to contact Sinn Féin and should not pay these individuals any money." ENDS
Sinn Féin Representative Conor Murphy has criticised the British Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes for her refusal to meet with a cross party delegation to discuss the ongoing internment of asylum seekers in Maghaberry.
Mr Murphy said:
"Earlier this month I took part in a cross party delegation which visited some of those asylum seekers being interned in Maghaberry. After the visit we wrote to the British Home Office Minister with responsibility for this matter, Beverly Hughes seeking a meeting. Ms Hughes has now refused to meet the delegation.
"This is a fairly typical response by a British Minister to a Human Rights issue. Since we visited Maghaberry children and pregnant women have been added to the list of internees. The British government should be ashamed of this policy. Instead they are trying to bury the issue, in typical New Labour style, in the hope that they can avoid bad PR.
"Sinn Féin will continue to highlight this issue and will continue to campaign to have those currently interned in Maghaberry released." ENDS