Sinn Féin Dáil Group leader Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on Health Minister Micheál Martin to abolish Comhairle na nOspidéal without delay and for the role of all 'bodies of influence' who impact on health service provision in this State to be urgently reviewed. He was speaking following reports that Comhairle na nOspidéal are set to propose that midwifery services should not now come to Monaghan Hospital, as had been promised.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"The loss of our maternity services and the further crushing blow that even midwifery will not now come to Monaghan is something that will cause huge anger. The efforts of those, who have championed the hospital and health care needs of the people of this county are being brushed aside by faceless government appointees and the representative voices of health professionals - people who have enormous power over the direction of our health services but who are accountable to nobody.
"It is time that the Minister and this Government accept their responsibilities. They would have us believe that they are neither responsible for what has happened nor required to act in defence of our health care needs. Minister Martin's Macbeth-like washing of his hands of all responsibility is enough to make anyone sick.
"Comhairle na nOspidéal are a quango of self-interests who have no understanding whatsoever of the needs and fears of real people, real communities. Comhairle's proposals also expose the real reason for the delay in moving forward with the recommendations in the initial Kinder report. No one will convince me that those responsible for delaying the proposal to site midwifery units in Monaghan and Dundalk were not aware and awaiting this Comhairle report which well and truly buries any prospect of even a midwifery service coming to Monaghan General Hospital.
"I am infuriated by the gall of these people who expect us to believe that their opinions, which bear such influence on the shape of health care delivery in this State, were reached independently of the legion of other reports and recommendations regarding the future of services at Monaghan General Hospital.
"It is time for the Minister to stand up to these vested interests. I am calling on him to abolish Comhairle na nOspidéal and to immediately review the role of all of those bodies of influence, who are accountable to nobody, but who have such control over our health services." ENDS
Sinn Féin North Belfast representative Gerry Kelly has called on Unionists politicians and community leaders to end the campaign of intimidation and attack being orchestrated by Unionist paramilitaries against people living in the Deerpark Road area in North Belfast. Mr Kelly said:
"Thirty years ago unionist paramilitaries tried to burn people out their homes in exactly this same area. This week alone 2 families have been forced to leave the area because of attacks and intimidation.
"These attacks are clearly being orchestrated by the UDA. Today's attack is a concerted attack on this community. It is very serious.
"It is time that Unionist political leaders and community leaders used their energies to bring an end to this anti-nationalist pogrom." ENDS
Sinn Féin Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew speaking today at the re-opening of the inquest for Roseanne Mallon said:
"This inquest basically boils down to two issues. Firstly the British State colluded with those who carried out this killing and have acted to prevent the truth being established ever since. They engaged in state sponsored assassination of citizens.
"The second major issue is the continuing failure of the PSNI to co-operate with the Inquest into this killing and many others. The PSNI are actively attempting to subvert this inquest and prevent the truth being established in the same manner that they adopted with the inquest into the killing of Pearse Jordan. They have consistently failed to provide evidence demanded by the coroner. It is clear that the PSNI approach to these inquests mirrors that of the RUC. This approach is driven by a desire to prevent the truth emerging and to frustrate efforts to provide justice for bereaved families.
"The families of those people killed through collusion will not rest until the truth surrounding the murder of their loved ones is established. Sinn Féin will continue to support these families in their fight for truth and justice." ENDS
Former Executive Health Minister Bairbre de Brún, selected as Sinn Féin's candidate to fight the European elections in the Six Counties, has expressed confidence that Sinn Féin can win a seat in the Six Counties and return a strong All Ireland team of MEP's to the European Parliament in next years European Elections.
Ms de Brún said:
"I believe the story of the European elections will be the story of Sinn Féin when we secure our first ever representation in the European Parliament and it is here in the Six Counties and in our capital city Dublin that we will start the journey.
"This is an important election for Sinn Féin, probably the most important EU election that we have ever faced. Sinn Féin is contesting this election to win, to return a Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties and to be part of Sinn Féin's all Ireland team in Europe This is a realisable goal, given the almost 120,000 votes for Mitchel McLaughlin and the considerable rise in the Sinn Féin vote in the Westminster elections since then.
"We have been a leading voice in the debate on the future direction of the European Union. We are also putting forward a clear demand for an all-Ireland approach towards the European Union and its institutions. Whether it is in relation to funding, infrastructure, economic development and most recently agriculture it is clear that the Six Counties has suffered greatly by being linked to Britain rather than the rest of Ireland.
"The next twelve months will be dominated by events in Europe - Dublin taking over the Presidency of the European Union, negotiations on the draft new EU Constitution, World Trade talks, the reform of CAP and redrafting the Common Fisheries Policy.
"The EU of today is a changed entity from that which Ireland joined 30 years ago. The proposed changes in EU structures and institutions envisaged under the draft constitution pose a significant challenge for republicans. We must clearly explain why we don't want an EU that is a military or economic superpower, but we do want an EU that can be force for democracy and justice not just inside its borders but also throughout the world.
"We must ensure that we lead the debate and discussion about creating a democratic Europe that can be accountable and transparent in its policy making and decision taking.
"We must have the best possible EU that works towards full employment, housing and educating all its citizens and creating institutions that are really democratic promoting national and individual rights.
"Republicans want to be part of a Europe that is beacon to the rest of the world not just in terms of the high standards of living and democracy it creates for its own citizens but in how it treats the other states and regions in the world. We want to build a Europe leads the way on the cancellation of debt in the developing world, that is nuclear free, that protects the environment, and that doesn‚t create a fortress and lock its doors to other regions, but welcomes, aids and trades fairly.
"Sinn Féin politics are about democracy, equality, the rights of citizens and of nations. In the last decade we have gone from strength to strength as our agenda for change begins to have a real impact. We want to bring this agenda to the heart of Europe.
"Beginning today I will be going door to door in the Six Counties meeting ordinary people, community groups, women's groups, trade unions, business people and more seeking a mandate for change in Europe." ENDS
Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams MP has called on 'the Irish community in the Brent East constituency, and those others who are interested in human rights matters, to rally round and give their support and help to Kelly McBride, the sister of Peter McBride, who was murdered by two British soldiers.'
Mr Adams said:
"Sinn Féin supports this initiative. It provides the McBride family with an opportunity to raise their demand that the two Scots Guards convicted of murdering Peter McBride should be removed from the British Army." ENDS
Kelly McBride, a sister of Peter McBride who was murdered by two British soldiers, is to stand as a candidate in this month's Westminster by-election in the Brent East constituency of London. She is standing to highlight the campaign to have the two soldiers who killed her brother dismissed from the British Army.
Sinn Féin Dáil Group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Government, and in particular Minister Noel Dempsey, have serious questions to answer in relation to last night's shock resignation of Justice Mary Laffoy.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"The Cabinet is meeting today for the first time in six weeks. At their last meeting they took 60 decisions, many of which have been leaked in the intervening weeks to give the appearance of a government at work, including in recent days the proposed change of remit for the Laffoy Commission.
"It is clear that something serious has occurred to result in Justice Mary Laffoy resigning from her position on the Commission and that the government were surprised by the announcement. The government has serious questions to answer including when they took the decision to change the remit, who was consulted on this matter, their failure to properly resource the Commission's work and ultimately what occurred to result in Justice Mary Laffoy leaving her position in this manner.
"There are growing concerns about the government attitude of establishing tribunals and commissions as a panacea to serious problems which need to be addressed in our society. At this stage we need to question the route being taken, the broadening of remits which is resulting in tribunals running for years, the resources being spent and how effective this process has been in bringing to account those responsible.
"Throughout the work of the government bad planning and a lack of forward thinking is the common thread, whether it is the costs and timing of road and rail infrastructure such as the port tunnel, Luas, or the crisis in our so-called health service. Now the work and effectiveness of much needed tribunals is also victim to the bad planning quick fix mentality that pervades the work of government."ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP this evening congratulated Bairbre De Brún on her selection as party candidate for the Six Counties in next years European Union elections. Mr. Adams said that building on the party's success in the Westminster elections we have for the first time a real opportunity to return a Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties as part of an all-Ireland team.
Mr. Adams said:
"Last May I predicted that the story of the General Election in the 26 Counties would be the rise of Sinn Féin. Next year, I believe the story of the European elections will again be Sinn Féin as we secure our first ever representation in the European Parliament. And it is here in the Six Counties and in our capital city Dublin that we will start the journey.
"Work on this campaign didn't start today or yesterday but with the last European election when Mitchel McLaughlin received almost 120,000 votes. Our success in the Westminster elections two years later, when we became the largest nationalist party in the Six Counties, combined with the overall increase in nationalist voting strength means that Sinn Féin has the potential to take a seat in Europe in 2004. It means there is a real chance that two nationalist MEPs will be returned."ENDS
Note to editor: Marylou McDonald was selected as the candidate for the Dublin constituency last March. The selection convention for Munster will take place on Saturday afternoon in Limerick City. Contesting the convention are Cork City Councillor Jonathan O'Brien, David Cullinane from Waterford and Nancy Irwin from Limerick.
Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Bairbre de Brún was this evening chosen as the party's candidate for the Six Counties in next year's European election. Speaking following her selection at the convention in Belfast Bairbre de Brún said that 'Sinn Féin is contesting this election to win, to return a Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties and to be part of Sinn Féin's all Ireland team in Europe.'
Ms de Brún said:
"The next twelve months will be dominated by events in Europe - Dublin taking over the Presidency of the European Union, negotiations on a new EU Constitution, World Trade talks, CAP reform and redrafting the Common Fisheries Policy.
"All this will have a profound effect of people living across Ireland. The EU of today is a changed entity from that which Ireland joined 30 years ago. Sinn Féin are the radical alternative to the failed politics of the establishment parties who have been invisible for so long in Europe.
"In the last decade Sinn Féin has gone from strength to strength as our agenda for change begins to have a real impact. We want to bring this agenda to the heart of Europe. We are contesting this election to win, to return a Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties. This is a realisable goal.
"Beginning today I will be going door to door in the Six Counties meeting ordinary people, community groups, women's groups, trade unions, business people and more seeking a mandate for change in Europe." ENDS
Profile of Bairbre de Brún - Sinn Féin EU candidate for Six Counties
Bairbre de Brún is the Sinn Féin spokesperson on equality and human rights. She was the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and was an Assembly member for West Belfast. She was born in Dublin and now lives in the Andersonstown area of Belfast. She is a teacher by profession and taught most recently in the growing sector of Irish medium education.
Bairbre began her political career as a member of the National Committee against the H-Blocks and Armagh Gaol in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She worked in the Women's Department and was head of both the Cultural and International Departments.
She is a fluent Irish speaker and an expert in human rights and equality issues. She is a member of the Ard Chomhairle and of the Sinn Féin negotiating team and has travelled extensively both in Ireland and abroad to promote the peace process. Elected as a Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Belfast in 1998, Bairbre was nominated by the party to the newly formed Executive as Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
Sinn Féin Dáil Leader and Cavan/ Monaghan Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has welcomed the move by the Attorney General to instruct the Dublin City Coroner to re-open the inquest into the Monaghan Bombing of 17th May 1974 which claimed the lives of seven people. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"The Dublin/ Monaghan bombings of 17th May 1974 continue to represent the single greatest loss of life in the recent conflict. The families of those killed have yet to receive the truth of what happened on that day and what role British forces played in the murder of their loved ones.
"I welcome the fact that the Dublin City Coroner Brian Farrell has been directed to re-open the inquest into the deaths of those killed in Monaghan following the decision in June to resume the inquest into the deaths of those killed in Dublin.
"The inquests alongside the report of Judge Barron may assist the families in their search for truth. However, I believe that an independent inquiry into the bombings will be necessary to finally determine who was behind the attacks and what role British military forces played on that day. The Dublin and British governments must accede to this reasonable and longstanding demand from the survivors and relatives of the victims."ENDS
Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson, North Belast representative Gerry Kelly, commenting on the meeting between the Finucane family and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said:
"The identies of those involved in the killing of Pat Finucane are well known. The fact that agencies of the British state used the UDA to carry out this killing is beyond doubt. What is required now is a full independent judicial inquiry to establish exactly who authorised and planned this killing - where the chain of command leads to.
"We are long past the time when the British government can continue to evade its responsibility. There can be no more excuses, no more barriers put in the path of the Finucane families demand for justice.
"Sinn Féin wlll continue to highlight this issue and will continue to support the Finucane family and others in their demand for full disclosure and for the lid to be lifted on the scandal of state collusion."ENDS
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin this morning announced that the selection convention for the Sinn Féin Six County European election candidate will be held tonight at 7.30pm in West Belfast.
The two candidates are former health minister Bairbre de Brún and former chairperson of the Assembly Finance and Personnel Committe Cllr Francie Molloy.
Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP MIchelle Gildernew will attend the Inquest into the murder of Roseann Mallon tomorrow, Wednesday 3rd September at 10.30am in Dungannon Court House. She will be available to talk to the media.
Murder of Roseanne Mallon
Roseanne Mallon, a 70 years old woman from Cullenrammer Road, near Dungannon, County Tyrone was shot dead in her sister's home by UVF, on 8 May 1994. The weapons used in the killing were part of the haul brought to Ireland from South Africa in 1988 with the help of British Intelligence Agents.
The day before the killing two young boys disturbed a number of armed men in an old house near the scene of the shooting. The boys parents informed the RUC soon after the incident. After the shooting the RUC said the men were a hunting party. Two of Miss Mallon's nephews, who lived in the house where she was shot, were regularly harassed by RUC members and threatened that their details would be sent to the UVF.
Residents living in the area where the gunmen's car was abandoned after the shooting said none of them were questioned about the incident. Cardinal Cahal Daly, calling for an inquiry, said many questions remained unanswered.
Two months after Roseanne's death, a neighbour accidentally stumbled across several sophisticated surveillance cameras that were trained on the Mallon home. When these cameras were discovered both the RUC and the British MoD denied that they belonged to them. However, when the cameras were shown on TV the MoD admitted that they belonged to them. Even more disturbing was the revelation, which was uncovered when the Mallon's took a civil case against the British Government for trespassing on private property, that the two cameras were in position and trained on the Mallon home at the time of Roseanne's murder.
It is believed that these cameras could actually send live pictures. On top of this it was also disclosed that there were two covert dugouts with three British soldiers in each dugout who actually reported the shooting but were told to stay where they were and not to apprehend the gunmen.
In June 2003 the family of Roseanne Mallon called upon the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Summary or Arbitrary Executions to visit the Six Counties on a preliminary fact-finding mission. Martin Mallon, the nephew of Roseanne Mallon explained, "This is the only avenue that we see open. We have basically exhausted the inquest system. We've been there nine times in ten years and now the PSNI and MoD are taking about introducing certificates of immunity to protect the very people that we're trying to uncover.
" For this to ever be laid to rest and for everybody to say we know what happened, the UN needs to come in and investigate from day one right through. We want to know at what level this was sanctioned within the British Government".
Sinn Féin TD and outgoing member of South Dublin County Council Sean Crowe has accused the government of crying crocodile tears in relation to the housing crisis. He called on them to stop selling off state land for short term gain and instead use it for affordable housing. Speaking following a consulation seminar for Local Authority County Councillors organised today by Focus Ireland, Threshold, SVP and Simon, Deputy Crowe said:
"Current government strategy if actually implemented will mean at least 14 years waiting before the lists are cleared under the best possible circumstances.
"In the last 18 months house prices have continued to increase as investors returned to the market driving up prices and pushing already expensive homes out of the reach of first time buyers. It is notable that the increases in construction costs have not been anything as pronounced as the increase in house prices. The average cost of a house in Dublin is now €300,000. The average price of a house in the 26 counties as a whole is over €220,000.
"Sinn Féin believes that government intervention is necessary to deal with rising house prices. This means taking measures to control the price of building land and using available state and semi state land for affordable and social housing. It also means increased and sustained funding for government to provide housing with a target of supplying suitable accommodation within two years for 70% of applicants on the waiting lists.
"Another critical issue which needs to be addressed is the increase in homelessness in the suburbs of Dublin. The absence of any services outside of Dublin City centre is a real problem. We need to see real plans to address homelessness, which are integrated to overall housing plans.
"It is not good enough that the government cry crocodile tears on the housing crisis. They need to lead by example."ENDS
Sinn Féin Upper Bann representative Dr Dara O'Hagan has accused loyalists of trying to inflict serious injury on Gaelic football fans travelling into Lurgan last night. Dr O'Hagan said:
"In what was a clearly orchestrated attack several cars carrying Armagh Gaelic football supporters were damaged in attacks in the Malcolm Road area of Lurgan last night. Many of the vehicles carried families with young children. One of the cars most severely damaged had children aged 10 and 7 years on board.
"The people responsible for these attacks are well aware that occaisions such as yesterdays All Ieland semi-final are family events. Despite this, atacks on GAA supporters have become more and more frequent in this area. The perpetrators know that supporters must travel through the Malcolm Road area and wait for them there.
"The silence of the unionist political and community leaderships has not gone unnoticed by nationalists. I would challenge those with influence in the local unionist community to firstly condemn theses attacks and then proceed to use their influence in a manner which will ensure that there is no repeat of the bitter display of sectarianism directed at GAA fans in Lurgan last night." ENDS
Sinn Féin Councillor Christy Burke has called on Dubliners to join a protest opposing service charges outside City Hall on Dame Street at 6pm tonight (Monday 1st). Councillor Burke has described letters from Dublin City Council threatening to withhold bin collection as disgraceful and nothing more than a widespread ransom note. He has called on them to end their confrontational behaviour.
Speaking ahead of tonight's meeting Councillor Burke said;
"Over the last few weeks 40,000 letters have been sent to residents in the City Council area threatening Dubliners that if they do not give in to this unjust double taxation, rubbish will simply be left uncollected. These letters are nothing more than a widespread ransom note.
"Dublin City Council are clearly throwing down the gauntlet and I am confident that it is the people of Dublin, and not it, who will win. Sinn Féin is committed to continuing to work with communities to co-ordinate opposition to the threat from City Hall. We are calling on people to join us tonight in a protest outside City Hall to coincide with the monthly Council meeting."ENDS
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has urged people to ensure that they get themselves registered on the new register that is opened today. The new electoral registration process requires that everyone must re-register every year.
Mr McLaughlin said:
"The new electoral registration process requires that everyone must re-register every year. This means that although people may have filled out registration forms not long ago they must fill them in again.
"The result of last year's registration process was that 130,000 people were effectively disenfranchised. Sinn Féin has been to the fore in putting pressure on the Electoral Office to ensure that it improves its registration process.
"This is a challenge to the Electoral Office. This year they must take responsibility for ensuring that people are not disenfranchised. They will have failed unless they can demonstrate that they have adequately tried to get a large number of the 130,000 people disenfranchised last year back onto this years register.
"Particularly in nationalist areas and with young and first time voters there is the concern that people will again not be registered. People should not be confused they must register again this year in order to claim their right to vote." ENDS
Donegal Sinn Féin Chairperson, Pearse Doherty has strongly condemned the decision to allow the erection of a 15 meter high O2 mobile telephone mast in the small rural village of Tamur in south Donegal.
This decision is a reversal of Donegal County Council's refusal to grant planning permission to O2 on two previous occasions as to do so would breach its own County Development plan.
Mr. Doherty said:
"Question are justifiably now being asked as to why this county and indeed any county would spend as much time and recourses on the developing a county development plan if decisions upheld or refused on the basis of such a plan are only to be reversed by an Bord Pleanala who have no obligation to take on board the planning regulation that are contained in the county plan.
"This is clearly yet another example of local communities being removed from the decision making process on issues that affect their everyday lives.
"Is there little wonder that so much apathy exists within politics when the decisions taken by the democratically elected representatives of the people of Donegal are overturned by a Dublin oriented cabal who have neither knowledge nor interest in the welfare of citizens of Donegal.
"The residents of Tamur have my full support and the support of Sinn Féin in their efforts to protect themselves and their families from the dangers of this mast being placed so close to their homes. ENDS
Sinn Féin Councillor for Ardoyne Margaret McClenaghan has slammed the leaving of a hoax device at the gates of Holy Cross Girls Primary School. The device, which was claimed by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name for the UDA, caused considerable disturbance to both the parents and children on the first day of term.
Speaking today Cllr McClenaghan said:
"This is a completely unjustifiable attack on school children. On what for many is an excitable and pleasant day, being the first day back to school after the summer holidays, we see loyalists targeting Holy Cross pupils by attaching a device to the railings of the school.
"The device has been claimed by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by the UDA, who have also stated that there are another two devices on the route to the school. This will undoubtedly serve to compound the fears of the teachers, parents and children going to and from Holy Cross.
"I would urge everyone to be vigilant over the coming days. This attack on the Holy Cross school children follows a weekend where several nationalist homes were attacked and families intimidated in the Deerpark area. It is clear that there are elements within the UDA who are once again intent on stoking up sectarian tensions in north Belfast." ENDS
Sinn Féin has submitted the party's proposals on the CAP reform package to the Department of Agriculture and Food. This will be considered by the Department as part of its promised consultation process on the deal that was agreed at Luxembourg in June.
The party's spokespersons on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD and Assembly Member Gerry McHugh explained that the submission is part of Sinn Féin's ongoing engagement in the debate on CAP reform. They also welcomed the decision by the DUP to send a delegation to Brussels to meet with EU officials on the issue, and pointed out that Sinn Féin had met with members of Commissioner Fischler's cabinet in early summer and had participated fully in the debate long before any other Irish party made any worthwhile contribution.
The text of the Sinn Féin submission reads:
"Sinn Féin supports the introduction of full decoupling of all EU farm payments. We do so in the belief that this will enable farmers to move away from the current system where production is planned around the receipt of premia and subsidies.
"Once farmers are guaranteed a decoupled single payment they will then be able to plan their production on the basis of demand. This should lead to higher quality and should also have beneficial effects on farm incomes.
"While the reform package has been described as making agriculture more responsive to the market, we believe that the single payment will provide a certain degree of security against the malign effects of an unbridled free market in which most farmers would find it impossible to survive. It is possible in fact that if combined with other mechanisms that the current reform with full decoupling could arrest the current trend whereby thousands of farmers are being forced to leave the sector.
"In support of the reform of CAP, we also advocate the framing of a radical new long-term strategy for Irish farming. A key element of this would be the promotion of higher quality higher value added production and away from the current dependency on the production of cheap bulk products and live exports. This would have massive beneficial effects on our processing industry with extra jobs and improved products for Irish consumers.
"The future of Irish agriculture must also be planned on an all island basis. This must mean that there is closest possible co-operation between the two jurisdictions on the implementation of the reform package.
"We also have to place greater resources into research, to further develop the organic sector and resist the temptation from massive multinational pressure to allow Genetically Modified Organisms on this island. This would contaminate any move to credible organic production, and diminish our ability to export food with safety and quality at its core.
"We are also aware that there are concerns regarding the way in which certain categories of farmer will fare when the decoupled single payment is introduced. This will particularly concern younger farmers, new entrants and dairy farmers. Where current payments or entitlements do not exist or are inadequate we believe that they should be augmented through the national reserve and that the reserve be increased to 5%. We would also favour the establishment of an appeals board comprising, 50% of all the farming organisations, and 50% of the Department to review individual cases".ENDS
"The British government know exactly what is required to get the process back on track. They need to set a date for elections and they need to get the political institutions back up and running.
"It is perfectly clear that going down the road of undermining the Agreement to support David Trimble is a failed strategy. The peace process and Good Friday Agreement cannot be reduced to an issue of David Trimble's leadership of the UUP.
"The British government know it is wrong to attempt to step outside of the terms of the Agreement when what is required is the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement."ENDS