Those who attacked election posters will not deter Sinn Féin from campaigning to return Martina Anderson as a MEP to the European Parliament, the party's councillor JJ Magee has said.
Cllr Magee was speaking after a number of Martina Anderson posters on the North Circular and Ballysillan Roads were removed and defaced with misogynistic language.
“The theft and defacing of election posters is a criminal offence and a direct attack upon the democratic process.
“There is no place for misogynism or any other kind of discrimination in our society.
“Those behind these incidents should realise they will not succeed in deterring Sinn Féin from campaigning to return Martina Anderson to the European Parliament as the strongest voice in defending the interests of the people of Ireland.
“An official complaint regarding the theft and defacing of the posters has been made to the PSNI."
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has urged people across Ireland to come out and support the Raise the Roof demonstration this weekend. The Midlands North West representative said that it has become abundantly clear during his campaigning work that the housing crisis is the most acute issue affecting people in his constituency. He will be joining the protest in Dublin this Saturday.
Matt Carthy said:
“The unprecedented housing crisis in this state has been caused by a series of failures of public policy – a failure to cap rents, a failure to build social housing, and a failure to implement an effective vacant homes strategy.
“The government has not just failed in its duty to provide adequate housing to all citizens. It has not been ‘neutral’ in this situation. Fine Gael has actively promoted the financialisation of housing by inviting in the foreign funds, and granting them a light-touch regulatory framework and special tax treatment.
“In March, the UN special rapporteur issued an absolutely scathing letter reprimanding the Irish government for its policies that have actively encouraged the financialisation of the real estate sector – and which have directly caused the extreme rise in homelessness we have witnessed.
“Specifically, the UN points to cuts to the public housing budget, and land hoarding by investors who deliberately restrict supply in order to inflate rent and prices. The UN authors single out three specific policies that have caused the financialisation of housing in Ireland, including the establishment of NAMA; the promotion of REITs from 2013 onwards; and the sale by the state-controlled banks of non-performing loans to US vulture funds.
“Sinn Féin in Brussels have been fighting vigorously to oppose the EU’s new proposed Directive on non-performing loans, which aims to give free rein to vulture funds and debt collectors across the EU, in order to bolster banks’ profits – and I will continue to do if I am re-elected.
“We are demanding a three-year rental freeze, a rent tax relief and a massive social housing building programme, as the preliminary steps in solving this crisis. We want to see the banks taxed and effectively regulated, and the vulture funds kept at bay.
“The UN has accused the Irish government of being in breach of its international obligation under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to ensure the right to adequate housing to everyone. It further accuses the government of breaching the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which declares that states must protect people against human rights abuses by business enterprises within their jurisdiction.
“This week, Sinn Féin has called for a fundamental step-change in the government’s approach to housing the people of this state. Housing needs to be enshrined as a human right in our Constitution.
“It is an absolute disgrace that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted against a Sinn Féin Bill in support of this, and which called for the people to have their say on this issue through a referendum in the Dáil vote this week.
“I urge all citizens concerned about the housing and homelessness crisis to show their opposition to the government’s failure on housing policy by marching this Saturday in the Raise the Roof rally.”
Sinn Féin TD and Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said that a strong Sinn Féin presence in local government would serve as a bulwark against the spiralling cost of living and hardship that the Irish people are being subjected to by Fine Gael and their supporters Fianna Fáil.
Launching the party’s local manifesto at Leinster House today, Teachta Ó Broin said:
“The stress of making ends meet is putting those on low and middle incomes under increased pressure and leaving many with little or no reserve for a rainy day.
“Families and young people cannot access affordable housing and the health service is in crisis while public money continues to be wasted by incompetent government ministers.
“Sinn Féin stand for strong local government delivering for the people who rely on it.
“Sinn Féin want to see our councils building homes, not subcontract housing to private landlords. We want to see our water services improved and expanded, not handed over to a quango that only cares about installing meters. We want amenities in local communities paid for fairly by the exchequer, not by a punitive tax on the family home.
“This document contains a suite of measures designed to give ordinary families a break, standing against the spiralling cost of living, and actually delivers on the promise of public office.”
Note: Please see Sinn Féin’s local manifesto attached
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said the destruction of a Martina Anderson election poster on the Strand Road roundabout in Coleraine is an act of anti-democratic vandalism.Caoimhe Archibald said: “The vandalism has been reported to the PSNI. “Sinn Féin will not be deterred by this anti-democratic action.“We will continue to campaign to return Martina Anderson, the strongest voice in defending the interests of the people of the north and Ireland against Brexit, to the European parliament to continue to stand up for the interests of all citizens here.”
Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis has said it is the correct decision to restore money for sports coaching in schools.
The party’s sport, art and culture spokesperson was speaking after the Department of Education announced it is to spend £600,000 on primary sports coaching.
“Sinn Féin vigorously opposed the decision to cut money for sports coaches and it is the correct decision to restore it as children and young people should not bear the brunt of Tory austerity,” Sinéad Ennis said.
“This funding will benefit sporting projects from the GAA and Irish Football Association (IFA) within our local schools and tens of thousands of children.”
Today the six party leaders in the north have written to the British Secretary of State asking her to bring forward legislation to compensate victims and survivors of Historical Institutional abuse.
"The Head of the Civil Service David Sterling has formally asked you as the Secretary of State to progress legislation through Westminster to compensate victims of Historical Institutional Abuse.
"In his appeal to you, Mr Sterling has stressed the need to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion, particularly given the age profiles of those involved.
"You have rejected this appeal from the Head of the Civil Service for legislation to compensate victims of historical institutional abuse, instead claiming that it should be a matter for the Stormont negotiations.
"The parties share the view that despite ongoing Talks aimed at restoring the Assembly that the recommendations of the Hart Inquiry should be addressed without any further delay and a suitable legal and financial framework put in place to begin addressing the needs of victims by you as Secretary of State.
"We look forward to your response shortly."
The letter has been signed by:
Arlene Foster MLA, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
Michelle O’Neill MLA, Assembly Leader and Vice-President of Sinn Féin
Robin Swann MLA, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
Colum Eastwood MLA, Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Naomi Long MLA, Leader of the Alliance Party
Clare Bailey MLA, Leader of the Green Party
The British Government must urgently clarify its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement amid claims that it will argue in court that its provisions do not apply in domestic law, Sinn Féin Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has said.
He was commenting after immigration and rights campaigner Emma DeSouza said that papers disclosed as part of her court case against the British Government revealed that the Home Office will argue that the birth-right provisions of the Good Friday Agreement are not part of domestic law and are therefore unenforceable.
“Emma DeSouza has fought a long campaign to assert the birth-right provisions of the Good Friday Agreement which gives citizens the entitlement to British, Irish or dual nationality,” Niall Ó Donnghaile said.
“The fact that the British Home Office continues to oppose her through the courts is in itself an affront to the Good Friday Agreement. But if it is the case they are now preparing to argue that these provisions don’t apply in law than that is an extremely concerning development.
“The Good Friday Agreement is an internationally-binding treaty, overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of Ireland and co-guaranteed by the Irish and British Governments. The provisions and protections within it must be upheld without equivocation.
“The Good Friday Agreement cannot and will not be renegotiated at the whim of the British Home Office.
“If they are now set to argue in a court of law that it somehow does not apply then that is entirely unacceptable.
“The British Government at the highest level must urgently clarify its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and end this attempt to dilute or diminish it.
“And as a co-guarantor of the Agreement, there is an onus on the Irish Government to assert itself in defence of it.”
Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has slammed Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy for standing by while 12 emergency beds are due to close in Bray the very same week that a funeral took place for a homeless man that passed away in the town.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Brady said:
“This week, I attended the funeral of a young homeless man who died in Bray last week. He had been sleeping in a tent as a result of the housing crisis. He died in that tent, having been failed by this Governments’ housing policy.
“Within days of this young man passing away, those using the 12 emergency beds have been notified that it will close at the end of this month. People are dying on our streets and the very measly measures being put in place by this Government to prevent this, are being shut down.”
Bray East representative for Sinn Féin Grace McManus added that:
“These 12 emergency winter beds opened before Christmas never even met demand in Wicklow. There has been a consistent waiting list to gain access to the emergency beds yet; despite this a decision has been made to close these beds. It is absolutely shameful.
Teachta Brady concluded:
“I have asked Minister Murphy today in the Dáil directly and I ask him again now. How many more people without a home unable to access emergency accommodation have to die on our streets before the Government acknowledge that their housing plan Rebuilding Ireland is not working?
“The young homeless man who passed away in Bray this week is the very proof of that fact.”
Speaking in Leinster House today, Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Kenny TD welcomed the beef compensation fund announced today for Ireland by European Commissioner, Phil Hogan. However, Teachta Kenny asked for more detail about who will benefit from the fund.
The Sligo-Leitrim TD said:
“It is no secret that beef farmers have been suffering from the effect of a looming Brexit and dropping prices.
“Any compensation that will help offset the effect of Brexit on them has to be welcomed, however, I would very much like to know how this fund will be allocated.
“The people who need and deserve support are the primary producers and I would not like to think that the money will end up with the processors. It is suckler farmers and finishers who need support. There is also a need to support breeders, who sell on and don’t necessarily finish cattle for slaughter, but their role in the industry is vital and their margins must also be protected.
“Funding, especially coming up to an election, is often found, but the nub of the issue is where it will be spent.”
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson and Sligo/Leitrim TD Martin Kenny has said that small and family farmers need to ensure that Matt Carthy is returned to the European Parliament to continue defending and advancing their interests as he has done over the past five years.
Teachta Kenny said:
“As a member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Matt Carthy has been a champion for rural communities, family farms, and a fairer distribution of CAP payments.
“Matt has been on the frontline defending Irish farmers against the implications of Brexit, dangerous EU trade deals, and has been working to ban oppressive practices by factories and supermarkets including below cost selling.
“Matt has been working to deliver fairness in CAP payments to secure higher supports to family farmers.
“He has campaigned hard for an upper payment limit to prevent a small minority of larger farmers from soaking up the majority of CAP monies.
“Working closely with farmers groups Matt has was worked assiduously to maintain and improve the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme to ensure increased supports to those with most constraints.
“He has sought to resolve the issue of delayed farm payments; fairer inspection process including the yellow-card system.
“Regarding forestry, Matt Carthy has been very clear on the need for a forestry strategy that works for farmers, communities and the environment and to prevent land grabbing by vulture funds.
“If re-elected, Matt will continue to advocate for small and family farmers. It is important that such farmers ensure that Matt Carthy is returned to the European Parliament to continue defending and advancing their interests as he has done over the past five years.”
Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill spoke with British Secretary of State Karen Bradley today and challenged her to clarify the British government’s position on dealing with the legacy of the conflict.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“The comments made by the British Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt undermine the legacy mechanisms agreed by the two governments and five main parties at Stormont House.
“Penny Mordaunt’s proposals introduce a statute of limitations and represent an attempt by the state to bring in legislation to prevent any members of the British state forces from being charged with murder.
“I spoke today with British Secretary of State Karen Bradley and challenged her to explicitly explain and publicly clarify her government’s policy on the matter.
“Karen Bradley told me the comments from Penny Mordaunt do not reflect official British government policy but I made it clear to her that the onus is now on the British government to eliminate public confusion and clarify their exact position as a matter of urgency.
“No one can be above the law, all victims and survivors should have the same access to processes of truth and justice, there can be no immunity or impunity for British forces guilty of crime, collusion and murder in Ireland.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support the families in their pursuit of truth and justice.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed news this morning that An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has signed the money message for his Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill which is designed to bring the insurance industry to heel and reform the law in respect of insurance contracts.
This news comes just a day after Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald criticised the Taoiseach at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil for the two year delay to this legislation which received unanimous support in the Dáil at second stage, and days after the announcement that the European Commission is to undertake a formal investigation into Insurance Ireland’s data pooling system.
Speaking today Teachta Doherty said;
“The news that my legislation now has a money message is very welcome albeit two years late. It means that the legislation can now move to committee and remaining stages and, given its unanimous support in the Dáil at second stage, I expect it to pass all stages and be signed into law.
“It is beyond belief that the European Commission has had to step in to investigate Insurance Ireland’s data pooling system when it has been clear that insurers have been ripping off policy holders for years. The government could have and should have stepped in to deal with this issue but it decided not to.
“I have met with the Minister this week to discuss looking at ways to further strengthen the bill to deal with developments since the bill passed the Dáil two years ago.
“I will now push to have committee stage scheduled without delay so that we can accelerate the passage of this legislation into law.”
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said the significant decrease in applications for postal and proxy votes for the upcoming European Election is ‘concerning’ and has requested a meeting with the Electoral Office.
The Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA was commenting after it emerged the number of applications for postal and proxy votes has dropped by 8,000 from the local government election.Colm Gildernew said:
"There have been serious concerns raised about the timeframe for applying for postal and proxy votes as the deadline was the day of the local government elections.
“The Electoral Office has a responsibility to ensure citizens have maximum access to their democratic right to vote. It has demonstrably failed to achieve this given the worrying reduction in applications for postal and proxy votes for the upcoming European Election.
“The Electoral Office has spent the last few years centralising all election related services to a single office in Belfast which has limited access to its services for people outside Belfast, particularly those in rural areas. This decision needs to be reviewed urgently.
“I have requested a meeting with Electoral Office officials to address the reasons for this decrease in applications and previous concerns arising from the local government elections.”
Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has expressed ‘deep concern’ at the fact that just 5% of the €180m spend on homeless services in 2018 was spent on prevention.
The Dublin Mid-West TD has also called for the urgent introduction of an independent inspection regime for both private and voluntary sector emergency accommodation.'
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Figures released by the Department of Housing show that €180m was spent on homeless services in 2018. The figures also show that just 5% of that budget was spend on preventing people from becoming homeless.
"In Dublin the figure was even lower at just 4%. In the Mid East Region nothing was spent on homeless prevention.
“It is a matter of deep concern that there is such a big imbalance between prevention and emergency response to homelessness.
“While Government must continue to provide emergency accommodation to all those who need it the fact that just €9.6m from €180m was spent preventing people from becoming homeless is totally unacceptable.
“It demonstrates that the homeless crisis is out of control and the Government does not have a grip on it. The Government must outline a plan showing how they intend to shift the focus from emergency accommodation to prevention.
“I am also concerned that there is still no independent inspection regime for all emergency accommodation. While inspection of voluntary sector accommodation will commence this year it will be carried out by Local Councils. This is not sufficient. What is needed is a fully independent inspection regime ensuring that all emergency accommodation, including hotels and B&Bs, meet the highest possible standards.”
Sinn Fein councillors in Glengormley Michael Goodman and Rosie Kinnear have condemned those responsible for sectarian graffiti at Queen's Park.Cllr Goodman said:“This offensive and sectarian graffiti is utterly unacceptable in any society and must be removed at once.“Those responsible for this graffiti in no way represent this community or reflect Republican values and only serves to heighten tensions to everyone’s detriment.Cllr Kinnear added:“Unfortunately incidents such as this only serve to further division at a time when the community wants to move forward.“We call on those responsible to stop.”
British Government plans to suspend the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) are hugely retrograde and a threat to citizens everywhere, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said.
She was commenting after the British Defence Secretary reiterated a plan to suspend parts of the European Convention before embarking on ‘military operations’.
Martina Anderson said: “This is a hugely retrograde step that threatens the rights of citizens everywhere because basically, the British Government is saying that it wants to embark on military adventures around the world without having to worry about anything as troubling as the rights of individual citizens.
“They want to set aside protections such as the right to life and the right to liberty and that tells you everything you need to know about the British Government and its intentions.
“They have already announced their plans to scrap the Human Rights Act – the same act which underpins the Good Friday Agreement, gives effect to the ECHR and gives citizens access to the European Court of Human Rights.
“This is all part of an ideological crusade by the British Government to remove themselves from any means of accountability or international scrutiny. It should be rigorously opposed.”
A member of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, Martina Anderson added: “The Human Rights Act and the Convention have been crucial to numerous significant developments in recent times. Article Two of the Convention deals with the right to life. It is via this article that both the Hillsborough families and the Loughinisland families were able to pursue truth recovery.
“We have commissioned and made available specific legal opinion on the scrapping of the Human Rights Act. This report concludes that the scrapping of the Human Rights Act would constitute a grave threat to the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin will continue to oppose any attempt by the British Government to dilute or remove human rights protections.”
Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan said a major change of attitude is needed from Fine Gael on climate action, saying “the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland report shows us that Fine Gael isn’t even trying to reach the 2020 renewable energy targets. Their failure to reach the very modest target of 16% renewable energy by 2020, well below the EU average of 20%, will now cost Irish taxpayers hundreds of millions. This is money that we should be putting into climate action measures.”
Lynn Boylan said:
“We have known for at least three years now that Ireland will not meet its 2020 renewable energy or climate targets, and all we have seen from Fine Gael is a shrugging of shoulders and a lot of waffle about climate action.
“The total inaction of Fine Gael means that Ireland is only expected to reach 13% renewable energy by 2020, and that is shocking when you consider that we were given a very modest target of 16% renewable energy to achieve when the EU average is to achieve 20%.
“90% of our energy is still coming from fossil fuels. This is in a country where we have so much renewable energy potential and could actually be aiming for complete energy sovereignty. We need to rapidly increase the adoption of renewables, especially in the heating sector.
“We also need to see a change of attitude from Fine Gael in the European Parliament where they have repeatedly voted against climate action measures including having binding renewable energy targets. They are so out of touch that they are now trying to move the focus on 2050 targets, something, which completely ignores the urgency of the climate emergency
“The EU system of cap and trade, given its failure to set direct goal-based binding targets for Member States, means that countries like Ireland just won’t bother when they know they can just buy credits for non-compliance. What’s commonly misperceived as fines for noncompliance, is actually the Irish government being obliged to buy credits.
“The European Investment Bank should also be releasing funds for massive state investment in the energy sector, to front-load our actions on renewables.”