Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady has expressed his concern regarding the planned French naval exercises scheduled to take place from tomorrow onwards off the south coast of Ireland, within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Wicklow TD said:
“For the second time in six months, we have a situation where a foreign naval service is scheduled to undertake naval exercises in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone, with the same group of Irish fishers indicating their intent to take to the area to protest at the threat that the naval exercises pose to their livelihood.
“It is no secret that the Irish fishing industry feels betrayed by an indifferent government that has failed to properly represent their interests in Europe.
“This is the same government that has indicated to anybody who cares to listen that it is their intent to initiate a debate that they hope will result in the reversal of Ireland's long standing position of military neutrality.
“And while political debate must always be welcomed, the continuing erosion of our nation's sovereignty under successive Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael governments through failure to invest in our Defence Forces has left our naval service unable to properly police Ireland maritime areas.
“Close to €2 billion worth of fish caught in Irish waters is not landed in Ireland but this state does not possess the means to carry out any meaningful type of inspection of trawlers fishing in Irish waters illegally.
“It is little wonder that Irish fishers have taken up the mantle of protecting Irish waters, as a result of the failure of the Irish government to do so.
“Earlier this year West Cork fishers felt they had no option but to face down the Russian Navy, who cancelled plans to hold exercises off the Southern coast.
“Now they feel that due to the failure of the government that they have no option but to adopt the same tactics in order to stop the French navy carrying out their plans to hold a similar live firing exercise in the Irish EEZ.
“I want to join with our fishers in calling on both the French and the Irish governments to relocate the exercises outside of Ireland’s EEZ.
“Responsibility for this situation lies with three government Ministers, Simon Coveney the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, who is responsible for the safekeeping of our country’s sovereignty, Minister Charlie McConalogue, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Minister for Transport and the Environment Eamonn Ryan, whose Department of Transport issued warning notices about the exercises, but who also has Ministerial responsibilities for the climate and the Environment.
“As with the previously planned Russian exercises, the French live firing exercises pose a threat to Marine life in the area.
“According to local fishing representative groups, the exercises are a serious threat to the livelihoods of fishers, to the health of Ireland's fish stocks, and to the ecosystem of our coastal waters.
“There are also concerns that intense use of military sonar could seriously disrupt migratory paths, and the breeding season of mackerel and other species.
“I have previously raised the issue of the dangers posed by military vessels to Irish marine life. The Royal Navy are obliged to consult with environment and conservation groups before they are allowed to employ sonar for exercises in British waters, yet when they enter Irish waters they are under no such obligation.
“If only Minister Ryan could bring himself to exercise the same energy towards those who threaten our marine environment as he does with turf cutters, we might see the government acting to protect Irish interests.”
Sinn Féin TDs for Meath, Johnny Guirke and Darren O’Rourke, have called on government TDs to confirm if they will back the party’s motion to save emergency services at Navan Hospital when it comes before the Dáil tomorrow.
The motion will be debated in the Dáil tomorrow evening and would ensure Navan Hospital emergency services are protected and that much-needed funding is secured for emergency services across the state.
Speaking today, Teachta Guirke said:
“Tomorrow, Sinn Féin will bring a motion before the Dáil calling for emergency services at Navan Hospital to be saved and securing much-needed funding and resources for our health system. It is vital that emergency services at Navan Hospital are protected and that all TDs stand up for the people of Meath to retain this crucial service.
“There is now just one day left to go before our motion is debated in the Dáil. Shockingly, government TDs in Meath have still not confirmed if they will back Sinn Féin’s motion or not. Their silence on this issue isn’t good enough. The people of Meath deserve to know if their TDs will stand up for Navan Hospital or not.
“I am urging all local TDs to state if they will back this motion and stand with the people of Meath or not.”
Teachta O’Rourke said:
“Tomorrow, the Dáil has a crucial opportunity to stand with the people of Meath and send the clear message that Navan Hospital emergency services must be saved. It is not enough for government TDs to pay lip service to people locally but then fail to act when it truly matters.
“I am urging all TDs in Meath and across the Dáil to back our motion tomorrow.
“Navan Hospital A&E must be saved and our health service must be protected. Communities here and across the state need to have confidence in the health system. At the heart of this issue is the fact that government after government has failed to invest in our health system. We have seen waiting lists spiral and delays in A&E shoot up. It isn’t good enough.
“It is long past time that the government invested in our health system and stood up for patients. Sinn Féin in government would deliver a health service that works.”Sinn Féin representatives including President Mary Lou McDonald, Health spokesperson David Cullinane and Meath TDs Johnny Guirke and Darren O’Rourke, will hold a public meeting this evening on the need to save emergency services at Navan Hospital- 7:30pm at The Newgrange Hotel, Navan.
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has welcomed the announcement of an additional one million pounds to help low-income families with uniform costs.
The West Belfast MLA said:
"Today's announcement that uniform grants for eligible families will be increased by 20% is welcome but much more needs to be done to support families with rising uniform costs.
“A recent poll of parents showed that 94% were concerned about the rising costs of uniforms and PE gear, while 32% said they get into debt to cover the costs.
"Sinn Féin has a plan to make uniforms more affordable for all families but to make this happen we need the DUP to end its boycott of the Executive.
"We need the DUP to join immediately with other parties to form an Executive so we can tackle the cost of living crisis and get money into the pockets of workers and families."
Pat Sheehan MLA will later today take part in a conference hosted by the United Nations Department of Peace Operations and the Berghof Foundation. The conference, “Living Political Transformation – Voices of Witnesses” will draw panellist from around the world.
Speaking in advance of the conference Pat Sheehan said:
“The Good Friday Agreement is a symbol of hope throughout the world and I look forward to meeting with the panellists and sharing experiences.
“Peace making is on not a one-off event, it’s a process and we have much to do to fully realise the transformative potential of our agreements.
“The conference is extremely timely as our agreements, international law, progress and the political process is held hostage by in a Tory party leadership battle.
“The only way forward is reaching and honouring agreements and respecting the democratic choice of the people to establish government today and the right of the people to determine their constitutional future.”
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said an Executive is required now to improve stroke services across the North.
The party's health spokesperson said:
"Today the Health Minister published a plan to improve stroke services and while this is welcome, we now need to see the Executive restored immediately so we can get on with the work of implementing this plan and fixing our health service.
“We need an Executive to be formed immediately and a three-year budget agreed which prioritises health and delivers better services for people.
“Sinn Féin is committed to investing an additional billion pounds in our health service over the next three years to tackle waiting lists, recruit more doctors and nurses and to fund vital cancer and mental health strategies.
"Delivering better stroke services for people are a priority for Sinn Féin and we look forward to engaging with the Health Minister on his latest proposals.”
Sinn Féin committed to partnership, co-operation and working for progress – O’Neill
Speaking at the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown, Co Kildare Sinn Féin Leas-Uachtarán and First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill that the people of the north have given Sinn Féin an overwhelming endorsement for our vision for change, and the future.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“Our performance reflects changing public attitudes and the progressive shift in politics on our island.
“Irrespective of religious, political or social backgrounds our commitment is to make politics work through partnership, co-operation and delivery working with others who want progress.
“Sinn Féin wants to work together with others to deliver for people. We are ready to form an Executive now.
“We need to put over £400 million into people's pockets to help deal with the cost of living, and an extra £1 billion into the health service to reduce waiting lists, support cancer and mental health services, and recruit more doctors and nurses.
“Workers and families are struggling. They need our help.
“The DUP need to stop blocking an Executive, so we can give people that help right away.”
And the Mid Ulster MLA said that Boris Johnson’s Tory government plan to break international law by sabotaging the Protocol could have colossal political and economic consequences. She said:
“It is an irrefutable fact that the Protocol is working, and that Boris Johnson is incapable of accepting in a straightforward, honest and truthful way that this is the case.
“The attempts this week by Boris Johnson to sabotage the Protocol in plain sight have sounded the alarm bells right across Ireland, Britain, Europe and America, awakening all those who value the Good Friday Agreement and who care deeply about safeguarding our peace and progress of the past quarter century.
“It is not taken lightly that this British Government discards international law at a whim in such a reckless way, and only ever in their own selfish interests.
“Boris Johnson knows that to gamble the Protocol is to jeopardise the British government’s agreement with the EU on their withdrawal and future trading relationship with colossal political and economic impact.
“The Tories have no mandate on this island.
“However, a majority of those MLAs recently elected do and there is a majority in the Assembly who support the Protocol because it is working, giving us continued access to the European single market, creating jobs and economic benefit.”
Michelle O’Neill told the gathering that as First Minister elect she would be a champion for equality, for difference and inclusion and provide leadership for all. She said:
"The rallying call of Wolfe Tone and the Society of Irishmen and women of ‘Equality – it is newly strung and shall be heard’ is my clarion call in 2022.
“I am the First Minister elect, and I shall be heard as I champion difference and inclusion, and oppose division.
“I will provide leadership which is inclusive, which celebrates diversity and which guarantees rights and equality for those who have been excluded, discriminated against and ignored in the past.
“These are my values. These are our values.”
And she called for all of Ireland to re-enter the EU and said the Irish government must plan for constitutional change.
“We need re-entry back into the EU for all of Ireland.
“We need an Irish national health service, free at the point of entry.
“We need to tackle the climate crisis on our island.
“We need to end the duplication of public services.
“We need to maximise the full economic potential and opportunities for everyone who shares this island.
“For many people the frustration, impatience and urgency for change is growing.
“There is a direct challenge and responsibility on the Irish Government of the day to plan for constitutional change.
“In order to avoid the dangers, jeopardy and pitfalls of the Brexit referendum in Britain.” ENDS/CRÍOCH
FULL TEXT OF REMARKS BY SINN FÉIN LEAS-UACHTARÁN AND FIRST MINISTER (DESIGNATE), MICHELLE O’NEILL MLA, WOLFE TONE COMMEMORATION, BODENSTOWN, CO KILDARE, 19 JUNE 2022
Equality - It is new-strung and shall be heard
“Dia daoibh a chairde agus chomrádaithe, agus tá fáilte mhór romhaibh inniu.
You are all very welcome here today.
Isn’t it fantastic to be back in person here in Sallins as we gather to honour republican patriot, Theobald Wolfe Tone?
For over 200 years this sacred place has been one of political pilgrimage for generations of Irish Republicans who have gathered here on the nearest Sunday to 20 June.
The political thinking of Tone and his associates was strongly influenced by the democratic principles of the French revolutionary ideals of ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’.
He was the most radical thinker and fervent advocate of his time, who wanted ‘to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to substitute the common name of Irishman and woman in place of the denominations of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter’.
I like you am proud to be an Irish republican in the tradition of Tone.
Our primary political objectives therefore remain an end to partition, an end to the union with Britain, the construction of a new national democracy - a New Ireland - and the reconciliation of our people.
We have never been closer than we are now, to achieving our objectives.
Ireland is changing
And the demand for change is growing in every town, village and city on our island.
Ireland needs republican politics now more than ever.
The politics of fairness and hope.
And the politics for prosperity and equality for all.
The demand on politicians from north and south is a very simple one.
They want those elected to government to make politics work.
To make real improvements and real difference in their life’s.
Sinn Féin’s vision for a new society is better than anything that has come before.
Six weeks ago, the people of the north gave Sinn Féin an overwhelming endorsement for our vision for change, and the future.
Our performance reflects changing public attitudes and the progressive shift in politics on our island.
Irrespective of religious, political or social backgrounds our commitment is to make politics work through partnership, co-operation and delivery working with others who want progress.
Sinn Féin wants to work together with others to deliver for people.
We are ready to form an Executive now.
We need to put over £400 million into people's pockets to help deal with the cost of living, and an extra £1 billion into the health service to reduce waiting lists, support cancer and mental health services, and recruit more doctors and nurses.
Workers and families are struggling.
They need our help now.
The DUP need to stop blocking an Executive, so we can give people that help right away.
The outworkings of Brexit and the decision of the DUP to support it; the shift in the balance of power at Stormont, the irreversible loss of the unionist political majority and their perpetual veto has created a political landscape which many within the leadership of the DUP and the Tory party seem incapable of reconciling themselves to.
But the people have spoken loud and clear.
We know that the Irish Protocol is being used as a proxy for political unionism to undermine the Good Friday Agreement and shift the goalposts, because they cannot bring themselves to accept the new realities in which we face.
It is an irrefutable fact that the Protocol is working, and that Boris Johnson is incapable of accepting in a straightforward, honest and truthful way that this is the case.
The attempts this week by Boris Johnson to sabotage the Protocol in plain sight have sounded the alarm bells right across Ireland, Britain, Europe and America, awakening all those who value the Good Friday Agreement and who care deeply about safeguarding our peace and progress of the past quarter century.
It is not taken lightly that this British Government discards international law at a whim in such a reckless way, and only ever in their own selfish interests.
Boris Johnson knows that to gamble the Protocol is to jeopardise the British Governments agreement with the EU on their withdrawal and future trading relationship with colossal political and economic impact.
The Tories have no mandate on this island.
However, a majority of those MLAs recently elected do and there is a majority in the Assembly who support the Protocol because it is working, giving us continued access to the European single market, creating jobs and economic benefit.
This week Boris Johnson also attempted to deport those seeking Asylum in Britain to Rwanda.
Thankfully however those human rights defenders ably representing those being dehumanised and treated like ‘prisoners’ won, by having the European Court of Human Rights intervene to stop the deportations.
And of course, the British Prime Minister’s response was to threaten to disapply the European Convention on Human Rights, in order to maintain his cruel and shameful policy.
The Council of Europe has also raised its criticism relating to the introduction of Amnesty legislation to protect British Army veterans giving them immunity from prosecution and walking away from the Stormont House Agreement on Dealing with the Past.
The British legislation amounts to a judicial blackout with the denial of truth and justice for scores of families impacted.
The Human Rights Commission in the North have characterised this legislation as ‘fatal and flawed'.
We will stand with all victims and survivors of the conflict and continue to campaign for their right to truth and justice.
We too will never give up.
A chairde, it is no understatement to say that the Good Friday Agreement is under a full-frontal attack and that the human rights framework in which citizens and society at large rely is being grossly undermined.
The Tory government have abandoned any pretence of ‘rigorous impartiality’ in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The approach of this British Government represents a head-on collision with the Good Friday Agreement, and importantly everyone who cherishes, values and depends on it across this island, and beyond.
Everyone should be alert to that danger.
This country has seen enormous social change occur over the past number of years, not least with the monumental successes in securing marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights.
And in the North Sinn Féin have been on the frontline, along with grassroots communities and campaigning organisations, which has forced the British Government to legislate for these same rights, and an Acht Gaeilge in the North which is being legislated for at long last.
But the job now is to ensure these rights are realised and delivered!
This party will stand firm on basic rights and entitlements. These are not up for discussion or negotiation. We are well past that time.
I very much welcome President Michael D Higgin’s intervention this week where he spoke truth to power reflecting precisely the disastrous impact of the government’s housing policy on the very fabric of Irish society.
A chairde, the recent elections have ushered in a new era of change.
The rallying call of Wolfe Tone and the Society of Irishmen and women of “Equality – it is newly strung and shall be heard is my clarion call in 2022.
I am the First Minister elect, and I shall be heard as I champion difference and inclusion, and oppose division.
I will provide leadership which is inclusive, which celebrates diversity and which guarantees rights and equality for those who have been excluded, discriminated against and ignored in the past.
These are my values.
These are our values.
This is a defining moment for our politics and all of our people.
It presents us all with an exciting opportunity to re-imagine relationships in this society on the basis of fairness, equality and social justice.
As a First Minister for All I intend to work with those from all political perspectives, through partnership - not division.
I want to create as much opportunity for our young people in Ballymurphy, as I do for those children and young people on the Shankill Road.
I want to get to work now, and tackle the cost of living crisis bearing down on people.
I am very proud of our place on this island, and these islands, which is a rich tapestry of languages, a vast heritage and cultures, including the orange, green and rainbow of cultures, and multiculturalism.
The scale of what has been accomplished since the advent of the Good Friday Agreement 24 years ago has resulted in the transformation our society, and in particular border communities, but we have much, much more to do in order to prosper and reach our full potential.
This includes advancing peace and reconciliation, and eradicating the cancer of sectarianism in our society.
Our society has suffered.
We must heal the wounds of the past.
Sinn Féin seeks partnership, not division with unionism, but we also want to work and serve all those who are of neither a unionist nor nationalist political tradition too.
We want to show respect, and to be shown respect whether we’re British, Irish, or neither.
I see no contradiction in declaring and delivering on our firm commitment to a power sharing Stormont Executive, while at the same time making the case for constitutional change on the island.
I believe that we are in a Decade of Opportunity, and Sinn Féin will not miss this moment.
As a party we are representing communities right across the 32 counties, with a new generation of republican leaders, making a difference where it counts.
The political and electoral strength of Sinn Féin and our message of change resonates with all those who want a more ambitious future for this island.
Sinn Fein will continue to lead this change in government North and South in the next short period ahead with Mary Lou McDonald as a future Taoiseach, and I as First Minister in Belfast.
We must plan for Ireland’s future beyond this Brexit chaos.
When we look at the present realities there can be little doubt that Brexit has, and continues to be, a huge catalyst for constitutional change, and will undoubtedly lead to the ending of the Union with Britain.
A stark choice has opened up between the narrow, inward-looking vision of Brexit Britain and the open, inclusive vision of a New Ireland.
Many of those of a British or unionist identity are now considering the merits of reunification – not to become republicans, but to remain European.
I firmly believe that within this decade the people will have the freedom to freely choose new constitutional and political arrangements on this island, as underpinned by the provisions of self-determination in the Good Friday Agreement.
Far from diluting unionist tradition or British identity and culture in any future arrangements these rights like others must be guaranteed.
Everyone who has a stake in this transformation from across this island must be involved in designing what shape that takes.
There must be space created for mature dialogue where nobody feels they are being asked to compromise or surrender their identity or allegiance.
The old Ireland cannot and will not be the New Ireland.
We want reunification not just for republicans, but for everyone.
This is not about victories.
This is about something better for us all.
We need re-entry back into the EU for All of Ireland.
We need an Irish national health service, free at the point of entry.
We need to tackle the climate crisis on our island.
We need to end the duplication of public services.
We need to maximise the full economic potential and opportunities for everyone who shares this island.
For many people the frustration, impatience and urgency for change is growing.
There is a direct challenge and responsibility on the Irish Government of the day to plan for constitutional change.
In order to avoid the dangers, jeopardy and pitfalls of the Brexit referendum in Britain.
Since May last year, the Scottish Parliament has had a clear majority of members who are in favour of independence and committed to giving the people of Scotland that choice in a second referendum.
This week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who I had the pleasure of visiting in Edinburgh last month to discuss our shared priorities, launched the Scottish government’s first paper in the 'Building a new Scotland' series, focusing on independence.
So, it cannot be ignored that a national public discourse is now well underway on this island and in Scotland, and this is welcome.
However, structured dialogue led by the Government through an All-Ireland Citizen’s Assembly is necessary and should be established without further dithering and delay.
This is a defining moment in the history of Ireland.
And the decisions we make now will shape the direction of our country for the next generation.
We have lived a century apart, and partition has failed.
Our mission is to bring all the people who share this country together.
We face many challenges, but we also face enormous opportunities.
If Brexit and the continuing exploits of the Tories demonstrates anything it is that the British Parliament has never, and never will, act in our interests.
To conclude, let me quote the great Wolfe Tone himself;
‘From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Great Britain and Ireland as the curse of the Irish nation, and felt convinced that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy.
‘My mind has been confirmed in this opinion by the experience of every succeeding year, and the conclusions which I have drawn from every fact before my eyes.’
Let’s make this the moment we turn the tide for workers, for families and for Ireland.
Let’s make history.
Let’s fulfil the ambition for change felt across this country.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go leor.”
Sinn Féin MLA Pádraig Delargy has said there is an urgent need to fund mental health services.
The Foyle MLA was speaking after figures received from the Health Minister revealed that some children have been waiting more than three years for a psychology assessment.
Pádraig Delargy said:
“We are currently experiencing a mental health crisis in the north with increasing numbers of people, young and old, waiting on mental health support.
“Right now, people are struggling with anxiety, depression, and mental ill-health.
“We need an Executive to be formed immediately and a three-year budget agreed which prioritises health and mental health to be delivered urgently so we can put the necessary funding and services in place.
“The Department of Heath need to urgently review the disparity between Trusts and act immediately.
“Sinn Féin is committed to investing an additional billion pounds in our health service over the next three years to tackle waiting lists, recruit more doctors and nurses, to fund cancer and mental health services and help transform the health service.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called on the British government to listen to workers and act on the soaring cost of living.
The party's economy spokesperson said:
"For months the cost of living has been on a steep upward trajectory, inflation is now predicted to hit 11% over the next couple of months and this is impacting on workers, families and businesses."Boris Johnson and his government need to listen to workers and act now.
"While the Tory government did announce some measures in recent weeks, further action is urgently needed, particularly in relation to rising petrol and diesel costs.
"Petrol and diesel prices are heading towards £2.00 per litre and many people are calculating the cost of every journey and only making the ones they can't avoid.
"The British government should act immediately to cut duty on fuel further and also slash VAT on fuel and energy.
"Workers and families are struggling as their pay packets don't go as far now as they previously would have, and we need to empower workers to uphold their rights to decent pay and conditions.
"We need the DUP to join immediately with other parties to form an Executive so we can tackle the cost of living crisis and get money into the pockets of workers and families."
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD has expressed concern over the decision by the EU to sign a tripartite gas deal with Israel and Egypt.
The multi-billion Euro deal is for gas from disputed gas fields, in which Israel is in dispute with Lebanon. This despite Israel’s long record of human rights abuses, and breaches of international law.
The Wicklow TD said:
“I am concerned that as the EU seeks to find alternative sources to Russian energy supplies that they are prepared to do a deal with Israel - a state that has been consistently found to be in breach of international law.
"The UN High Commissioner for Human Right Michelle Bachelet has recently called for Israel to launch a criminal inquiry into the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh. The US Palestinian Journalist gunned down by Israeli forces last month.
"A further three Palestinians were gunned down by Israel on Thursday. Palestinians are murdered by the Israeli state on a regular if not daily basis. Israel has been found guilty on a repeated basis of human rights violations against the Palestinian people.
"Although the EU is presenting the proposed deal as an alternative to Russian energy supplies, the proposed pipeline will take a minimum of seven years to build, with US sources claiming that it is too expensive to be economically viable, and will take too long to come into production to be a viable alternative to Russian gas.
"What is not being addressed is the denial of the Palestinian people to the mineral rights which have been discovered on Palestinian territories, but which continue to be appropriated by the Israeli state.
"The 1995 Oslo II Accord granted the Palestinian Authority maritime jurisdiction over waters up to twenty miles from the coast. The Palestinian Authority signed a contract for gas exploration with the British Gas Company in 1999, the same year that a large gas field was discovered off the coast of Gaza.
"Despite discussions between Palestinians, the British company and the Israeli’s, Palestinians have not derived any benefits from the gas find. Since the Israeli blockade of Gaza began in 2007, the Israeli government has bypassed the Palestinian Authority, seizing control of natural resources for itself.
"Israel has also seized control of a further oil and gas find at the Meged Field, just inside the West Bank. Israel argues that the field lies outside of Palestinian territories, even though the majority of the mineral reservoir lies beneath the occupied Palestinian territory.
"While Israel reaps the benefits of mineral wealth that belongs to the Palestinian people, the right of the Palestinian people to govern themselves is denied.
"The ability of the Palestinian state to develop is also denied. The much needed proceeds from the oil and gas discoveries would provide the means to lift the Palestinian people out of poverty and to establish a viable state.
"Ireland has a responsibility to draw attention to this hypocrisy at an international level. The EU has a responsibility to avoid rewarding states in breach of international law.
"It must act consistently with the principles which define the EU. The EU cannot be seen to reward states which are consistently in breach of international law, through their blatant contravention of human rights.”
Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has paid tribute to Tyrone and Eoghan Ruadh hurler Damian Casey who died tragically in Spain.
Michelle Gildernew said:
“The community in Dungannon is heartbroken with news of the tragic death of Damian Casey.
“Damien was a prolific hurler for his club Eoghan Ruadh and Tyrone Hurlers, helping them claim the All Ireland Nicky Rackard Cup in May. Possibly the best hurler ever in Tyrone his death is devastating for the county, but unimaginable for Sean, Susan, Louise and Catherine.
“I have spoken to his family and club to offer my sincerest condolences and support to them and all of Damien’s friends and teammates at this sad time.”
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”
The East Derry MLA said:
"Diesel and petrol prices are becoming unaffordable for workers and families.
"Fuel prices are now on the verge of hitting £2 per litre, this compares to £1.30 per litre this time last year.
"This is unsustainable for many workers and families who are now facing a real crisis with many weighing up whether they can even afford to go to work or lift their kids from school.
"The 5p per litre cut previously announced didn't scratch the surface so the British Government urgently needs to cut duty further and cut VAT on petrol and diesel to ease the burden on people at the pump.
"These are measures that would also help ease the burden on many businesses who are struggling with rising costs.
"The DUP must also stop holding people to ransom and get back into the Executive so that we can get the £435 million sitting in a Stormont bank account out into the pockets of workers and families." Críoch
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has condemned the decision by the British Home Secretary Pritti Patel to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the US.
If convicted of leaking information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Assange could face a jail sentence of up to 175 years.
The Wicklow TD said:
“The decision by the British Government to extradite Julian Assange is a purely politically motivated act, designed to further suppress journalism.
“Failure to protect his right to speak out as a journalist would represent a serious undermining of the principle of free speech.
“Julian Assange is a journalist who spoke out about illegal activities engaged in by the US in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For this, he is being hounded by authorities.
“The decision by Pritti Patel to extradite Julian Assange is nothing more than an assault on free speech by a British Government whose questionable activities has already led to the resignation of two government ethics advisors.
“Julian Assange should be released by the British authorities.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has described ‘the failure’ of the Minister for Agriculture to secure government co-financing support to EU agriculture funding as ‘shameful’.
While Ireland received €15.8 million from the European Crisis Reserve (ECR) the European Commission gave member states significant flexibility to increase supports to farmers by up to 200% through direct exchequer funding, potentially unlocking a further €31.6 million in supports for Irish farmers. But, in a response to a Parliamentary Question Minister McConalogue has now confirmed to Deputy Carthy that government will not be utilising this provision.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The Minister for Agriculture has now confirmed, for the first time, that he will not be utilising the co-financing mechanism to provide additional financial supports to farmers through the European Crisis Reserve.
“Considering the enormous pressures that many family farmers are facing, particularly with rising input costs, this position is shameful and unforgivable. It appears that government have not yet learned that increased costs for farmers results in increased grocery prices for consumers. Their inaction will worsen the cost-of-living crisis.
“In agriculture, as with so many other areas, government have continually acted too slowly and in a minimalistic manner. We know that farmers within the pig, tillage and livestock sectors are crying out for support. The EU provided for government intervention to provide further supports. Minister McConalogue has now confirmed that he will not utilise this provision.
“Sinn Féin will be demanding a rethink of this position. Often, government cite EU rules, as reason not to intervene in the cost-of-living crisis. In this instance the EU has provided for government to support struggling farmers to the tune of €31.6million. That they have choose not to will not be forgotten by farmers or the rural communities that depend on them.”NOTE TO EDITORS: The Parliamentary Question is available below.______________________________________________
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 730 of 24 May 2022, if he intends to avail of the co-financing mechanism of the European Crisis Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter.REPLY
On 23rd March, the EU Commission announced the adoption of exceptional adjustment aid to producers in agricultural sectors which have been impacted by Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. The aid provided for was granted as a measure supporting agricultural markets following the transfer of funds from the reserve for crisis in the agricultural sector.
The exceptional aid allocation to Ireland was €15.8 million in EU funding and there are detailed requirements and conditionality attached to this allocation; set out in Commission Delegated Regulation 2022/467 of 23rd March 2022.
On 6th June, I announced the opening of the Horticulture Exceptional Payment Scheme. Support is being provided to the critically important Irish horticulture sector, with an aid package of €2.8m for eligible growers. On 13th June, I announced the opening of applications for the Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme 2 (PEPS2). A total fund of €13 million is being made available for this voluntary scheme for pig farmers, to support the viability of this important sector. These scheme are funded from Ireland’s EU funds allocation for exceptional adjustment aid to producers in agricultural sectors which have been impacted by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Exchequer funding will not be used to co-finance the exceptional aid measure. Ireland will instead provide exchequer funding separate to Commission Delegated Regulation 2022/467 to other sectors in the context of the illegal invasion of Ukraine. In addition to the use of the EU exceptional aid provision, and in acknowledgement of the need to address the multiple impacts of the illegal invasion in Ukraine on food supply chains and food security, significant funding has already been allocated towards Exchequer funded measures including a targeted intervention package for the tillage sector, and the Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has expressed concern at HIQA’s Report on University Hospital Limerick’s Emergency Department, which deemed that the hospital was not compliant with HSE patient safety and patient dignity standards or with workforce capacity standards.
Sinn Féin TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan called for a comprehensive plan to deal with the severe capacity deficits in the University of Limerick Hospital Group and Community Healthcare Group 3, which covers the same area.
He said these management units needed to be completely amalgamated and resourced to tackle the many severe capacity deficits in the midwest.
They added that, based on HIQA’s report, UHL had not improved sufficiently since the 2019 Independent Review of Unplanned Care which the HSE had previously decided was no longer relevant to publish. The HIQA report outlines how the emergency department resuscitation room was being used for Covid-19 and overflow patients, a practice which was clearly not conducive to staff or patient safety.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“We are extremely concerned by HIQA’s Report on University Hospital Limerick’s Emergency Department, which is not compliant with patient safety and dignity standards or with workforce capacity standards.
“The HIQA review outlines how the emergency department resuscitation room was being used for Covid-19 and overflow patients.
“That is clearly not an acceptable practice in terms of staff or patient safety.
“Emergency departments across the State are not capable of handling the demand they are facing.
“Patients are left waiting far too long almost everywhere, but the overcrowding is particularly severe in Limerick.
“The midwest health region needs a serious, multi-annual plan to tackle capacity deficits and implement reforms across care sectors.
“The midwest, and all regions, also need a clear pipeline of nursing graduates and specialists to fill the staffing gaps which HIQA identified.”
Teachta Quinlivan said:
“This damning report confirms what I have been saying for years that the current set up, structures, and management practice at UHL are not fit for purpose.
“The government and HSE have been failing patients, their families, and staff for far too long.
“We need fundamental change, and this can only come from an immediate government intervention. No other hospital in the state has been abandoned like UHL has been for years.
“The previous ED closures were not followed up with the investment that was needed in UHL, and now the hospital is a single point of failure in the region.
“Based on HIQA’s report UHL has not improved since the 2019 Independent Review of Unplanned Care.
“Limerick deserves better healthcare planning. The HIQA report identifies a clear need for more beds and more specialist nurses in the emergency department.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD will address a public meeting in Navan next Monday, 20th June, calling for Navan Hospital's emergency services to be saved, amidst plans by the HSE to downgrade services at the hospital.
Sinn Féin TDs for Meath, Johnny Guirke and Darren O'Rourke, will also address the meeting.
Speaking in advance, Teachta McDonald said:
"The A&E Department in Navan provides a vital service to the local community and these crucial emergency services need to be retained.
"What Navan Hospital needs is sufficient investment to retain vital services. The government, the Minister for Health and the HSE should pursue this, instead of letting the HSE set the agenda by proposing the closure of services that they have been attempting to shut down for years now.
"People power has saved services at Navan Hospital in the past and we need people to rally around this issue again in order to retain our emergency services.
"I am encouraging everyone to attend Monday's public meeting and to mobilise to retain services at Navan Hospital."
The public meeting will take place at 7.30pm on Monday, 20th June in the Newgrange Hotel, Navan
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Órlaithí Flynn has called for the re-establishment of the Executive to support people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
The call comes on the back of a statement from Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Dr Richard Wilson who is urging the DUP to get back to work.
The West Belfast MLA said:
"The DUP need to end this boycott which punishes those who elected us so we can support people struggling with their mental health.
“We are currently experiencing a mental health crisis in the north with increasing numbers of people, young and old, waiting on mental health support and increasing numbers of people losing their lives through alcohol and drugs. This should be the priority for all MLAs.
“Right now people are struggling with anxiety, depression and mental ill-health, therefore we need the Mental Health strategy to be delivered urgently so we can put the necessary funding and services in place.
“Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy is committed to allocating an additional £1 billion to our Health Service over the next three years, to tackle waiting lists, recruit more doctors and nurses, fund cancer and mental services and transform health.
“That requires an Executive to be formed immediately."
MacManus backs Macra on need for young farmer support
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus, Member of the European Parliament Agricultural Committee, has voiced his support for Macra’s demand for government action on young farmer support. MacManus said:
“Earlier this week Macra President John Keane called out the Irish Government for its failure to prioritise generational renewal. President Keane rightly highlighted that Ireland is an outlier in this context and even the European Commission is concerned.”
“In support of our young farmers, I will be contacting the European Commission to demand that they engage with the Irish Government to address its lack of ambition on generational renewal.”
The Midlands Northwest MEP pointed to worrying statistics. “The trends are only going one way and it is not a positive one. The Teasagc farm survey preliminary results, released earlier this week, show that the average farmer age has moved from 55 to 59 years old, since 2016.”
“Farming is a difficult and physical job and the age profile of farmers will play a role in workplace accidents. Until farmers are ready to retire we need to be properly incentivising farmer partnerships and preparing younger people to take over these responsibilities.”
“I am very excited about the next generation of farmers. These bright young people are learning about the latest science and techniques at agricultural colleges around the country and this knowledge will energise the sector. They are also starting their career in a time when responding to climate change is a natural part of how we build a sustainable future for the sector. I see their involvement not only as a win for the environment but a win in achieving even higher food standards for our citizens.”
MacManus concluded, “We must not allow them to be locked out of making a career on the land by poor Government policy. Sinn Féin will always stand for the protection and development of our family farming sector, which powers our rural economies.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MP for North Belfast John Finucane has welcomed support from the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for the Good Friday Agreement and the Protocol.
Chuck Schumer's comments came after continuing attempts by the British government to undermine agreements, breach international law and deny victims of the conflict truth and justice.
The Sinn Féin MP said:
"I welcome comments from the US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that the Good Friday Agreement, the Protocol and the truth and justice mechanisms agreed at Stormont House must be honoured and upheld.
“This intervention is particularly timely given that the British government has in recent days sought to undermine agreements, breach international law and deny victims of the conflict truth and justice.
“The message from the US Senate is unequivocal, there is no support either in America or in Ireland for the British Government's amnesty legislation which seeks to override the Stormont House Agreement in an effort to cover up the role of the British State in the conflict.
“The Senate and House of Representatives have also stated that the British Government must drop its attempts to breach the Protocol and that it should instead re-enter negotiations with the EU in good faith.
“The world is now watching the next moves of the British Government and the onus is on them to honour the agreements they've made and end their attempts to breach international law."
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said that only a fully functioning Executive can fix and transform our health service.
The Sinn Féin health spokesperson was speaking after Health Minister Robin Swann announced that plans to reshape hospital care would go out to consultation in the autumn.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said:
“Sinn Féin is committed to investing an additional billion pounds in our health service over the next three years to tackle waiting lists, recruit more doctors and nurses, to fund cancer and mental health services and help transform the health service.
“To do that requires an Executive to be formed and a three-year budget agreed which prioritises health.
“Our healthcare system is in crisis, waiting lists continue to grow and it is the people we represent who are feeling the pain.
“I urge the DUP to end its boycott of the Assembly, the Executive and North South bodies and form an Executive to work with the other parties to tackle the cost of living crisis and fix the health service.”
Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has expressed concerns following the announcement of the closure of the Model Care Home in Ballymoney.
The North Antrim MLA said:
“The closure of the Model Care Home in Ballymoney is deeply concerning and will result in 28 residents having to move to new homes. This will create real anxiety for the residents and their families.
"It will also have a significant impact on over 50 staff who currently work there.
“This is a huge blow to staff and to the residents and their families, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable and no doubt this will cause huge trauma and disruption to them.
“I have been in contact with both the RQIA and the Northern Trust. The focus now needs to be on prioritising the needs of residents and ensuring a smooth transition takes place to minimise disruption to their lives.”