Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed the announcement of a new inquest into the death of Derry schoolgirl Raychel Ferguson.
The Foyle MP said:
“I welcome the announcement of a new inquest into the death of 9-year-old Raychel Ferguson who died from hyponatremia.
“The Ferguson family - like all those affected by hyponatremia - have been waiting too long for the truth.
“They are entitled to answers about the death of their daughter and I hope that this process will lead to some form of closure.
“The Western Trust must co-operate fully with the inquest to ensure the Ferguson family can get the answers they deserve.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has extended his condolences to the family of Gay Byrne who died today.
Gerry Adams said:
“Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le teaglach Byrne ag an uair millteanach brónach i saol bhur gclann.
"I want to extend my sympathy and solidarity to the family and friends of Gay Byrne who died today. My sympathies also to his colleagues in RTÉ.
"Gay Byrne was the quintessential broadcast media presenter. Whether on television or radio he had a unique ability to connect with his audience.
"To his wife Kathleen, daughters Suzy and Crona, and to the wider family circle and his many friends I want to extend my sincerest condolences on their loss.
"Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam dílis."
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said farmers are deeply concerned about the impact of Brexit on their livelihoods.
The South Down MP said:
“Today I visited farmers and those involved in agriculture across South Down alongside Sinn Féin President Mary Lou Donald.
“It is clear there is widespread concern among the farming community over Brexit and the catastrophic impact it will have on the sector in the north.
“The reckless Brexit policy of the Tories and the DUP will drive many farmers, some of whom whose families have farmed land for generations, out of business.
“They don’t trust the British government to continue EU funding post Brexit and are genuinely concerned for their livelihoods."
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for the immediate release of Heba al-Labadi, a Palestinian woman who has been on hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
Speaking on the 41st day of Heba’s hunger strike, Martina Anderson MEP said:
“Heba al-Labadi has suffered horrific treatment in an Israeli interrogation centre after being arrested on her way to a wedding with her family and sentenced to administrative detention.
“After 30 days of relentless interrogation and psychological torture, Heba has been denied access to a lawyer and her family.
“She has now entered her 41st day on hunger strike.
“The EU and Irish Government must act on this gross violation of international law – Israel must not be allowed to act with impunity.
“Heba al-Labadi must be released immediately, and I would urge people to support the days of action from the 8th – 11th November in support of the Palestinian prisoners.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has extended condolences to the family of Gay Byrne following news of his death today.
The Sinn Féin President said:
“Gay Byrne’s contribution to the public discourse as a journalist and broadcaster was immense and enduring.
“From the early days of RTÉ until present day, Gay Byrne has occupied a special place in the hearts and minds of many Irish households.
“On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to extend my condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.”
Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has welcomed an Appeal Court ruling that the Stormont Executive Office has the power to compensate survivors of historical institutional abuse.
The party’s victims and legacy spokesperson said:
“This is a win for the victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.
“These victims have waited too long for justice or redress for an awful wrongdoing.
“The British secretary of state needs to ensure the issue of historical institutional abuse be progressed without delay and the legislation goes through before the Westminster parliament dissolves.”
Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon welcomed the publication of the Independent Reporting Commission’s (IRC) second report on tackling paramilitarism.
Linda Dillon said:
“In today’s report they have outlined a number of key recommendations, which we would endorse.
“They clearly recognise the need for a comprehensive and holistic approach to confronting head on paramilitarism/serious organised crime.
“As a pre-requisite a long-term politically driven approach needs to be adopted to deal with the serious systemic issues impacting on working class communities, which suffer from socio-economic deprivation, low educational attainment and high unemployment rates, especially for young people.
“Working-class communities across the political spectrum suffer most from the scourge of these criminal gangs.
“They also point to the need for neighbourhood policing to be enhanced. They recommend the increased provision of neighbourhood policing teams, who should be fully resourced to work in partnership with local communities to combat control, extortion, drug dealing etc by these gangs.
“The concept of tackling paramilitarism is predicated on a twin-track approach, which involves on the one hand a policing and justice response, which has been funded and is making progress.
“By contrast, the community empowerment aspect of the concept has not attracted the same level of progress or funding.
“Accordingly, we would also share the serious concerns expressed by the Commission at the slow pace of progress in building capacity in working-class areas, some of whom are already attempting to combat and confront serious criminality.
“This clear lack of progress has damaged community confidence in the overall project. It has also tended to diffuse the momentum for the concept, developed over a number of years by community and political lenders, who have led the drive to confront serious criminality within their respective areas.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said today the party will not be standing candidates in the Westminster election East Belfast, South Belfast or North Down and has called on the electorate to vote for the pro-Remain candidates best placed to win the seats.
Mary Lou McDonald said:
“This election is about the future, the future of our children, our families and communities, and the future of our country in the face of the toxic Tory/DUP Brexit agenda and their disastrous cuts to our public services.
“Since the referendum Sinn Féin has worked with the other pro remain parties to send a clear message to the British government, the EU, the Irish government and the US, that the DUP does not speak for the north.
“Sinn Féin has stood up for the majority who voted to reject Brexit.
“The recent EU election showed there is an appetite among pro-Remain and progressive voters for increasing co-operation between those who represent the majority who voted to stay in the EU.
"Over recent weeks Michelle O’Neill has engaged with the other political parties to explore how best to elect the maximum number of pro-Remain candidates.
“So I welcome the decision by the SDLP not to stand in north Belfast, east Belfast and north Down.
“That is in our opinion the right decision and we repeat our call to other pro-Remain parties to consider their position.
“For our part Sinn Féin will not be standing candidates in East Belfast, South Belfast or North Down.
“The campaign is now well underway. Voters are faced with a choice.
“They now have the opportunity to reject Brexit, reject the DUP and reject the Tories and to stand up for the unique protections for our economy and our peace agreements achieved by Sinn Féin.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the increase in the number of patients on trolleys highlights the government’s failure to make any progress in tackling the trolley crisis for the eighth consecutive year.
Deputy O'Reilly has said that this points to another difficult winter ahead for patients and staff.
The Dublin Fingal TD said:
“For eight years now, Fine Gael have failed to make any inroads into tackling the trolley crisis. The situation has got worse month by month and year by year.
“There have been record numbers of people left on trolleys for the first 10 months of 2019 and as we progress deeper into the winter this problem will become more acute for patients and staff.
“Last week the INMO published figures showing there were not enough beds for 11,452 patients in Irish hospitals this October. The Trolley Watch figures for today have shown there are 595 people on trolleys without a bed in a hospital.
“Such numbers are a serious cause for concern, especially as we move into the flu season when the health service is put under enormous pressure.
“If Minister Harris and Fine Gael, as well as their coalition partners Fianna Fáil, are serious about addressing the issues which create this crisis then they need to stop their phoney-war on social media about policies and focus on tackling five main areas:
- the recruitment and retention of staff
- reopening closed beds
- adequate step-down facilities
- more home help hours
- and proper investment in primary and community care.
“Sinn Féin have outlined our solutions for this crisis and they are patient focused and designed to improve our health system for both patients and staff – the Dáil agreed these measures would work and voted to support them in January 2018, but the government have refused to implement them.
“Tackling these issues will not only reduce the numbers of patients on trolleys in our hospitals, but it will also ensure that those who are in our hospitals will get the care they need, and it will also relieve the pressure on the excellent staff we have working in our health service so they can provide the best possible care they can give.”
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has welcomed the intervention by Ireland's Future, supported by almost 1,100 Irish citizens in Ireland and the diaspora, which calls for the establishment of a national citizens' assembly to discuss future constitutional change and the transition to Irish unity.
The MLA for South Antrim said:
"Today's open letter published in both the Irish Times and Irish News by Ireland's Future, and signed by nearly 1,100 individual Irish citizens is a powerful expression of a discussion which is already happening about constitutional and political change in Ireland.
"Brexit has swept away all of the previous assumptions about the constitutional, political or economic status quo. We are now in a totally different situation.
"The inescapable reality is that the issue of Irish reunification has moved centre stage. A widespread discussion is occurring in Irish society, both north and south, and across the Irish diaspora.
"Significant sections of international opinion, especially in Europe are focussed upon pathways to reunification, and the role of a unity referendum. Substantial academic and economic research have been published in recent times confirming the economic viability of Irish unity.
"It is time for the momentum of all this discourse to be properly structured. There is an immediate strategic imperative on the Irish government to facilitate a comprehensive national discussion about the future.
"That is why this call to An Taoiseach by these many representatives of Irish civic society to convene a national citizen's assembly is so important.
"An inclusive and constructive process of discussion involving all sections of Irish society is required. An agreed, united Ireland must guarantee the identities and rights of all citizens. Thoughtful and generous compromises need to be explored and agreed with unionists.
"A national discussion leading into an eventual negotiation about our collective future in Ireland will be challenging, but it will also be exciting. It would give us all an opportunity to rethink the nature of Irish society within a new constitutional, national democracy.
"Public opinion is already looking to the future. Irish civic society is finding its voice. Full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement provides a democratic framework to manage future change.
"The Irish government and all our political parties should listen and act positively.
"The Irish government should act on its responsibility to give leadership on the implementation of constitutional reform. British government policy towards Ireland must change. Both governments should accept the requirement to help navigate the transition to Irish unity. Change in the political relationship between Britain and Ireland is now unavoidable.
"Irish unity is the defining issue of our generation. It is both a reasonable and achievable democratic outcome, but the reunification of Ireland also needs to be properly planned.
"An Taoiseach should embrace this appeal from Irish civic society, which has such a pivotal role to play in helping shape the future of our country.
"Sinn Féin looks forward to having an early opportunity of meeting with Ireland's Future to discuss its proposal for a national citizens’ assembly.”
Sinn Féin councillor John Finucane has appealed to unionists opposed to Brexit to back him on December 12.
The North Belfast candidate said;
“There are many unionists in north Belfast who voted against Brexit. These voters are not represented by Nigel Dodds, one of the chief architects of the Tory Brexit.
“Many unionists are justly concerned about the disastrous impact of Brexit on their families and their businesses and are watching in horror as Nigel Dodds pursues a reckless Brexit.
“With the UUP withdrawing from this contest under pressure from loyalist paramilitaries, there is now no unionist candidate representing those who voted to remain in Europe.
“I pledge that I will stand against the Tory Brexit agenda on behalf of all citizens in north Belfast.
“I am appealing to unionist voters to look at Sinn Féin’s solid record of delivery, ensuring protections for the economy in the north.
The choice is clear between an Uber-Brexiteer or a candidate who will faithfully represent the views of the majority of people - unionist, nationalist and others - who reject the disaster of Brexit.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has called on political leaders to stand against threats to UUP staff members by loyalist paramilitaries and call unequivocally for these groups to disband immediately.
The party’s policing spokesperson said:
“It’s been reported that threats against UUP staff members have been issued by elements within the UDA.
“This group has recently been involved in murder, extortion, threats and intimidation.
“This is a time for political leadership - people should be free to campaign politically without fear of intimidation.
“These dangerous and reckless threats are an attack on the whole democratic process and on freedom of expression.
“The DUP recently met with loyalist representatives - including the UDA.
“Instead of the DUP costing up to these group for electoral pacts, they should unequivocally condemn these threats and call for these groups to disband immediately.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned a brutal attack on a several Belfast City Council workers in Ardoyne on Thursday.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“It’s deeply concerning that a number of Belfast City Council cleansing workers were attacked and badly beaten in Ardoyne today.
“I totally and utterly condemn this attack.
“It’s my understanding that the workers had to attend the Mater Hospital as a result of the incident. I hope they make a full and speedy recovery.
“This is a disgraceful attack against public service workers who do a great job in our local communities and the people of Ardoyne will continue to support them.
“If anyone has information on the attack, they should bring it forward to the Police.”
Sinn Féin's Mairéad Farrell has been selected by the party to contest the Galway West constituency in the next General Election.
Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA was the main speaker at this evening's convention, which saw the former Galway city councillor selected to stand for the party.
Speaking at the event, Michelle O’Neill said:
“I am delighted that Mairéad Farrell has been selected as the Sinn Féin candidate for the Galway-West constituency.
“The people of Galway can count on Mairéad to be a fearless voice who will defend their interests in Leinster House.
“The problems facing Ireland in 2019 need real world solutions, in health, housing and public services to ensure that nobody is left behind, or allowed to fall through the cracks.
“People don’t need more of the same. They don’t need status quo politics, spin or empty rhetoric.
“A generation is being left behind by the politics of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Families are being ripped off by rogue insurers and rack-renting landlords. The government treats hard-earned taxpayers’ money with contempt while Micheal Martin continues to facilitate weak government through confidence and supply.
“People need solutions, not stagnation.
“Sinn Fein are on the frontline campaigning and providing effective, progressive policy solutions north and south.
“Sinn Féin are offering the people of Galway West a strong republican and effective candidate in Mairéad Farrell, and I am asking for their support.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has criticised the decision of AIB to sell off an €850m loan portfolio to American vulture fund Cerberus at a discount rate of 21%.
The Donegal TD has described the sale as a continuation of the great sell-off of Irish assets to international speculators and shareholders.
Teachta Doherty has called for his 'No Consent, No Sale' Bill to be progressed immediately, which would ensure banks could not sell mortgage loans without the consent of the borrower.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Today’s announcement that AIB will sell off a loan portfolio of predominantly investment and commercial properties with a value of €850 million to American vulture fund Cerberus is a disgrace.
“It is reported that the vulture fund will be given the portfolio at a discount rate of 21%. A €150 million discount.
"This is happening while banks continue to sell off family homes to vulture funds without real attempts to find resolutions with those families.
“It is striking that a State-owned bank is offering a 21% per cent discount to a vulture fund but not to Irish families. If banks offered these discounts to Irish citizens, the housing crisis would look very different.
"This is a continuation of an economic strategy that is selling off Irish assets to international speculators and shareholders, either at knockdown prices or through the use of complex tax loopholes.
“It is unacceptable and must come to an end.
“Sinn Féin would ensure that our banks, especially State-owned banks, would serve the needs of our citizens, not international finance.”
Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane today slammed the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the HSE for the abject conditions at Waterford psychiatric unit, adding that it remains in a state of crisis despite repeated warnings and reports.
Deputy Cullinane said:
"I am utterly shocked by the photos that have emerged of the intolerable conditions of the psychiatric unit in Waterford, of beds made from chairs while other patients sleep on floors.
"Shocked, but sadly not surprised.
"The mental health commission recently published a report on the unit, and found that residents’ general health needs were not monitored and assessed in line with their specific needs.
"It also found that physical examinations were inadequate, that residents did not have access to a supply of appropriate emergency personal clothing, and that the centre was not clean, hygienic and free from offensive odours.
"Words are one thing; we now have photographic evidence revealing a unit that is operating under conditions that would make a Victorian workhouse blush.
"The staff are not to blame here; they are operating under incredible stress and distress.
"Both the Minister and the HSE know that is about funding and resources.
"Yet, despite this, they refuse to do anything about it.
"I have constantly raised the level of care at the unit, and quite frankly at this stage I am sick to the teeth of the Minister's excuses.
"I will be putting down a motion on this issue next week. We need answers, and solutions, once and for all."
Statement from Sinn Féin leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA on the death of Dr Patrick Fahy, Sinn Féin activist and lawyer, Co Tyrone.
“It is with deep sadness and regret that we have learned of the death of long-standing Sinn Féin activist and lawyer Dr Patrick Fahy, Drumquin, Co Tyrone after a short illness.
“Pat Fahy was a long-standing republican and Sinn Féin activist going back many years. He served as election agent for Pat Doherty, former Sinn Féin MP and was central to building and developing the Sinn Féin party organisation in West Tyrone.
“Pat was a long established and respected lawyer in both Tyrone and Fermanagh conducting an extensive legal practice for the past 50 years. He was actively involved in leading the Civil Rights campaign from 1967.
“He provided legal representation to many nationalists and republicans throughout the conflict and campaigned for truth and justice in many legacy cases since.
“Pat graduated from Queens University in 1967 and founded his own practice in 1970. He was principal of Fahy & co solicitors in Omagh and Enniskillen.
“As a patriot and Gael Pat was actively involved in the Gaelic Athletic Association over many years having served as chairman of his local GAA Club and also as Secretary of Tyrone GAA County Board.
“He was passionate and committed to his community and was involved in various community enterprises in his local area Drumquin, Co Tyrone.
“As a fluent Gaelgeoir Pat was passionate about the promotion of the Irish Language throughout his life.
“His contribution to republican politics and community life will be sorely missed.
“On behalf of the Sinn Féin leadership I wish to offer our sincere sympathy, condolences and solidarity at this time to Pat’s family, and his many friends throughout Tyrone and across Ireland.
“Ar dhéis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has said that in order for Auto Enrolment to be a success, the State must be a key player in its implementation.
Sinn Féin made this point as part of its submission to the consultation process last year.
Teachta Brady said:
“While some elements of the new Auto Enrolment pension scheme have been agreed by Government, crucial decisions are yet to be made, including the rate of the Government’s contribution to an employee’s pension pot.
“Further clarification is also needed on some of the elements agreed by Cabinet and the rationale for such decisions for the new scheme. For example, the age limit set at 60 does not reflect the fact that people are working longer and therefore, for new entrants this age limit should be re-examined rather than just on an opt in basis.
“I am also concerned that there is no mention of the self-employed when it comes to opting in to such a scheme. It is unclear whether those who are self-employed with no employees can opt in just as those earning under €20,000 will be able to.
“The decision to establish a Central Processing Authority to source and provide the employee with a “limited number” of pension providers ignores the fact that most people find pensions extremely complex and struggle to differentiate what different pension plans will mean for them.
“Instead this could be avoided by having one provider, a public fund such as the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) as put forward in our submission to the consultation process, to manage the scheme on behalf of the State. This would ensure certainty and security for all employees paying into their pension pot.
“If the Government plan to hand this new pension scheme over to private interests rather than it being a State scheme, today’s workers will not benefit as they should at retirement.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has extended his condolences to the family of civil rights leader and human rights lawyer Pat Fahy.
Gerry Adams described Pat Fahy as a “unique and exceptional Tyrone man who in difficult times stood up to the injustices of the Stormont regime and of British militarism, and promoted the values of human rights.”
Teachta Adams said;
“Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le teaglach Fahy ag an uair millteanach brónach i saol bhur gclann.
"As a young man Pat was one of the foremost civil rights leaders in the North. He was the chair of his local Civil Rights Association and in April 1969 he was one of those who led a civil rights march in Omagh that was confronted by a large number of RUC and Paisleyite counter demonstrators.
"When the march was blocked Pat and others, including Michael Farrell and Ivan Cooper, addressed the civil rights marchers. Speaking directly to those a short distance away who were opposing civil rights and blocking their route Pat said that it was not the intention of the civil rights campaigners to 'replace one system of discrimination by another, the rights of all would be secure'.
"In 1977 Pat was one of those who founded the Irish Independence Party which he led for its eight years of existence.
"As a human rights lawyer he represented many of those in Tyrone who were victim of the RUC and UDR, as well as the families of those murdered by unionist death squads operating often in collusion with the British state forces.
"He was always very supportive of Sinn Féin and acted as Pat Doherty’s election agent when Pat successfully stood for the west Tyrone Westminster seat.
"In 2010 Pat Fahy set out his vision for the future."
“Since the Civil Rights campaign of the 60's we have been involved in an ongoing campaign to achieve basic human rights in the North of Ireland. Foremost in our demands then was the right to exercise the basic democratic right to vote and to elect our representatives.
"Gradually that right was achieved but not without great sacrifice on the part of ordinary people. Many of those people are no longer with us, but the struggle of the Irish people for the equally basic right to self determination is still very much to the forefront; the battle to end external oppression and the injustice which has been the inevitable result of the partition of our country is still to be won.
"The prize if we can achieve all of this will be a just and open society in which human rights and social justice will be our emblems. For we are striving to create a society where all sections of our people will be treated equally, but the vulnerable, especially the old, the disabled, women and children will be given special respect and care. Our task is no easy one but together we can achieve success."
Deputy Adams concluded;
"To his wife Robyn, sons, daughters and wider family circle and his many friends I want to extend my sincerest condolences on their loss.
Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam dílis.