Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams this afternoon attended a farewell reception in the Mansion House for the Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed Abdelrazak.
Speaking at the event, Gerry Adams praised Ambassador Abdelrazak for his “dedication and hard work in promoting and defending the rights of the Palestinian people. It has been an honour to have worked with you.”
Gerry Adams described the response of the international community to the ongoing Israeli assault on Palestinians as “shameful”.
Teachta Adams said:
“The Israeli apartheid regime has inflicted great hurt. It’s use of institutional violence, the killing of civilians, the theft of Palestinian water rights and land, the construction of illegal settlements are an affront and make the work of peace building incredibly difficult.
"The Israeli government is in breach of international law and of UN resolutions. There is an obligation on the international community to demand that these be honoured.
"We are all Palestinians. The people of Palestine deserve our full support.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has condemned the US’s change of position on illegal settlements in Palestine.
Speaking from a meeting in Helsinki, Martina Anderson said:
“The Trump administration publicly claiming that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are legal is a direct attack on International law. They are doing this to appease the hard-line Israeli government and the hard right in the US.
“This would appear to be in direct response to the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice that any food or drink produced in illegal Israeli settlements will need to be clearly labelled in the EU.
“The ruling rightly reaffirmed that Israeli settlements in the West Bank constitute illegal population transfers beyond a state’s borders and that these territories could in no way be considered ‘Israel’.
“Illegal Israel settlements have been the main obstacle to the two-state solution and peace.
“The Trump administration has demonstrated an alarming increase in active support for the violent oppression inflicted by the Israeli state.
“We saw this first when the US agreed to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“They have facilitated Israel in getting away with decades of oppression of the Palestinian people and a constant disregard for human rights and international law.
“I am calling on the Irish government to show leadership and implement the Occupied Territories Bill to ban and criminalise trade with and economic support for illegal settlements and to recognise the Palestinian State.
“The EU must speak out against this callous disregard for international law.”
Responding to comments made by the DUP’s Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster today Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey said:
“This is transparent distraction by the DUP who are attempting to wash their hands on this issue and talk about anything rather than their reckless Brexit agenda.
“The banners erected by hooded loyalists targeting John Finucane and his family are clearly aimed to help the DUP candidate.
“All parties should unite in calling for these banners to be removed and on those responsible to desist.
“The DUP’s relationship with loyalist paramilitaries exposes entirely their hypocrisy and their selective attitude to violence and sectarianism.
“There is no single and agreed narrative to the past and Sinn Féin is not interested in refighting the battles of the past.
“Our party has had members killed including our vice-president Máire Drumm who was murdered in her hospital bed.
“There is a responsibility on all political leaders to engage fully in the efforts to build the peace and the process of reconciliation and healing by implementing the mechanisms agreed at Stormont House to support victims and their rights to truth and justice.”
Speaking this morning Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Deputy Louise O’Reilly, has called on the Minister for Health to brief the opposition on the results of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists review into smear test results by the CervicalCheck programme.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“There have been a number of reports in the media today regarding the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) review which re-examined the slides of over 1,000 women who were tested under the CervicalCheck programme.
“It is important now that the full facts of the review are established and any leaking of the results to the media are stopped.
“The initial reports are, however, quite worrying in that large numbers of previously missed abnormalities have been uncovered through the course if the review.
“Indeed, if the reports are correct that a significant number of women screened under CervicalCheck were given the all-clear and later developed cancer, then this is another worrying development to a scandal littered with tragedy.
“As public representatives we have a duty to uncover the truth about what went wrong within the CervicalCheck programme, but we also have a duty to ensure confidence is maintained in public health services such as the current cervical screening programme, but to do that we need to be briefed on this report as a matter of urgency.
“The Minister for Health needs to brief the opposition on the results and the contents of the RCOG review today, and any drip feeding of the report to the media must stop.”
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“The general scheme of this Bill follows a familiar trend of this government facilitating developer led planning, which is to detriment of the democratic process.
“The government has requested that the Oireachtas Housing committee should waive pre legislative scrutiny in order to fast track the Bill and the Committee refused.
“We refused on the grounds that this is a significant proposed change to the planning process. It is essential that full scrutiny of the proposals is undertaken by the Committee before any decisions are taken.
“I requested that Committee seeks independent legal advice on whether any aspect of the general scheme breaches Ireland's obligations under the Aarhaus Convention and EU environmental law.
“I further requested that the Committee seeks independent research on judicial reviews from the Oireachtas Research Service.
“When the committee members have this independent legal and research information we will then proceed to consider the general scheme of the Bill. Sinn Féin’s approach to this legislation will be guided by our belief in ensuring our planning system is open transparent and ensures full participation by all relevant stakeholders.
"As it stands we are not willing to support the general scheme of this Bill as it stands.”
Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has sharply criticised the US government after it announced that it would no longer consider Israel’s illegal colonial settlements in occupied Palestine as ‘inconsistent’ with international law.
Deputy Crowe said:
“International law is extremely clear on this issue. Israel’s colonial settlements in occupied Palestine are illegal under international law. There is no legal nuance on this, they are in clear contravention of international law.
“Israel has illegally built thousands of these colonial settlements on stolen Palestinian land and over 600,000 illegal colonial settlers live in them. This violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.
“This US change of position will have a destabilising effect on the region, it is dangerous and morally and legally wrong.
“The Irish government needs to robustly challenge the US government’s support for Israel’s repeated violations of international law and Israel’s apartheid regime in Palestine.
“I believe the Irish government must now respond by abiding by the Dáil motion that called on the Irish government to formally recognise the State of Palestine, which was unanimously passed in 2014.
“I believe Tánaiste Simon Coveney should also end the government’s opposition to the Occupied Territories Bill, which would make trade with illegal settlements a criminal offence in Ireland. He must work with all the other parties in the Dáil who support the Bill to ensure it is urgently passed and made law.
“This would send a strong message to the US and Israeli governments that Ireland will not ignore the illegality of Israel’s colonial settlements in Palestine and the suffering of the Palestinian people under Israel’s apartheid regime.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has criticised a “deeply dishonest” briefing provided to media which indicates that the government is looking to strip housing delivery powers from local councils.
Commenting on the story Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Minister Eoghan Murphy and his Department are desperate to deflect from their housing policy failures by laying the blame on county councils.
“A dishonest briefing by an “unnamed government source” on half thought out plans by the government to strip local councils of even more powers is beneath any Minister for Housing.
“The Minister has form on this with the introduction of his apartment planning guidelines and his fast track planning regulations.
“Neither of these changes have resulted in the speedy delivery of good quality, affordable accommodation.
“The delays in social housing delivery is caused by central government policy and procedures.
“For example, the four step approvals process for the procurement of social housing needs to be reformed and currently causes greater delays than planning issues.
“Councils need more funding to deliver social and affordable planning projects not less.
“Removing the council’s power to debate and vote on significant planning and housing decisions is a retrograde step.
“Councillors represent their local communities and they are answerable to them.
“Using the O’Devaney Gardens debacle to strip councils of some of the only significant powers they have left would harm local democracy and would give unelected council officials license to run roughshod over local communities.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has called on Insurance Ireland to come clean on the activities of insurance companies in the Irish market at today’s annual conference in the Convention Centre in Dublin.
Deputy Doherty said that while Sinn Féin want to see the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission immediately, and would set up a stand-alone Garda Insurance Fraud Unit, the industry is waging a public disinformation campaign on fraudulent claims.
Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:
“The insurance industry has waged a public disinformation campaign on the level of fraudulent claims to justify the extortionate premiums it is charging consumers.
“Companies have repeatedly said that 20 percent of all claims are fraudulent and are causing premiums to rise. But under questioning at the Finance Committee it was revealed to me that companies only report a small fraction of claims to the Gardaí as fraudulent.
“For example, AXA reported only 1 percent of all claims to the Gardaí as fraudulent in 2018, not 20 percent. For Aviva it was 4 percent and for Allianz, as little as 1 percent.
“Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act makes clear that it is an offence for companies to fail to report known crimes such as fraud. So either the industry is exaggerating or breaking the law.
“Insurance Ireland should set the record straight, and call these companies out for willfully dis-informing the public on the level of fraudulent claims.
“According to Insurance Ireland’s own figures, the number of motor claims from 2014 to 2017 went down by 22 percent; 55,000 less. Despite this, the average motor premium rose by 45 percent in the same period.
“This is also in the context of total personal injury awards being paid out through the Courts and Personal Injuries Assessment Board falling by 15 percent from 2014 to 2018.
“It is crucial that Insurance Ireland speaks out on the fact that premiums have risen despite the falling number and cost of claims.
“Sinn Féin supports the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission to deal with the level of personal injury awards, and are critical of the Government’s slow action in setting it up.
“We would also set up a Garda Fraud Unit to stamp out fraud if and when it occurs. But we will not accept what has become a public disinformation campaign by the insurance industry in a bid to hide the insurance rip-off.
“We now know that companies are using aggressive and anti-consumer pricing practices to charge customers with artificially high prices, without their knowledge. Insurance Ireland should focus on increasing transparency, ending unfair pricing and getting the facts straight."
Sinn Féin communications spokesperson David Cullinane today said that while rural broadband is a necessity, the government’s plan is not. There were other options on the table, but Fine Gael’s arrogance will end up costing the state billions.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“It is disappointing that Cabinet has signed off on a flawed and compromised broadband plan that is billions over budget.
“The government should not be proceeding with this particular option.
“It is one that has received almost universal criticism – from political parties, Oireachtas committees, senior civil servants, and the industry itself.
“Indeed, last month the Dáil voted to keep the network in public ownership.
“There is nobody except Fine Gael who thinks this plan is a good idea.
“It is regrettable that Minister Bruton has chosen to reject Sinn Féin’s call – echoed by the Communications Committee - for full public ownership of the finished network.
“It is also regrettable that the government has decided to reject all other options on the table, including the option of the ESB as the builder and supplier of the network itself.
“We need to see a National Broadband Plan rolled out, but not one that will leave the State carrying the risk and without owning the infrastructure at the end of the contract.
“The build and operate model, which the Department doggedly pursued despite its structural failures, which will end up costing the State for decades.
“We won’t even own it at the end – indeed, the network can be sold off after nine years.
“Once again, ideology and private interests have trumped the common good – the true legacy of eight years of Fine Gael government.”
Mary Lou McDonald has called on the leadership of political unionism to condemn unequivocally the “sinister and dangerous campaign of threats and intimidation against John Finucane and his family”.
The Sinn Féin President said:
“The campaign of harassment, intimidation and threats against John Finucane and his family has been appalling and dangerous.
“It is yet another sinister attack on the democratic process in what is fast becoming a toxic and dangerous campaign.
“Threats like this have no place in any election campaign. North Belfast deserves better.
“John Finucane is Belfast’s First Citizen. The Finucane family have fought for 30 years for justice after the assassination of John’s father Pat in 1989.
“With dignity and complete resolve they will continue to campaign and speak truth to power, and will not be silenced or intimidated by anyone in 2019.
“I am calling on all those in positions of leadership within political unionism, and in particular the leadership of the DUP to unequivocally condemn this in the strongest possible terms.
“We also need to see political leaders supporting the police in taking action to remove banners, inciting people to hatred, and take action against those responsible.
“I will be raising this directly with the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister as political leaders have a responsibility to bring this sinister and dangerous campaign of threats and intimidation against John Finucane to an end.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has hit out at the Dublin Agreement Group for “misleading the public and other councillors” on the proposed development at O’Devaney Gardens.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“The Dublin Agreement Group comprising of Fianna Fáil, Labour, Green and Social Democrats have misled the public and other Dublin City Councillors on the proposed development at Dublin City Council.
“Documentation secured by my colleague Eoin Ó Broin shows that there will be no additional affordable rental accommodation at the site. This is despite claims from the Agreement Group that an additional 30% of the development for affordable rental housing had been secured.
“This deal represents a bonanza for the developer at the expense of the local community and working families. Not alone does it make affordable homes unaffordable for ordinary workers, it also will not deliver a single affordable rental home.
"The group knew this when they pushed their deal through Dublin City Council.
"Sinn Féin has long championed housing on the O'Devaney Gardens site. Our councillors are demanding a special meeting of Dublin City Council to discuss these revelations. This should happen without delay.
“Sinn Féin has the solutions to solve the debacle at O’Devaney Gardens and would deliver a development to meet the needs of the local community and working families.
“Our proposals of 33% social rental, 33% affordable cost rental and 33% affordable sale are the way forward. The Dublin Agreement Group’s bad deal should be scrapped immediately."
Speaking today, Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson on Dublin City Council, Cllr. Daithí Doolan said:
"It is clear that the ruling alliance in Dublin City Council misled the council and the public on O'Devaney Gardens. This is totally unacceptable. The alliance of Fianna Fáil, Greens, Labour and Social Democrats made a claim that there was a deal to deliver social and affordable homes.
"This claim has now proven to be false. In a letter to the Lord Mayor, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy confirms no funds are available for this deal. No meeting even took place to discuss funding this new deal.
"We raised these concerns during the recent debate on their proposed deal. We expressed concerns about where this funding was coming from.
"Sinn Féin will be contacting other parties to discuss holding a special meeting of Dublin City Council to discuss these revelations.
"We opposed this deal because we believed it could not and would not deliver affordable housing or decent community gains. That view is proven to be correct.
"Our alternative proposal to allow Dublin City Council be the lead developer still stands. It would deliver one third council, one third affordable to buy and one third cost rental with strong community gain."
North-Inner City Cllr. Janice Boylan said:
"Residents feel very let down by these revelations. They are the real losers in the alliance's game of political football.
"Sinn Féin have always sought the best deal possible for the local community. Our proposals were based on fact not fiction. I have always been open and honest about proposals to develop this site.
"Our community need this developed as soon as possible. But a deal based on falsehoods will never deliver homes or services."
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has accused the Dublin Agreement Group on Dublin City Council of ‘misleading fellow Councillors and to the public on the O’Devaney Gardens development’.
The claim is made on foot on documentation secured by Deputy Ó Broin under Freedom of Information from the office of Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy which shows that no additional affordable rental accommodation has been secured for the site.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Dublin City Council is led by a coalition of Councillors from Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, the Social Democrats and the Labour Party, known as the Dublin Agreement Group.
"On Monday November 4th the Dublin Agreement Group announced that they had secured a new deal with Dublin City Council management and Bartra for the O’Devaney Gardens development. On foot of their announcement the deal was approved by a majority of City Councillors at the monthly Council meet that night.
“The Dublin Agreement Group claimed to have secured an additional 30% of the development for affordable rental housing. This would be delivered through a purchase agreement between Bartra and an Approved Housing Body.
“However correspondence between the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and Dublin City Council Mayor and Fianna Fáil Councillor Paul McAuliffe, secured under Freedom of Information, shows clearly that no affordable rental accommodation has been secured for this development.
“The Minister’s letter issued to Mayor McAuliffe on November 6th states that no new deal has been secured for the O’Devaney site; that no funding for affordable rental units has been requested from or approved by his Department; that additional affordable units would not be in line with the tenure mix agreed by the Department in 2017; that the rents charged on any such units would not be affordable as the units would be purchased at market rather than cost price; that no legal advice has been sought by Dublin City Council to determine whether the inclusion of affordable rental units would breach the procurement process and open the Council up to legal challenge from unsuccessful bidders; and crucially that Councillors from other parties voted for the deal ‘under the impression’ that a new deal or agreement had been reached when it had not.
“There are only two conclusions that could be drawn from the Ministers letter. Either the Dublin Alliance Councillors are incompetent or they deliberately misleading their fellow Councillors and the public. They secured a majority of support from their fellow Councillors for the transfer of a multi million euro strategic housing development site to a private developer on the basis of a claim that is completely false.
“Given that many of the individuals involved in crafting this alledged new deal have significant experience in housing developments it is hard to believe that there were not fully aware that they had not actually secured any affordable rental homes for O’Deveney. On this basis the only conclusion I can draw is that they deliberately lied, both to their fellow Councillors and to the public, in order to get the O’Deveney deal over the line.
“Sinn Féin is opposed to proposed deal with Bartra on O’Devaney Gardens because it delivered no affordable housing and the developer is set to make excessive profits with little return to the local community. The correspondence from Minister Murphy now calls into question the decision by elected members to transfer the land to Bartra. Sinn Féin will be seeking legal advice on the matter and will be raising this at the next available City Council meeting.”
Sinn Féin MLA and policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly has called today on police to remove banners attacking Sinn Féin candidate John Finucane and his family in an attempt to incite hatred.
Gerry Kelly said:
“A number of banners have been erected by loyalists over recent days attacking John Finucane and members of his family, including his late father Pat, who was murdered by a UDA death squad acting in collusion with the state.
“Both John Finucane and Sinn Féin have reported these vile and scurrilous banners to the PSNI as hate crimes.
“The banners inciting people to hatred should be removed immediately and those responsible should be prosecuted.
“These banners have been erected against a backdrop of threats from loyalist paramilitaries against the UUP, Sinn Féin posters being taken down by masked men and the deafening silence of the DUP.
“The attacks on John Finucane are an attack on the wider democratic process.
“The DUP must break its silence on these attacks, defend the democratic process and support the police in taking action against those responsible.”
Tá failte romhaibh uilig chuig Doire d'Ard Fheis Shinn Féin.
Táimid ag bogadh ar aghaidh chuig an todhchaí.
Welcome to Derry, the birthplace of Civil Rights, capital of the North-West, a city that has seen conflict and division, a city that has led from the front, building peace and unity.
The hometown of Martin McGuinness. Never forgotten. Always inspiring us.
Home also to our very own Derry girl – Elisha McCallion MP – a champion for all the people of Foyle. The strongest voice to represent Foyle.
Go raibh maith agat, Elisha. Go n-éirí leat.
Greetings to our friends throughout the world and welcome to our international guests and dignitaries.
We send love to our friend and leader Rita O’Hare.
Rita will soon leave her role in the US having done Trojan work for the Republican cause for twenty years.
But fear not.
Rita will return home to help us build the new Ireland she has dedicated her life to achieve.
Republicans don’t retire. So you can be absolutely certain that Rita will never retire.
To the people of Palestine and of Catalonia we restate again our solidarity with you as we look forward to the day when our three nations together enjoy freedom, independence and unity.
That day is coming.
We also send our solidarity to John Downey.
John is a supporter of the peace process. He shouldn't be in jail. He should be at home with his family in Donegal.
We stand on the threshold of a new decade. A decade of opportunity.
An opportunity to turn the page, to write a new chapter.
The last decade was a lost decade.
Dominated by the destructive politics of austerity, of cuts and of division.
People were the collateral damage in the economic collapse.
The rich got richer and the people picked up the tab.
The coming decade must be different.
The people must take centre stage.
And our progress must not be measured by how well the few are doing.
But rather by how you – the many – are getting on.
Measured by our determination to win the race against climate change.
By our success in achieving Irish Unity.
I believe we have the talent and resources to redefine Ireland.
But to do this, things must change.
The old ways have not worked. The old ways have failed you and your family.
The old ways have fuelled economic uncertainty and an environmental emergency.
The old ways have held people back.
We must make sure those old ways – the broken politics and narrow thinking – do not rob us of the promise of the next decade.
Ireland’s future will be defined by economic equality and climate justice.
And let the message go loud and clear, to Government Buildings in Dublin and to No.10 Downing Street that this new decade is the one in which we will finally end partition to achieve a new, united Ireland.
Caithfidh muid bogadh ar aghaidh ón am atá imithe agus a bheith feacháint ar an am atá le teacht.
Caithfidh muid sochaí a chruthú ina bhfuil gach uile saoránach agus teaghlach beo i dtír atá cothrom.
Sin an cinéal sochaí a theastaíonn ó Phoblachtaigh a chruthú.
To everyone watching who haven’t enjoyed any economic recovery yet;
who pay a second mortgage in childcare fees;
who are ripped-off with rents;
to you who cannot afford a mortgage, to carers, to citizens with disabilities and your families;
Let me say this;
You are entitled to a good life, a full life that you can afford.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have short-changed you.
You deserve a new deal.
A better deal to tackle the crushing cost of living, raise your income and build an equal, prosperous society that serves you and your family.
Sinn Féin offers a New Deal, an all-Ireland deal that gives workers and families a break.
Let me share with you some of the common-sense principles and solutions that we would deliver.
A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
Sinn Féin will make the living wage the law.
We want secure work, workers’ rights and trade union rights protected in law.
We want our taxation system to be fair and progressive.
That means ending tax holidays for the banks.
And just as you have the right to decent work, you also have the right to retire on a state pension at the age of sixty-five.
Sixty-five year olds should not be sent to stand in the dole queue.
These measures will support workers but also boost industrial productivity and social prosperity.
A home – a secure roof over your head.
If we are serious about solving the housing crisis we need to get back to building public housing led by Councils and increasing the supply of affordable homes.
This is something that will never be delivered by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael because their policies are about developers and landlords making profits.
In Cabra, where I live, we still enjoy the legacy of housing schemes from the 1930s and 1940s.
If it could be done then it certainly can be done now.
In previous generations a family with one income could buy their own home – today families with two incomes can only dream of home ownership.
And young people feel they have no chance.
My commitment to you is that Sinn Féin will deliver the largest public housing building programme that Ireland has ever seen.
We will also increase the supply of affordable homes.
And by affordable, I mean affordable to average workers.
Over the last five years, rents have sky-rocketed.
Renters need a break and security. We will cut rents.We will reduce rents by up to €1,500 a year through a tax relief and a three-year rent freeze.
It’s time to stop the scandal of tenant eviction into homelessness.
It’s time to stop the scandal of children and families calling B&Bs home.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are bad for your health.
We have an emergency in our hospitals.
This year, so far, one hundred thousand people have suffered the indignity of lying on a trolley.
Tory austerity is bad for your health.
Across Ireland, we have a crisis in mental health services.
But Healthcare is a right.
That means public investment.
It means more beds. It means more staff. It means a real commitment to public health services.
Our system is broken.
We need an Irish National Health Service.
That is the future.
Let’s send a message of support to the striking nurses here in the North.
Just like nurses in the South, they are the people who will defend our public health services and Sinn Féin stands with them.
It’s time to make childcare a public service.
Childcare can mean stress for families.
Securing a place, the costs that make you question your decision to go out to work, worry about failings in the childcare system.
I was that parent when my children were younger and I want to change the system for you.
We currently have the worst of all worlds.
Childcare workers are low-paid, their employment is insecure, yet fees rise higher and higher.
It’s time to take a big step forward.
Secondary education was not a public service until fifty years ago.
Within a decade participation rates doubled.
We need a similar bold move in childcare.
This would slash the costs for parents and ensure childcare workers have decent pay and job security.
Our children have the right to an education – a free education.
Sinn Féin has shown how school budgets can be increased, books and school meals provided for and "voluntary" contribution fees eliminated.
This decade, must see the delivery of truly free education.
From the first day of school to graduation.
This means scrapping third level fees.
Is dúshlán ollmhór an t-athrú aeráide don ghlúin seo.
Ní mór dúinn plean a chur lé chéile anois.
Ní féidir aon mhoill a bheith ann.
A Green New Deal for Ireland will be at the centre of our work.
Policies to deal with the climate crisis, policies to build the economy of tomorrow, that work for the people and the planet.
We need to change how we talk about climate policies.
Too often, the focus is on cost and not investment, on the individual and not the system.
A Green New Deal for Ireland means zero emissions targets; a just transition, sustainable jobs; state investment in infrastructure and skills.
Anyone living in the North-West knows full well that we need to revolutionise our public transport and our infrastructure.
In the coming weeks, Sinn Féin will publish radical proposals on the watch of David Cullinane TD and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.
The days of partition are numbered.
Change is in the air.
Brexit has changed everything.
Many people, for the first time, are now considering their future in a United Ireland.
The Irish government and all who say that now is not the time to speak of unity are wrong.
A referendum on unity will happen, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.
It is not a question of if, but a question of when.
Déanann Éire Aontaithe ciall.
Is é an rud ceart le déanamh agus caithfidh muid ullmhú chun go dtarlóidh sé
Caithfidh an obair sin tosú anois.
Now is the time to prepare.
The Irish government must convene an All-Ireland Forum; to map the transition to a United Ireland, to involve all the people, to plan for our economy and our public services.
And then the referendum must happen in the next five years.
Let the people have their say!
Sinn Féin’s New Deal represents an ambitious agenda based on common sense.
It is progressive, modern and, above all, it is achievable.
A deal for everybody who calls Ireland home.
Nobody will be excluded.
I pledge that no community will ever be scape-goated for the failures of those in power no matter the colour of your skin, your gender, your sexual orientation, no matter where you come from, no matter where you live.
There is no contradiction between working for Irish Unity and seeking the restoration of the northern institutions.
Three years on, we have no assembly and executive. This is unsustainable.
There is an immediate challenge to restore government in the North.
To bring accountable government for all the people.
Government of respect and equality leaving discrimination and exclusion to the past.
We are ready to do business.
Sinn Féin has never been the obstacle to power-sharing or good government or doing a deal.
I challenge the DUP and both governments to step forward. To resolve the issues and get government back in action.
We don’t need a drawn-out talks process. The issues have been well-rehearsed.
We need a good faith, purposeful engagement by political Unionism.
Sinn Féin negotiators stand ready.
In Dublin, those who lament the absence of Sinn Féin from government in the North are determined to keep us out of government in the South.
We are not part of their cosy club that has run things for almost a century.
These parties align themselves with the golden circles – the banks, the landlords and the vulture funds.
They are the reason why governments come and governments go but the old problems remain.
There are some who believe we should never talk to other parties about government.
Those fears are understandable.
But I believe the housing crisis will only be solved with Sinn Fein in government.
I believe we will only see a proper health service and a fair, just economy with Sinn Féin in government.
Following the general election, we have a choice to make.
Not about being in government for the sake of it.
But about how we best implement our policies – our solutions.
In arriving at this decision, we should be guided, not by our distrust of other parties, but by our confidence in republicans.
After the election, we will talk and we will listen.
Our preference is for a left-led government.
Let the other parties tell us if they are willing to implement a republican programme for government.
If we have the chance to deliver housing and healthcare, to stand up for people and deliver a fair deal for families, to deliver on Irish Unity.
Then that is the only basis on which Sinn Féin would enter government.
On November 29th, by-elections will be held in Cork, Wexford and Dublin.
This is an opportunity to pass judgement on the Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition government – that is what it is – week in week out, Fianna Fáil TDs line up to back Fine Gael.
Leo Varadkar, Simon Harris, Eoghan Murphy lead one of the most out of touch governments the state has ever seen – they haven’t a clue about the reality of towns and villages in rural Ireland struggling to survive.
They haven’t a clue of what it is like for working families afraid that their landlord is going to sell their home.
They haven’t a clue about parents fighting for access to services for a child with special needs.
If you are tired of the northside of Cork being left behind, then vote for Thomas Gould. He will stand up for you and get things done.
If you live in Clondalkin or Lucan, in Swords or Rush and you want decent housing and healthcare, vote for Mark Ward in Dublin Mid-West and Ann Graves in Dublin Fingal.
If you live in Wexford and you are alarmed by the lack of mental health services, angry that the second regional Cath Lab has not been delivered, then vote for Johnny Mythen.
On December 12th, we face a defining Westminster Election.
We stand on a strong, anti-Brexit platform.
The DUP as architects and champions of Brexit.
So there’s the clear choice.
The people will have to call it.
Between the future and the past.
Between Sinn Féin and Mé Féin.
The people of North Belfast will have to call it.
Between John Finucane and Nigel Dodds.
Some claim they will enter Westminster to stop Brexit. Those making this claim need to give themselves a shake.
No Irish elected representative can stop Brexit. That’s the fact.
Rather than indulging in the politics of delusion and blind-alleys, Irish elected representatives must act to protect Irish interests where it matters.
Far from the chaos of Westminster – in the Dáil, in the Seanad, in the European Parliament, on Capitol Hill. That is what Sinn Féin has done.
No Irish republican would swear an oath to the crown.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael feel differently.
They have very strong views on entering Westminster.
Mind you, not strong enough to come up here and contest the elections.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have abstained from the North for almost a hundred years.
We take no lectures from those parties who looked the other way, who opted out and who abandoned this part of Ireland.
We face into a decade of opportunity.
The past was for those who seek to divide.
The future is for those of us who seek to unite.
The old guard can have yesterday. Tomorrow is ours.
The next stage of our struggle beckons.
The road to Irish Unity runs through it.
The road to economic equality runs through it.
Friends, the road to the republic runs through it.
It is a road we walk together.
Confident. Resilient. Determined.
Always looking to tomorrow.
Always working hard in our communities.
Always standing up for people.
That is the Sinn Féin way and that will never change.
So join us in shaping and defining Ireland’s future.
This is the decade in which we will deliver this new Ireland.
In which we will unite our country.
This is the decade in which we will win the republic.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.
Ar aghaidh linn le Sinn Féin.
The Sinn Féin membership met this weekend in Derry for the party’s Ard Fheis which saw Assembly member for Mid-Ulster Michelle O’Neill re-elected as the party’s vice-president.
Welcoming this endorsement she said:
“I am really honoured to have been endorsed by the membership of Sinn Féin and re-elected to the position of Leas-Uachtarán.
“I am thankful to delegates and members across Ireland who voted for me in this contest.
“The contest was conducted in a very comradely way across the party where John O’Dowd and I campaigned internally and put forward our platform and vision to the Sinn Féin membership.
“John is a longstanding republican and a highly regarded colleague and I very much value his political contribution and friendship.
“We are both committed to advancing our party, so that we are fit for purpose as a political movement now and in the future.
“Working alongside Mary Lou McDonald and our senior team I want to maximise the positive growth and development of the party across Ireland.
“It’s our ambition to drive a progressive political agenda for change across Ireland.
“At this time we face many challenges with a Tory Brexit, austerity and no Assembly in place in the North and a weak government being propped up by Fianna Fáil in Dublin.
“Sinn Féin is offering strong alternative politics and policies to all of these challenges with confidence and success.
“We are committed to transforming our country and uniting Ireland.
“I look forward to continuing this important work in my role as Sinn Féin vice-president.”
Sinn Féin Councillor for Crumlin, Anne Marie Logue, has stated that Crumlin residents are shocked at the slight of hand by Council in the delivery of Christmas street lighting for the town.
Speaking today Cllr Logue said:
“Christmas 2018 saw no tree, no Christmas lights and no Christmas spirit from Antrim and Newtownabbey Council for the town of Crumlin.
“Residents and traders were rightly angered and mounted a strong campaign, supported by myself, to oppose the decision to exclude Crumlin. As a result of this campaigning Council said it would review and we were informed that Crumlin would be included in 2019.
“However once again, Antrim and Newtownabbey Council have stolen the joy from Christmas with a slight of hand. They have only this week, six weeks out from Christmas stated that they will only be supplying a tree and lights for the tree and none of the traditional street lighting for the Main Street of the town.
"While I have welcomed the fact that we are to get a tree it is simply not enough. The residents and traders of Crumlin deserve better.
“I have raised this issue at all levels of the council right up to, and including, the Chief Executive to express my anger at Crumlin, once again, losing out. It is not good enough.”
Speaking during the health section of the 2019 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, Sinn Féin by-election candidate for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward said;
Is mise Cllr Mark Ward from South Dublin County Council and By-Election candidate for Dublin Mid-West
I 2005, MY life as I knew it was over. After years of being hospitalised and misdiagnosed by our health service, I was diagnosed with Multiple-Sclerosis (MS).
The initial treatment I received from the HSE was poor and the information I received on my prognosis was scant.
I was abandoned by our health system. I have managed to accept my condition and have learned to live with it. I am lucky to have the support of families and friends.
I only went public with my diagnosis last year as Mayor of South Dublin. I decided to run the Dublin City Marathon. I did it to raise awareness for newly diagnosed people with MS, and also to prove I could do it for myself.
I was diagnosed at the age of 31, on a walking stick by the age of 32 and left on the scrapheap by our health system at the age of 33.
I was a casualty of the chronic underinvestment by this Governments in neurology services. Decades of underinvestment has resulted in the lowest ratio of consultant neurologists per head of population in the developed world. This is just unacceptable.
I am the one out of every 5 people in our country that does not qualify for a medical card and also cannot afford private health insurance.
I was and still am on waiting lists to see a specialist to help me combat my health issues. I am not alone.
I join the 768,000 people, 86,000 of them children, waiting for hip replacements, cataract surgery, and scoliosis surgery to name a few.
And in the morning, if I became unwell, I would join the already 100,000 people who have been left waiting on a trolley in an Emergency Department.
And why is this the case – it is so because we have been subjected to utter failure by this Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, and right-wing Independent Government.
For eight years now, they have failed to make any inroads in the health service.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, there are solutions, and a Sinn Féin government would deliver those solutions.
Sinn Féin would deliver significant and targeted invest in the public health system.
We value our health staff and we will pay and treat them properly, we will give staff a reason to stay, and attract more staff to the health service.
We will also introduce fully, elective surgery hospitals to help clear waiting lists.
We will reopen closed beds, build new beds and new hospitals. We will deliver more step-down facilities, increase home help hours and properly invest in primary and community care.
There is no point replacing another Fine Gael minister with another Fine Gael minister. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
It’s a policy shift we need, not personnel one. I think it’s time that we replaced every single last right-wing Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TD with Republican Socialist Sinn Féin TDs.
We demand better. We deserve better, and Sinn Féin will deliver better.
Speaking this evening Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the disregard the government has for the air ambulance service is at the root of the proposed service closure for a number of days between now and February.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The repots from RTÉ that Ireland's only air ambulance will be shut down for 16 days between now and February due to mounting staffing and training issues is a significant cause for concern.
“The air ambulance service is a crucial one and a successful one; unfortunately its success have not been built on and no additional ambulances or staff have been added to the service.
“It’s essentialness is underlined by its use - last year it was used in 159 car crashes, 146 medical emergencies and 15 child hospital transfers.
“Not only is it essential so seriously ill people can be rushed to hospital in emergency situations, but is vital as an emergency transport measure for people in rural areas.
“The issues affecting the service have not appeared overnight, serious concerns have been raised regarding the service in recent months. Yet, the concerns have been ignored and the service has been totally disregarded by government.
“In many ways it is only the hard work and dedication of the pilots and paramedics operating the air ambulance service which is keeping it afloat.
“The Department of Defence has stated that during these 16 days (four days in each of the four months) the Irish Coast Guard’s four helicopters will attempt to fill the service gap. However, not only will this cause its own problems for the system, it is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“We cannot continue to stretch already stretched services and we cannot just wait until after a crisis or tragedy to do the right thing.
“The leaders in the health service need to step in here and secure not only the future of the service for the next four months, but for decades to come.”
We gather here in Derry at a critical time for our country and for our struggle.
Ba mhaith liom buíochas ar leith a ghabháil le muintir Dhoire as an fháilte chroíúil atá á chur romhainn an deireadh seachtaine seo.
We gather here this evening conscious of those who are not with us.
I want to pay special tribute to our friend John Downey;
John has been a relentless supporter of the peace process.
He has worked tirelessly to promote reconciliation among the people of this island;
And has been unwavering in his determination to heal the wounds of the past and build a peaceful and prosperous future.
I send my solidarity to John and to his family.
Our people and our nation face many challenges.
Our mission, as Republicans, remains the same.
Ní dhearna Poblachtaigh faillí ina gcuid dualgaisí roimh agus dúshláin a linne le sárú acu. Agus ní bheidh aon difríocht ann anois ach an oiread.
We aim to build a Republic that puts the welfare of workers and families above the interests of banks, speculators and big business.
Workers and families face costs that are rising faster than their wage packets, and public services - in most cases - are in a state of crisis.
Instead of working towards fuller, richer and better lives, too many citizens are just scraping by.
The vast majority of people know what I am talking about.
They are living it every day.
They worry about making it to the end of the month;
And they despair when they look at their bank balance after their bills, childcare costs, their rent or their mortgage has been paid out.
Many in Ireland today are trapped in the present, crippled with rip-off costs and unable to plan for the future.
We in Sinn Féin want to improve their lot.
We want to deliver for workers and for families.
When you take a glance, the economy seems to be doing pretty well.
Profits are soaring and business is booming.
But that is only part of the story.
Without you this economy wouldn’t work.
You have built this economy.
And it should serve you.
This government has failed to convert your work and effort into real returns for you and your families.
Instead of going into your pocket, or towards your future, the proceeds of a booming economy are going to the shareholders of big business, to banks, to utility companies and the insurance industry.
Families that are feeling the strain and workers are feeling the squeeze.
If the economy is booming, where is the money going and why is it not going to workers and families?
Why are people not seeing their disposable income grow and their burdens lessen?
This is the broken system we need to fix.
It demands big ideas.
It demands political will and it demands radical action.
Only Sinn Féin will deliver.
We cannot afford more of the same.
To students who are under pressure.
Who face low wages in their part-time work, high rents, rising utility bills and mounting debts, I say to you - we hear you and we recognise you are our future.
We recognise how hard it is hard to navigate the present, never mind think about the future.
That is why Sinn Féin in government will do the right thing and we will abolish student fees once and for all.
To low income workers.
We will make sure your hard work provides you with the least you deserve - a living wage.
And Sinn Féin in government will increase the minimum wage by €2.50 to €12.30 per hour.
Ba cheart go dtugann postanna an deis d’oibrithe chun caighdeán maireachtála sásúil a shaothrú.
For those crippled with extortionate insurance costs; both consumers and businesses, we hear you.
That is why Sinn Féin will end the insurance rip-off, taking on the industry and reduce costs by banning dual pricing that hits loyal and vulnerable customers with artificially high premiums.
We will make my Insurance Contracts Bill law and increase protections for policyholders.
And we will abolish government levies, reducing premiums by five percent and putting €230 million back into your pockets.
To renters locked out of the housing market and locked in to paying unaffordable rents, we have heard you and we have listened.
While other parties have been slow to respond to the costs faced by renters, Sinn Féin have been consistent.
In government, we will introduce a relief that will put one month’s rent back in the pocket of every tenant and we will introduce an immediate three year rent freeze;
This is something we have called for since 2015, when the average rent stood at €960.
It stands today at €1,400, with other parties now deciding to catch up with Sinn Féin policies.
Let me be clear.
While other parties work in the interests of private landlords and tax-dodging property investors, we in Sinn Féin stand with renters and mortgage-holders.
For too long banks have treated mortgage-holders with contempt.
We have seen this in the sell-off of tens of thousands of distressed mortgage holders’ homes to vulture funds whose only interest is in their profits.
While the government rolls out the red carpet to these vultures, Sinn Féin are working to stop them.
My No Consent, No Sale Bill would stop banks from selling family homes to vultures without the consent of mortage holders.
But despite our best efforts, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have fought against this legislation at every turn.
With Sinn Féin in government, these vultures would have no one left to hide behind.
And neither would the banks.
There is only one party the banks fear being in government and that’s Sinn Féin.
And they should.
Because the banks have not changed and they have not learned.
Only on Tuesday, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank said that banks have “repeatedly resisted doing the right thing”.
He warned that bankers were displaying pre-crisis levels of arrogance.
Only this week, the CEO of KBC Bank described the tracker mortgage scandal and the families it affected as ‘nitty gritty’ which the Central Bank should forget about.
He described compensation for the more than forty thousand affected families - some of whom lost their homes - as an administrative burden.
In those words he displayed the contempt banks have for customers,
And a toxic culture that hasn’t gone away.
Some say the arrogant banker is back.
I say he never left.
But why would they when the banks have been given a free pass by this government to do as they please?
Only Sinn Féin will take on the banks, hold them to account and stamp out the rot at the core of our banking system.
We will start by making sure they pay there fair share of tax.
Déanfaidh muidne cinnte go n-íocann said a gcion féin de cánacha.
We would end the tax break for bailed out banks that was introduced by the Labour Party and Fine Gael in 2014 and which has been kept in place with the support of Fianna Fáil.
This tax break has allowed AIB, Permanent TSB and Bank of Ireland to pay no corporation tax at all.
At the same time, the public pay over one billion every year to service the massive debt these banks saddled us with,
Yet they enjoy a tax holiday while enjoying massive profits.
Sinn Féin will bring it to an end and make them pay their fair share.
Sinn Féin’s approach to the insurance industry, to banks and to companies who exploit their customers is simple.
That is what’s required.
We will also build a tax system that reflects the society we want to build.
One that is fair and just.
The tax priorities of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil favour the richest in our society, and let the rest of us foot the bill.
This attitude must end.
Only last month they agreed to extend a scheme that allows rich multinational employees to write off a third of their salary from income tax.
This means that a millionaire who moves to Dublin is able to dodge over one hundred thousand euros in tax every year.
While at the same time over six hundred thousand low and middle-income workers are on course to see their pay cut when flat-rate expenses to cover the cost of equipment are slashed in January.
This is Leo’s Republic of Opportunity;
Sinn Féin would close tax loopholes and ensure that those most able to shoulder the burden pay what they owe:
The government has reduced its climate action plan to a regressive tax on households which will hit rural dwellers and low-income households, with single parent families hit hardest.
Without alternatives, it will not change behaviour.
It will just make people poorer.
This is not a just transition.
And not alone that.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael want to keep increasing this regressive tax by three hundred percent over the next ten years;
That’s not fair and it’s not just.
What would Sinn Féin do?
Well, we would introduce a Wealth Tax;
Targeting the wealthiest [[0.25%]] percent in our society.
This millionaire’s tax would provide funding for public services,
And for radical investment to tackle the climate crisis.
Including free transport for all children under the age of eighteen;
We would launch a massive retrofitting programme on homes throughout the State; and we would turbocharge investment in public transport.
That is a what’s needed to build a just transition.
Sinn Féin do not accept the government’s policy of ‘Rural Ireland Can Wait’.
Rural Ireland can’t wait and shouldn’t wait any longer;
And under a Sinn Féin government, rural Ireland won’t.
We in Sinn Féin would oversee the most radical shift in investment to our regions and small towns in decades.
Chuirfeadh muidne plean infheistíochta is uaillmhianaí i gcrích do na réigiúin.
When we in Sinn Féin talk about rural Ireland, we are not just talking about our farming communities, but we are talking about our towns and villages in the regions outside of Dublin and the big cities.
The forgotten communities that have seen public services squeezed, post offices disappear, roads and infrastructure neglected and young people leave.
Here in the North-West, we know this only too well.
In my own community in Donegal, we have suffered from the neglect of a government that has looked away and refused to listen to the concerns of citizens.
But they just don’t get rural Ireland and our smaller towns and villages.
We in Sinn Féin do and will end the long neglect by delivering a massive capital spending programme in:
Schools, roads, rail and Primary Care centres, upgrading hospitals and giving power to local authorities.
We will fund a massive increase in Garda numbers in rural communities and small towns to ensure that the safety and security of our regions is not a an afterthought but a priority.
We will open up hospital beds in our local hospitals by ending the recruitment ban to ensure these forgotten communities can access the healthcare they deserve.
We will rapidly invest in higher education and institutes of technology in our regions and rural areas to revitalise rural regions as economic hubs for higher education and innovation.
Under Sinn Féin, our regions and rural communities would be seen, heard and invested in like never before.
Sinn Féin will deliver real change to the lives of workers, families and communities.
By raising incomes and reducing costs,
By stamping out corruption and corporate greed,
By creating a just tax system and launching the most radical investment programme in our regions and in rural communities in decades.
We will put workers and families, not vested interests, at the centre of our economy and the top of our priorities.
To build a Republic we can be proud of.
A Republic that serves the people.
A Republic that serves you and your community.
Poblacht atá bunaithe ar chomhionnanas.
Go raibh maith agaibh.