Sinn Féin - On Your Side

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Sinn Féin First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill has confirmed that the party has nominated Gerry Kelly, Liz Kimmins and Linda Dillon to the Policing Board.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“I have nominated Sinn Féin MLAs Gerry Kelly, Liz Kimmins and Linda Dillon to represent Sinn Féin on the Policing Board.

“It’s important we have a Policing Board up and running to ensure we have an effective police service and a body to hold policing to account.

“The Policing Board is most effective when all parties are represented and are working to deal with policing issues.

“Likewise, we need an Executive up and running now to put money in families and workers’ pockets, to deal with the cost-of-living crisis and start to fix the health service by investing an extra £1 billion.

“The DUP should end its boycott of the Assembly, the Executive and the north south bodies, join with the other parties in the Assembly on Monday and get a government up and running without any more delay. That is what people elected us to do.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed news that Wrightbus has won a significant contract to supply 60 hydrogen-powered buses to German operator RVK.

The party's economy spokesperson said:

"It is great news for Wrightbus that it will supply 60 hydrogen-powered buses to the German operator RVK over the next two years.

"This shows the benefits of our continued ability to sell goods to the EU single market.

"This contract is also good news for the local businesses who supply Wrightbus.

"We now need the British Government to negotiate in good faith with the EU to ensure we continue to to maximise the opportunities of the protocol to attract investment, grow our local businesses and create more jobs and prosperity." 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Minister Darragh O’Brien to take urgent action as the number of those experiencing homelessness returns to record levels.

His comments were made in response to the publication of the April Department of Housing official homeless report, which show that 10,049 adults and children slept in emergency accommodation.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“The figures in April’s Department of Housing’s homeless report show that we have unfortunately returned to record levels of homelessness.

“The report states that there were 7,105 adults and 2,944 children in emergency accommodation funded by the Department of Housing last month.

“This government is to blame for this. It, like the government before it, while failing to provide an adequate level of new real social housing, has also failed to address the shrinking private rental sector. As a result, more and more families are experiencing homelessness.

“We know that more and more landlords are selling up and the issuing of notices to quit from landlords are responsible for more than half of all evictions. The squeeze in the rental market in turn makes it harder for them for source new accommodation

“We need to see immediate action from the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. The solutions have been provided to him by NGOs and opposition parties.

“The Minister must allow councils to buy rental properties where HAP or RAS tenants have an eviction notice, to prevent the family becoming homeless. 

“The Focus Ireland Amendment must be adopted to ensure that where a buy-to-let landlord is selling their property, they must leave the tenant in situ. 

“The government must also take action to progress the Simon Communities (Homeless Prevention) Bill, which was passed by the Dáil late last year.

“Ultimately, however, the only way to really tackle the crisis is to increase the number of new, real social homes, owned by local authorities and approved housing bodies. 

“I don’t know what the Minister is waiting for. He and his government must take action now.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has said an incoming Executive must invest in proper services to support new mothers and their babies.

 The West Belfast MLA said:

 “An inquest into the tragic and preventable death of a young woman in 2018 has highlighted the urgent need for new and accessible postnatal services for new mothers and their babies. 

“The inquest heard of a number of failings within the system, and there is an obligation on those in power to act without delay so that no more families have to experience this heartache.

“We need to see the establishment of a properly staffed unit that provides support to mothers and their babies in what can often be a very challenging time and I will raise this with the health minister as a priority.

“This tragedy is another stark and devastating reminder of the issues that exist within our health service, we need an Executive urgently that can invest £1 billion in health over three years and ensure that families have access to support and treatments when required. 

“I again urge the DUP to end its boycott of the Executive, get back to work and get on with the job of delivering - that’s what people elected us to do.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has reiterated his call for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into the murder of American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Teachta Brady’s call comes following the release of the findings of an investigation conducted by Palestinian authorities into the illegal killing of the veteran journalist.

The Palestinian Authority investigation found that Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier earlier this month, despite wearing a blue vest and helmet which clearly identified her as a journalist.

The Wicklow TD said:

“The findings of the investigation conducted by the Palestinian authority have clearly shown, what we all have believed to be true from the beginning, that Shireen Abu Akleh was executed in cold blood by an Israeli soldier. The investigation also categorically discounted Israeli claims that there were Palestinian militants involved in the incident. 

“The Palestinian attorney general Akram Al-Khatib has stated that there were no militants close to where Abu Akleh was shot. This has been previously proven by a Palestinian NGO, which conducted a pain-staking investigation and walk-through of events that occurred that day.

“The reality is that Abu Akleh, who was a veteran and clearly identifiable journalist, was wearing a blue press vest and blue helmet, was attempting to flee from the area as they came under fire from Israeli forces.

“The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh is clearly a war crime and needs to be investigated as such. We had a debate in the Dáil earlier this week, where we heard strong words, and witnessed much hand-wringing from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. But now we need to see action.

“The Irish government needs to lead the way in calling for an investigation to be conducted by the International Criminal Court into the murder of Abu Akleh. 

“Dozens of journalists are losing their lives in conflict zones around the world every year. And we rightly condemn their murders. There have been two dozen journalists killed in Ukraine so far since the Russian invasion.

“But condemnation of their killings, the international outrage, all ring hollow, if the murder of Abu Akleh is not afforded the same degree of import by the international community.

“The murder was a war crime, and it needs to be investigated as such. 

“The Irish government must use its position on the UN Security Council and in the EU to push for an independent inquiry. 

“The failure of the international community to afford the same rights to Palestinians as it does to the victims of other conflicts is an indictment of the years of silence from global leaders as Israel has assumed carte blanche, to commit human rights abuse after human rights abuse on the Palestinian people.

"This cannot be allowed to continue.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform Mairéad Farrell TD said the events of 'Gamblegate' which broke yesterday "underscore the importance of the need to improve the regulation of lobbying in this state".

Yesterday the Daily Mail broke the story of how a number of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs were wined and dined by the gambling industry at a hospitality tent race meeting in Punchestown.

This event took place just as the Oireachtas is preparing to regulate gambling for the first time in over a decade, amidst a major pushback from the industry.

Teachta Farrell said:

“It was certainly interesting timing that as mine and Teachta Pearse Doherty’s Regulation of Lobbying (amendment) Bill 2020 moved to the fourth stage of the Dail, the news was breaking about an informal lobbying event was being held by the gambling industry in advance of the Oireachtas’ attempt to bring greater regulation of the industry.

"Despite Ireland being the 4th highest in the world for gambling, with €5bn spent every year, we’ve been very slow when it comes to regulating the industry. So it's little wonder that the industry sensing greater oversight and regulation is coming, has now gone on the charm offensive.

“Our Bill was introduced in the wake of D’Arcygate, another example of the weaknesses in our Lobbying regime.

"This event occurred when a former Junior Finance Minister sought to become the head of the Lobbying organisation for the Irish Funds industry, which he previously had responsibility for.

"His move would have breached the cooling off period, and in the process highlighted the awful revolving door situation which exists here.

“Our Bill would enact a multitude of recommendations from the Standards Commission (SIPO), thus giving them the kind of powers to properly regulate certain lobbying activities here. The Commission have been requesting these powers for years and they have been repeatedly ignored by the Government.

“When we introduced our Bill amidst the public outcry, the government initially delayed it for almost a year.

"They said they wanted to introduce their own bill instead. We have now had sight of it and it’s currently before the Finance Committee. It has been roundly criticised by the Standards Commission and by Transparency International.

“It’s clear that the approach to the regulation of lobbying in this state has to change. Otherwise people will be worrying that it’s a case of 'the Galway tent is dead, long live the Punchestown tent'.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has again called on the government to introduce an Emergency Budget in response to the cost of living crisis, which is causing unnecessary and deepening hardship for workers and families. 

Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:

“Workers and families are continuing to struggle with a deepening cost of living crisis as the price of energy, food and other essentials continues to rise.

“For months, Sinn Féin have called on the government to introduce an Emergency Budget to protect households.

“The government’s refusal to act is inexcusable.

“Only last week, the Taoiseach again refused to rule out cost of living measures before October.

“This is as inflation reached over 7 percent last month and will climb even higher in the time ahead.

“That even the Tories in Britain have now responded to high inflation with greater urgency than this government is testament to how out of touch they are with the difficulties people are facing.

“We recognise that not everyone can be fully protected by every price increase - but the government can and must do more.

“Sinn Féin have been consistent in calling for an Emergency Budget that provides targeted and sensible measures.

“By reducing the cost of home heating oil, not increasing it.

“By increasing social welfare rates, which the government have disgracefully allowed to fall far behind the rate of rising prices.

“By introducing cost-of-living cash payments to lower and middle-income households.

“By reducing childcare costs and helping struggling renters with a refundable tax credit and a ban on rent increases.

“This government are failing to respond, and workers and families are paying the price."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on the Government to take urgent action on introducing a cost-of-living package to support families and workers.

This follows the British Government’s announcement of a £15 billion package earlier this afternoon, which will include a £650 one-off payment to low-income households and an energy bill discount of £400 this Autumn.

Speaking this afternoon, Teachta Kerrane said:

“I am calling on the Government to act immediately and introduce a cost-of-living package to support families and workers.

“That we are seeing the Tory Government in Britain introduce targeted measures before Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil speaks volumes.

“The Government has dragged its heels yet again, at a time when households need effective and targeted measures in response to the growing cost of living crisis.

“Sinn Féin have repeatedly put forward proposals on introducing measures which would support households that need it most at this time. 

“We have proposed a direct Cost of Living cash payment, to put money back into people’s pockets now when they need it.

“An individual with an income of up to €30,000 would receive a Cost-of-Living cash payment of €200, and an individual on income of between €30,000 and €60,000 would receive a Cost-of-Living Cash Payment of €100. 

“We have also repeatedly called for the introduction of a €15m Discretionary Fund, to support households facing utility debt especially for those who are locked out of supports like the Fuel Allowance.

“This is in addition to our proposals to cut childcare costs, freeze rents and address rising energy costs.

“These measures would ease the pressure facing families and workers, whilst ensuring those households that are most vulnerable to the soaring cost of living receive targeted supports.

“Rather than reiterating measures taken to date, including the social welfare package announced in the Budget eight months ago which is now irrelevant, especially given that these social welfare increases followed two years of no increases, the Government can and must do more. The Government have also consistently put a focus on the Fuel Allowance which the majority of workers do not receive and is not targeted at those in energy poverty.

“I am calling for urgent action now, to provide families and workers with the cost of living supports they desperately need.”

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Speaking in relation to the proposal by the Minister for Special Education Josepha Madigan to create five special educational needs (SEN) centres in Dublin as an ‘interim’ solution to a shortage of places, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh O Laoghaire has said:

“It should never have got to a position that we are in late May and 80 children in Dublin do not have a school place.

“The government has the power to use S37A to ensure schools open special classes in areas where they are needed. This conversation between the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Department of Education should have been happening last autumn.

“It is incredible that the Minister for Education, the Minister for Special Education and the NCSE have access to all the data they need, as well as the powers and budget, yet did not use these.

“Parents are now desperate because of the lack of government planning. 

“I am very concerned about the proposal to open special educational needs centres in the Dublin area, as very often what the Department deems a ‘short-term’ measure is far from that. We only have to look at prefabs in schools around the State as testimony to their previous form in this regard.

“Where a child needs a special class place, parents do not want them to be totally separated and segregated from other children. They want them to be part of the life of a school community; ideally a local school.  

“It is devastating for these parents that the government’s lack of planning has stripped them of this option.

“We are meant to be moving forward on the basis of inclusion and integration, not segregation.

“Families across the State would much prefer if the government focused on using the powers available to them to open special classes, and ensure schools that do open classes are properly supported, funded and staffed. 

“That way the government would be living up to its commitments to children with special educational needs - to have a place in a special class in a school, not a special education ‘centre’, segregated and isolated from the school community.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has commented on the European Semester Spring Package which drew attention to significant failings in the Government’s economic policies.

Speaking today, the Donegal TD said that the Report revealed significant failings in areas such as housing, childcare, social inclusion which risk Ireland’s economic competitiveness and development.

Teachta Doherty said:

“The Report published this week by the European Commission as part of the 2022 European Semester underlined continuing failings in the Government’s economic policy.

“The Report notes that house prices and rents continue to rise as a result of this and previous Government’s failure to invest in social and affordable housing.

“Not only has this locked struggling home buyers out of home ownership, and locked renters into an unaffordable rental market, the Report also notes that it has led to higher levels of homelessness.

“The Report also underlines the fact the R&D investment continues to lag behind our European peers while childcare costs remain among the highest in the EU.

“These failings are direct threat to the competitiveness of our economy and continue to hamper social progress.

“In addition, the Report notes that less than a third of citizens with disabilities were in employment in 2019, with one of the highest disability employment gaps in the EU.

“The Report also highlighted that Irish single parent households have the lowest employment rates in the EU.

“This Report is a wake-up call to the failings of this Government, and the risk those failings pose to our economy.

“These failings must be addressed through a radical step-change in policy and, ultimately, through a change in Government.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said an Executive is needed urgently to reduce waiting lists and begin to fix the health service.

Responding to the latest waiting lists figures released by the Department of Health, the party’s health spokesperson said:

“Stark figures from the Department of Health show that almost 360,000 people are now on a waiting list in the north.

“This is unacceptable. We need an Executive in place to reduce waiting lists and hire more doctors and nurses and fund vital mental health and cancer services.

“Sinn Féin are ready to form that Executive now, to invest the extra £1 billion in the health service and make health the number one priority.

“The DUP should end its boycott, join with the other parties in the Assembly on Monday and get a government up and running without any more delay. That’s what people who are sitting on hospital waiting lists expect us to do.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the Minister for Health to urgently implement a Zero Tolerance Plan to end long emergency department waits.

Teachta Cullinane’s remarks came as new data from the HSE (see below) shows that the average patient experience time to admission in emergency departments across the state is 12 hours, and almost 14 hours for patients aged over 75.

He said that 14 hour waits in emergency departments are unacceptable for any patient, but especially for elderly people who are often presenting with complex and multiple health needs, as well as mobility issues.

The data shows that emergency department wait times are worst in Cork, Limerick, South Dublin, Galway and Kildare where the average ED wait time is greater than 20 hours across Cork, Mercy, St Vincent’s, Galway, Naas and Tallaght Hospitals.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The government must take a zero-tolerance approach to hospital overcrowding and long emergency department waits.

“Patients have been suffering the torturous consequences of overcrowding for years, but these figures show that the problem has reached a new extreme.

“For April, ED waits are 12 hours on average, and almost 14 hours for patients over 75. That is totally unacceptable.

“In the two major Cork hospitals, patients aged over 75 are waiting on average more than 24 hours – over a day – for admission through an emergency department.

“Older patients across Galway, Limerick, South Dublin, and Kildare are waiting more than 19 hours for admission through an emergency department.

“That is not the extreme end of the scale – that is the average, and it is both shocking and frightening for those patients and anyone looking on.

“The root causes of emergency department dysfunction are low hospital capacity, poor management of resources, delayed discharges, low out-of-hours GP coverage, and a lack of alternatives in the community.

“There is a high degree of burnout across the health workforce, and there is, without question, a need for more beds, doctors, nurses, allied health and social care professionals, and more capacity in diagnostics and operating theatres, but that is not all.

“There are efficiency reforms that have worked in some hospitals, such as Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda and in Cavan Hospital, to reduce overcrowding and delays in admitting, seeing, treating, and discharging patients, such as specialist medical wards and better patient flow pathways.

“All hospitals must act on each other’s successes and failures, and it is the Minister’s responsibility to ensure that the HSE is implementing best practice in each and every hospital.

“We urgently need a zero-tolerance plan to end excessive emergency department waits.”

The data is available to view here and here

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has responded to announcements by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, in relation to his consistent failure to address some of the many difficulties surrounding the issuing of passports.

Among the announcements by the Minister was the news that the formerly titled Passport Express Service, has been renamed “Post Passport”, in an apparent attempt by the Minister to deflect from his ongoing failure to address the serious difficulties in the passport service.

Teachta Brady said:

“While it is welcome that the Minister is acknowledging that there are significant, ongoing problems and difficulties associated with the Passport Express Service, I am afraid that it will require a more than a name change to address the levels of problems associated with this particular service.

"The reality is that this is a Minister who has a track record of failing to adequately address key issues in relation to his brief. And what we see here is just another, glaring example of his failure in office.

"The Passport Service were able to give the Minister an estimate of the number passport applications that they expected to receive some time ago. According to the Minister that estimate now sits at 1.4 million. But he is only now moving to address concerns that were obvious to all and sundry from the outset.

"The reality is that the Minister’s decision to change the name of the service delivers nothing in the way of solutions to the thousands of individuals who have been left waiting for passports. There are countless reports of applicants who have applied for passports within the specified target date, with plenty of room to spare, who have missed flights, who have lost holidays, often at significant personal and financial cost.

"What we need to see is proper investment in the passport service, accompanied with reform of procedures which have identified as currently contributing to the delays that applicants are experiencing.

"The Minister has known what these problems were from the beginning, as they have not just materialised overnight, although they may have been exacerbated by the current volume of applicants. I have been bringing these difficulties to the Minister’s attention on a consistent and ongoing basis for over a year. We have also witnessed a huge surge in applications from the north and Britain since Brexit. The stark reality is that the Minister has had plenty of time to address these difficulties.

"He is attempting to pass the responsibility for his own failings back onto the applicants by claiming that up to 40% of applications have been completed incorrectly. This is simply an attempt to deflect from a bigger problem with the forms and the online process itself. Even the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, is prepared to concede this point. 

"The issue of delays is primarily centred on first time applications, and those for children. There is a major problem in the verification process for the applications for children. This needs to change and be brought into the twenty-first century.

"The Minister’s response, such as it is, is merely an attempt to tweak existing processes in response to the current media onslaught, and the fact that his government colleagues are getting it in the neck every which way they turn over passports. He must act now before his failures to date cause even more hardship for passport applicants.”


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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing, Thomas Gould TD, has urged the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to come clean about their parties’ links with the gambling industry.

His comments follow reports in the Daily Mail today which revealed that several TDs and Senators from these parties attended a day at the races at Punchestown paid for and attended by a gambling body.

Speaking today, Teachta Gould said:

“Gambling addiction sadly affects the lives of far too many people across the country. While many people are able to enjoy a bet, for many others it can be the start of a devastating addiction which has profound and far-reaching implications for their and their family’s lives. The government has a duty and a responsibility to protect people from gambling addiction by regulating the industry in a robust and fair way.

“Shockingly, the government has delayed regulating gambling for a decade. During this time countless lives will have been affected by the government’s failure to grasp this important issue.

“The shocking revelations in the Daily Mail today are deeply concerning. They suggest a dysfunctional relationship between the industry and the politicians responsible for regulating that industry. I am concerned that this represents a conflict of interest.

“Many people working in the addiction sector to support those affected by problem gambling have been dismayed for many years at the government’s inaction on this issue. Today, I am sure this sense of dismay will be growing.

“I am once again urging the government to prioritise fair and robust regulation of the gambling industry, which meets the needs of people experiencing or vulnerable to addiction.

“I am urging Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar as the leaders of these two parties to come forward and be honest about the extent of their parties’ links with the gambling industry. It is vital that the public can have confidence in those who are passing legislation and be aware of the full extent of any conflicts of interest.”

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Responding to reports tonight that Minister for Special Education Josepha Madigan is expected to announce that five special educational needs (SEN) centres will be created in Dublin as an ‘interim’ solution, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh O Laoghaire said:

“It should never have got to a position that we are in late May and 80 children in Dublin do not have a school place. 

“The government has the power to use S37A to ensure schools open special classes in areas where they are needed. This conversation between the National Council For Special Education (NCSE) and the Department of Education should have been happening last autumn. 

“This is so far beyond the 11th hour, and this kind of rushed response is not what anyone would have wanted to see.  

“It is incredible to me that the Minister for Education, the Minister for Special Education and the NCSE have access to all the data they need, as well as the powers and budget, yet did not use these.

“Parents are now desperate because of the lack of government planning. They are tired from having to fight for their child, and I know many will accept places in these centres because they feel they do not have any other choice. The government has put these parents in a shocking position.  

“In truth, I am concerned, as very often what the Department deems a ‘short-term’ measure is often far from that. We only have to look at prefabs in schools around the state as testimony to that. 

“Where their child needs a special class place, parents do not want them to be totally separated and segregated from other children - they want them to be part of the life of a school community, ideally a local school.  

“It is devastating for these parents that the government’s lack of planning has stripped them of this option. 

“There are so many questions and concerns that arise here. What is the timescale here to ensure these children get a place in a mainstream school? Will the Minister follow through on her commitment to using s37A?  

“What kind of buildings are to be used? What teachers will staff them? Will they have adequate ancillary services and access to therapies? 

“I am concerned about the precedent that this sets - we are meant to be moving forward on the basis of inclusion and integration, not segregation. 

“The Minister talks about rolling this out across the state. Families across the state would much prefer if the government focused on using the powers available to them to open special classes, and ensure schools that do open classes are properly supported, funded and staffed. 

“That way the government would be living up to its commitments to children with special educational needs - to have a place in a special class in a school, not a special education ‘centre’, segregated and isolated from the school community.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs John Brady TD met today with the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Ms Larysa Gerasko, and the Chair of the Committee on EU Affairs, Ms Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze along with members of the EU Affairs Committee.

In a wide-ranging discussion, the group touched on a number of issues concerning the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and Ukraine’s application for accession to the EU. 

Following the meeting, the Wicklow TD said: 

“Our discussion today touched upon a wide range of issues concerning the conflict in Ukraine, and Ukraine’s campaign for membership of the EU.

"One area which I raised with Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze was the issue of the opening of Embassies in Ukraine.

"We now have a situation where a growing number of countries are moving Embassy staff back into Ukraine.

"Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze spoke of how important it was to the people of Ukraine to witness evidence of the international community returning to Ukraine.

"And while at the moment it was primarily political, and military staff which were returning. This in itself offered great encouragement to Ukrainians.

"I believe that Ireland could achieve a lot for the morale of the Ukrainian people through the re-opening of the Irish Embassy in Kyiv. Thousands of Ukrainians have made their way to Ireland as refugees from the Russian invasion.

"The reopening of the Irish Embassy would send an important message not only to Ukrainians at home, and here in Ireland, but to the Russian aggressors also. That Ukraine is and will remain a sovereign independent nation, with full diplomatic relations with the international community.

“The Ukrainian people face many challenges. None more so than the continuation of their resistance to Russian aggression.

"It is critical that it becomes clear to the Russians that the human rights abuses which they have committed and continue to commit in the prosecution of their assault on Ukraine will not go unpunished.

"Ukraine, along with investigators from the ICC, continue to gather evidence for the prosecution of Russian troops for human rights abuses committed against Ukraine. The sheer scale of this challenge is daunting, with over 13,000 investigations currently underway.

"As Ukraine liberates more territory, more human rights abuses are revealed - creating even more pressure.

"Each individual case must be investigated to a standard that will stand up in a court of law. It requires the work of special investigators, and forensic experts.

"And while the EU is co-operating with Ukraine and has investigators on the ground, I believe that Ireland with the skill and experience of the Gardaí have the potential to make a significant difference on the ground.

"I would appeal to the government and the relevant departments, to do what they can to answer, what is in effect a direct appeal from Ukraine for assistance in ensuring that human rights abusers are held to account.”

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Uachtarán Shinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed confirmation that legislation for Acht Gaeilge will be tabled and said it must be delivered with ‘no more delays’.

Teachta McDonald said: 

“Gaeilgeoirí have been waiting over 15 years for the delivery of Acht Gaeilge - today is their day.

“It is welcome that legislation will now finally be tabled to enshrine the rights of Irish speakers into law in the north.

“We will finally see the repeal of archaic anti-Irish legislation and replaced with official recognition of the Irish language to enable people to access public services and the courts through Irish. 

“This is a credit to the vibrant, growing and thriving Irish speaking community right across this island who never gave up and made their voices heard despite broken promises from the British government over 15 years. 

“An Irish Language Act was first promised by the British government at St Andrew’s in 2006. 

“It was committed to again in the agreement which restored the political institutions, New Decade, New Approach in January 2020. Unionist parties reneged on their commitment to Acht in that agreement and proved unwilling or unable to deliver rights to Irish speakers. 

“Despite this, Sinn Féin worked to find a solution and in June 2021, the British government agreed to legislate for Acht Gaeilge at Westminster to end the blockade on basic rights. 

“There can be no more false dawns, this needs to be done now and before Westminster breaks for the summer. No more delays.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said an Executive must be formed now to put over £420 million in the pockets of workers and families.

The Sinn Féin Chief Whip confirmed that the party has tabled a motion to recall the Assembly in a bid to elect a Speaker and a First and deputy First Minister.

Pat Sheehan said:

“Sinn Féin has tabled a recall motion to elect a Speaker and put a First Minister and deputy First Minister in place to allow parties to get to work on behalf of the people. 

“We need an Executive up and running to put over Ł420 million into people's pockets to help deal with the cost of living and support workers and families who are struggling.

“And to invest an extra £1 billion into the health service to reduce waiting lists, support cancer and mental health services, and recruit more doctors and nurses.

“The DUP need to stop blocking an Executive being formed, so that we can give workers and families that help right away. People want an Executive now.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said that the DUP need to get back to work so that we can begin to tackle hospital waiting lists.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said:

"The DUP need to end their boycott of the Assembly, their actions are piling more pressure on families and on those who are languishing on hospital waiting lists.

"Today the Health Minister confirmed that without a three year budget it will become increasingly difficult to invest strategically in our health service.

'Sinn Féin stands ready to form an Executive that will invest an extra £1billion into health over the next three years - to tackle waiting lists, to recruit more doctors and nurses and to fund vital cancer and mental health services.

"The DUP need to stop blocking the formation of an Executive, so that we can get on with this work right away." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said the strong trend of increased all-island trade must be built upon to create jobs and prosperity across the island.

Speaking on the publication of the latest trade figures from the Central Statistics Office in the south which show the trend of strong and increased all-island trade continues into 2022, the party's economy spokesperson said:

"Over the course of 2021 north to south trade in goods increased by £1.3 billion (65%) and south to north trade over the same period up by £1.1 billion (54%).

"In the first three months of 2022 that trend has continued strongly, with north to south trade up by a further 34% or £250m compared to January-March 2021 and south to north trade by 49% or £312 million over the same period.

"This highlights the benefits and importance of the protections of the protocol and the opportunities that exist which need to be built upon.

"Three successive DUP economy ministers have ignored the potential of the north's unique status under the protocol of access to the EU single market as well as the British market.

"It is past time for playing politics and threats of unwarranted unilateral action from the British government which benefits no one and will in fact damage businesses and our economy.

"People want to see negotiated solutions on the implementation of the protocol.

“The DUP should end its boycott of the Assembly, the Executive and the north south bodies so we can put money into the pockets of workers and families struggling with the cost of living, put an additional £1billion into the health service and maximise the potential of the protocol to create jobs and prosperity."

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