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Carthy supports Border Brexit demos

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed his support for border demonstrations today, Wednesday 16th October, in advance of a critical EU Council summit - the last such meeting before the British Government says it will leave the European Union, dragging the North of Ireland with it.

Individuals and groups living along the border assembled at border crossings, on Wednesday, lighting beacons and torches to show opposition to Brexit and their determination to resist the imposition of any border infrastructure.

Matt Carthy said:

“Sinn Féin fully supports today’s demonstration by BCAB opposing to Brexit and to any return of a hard border in Ireland.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with local communities who are making clear that they will not accept the imposition of any customs posts or border infrastructure.

“Any proposed Brexit deal must have legal guarantees for Ireland. The livelihoods of border communities, our economy and our peace process must be protected. There can be no DUP veto on any protections for Ireland.

“The people of the North voted to remain within the EU. The ultimate solution to the disruption and hardship which Brexit threatens to bring to Ireland is to hold a referendum on Irish unity which would allow the people have their say on the future, and to give them the option of removing the British border in Ireland once and for all. The time has clearly arrived to hold such a referendum.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Bay North Denise Mitchell has said that it is imperative that alternative accommodation must be found for the students of Scoil Chaitríona Cailíní so as to minimise the disruption in their studies after the fire that occurred there this morning.

The Dublin spokesperson for Sinn Féin said:

“I want to express my relief that there were no students or staff on the premises at the time of the fire. I believe that there was one local resident taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation and I wish them a speedy recovery. I want to thank the emergency services for ensuring that the damage was minimised.

“An Garda Síochána must be given time and space to establish the cause of this fire and, once that is complete, refurbishment efforts must be put in place by the Department of Education.

“I have written to the Minister for Education Joe McHugh to highlight the need for urgency in accommodating the students and to ask what plans are in place to do so.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has made a formal submission to both the Central Bank and Competition and Consumer Protection Commission requesting that they investigate and ban dual pricing in the Irish insurance market.

Deputy Doherty welcomed the Central Bank’s announcement that they would look into the issue, after he wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank requesting a market investigation on September 25th.  

The Donegal TD said:

“On the 25th of September I wrote to both the Chairperson of the CCPC and the Governor of the Central Bank requesting an immediate investigation into the practice of dual pricing, or price discrimination, by the insurance industry. I also got the agreement of the Finance Committee to investigate this practice.

“Insurance companies in the Irish market are using dual pricing to target customers who are more likely to renew and less likely to switch or shop around, and then charge them with higher prices. This is known as the loyalty penalty.

“Not only is this done without the knowledge of consumers, but it is known to target low-income and vulnerable groups, with some being charged premiums more than 100% higher than the average price for the same risk profile.

“A recent study by the Financial Conduct Authority in Britain found that price discrimination resulted in 6 million policyholders being overcharged a combined £1.2 billion in 2018 alone. They are now considering regulatory intervention that would ban the practice.

“In the United States, dual pricing has been made illegal in as many as 17 states, including California and Florida.

“Irish consumers deserve the same protections as anyone else. But Irish regulators have done nothing to confront this practice.

“The Central Bank’s announcement that they will carry out a ‘study’ into this issue does not go far enough. It is simply not good enough.

“My submission to both the Central Bank and the CCPC calls for a formal investigation into the price discrimination, who it effects, how much it costs consumers, whether it impacts vulnerable groups, and regulatory measures that can be introduced to ban its practice.

“Irish consumers deserve nothing less."

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Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady has urged people to take part in the demonstrations that will take place along the border this evening against any hardening of the border a result of Brexit.


The Newry/Armagh MP said:

“The Tories have shown a complete disregard for the livelihoods of the people of the north of Ireland in their hasty pursuit of Brexit.


“There is a concern that Brexit will cause profound and lasting damage to our economy and jobs, and reverse two decades of hard work to build a more equitable society in the north.

“The open border has become a symbol of the progress the people of the north have worked tirelessly for and any hardening of the border or a unionist veto is an unacceptable reversal of that.

“Tonight, Border Communities Against Brexit are hosting a series of protests against any hardening of the border that will take place at 38 crossings all along the border.

“I urge as many people as possible to get to their nearest border crossing tonight to send a clear message to the DUP, the Tories, to Dublin and Brussels.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane has criticised the government for its failure to properly address the practice of placing children in adult mental health service facilities in Waterford, saying that this needs to stop as a matter of urgency and proper facilities opened.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“The mental health commission found that eight children were admitted to the Waterford adult mental health service in 2018.

“Incredibly, it found that the compliance record for the service was 57% compared to 68% for 2017.

“A report found that not all staff involved in the care of children had training in Children First age appropriate facilities.

“Furthermore,  a programme of activities were not available and child residents did not have access to age appropriate advocacy services.

“It went on to state that the admission of children policy did not address the procedures in regard to family liaison.

“Other issues included parental consent, confidentiality and the requirement for each child to be individually risk assessed.

“It found that residents’ general health needs were not monitored and assessed in line with their specific needs, that physical examinations were inadequate, that residents did not have access to a supply of appropriate emergency personal clothing and, to add insult to injury, the centre was not clean, hygienic and free from offensive odours.

“How can children and adults with mental health difficulties be treated in that fashion?

“When I asked the Minister about this in the Dáil he tried to say it was a managerial problem, when we all know this is about resources.

“I am calling on the government to invest in child mental services in Waterford as a matter of urgency and to end this disgraceful situation."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers' Rights Maurice Quinlivan TD and party Social Protection spokesperson John Brady TD tonight moved a Dáil motion condemning the government’s decision not to increase the minimum wage and took aim at Fianna Fáil over their hypocrisy on the issue.

The motion also calls for the introduction of a Living Wage of €12.30 per hour for workers.

Speaking this evening, Deputy Quinlivan said;

“This is a simple motion that recognises the huge contribution workers on the minimum wage make to our society and economy.

“This group of workers are often overlooked when it comes to state support and are certainly underpaid for the hard work they do every day.

“Incredibly, last week Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil presented a budget that did absolutely nothing for these workers.

“To not even include an increase in the minimum wage was a slap in the face to the 137,000 workers earning the minimum wage - who work very hard day in day out.

“Our motion here tonight calls on the government to immediately reverse this decision – and to introduce a Living Wage of €12.30 per hour next year.

“We want to see a Living Wage – which is a rate of pay that would allow workers to pay for the basic necessities of life - to live with dignity - and to participate fully as active citizens in our society. That is not too much to ask."

Deputy Brady continued;

“Two weeks ago, Fianna Fáil Deputy Eugene Murphy hosted a SIPTU briefing in the AV Room calling for a Living Wage for early years educators.

“Fianna Fáil didn’t even secure an increase in the minimum wage for these workers let alone a Living Wage.

“I’m glad Fianna Fáil had the opportunity tonight to put their money where their mouth was – and let low paid workers know that they don’t represent their interests.

“This isn’t the first time Fianna Fáil have failed to deliver for workers – they are of course, the party that cut the minimum wage when workers in this State were on their knees.

“Now, even in a time of supposed economic growth, Fianna Fáil are failing workers again.

“Last year in their Poverty Focus Report, Social Justice Ireland found that more than 100,000 people with jobs live in poverty.

“There is something very wrong when being in employment condemns a person to live in poverty.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Employment and Workers Rights, Declan Kearney MLA has welcomed the publication of a report by the Nevin Economic Research Institute which analyses the impact precarious work has on young people.

The report notes how the economic crisis of 2007-2008 has made the nature of employment for young people more precarious. The report found that since the crisis full-time employment has been harder to find for young people who are instead having to opt for part-time employment.  

The report cited that from 2007-2008 28.5% of non-student young workers worked in a part-time job because they could not find a full-time job, however by 2018-’19 this had increased to 39%. In terms of employment as a whole, the report noted that employment rates among younger people are considerably lower than they were in 2007 with 18,000 fewer young people in employment in 2019.

Speaking on this report the Sinn Féin MLA stated:

“This report highlights the prevalence of precarious work in our society and the impact that it is having particularly on our young people.

“The rise in precarious work is worrying given that by its nature it disrupts the ability of workers to engage in long-term financial planning or to take out a mortgage. 

“The lack of certainty has also been found to create anxiety and has adversely impacted the mental health of workers.

“This report raises the need for a new conversation on the labour market, which to date has been focused on the quantity of employment rather than the quality of employment.

“Sinn Féin is committed to leading this conversation as we have done in the past by developing policy proposals on the living wage and by ending zero-hour contracts. 

“Sinn Féin will seek to deliver a new Employment Model which will better the lives of all our young people, who have been disadvantaged by the financial crisis.” 

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Speaking after revelations in the latest BBC Spotlight documentary that Billy Wright was an agent working for British State Agencies, Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon said:

“Revelations that Billy Wright was an agent working for British State Agencies will come as no surprise to the families of the victims of Wright and his gang.

“Billy Wright and his gang were responsible for numerous murders in the mid-Ulster area and throughout the north.

“It is obvious Billy Wright and the murder gang he led were controlled, directed and manipulated by British State Agencies.

“The families of the victims of Wright and his gang are entitled to the truth about the depths of this collusion.

"There has already been too much delay and too many efforts to cover up the truth around collusion. Collusion was a key instrument of Britain’s dirty war in Ireland.

“I will be raising the issue with the PSNI Chief Constable and the Police Ombudsman.” 

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The Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has called on the Taoiseach to “step up, defend the Good Friday Agreement and defend the rights of all Irish Citizens” in light of the DeSouza case.

She said:

“Yesterday, the High Court in Belfast ruled that people born in the north of Ireland are legally British citizens even if they identify as Irish. The ruling was made in the case of Emma DeSouza.

“The ruling represents a clear effort by the British Government to undermine and trample all over the Good Friday Agreement.

“The identity and citizenship provisions are critical to the integrity of the Agreement and must be protected and defended to the hilt.

“The Taoiseach said previously that Irish citizens in the north would never be left behind again by an Irish government. He now needs to follow through on those words, step up, defend Emma’s rights and the rights of all Irish citizens and defend the Good Friday Agreement."

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has encouraged people to join widespread demonstrations along the border tomorrow evening against any hardening of the border as a result of the Tory/DUP Brexit. 

The Foyle MP said: 

"There is widespread concern about Brexit and the catastrophic damage it would lead to, particularly in border areas. 

"The callous disregard the Tories and their DUP allies have shown for the north of Ireland and our economy in pursuit of Brexit has been staggering. 

"Tomorrow evening, Border Communities Against Brexit will be holding a series of protests against any hardening of the border right along the whole length of the border at 38 crossing points. 

"Brexit was rejected in the north and this protest will give people north and south yet another opportunity to make their voice heard at a crucial time in the Brexit process. 

"We cannot have any hardening of the border or any unionist veto and I would encourage as many people as possible to go along to their nearest border protest to send a clear message to London, Dublin and Brussels."

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has said the DUP are living in a parallel universe.

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP was speaking after reports the DUP met with representatives of loyalist paramilitaries.

“It is truly astonishing that the DUP are meeting with representatives of loyalist paramilitaries to discuss Brexit rather than listening to the majority who voted to reject Brexit, who want to protect the Good Friday Agreement and who are fearful of a crash-out Brexit.

“Brexit will have serious impacts for the people of the north and the island of Ireland.

"Given the recent revelations about the DUP links to Ulster Resistance this is all the more concerning. 

“I would like to know if the DUP called for loyalist groups to disband and disarm and set aside their campaigns of murder, racketeering, extortion, drug dealing and sectarian threats?” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has met with the Children’s Law Centre on Special Educational Needs for children in schools.

The Foyle MLA said: “I had an extremely productive meeting today with the Children’s law Centre who are doing really good work in supporting parents, children and schools throughout the SEN process.

"Any parent who has ever had to go through this process will know the stress that it can cause, the Children’s Law Centre are a great advocate for children and parent rights especially in a school setting, I would advise anyone in need of some advice to contact them.

"This comes on the back of the beginning of another school year and the time where many parents often face the stress of a child not adapting and feel their child may need extra assistance.

“With a significant increase in special educational needs cases coming through the offices, our staff have recently attended Special Educational Needs training courses through the Children’s Law Centre.

"This has equipped us to deal with the complexities of the wide range of cases.

“The current system in dealing with Special Educational Needs must be improved, that includes the need for the Education Authority to work positively and more closely with parents and children.”

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West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer has expressed concern that agri-food businesses will struggle to cope with the demands for export health certificates in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“Currently the department issues around 18,000 export health certificates per year. In a no deal, this will increase to at least 1.9 million certificates, placing incredible strain on veterinary services and our ability to export produce.

“At present, there are just over 90 vets working on export certification, but demand will dramatically increase in a crash-out situation. 

"It is quite clear that agri-food businesses will struggle to cope with the demands for export health certificates in the event of a no deal, crash out Brexit.

"To be eligible for an export health certificate there will be a 40-day, on-farm residency rule which will have a huge impact on farmers who purchase for slaughter and many marts in the north are not approved as export assembly centres.

“Recently we met with the DAERA Permanent Secretary, Chief Vet and senior officials at department headquarters and discussed the impact of WTO tariffs in a crash-out scenario.

“This will place a 30% tariff on dairy, 20% on lamb and coupled with the removal of the subsidy, farming will struggle to survive, which will affect all of us, not just the farming community.

“We pressed the officials on their preparations for Brexit and the need for a market intervention for farmers, given the scale of damage facing the industry and our capacity to produce food. 

“The department has a command, control and co-ordination hub set up and are focussing on the keeping trade flowing in all situations. They are planning for a hard Brexit with a lot of financial turbulence. 

“A crash-out Brexit will cripple agriculture and the agri-food industry in the north.  

“Sinn Féin will continue to engage with the sector, lobby the department and do our best nationally, at EU level, in councils and internationally to highlight the plight that a hard Brexit would inflict on our communities.

"If we are dragged out of the EU against our will then people should be given the opportunity to vote to get back into the EU through Irish reunification.” 

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Sinn Féin Councillor Mark Ward had a motion passed on South Dublin County Council calling on the Irish Government to immediately plan for a United Ireland and to call on the British Government to plan for a border poll. There was opposition to the motion from Fine Gael, Solidarity and Independents.

Cllr Ward said:

“The British Brexit debacle raises the prospect of the six counties being taken out of the EU. The fact that Britain voted to leave the European Union must lead to a vote on a united Ireland.

“Economically, the north and south of this island are interlinked and interdependent. Countless numbers of jobs depend on an All Ireland economy with the free flow of people and goods essential for it to function.

“The reality of Brexit is that we could now have one part of the island within the European Union and another part outside. The consequences of this are self-evident in terms of the border and partition.

“An RTÉ/TG4 exit poll after the last local and European elections indicated there is strong support for a united Ireland among Irish voters. According to the exit poll, 77% of voters polled who chose a preference indicated they’d vote in favour of a united Ireland if a referendum was held tomorrow.

"The will of the people is there but the political will is failing us. This Government are constantly telling us that they are planning for every eventuality of Brexit. I have yet to see any plans they have for a United Ireland. We need a comprehensive road map for a United Ireland.

“When a United Ireland does happen, and it will, the political landscape on this island will be transformed. No more of the status quo.

“If the British Prime Minister is intent on a no deal Brexit, it is beholding on our Government to call for a border poll on Irish Unity under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

“A border poll will allow the people of the North to self determine their future in a democratic process. The 71% of the people in the North who voted in favour for the Good Friday agreement with the knowledge that it paved a pathway to a United Ireland.

“History will tell us that Irish interests, never have or never will be served by Westminster. Partition has failed, it has stifled our island. It has halted our potential for nearly a century.

“Brexit will serve only to reinforce partition and cause further damage our island.

“South Dublin County Council has a population of 285k people, we as Councillors are democratically elected to represent them.

"So, with the weight of 285k people I am calling for this Council to support my motion to call on  the Irish Government to immediately plan for a United Ireland and furthermore to ask the Minister to call on the British Secretary of State to plan for a border poll on Irish Unification.

“The Government has to begin planning for unity.”

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A cross-party delegation of MLAs hosted a meeting today in Stormont with former patients of Neurologist Dr Michael Watt.

Speaking after the meeting MLA's stated:

"Today we hosted a large group of neurology patients concerned about the treatment they received while in the care of the Belfast Trust.

"These patients were among the 3,200 people involved in the Belfast Trust's largest ever recall of patients.

"We listened to the harrowing accounts of former patients and their families and the impact the care they received has had and continues to have on their health and well being.

"Despite assurances from the Belfast Trust and the Department of Health at the outset of the recall process the health authorities are not being open and transparent.

"Patients are entitled to a high standard of care and openness and their concerns in this regard need to be taken seriously by the Department of Health.

"Deep concern was expressed by patients with the postponement of the interim report into the neurology recall by the department.

"The Permanent Secretary of Health needs to publish the interim report as a matter of urgency."

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Speaking after a report produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit showed that Brexit uncertainty is already impacting negatively on the north’s businesses, Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard said:

“This is the latest report that shows Brexit is already having a negative impact on our businesses including the construction and manufacturing sectors.

“The Ulster Bank report sets out some of the very real and negative consequences in terms of output, new orders and employment, that the Tory government and the DUP are prepared to force on our businesses and island with their reckless Brexit support.

“That is all evidence of the reckless approach that the DUP is taking by supporting a hard Brexit and opposing the backstop and the withdrawal agreement that would at least insulate our economy from the worst impacts of Brexit.”

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Statement by Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA:

“It is now more than 1,000 days since the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement collapsed as a result of a financial scandal, discrimination against sections of society and a lack of respect for Irish national identity within the Executive and Assembly by the DUP.

“Sinn Féin recognises it is unsustainable to have no Executive delivering public services and providing political leadership.

“We did agree a way forward in 2018 but the DUP walked away from the deal and walked away from talks.

“The talks process established by the Irish and British Governments on 7 May 2019 following the brutal and tragic killing of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry have failed thus far to produce a successful outcome.

“Both the DUP and British government have continued to resist advancing equality and human rights guarantees in law for all citizens.

“The toxic DUP/Tory pact continues to impede political progress and social reform, and has eroded all pretence of the rigorous impartiality required of the British government as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.

“The British government’s proposal of a unionist veto in the Brexit context is totally unacceptable and makes political progress even more difficult. 

“In terms of attempts to restore the political institutions, let me be absolutely clear, there will be no unionist veto at Stormont in terms of the Brexit negotiations. 

“If the institutions are to be re-established on a durable basis, the issues of equality, rights, integrity and respect which caused the collapse of the Assembly must also be addressed and resolved.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis has welcomed the decision by Department for Communities to consult the public on betting, gaming and lotteries legislation.

The party’s culture, arts and sports spokesperson said:

“The Department for Communities is hoping to launch a consultation on betting, gaming and lotteries legislation in mid-November.

“The consultation will run for approximately ten weeks.

“I would encourage members of the public, but in particular sports clubs and societies, to respond with their view.

“In my opinion the current legislation is not fit for purpose and its restrictive nature is a threat to lifeline of our clubs and societies who rely on revenue raising through lotteries and draws.

“If legislation is not reformed and clubs are limited in their ability to raise additional funds the responsibility for fund raising will fall back on families and parents who already pay membership fees and buy relevant equipment.

“Because of the outdated nature of the legalisation bad practice has become the norm, in order for clubs to be complaint there should be a review on the permitted stakes and prices.

“Hopefully this consultation process will lead to our betting, gaming and lotteries legislation being updated.”

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Sinn Féin victims and legacy spokesperson Linda Dillon today met with the Interim Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse.

Linda Dillon said:

“I met with Brendan McAllister today to discuss the next steps regarding redress for victims and survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse.

“I welcome the fact that a proposed Bill setting up a redress board to compensate HIA victims is to be brought forward. However, victims need some reassurance about what will happen if an election is called.

“The victims have waited too long for justice or redress for an awful wrongdoing. 

“What is needed is clarification on this to ensure victims receive the redress they are long entitled to.”

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“Injunctions on farmers must be dropped immediately” – Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called on Meat industry Ireland (MII) to fulfil its commitments by ensuring that all outstanding injunctions against farmers are lifted immediately.  This includes injunctions relating to the protests at the C&D plant at Edgeworthstown.

Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agricultural & Rural Development Committee, was responding to Monday’s suspension of the Beef taskforce meeting due to protest.

Carthy commented:

“Farmers lifted their protests despite the fact that all issues had not been fully resolved.  This was a gesture of goodwill that has yet to receive an adequate response from factories in the form of improved prices.  It is hoped that the Beef taskforce will allow this fundamental issue to be addressed.

“But, immediately, one of the commitments that must be fulfilled is that to drop all remaining injunctions against farmers involved in protests.  This was a key element of the deal struck between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the farming organisations.  It is disingenuous to suggest that the C&D injunctions stand apart from the rest.  That protest was clearly part of the wider mobilisations against the actions of the factories and the ownership of C&D rests with a major player in MII.

“Unless and until all remaining injunctions are lifted it will be impossible to develop good faith in order to resolve the more substantive issues.

“The Beef Task Force has been established to deal with transparency and low prices in the sector.  We all want to see the Task Force get to work on these issues that affect the sector but it is unreasonable to ask farmers to begin negations while these injunctions remain in place.

“We are also still waiting for the introduction of the Beef Price Index, a measure that had a deadline for implementation of the 16th of September.

“Minister Creed needs to play a more active role in this process.  He was always been extremely quick in condemning actions of farmers but has consistently failed to stand up to the factories.  He must issue a statement demanding that all legal threats are lifted without delay.

“For our part, we in Sinn Féin will continue to stand alongside the family farmers of Ireland in demanding that all outstanding issues in the beef sector, including the base price, are addressed in order to secure the future of rural communities.”

ENDS

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