Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney has strongly condemned the latest theft of two ATMs which was carried out at Tesco in Crumlin last night.
Declan Kearney said:
“The latest ATM theft carried out at Tesco in Crumlin last night will have serious repercussions for the people of Crumlin and the wider community.
“This is not a victimless crime. Those behind this criminality have demonstrated absolute contempt for the residents of Crumlin and the wider rural community, which depends on these ATMs for everyday needs. As a result the local Tesco store will remain closed today.
“Those responsible are criminals. Their actions represent a criminal attack upon this local community. They must be put before the courts and held accountable for these actions.
“Anyone with information relating to this theft which will assist the PSNI inquiry should contact police or Crimestoppers and ensure the criminals involved are brought before the courts and put off our streets.”
Speaking from the scene of the theft this morning, Sinn Féin Councillor and election candidate for the area, Anne Marie Logue, also appealed for help to apprehend the criminals.
Cllr Logue said:
“The Crumlin community are devastated to find that they are now the latest victims of this spate of ATM thefts.
“This is not only an act of wanton theft and destruction of property, it is an attack on the whole community who rely on the ATM services which are now no longer available to them.
“The fact it has happened in the run up to Easter will be an added inconvenience and source of huge disruption to the people of Crumlin and the surrounding areas.
“I would ask the public to pass any information about this theft directly to the police by ringing their incident line 101, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Carthy forces ECB to reveal it profited by 73 billion from eurozone misery
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the increased transparency at the ECB that he was instrumental in achieving, but condemned the organisation for making massive profits from the peripheral economies during the darkest days of the Eurozone crisis.
Carthy successfully amended a European Parliament report responding to the ECB’s Annual Report 2017, demanding the the ECB “disclose the full amounts of profits made by the Eurosystem through ANFAs and SMP from 2010 until the full expiration of he programme, with a specific breakdown per countries which have been subject to SMP purchases (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy)”. He tabled the amendment jointly with Belgian Green MEP Philippe Lamberts.
Speaking today, Friday, Carthy said: “After years of fighting in the European Parliament for increased transparency over ECB decisions and policies, strongly supported by civil society organisations – particularly Positive Money – we now have access to the figures the ECB previously kept secret.
“What was long suspected – that the ECB has been profiting from the Securities Market Programme (SMP) it used to purchase 218 billion euros of bonds from the peripheral economies at the height of the sovereign debt crisis – has now been confirmed.
“The shocking figures in the new data from the ECB reveal that from 2010, the ECB has made 73 billions euros in profits on debt lent to Spain, Ireland, Italy, Ireland and Greece at the height of the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis – a crisis that the ECB in fact played a major role in creating.
“This includes the ECB making profits of almost 6 billion euros from Ireland under the SMP. The supposed ‘rescue mission’ of the ECB in purchasing country’s bonds turned into a massive profit-making venture.
“The ECB was bound to provide this data under its obligation to provide ‘feedback’ to the European Parliament’s annual report on the ECB. I welcome the fact that the majority of MEPs backed my amendment demanding the release of this information, and that the ECB actually provided it.
“But it is the totally unaccountable Eurogroup, which does not even have any basis in EU law, that makes decisions on any refunds to Member States of these funds. The Eurogroup is notorious for its point-blank refusal to be subjected to any form of public scrutiny and has refused to provide any information on this whatsoever.
“I and other progressive MEPs have been backing the WeMoveEU and Eurodad campaign – supported by almost 150,000 EU citizens – demanding the full return of the profits made out of the SMP and ANFA programmes to Greece, after its fiscal waterboarding by the Troika.
“Every cent of profit that the ECB has sucked from the countries worst affected by the crisis, in their hour of need, must be returned to those countries in full and without delay.” ENDS
Note to editors:
“We want to express our condemnation in the strongest terms possible at the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.
"The murder of Lyra McKee is first and foremost a devastating loss for her grieving partner, family and friends, and our thoughts are with them at this awful time.
"Lyra’s murder was also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic processes.
"It was a pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere.
"We are united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime.
"They have no support in the community, must be brought to justice and should disband immediately.
"We reiterate our support for the PSNI, who while carrying out their duties were also the target of last night’s attack. We call on anyone with any information to bring that forward to the police and assist their inquiries.
"This is a time for calm heads.”
Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Féin)
Arlene Foster (DUP)
Robin Swann (UUP)
Colum Eastwood (SDLP)
Naomi Long (Alliance)
Clare Bailey (Green Party)
Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has urged people to attend a community-led vigil in response to last night’s events where a young woman was shot dead in Creggan.
The Foyle MP said:
“There is shock and sadness in the community following the reprehensible killing of young journalist, Lyra McKee.
“The so-called dissidents responsible for this senseless killing offer nothing to our community or the people of Creggan.
“The murder of Lyra McKee is an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace process and on the Good Friday Agreement.
“We will remain resolute in our opposition to the pointless actions of these people who have claimed another life on our streets last night.
“Community leaders will hold a vigil today at 2pm at Fanad Drive - I am calling on people to come out, stand together and send a clear message that this killing is not in our name.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has extended her condolences to the family of Lyra McKee who was killed in Derry last night.
Teachta McDonald, who is travelling to Derry today, condemned those responsible for Ms McKee’s killing and called on anyone with information to bring it forward to the PSNI.
Mary Lou McDonald said:
“It was with great horror and sadness that I learned of the killing of Lyra McKee on the streets of Derry last night.
“Ms McKee will be remembered as kind, caring and passionate journalist and advocate.
“Her contribution to society stands in marked contrast to those who brutally took her life
“I extend my condolences to her grieving family.
“These so-called dissident groups who took her life offer nothing only hardship and suffering.
“As a society and a nation we are looking to a peaceful future. A future that has no place for violence.
“They do not represent the community, the people of Derry or wider opinion.
“The murder of Lyra McKee is an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace process and on the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is well past time for these groups to go, to end their actions and let the society get on with building a peaceful future.
“I will be travelling to Derry today to stand by the people of the city and to reject those who brought death onto its streets last night.
“This is a time for calm heads and for the community to unite in opposition to those responsible for this act and I urge anyone with any information on this murder to bring it forward to the police.”
Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said her thoughts are with the family of a 29-year-old woman shot dead by so-called dissidents in Derry tonight.
And the Sinn Féin Deputy Leader condemned those responsible for the killing saying it was an attack on all the community, an attack on the peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement.
Michelle O'Neill said:
“I am shocked and saddened at the tragic news that a young woman has been shot dead by so-called dissidents in the Creggan estate tonight.
“My first thoughts and that of my party are with the family of the woman killed. This is a senseless loss of life.
“The murder of this young woman is a human tragedy for her family, but it is also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on our peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement.
“I unreservedly condemn those responsible for killing this young woman.
“We will remain resolute in our opposition to the pointless actions of these people who care nothing for the people of Derry.
“We remain united in our determination to building a better and peaceful future for all.
“Those responsible should listen to the people, they should disband immediately and end their pointless actions against the community which tonight has tragically claimed the life of a young woman.
“I have spoken with the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton tonight.
“I am appealing for calm and I urge anyone with any information about this killing to bring it forward immediately to the police and assist their inquiries.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has accused the government of “rolling out the red carpet for vulture funds”.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, Teachta Doherty said:
“Last year, Ulster Bank sold a portfolio of loans known as Project Scariff - worth €1.6 billion - to a vulture fund called Promontoria Scariff.
“A company called ‘Cabot Financial Ireland’ is now administering these loans and has written to all buy-to-let mortgage holders who are behind in their payments, demanding that all arrears are cleared within 30 days.
“It is telling borrowers to clear their arrears within 30 days or a fixed asset receiver will be appointed.
“That means they are taking the asset whether there is negative or positive equity.
“For those in positive equity, they will quickly see this disappear as receiver and legal fees clock up.
“This is a direct consequence of government policy and Minister Donohoe’s rolling out of the red carpet to vulture funds.
“And it is precisely because of the actions of Cabot here that people fear vulture funds and fear for their homes.
“Moving to the final option without any genuine engagement with borrowers is absolutely unacceptable.
“People live in these properties. They are people’s homes, not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
“It is now time to clip the wings of these vultures once and for all.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Deirdre Hargey has urged people to support this weekend’s rally in support of the rights of Irish citizens.
Cllr Hargey said:
“As the Brexit chaos at Westminster continues, so does the threat to our rights as Irish citizens.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides an important framework for rights. Rights that will be lost to Irish citizens in the north.
“The recent declaration made by the British migration minister Caroline Nokes who stated that “as a matter of law” everyone in the north of Ireland is British shows the complete disregard the British government has for the Good Friday Agreement.
“By refusing to even recognise Irish citizens in the north of Ireland, the British government is disregarding the Good Friday Agreement in a reckless fashion.
“The Good Friday Agreement was clear, people born in the north have the right to be British, Irish, neither or both.
“It is time the Irish government as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement stood up for the rights of Irish citizens in the north.
“I would like to commend all those who are fighting for the rights for all Irish citizens who could potentially be caught by this inept and tone-deaf British government.
“Sinn Féin is urging as many people as possible to come out and support this event at 12noon on Saturday at Belfast City Hall.”
Speaking from Derry city she said:
“It is very significant that the US House of Congressional Delegation is visiting Ireland this week to see and hear at first hand the impact Brexit uncertainty is already having on our people, businesses and peace.
“US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has again stated strongly and unequivocally her support for the Good Friday Agreement and for the protection of Irish interests in the face of Brexit.
“I welcome the strength of support from the Congressional delegation, including Chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, Richie Neal who we are honouring today in Derry.
“He and 22 other members of Congress recently wrote to British prime minister Theresa May calling on her government to honour the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“I welcome his clear support and that of the delegation who have warned that any future free-trade agreement between the US and Britain is not on the cards if there was a return to a hard border on our island.“Successive US administrations provided critical support to aid our peace process and in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement twenty one years ago.
“Those who seek to undermine our agreements, our peace and our rights would do well to take on board what the visiting Congressional delegation have so clearly stated during their time in Ireland this week.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has welcomed the publication of the report by the Ombudsman for Children’s office on children’s experiences of living in family hubs.
Speaking today after the launch of the report, Deputy Ó Broin said:
“The ‘No Place like Home’ report published today by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office is hugely moving and incredibly important.
“The report uniquely gives a voice to the children and teenagers living in the family hubs across the State.
“It highlights the challenges they face on the daily basis from a lack of privacy to the stigma associated with living in emergency accommodation.
“It is crucial that all those in authority read the report and act on its recommendations. Sinn Féin fully support the recommendations.
“The children and teens in the report called for the government to address the housing crisis and provide more homes and provide more support to renters.
“The Ombudsman for Children’s Office called for the government to make the necessary legislative changes including creating a legal right to housing.
“They also called for timelines to be put in place to end the practice of self-accommodation and an independent statutory inspection of homeless accommodation is urgently needed.
“While these children wait for proper homes it is important that the hubs they are sleeping in are up to the highest possible standards.”
The first Easter Lily launch was hosted by Sinn Féin Mayor Brenda Chivers in the Causeway Coast and Glens Council last night.
Speaking at the event which was attended by Sinn Féin’s council candidates, MLAs, as well as republican activists and family members of the patriot dead from the area, Brenda Chivers said:
"It was an honour to host the first Lily launch in the Causeway Coast and Glens Council.
"Easter is the most important date in the Republican calendar; it is a time when we gather right across Ireland and beyond, to remember and commemorate those men and women, throughout the generations, who gave their lives in pursuit of Irish freedom and independence.
“The 1916 Proclamation remains the mission statement for Irish republicans today.
“It is a freedom charter for all the people of this island which guarantees religious and civil liberty and promotes equal rights and opportunities for all citizens.
“2019 despite the political challenges of Brexit also presents an opportunity to see how we can make the United, independent Ireland envisaged in 1916 a reality.
“There was never a better time to plan and deliver on an all-Ireland basis.
“Sinn Féin is committed to safeguarding the rights enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, including the commitment to parity of esteem and citizenship.
“Sinn Féin want a reconciled and united Ireland where everyone's rights and identity are respected.
“The upcoming local government elections are a chance for the people of the Causeway Coast and Glens to help return a stronger Sinn Féin team to forward the progressive politics of equality, rights and Irish unity.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has written to Jim Daly TD, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, for more information on the announcement today that “Louth/Meath Mental Health Services are currently looking at a new town centre location in Dundalk with a view to providing improved CAMHS to North Louth. The HSE is hopeful that this will come on stream toward the end of the year.”
Teachta Adams said:
“This is the latest of a long list of unfulfilled promises. The Minister and the HSE need to provide greater clarity about this latest proposed new arrangement.”
The announcement came in response to a Topical Issues question in the Dáil on Wednesday evening from Teachta Adams in which the Louth TD criticised the current state of CAMHS in North Louth and condemned the government’s failure to plan for the construction of a Primary Care Centre for the North Louth region.
Speaking in the Dáil, Gerry Adams said:
“There has been a consistent failure by the government to deliver adequate and effective community mental health services in North Louth, in particular Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
“13 years after the publication of ‘A Vision for Change,’ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are in crisis in my constituency.
“Figures released last week show that 345 young people in CHO 8, which covers Louth, are waiting for CAMHS services. Of these, over one third – 140 – have been waiting for more than three months. Other figures released to my colleague Louise O’Reilly show that the staffing deficit in CAMHS needs at least €40 million just to address existing staff shortages.
“Today, CHO 8 only has just over half (54 per cent) of the number of staff which ‘Vision for Change’ said was necessary. Currently, this area does not have a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; five Senior Medical Social Workers; two Senior psychologists and a range of other senior positions are unfilled.
“This means that hundreds of children and young people in Louth are not receiving the mental health supports they need within the appropriate timeframes.
“13 years ago under ‘A Vision for Change’, Louth mental health services were allocated additional staff. However, there was no building in North Louth for them to operate out of. Consequently, we have people from the North of the County, Carlingford, Omeath, Faughart, Shelagh, Dundalk, Dromiskin, and many other places, having to travel to Ardee or Drogheda to access community mental health services.
“This places an unfair burden of travel on vulnerable individuals and their families. Community services should be delivered in the community.
“In August 2018, when I asked about the lack of suitable premises, I was told that community mental health services for North Louth were to be provided within a new Primary Care Centre located in Dundalk. This was first advertised in 2008. In November 2016, I was advised in a PQ response that it was hoped the Operational Lease Process for the Primary Care Centre should be completed in the first quarter of 2017.
“Last August, the HSE stated that a planning application for the Primary Care Centre would be submitted by the end of 2018; that work would commence in 2019 and the centre would be opened early in 2020.
“None of these deadlines have or will be met. Dundalk Primary Care Centre did not even feature on a list of centres at advanced planning provided to Deputy Louise O’Reilly three weeks ago. This is an intolerable situation. The government is failing the citizens of Louth.”
Cancelled vote on vulture Directive makes Sinn Féin MEPs’ presence in Parliament more necessary than ever – Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the fact that the vote on the EU’s Directive on non-performing loans scheduled for the final plenary session in Strasbourg this week has been cancelled. This means that the vote will not be voted on by the European Parliament during this mandate and will need to be revisited by the incoming Parliament. Carthy explained that his actions significantly contributed to the delay of the vote.
He said: “Sinn Féin have led the way in opposing the EU's proposed Directive on non-performing loans, which will give free rein to vulture funds and debt collectors across the EU.
“There are two key reasons why this vote has been postponed and will now be dealt with by the incoming Parliament. The first is the fact that I initiated the one limited procedural mechanism available to me, and was supported in this by the Greens, in forcing the postponement of the vote and inter-institutional negotiations on the Regulation part of this package in December. This meant the adoption of the Regulation was postponed by several months and the whole process was delayed.
“The second reason the vote on the Directive is being postponed is because the social-democrats clearly fear the verdict of their constituents in the European elections if they endorse such an appalling piece of legislation before the vote.
“It is my firm view that this proposed Directive needs to be withdrawn. It was proposed on the basis of an impact assessment that took absolutely no regard of the rights of EU citizens such as the right to housing assistance under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
“It will lead to more evictions, more harassment of homeowners by debt collectors, and more housing stress and homelessness. It is grossly unfair because it puts the blame and the punishment for the 2008 crisis on the shoulders of ordinary families and homeowners instead of the financial institutions that caused the crisis.
“The process by which this package – the Regulation and Directive – have been dealt with in the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee has been extremely disappointing, with the two largest groups, the EPP and S&D, colluding to prevent the smaller groups from having a meaningful say in shaping the reports. It has been an appalling and anti-democratic approach to such a crucial proposal – another reason why I welcome the cancellation of the vote.
“Now that the Parliament cannot adopt its position on this file until the incoming mandate, I will continue to work with consumer protection groups and housing campaigners in the coming months to call for the total withdrawal of this extremely damaging proposal.
“This makes the return of the strongest team of Sinn Féin MEPs to the European Parliament in the elections in May all the more important for the Irish people.” ENDS
Sinn Féin TD for Louth Imelda Munster has hit out at the government over their continued underfunding of Housing Adaptation Grants for older people and people with a disability in Co. Louth, despite the fact that there are currently 460 applications outstanding.
Deputy Munster said it was a “damning indictment” of the previous Labour and Fine Gael government’s decision to remove long stay and respite beds from the Cottage Hospital, as the government is now not making adequate provision for people to live independently in their own homes.
Deputy Munster said:
“Louth County Council are currently dealing with 460 applications for Housing Adaptation Grants. This includes 138 rollovers from last year that they could not process because of lack of funding.
“76 of these were deemed to be highest priority.
“Louth County Council recently received this year’s funding allocation, and it is totally inadequate.
“The excuse given by Labour and Fine Gael when they removed long stay and respite beds for the Cottage Hospital was that they would allow older people and people living with disabilities to live independently at home with the supports they need.
“These waiting lists prove otherwise.
“Seriously ill patients cannot get basics like wet rooms, or stair-lifts.
“The government must increase this funding to allow people to live with dignity in their own homes, with supports appropriate to their needs. This is the responsibility of government.
“The government’s response yesterday was wholly inadequate. It’s simply not good enough, given the dire need for housing adaptations for people who are seriously ill.
“It’s hypocritical of government to say that they want to support independent living for older people, and yet refuse to adequately fund the very basics, such as wet rooms or stair-lifts to enable people to do exactly that.”
Sinn Féin TD and member of the Public Accounts Committee David Cullinane said this morning that the HSE has more questions to answer over the review into the costs of the National Children’s Hospital.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“Last November, the HSE sought specialist high-level input from a range of health construction and procurement specialists, including PwC.
“The HSE then asked PwC to review the process in a report that has cost the Irish state over half a million euro.
“There is a clear conflict of interest by the HSE here.
“The analysis that PwC provided in November was, in the HSE’s own words, high-level and specialist. This was information that was relied upon by government in making its decision.
“To then ask those who contributed to the process to review said process is a clear corruption of the review process.
“The HSE needs to appear before the Public Accounts Committee and provide answers as to why it decided to go down this road.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill MLA has said Irish unity is now a real prospect and encouraged everyone to take part in the discussion on shaping a new Ireland.
Michelle O'Neill said:
“Continued divisions on the island of Ireland in 2019 are becoming ever less tenable in the face of national and international events.
“Brexit as well as other political and societal changes, will continue to drive events towards the logic of Irish unity.
“The prospect of a return to a hard border in Ireland has horrified the vast majority of people and is ensuring a determination that his country should move forward rather than back.
“It is increasingly clear that Partition is a huge obstacle to building a modern, open and forward-looking society with a dynamic economy.
“I welcome new and welcome public conversation is now underway about Ireland’s constitutional future post-Brexit.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides a democratic resolution to the problems caused to Ireland by Brexit - a democratic referendum on Irish reunification.
“A United Ireland is no longer a long-term aim and a referendum on Irish unity is now a very real prospect.
“Sinn Féin is campaigning for a referendum and this week, in advance of Easter we are drawing attention to the fact that it’s Time for Unity.
“We want as many people as possible to begin discussing how we share this island as the future unfolds.
“As part of raising awareness around this extremely important issue, we will holding a series of events to promote Irish unity.
“I hope this goes some way to engaging more people on the issue, so that together we can build a United Ireland fit for all our people.”
Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has hit out at the decision by the British state to keep the files on the British army killing of 14-year-old Julie Livingstone sealed until 2064.
Fourteen-year-old Julie Livingstone was shot in the head by a plastic bullet fired by a British army vehicle when she was returning from a local shop in Lenadoon on 12 May 1981.
The West Belfast MLA said:
“It is unacceptable that British state files relating to the killing of 14-year-old Julie Livingstone have been sealed for a further 45 years.
“The family of Julie Livingstone have been waiting almost 40 years for truth and justice so this decision to seal the files on her killing is callous in the extreme.
“I am calling on the British Secretary of State and the British Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to immediately release the files so Julie Livingstone’s family can get answers.
“The British government needs to end its stalling tactics on the implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House five years ago.
“Justice delayed is justice denied.”