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Tallaght based Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has said that the future of the Jacobs factory on the Belgard Road, can still be secured.  He said ‘All sides accept that a survival package is needed so what is required are meaningful talks between workers and management to secure the future of the plant.  Deputy Crowe made the statement after speaking to workers at the plant this evening  after  management said that they intend to close the plant within weeks if workers do not accept new work practices.

Deputy Crowe said, “The loss of 300 jobs in Jacobs, worth up to £25million to the local economy would be a disaster. Tallaght cannot afford to lose any more jobs.   We need to be building and expanding on successful local companies that contribute so much in wages and local services.  

“All sides accept that a survival package is needed so what is required are meaningful talks between workers and management to secure the future of the plant.“ENDS

 

 

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Minister for Health Mary Harney “to restore the TB Unit at Peamount Hospital and to provide a national action plan to combat TB.” After securing an adjournment debate on the results of a study showing significant and alarming levels of TB in parts of Dublin, Deputy Ó Caoláin said the reply delivered on behalf of the Minister for Health and Children was "totally inadequate and an attempt to dismiss the report which the Minister admits she has not yet seen".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, “This study has highlighted the inadequate hospital treatment provision for TB patients in the wake of the grossly irresponsible closure of the chest and respiratory unit, commonly known as the TB unit, at Peamount Hospital. The Government facilitated that closure. There is an urgent need for the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children to outline the measures she will introduce to address this threat to public health.

“There were 437 cases of TB provisionally notified in 2004. In 2003 407 cases were notified. The figure for 2002 was 400. Clearly this is a very worrying trend and this latest study underlines the trend. Dr. Hannan has warned that there is a danger of an epidemic outbreak if urgent steps are not taken to control the disease. She says there is a very poor infrastructure in Ireland for the management, control and prevention of TB.  And she has also said, ‘The closure of Peamount has taken away a service that was essential.’

“When the threat to close the TB unit at Peamount first arose I wrote to the then Minister for Health and Children Micheál Martin and asked him to intervene. The Minister did not intervene. The unit at Peamount was allowed to close. The promised facilities at St. James’s Hospital have not materialised. And now we have a study showing an increased threat from TB. In the international context there is concern at new and more virulent strains of TB. This is a very worrying situation and we are actually less well equipped to deal with it than we were three years ago.

“I call on the Minister to restore the TB unit at Peamount and to provide a national action plan to combat TB.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Belfast Michael Ferguson has branded a PSNI raid on the Ballymurphy home of Gerard Devlin who was recently murdered, ‘as insensitive, outrageous and completely unwarranted‘.

Speaking from the scene Mr Ferguson said:

“This morning heavily armed PSNI members raided the Ballymurphy home of Gerard Devlin’s wife and his young family. The raid is ongoing. We are told that they intend to raid other homes in the Ballymurphy area connected to the Devlin family throughout the day. The bogus grounds being given for these raids is apparently to search for explosives. So far the PSNI have removed work mans tools from the house.

“The Devlin family and other local people have in recent weeks received a succession of death threats from local criminals. They have publicly identified in the media certain individuals who they believe are working for the PSNI and therefore being given immunity to carry on criminal activity in this community. They believe that today’s raids are PSNI pay back for the stance the family have taken in the wake of the murder of their loved one.

“Local people are outraged at the conduct of the PSNI in Ballymurphy this morning. This raid is insensitive, outrageous and completely unwarranted and tensions are running very high in the area. A police force set up to serve the community and protect victims of crime does not behave in this fashion. I am waiting for the SDLP and the rest of the new policing establishment who continue to lecture the nationalist and republican community on the virtues of this force to come to Ballymurphy today face this community and justify this operation against a grieving widow.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will this evening travel to South Down to meet with community activists for discussions on the next round of PEACE funding for the six counties and border region and said that she wanted to 'encourage communities to participate in debate around their hopes for the anticipated PEACE III programme.

This evening's event will take place in Duke Bar, Duke Street, Warrenpoint, County Down at 7.30pm and follows on from last week's
successful community event in South Belfast. The event will be chaired by Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"This evening's event is about engaging with the local community about how such funding should be targeted in the period 2007 - 2013. We will be asking community activists to inform us of their hopes and concerns for the roll-out of a PEACE III and to discuss the way forward.

"It is essential that local communities begin to participate in discussion regarding the PEACE III fund and Sinn Féin is keen to facilitate this debate. In discussions with the EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Danuta Hubner, and with both the British and Irish governments, I pressed the point that communities must be fully consulted and kept fully informed. The practical planning for PEACE III must not take place behind closed doors.

"Sinn Féin believes that future PEACE III projects should be targeted towards tackling discrimination and disadvantage and the promotion of peace and national reconciliation. I look forward to my visit to South Down this evening to discuss these and other matters with those present." ENDS

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In the course of his meetings at Downing Street today, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams raised the issue of the TriVirix company with Peter Hain.   Mr Hain confirmed that the British Government would provide enough money for the company to continue trading for one month.   Speaking today Mr Adams said:   "It is important that every effort is now made to ensure that a buyer is found for the company within the next four weeks." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called for Irish language speakers in the six counties to be 'afforded the same rights and entitlements as speakers throughout the rest of the country'.

Ms de Brún made her comments today as a guest speaker at a report launch by the Irish Language group POBAL. The report is entitled "The Implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages".

Today's event is taking place in the EDGE, May's Meadow at 11.00am.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"I want to commend POBAL for putting so much effort into ensuring that Irish language speakers in the six counties are afforded the same rights and entitlements as speakers throughout the rest of the country.

"The efforts of POBAL and other voluntary and community organisations need to be matched and surpassed by those of government departments.  At present this is very far from the case.


"The POBAL report focuses upon ensuring the full implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in respect of the Irish language. The charter had been widely regarded as an opportunity to elevate the Irish language onto a similar level as other such languages throughout the EU. However, the British Government is guilty of dragging its feet and adopting a piecemeal approach to implementing its
provisions.

"The British Government's position is particularly ironic given the fact that the Irish language is more popular in the six counties than at any time in our history.

"The report being launched today shows that the British government commitments under the Charter have not led to the requisite resolute action.  This further strengthens the case for an Irish Language Act for the north.


"Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring equal status for the language and will be facilitating a delegation from a range of Irish language groups at the European Parliament on March 7th, to meet with NGOs, European institution officials, MEPs and and political group staff to discuss Irish language rights, the status of the language as an official, working language of the EU, proposals for an Irish Language Act for the Six Counties and promotion of the language in the context of the European Charter for Regional and
Minority Languages."

"Sinn Féin is actively working with POBAL and other leading Irish language organisations to ensure that this issue remains a priority for both governments. We have raised the issue again recently in our contacts with others and will continue to do so in the coming months. As an Irish speaker and an MEP I will continue do all I can to assist." ENDS

Note:

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) was ratified by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on behalf of the British Government on 1 July 2001.







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"TB threat shows folly of Peamount closure" - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Féin Health and Children spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has called for an action plan on TB from the Minister for Health and Children in the wake of a study showing significant and alarming levels of the disease in parts of Dublin city. He said the new threat exposed the folly of "the Government's totally irresponsible decision to allow the closure of the TB unit at Peamount Hospital".

He stated: "The new report on significant levels of TB in Dublin requires a concerted response from the Minister and the Health Service Executive. The study by a TB specialist has found a very worrying trend and has said the problem is made worse by the closure of Peamount Hospital's TB unit.

"Staff, patients and former patients at Peamount strongly opposed the closure of the TB unit when it was announced in 2004. They warned that the closure of this national centre of excellence for the treatment of TB would reduce our ability to deal with this threat to public health. I supported the staff and patients in their call for the unit to remain open but the government refused to listen and allowed the unit to close. This was a totally irresponsible decision.

"Before the TB unit at Peamount closed we were promised that specialized TB treatment, including dedicated beds, would be provided at St. James's Hospital. This has not happened and we now face a renewed TB threat without proper provision to deal with it.

"The Minister and the HSE must respond immediately to this threat to public health." ENDS

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Responding to President George Bush's surprise stop-over and photo shoot with US troops in Shannon Airport last night Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, expressed his view that it was a completely inappropriate action to be facilitated by the Irish authorities, which he said sent out all the wrong signals in terms of our respect for both international law and human rights.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said  "The US military, the CIA and the ultimate Director of the so-called war on terror, President George Bush himself, have been given the run of Shannon airport by this government with no questions asked.  This is despite the fact that the United State's active Rendition Programme violates a range of fundamental human rights including the right to recognition as a person before the law; the right to liberty and security of person; the rights not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  The Bush Administration's re-definition of torture and the recent UN report on Guantanamo Bay make the assurances from the US, that our own government is so happy to rely on, worthless.

"While it is Sinn Féin’s view, and indeed a view that is shared by the majority of Irish people, that US troops on their way to the Middle East and the war in Iraq should not be facilitated at Shannon or any other Irish airport it is completely inappropriate and ill-advised that the US President should be afforded a photo-opportunity with US troops at Shannon Airport by Irish Authorities.  This sends out all the wrong signals, especially in relation to our so-called respect for both international law and human rights. It should not be permitted to happen again."

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Tallaght based Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has expressed concern at the possibility of the closure at the Jacobs Plant on the Belgard Road in Tallaght with the possible loss of between 400 and 500 jobs.  Management at the factory are to meet union officials tomorrow afternoon where they are expected to give notice that they intend to close the plant after staff voted against proposed changes in work practices last Sunday.

Deputy Crowe said, “This is an extremely worrying development and a disaster for local families.  The local Tallaght economy cannot afford to lose any more jobs.  Similarly, the Irish economy cannot afford to lose any more jobs in the manufacturing sector.  

“Both management and workers representatives need to go into tomorrow afternoons meeting with level heads and with a view to settling this dispute.

“We need to be building and expanding on successful local companies that contribute so much in wages and local services.  Management and workers need to be moving forward not taking steps backward.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly, spokesperson on Policing and Justice has responded to an invitation by British Secretary of State to nominate party members to the Policing Board:

Mr Kelly said:

"In the last four years, this Policing Board has failed to hold the police fully to account and failed to challenge political policing and collusion within the PSNI. How can this Policing Board be getting policing right, whenever ongoing collusion and political policing is wrong?

"Transfer of powers has not yet been achieved and Sinn Fein‚s position, which was strongly endorsed once again at our recent Ard Fheis, is that we will not participate in the present policing arrangements.

Sinn Féin is determined to achieve a new beginning to policing. We want a democratically accountable, civic policing service. The core outstanding issue in this regard is transfer of powers on policing and justice, away from London and out of the hands of British securocrats, into a locally elected Assembly and all-Ireland institutions." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson commenting on British Direct Rule Education Minister Angela Smith's announcement of £380m for a new build schools Programme said:

"Sinn Fein welcomes the announcement of investment in new schools estates because the schools estate across the Six Counties has suffered from historic under funding by successive British Direct Rule Ministers.

"Sinn Fein does not accept the Angela Smith‚s excuses for cuts to schools services. Falling pupil rolls are an opportunity. The British Government has used these as excuses to punish our schools and reduce the educational entitlement of our children.

"I welcome today‚s comments by Angela Smith that she is not attempting to undermine the different educational ethos that exist because both Peter Hain and Angela Smith comments in recent times were divisive and have been used by Unionists to sectarianise the debate around cuts to educational services.

"However, Angela Smith is still citing falling pupil rolls as an excuse to cut services. She is currently trying to force the Belfast Education and Library Board into making £4 million pounds of cuts to front line services such as Special Needs and clawing back another £4m from schools that will inevitability lead to the loss of more teachers and class room assistants. Falling rolls should not impact negatively on the needs of those within the education system. It should not be used as an excuse to impose cuts. Rather it should be viewed as an opportunity to improve the quality of service and enhance best practice.

"Almost a quarter of our children left school last year without any qualifications, many left barely able to read, write or count. Falling rolls offers us the opportunity of addressing that literacy and numeracy deficit. It offers us the opportunity to improve the teacher-pupil ratio in our classrooms. It should allow us to improve support for special needs.

"The announcement of investment in new school estates will not help schools who can not support children with special needs, children with numeracy and literacy problems and will not help one school in my own constituency that can not even pay for the maintenance of rubber safety flooring on the school staircase.

"I am again calling on my political colleagues from other parties not to police bad British budgets and to support a speedy return to an Assembly administration in which we can have our own local accountable education minister prepared to deliver a real budget to support Education and Learning." ENDS

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Sinn Féin housing spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann commenting on the changes to co-ownership rules announced today by David Hanson has said that while anything that lessens the burden on first time home buyers that co-ownership is not the solution to housing crisis.

Mr McCann said:

"While anything that lessens the burden on first time home buyers that co-ownership is not the solution to housing crisis. In many circumstances co-ownership can work out more expensive in the long run. It is a false economy.

"Co-ownership is not the solution to the provision of affordable housing or the shortage of social housing. There are no quick fixes or gimmicks. We need a well thought out strategic response to the housing crisis.

"What is required is a review of all housing sectors, and the for example a serious examination of the impact of private developers on the buy-to-let market and the effect on house prices. The reality is that super inflated house prices and the increasing price of land is pricing first time buyers out of the market and squeezing social builders out." ENDS

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Sinn Féin delegations will continue with the latest round of political talks tomorrow, Thursday 2nd March.

A delegation led by party President Gerry Adams MP and including Martin McGuinness MP, Cllr. David Cullinane, Michelle Gildernew MP, Conor Murphy MP and Pat Doherty MP will meet with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Downing Street at 11.15am.

Meanwhile at Stormont a delegation including Gerry Kelly MLA, Alex Maskey MLA and Cllr. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn will meet with Irish Minister of State Noel Treacy and the British Direct Rule Minister David Hansen at 1pm.

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Sinn Féin will hold a candlelight vigil at the GPO in Dublin this evening at 6:00PM to mark the 25th anniversary of the commencement of the 1981 Hunger Strike.

All are welcome to attend. ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has demanded that the Taoiseach take action in light of the report from Judge Maureen Harding Clark . Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Deputy Ó Caoláin called on the Government to "establish a Redress Board -- a forum for the women to state their cases and to obtain due recompense for what they and their families have suffered."

He said, "The victims of the former consultant Michael Neary and others in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda have been vindicated by the Report of Judge Maureen Harding Clark. These women were subjected to a procedure that mutilated them and rendered them unable to conceive again. They were not told what was being done to them. Scores of women are suffering to this day. The implications of the Report are huge -- for the women victims, for the management of our hospitals and for Government health policy.

"What we need now is action and I want to ask the Taoiseach what action will be taken.

"The Tánaiste stated yesterday that the Report confirms the appropriateness of the actions being taken in relation to the new Medical Practitioners Bill, the reform of the current consultant contract and the changes in management systems within hospitals. But how are we to judge this? The heads of the Medical Practitioners Bill were agreed by Government in 2004. The Taoiseach must publish the heads of the Bill so we can judge if the Bill measures up.

"Crucially, Taoiseach, the medical records of many of the women were stolen as part of the cover-up. They have no redress through the courts. The Government must establish a Redress Board -- a forum for the women to state their cases and to obtain due recompense for what they and their families have suffered." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin commenting on the 10.8% increase in NIE electricity costs has said that this will hit those least able to pay hardest.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"This latest increase in electricity prices comes against a backdrop of sustained increases in the cost of living with increased gas and heating oil costs and the proposed water charges.

"Yet with the number of children living in poverty in the north reaching epidemic proportions and the increasing number of older people dying each year as a result of the cold is an indictment of this society.

"We need to see a genuine strategy that will tackle poverty and eliminate fuel poverty because increasing numbers of people are being caught in the poverty trap and are facing the types of stark choices about whether to pay bills or buy food. This is totally unacceptable.

"While NIE are to some extent at the mercy global markets it is encouraging to see that they have brought forward at £1 million fund for vulnerable customers aimed at combating fuel poverty. Now we need to see the wider problems of poverty being addressed by bringing forward a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy." ENDS

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Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton commenting on the announcement from Direct Rule Health Minster Shaun Woodward of an independent review into circumstances surrounding the suicide of Danny McCarten focusing on the Health Board has demanded action and said that the Department of Health must accept responsibility for the absence of a strategy and lack resources and funding.

Ms Stanton said:

"The lack of mental health resources for children and adolescents, particularly in Belfast where there is no child and adolescent psychiatrist, has already been clearly identified.

"While this independent review is welcome, more so if it identifies the chronic gaps in support for people moving between child and adolescent services to adult services, the fact is that many of the problems are well understood. What is required is resources, funding and a strategic response.

"The department have already accepted that there has been chronic under funding of mental health services in North and West Belfast, of some £2 million a year.

"Sinn Féin have repeatedly demanded action in bringing forward a regional suicide prevention strategy precisely because the Department of Health has failed in its duty of care." ENDS

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Dublin Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has described those who took part in the riots in Dublin City centre at the weekend as "a rag-bag who saw an opportunity to create havoc and took it." Speaking in the Dáil this evening, during statements on the disorder in Dublin City centre last Saturday, Deputy Crowe said, "it is important to point out that the riot should have no implications for the peace process."

He said, "The events in Dublin city centre last Saturday were an absolute disgrace. Those who took part misused the name of Irish republicanism and Irish nationalism but they were anything but Irish republicans or Irish nationalists in the real sense. This was a tiny and totally unrepresentative minority, a mixture of people on the fringes of micro-political groups, football hooligans and drink-fuelled opportunists. They were a rag-bag who saw an opportunity to create havoc and took it.

"Sinn Féin has been consistent on this issue since Willie Frazer and his so-called Love Ulster and FAIR groups first mooted it. And while we profoundly disagree with Frazer we chose not to oppose his groups' march down O'Connell Street -- notwithstanding the fact that we believe it was a deliberately provocative and insensitively organised March. We believe it is the right of all citizens of this island to march down the main thoroughfare of the capital city -- no matter what part of the island they live on. We also believe in the right of people to hold peaceful counter demonstrations. However, we believe that both of these rights come with responsibilities. On one hand marchers must not engage in sectarian or abusive behaviour and on the other that counter demonstrators must refrain from physically engaging with those marchers. Proper stewarding by those participating in the demonstrations and by the Gardai is crucial in this respect and it is clear that neither was in evidence on Saturday.

"Saturday's thuggery has also served to obscure the real nature of Mr. Frazer's group. In fact, those who engaged in the violence and destruction gave him exactly what he wanted. They played into his hands and allowed him to claim a moral high ground that he is not entitled to. This is a man who has gloried in the actions of loyalist death squads -- this is the man who only today is trying to blame the President for Saturday's trouble." ENDS

Full text of speech follows:

The events in Dublin city centre last Saturday were an absolute disgrace. Those who took part misused the name of Irish republicanism and Irish nationalism but they were anything but Irish republicans or Irish nationalists in the real sense. This was a tiny and totally unrepresentative minority, a mixture of people on the fringes of micro-political groups, football hooligans and drink-fuelled opportunists. They were a rag-bag who saw an opportunity to create havoc and took it.

Sinn Féin has been consistent on this issue since Willie Frazer and his so-called Love Ulster and FAIR groups first mooted it. And while we profoundly disagree with Frazer we chose not to oppose his groups' march down O'Connell Street -- notwithstanding the fact that we believe it was a deliberately provocative and insensitively organised March. We believe it is the right of all citizens of this island to march down the main thoroughfare of the capital city -- no matter what part of the island they live on. We also believe in the right of people to hold peaceful counter demonstrations. However, we believe that both of these rights come with responsibilities. On one hand marchers must not engage in sectarian or abusive behaviour and on the other that counter demonstrators must refrain from physically engaging with those marchers. Proper stewarding by those participating in the demonstrations and by the Gardai is crucial in this respect and it is clear that neither was in evidence on Saturday.

Sinn Féin made our position quite clear that we wanted people to ignore this march. We instructed our membership not to go anywhere near it. Martin McGuinness made this very point at the Dublin Sinn Féin AGM only two weeks ago. Deputy Ó Caoláin gave the Sinn Féin position on a recent appearance on Questions and Answers and I myself made a number of statements in advance of the march and up to the point of calling on people to desist while the rioting was still going on.

Saturday's thuggery has also served to obscure the real nature of Mr. Frazer's group. In fact, those who engaged in the violence and destruction gave him exactly what he wanted. They played into his hands and allowed him to claim a moral high ground that he is not entitled to. This is a man who has gloried in the actions of loyalist death squads -- this is the man who only today is trying to blame the President for Saturday's trouble.

I would like to defend the role of Dublin City Council. They bear no responsibility for the riot and their workers acted quickly to make the streets safe and clean again.

In conclusion it is important to point out that Saturday's riot should have no implications for the peace process. We are determined to see progress made in the peace process in the coming weeks and months. For Sinn Féin that includes outreach to the unionist community.

Unlike those who misused our National Flag last weekend, we take seriously the message of the Tricolour -- unity and equality between Orange and Green.

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Dublin Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said those who rioted in Dublin last Saturday "must not be allowed to undermine the fundamental rights of democrats." Speaking in the Dáil this evening Deputy Ó Snodaigh expressed, on behalf of Sinn Féin, appreciation to Dublin City Council workers "who impressively cleaned up the effected streets in a matter of hours."

He said, "Those who acted disgracefully on the streets of our capital city on Saturday past were not republicans. They were, in the main, a crowd of thugs, many of them fuelled with drink. Those among them who claim to be political simply besmirched the national flag and ran riot with criminal elements.

"Sinn Féin clearly and repeatedly called on people to ignore Saturday's march. Our members and supporters did so.

"The right to march down O'Connell Street in particular is of special significance to Irish political activists. Last Saturday must be seen in perspective. The protest in support of Irish Ferries workers last December and Sinn Féin's Rally for Irish Unity demonstration in November saw up to 100,000 people and 20,000 people respectively march peacefully down O'Connell Street. Those who rioted, and those who would exploit the event of the riots to serve their own interests, must not be allowed to undermine the fundamental rights of democrats.

"Questions must also be answered by Minister McDowell and Garda Management. Was there a request from the officer in charge for additional gardai to be made available to the area for Saturday's march? Was this request turned down? Is there sufficient ongoing monitoring of the football hooligan element in the riot which was quite significant?

"Before concluding, I would like to express my appreciation on behalf of Sinn Féin, and all Dubliners, to the Dublin City Council workers who impressively cleaned up the effected streets in a matter of hours." ENDS

Full text of speech follows:

Those who acted disgracefully on the streets of our capital city on Saturday past were not republicans. They were, in the main, a crowd of thugs, many of them fuelled with drink. Those among them who claim to be political simply besmirched the national flag and ran riot with criminal elements.

Sinn Féin clearly and repeatedly called on people to ignore Saturday's march. Our members and supporters did so.

I don't know what march on O'Connell Street Deputy Crawford was referring to earlier but it was certainly not a Sinn Féin Easter commemoration.

Article 40 of the 1937 Constitution enshrines the rights of citizens to assemble and to freely express their opinions as fundamental personal rights. There is a real danger now that the events of last Saturday may be used to curtail this right to protest. The right to march down O'Connell Street in particular is of special significance to Irish political activists. Last Saturday must be seen in perspective. The protest in support of Irish Ferries workers last December and Sinn Féin's Rally for Irish Unity demonstration in November saw up to 100,000 people and 20,000 people respectively march peacefully down O'Connell Street. Those who rioted, and those who would exploit the event of the riots to serve their own interests, must not be allowed to undermine the fundamental rights of democrats.

Questions must also be answered by Minister McDowell and Garda Management. Was there a request from the officer in charge for additional gardai to be made available to the area for Saturday's march? Was this request turned down? Is there sufficient ongoing monitoring of the football hooligan element in the riot which was quite significant?

But, make no mistake about it, in the end of the day, full responsibility lies with those who engaged in violent actions in our capital city.

Before concluding, I would like to express my appreciation on behalf of Sinn Féin, and all Dubliners, to the Dublin City Council workers who impressively cleaned up the effected streets in a matter of hours. Finally, on behalf of the Sinn Fein Dail deputies I record our support for the agreed motion now before us.

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Report on Drogheda Hospital

Redress Board required for Drogheda Hospital victims

Commenting on the Report of Judge Maureen Harding Clark into the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD said:

"This report is a damning indictment not just of one consultant but of a conspiracy involving a number of people who either participated in gross medical malpractice or turned a blind eye or took part in the cover-up afterwards. This included the unlawful removal of the charts and birth registers of many of the victims of former consultant Michael Neary ‘with a view to concealing the details of the operation performed and the treatment given’. In other words, this was theft to facilitate a cover-up

"All of this was allowed to happen in a climate where consultants were seen to be above reproach and where elitism led to a total lack of accountability.

"The Minister for Health and Children should respond to the Report with the immediate establishment of a Scheme of Redress to deal with all claims of medical negligence by the women who were in the care of the consultants and staff of the Maternity Unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda between the years 1974-1998. This call has already been made by 21 Oireachtas members in the catchment area of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

"The Minister owes a solemn obligation to the women victims to establish a Scheme of Redress which will provide them with both a forum to state their cases and recompense for the physical injury and personal grief they have all suffered.

"The Government also needs to make clear where stands the Garda investigation of these matters. Are prosecutions being pursued in relation to those who stole medical records?

"This Report also raises profound questions about the regulation of the medical profession which must be addressed. Self-regulation is no longer acceptable.

"Tribute must be paid to the women and their families who have campaigned under the banner of Patient Focus. Today’s Report is above all a vindication of them." ENDS

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