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Donegal Sinn Féin County Councillor Tony Mc Daid has welcomed the joint announcement by the Departments of Health north and south that pilot schemes enabling communities in Inishowen to access "Out of Hours" medical services in Derry and those in areas of Armagh to do likewise in Castleblaney are now to proceed after a long delay, describing it as a first step in the establishment the seamless Primary Care provision right along the border.

Councillor Mc Daid was part of a Sinn Fein delegation which met Mr Fergal Goodman, Principal Primary Care Officer, Department of Health and Children (Twenty-Six Counties) and Ms Christine Jendoubi, Director of Primary Care, Department of Health (Six Counties) at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan on Friday 12th May to push for the speedy progress in bringing about the situation whereby everyone along the border can access their nearest "out of Hours" Service, regardless of which jurisdiction they live in.

Cllr Mc Daid said,

Sinn Féin have been lobbying on this issue for some considerable time and as part of a delegation which included our party all-Ireland spokesperson Barry Mc Elduff MLA and our parties Health spokespersons Caoimhghin O Caolain TD and John O Dowd MLA, we pressed Fergal Goodman and Christine Jendoubi for their respective Health Departments to do more in terms of a joint approach to break down the remaining barriers which are standing in the way of communities right along the border being able to access their closest "Out of Hours" medical service. At least 65,000 people living close to the border actually live closer to GP Out of Hours Services provided 'in the other jurisdiction.'

At the meeting we pushed strongly for the extension of the pilot scheme to include the Strabane/East Donegal area and we will be keeping the pressure up. Sinn Féin is heartened by the long awaited announcement of the pilot schemes but we will now be following up Friday's meeting with direct lobbying of the two Health Ministers, Mary Harney and Paul Goggins. ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, spokesperson on policing and justice has said that the British government must change the law to empower the Police Ombudsman to hold retired members of the RUC or PSNI fully to account for wrongdoing.

Speaking as a party delegation met with Paul Goggins, the new NIO Minister for Policing and Security, Mr Kelly said that the British government carries responsibility for former RUC or PSNI members getting off the hook at this time.

Mr Kelly said:

"In the last few days, I have met with David Hanson, NIO minister for justice and Nuala O Loan, the Police Ombudsman. I have discussed my concerns with them both. Today I will be raising the same grave concern with Paul Goggins and pressing him to close the loophole in the legislation to ensure anyone engaged in policing can be held fully to account.

"The case for the Police Ombudsman to be given this power is compelling. It is made by those who have declared their intention to try and thwart investigations by the Police Ombudsman and by those who resign, retire or take sick leave whenever such investigations close in on them, sometimes removing or destroying evidence of their wrongdoing in the process. Political detectives have no future in policing and Sinn Fein is determined to see those responsible for wrongdoing held fully to account for their actions." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Workers Rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has called on the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mícheál Martin to explain why the Labour Inspectorate has failed to report on its investigation into the exploitation of 56 Serbian workers on the ESB's €3billion networks renewal scheme. Deputy Morgan today called for a suspension of normal Dáil business to discuss why the report has not yet been submitted to the Labour Commission seven weeks after the minister made a commitment that the inspectorate would "urgently" investigate the conditions of the workers and why they are still waiting on arrears due to them.

He said, "The Minister must explain why, despite his commitment that the Labour Inspectorate would urgently investigate the conditions of 56 Serbians working on the ESB's €3billion networks renewal scheme, seven weeks later the inspectorate has not yet submitted its report to the labour commission and why workers are still awaiting substantial arrears due to them.

"Action must be taken against the employer which according to evidence produced by the TEEU was paying workers a mere €3.21 an hour in breech of the Minimum Wage Act, the Registered Employment Agreement and a number of other pieces of employment law.

"The past year has seen migrant workers being treated shamefully in this state with the Government doing little or nothing about it. Minister Martin needs to show the migrant workers in Ireland that he will no longer tolerate exploitation, that he will defend their rights and that he will punish offending employers accordingly." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is now "backsliding" on the Government's solemn commitment to provide an additional 3,000 hospital beds in the public hospital system.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "When I questioned the Taoiseach in the Dáil today on the health services I stated that we need 3,000 additional beds in our public hospital system, the Taoiseach replied: 'That is argued by the medical professionals. We will see what figure they will come up with in their review.'

"This reply from the Taoiseach confirms that he and his Government are now backsliding on their solemn commitment to provide the additional 3,000 beds so badly needed to address the crisis in our hospital system. In the Government's own Health Strategy published in 2001 and in the Programme for Government agreed between the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste after the General Election in 2002 there is a clear commitment to provide the additional 3,000 beds.

"The FF/PD Programme for Government of 2002 (page 22) states: 'We will expand public hospital beds in line with a programme to increase total capacity by 3,000 during the period of the [Health] Strategy.'

"The figure of 3,000 beds was based on the widespread research and consultation that went into the Government's own Health Strategy. They are needed to replace the capacity cut from our hospital system during the 1980s.

"These beds are also essential as part of the multi-faceted approach to address the crisis in Accident and Emergency as dramatically highlighted once again by last night's Prime Time programme. They are essential to ensure that our hospitals have the capacity to deal with all the medical and surgical needs of patients. Nothing less is acceptable." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor, Daithi Doolan has welcomed the fact that the Afghans in St Patrick's Cathedral have suspended their thirst strike and that representatives of the protesters will be meeting with officials from the Department of Justice this afternoon. He described it as a "positive move" which he hoped would "pave the way for a resolution to the protest."

Councillor Doolan said, "I am delighted that the men have suspended their thirst strike and also that officials from the Department of Justice will meet with the men later today. It is a very welcome development which I hope will pave the way for a resolution to the protest."

Speaking from St Patrick's Cathedral the Dublin South East councillor said, "I met with the men earlier today and was left in no doubt as to their determination to continue with the protest. The seriousness of the situation was underlined when one of the protesters had to be taken to St James Hospital and was described as being in a serious condition.

"At the core of this protest is the unacceptable and draconian manner in which asylum applications are processed in this state and the shameful failure of the state to introduce complementary protections for those individuals who fall outside the narrow Convention criteria for refugee status. In no sane persons mind can Afghanistan be described as a safe or democratic society. There is still conflict raging across larges parts of the country. This reality, and the fact that these men may be in grave danger should they be returned, needs to be taken in to account when dealing with their applications.

"If refugee status is not an option because of the narrow definition then we need to seriously look at granting leave to remain in this state on humanitarian grounds at least.

"Whatever happens, the Minister should still intervene directly to bring this entire protest to an end as soon as possible."

Sinn Féin TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Crowe joined Councillor Doolan at St Patrick's Cathedral today.

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Speaking after the debate in the European Parliament on the replenishment of the stocks of European eels, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún welcomed EU Commissioner Borg's acceptance of European Parliament amendments that mean closure periods for eel fishing will no longer be set arbitrarily at the first fifteen days of every month.

Ms de Brún said:

"The Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative has taken great care over the years to manage the fishery in such a way as to conserve stocks and the arbitrary closure period from the first to the fifteenth day of every month would have been disastrous for the industry here. The European Parliament proposed a compromise amendment that shortening the fishing season in order to reduce fishing effort by half can be achieved while allowing the member states to choose the way of achieving this.

"I welcome the Commission's acceptance of this sensible proposal. Commissioner Borg has rightly recognised that this can give a result which would work in the direction of replenishing eel stocks in a way that would not give as much difficulty to the sector itself as the original proposal.

"I presented a report on the work of the Lough Neagh Fisherman's Co-operative to the Commissioner when he visited the North last year and I will continue to commend their work to both the European Commission and Parliament as a model of good practice which deserves to be supported at both national and at EU level. I will seek support for this from both the Department at home and from the European Fisheries Fund.

"During the European Parliament debate this evening I raised the problems caused by the large-scale export of glass eels. The glass eel is particularly vulnerable since large quantities of glass eels are exported to South East Asia and this has consequences for the industry as a whole. I have raised this point with the Commission in the past, and Commissioner Borg has now said he will take this into account and that Commissioner Peter Mandelson will look at possible measures once conservation measures are under way in Europe. I hope that Commissioner Mandelson will soon move on the vital international trade aspect of this important issue.

"I would like to pay tribute to my fellow MEPs and to Jan Maat MEP in particular for the work he has done in bringing forward sensible proposals for the replenishment of the stocks of European eels.

"I would also pay a particular tribute to the Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative and to pledge them my ongoing support in what will continue to be difficult times ahead." ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Dublin South East Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan, has this morning called on, "Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to engage with the Afghani hunger strikers in St Patrick's Cathedral ."

Speaking ahead of today's protest at 12.30pm at St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, Cllr. Doolan said:

‘25 years ago this country was in the grip of a hunger strike that lead to 10 young republicans dying on hunger strike. At the time British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher prided herself in not engaging with republican prisoners, 25 years on McDowell is using the same dangerous tactic. I have spoken with his department directly and appealed to him to meet with the men. I would appeal once again to the Minister to see beyond his rhetoric and ensure that his Department meets with the hunger strikers and discuss their case. 

 

I have meet with the hunger strikers and discussed their options with Osman Hotuk & Sultan Kabirchakara. To be sent back to Afghanistan is to be sent back to a country that is in chaos and is one of the most dangerous places in the world. I feel their cases are genuine and they are committed to seeing this hunger strike through.  The men are on Irish soil and we have a responsibility for these men’s safety and we must ensure Minister McDowell realises his responsibility too.’

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan urged, ‘the public to show solidarity with the men and attend today's solidarity protest.’ENDS

Protest today 12.30pm St Patrick's Cathedral, Patrick Street, D8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan today said that nationalists in Ballymena have no confidence in the ability of the PSNI Chief in the town Terry Shevlin to tackle anti-Catholic attacks in the area. He accused the PSNI Chief of providing justification for the murder of Michael McIlveen and of being more interested in boosting his media profile than anything else.

Mr McGuigan said:

"Both myself and my colleague Councillor Monica Digney have been inundated with calls from angry residents in Ballymena concerning the conduct of the PSNI Chief Terry Shevlin in the wake of the murder of Michael McIlveen.

"Shevlin has sought to portray the situation in Ballymena as tit for tat violence. It is nothing of the sort. Catholics in Ballymena have been treated as second class citizens for years. Catholics are frightened to go into their own town centre. Catholic school children are frightened coming home in evening. A 15 year old is beaten to death because he is a Catholic. Shevlin is supposed to be the head of the PSNI in the town. His job is supposed to be to protect the public, instead he has sought to provide excuses for those who brutally murdered Michael McIlveen last week. He is a disgrace.

"Nationalists in Ballymena are rightly angry at Shevlin’s behaviour over the past seven days. He is more interested in chasing headlines and boosting his media profile than standing against sectarianism and anti-Catholic hatred in the town. As a representative of the largest nationalist party in North Antrim I can categorically state that nationalists have no confidence in the ability of Terry Shevlin to provide protection and face down the sectarian bigots waging this campaign of violence." ENDS

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In his contribution during a presentation by the Business Alliance on the Economy in Stormont today Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin appealed to the Business sector to use its influence to convince the DUP of the inescapable fact that without a fully functioning Executive that the Six-county economy would continue to lag far behind that of the rest of the island.

Mitchel Mc Laughlin told the Business Alliance that:

“Sinn Féin has long held the view that if the North’s economy is to prosper, it can only do so in an All Ireland context.  I welcome the fact that more and more political and economic opinion throughout Ireland is beginning to seriously examine that argument. But it is self evident that without the re-establishment of a fully functioning Assembly Executive that the parties are powerless to make the decisions required to address your concerns. The opportunity for the economic development of the 6 counties, as an integral part of an Island economy, has come onto the agenda in the context of the GFA, the work of InterTradeIreland, and the potential in the Common Chapter.  Essentially the way forward is mapped out, have we the collective will to go for it?

“Currently, the most immediate obstacle to any comprehensive economic development strategy is the suspension of the Assembly.  Consequently, the economic potential of the north of Ireland is not being fulfilled.  Local ministers and politicians are not making the decisions which would make a difference to developing a coherent, comprehensive economic strategy which is all Ireland in nature, which takes into account local conditions and which is for the benefit of all people on the island of Ireland.  This is a further reason why it is essential to have the political institutions restored and the Good Friday Agreement working again.

“I therefore, appeal to you to use whatever influence you may have to convince the DUP leaders to participate in the Institutions of the GFA on the basis of equality.  Exercising a negative veto on politics in the North is doing irreparable damage to the economy and social fabric.”ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning urged the European Union ‘not to ignore the plight of the Palestinian people’. Ms de Brún made her calls before the Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas was due to address assembled MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

“I want to welcome President Abbas to the European Parliament today. Of course, this first address was due to take place in March of this year but had to be cancelled at the last minute when Israeli forces attacked and demolished Jericho Jail.  Many believe this was timed to prevent President Abbas from addressing the European parliament in solemn session.

“Today the President will have an opportunity to address MEPs and outline the worsening situation in the country. At present the Palestinian Authority is facing a severe humanitarian crisis. Following the Hamas election victory at the beginning of the year, both the European Union and the United States have frozen aid payments to the authority.

“Even though the Hamas victory was achieved in a free and fair election, of which I was an international observer, the people of Palestine are being punished because of those they chose to elect. The freezing of EU funding is affecting people on the ground most with reports emanating from Palestine suggesting food and medicine shortages. Public sector workers are also going without pay which is starving whole neighbourhoods of revenue.

“I want to call on both the European Commission and Council to reverse their decision on funding the Palestinian Authority. Ordinary people are suffering because of a political decision made in the corridors of Brussels.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has said that the Parades Commission is rapidly turning into a shambles and needs urgent action to remove both Don McKay and David Burrows if confidence is top be restored.

Mr O‚Dowd said:

"The new Parades Commission since the day it was appointed has stumbled from one crisis to another. Nationalists were rightly sceptical about the appointment of two leading Orangemen to the Commission. The fact that it has since emerged that both forged elements of their application form only adds to the sense of alarm.

"Both Don McKay and David Burrows need either to resign or to be removed by the British government immediately if the Parades Commission is to restore public confidence in its ability to deliver as we approach the heart of the marching season.

"If the British government insist on sticking with these individuals then the Parades Commission descent into a shambles which we are currently witnessing will undoubtedly continue." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed a European Parliament report which seeks to protect eel stocks across the EU.

Ms de Brún has backed the report which proposes a recovery plan for the stock of European eel and said that 'such measures needed to be taken into account given the fact that the species could become extinct in the future".

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"Over the past number of years eel stocks throughout the European Union have dropped dramatically. This is not only bad news for those who run commercial wild eel fisheries, but also for the very existence of the species itself.

"In my own constituency, The Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative have taken great care over the years to manage the fishery in such a way as to conserve stocks, avoid pollution and protect the future the future of the industry and I will continue to commend this to the European Commission and Parliament as a model of best practice. This should be supported at local, national and EU level.

"Caithfidh an tAontas Eorpach chomh maith le rialtais náisiúnta agus bainisteoirí iascaireachta áitiúla oibriú le chéile má tá an laghdú seo le ceartú agus deimhin a dhéanamh de go mbeidh inmharanacht leanúnach ar rannóg na n-eascann.

"Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh thuairisc ar bith a théann i ngleic dáiríre leis an cheist seo, go mórmhór agus imní ann go bhféadfaí an ghné a bheith imithe in éag amach anseo. Chuir mé fáilte anuraidh roimh thuairisc Albert Jan Maat, Feisire Eorpach, tuairisc a d‚fhéach le coinníollacha a chur i bhfeidhm a chosnódh daonra laghdaithe eascann na hEorpa. Cuireann tuairisc s'aige inniu a thuilleadh leis an cheist. Tá géarghá ann anois do phlean athshlánaithe.

"I want to welcome Jan Albert Maat's report which seeks to seriously address this issue, particularly given concerns that the species could become extinct in the future. The glass eel is particularly vulnerable since large quantities of glass eels are exported to South East Asia and this has consequences for the industry as a whole. Today's report contains sensible proposals with regard to closure times and re-stocking.

"While local management must be based on knowledge of local conditions, international effort is needed if we are to be able to restock inland waters in the way that fishermen in Lough Neagh have done over the years. The European Union, national governments and local area fishery managers need to work in conjunction if we are to turn around this decline and ensure that the eel sector remains viable. " ENDS

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The Sinn Féin European department will hold a half day conference entitled “Sellafield – Still a Danger” on Saturday 20th May ’06 in the Fairways Hotel, Dublin Road, Dundalk from 10am to 1.30pm.

Among the speakers who will be taking part in the conference are Mr Lennart Varmby, Board Member Swedish Energy Agency, Cllr George Regan, Scottish Vice-chair Nuclear Free Local Authorities, member of Dundee City Council (Scottish Labour) and Ms Rea Street, Vice Chairperson, CND Britain.

Bairbre De Brún, MEP will chair the session “Why Sellafield Must Close” and Arthur Morgan TD will chair the session “How to organise for the closure of Sellafied”.

Other speakers will include Caitriona Ruane MLA for South Down and Louth County Councillor Tomás Sharkey.

Speaking today Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson Deputy Morgan said, “This conference is open to everyone concerned about the continued threat from the Sellafield plant in Cumbria, the most discredited nuclear facility in Western Europe.

“The people of County Louth and indeed the whole island have always had serious health concerns around Sellafield.  We want a complete closure of the Plant, on a phased basis. We want a proper clean-up operation and we want more openness and no more cover-ups from the British Government on this issue.

“The threat of a new wave of nuclear power plants across Britain is also of grave concern.  On a recent visit to Brussells it was evident to me that there is a very large pro-nuclear lobby at work promoting nuclear energy. Nuclear power can never be a viable option. The devastation caused twenty years ago at Chernobyl and the after-effects, which will be felt for many more generations should be enough to make us stop in our tracks and think again.

Concluding Deputy Morgan said, “I am looking forward to the contributions from the various speakers and I invite anyone interested in hearing what they have to say and who would like to make their own contribution to please come along.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described comments by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children on the Accident and Emergency crisis in our hospitals as “pathetic”. He said the Tánaiste is “in denial” over the crisis which she herself has described as a national emergency.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, “The Tánaiste has seized on the leaked Tribal Secta report in an effort to divert attention from the crisis in A&E. Her response is to deny that there is a crisis even though she has called the situation a national emergency. Her comments are pathetic.

“Mary Harney has claimed today that the problem is not one of beds and resources but how they are managed. Does that mean she does not accept the need for the additional 3,000 hospital beds identified in the government’s own Health Strategy as far back as 2001? 

“The A&E crisis requires a multi-faceted approach – including the additional hospital beds needed, better resources for hospitals, better management and more front-line delivery of services by consultants. We have been waiting since at least 2001 for a renegotiated contract for hospital consultants and the Tánaiste and her colleagues in Government have presided over five years of failure in this regard.

“The Tánaiste is in denial over the critical situation in our A&E units. She has lost all credibility on this issue as was made clear to Sinn Féin activists throughout the country last weekend by the many members of the public who supported our Healthcare Campaign Day of Action.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for Newry and Armagh and the party's spokesperson on Demilitarisation Davy Hyland has today welcomed the news that the British Army has vacated a major military installation in South Armagh.

Mr Hyland said that the British Army withdrawal from the Faughil Mountain near Jonesboro would be "wholeheartedly welcomed by the local community".

Speaking today Mr Hyland said:

"It is my understanding that the British Army has finally left the Faughil Mountain near Jonesboro, South Armagh. All British troops stationed on the mountain left as of Friday last (12th May).

"I welcome this withdrawal from the South Armagh area. This base was a major military installation and overlooked most of South Armagh and North Louth and was a constant intrusion into the everyday lives of local people. No doubt the local community will also wholeheartedly welcome this news.

"My hope is that this latest withdrawal will provide the catalyst for the full and immediate removal of British troops and their weapons of war from South Armagh and indeed across the six counties." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will this evening address the European Parliament and tell them that Sinn Féin will not accept anything less than the full restoration of the Assembly and Executive.

In a speech to assembled MEPs Ms de Brún will also say that "Republicans have demonstrated time and again our desire to make the peace process work".

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"Sinn Féin has returned to today‚s assembly because we want to see freedom, justice and equality. However the DUP want the Assembly to stay away from the formation of the power sharing Executive. They want a shadow forum, including shadow committees. Sinn Féin will not permit this.

"The next few weeks remain crucial. One thing is clear; Sinn Féin will not shirk our responsibilities. We have always stepped up to the challenge. It is time others did so also. ENDS

Full Text of Speech:

I want to take this opportunity to inform my fellow MEPs that a version of the envisaged Assembly has reconvened today.

Colleagues may be aware that the Assembly, and its power-sharing executive, has been suspended by the British government since 2002. Sinn Féin is committed to creating the conditions where local ministers make local decisions. At present, British Ministers make all policy decisions yet they are not accountable to voters there.

The conditions created by last year‚s decision by the Irish Republican Army to deal definitively with their weapons have transformed the political landscape in Ireland. It is time for Ian Paisley‚s DUP party to make a clear commitment that they are prepared to move forward with the rest of us, on the basis of equality, to restore the Assembly and the power-sharing Executive.

The recent sectarian killing of catholic teenager Michael McIlveen shows that much change is still needed in our society. Continued assistance and support at European level is essential.

Tá sé léirithe ag Poblachtánaigh arís is arís eile go dteastaíonn uainn go rachaidh próiseas na síochána chun cinn.

Tá Sinn Féin tagtha chuig Tionól an lae inniu óir teastaíonn uainn an t-saoirse, an ceartas agus an cothromas a fheiceáil. Teastaíonn ón DUP, áfach, nach mbeidh plé ar bith ag an Tionól le Feidhmeannas Cumhacht-Roinnte a chur ar bun. Teastaíonn Scáth-Fheidhmeannas uathu, agus scáth-choistí chomh maith. Ní cheadóidh Sinn Féin é sin.

Beidh tábhacht mhór sna seachtainí atá romhain. Tá rud amháin soiléir agus is é sin nach seachnóidh Sinn Féin na dualgais atá orainn. Níor chúlaigh muid ariamh ón dúshlán. Ta sé in am do dhaoine eile an rud céanna a dhéanamh.

Republicans have demonstrated time and again our desire to make the peace process work.

Sinn Féin has returned to today‚s assembly because we want to see freedom, justice and equality. However the DUP want the Assembly to stay away from the formation of the power sharing Executive. They want a shadow forum, including shadow committees. Sinn Fein will not permit this.

The next few weeks remain crucial. One thing is clear; Sinn Féin will not shirk our responsibilities. We have always stepped up to the challenge. It is time others did so also.

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Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor, Daithi Doolan has called on the Minister for Justice to immediately intervene to find a resolution to the Hunger and Thirst strike by Afghans in St. Patrick's Cathedral who are seeking refugee status.

Cllr Doolan, who is at the protest has said, "the addition of thirst strike to the hunger strike is a very seriously development that demands immediate attention. Already one person is suffering kidney problems as a result. I am appealing to the Minster to intervene immediately to bring this crisis in St. Patrick's Cathedral to an end. The Minister and his department need to enter in to discussions directly with the protesters.

"Even on a cursory look at the situation in Afghanistan, from this remove, it is plain to see that it is not a functioning democratic society. There is a puppet regime in place that has no control over the vast bulk of the country, with the result that violence and terror are an everyday reality for much of the population.

"Minister McDowell claims that the protesters have been through due process. That may be the case but it is a widely held view that the process itself is seriously flawed and in need of a radical overhaul. The cases of these protesters needs to be looked at again. The criteria upon which the original decisions were made need to be expanded. This state also needs to implement the EU directive, which instructs member states to provide complementary protections to individuals who fall outside the strict legal definitions of what constitutes a person as a refugee.

"As a government TD representing the area where this protest is taking place Michael McDowell has a duty to meet with them. He should do so immediately." ENDS

Members of Sinn Féin will be joining the protest scheduled for 12.30pm tomorrow afternoon.

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness today welcomed the comments of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern saying that the time had come to put the peace process back on track.

Mr McGuinness said:

"Last year the historic decisions taken by the IRA liberated the political process and opened up real possibilities for significant progress to be made in achieving the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Since then Sinn Féin have been arguing strongly with both governments that the time had come for the DUP to take the hard decisions on sharing power with the rest of the parties within the institutions laid out in the Good Friday Agreement. The stalling could not be allowed to drag on any further.

"I welcome the comments of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today indicating that it was his view that we had to see fully functioning institutions put in place as quickly as possible and that the idea of stalling the process further into next year was a non-starter.

"Sinn Féin will re-enter the Assembly tomorrow fully committed to seeing a fully functioning executive put in place. All of the parties with the exception of the DUP have indicated that they also are up for power sharing. The only question which has to be answered in the time ahead is whether or not Ian Paisley will for the first time accept sharing power with his neighbours on the basis of equality.

"It is my hope that the DUP will come on board in establishing a power sharing government. But what is now clear is that the two governments need to make it clear to the DUP the stalling tactics currently being adopted cannot stretch on any longer." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today unveiled a mural in memory of James Connolly, the last of the leaders of the Easter 1916 Rising who was executed by the British on May 12th 1916.

Gerry Adams described James Connolly as 'the foremost Irish political thinker of his time, whose teachings are as relevant to Ireland in 2006 as they were in 1916.'

The mural dedicated to Connolly is in Rockmount Street only a short distance from where the Connolly family lived on the Falls Road at the time of the Easter Rising. A small plaque was unveiled by Bridie Crossan aged 92, a local resident who still lives in the same house she was born in and who was there when the Connolly's lived on the Falls.

Mr Adams recalled that James Connolly left the family home on the Falls Road and journeyed to Dublin where he took command of the Dublin Division of the Irish Republican Army.

Gerry Adams said:

"Connolly was the last of the leaders to be executed after the Rising. He had been badly wounded during the fighting but the Irish Independent newspaper campaigned for his execution. It described the Rising as criminal. 'Let the worst of the ringleaders be singled out and dealt with as they deserve.'

The Independent was owned by William Martin Murphy, Chairman of the Employers Federation which had tried to crush workers and their organisation, the ITGWU during the great Dublin lockout in 1913. The Citizens Army emerged from that particularly brutal period, to defend workers against the police and other thugs hired by the Employers Federation.

The Citizens Army was founded by James Connolly. It was a highly disciplined workers army, open to men and women on the basis of equality. The Citizens Army played a pivotal role in the Rising. Connolly was also very active here in Belfast. He came here from the USA where he spent seven years of activism in the workers movement.

In 1911 he was Belfast organiser of the ITGWU. He helped organise the mill workers. Or the slaves of slaves as he called them. 'Many Belfast Mills are slaughter houses for the women and penitentiaries for the children.'

Connolly was also active with the dockers and other sections of Belfast workers. He was anti-sectarian. He understood how sectarianism was and is used to divide working people

Connolly was an avowed internationalist and a socialist who saw the two sides of the Irish struggle ˆ the struggle for freedom from Britain and the creation of a socialist republic ˆ as two sides of the one coin.

In his own words; 'The struggle for Irish freedom has two aspects it is national and it is social.'

As a social theorist Connolly was both innovative and far sighted. His Labour in Irish History should be read by all Irish republicans, and anyone concerned with the cause of labour and the cause of working people.

Connolly understood the need for core values and clear objectives and the necessity of developing organisational and strategic programmes to achieve these.

Invariably parties of the left, particularly in Ireland, loose their way because of opportunism by leaderships or short-termism, as with the Irish Labour Party today or a blind and unyielding dogmatic adherence to the holy grail.

Neither of these tendencies live in the real world of political struggle where the main task, as in Connolly's time is to make activism relevant to and part of the people in their daily lives." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Francie Molloy speaking in Mid Ulster this afternoon said " Tomorrow the Peter Hain version of the Assembly will meet at Parliament buildings.

"Despite our concerns at the handling of the current situation by the two governments, Sinn Fein will be there to do our best to make progress. A huge amount of time and energy has been invested into this process over the last decade but we are approaching make or break time for the Agreement.

"The reconvening of the Assembly provides an opportunity to make genuine progress but the sole focus must be on ensuring that the power-sharing Executive and all-Ireland institutions are fully restored and that local politicians take up their responsibilities.

"We also need to ensure that the sectarianism which manifested itself in the murder of Michael McIlveen is eradicated forever. For all of this to work the British government needs to make it clear to the DUP that they have a choice to make in the coming weeks with regard to participation in a power sharing government and that if they choose otherwise the two governments will move forward anyway with the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement". ENDS

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