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Speaking during statements on the Corrib gas field and the Rossport Five in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, welcomed the release of the five men from jail last Friday. He said it was "a victory for themselves and their families" and he commended the "tremendous courage and resolution they displayed over the 13 weeks of their imprisonment."

But Deputy Ó Snodaigh cautioned, "As this development stands, neither the people of Mayo nor the people of this state stand to gain in any real way from the Corrib field if it is brought on shore. The people of Erris are going to have a dangerous pipeline at their back door, carrying gas that they will not even have access to."

He went on to say, "We have called in the past for a full inquiry into why and how the multi-nationals were handed over control of our natural resources at terms unequalled anywhere on the face of the earth.

"We are reiterating that demand, and also for a review of Corrib to include full disclosure of all aspects of the deal. For example, what were the terms under which former Minister Frank Fahey signed over Bellanboy Wood for the terminal site. Why were parts of Bord Pleanala's own report by Kevin Moore detailing the lack of economic benefits ignored. Why was misleading information given regarding the potential disaster had the pipeline been in place at the time of the Dooncartin landslide. What did An Taoiseach discuss with the President of Shell when he met him.

"In order for these and many other questions to be answered, any inquiry or judicial review needs to be carried out on the basis of full disclosure. All minutes from the Department relating to the project must be made available. So too must the minutes of An Taoiseach's meeting with the Shell President. Also, all documents relating to the transfer of Bellanboy must be placed in the public realm after years of hiding behind the alleged lack of Ministerial responsibly for Coillte." ENDS

Full text of statement by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD on the Corrib gas field development and the Rossport Five

I would like to begin by welcoming the release of the five men from Rossport last Friday. It was a victory for themselves and their families and the tremendous courage and resolution they displayed over the 13 weeks of their imprisonment.

It was also a victory for the thousands of people in Mayo and throughout the whole island who came out in support of the men, who took part in protests, who sent them cards, and who in various other ways made clear their feelings on the issue.

It was a campaign that brought together people of many different political views and none. It also clearly highlighted a fundamental division between political parties, and indeed within political parties as the leaders of the three largest parties in here will attest. It was a division between those who were unequivocally on the side of those pointing to the environmental and economic disadvantages of the proposed Corrib pipeline, and those prepared to put the interests of Royal Dutch Shell first.

And let us be clear about that. As this development stands, neither the people of Mayo nor the people of this state stand to gain in any real way from the Corrib field if it is brought on shore. The people of Erris are going to have a dangerous pipeline at their back door, carrying gas that they will not even have access to.

That gas will be piped in by a company whose annual turnover is bigger than this state‚s GDP but who have to all intents and purposes been given the gas field for nothing. Surely this stands as an outstanding act of generosity. There you go lads. Write off all your tax and charge us the full price for selling it to Bord Gáis who this week are imposing a massive price increase on their customers, many of whom are already faced with fuel bills they cannot afford.

And of course we know who they have to thank for their gift. People like Ray Burke who was no doubt motivated by the highest sentiments when he made the deal. We have called in the past for a full inquiry into why and how the multi-nationals were handed over control of our natural resources at terms unequalled anywhere on the face of the earth.

We are reiterating that demand, and also for a review of Corrib to include full disclosure of all aspects of the deal. For example, what were the terms under which former Minister Frank Fahey signed over Bellanboy Wood for the terminal site. Why were parts of Bord Pleanala's own report by Kevin Moore detailing the lack of economic benefits ignored. Why was misleading information given regarding the potential disaster had the pipeline been in place at the time of the Dooncartin landslide. What did An Taoiseach discuss with the President of Shell when he met him.

In order for these and many other questions to be answered, any inquiry or judicial review needs to be carried out on the basis of full disclosure. All minutes from the Department relating to the project must be made available. So too must the minutes of An Taoiseach's meeting with the Shell President. Also, all documents relating to the transfer of Bellanboy must be placed in the public realm after years of hiding behind the alleged lack of Ministerial responsibly for Coillte.

The Rossport men and their families and supporters have won a tremendous victory. As the brother of murdered Ogoni activist Ken Saro Wiwa said on Saturday, such victories are rare. However, it is only a temporary victory and the real issues have yet to be resolved. Unless they are; unless the pipeline is moved offshore and unless this state changes the licensing and revenue conditions governing the project then the campaign against the development as currently proposed will continue.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called for a full debate on the Hague Programme. Speaking during today's Justice Committee discussion deputy Ó Snodaigh said, the action plan for the implementation of the programme is "arse about face".

Speaking after the Committee he said, „Minister McDowell agreed with me that in light of the rejection of the Constitution the Hague programme will have to be looked at again.

"The stated objective of the Hague Programme is to create an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice but Sinn Féin is concerned that contentious measures relating to the transfer of sentenced persons and judicial and police co-operation are being frontloaded ahead of measures relating to minimum standards in the taking of evidence, pre-trial detention procedures and work with respect to police standards. The action plan for the implementation of the programme is arse about face.

"The fact that a series of individual motions relating to the Hague programme have been sent to Committee without debate and back from the Committee without debate, ensures that the Committee is the only forum for discussion. A meeting is to take place in Brussels shortly discussing judicial and police cooperation and national parliaments but the chair indicated that representatives of this parliament's Justice Committee will not be attending.

"The government are smothering debate on EU policy in the area of Justice, with the implicit consent of the other opposition parties." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún is today hosting an all Ireland delegation of families bereaved through suicide at the European Parliament in Brussels. Approximately 20 people travelled to Brussels this morning.

Accompanying the delegation today are community workers, Sinn Féin Health Spokespersons John O'Dowd MLA, Caoimghin O'Caolain TD and Councillor Fra McCann MLA.

Speaking from Brussels the former Assembly Health Minister said:

"I want to pay tribute to all of those who have travelled to Brussels this morning, to participate in a day of events to raise awareness around the issue of suicide and suicide prevention in Ireland and at a European level. The delegation will meet with representatives of Mental Health Europe and of EuroHealthNet, Professor Berlinguer MEP, Gay Mitchell MEP, Kathy Sinnott MEP and Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald, as well as an official from the Irish Government representation to the EU, and a representative from the office of Mairead McGuinness MEP.

"Those people travelling on the delegation come from right across Ireland and from both a rural and urban background. It is clear from discussions with the group that they require greater support from the statutory agencies. Mental health services north and south are grossly under funded. Sinn Féin has consistently argued that suicide prevention should become an area of cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement, to promote a joint strategy across the island.

"Not enough is being done in Ireland to highlight or combat suicide. One conservative estimate is that more than 4,000 people have died through suicide between 1969 and 2002 in the Six Counties, significantly more than have died as a result of the political conflict over 35 years. The hope is that today's visit to Brussels will help lead to an understanding of how other EU states deal with the issue and how best practice can be applied in Ireland. Whilst the recent announcement of a taskforce in the 26 counties is welcome, we want to see an all Ireland strategy and an all Ireland taskforce on suicide prevention.

"Less than one month ago (September 10th), people across the globe marked World Suicide Awareness Day, in memory of all of those who have tragically lost their lives. The most fitting tribute we can pay is to ensure that present and future generations receive the help and support they require and deserve."

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams welcoming the delegation visit to Brussels said:

"In Ireland, the increase in suicide across the 32 counties has been higher that in most other European countries. This is an important initiative which will help draw additional attention to this serious problem. The all Ireland delegation reflects the imperative of an all-Ireland approach to tackling this issue. Sinn Fein believes that suicide prevention must be promoted in an integrated, holistic strategy which is resourced and implemented as one across the 32 counties. No political or legal obstacle should be put in the way of all-Ireland action on suicide prevention. ENDS

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Speaking today after it emerged that a 13-year-old schoolboy had been abandoned in the pouring rain on the side of a road because he had forgotten his bus ticket Sean Crowe Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Transport called on the Minister for Education to initiate an immediate investigation.

Speaking today deputy Crowe said, "Bus Éireann is now implementing a no ticket no travel policy due to the lack of space brought about by the implementation of new safety measures. The Minister had the entire summer to plan for this. This new policy has led to a situation where a 13-year-old child has been left on the side of the road.

"I am calling on the Minister of Education and Science Mary Hanafin to initiate an immediate investigation into this affair and establish new guidelines instructors to prevent a similar situation happening in the future. This is an unacceptable dilemma for any child, to be left with no money at the side of the road and with no means to contact his family. I call on the Minister to assure parents that a similar situation will not arise again." ENDS

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Commenting on the Health Service Executive's suspension of the PPARS computer system, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said:

"The PPARS fiasco is comparable to the debacle of the PULSE system in the Garda Siochána. It is scandalous that money, which could and should have been spent on delivering front-line services for patients, has been wasted in this manner.

"The mismanagement which has led to the spending of €150 million on a computer system that does not work and is now to be put on hold, highlights the lack of accountability for our health services at Ministerial level. This is public money but the Minister for Health and Children will not be held accountable in the Dáil for this and other management failures in the health system because the 'management and delivery of health and personal social services' have been made the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. This and previous Ministers have taken credit for spending on the health services but act like Pontius Pilate when massive systems failures such as this occur." END

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane will lead a Sinn Féin delegation to meet with the newly appointed Human Rights Chief Commissioner Professor Monica McWilliams tomorrow morning (05.10.05) between 11am and 12 noon. The meeting will be held at the Commission's offices, Temple Court, Lower North Street Belfast. The delegation will be available for interview both before and after the meeting.

The Sinn Féin delegation will consist of Ms Ruane, Kathy Stanton MLA and Chrissie McCauley, Sinn Féin's Equality'/Human Rights Manager.

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy today became the first Irish Republican to address an event attached to the annual British Conservative Party Conference. Speaking at the 'CHAMP' debate which also involved DUP MP Jeffery Donaldson, UUP member David Burnside and Tory MP David Lidington Conor Murphy challenged politicians to grasp the opportunity provided by the IRA initiative and set about the task of rebuilding the political institutions.

Mr Murphy said:

" The construction of the Irish peace process over the past decade and more has essentially been a series of steps, some big, some small, but all in their own way important as we seek to move away from conflict and into a new future on the island.

" Today with Sinn Féin appearing at the British Tory conference is another small step upon the road to trying to build a normal relationship between Ireland and Britain. A relationship which has been characterised by colonialism, conflict, misunderstanding and division.

" British policy towards Ireland in the late 1970s and 1980s under the stewardship of Margaret Thatcher, in my view, contributed to prolonging conflict and division and preventing the earlier development of the Irish peace process. She presided over the policy of shoot to kill, state murder through collusion and the disastrous policy of criminalisation in the prisons.

" Irish Republicans have a legitimate political demand for the reunification of Ireland and the establishment of a national democracy on the island. It is entirely legitimate to demand an end to partition. To demand an end to sectarianism and to demand an end to discrimination.

" I accept that others share a different view. That others wish to maintain the status quo. Indeed there are those who still hark back to the days of the old Stormont regime when 'a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people' was the war cry. But what I demand is the creation of a level political playing field to allow nationalists and republicans to pursue in a peaceful and democratic way legitimate and achievable political goals. That is what the Good Friday Agreement is all about. It is about removing a unionist stranglehold upon all aspects of political , social and economic life in the six counties. Essentially it is about Equality.

" The Good Friday Agreement was also a belated admission by the British political establishment that what was a political problem required political solutions. It was an admission that the policy followed by successive Tory and Labour governments of trying to defeat Irish republicanism through state violence and repression had failed. It was an admission that dialogue was the way forward in resolving conflict. Crucially it was an admission that Belfast was not as British as Finchley.

" The Good Friday Agreement has of course also presented major political challenges for all of us. The Sinn Féin leadership has sought to rise to these, and also involve a wide range of nationalist and republican opinion as we tried to move the process forward. We have also worked hard to engage in a dialogue with unionists outside the political process.

Sinn Féin amended our constitution to enable us to sit in the Good Friday Agreement institutions. We attempted to create the political environment to enable the IRA to take historic and unprecedented initiatives. We are prepared to share power with political opponents on the basis of equality. Like all of the other parties we have placed our analysis in front of the electorate and sought their support for our position. Sinn Féin are now the largest nationalist party in the north and the third largest Irish political party. Our mandate can no longer be ignored. That is the democratic way.

" On the other hand unionism has sought to minimise and stall the process of change demanded by the Agreement. In short they have adopted a strategy to filter basic rights and entitlements through the prism of rejectionist and reactionary unionism. Unionism has opposed the creation of an accountable and acceptable policing service. They are fighting to retain a unionist militia in the RIR. They are trying to prevent the criminal justice system being made accountable and acceptable. They have sought to stifle the equality and human rights agendas and continue to rile against proper funding for the Irish language and the publication of a comprehensive Bill of Rights.

" Unionism needs to get real. Nationalists and republicans are no longer second class citizens. Nationalists and republicans will never accept a return to the days of the unionist junta in Stormont. If unionism wants to exercise executive power, if unionism wants to deliver for the people of the North then they are going to have to do that alongside Sinn Féin in the power sharing institutions detailed in the Good Friday Agreement. There is no alternative plan. The Agreement is as good as it gets.

" And if British Tories do genuinely support an end to conflict in Ireland, and if they do, as they say, genuinely support the Good Friday Agreement then they need to grasp the opportunity presented by the recent historic initiatives by the IRA and encourage those unionists over whom they have an undoubted influence to engage with Sinn Féin and others on the basis of our political mandates and through a process of meaningful dialogue see the political institutions re-established. This has to be a political priority in the time ahead.

" The two governments must make it clear to political unionism the fact that the only aspect of the Agreement over which they have a veto is the northern institution. All other outstanding aspects can and will move ahead as planned.

" We have heard much in recent weeks about a disengagement from the process by working class unionists. We have witnessed all of the main unionist parties try and justify the violence witnessed on the streets of Belfast in recent weeks on the basis of social exclusion or deprivation. The violence on the streets of Belfast as with the ongoing campaign against Catholics over the summer months by the unionist paramilitaries had nothing to do with deprivation. It was about sectarianism. It was about the Orange Order failing to be allowed to march through a catholic area. As was Sunday's protest at a graveyard in Newtownabby, where Catholics were abused and threatened as they attended a memorial service. This behaviour is completely unacceptable.

" The political leadership of unionism needs to wake up to this reality. If unionist communities are voiceless then that is a reflection on those elected to represent them. The figures for poverty and deprivation in the north indicate that the vast majority of areas suffering social exclusion and poverty are nationalist. Deprivation needs tackled on the basis of need - not on the basis of perception, or to service a particular political agenda.

" The decision of the IRA to formally end the armed campaign and put its weaponry beyond use is clearly a landmark moment. I accept that unionism, like all of us, need a little time to absorb the implications of this move. But that is not an invitation to evade political responsibilities. Unionism does not need to trust republicans, just as republicans do not need to trust unionists. That is why we have a written contract in the Agreement. Unionism needs to trust itself.

" We need to put this process back on track. The Good Friday Agreement provides the road map. The DUP signed on for the Agreement last December. It is my view that we can, given the necessary political will see significant progress made in the time ahead. The IRA have dealt in a definitive way with any genuine concerns which unionists had about republican intentions. Now it is time to move ahead. A process of change cannot stand still. We need to see real momentum in the coming weeks if the opportunity which now exists is to be grasped." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Gerry Adams will be in Brussels on Wednesday October 5th for a day long series of public and private engagements. Mr Adams will be accompanied by Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brun and Mary Lou McDonald. The purpose of the trip is to update MEPs, the Commission, the Diplomatic corps and NGOs on recent developments in the Irish peace process and to explore ways in which the EU can further assist the search for peace in Ireland.

The Sinn Féin delegation will meet with MEPS from a range of political groups and countries. They will also meet with Danuta Hubner, Commissioner for Regional Development to discuss the need for a Peace III programme.

Mr Adams will hold a press conference in the parliament at 11am and will be addressing a public question and answer session at 5.30.

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Commenting on the news of a 14.6 million investment to Wrightbus in Ballymena North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan urged the company to seize this opportunity to address the employment imbalance within their workforce.

Mr. McGuigan said:

" I certainly welcome this investment and the prospect of adding 170 jobs to the workforce. This will have a significant impact on not only the local economy of North Antrim but on the North as a whole. I do however hope that this opportunity for new employment is seized upon to make the workforce of Wrightbus more representative of the local community.

"The record of Wrightbus on equal employment has not been a good one. For too long it has been a cold house for nationalists.

"A significant proportion of this investment is public money. It is essential that the British government ensure that Wrightbus becomes an equal employer."

Note to Editors

In the latest Workforce Monitoring Returns Wrightbus Ltd published by the Equality Commission was identified as the second worse employer in the Six Counties in terms of under representation of Catholics. Less than 6% of the Wrightbus workforce is Catholic (In a Council area which is over 20% Catholic).

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Sinn Féin's Equality & Human Rights spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane has said the full implementation of the Equality Agenda can make a difference on the ground for everyone regardless of background, race or any of the other section 75 groups but warned that the undermining of the Equality agenda by the British government and civil service needed to be addressed otherwise society will be blighted by deepening inequalities, sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

Speaking at the launch of the party's newly published Equality document Ms Ruane said:

"The reality is that inequality is still with us. Yet the full implementation of the Equality Agenda can and should make a difference for the most marginalised in our society. Equality can deliver for everyone.

"The undermining of the Equality agenda by the British government and civil service needed to be honestly addressed otherwise society will be blighted by deepening inequalities, sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

"Nationalists are under-represented in the workforce, particularly in the senior civil service, Catholics are twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants and in areas such as education, health, housing and investment, nationalists are clearly facing an uphill battle to secure equality of opportunity and fair treatment.

The key statistics show that the:

· Proportion of working age people who are unemployed - 5.6 Catholic and 3.3 Protestant

· Proportion of working age economically active people who are long term unemployed -3.4 Catholic and 1.7 Protestant

· Proportion of working age people who are employed - 61.2 Catholic and 71.2 Protestant

· Proportion of working age persons in workless households - 15.7 Catholic and 10.5 Protestant

· Unemployment differential between Catholic and Protestant (male) (1992: 2.4) 2004: 2.0

· Proportion of children 0-15 in workless households - 21.5 Catholic and 11.8 Protestant

"At senior civil service Grade 5 and above the proportion of Catholics is 24.8% compared to 66% for Protestants.

"It is also true that 50% of household with a disabled member face poverty.

"The equality agenda is about ensuring that people in our society who suffer from inequality, social exclusion and discrimination are protected and that full equality of treatment is achieved. Equality in all its aspects applies to anyone facing inequality, regardless of their community background or social condition.

"Equality legislation alone will not succeed in tackling the deep-rooted inequalities that exist without the political will of politicians, policy-makers and others to grasp the nettle and comprehensively tackle the realities, not the perceptions, about discrimination.

Sinn Fein believe that we need action now to address the problem, including:

  • Affirmative action
  • Full Implementation of New Targeting Social Need
  • Policy commitment to eradicate disparity and inequality within a 10 year timeframe
  • Resources
  • Monitoring
  • Political will

Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin added:

"Legislative measures are only as effective as the difference they make in securing change and in making a difference on the ground.

"Policy makers ignore the equality agenda by not tackling poverty and disadvantage that exist in nationalist and in some unionist areas on the strict basis of objective need. Any divergence from approaching these issues on the basis of objective need is a recipe for furthering inequality and division.

"It is Sinn Fein's belief that those groups and communities who are experiencing inequality, discrimination and disadvantage are looking for strong leadership to counter the range of decisions that are reinforcing inequality in our society." ENDS

Note to Editors

INDICATOR CATHOLIC % PROTESTANT %

Proportion of children 0-15 in workless households 21.5 11.8

Proportion of pupils achieving no qualifications 5.9 4.7

Proportion of pupils achieving no GCSE's 6.6 5.1

Proportion of working age people who are employed 61.2 71.2

Proportion of working age people who are unemployed 5.6 3.3

Proportion of working age economically active people who are long term unemployed 3.4 1.7

Proportion of lone parents of working age who are in employment 45.3 52.9

Proportion of persons of working age not in employment who would like a job 13.0 7.8

Working age economic inactivity rates 33.2 25.5

Proportion of working age persons in workless households 15.7 10.5

Proportion of working age adults living in work rich households 37.9 53.3

Proportion of persons of working age without a qualification 27.8 24.2

Unemployment differential between Catholics and Protestant (male and female) (1992: 2.0)2002:1.9

Unemployment differential between catholic and Protestant (male) (1992: 2.4)2002: 2.1

Unemployment differential between catholic and Protestant (female) (1992: 1.4)2002: 1.6

Source: 'Indicators of Social Need for NI', OFMDFM, September 2004

The Department of Health report into inequalities of health (Dec 2004) show that:

· Those areas with the worst access to health and social care facilitates have a higher proportion of Catholics

· A person living in a deprived area (the majority of which are catholic) is 34% more likely to die early than a similar person living in a non-deprived area of the North.

· Lung cancer rates for all persons are 57% higher in deprived areas than elsewhere in the North

· In areas with the worst health outcomes, there are higher proportions of Catholics, nationalists and single people.

The 2002-03 Housing Executive figures show:

· In Belfast show that 44% of people on the waiting lists were Catholic yet only 28% of those allocated a house were Catholic - an 'under-allocation' gap of 16% in relation to allocations.

· In comparison Protestants represented 43% of those on the waiting list but 64% of those actually allocated a house - an 'over-allocation' gap of 21%.

· Across the north as a whole this differential of Catholic under representation in housing allocation is repeated. The percentage of Protestants on the waiting list was 47%, with 54% actually being allocated a house - an over-representation of 7%.

· For Catholics, the figures were 40% on the waiting list, and 35% actually allocated a house - an under-representation of 5%.

Sinn Féin key priorities for action on the Equality Agenda include:

  • Affirmative action.
  • Contact compliance
  • Full implementation of New TSN
  • Political Will
  • Identification of disadvantage
  • Policy commitment to eradicate disparity and inequality within a 10 year timeframe
  • A recognition that structural and endemic inequality and disadvantage occurs against particular groups in society because of the nature of that society
  • Resources must then be directed to those most in need in order to redress that disadvantage and inequality

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The Sinn Féin Chairperson of Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Mc Mahon has invited the British Secretary of State Peter Hain to come and meet with Council to discuss ways of turning the economic situation around in the District.

Cllr Mc Mahon said,

"Last week local Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty held an hour long meeting with Mr Hain at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton discussing the economic situation in the District in the aftermath of a succession of major jobs losses from the textiles sector, the mainstay of the local economy.

"As well as lobbying the case for two specific economic projects, Mr Doherty also impressed upon the Mr Hain the need for a wide-ranging package of measures to be provided to engender economic growth in the District. He also asked Mr Hain to come to Strabane in person so to appraise himself of the economic situation.

"Mr Hain said that he would be prepared to come and meet with representatives on a cross party basis so as Council Chair I have now extended an invitation to him to come and meet with full Council at the earliest possible date so that we can spell out what we believe is required from his Administration to help turn the economic situation in the District around." ENDS

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Sinn  Féin  spokesperson  on  Employment Arthur Morgan TD has called on the Government  to  adopt  a Sinn Féin motion before the Dáil that calls on the European  Commission to urgently introduce a European Ferries Directive, to deal with ships operating in European waters under flags of convenience.

Speaking  today  deputy Morgan said, "This morning I tabled a motion in the Dáil  on  behalf  of  the  five  Sinn  Féin  TD's  calling  on the European Commission  to  urgently  introduce a European Ferries Directive, to combat 'social  dumping'  on  ferries and set minimum labour standards in order to ensure  an  end  to  the  exploitation of workers on intra-EU Passenger and ferry services.

"Last  week,  when I raised the possibility of dealing with this issue at a European  level  with  the Minister of State with responsibility for Labour Affairs  Tom  Killeen  TD,  he  said  he  was 'quiet taken with the idea of dealing  with  this  at  European  Level' but he felt there was nothing the Government could do. Well now there is an opportunity for the Government to do  something  positive.   I  am asking the Government to give over time to discuss  this  motion  and  adopt  it  in order to increase pressure on the European  Commission to proceed with a Ferries Directive that was abandoned last  year  following  a  failure  to  reach  agreement  at  the Council of Ministers.

"A ferries Directive will not be delivered overnight nor does it represent a solution to the crisis at Irish Ferries but what is happening at Irish Ferries, including previous evidence of maltreatment of workers illustrates the urgent necessity for such a Directive.  It is not good enough for the Government to continually repeat their rhetoric about supporting workers rights while at the same time standing idly by and allowing Irish Ferries to exploit workers in this way. I would urge the Government to adopt this motion and all parties in the house to support it." ENDS

Text of motion below:

"That Dáil Éireann

-     Denounces the exploitation of workers on board ferries operating under flags of convenience out of Irish and EU ports.

-     Notes that a draft Directive on passenger and ferry services was proposed by the European Commission in April 1998 (COM/98/0251), approved by the European Parliament in March 1999 and that a revised proposal was issued in 2000 (COM/2000/0437), but withdrawn in August 2004 following the failure to reach a final agreement at the Council of Ministers.

-     Calls on the European Commission to urgently introduce a European Ferries Directive, to combat 'social dumping' on ferries and set minimum labour standards in order to ensure an end to the exploitation of workers on intra- EU Passenger and ferry services"

- Arthur Morgan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Sean Crowe, Martin Ferris, Aengus Ó Snodaigh

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Residents of isolated nationalist communities in North Antrim are travelling to Leinster House on Wednesday 5th October where they hope to meet with the leaders and representatives of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, PDs, Labour Party, Greens and Independents. For many months now these communities have been at the receiving end of a vicious sectarian campaign with daily attacks on Catholic homes, schools and churches and they will be seeking cross-party support to bring these attacks to an end.

The delegation will be available to speak to the media outside the Kildare Street entrance at 12 o'clock.

Speaking in advance of the visit Sinn Féin Dáil Group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said: "For some time now residents of a number of isolated nationalist communities across the North have endured daily attacks and intimidation from unionist paramilitaries. And with loyalist violence continuing people in such areas feel very vulnerable.

"There is a responsibility on politicians, north and south, not merely to condemn such sectarian attacks, but also to stand in solidarity with these communities and protect the right of all to live free from sectarian harassment.

"I hope that parties in the Dáil will not be silent in the face of such sectarian attacks. I hope that they will meet with these residents and support the campaign to bring all sectarian attacks to an end." ENDS

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today commented on the current impasse surrounding Turkey's accession to the EU. Negotiations are on-going although Austria is continuing to object to full EU membership for Turkey.

Speaking today Ms McDonald:

"Sinn Féin's position on Turkish accession to the EU is quite clear. Entry must be subject to Turkish adherence of the 'Copenhagen Criteria' on democracy and respect for human rights. Should negotiations begin, it could take up to 10 years for Turkey to become a member of the EU. This period must be used to ensure that significant progress is made regarding its human rights record, the ongoing occupation of Cyprus and the denial of Kurdish rights. Turkey must prove to the world and its own people that it is a respecter of human rights.

"Whilst EU member states continue their discussions on Turkish accession to the European Union, It is clear that there are those who oppose their membership. The European Union should be open to accommodating people of all beliefs and none. Such an attitude is clearly divisive and seeks to reinforce the notion that the EU is an elite club. Turkish accession should not be used to reinforce Islamaphobia

"Sinn Féin looks forward to the time when Turkey fulfils its international obligations, and can become a full participatory member of the European Union." ENDS

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Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin MLA and Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, Catríona Ruane MLA will hold a press conference tomorrow, Tuesday 4th October, at 11.30 am in our Sevastopol Street Offices on the Falls Road to the launch of the party's document on Equality.

Speaking ahead of the publication and launch Ms Ruane said:

"It is clear that despite decades of fair employment legislation and the clear legal commitments in the Good Friday Agreement that the lack of political will has meant that inequality, deprivation and discrimination have not been effectively challenged.

"The reality is that a combination of unionist political and establishment opposition to the implementation of the equality agenda has meant that we are all the losers. Strong and effective equality legislation, implementation and policy should make a real difference wherever discrimination is.

"The evidence shows that deprivation and poverty are greater in predominantly nationalist areas. Nationalists are under-represented in the workforce, the unemployment differential has remained virtually unchanged and that in Education, Health and Housing nationalists fair far worse. There is also a specific problem in the allocation of investment by agencies such as Invest NI and in the composition of the Civil Service, particularly at senior levels." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy will tomorrow travel to speak at a debate on the fringes of the British Conservative party conference in Blackpool.

This will be the first occasion that Sinn Féin have appeared at the annual Tory conference.

The 'CHAMP' debate which takes place in the Savoy Suite, Savoy Hotel, Queens Promenade, Blackpool begins at 12.30pm and will also involve contributions from DUP MP Jeffery Donaldson, Tory MP David Lidington and former UUP MP David Burnside.

Speaking today Mr Murphy said:

" Tomorrow I will be the first Irish republican to speak at an event attached to the British Conservative Party conference. Given the record of the British Tory party and their policy towards Ireland over many years this event will provide for the first time an opportunity for Sinn Féin to place on the record the fact that there are those who share a different vision of the future. And in particular a different vision of the future relationship between Ireland and Britain.

" The British Conservative party claim to support the Good Friday Agreement. If this is the case then they need to join with us and other pro-Agreement voices to set as a priority in the time ahead the re-establishment of the political institutions and the implementation of the other outstanding Agreement matters.

" Tomorrows debate will of course also be the first platform which Sinn Féin has shared with the DUP since the recent historic initiatives by the IRA leadership. Sinn Féin want to see the opportunity which this historic move now provides grasped and built upon in the time ahead." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy welcoming the launch of Coalition against Water Charges petition has said that a broad-based coalition against the proposed water charges is the best way to achieve success.

Mr Molloy said:

"The reality is that the British government have failed to make the case for the introduction of water charges.

"The British government have failed to address the core issue. People here have paid for our water yet it is successive British direct rule administrations that have failed to invest this money in maintaining and developing our water infrastructure.

"The British government have also failed to demonstrate that the poorest and most vulnerable people will not be hit hardest by this form of taxation. Instead there will be more poverty.

"It is vital that everyone who is opposed to the imposition of water charges stand together in a broad-based coalition. This is the best way to stop the water taxes." ENDS

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality & Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has committed the Party to continuing its opposition to the current Corrib gas field project, not only on health and safety grounds, but also in relation to the 'give-away terms and conditions' that govern gas exploration in the state. Deputy Ó Snodaigh also totally rejected allegations made that Sinn Féin had exploited the imprisonment of the five Rossport men. He was responding to claims made on last night's RTE's 'Week in Politics' by Enda Kenny and Mary Hanafin.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: „Sinn Féin‚s interest in the Corrib gas field is not new. For years, we have consistently called for a radical review of the terms governing mineral exploration here. Since being elected in 2002 Martin Ferris, our spokesperson on the issue, has placed numerous questions on all aspects of the Corrib project, many of them at the request of local people. Sinn Féin supporters, along with thousands of others, have campaigned for the release of the men and the men and their families know that this involvement was genuine on our part. Indeed it is significant that of all opposition politicians only Enda Kenny has been specifically mentioned by the men as having played a negative role while they were in jail.

"Enda Kenny's pathetic attack on my party last night clearly indicates how desperate he is to save face from what has been a disaster from his point of view. Instead of standing up for the community of Rossport and surrounding areas against Shell aggression Enda chose to side with the multi-national. And now that his position has been exposed he once again lapses into that old Fine Gael tradition of trying to shift the negative focus on to republicans. I think the people of Mayo and Rossport in particular are wise enough to see through his bluster and see what a wretched role he has played in this whole saga.

"For our part Sinn Féin will continue to be actively involved in this issue and to insist that not only are the health and safety concerns of the Rossport community addressed before the project proceeds, but that the give-away terms and conditions governing gas and oil exploration in the state are subject to a full review and overhaul to ensure that the Irish people are given a proper share in our natural resources." ENDS

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Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey, who heads the party's outreach to unionism programme, has said that he does not believe that the majority of unionists support the disgraceful sectarian scenes at Carnmoney cemetery at the weekend but added that such sectarianism is a challenge to unionism.

Mr Maskey said:

"The scourge of sectarianism is a challenge to us all.

"I do not believe that the majority of unionists support what happened at Carnmoney cemetery. I have no doubt that many would reject these scenes of squalid sectarianism allegedly being carried out in their name.

"There is a huge job of work required by those with influence within the broader unionist community to tackle sectarianism. Certainly I believe that we all need to show positive leadership and challenge the demonisation of each other.

"We need an open and honest debate about the nature, causes and extent of sectarianism within our communities.

"There can be no excuse for the scenes at Carnmoney Cemetery.

"It is essential that we stand together against the cancer of sectarianism, wherever it emanates from." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that the development of a renewable energy programme for farmers would not only benefit farmers but would also help to met environmental targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the dependency on the unstable fossils fuels markets.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The debate about the high costs of fuel has led many to focus on the potential of Bio Fuels. It is vital that any new renewable energy strategy should develop this potential.

"The huge potential in bio-fuels is both in having greater control over energy costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in creating new opportunities for farmers.

"At present the small-scale nature of Bio-fuel production and the economies of scale required to making processing crops economically viable it is clear that a coming together, on an island wide basis, to develop processing capacity is essential.

"Government can support this through reducing the tax duties imposed on Bio-fuel production and also by assisting farmer co-ops in building the necessary refineries. Co-op led processing is the best way to safeguard farmers interests. With the jobs that would be safeguarded on farms, alongside those created in the refining process, any tax reduction in Bio-fuel duty would be re-gained in other economic activity.

"Across Europe many thousands of farmers are sustained through Bio Fuels. They can give farmers an opportunity to add more competition, and flexibility in where they sell their crops and help them to regain greater economic control over their futures." ENDS

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