Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness commenting on speculation that the British government is about to announce an inquiry into intelligence claims leading to the Iraq war said:
"The controversy in Britain around the reasons offered for the War in Iraq highlight one of the difficulties in our process. Obviously in terms of the British situation either the intelligence services were incompetent, gave false information and the war started on that basis, or they deliberately gave false information in order to foment a war.
In the north of Ireland these same British intelligence services have played a central role in creating a succession of crises in the peace process. Unsubstantiated allegations, still presented as fact by elements of the media, have been used as an excuse to tear down the political institutions.
The British intelligence system has repeatedly conspired to destroy the peace process and promote conflict. Despite this there is no talk of inquiries by the British government.
Just as significantly the British government refuses to agree to inquiries into proven instances of collusion between British state forces and loyalist death squads which resulted in the deaths of hundreds. And the British government continues to sit on the Cory report despite the fact that Judge Cory has told the families that he believes public inquiries are justified. Once again we see one law for the Irish and another for everyone else.ENDS
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on the Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin to intervene directly to address public concern at the current situation in Cavan General Hospital. This follows representations to the Minister from consultants at Cavan and the continuing delay in beginning an inquiry into a dispute between two consultants - an inquiry established in August 2003.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said that while the death of a child at the weekend had added to concern over the situation in Cavan Hospital, pending the result of the autopsy and the inquiry by the Health Board, it is too early to draw any conclusions. The Cavan/Monaghan TD, who visited the bereaved family in Cootehill this (Monday) evening said they were greatly distressed by repeated phone calls to their home from journalists. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
"Our foremost thoughts must be with the bereaved Sheridan family in their time of grief. Parents Brian and Rosemary and their surviving children are greatly distressed as they prepare to lay Frances to rest. I regret to say that some members of the media have displayed insensitivity and I would urge them to give the family the space to grieve in peace and quiet.
"Until the autopsy results are known it is too early to come to any conclusions on the full circumstances of this tragic death. It is an open question as to whether it relates in any way to the current difficulties at the hospital. It must be said that the family themselves have expressed gratitude for the care they received at Cavan General Hospital in the past."
Turning to the current problems in the hospital, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"Cavan General Hospital has been in an uncertain state since before the suspension of two consultants last year. An inquiry was established by the Minister in August 2003 and it is a disgrace that nearly six months later that inquiry has not even begun. It is a scandal that a dispute by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association over what doctors serving on the inquiry panel will be paid should be allowed to cause such a delay.
"I welcomed the news last August that the two consultants had been suspended and an inquiry initiated. This was a long-running dispute and a real cause of concern to staff and patients alike. It has added to the pressure on the hospital during the past 18 months after the Accident and Emergency unit at Monaghan was taken off call. This placed an added burden on Cavan, as did the closure of the Maternity Unit at Monaghan.
"Back in August I called on the Health Board executive to ensure that the suspensions caused minimum disruption to patient services, as they promised in their statement at the time. But clearly this has not been the case.
"The Minister for Health and Children must intervene directly to address public concern at the current situation in Cavan General Hospital. We cannot wait for the outcome of an inquiry which has not even begun. I will be raising this matter in the Dáil this week." ENDS
Upper Bann Sinn Féin Assembly member John O'Dowd has supported calls being made for a full independent inquiry into Shoot to Kill incidents in North Armagh in the 1980's. Mr O'Dowds call comes as the family of Gervaise McKerr launch a court bid in the House of Lords to force the British government to carry out an inquiry into his killing.
Mr O'Dowd said:
"Gervaise McKerr was shot and killed by the RUC along with Eugene Toman and Sean Burns in November 1982. They were unarmed yet more than 100 rounds were fired into the car they were travelling in.
"Three years ago in a landmark legal victory the European Court demanded that a proper investigation into the circumstances of these killings and other state murders be carried out. The British government have repeatedly refused to give effect to this judgement.
" Because of this the McKerr family have been forced to go to the House of Lords. This is a test case and if successful will have serious repercussions for the British government.
" However it is a disgrace that the McKerr family have been forced into further legal action. The British government need to end their policy of concealment and need to face up to the legacy left by the policy of state sanctioned and state supported murder." ENDS
Families of those killed and injured through the British government policy of collusion will tomorrow hold a protest at Stormont at 12.15 pm to coincide with the start of the Review.
Group spokesperson Mark Sykes who was shot and seriously injured in the Sean Graham Bookies Shooting today said:
"Tomorrow a group of relatives who have been bereaved through the British policy of state sanctioned murder will hold a short protest at Stormont to coincide with the start of the Review process.
" It is important that the British government realise that the victims of collusion will not rest until the truth comes out. The issue of collusion and the legacy it has left needs to be on the agenda of the British government and those parties in the Review.
" Tomorrow's protest will come on the eve of a trip to London on Wednesday when almost 100 relatives will picket the Ministry of Defence and the Headquarters of the British Tory party. The families are determined that the truth surrounding the murder of our loved ones will not continue to be suppressed by the culture of concealment which operates at the heart of the British Establishment." ENDS
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as a "debacle" the threatened strike by hospital consultants over their disagreement with a new insurance scheme and has called on them to withdraw their proposed action. He said the Government also bore responsibility for failure to renegotiate the consultants' contract. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"This is a debacle which should never have been allowed to develop. Because of this dispute, patients will suffer. The consultants should immediately withdraw their threat to pull out from all but emergency hospital cover in three weeks' time.
"The issue of insurance cover for consultants should have been resolved long ago as part of the promised revision of the consultants' contract. Instead negotiations have continued since 2001 with no end in sight. The Government's own target date for revision of the contract, as set out in the Health Strategy, was the end of 2002. Therefore the Government also bears responsibility in this debacle.
"The existing contract gives hospital consultants a privileged position whereby most are paid handsomely for practice in the public system without proper accountability while also carrying out lucrative private practice. They are now seeking renewed insurance cover from the State to cover liability from private practice in the past. Their dispute is essentially with their British insurers - the Medical Defence Union -and they should not make Irish patients suffer in that row.
"This, once again, underlines the need to totally revise the consultants' contract and to create a new grade of hospital consultant who would work exclusively in the public system, as part of an overall effort to dismantle the grossly unequal two-tier public-private system." ENDS
Sinn Féin representative in Dublin South East, Daithi Doolan has criticised the careless attitude towards building site safety in Dublin City. He was speaking after a 200-foot crane collapsed in their neighbourhood which resulted in 60 residents from Emerald Cottages, Barrow Street and Grand Canal Street in Ringsend being housed in a nearby hotel.
After speaking with the residents Sinn Féin Representative for the area, Daithí Doolan said:
"I have spoken to some of the residents who have been temporarily re-housed. They are obviously very shaken and also angry about what has happened.
Some of these residents had raised concerns in recent weeks about their safety in relation to this building site. The danger of these cranes being used in a residential area was obvious to them.
I am calling on the Minister for the Environment to put an immediate hold on the use of these cranes in residential areas. The government should also completely review building site health and safety regulations and ensure that existing regulations are enforced.
It is far too easy for property developers to get away with breaking health and safety regulations. These developers, many of whom, make millions, seem to treat health and safety on their sites with disregard. The reality of our legal system is that if a property developer is brought to court they will most likely walk away with a fine, even if someone has died due to a breach in health and safety regulations.
Of course accidents do happen but it seems to me that far too often it is the public and workers who pay for these accidents, many of which are preventable. The whole building industry needs to be tightened up. Property developers take their profits seriously; it's time they took the safety of their workers and the public just as seriously.
Sadly a large amount of people have died on building sites over recent years and yet still we have a situation where a 200 foot crane can collapse."ENDS
Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald speaking at the 32nd commemorative Bloody Sunday march and rally said 'it is time for British government to bring their culture of concealment to an end.' She said 'It is time that they co-operated with the Saville Tribunal, it is time that they co-operated with the search for truth regarding the Dublin Monaghan bombings and it is time that they tell the truth of British involvement in state sanctioned murder and publish the Cory Report.' Ms. McDonald also offered support to the relatives of those killed as a result of collusion, who are taking their demand for the truth to the heart of the British establishment this week.
Ms. McDonald said:
"Thirty two years ago on these streets where we gather today, British soldiers murdered in the name of Queen and country. Thirty two years after the Bloody Sunday murders, the failure of successive British Administrations, both Tory and Labour, to acknowledge the part played by their military on that day has left an open wound on the psyche of nationalists and republicans on this island and left the relatives of those killed unable to bring this painful chapter to a close.
Bloody Sunday and it's aftermath was the first time in our recent history that we were able to clearly see the culture of concealment which operates within the British establishment. Within minutes of the first shots being fired by the Paras, the lies and the half-truths began to emerge. Nail bombs began to be planted on the dead and injured. In London, Downing Street was meeting to discuss the cover up, Widgery was enlisted and the plan was put into place. As far as the British Military was concerned the job was done.
What they hadn't banked on was the families of those killed and injured and the people of Derry and further afield who would not and will never accept the Widgery lie that became British fact.
The families campaigned and lobbied, not because they wanted to, but because they had no other option. That is the only reason that another Tribunal was established.
In recent times we have heard complaints about the cost of the Saville Tribunal being made by those who have a vested political interest in suppressing the truth of that day.
The reality is that if the British government were prepared to admit what the rest of the world already knows, that its soldiers murdered innocent and unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday, and then attempted to cover it up for 32 years, then no Bloody Sunday Tribunal would have been required.
The difficulty for the British government and it‚s apologists is that the truth about Bloody Sunday and its cover up makes a mockery of its claims to be an honest broker in Ireland keeping warring factions apart. The same must also be said about the truth relating to the many other killings, which the British state either carried out directly or through its surrogates in the unionist militias.
Like the Bloody Sunday families, the relatives of these victims would not and will not accept the British version. It is through their efforts that the lid is starting to be lifted on the decades long policy of collusion and cover up. I want to support those relatives who are travelling to London this week to take their demand for the truth to the heart of the British establishment.
However, the British culture of concealment is alive and well. We see and hear it each week at the Saville Tribunal and we have recently seen it with Tony Blair's refusal to publish the Cory report and act upon its recommendations. Mr Blair has had the Cory Report since last October. He has refused to move on it. He is clearly dancing to the tune of those securocrats at the very heart of the British system who are frightened that their role in the planned murder of citizens will finally be exposed.
We saw a similar attitude in Dublin last week when former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald and Justice Minister Patrick Cooney attacked the Barron Report into the Dublin Monaghan bombings. These men, who in the words of the Barron Report Œshowed little interest‚ in the Dublin Monaghan bombings were also of course responsible for the introduction of censorship and the operation of the heavy gangs. And sadly they were not alone. It is an appalling indictment of successive governments that they were content to preside over a conspiracy of silence on what happened in Dublin and Monaghan on the 17th May 1974.
Since the Bloody Sunday murders in the early 1970's and the Shoot to Kill and loyalist murder gangs in the 1980's and 1990's the British were content to hide behind the old lie that allegations of collusion were little more that republican propaganda. With the ending of censorship the new line became that bad apples may have been involved, but that collusion was not sanctioned at any level.
And this is not ancient history as some would like to have us to believe. The report by the Police Ombudsman two weeks ago into the killing of Sean Brown in Bellaghy raises serious questions for this British government and for the current regime at the top of the PSNI.
I believe that Tony Blair in his own heart knows what has to be done. I think he knows that he has not delivered, that he hasn't faced down the military establishment, that he hasn‚t faced down those who still pursue a war agenda in Ireland. Will he ever do this? That is a question only Mr Blair can answer.
Will Mr Blair continue to hide behind bogus legal arguments or non-existent human rights concerns or will he do the right thing? Will he publish Cory and act upon it? Will he face the relatives of those killed by British state sanctioned murder? Will he order his military mandarins to co-operate with the Tribunal in the Guildhall?
I would predict that his answers to these questions will say a lot about what direction the entire Peace Process takes in the weeks and months ahead."ENDS
On Wednesday 4th February, Sinn Féin Assembly Group Leader, Conor Murphy and other senior members of Sinn Féin will accompany over 70 relatives of those killed as a result of collusion, where they will picket outside MI5 headquarters, the British Ministry of Defence and Tory party headquarters in central London.
Speaking ahead of the protest Mr. Murphy said:
"I will be traveling to London on Wednesday with relatives of those killed by Unionist death squads during the last 30 years of conflict in Ireland. These Unionist murder gangs were controlled and directed by British state agencies. This policy of Collusion resulted in some of the worst incidents of violence including the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and the reign of terror conducted by the Shankill Butchers.
"In the mid-1980s British intelligence agencies not only recruited members of these Unionist death squads but also actively infiltrated their own agents into senior positions within these organizations. In December 1987 a huge consignment of weapons was smuggled into the north of Ireland and handed over to various Loyalist murder gangs. This was done with the full participation and knowledge of British Intelligence. These weapons were used to murder and injure hundreds of people in Ireland.
"Prominent civil rights lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson became victims of this policy of Collusion which was directed primarily against the Nationalist and Republican community.
"No member of the Special Branch or British military Intelligence has ever been charged in connection with any of these crimes. Special Branch remains as an integral part of the PSNI. The British army Force Research Unit has been renamed as the Joint Services Group and MI5 continues to operate with impunity.
"Sinn Féin fully supports the relatives in the search for truth and their ongoing campaign to highlight the direct involvement of British agencies in the murder of their loved ones."ENDS
Sinn Féin policing Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has re-iterated Sinn Féin demand that plastic bullets be removed from operational use immediately.
Commenting on the publication of the fourth report of the NIO led steering group into alternatives and the announcement by NIO Minster Jane Kennedy that plastic bullets will remain in operational use until at least 2005 Mr Kelly said:
"The British government committed themselves to the removal of plastic bullets from operational use. These are lethal weapons that have killed 17 people. They should not be in use.
"The consideration of alternatives is no excuse for any further delay in the removal of lethal plastic bullets. The PSNI and British Army have used and misused plastic bullets to kill and maim men, women and children.
"Any alternatives must be non-lethal."ENDS
Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane has branded David Trimble's attack on international human rights work as a disgrace.
Speaking from Columbia, Ms Ruane said:
"Human Rights organisations have played and continue to play an important role in the advancement of the Irish Peace Process. The work of human rights lawyers like Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson have been vital in defending people and communities against the worst excesses of this state.
"Those who protest loudest against the work of human rights organisations clearly have a vested interest in suppressing the truth about human rights abuses.
"David Trimble's comments have contributed to the culture of impunity that exists within the many armed wings of the British establishment, the British Army, MI5, the RUC and Special Branch who have operated outside of the law and with no regard to international human rights standards.
"Making these remarks at an international conference also gives succour to some of the most repressive regimes throughout the world where there is a refusal to acknowledge international human rights agencies and where there are systematic and massive abuses of human rights."ENDS
Sinn Féin's Environmental spokesperson Willie Clarke MLA, has responded to a report study published in the magazine Science, which claimed that farmed Atlantic salmon from Scotland contains the highest levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the world.
Cllr Clarke said:
"There is a genuine fear that eating farmed salmon increases the risk of cancer. People are worried about toxicity levels, and the growth hormones and chemicals used in large commercial farms. Last week's report in the respected American scientific journal 'Science' claimed that Scottish fish farms were amongst the most contaminated in the world. This report has the potential to damage consumer confidence in the Irish salmon farming industry.
"An integrated all-Ireland approach must be brought forward in order to develop aquaculture, and salmon farming is a key to this industry. There is no long-term economic or environmental sense in trying to compete with the massive Norwegian and Chilean factory farms that have flooded the global market with cheap fish. Irish salmon must be synonymous with safety and quality.
"To achieve this the emphasis must be on low-intensity farming along organic guidelines. It is also essential that we provide proper protection for wild salmon habitats. We need to see further investment in feeding methods so techniques can continue to evolve and improve and natural food sources such as the sand eel preserved. Proper investment and support from the Irish and British Governments will be a key factor in achieving this.
"Every effort must be made to develop a quality product that is sustainable, safe to eat and an alternative to mass production. This can only be achieved with North/South co-operation."ENDS
Sinn Féin EU Parliament candidate Marylou McDonald has claimed the report by CORI today showing that 20% of households living in poverty are headed by someone in employment exposes a problem that "this Government is mentally and ideologically incapable of dealing with." Pointing to massive increases in calls for assistance from employed people to Vincent de Paul last year, McDonald went on to point to regressive stealth taxes such as the Bin Charges and the failure of the Government to take on vested interests and big business as reasons for increasing levels of poverty.
McDonald said: "This is the latest in a series of indicators that Ireland is increasingly dealing with rising numbers of working poor, a group of people this Government is mentally and ideologically incapable of dealing with.
"The Government's response to poverty over the last seven years has been a blank assumption that employment will solve everything. The idea that someone could be working long hours in backbreaking labour and still be living in poverty is a notion they find incomprehensible. But this CORI report indicates almost 20% of households living below the poverty line are now headed by someone in employment. Many more are headed by people outside the labour force who are retired, ill or on disability.
"According to St Vincent de Paul's annual report the number of calls for help they received in Dublin alone increased by 94% last year. The fastest growing group of people seeking the society's help are people who are working, but on low incomes, the type of people crippled by the regressive stealth taxes Minister McCreevy is so fond of.
"Since 1997 this Government has concentrated on tax cuts for the rich while avoiding the reality and ignoring what is required to seriously tackle poverty in Ireland. Job creation alone will not address the appalling inequalities in Irish society. To eliminate poverty in Ireland we need a Government willing to take on vested interests and big business. Instead we have a Government in their pocket." ENDS
Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has described as "profoundly disappointing" and in "contradiction of the Good Friday Agreement" today's judgement in the Supreme Court which ruled that the release of prisoners qualifying under the Good Friday Agreement is at the discretion of the Minister for Justice. Mr Ferris made his comments as two men, Michael O'Neill and John Quinn convicted in connection with events surrounding the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe lost their appeal against the denial of their early release.
Deputy Ferris said: "It is profoundly disappointing that the Supreme Court has ruled in this fashion. The Good Friday Agreement does not draw any distinction between prisoners belonging to organisations on cessation at the time of its signing. It states that all such prisoners will be released within two years of the signing of the agreement.
"Today's judgement confirms that these men are in fact qualifying prisoners under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement as it has applied to others convicted of 'equally or even more serious' offences. However, in its ruling the Court has unfortunately said that it is acceptable for one party to the Good Friday Agreement to act unilaterally and take on itself to go outside the terms of that agreement. That is completely unacceptable and undermines the agreement itself.
"The Irish Government cannot preach to others about their obligations in relation to the peace process when they themselves are not willing to live up to their own responsibilities. And it is certainly not good enough that these men's rights under the Good Friday Agreement are left to the whim of a vindictive and anti-republican Minister for Justice." ENDS
Sinn Fein's EU Candidate for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald last night spoke at a debate organised by the TCD Historical Society (28.01.04). Representatives of some of the other main political parties also attended the debate, entitled 'That the EU Constitution is the Death of National Sovereignty'.
In her address to the society, McDonald reiterated that Sinn Fein remained concerned about the creeping advances toward a European Super state and the gradual demise of national sovereignty.
Ms. McDonald said:
"The development of the European project from the Coal and Steel Community onwards has seen a gradual but measurable centralisation of power and erosion of national sovereignty.
"Just as with the Nice Treaty, the very welcome enlargement process is used as a pretext for this new constitution. But this is not just a treaty reorganising the EU, it is a treaty establishing a constitution for Europe. As such, the proposed constitution consolidates and strengthens the grip on national sovereignty.
"It should be remembered that the EEC started out as a project of economic cooperation, a partnership of equal states that made decisions by consensus. We have moved very far from the original model of cooperation. There is now not a single aspect of Irish life over which the EU does not exercise some level of legislative control or powerful influence.
"Irish sovereignty is further diminished and imperilled by the draft constitution. Sinn Féin opposes such an EU superstate. It is far removed from the Europe of equals that we are working to create."ENDS
Sinn Féin Assembly member Conor Murphy has demanded that the legislation regarding electoral registration is changed. His call comes in advance of the new register being released which is expected to show another fall in the numbers eligible to vote by around 30,000.
Mr Murphy said:
"Last year when the first register compiled under the new legislation was produced well over 130,000 people were missing. Some people did manage to get back onto the register but over 100,000 were disenfranchised as a direct result of legislation demanded by the SDLP and UUP.
"It is obvious from discussions we have had with both the Electoral Office and the Electoral Commission that this situation is going to get worse year on year and that the register will continue to shrink.
"It is my expectation that the register due to be made public on Monday will once again show a significant increase in the amount of people disenfranchised.
"This situation cannot be allowed to continue. The legislation needs to be changed and people's right to vote, once again, needs to be made paramount." ENDS
Tá comhairleoirí de chuid Shinn Fein, Breandán Lewis agus Brendan Curran tar éis rún a chur chuig Comhairle an Iúir agus Mhúrn ag iarraidh ar an Taoiseach tacú le stádas oifigiúil don Ghaeilge san Aontas Eorpach. Deir an rún: "Go ndéanfaidh an Taoiseach leasú ar riail 1/1958 a mholadh i rith téarma s'aige mar Uachtarán ar an Aontas Eorpach, le go mbeidh an Ghaeilge san áireamh mar theanga oifigiúil oibre san Aontas."
Dúirt an Comhairleoir Lewis, agus é ag cur an rúin chun tosaigh i gcomhar le Brendan Curran ar 19 Eanáir, dúirt sé go dtiocfadh leis an Taoiseach Bertie Ahern úsáid a bhaint as Uachtaránacht na hÉireann san Aontas Eorpach le cinnte a dhéanamh go mbeidh an Ghaeilge ina teanga oifigiúil oibre. Ag caint leis, dúirt an Comhairleoir Lewis:
"Is cúis náire é teip Rialtas na hÉireann aitheantas oifigiúil oibre a bhaint amach don Ghaeilge nuair a ghabh Éire leis an EEC. Is amhlaidh go raibh dearcadh gach rialtas na hÉireann ó shin amach ina chúis náire agus neamart a dhéanamh acu ar an teanga i rith an ama. Tá deis ag an Rialtas láithreach an scéal seo a athrú i rith téarma s'acu le hUachtaracht na hÉireann ar an Aontas Eorpach. I mbliana, le breis stát ag teacht isteach san Aontas, rachaidh líon na dteangacha oibre i méid, ó 11 go dtí 20 ceann.
"Tá sé go hiomlán doghlactha go bhfánfadh Éire mar an t-aon stát nach bhfuil teanga s'acu aitheanta mar theanga oibre. Tá an tAontas Eorpach brodúil as an íomha cuimsitheach atá aige agus an t-aitheantas a thugtar ar an éagsúlacht sna ballstáit.
"Muise, sa chlár dá théarma Uachtaránachta, deir rialtas na hÉireann go bhfuil caomhnú na héagsúlachta cultúrtha san Eorap ina phríoracht acu. Bheadh sé ina ábhar buairimh ó thaobh dáiríreacht Rialtas na hÉireann de agus muinín s'acu ina ina muintir féin, muna bhfuil siad toilteanach saibhreas cultúrtha na hÉireann a chaomhnú. Cé gur chóir go mbeadh an Ghaeilge ina theanga oibre on tús, léiríonn an 30 bliain seo caite go bhfuil sé níos tábhachtaí anois ná ariamh go gcuirfí an Ghaeilge san áireamh san Eorap.
"Chonaiceamar fás substaintiúil sna meáin chumarsáide trí mheán na Gaeilge, san oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge, le bunú gnónna Gaeilge agus ardú speis sa teanga go ginearálta. Feidhmíonn an Ghaeilge ar an idirlíon chomh maith le teanga ar bith eile. Aithníonn grúpaí teanga agus Gaeilgeoirí go bhfuil i bhfad níos mó de dhíth, ach níl aon amhras faoin ghá agus faoin éileamh leis an Ghaeilge a fhorbairt taobh le cultúr na hÉireann go ginearálta.
"Bheadh tionchar mór ag aitheantas idirnáisiúnta den chineál seo ar lucht na Gaeilge. Sholátharfadh sé deiseanna fostaíochta. Bíonn Comhairle an Iúir agus Mhúrn chun tosaigh ó thaobh forbairt na Gaeilge ag leibhéal rialtais áitiúla de. Aithníodh é seo go minic ag ionadaithe Rialtas na hÉireann, ball na Chomh-áireachta láithrí san áireamh. Mar sin, tá tionchar ag an Chomhairle seo agus cuirfidh sé go mór le feachtas Stádas, an scáth-ghrúpa d'eagraíochtaí difriúla agus daoine aonaracha ó achan carn den tír, a bhfuil tacaíocht aige ó sciar mhaith de na páirtithe polaitiúla ar an ghné seo.
"Cuirfeadh freagra dearfach in iúl do Ghaeilgeoirí go bhfuil cinneadh dáiríre glactha leis na ceisteanna a bhainean leis an Ghaegile i gComhaontú Aoine an Chéasta a chomhlíonadh. Is féidir stádas ceart a bhaint amach don Ghaeilge. Níl pobail na dtíortha eile ná a gcuid Rialtas in éadan an aitheantais sin a bhronnadh ar an Ghaeilge. Is é an cheist ná an bhfuil an toil nó an claonadh ag Rialtas na hÉireann aon rud a dhéanamh faoi?
Ag tacú leis an rún, duirt Brendan Curran:
" Is é atá sa rún seo ná léiriú ar mhianta s'againne go mbronnfar aitheantas idirnáisiúnta ar an Ghaeilge. Bheadh tacú leis an rún ina chéim dhearfach phraicticiúil.
"Le teacht mí na Bealtaine beidh 20 teanga aitheanta go hoifigiúil san Aontas Eorpach. Is deis iontach é seo, agus Uachtaránacht Chomhairle na hEorpa ag Bertie Ahern, leis an t-ainteantas oifigiúil sin a baint amach. Táimid cinnte nach gcuirfidh tír ar bith eile i gcoinne seo. Admhaíodh cheana gur chóir seo a bheith againn 30 bliain ó shin nuair a ghabh Éire leis an Aontas Eorpach ar dtús.
"Creidimid go bhfuil an tacaíocht agus an dea-thoil ann láistigh de struchtúir an Aontais Eorpaigh, dá n-iarrfadh rialtas na hÉireann é. "Tá mé ag iarraidh ar na comhairleoirí ar fad tacú leis an rún le taispeáint go bhfuil muid aontaithe ag cur an polasaíi dátheangach de chuid Chomhairle an Iúir agus Mhúrn chun tosaigh."
Ritheadh an run thuas luaite le tacaíocht an SDLP. Chuir Comhairleoirí Aontachtúla ina éadan.
Speaking today from Dublin where the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle is meeting, party Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said that 'the Irish government needed to make it clear to the DUP at today's talks that they will not be allowed to veto the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.'
Mr. McLaughlin said:
"The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle is meeting today in Dublin to discuss the commencement of the Review next week and to finalise arrangements for the Ard Fheis at the end of February.
"Also today an Irish government delegation led by the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet with the DUP in London. While all dialogue is welcome, it is vital that the Irish government make it clear to the DUP that the Review process is just that, a review. It is not a renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement and it will not be allowed to become one.
"They need to impress upon Mr. Paisley and his delegation that the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the advances required across a range of issues including Human Rights, Demilitarisation, Equality and Policing cannot and will not be allowed to be vetoed by the DUP."ENDS
Speaking at the Joint Finance and Public Service Committee today, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin questioned the investment procedures of the National Pension Reserve Fund, saying it was "most objectionable" for the Fund to be investing in the tobacco industry and the defence industry. Donal Geaney, Chairperson of the Fund, admitted in answer to a question from Deputy Ó Caoláin that there are "no ethical guidelines" for investment.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "One of the companies in which the Fund has shares is the Imperial Tobacco Group in Britain. It is most objectionable that Irish taxpayers' money should be invested in the tobacco industry. We are attempting to combat the massive public health scourge that is tobacco consumption, yet here public money is being invested in one of the largest cigarette manufacturers and distributors in the world.
"True to its name, Imperial Tobacco is aggressively expanding its operations in Africa where consumption is growing as it falls in Europe. I don't have to outline the public health consequences for the impoverished countries of Africa. As a Fund owned by the Irish people I do not believe our money should be invested in this industry, nor do I believe it ethical to do so given that our Government is rigorously enforcing a ban on smoking in this country for reasons of health protection allegedly.
"Imperial Tobacco is just one company. I note also on the list is CAE Inc. in Canada which is one of the world's top 100 defence corporations. I think it is also objectionable that this Fund, owned by the Irish people, should be investing in the international arms trade. Do we not constantly hear that Ireland is a neutral country?
"The chairperson of the National Pension Reserve Fund has admitted to me that there are no ethical guidelines for the Fund's investment portfolio. The Government should immediately rectify this and ensure such guidelines are setdown for the fund managers." ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokespersons on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD and Councillor Gerry McHugh, have strongly condemned today's decision by the European Commission to allow the sale of Genetically Modified maize. The maize variety, Bt 11, is manufactured by the Swiss Corporation Syngenta.
Deputy Ferris and Cllr. McHugh said:
"Sinn Féin is strongly opposed to the introduction of GM and has campaigned strongly over the past year to draw attention to the fact that the EU was going to succumb to pressure from the giant multi-nationals and the US against the weight of public opinion in the member states.
"Before Christmas we exposed the fact that the Irish representative had voted in favour of the removal, despite a commitment by Fianna Fáil in their 1997 election manifesto to oppose the introduction of GM. We condemn the decision of the Irish Government to vote for this measure and will be campaigning to ensure that this island remains GM free". ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has described a section of the emergency Immigration Bill 2004 which allows Immigration officers to refuse entry to the State to non-nationals if they suffer from a disability (Section 4(3)(c)) as "a prime example of everything that is wrong with the Government's attempt to ram through the Immigration Bill 2004 without proper debate and examination."
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: "Even a cursory glance at this Bill reveals serious issues regarding the legislation and its implications for human rights. The stopping of non-nationals coming into the State on the basis that they may have a disability is absolutely offensive and totally unacceptable, yet typifies everything this that is wrong with this Government's approach to human and equal rights.
"Meanwhile, the Minister for Justice in his usual arrogant fashion expects all members of this House to meekly rubber-stamp his authoritarian decisions like feckless Government backbenchers without proper debate or discussion. Not only is this a fundamentally undemocratic it makes a mockery of both proceedings in the Dáil and the High Court judgment.
"The recent High Court decision afforded us as legislators a second chance to get this Bill right. The onus is on the Government to make sure that we, the elected representatives of the people of this State, have adequate time to properly examine and debate all aspects of this Bill to ensure that this House and the laws it enacts are not once again brought in to disrepute through the ill-considered and callous nature of the Minister's approach to human rights." ENDS