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Sinn Féin Councilor and EU Candidate for the East constituency, John Dwyer has reacted angrily to reports that the Irish Government is set to introduce restrictions to block eastern Europeans from claiming welfare benefits, when the accession states join the EU on May 1st 2004.

Speaking today, Sinn Féin Councilor and EU Candidate for the East constituency, John Dwyer said:

"The attitude of the Irish Government is deeply disappointing, yet not entirely unsurprising. The Government are quite content to allow migrant workers to come to this country and work, yet are refusing them access to welfare benefits - what if these workers were to be made redundant or are between jobs? What safety net is available to those helping to boost the Irish economy?

"Emigrant workers from the accession states should be entitled to avail of the same welfare and workers rights that exist within and between the current EU states. To deny theses conditions, is a fundamental breach of their human rights.

"The British Government have recently banned migrant workers from claiming benefits for two years, and now the Irish Government look set to replicate this. It seems that when the British lead, the Irish Government follow" ENDS.

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Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan, who has written to the direct rule Minister asking for a meeting to discuss the Masterplan and other related Tourism matters, has welcomed the publication of the Causeway Coast and Glens plan.

Mr McGuigan said:

"Tourism is extremely important for the economic regeneration and prosperity of this region. In the Giant‚s Causeway we have the only World Heritage site on this island, and yet, to date the full potential for tourism has failed to be realised.

"There is a lot in this plan that is positive and must be welcomed. But it should not be allowed to become a paper exercise like many other consultation exercises.

"There must be commitments to put in place the financial resources required to take this project forward and to develop the infrastructure required to unleash the tourist potential of this area. If this is forthcoming and those within tourism sector work positively together then this can be a beginning to a brighter future for this region. It will benefit the whole of the North Antrim community."

The local MLA who is Sinn Féin‚s spokesperson on Tourism also went on to claim that further All Ireland integration is necessary to build on the momentum of increased visitors to the North.

"Recent figures show a rise in visitors to the North. The figures, however still fall short of what is achievable. Despite the formation of Tourism Ireland as a result of the Good Friday Agreement, All Ireland tourism remains underdeveloped. There needs to be greater integration between Bord Fáilte and the NITB.

"No sector has the potential to develop and enhance the economy on an All Ireland basis more than tourism. Unionist opposition to developing the potential of tourism, can only be dismissed as short sighted and politically driven." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice issues Gerry Kelly has said that last nights UTV Insight programme raised 'extremely serious questions which require immediate answers from the British government'.

Mr Kelly said:

"Last night UTV Insight revealed the exact details of the collapse of the cases against South Down men Martin Brogan and Mark Carroll and Tyrone man Noel Abernethy. The cases showed the PSNI Special Branch and British Army fabricating evidence and the DPP acting to conceal crucial evidence from defence teams.

"It was very clear from the programme and from statements made in court under oath that the PSNI and DPP have been interfering in the work of the Forensic Science Agency, a group which is supposed to be independent.

"Last week I met with Lord Filken, the British Minister with responsibility for the Criminal Justice and Court systems in the north and I raised with him the scandal of the Brogan/Carroll case.

"These cases cannot be taken in isolation and it is my belief that there are other cases where the independence of the forensic evidence presented in court is now under suspicion." ENDS

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Sinn Fein's Dublin EU Candidate, Mary Lou McDonald has reacted angrily to a meeting that took place between EU Justice Ministers in Brussels on Thursday 19th February 2004, which was called to discuss a European CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).

The Austrian Justice Minister, Ernst Strasser, proposed the meeting.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Fein understands that talks on the creation of a European style CIA are at an early stage, but we are extremely concerned that such meetings are taking place. The Austrian Justice Minister, Mr Ernst Strasser has said that such a body would be used to combat 'terrorist attacks'‚ yet Sinn Féin believes that a Euro style CIA would lead to a security super state designed to spy and collate information on citizens within the EU.

"Sinn Féin has tabled a question in the Dail to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, asking the Minister to state the Government‚s position on the matter.

"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to an EU style CIA, and will resist such a body at all opportunities. The EU would be better using its budget to help alleviate poverty and suffering, rather than helping create a culture of finger pointing, suspicion and paranoia." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East Daithí Doolan, speaking today from City Hall where City Council is hosting an information session on the proposed sale of Council flats demanded that consultation with residents and the overall need to tackle the housing crisis be brought centre stage. He said 'Residents must have a say in decisions that are being taken about their own homes not merely invited to information sessions.'

Mr. Doolan said:

"The sale of council flats is a major project and it must not happen without full consultation with tenants, Councillors and NGOs. Major mistakes were made in the sale of council property in England when Thatcher had her way in the 1980s. We must guard against similar mistakes being repeated in Dublin.

"City Council cannot commence the sale of peoples homes without prior consultation. Residents need to have a say in decisions that are being taken about their own homes not merely invited to information sessions. I will be contacting the City Manager about this matter and seeking immediate clarification.

"Sinn Féin will ensure that in any sale of Council property the needs of tenants and those on housing lists are the centre of any process.

In Dublin City housing lists are increasing daily as house prices and private rents continue to rise and homelessness is a growing reality, so we need to ensure that plans being brought forward are aimed at addressing this crisis. It is up to us to avoid any short term sell off which only contributes to this city's problems."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator, Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness MLA speaking after meeting the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy has said that Sinn Fein will defend the safeguards and protections in the Agreement.

Mr McGuinness said:

"The Good Friday Agreement is the culmination of an enormous effort by the two governments and the parties to tackle the causes of conflict. It continues to hold the promise of a new beginning for everyone. We should take encouragement from the fact that together through the Peace Process the situation is being transformed.

"The review as set out in the Good Friday Agreement is about improving the delivery of the Agreement. It is not about a renegotiation of the Agreement. It is about how we deliver what is in essence an All Ireland Agreement.

"Sinn Fein will defend the safeguards and protections in the Agreement. They are there to protect against any return to unionist majority rule.

"In today's meeting with Paul Murphy Sinn Fein put forward our views on a number of issues including the reconfiguration of the 10 departments, the creation of a Department of Equality, tax varying powers and the transfer of powers on Policing and Justice. We will share these views with Irish government officials when we meet with them later today." ENDS

Note to Editors

Martin McGuinness, Bairbre de Brún, Geraldine Dougan and Philip McGuigan met with British Secretary of State Paul Murphy and his officials at 11.15 today.

A Sinn Fein delegation will also meet with Irish government officials at 3.30pm today in Stormont.

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Sinn Fein Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness MLA has raised concerns about the murder of James McMahon outside Lisburn District Council Offices before Christmas in a meeting with British Secretary of State Paul Murphy.

Speaking after the meeting, requested by Paul Murphy, Mr McGuinness said:

"Officials in both the British and Irish governments know who killed James McMahon. The PSNI know that James was murdered by the UDA. Yet PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde remains silent on the issue.

"This contrasts with Hugh Orde's speedy response to the incident in Belfast on Friday.

"I would remind Hugh Orde that it is not his responsibility to pass judgement on these four men who are now waiting trial." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Human Rights Issues Caitriona Ruane has accused PSNI Chief Hugh Orde of 'deliberately and very cynically entering a debate around truth recovery and inquiries in a bid to protect senior members of the PSNI from having their past role within the RUC investigated'.

Ms Ruane said:

"Hugh Orde is well aware that there are many of his senior colleagues who formally occupied central roles within the RUC and the RUC Special Branch. He knows that many of these individuals are human rights abusers and were centrally involved in organising a campaign of genocide against the nationalist population.

"He knows that the presence of human rights abusers at the core of the new policing arrangements undermines confidence and sustains the widely held belief that the PSNI is not an accountable and acceptable policing service.

"Recent attempts by Mr Orde to scupper the demands of families for inquiries into the murders of their loved ones through the collusion policy is a very cynical and political move being made in an attempt to protect his senior colleagues who were in the past central to this policy.

"The political interventions being made by Mr Orde in recent times mirror the sort of political policing which we became accustomed to under the various Chief Constables of the RUC and which if we had a truly new beginning to policing would have come to an end by now." ENDS

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Chuir Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, úrlabhrai Sinn Féin ar Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta, fáilte roimh cheapadh an chéad Choimisinéir Teanga Seán Ó Curreáin ag an Uachtárán Máire Mhic Giolla Iosa in Áras an Uachtaráin inniu.

Dúirt an Teachta Ó Snodaigh:

"Is céim tábhachtach chun tosaigh é do phobal na Gaeilge. Ba chóir anois Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga a chur ag obair gan moill agus é a mhaoiniú i gceart. Bhi moill fada ar obair an Choimisiúin um Chearta Daonna mar nior tugadh an foireann dóibh.

"Tá sé deimhnithe ag an Rialtas nach raibh sé i gceist riamh go bhfostófai daoine nua in Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga. Tá súil agam go mbeidh a dhóthain stát-seirbhisigh ag an Coimisinéir nua chun dul ar aghaidh leis an obair." DEIREADH

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In the course of a wide ranging speech today in Dunloy, County Antrim, at a commemoration to mark the 20th anniversary of the deaths of IRA Volunteers Henry Hogan and Declan Martin, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP expressed his condolences to the families of those killed and injured in yesterdays bus tragedy in Dublin.

The Sinn Féin leader also spoke about his concerns for the future of the political process, the responsibilities of the two governments, Sinn Féin's willingness to engage with the DUP and the events of Friday night in Belfast.

Mr. Adams said:

The current disposition of the political process remains untenable in the longer term. It is not enough for the two governments to verbalise about their commitments to the process and to the changes they are obliged to bring in under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, delivery of those obligations is essential.

On Thursday I welcomed the Taoiseach's reiteration of 'the Governments role as co-guarantor with the British Government of the Good Friday Agreement.'

But Republicans and Nationalists, particularly here in the North, want to know what does that mean in terms of their lives, and their rights and entitlements as Irish citizens?

They want delivery on these matters, promised almost six years ago under the Agreement, and they look to our government, as a co-guarantor, to ensure that delivery. The responsibility for this rests exclusively with the British and Irish governments."

The Sinn Féin leader also went on the challenge the DUP's Ian Paisley:

"If you have the courage of your convictions then enter into dialogue with Sinn Féin. There can be no doubt that such dialogue will take place. Ian Paisley's public position is simply delaying this. That is not acceptable.

The logic of the DUP position is that they should be in government with Sinn Féin. The objective reality at this time is that Sinn Féin is the largest pro-Agreement party. This is not going to change in the time ahead.

Republicans are not naïve about the DUP. We know that they want to minimise the process of change. But the DUP also knows that if it wants a return to devolved administration that it will be with Sinn Fein in government and it will be with the all-Ireland model contained in the Good Friday Agreement template.

So our party is prepared to explore the DUP position, not because we have any illusions about Mr. Paisley's position, but because we have a confidence in our own position and because one of our objectives is for a strategic alliance with unionism for the benefit of all our people.

We recognise and respect the mandate of the DUP, they must recognise and respect our mandate."

Mr. Adams paid tribute to the families of Volunteers Henry Hogan and Declan Martin. He said that; "One of the challenges facing everyone in the peace process is to recognise that there can be no hierarchy of victims. All sides have suffered and while republicans are very mindful of the hurt we have inflicted, we also take considerable pride in the courage and unselfishness of those who have died in the republican cause."

Finally, the Sinn Féin President attacked those critics who have been seeking to use Friday evening's events in Belfast City Centre to criticise Sinn Féin:

"The PSNI have claimed that this was an abduction by the IRA. There have been such claims about the IRA before. They have proven to be without foundation. But Hugh Orde's speedy allegation follows a pattern going back to the old RUC which was also quick to point the finger at republicans while turning a blind eye to others.

What value the rights of those arrested? What chance that they will receive a fair hearing?

There has also been an unholy haste by a range of politicians eager to seize upon Hugh Orde's statement and an eagerness by sections of the media to repeat his allegation without question or to embroider it.

All of those involved need to catch themselves on. The threat to the peace process does not come from republicans, it comes from others including those who have failed or refuse to make politics work.

Whatever the truth behind Friday nights incident Sinn Féin will not be made a whipping boy, especially by those who have no interest in making this process work.

Our position is clear. Last October I reiterated our commitment to democratic and peaceful politics. I also pointed to a peaceful direction for all republicans to follow. That remains my position and the endeavour and the focus of Sinn Féin. So there is a choice for those who are quick to pass judgement on these matters.

Do they value the Sinn Féin peace strategy and our contribution to the peace process, including our on going efforts to bring an end to physical force republicanism, or do they not? If they do not and prefer instead to stick with the old agenda then it is they who undermine the peace process not Sinn Féin."ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has expressed his sympathy to the families of those who were tragically killed in Dublin City Centre this afternoon and to those who were injured.

Mr. Adams said:

"I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were tragically killed in Dublin City Centre this afternoon and to those who were injured.

"There is a deep sense of shock at what has happened and our thoughts are with them this evening."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East Daithí Doolan attending today's official opening of a recycling centre in Ringsend slammed the government's approach to the waste management crisis as "wholly inadequate".

Mr. Doolan said:

"While the opening of this household waste recycling centre is to be welcomed, it is like putting a band aid on an open wound, something which makes it like almost every other government policy. Even the government must see the irony of opening a recycling centre in a community into which it is trying to foist a massive incinerator.

"This a government who feel it necessary to bring in draconian legislation to assist them in their plan to impose hazardous incinerators in our cities and towns. The people will not be fooled by their cynical attempt to dodge their responsibility for properly dealing with the waste management crisis.

"The real solution is to deal with the crisis in a holistic way that addresses the causes and not just the consequences of the waste crisis.

"Sinn Féin's recently released Waste Management Charter outlines our campaign for a viable, sustainable and responsible response to our waste crisis. We are taking it to community groups, environmental groups, the business community and the farming sector. We aim to enlist their support so as the charter will become all inclusive and not restricted to any one section of our society." ENDS

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Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD today criticised the Government for failing to protect the consumer in relation insurance charges. Speaking during Order of Business he said the latest report from the Competition Authority made it clear that people were being ripped off "left, right and centre".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "The latest report of the Competition Authority has highlighted once more how people are being ripped off left right and centre with insurance charges. We urgently need legislation on foot of this Report and we need the government to agree to an early debate here in the House so that we can identify exactly what needs to be done now to protect the consumer. Unfortunately that is something this Government and Tanaiste has signally failed to do so far?" ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD for North Kerry today criticised the Maternity Protection Bill for not going far enough in facilitating women who wish to combine work with caring for their children. Deputy Ferris was speaking during a debate on the Bill in the Dáil this afternoon.

Deputy Ferris said: "While I welcome the introduction of any bill which seeks to ameliorate the rights and employment conditions of workers, it is disappointing that this Bill actually delivers very little for women seeking to combine motherhood with work. All the provisions contained within it are minimal and do not seek to make any real difference to the lives of working women.

"Once again we have a Bill before us which is being sold as an achievement of social partnership whereas in actuality we are simply belatedly giving working women what are basic rights. Maternity protection is at the forefront of the battle to bring about a better work-life balance for workers. It is also vital in the battle to combat social exclusion and poverty.

"The necessity for Maternity protection legislation is a recognition that in the workplace pregnant women and new mothers face many barriers and indeed the number of pregnancy discrimination cases which have come before the Equality Authority and the courts in recent years is evidence that many employers have yet to accept the basic principles of maternity protection.

"Maternity policy needs to be centred on the needs of parents and children first and then on the needs of the employer. Many employers are hanging on to outdated 19th century industrialist attitudes which viewed the worker as merely another cog in the machinery of their factory. Sinn Fein does not believe that the maternity leave provided for in this legislation is adequate. We are calling for the pre-confinement period of maternity leave to be left at four weeks and for the total period of leave to be increased to 26 weeks to allow a greater period of leave after childbirth. This is absolutely necessary given the difficulties in terms of childminding faced by working mothers today. If we do not facilitate such an increase in maternity leave we will end up forcing working mothers to leave their employment." ENDS

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Sinn Féin East EU Candidate and European Spokesperson on Privatisation, John Dwyer, reacted angrily to a EU meeting, which is taking place at Dublin Castle today. The 'Article 133 Committee' is meeting to discuss trade deals, and formulate policy for the controversial GATS negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Speaking today, Dwyer said:

"Today's negotiations could have a profound effect upon our most essential public services, including health and education services. This meeting is taking place behind closed doors to consider which services should be open to commercial competition. Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the buying and selling of our public services to the highest bidders.

"Along with all of the Sinn Féin TDs and my fellow EU Candidates, I have signed a letter to the Irish Government, calling for a greater transparency and accountability, and demanding that concerned parties have access to the documents being presented by the Irish Government to the meeting. This meeting encapsulates much of what is wrong with the EU secrecy, unaccountability and an unrelenting drive toward privatising our most essential public services". ENDS

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Sinn Féin's EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald today welcomed the ruling in Dublin District Court that Portmarnock Golf Club was in breach of the Equal Status Act 2000 by banning female members, saying it was "high time women were treated as equal citizens in all areas of Irish life."

Ms. McDonald said:

"It seems almost Victorian to think that women who wished to be members of this golf club were refused on the grounds of gender and that even a leisure pursuit could cause discrimination by operating a 'men-only' policy. I hope this sends out a strong message that women should be entitled to the same privileges as men whether in business or leisure pursuits as it is high time women were treated as equal citizens in all areas of Irish life.

"Discrimination of any type whether on grounds of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity should not be tolerated by anyone and I commend the Equality Authority for taking this case which will hopefully set a precedent."ENDS

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North Antrim Sinn Féin Assembly member Philip McGuigan has claimed that PSNI policy in the area is being decided by the Orange Order. Mr McGuigan's comments come after local PSNI Commanders confirmed to residents in Dunloy that they would be sealing off the town during this Sunday's Republican parade as a result of demands being made by the Orange Order.

Mr McGuigan said:

"This weekend in Dunloy a series of events are being held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killing of IRA Volunteers Henry Hogan and Declan Martin by the SAS in the town. These will culminate with a parade through the town on Sunday.

"The parade has the support of the local community and will pass off without incident. The PSNI are aware of this yet they are insisting on placing a ring of steal around the town on Sunday. When pressed about this by march organisers the local PSNI Commander said that the decision to mount this offensive operation came about as a result of pressure being applied by the Orange Order.

"It seems that policing policy in this area is being dictated by the demands of a secret anti-Catholic society. So much for the supposed accountability of the PSNI. This revelation poses very serious questions for the PSNI and for those nationalists who continue to argue support for the current flawed policing arrangements" ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has added his voice to those demanding that the British Direct Rule Minister Ian Pearson ends the bullying of the Nipsa workers engaged in industrial action and instead sits down with union representatives and resolves the dispute.

Mr Adams said:

"The bullying attitude being adopted by the Minister Ian Pearson regarding the Civil Service workers currently engaged in industrial action is unacceptable. This sort of Thatcherite, cavalier approach to industrial relations will not work.

"Mr Pearson needs to sit down with Nipsa and find an equitable solution to this dispute through dialogue. Threatening or suspending workers involved in this action does not contribute to an environment in which this dispute can be resolved." ENDS

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Sinn Fein President and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams speaking this evening at an event in West Belfast attended by the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said:

"I welcome the Taoiseach's visit here. I have read his remarks in Coleraine and I welcome these also. I am broadly in agreement with the broad thrust of his comments, especially his reiteration of 'the Government's role as co-guarantor with the British Government of the Good Friday Agreement'.

"But the Taoiseach should know that Republicans and Nationalists, particularly here in the North will ask what does that mean in terms of their lives and their rights and entitlements as Irish citizens. They want delivery on these issues and they look to our government, as a co-guarantor, to ensure that delivery.

"So what are the issues that require delivery? I won't rehearse all of them here but they include crucially the suspension by the British Government of the institutions, they include the gutting of the electoral register and the denial to citizens of the right to vote.

"There is also huge dissatisfaction at the British Government's refusal to publish the Cory Report despite commitments to the families involved that this would be done. In fact the Taoiseach should be aware that the issue of collusion remains a huge issue.

"Attacks by loyalist elements continue. Last night's attack on a woman of 105 and others in the north of this city are sad proof of that. There are also issues which are directly the responsibility of the Irish Government. This includes the status of the Irish language and proper funding and resourcing for it. It includes the issue of prisoners and most importantly the right of Northerners to have representation and participation in political institutions in Dublin.

" I note Taoiseach you are aware of all these issues and others. Your visit today gives you the chance to discuss at first hand the concerns and hopes of people here. It also gives you the opportunity to hear the details of the social and economic needs of the citizens in the West Belfast partnership board area".

The Sinn Fein West Belfast MP also spoke about the Partnership Board and the problems faced by the people of WB.

" The level of deprivation and social need outlined in the report is an urgent call to action. Many of the problems faced by West Belfast can be found in communities across Ireland. We have much to share and learn from these communities. The difficulties facing West Belfast have been exasperated by decades of structured political discrimination and conflict. There is a need to address all of this, as well as the socio-economic issues on an all Ireland level. And so it is welcome that the Taoiseach is here today

"The 'statement of need' demonstrates the scale of resources required to address need in West Belfast and a new way of delivering public services. This will require public services, government departments, community representatives and the private sector working to redress decades of discrimination and disadvantage.

"These issues can be resolved by True Partnerships.Partnership at the Governmental/Executive level, Partnership at a city and

constituency level and partnerships delivering local public services. The experience of the West Belfast Economic Taskforce shows that the

Partnership approach can deliver. Following our lobby the Executive sponsored the initiative and established a partnership of departments, community representatives and private business.

"This process allowed everyone to think outside their respective boxes and address complex interrelated problems.Through this process, the Taskforce developed creative solutions to the economic problems across all of West Belfast.

"While there was a delay in delivering these recommendations we have now secured £8 million for Job Assist Centres, £27 million for redevelopment of Mackies and we are currently completing a bid in excess of £20million from the new Integrated Development Fund.

"While theses are large scale interventions more needs to be done. We need £30million over the next 3rys to deal with educational underachievement (figures from BELB). We need 4200 new houses over the next 5 years. (NIHE)

"The Taskforce process demonstrates the ability of partnerships to create solution and oversee change.However for a partnership to be successful we now know that we require to departments willing to truly engage and must have budgets to allow for the implementation of their recommendations.

"For the power of partnerships to be unleashed will require a change in the delivery of public services. A change which I believe is happening. And it will require the allocation of additional resources to meet the challenge of regeneration.

"A first step would be to resource the West Belfast Partnership Board and its member groups so, along with political representatives, the communities view for can be heard.

"I would hope that the production of the statement of need is another step in addressing the multiple deprivation experienced in West Belfast.

Thanks to the West Belfast Partnership Board".ENDS

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Speaking today at the Queens University sponsored European Liaison Seminar Series, Sinn Féin spokesperson on European Affairs Bairbre de Brún has called for a greater focus on the impact of the EU on the day-to-day lives of people across the Six Counties.

Speakers in the debate include Evelyn Collins from the Equality Commission and Seamus McAleavey of NICVA.

Ms de Brún called on politicians, statutory and voluntary bodies and the media to do more to ensure that people here have a real voice in EU affairs.

Ms de Brún said:

"Up to 70% of all legislation affecting the North of Ireland originates in the EU. Despite this fact, many organisations and people only come to understand the impact of this when it comes to implementing the legislation locally. In other parts of the EU there is a substantial and lively engagement with EU issues well before the eventual passing of laws in national or regional parliaments.

"There is a great need for a more open and democratic engagement with the role played by the EU in the lives of ordinary people here. Politicians have a crucial role in advocating and publicising key issues which affect the ordinary citizen, whether they be the future of structural or community support funding, equality measures or the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

"Equally the media have a valuable contribution to make, by giving greater prominence to EU issues. We need to be discussing issues while they are in the early stages of development, rather than after the decision has been made. This will enable citizens to input into policy making in a more meaningful way.

"The Women's Sector and the Farming Community here are clearly ahead of other sectors in their level of engagement, and offer a model for others to follow. However this kind of activity requires support and resourcing if the interests of communities are to be promoted and protected in Brussels and Strasbourg.

"For too long, people here have paid too little attention to the impact of the EU locally. In light of the ongoing negotiations on the EU constitution and the impact of enlargement this attitude needs to change." ENDS

Note to Editors: The seminar is organised by the QUB Centre for European Studies, will take place on Thursday 19th Feburary in the Senate Room, QUB, Belfast from 11am.

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