Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking at a fund-raising dinner in Ballycastle tonight said:
"Mr. Blair's decision to cancel the elections has seriously undermined the political process and encouraged anti-agreement forces. The cancellation of the elections has also damaged confidence in the Agreement and in the credibility of the Agreement as an effective tool for change. This highlights the fundamental problem that besets us - British policy in Ireland, even a benign policy ˆ is an interference in Irish affairs.
"Sinn Féin has been addressing all of this in our ongoing discussions with the two governments and the UUP.
"We have made it clear that it is our firm view that elections are the only way to create a new context, to inject a new dynamic into the process in which progress can be made. That needs the British government providing a definitive, immutable date for elections. We need to see the right to vote restored and confidence put back into the process.
"But setting a date will not of itself guarantee that progress will be made. Nor is making progress just down to republicans. It is a collective responsibility. It requires a collective approach in which all of the again." ENDS
Full Text - Check against delivery
Sinn Féin's focus in the last five years has been to see the Good Friday Agreement fully and faithfully implemented.
The Agreement was born out of decades of division and conflict, injustice and discrimination, and almost 30 years of war. It reflects a deep desire on the part of the vast majority of people on this island to build a just and lasting peace for everyone.
The substance of the Good Friday Agreement is about the rights and entitlements of citizens. It is about a new political dispensation on the island of Ireland and a new relationship between Ireland and Britain.
It is about change - fundamental and deep-rooted change - including constitutional and institutional change - across all aspects of society.
Five years after the Agreement there has been progress. The institutions, when they functioned, did so effectively and were very popular.
The reality is that for most people the situation has improved enormously.
We have all come a long way in recent years. A problem, which was previously described as intractable, has proven not to be so.
But last October, almost one year ago, the British suspended the institutions for the 4th time. And then in May the British Prime Minister postponed and then cancelled the Assembly elections.These decisions and the slap in the teeth delivered by Mr. Blair to
republican efforts to help end the crisis has created a deep well of anger and frustration, especially among republicans.
The reality is that the roots of this current crisis lie in unionisms inability to come to terms with change, the willingness of the British government to acquiesce to a unionist veto and resistance from elements within the British system those who still think that the Special Branch, MI5 and those in the Force Research Unit and other agencies which colluded in the killing of citizens were doing a good job.
Most immediately this impasse can be tracked to the decision by the Ulster Unionist Council last September when it adopted anti-agreement positions promoted by Jeffrey Donaldson‚s wing of the party and later endorsed by David Trimble.
In part this was driven by the electoral challenge posed by the DUP. In effect anti-agreement forces have dominated the agenda since then. Allegations about IRA activities, while a genuine concern for the unionist constituency, and others, were seized upon as an excuse to demand and secure suspension of the political institutions.
The British Government did this at the behest of the Ulster Unionists, and in breach of the Good Friday Agreement, throwing the process into crisis.This was wrong. The continued suspension of the political institutions remains a critical issue in the current situation.
However, central to the crisis is the failure, five years later, by the two governments to implement the Agreement. The core of the Agreement is about the rights and entitlements of citizens. These cannot be conditional. These rights are universal rights. They affect all citizens.
In the Good Friday Agreement these matters, that is policing, demilitarisation, human rights, the justice system, the rights of Irish
language speakers, and the equality agenda, are stand-alone issues. These are issues to be resolved in their own right. They cannot be withheld or granted or subjected to a bartering process.
And as we have seen with the Human Rights Commission especially, those who are against change continue to try and hollow out the potential these bodies have to defend and protect the rights of citizens.
Despite this the Good Friday Agreement, which was the culmination of an enormous collective effort by the two governments and the parties to tackle the causes of conflict, continues to hold the promise of a new beginning for everyone.
The Sinn Féin focus in the last five years has been to see the Agreement implemented, to deal with all of the issues, including that of arms; all arms and all armed groups.
There has been progress. The institutions didn‚t function for very long but when they did they worked. And were very popular. Everyone would accept that for most people things are much better today than they were 5 or 10 years ago.
Mr. Blair's decision to cancel the elections has seriously undermined the political process and encouraged anti-agreement forces. The cancellation of the elections has also damaged confidence in the Agreement and in the credibility of the Agreement as an effective tool for change. This highlights the fundamental problem that besets us - British policy in Ireland, even a benign policy - is an interference in Irish affairs.
Sinn Féin has been addressing all of this in our ongoing discussions with the two governments and the UUP.
We have made it clear that it is our firm view that elections are the only way to create a new context, to inject a new dynamic into the process in which progress can be made. That needs the British government providing a definitive, immutable date for elections. We need to see the right to vote restored and confidence put back into the process.
But setting a date will not of itself guarantee that progress will be made. Nor is making progress just down to republicans. It is a collective responsibility. It requires a collective approach in which all of the participants must play their part in putting the jigsaw back together again.
The Taoiseach has a huge responsibility in all of this.
So too has Mr. Blair. He has done a lot. He has to do more. He has to embrace the contribution that republicans have made to this process. We are not asking him for plaudits. We are asking him to build on the contribution we have single-mindedly built over a long period.
All of us have a lot to do, that includes Mr Trimble. And us. We will not dodge our responsibilities.
A primary objective of the peace process is the end to the conflict. It is also a clear objective of Sinn Féin‚s strategy. Sinn Féin is unequivocal about this. Furthermore we are wedded to the Mitchell Principles.
So what is to be done?
The Good Friday Agreement has to be implemented in full.
Is the British government up for this?
Time will tell.
Are the unionists up for it?
There is a sizeable unionist constituency which is up for it. But it needs positive leadership. Those who claim to be in the leadership of pro-Agreement unionism need therefore to set a pro-Agreement agenda. They need to stop the agenda being set by rejectionist unionists both inside and outside the unionist party.
Sinn Féin is up for making this process work. Our activists and supporters are up for it.
Sinn Fein has a vision for the future. This goes beyond this current, troubled and protracted phase of Anglo-Irish relationships. It goes beyond present difficulties. It is far-sighted and strategic. Our democratic view is based upon the confident knowledge that the people of the island of Ireland, including the unionists, are entitled to govern ourselves and can do so better than anyone else.
Our republicanism is about change - fundamental, deep-rooted change. It's about empowering people to make that change. That means we have to be agents of change. This is an enormous responsibility and challenge but it is a challenge that I believe this generation of Irish republicans will achieve.
Our vision is inclusive. We are totally committed to establishing an entirely new, democratic and harmonious future with our unionist neighbours. I know we have still a lot to learn about the unionists viewpoint, about their concerns, fears and aspirations. One of the failures thus far of this process is that a process of intelligent and pro active listening by all
sides is not as advanced as it needs to be if we are to appreciate each others needs and difficulties.
This has to be corrected and the good work which has been done in this regard, including by Alex Maskey as Mayor of Belfast, needs to be built upon.
Winning unionists over to republicanism will not be easy, but it is not impossible.
Many unionists are already very conscious of the way in which successive British governments and unionist leaderships used and abused and exploited them. Many look around at their unionist working class areas which face enormous social and economic problems, where families, the elderly and the young are weighed down with poverty, deprivation and a sense of despair. We have to reach out to them.
We have to show them that Sinn Féin - that Irish republicanism, always a generous philosophy - is their future. That together we can build a future of equals on this island that empowers, and enriches and cherishes all the children of the nation equally.
The people of this island have the right to be free. To live free from discrimination and inequality, without violence and
conflict. Free to shape our own destiny ˆ our own sovereignty. We have the right to be free from division, foreign occupation, and
injustice. There will be a united Ireland. And our task, and that of all sensible Irish political leaders, should be to prepare for reunification.
That means building a republic worthy of the suffering and sacrifice of all of those who have gone before us. Republicans have stretched ourselves repeatedly to keep the peace process on track. The people have responded positively to this.
The people we represent have rights. So does everyone else on this island - unionist and others alike. We have been through pre-condition, after pre-condition, after pre-condition.
The Good Friday Agreement saw a British government starting the work which its predecessors refused to contemplate. It saw an Irish government doing what successive Dublin governments refused to do. It led to unionism or a majority of it voting for an agreement with the rest of the people of our island.
We are all on a journey. It is always easier to begin a journey. The hard thing is to finish it.
Sinn Fein is in this process to the end. We want the British government and the Irish government and the unionists to work with us and to finish the work we have all started. The length of the journey can be shortened and the ups and downs on the road can be smoothed out if we go at it collectively. If we do it together. ENDS
Bairbre de Brún, Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights has expressed "grave concern" that PSNI solicitors yesterday produced the highly controversial letter sent by Human Rights Commissioner Brice Dickson to former RUC chief Ronnie Flanagan. Their purpose is to use this as part of their defence in a judicial review taken against the former RUC head and British Secretary of State in the Holy Cross case
Ms de Brún said:
"In our view and to most people looking at this case from a human rights perspective, the letter from the Chief Commissioner to Ronnie Flanagan and the opinions expressed in it are highly inappropriate. This has seriously damaged the credibility and independence of the Human Rights Commission and in particular, the Chief Commissioner.
"Brice Dickson's letter is now being presented in defence by the PSNI, evidently to sway the outcome of this case in the PSNI's favour. This is a matter of grave concern.
"The actions of the Chief Commissioner in sending the letter in the first place is indefensible. It is deplorable that the view provided by Dickson to Flanagan, that the Holy Cross case has 'no merit', is now being used by the PSNI.
"Sinn Féin, and I am sure human rights watchers worldwide will be scrutinising the outcome of this case very closely. This case has far-reaching implications for the way that rights are promoted and protected, regardless of community background." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice, Gerry Kelly, has called for a greater degree of clarity and accountability on the proposed changes to the Public Prosecution Services.
Speaking on the day of the launch of the proposed changes to the PPS Mr Kelly said:
"A new and independent Public Prosecution Service has been what republicans and nationalists have been negotiating for. However, such a service must reflect the commitments made in the Good Friday Agreement.
"Features such as decentralisation, the assuming of responsibility for cases previously dealt with by the PSNI and movement towards a community restorative justice alternative to punitive justice are to be welcomed and are a way of progressing positively and stepping outside old parameters.
"However, the report has rejected the recommendation from the Criminal Justice Review that there should be public explanations as to why the PPS do not prosecute in disputed cases. Sir Alasdair Fraser, who has headed the extremely flawed and harmful prosecution service up till now will not command the confidence of the nationalist community in implementing such changes.
"It is essential that planned recruitment of some 350 new staff be equality proofed. This is critical to ensuring that a new ethos is created for a new prosecution service.
"If there is to be confidence in any future PPS as a result of these changes such issues need to be dealt with in order to provide accountability in keeping with international best practice." ENDS
Sinn Féin's Ard Chomhairle will meet at the party's Head Office in Dublin tomorrow, Saturday 13th Sept. During the meeting Gerry Adams will report to the party leadership on his recent discussions and they will assess the current impasse.
A senior member of the party will be available to talk to the media at 12 noon.
September 26th in Ireland and November 4th in the USA sees the publication of a major new book by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.
Mr. Adams will give a major interview on his new book to IRM on the Sinn Féin website in the next ten days. Check www.irishrepublicanmedia.com for further details.
The book, entitled 'Hope and History - Making Peace in Ireland' in Ireland, and 'A Farther Shore - Ireland's Long Road to Peace' in the USA, is a personal memoir and a unique inside story, revealing the truth behind the headlines of the Irish peace process.
It covers the tumultuous years from the late 1970s up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
An author as well as an activist, Gerry Adams brings a vivid sense of immediacy and a writer's understanding of narrative to this story of the triumph of hope in what was long considered an intractable bloody conflict. He conveys the tensions of the peace process, the sense of teetering on the brink, and he has a sharp eye and acute ear for the more humorous foibles of political allies and enemies alike.
He reveals previously unpublished details of the peace process:
He paints revealing portraits of the other leading characters in the drama that was acted out through ceasefires and stand-offs, discussions and confrontations. Amongst these are Tony Blair, Bertie Ahem, Mo Mowlam, Martin McGuinness, Albert Reynolds, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Jean Kennedy Smith, David Trimble, John Hume, Nelson Mandela and John Bruton and Charlie Haughey.
As one of the pre-eminent republican strategists of his generation he provides a first hand and authentic account of the principles and tactics underpinning modern Irish republicanism.
And in a world where peace processes are needed more urgently than ever before Hope and History provides a template for conflict resolution processes internationally.
Hope and History - Making Peace in Ireland is published by Brandon book on September 26th.
A Farther Shore - Ireland's Long Road to Peace is published by Random House in the USA on November 4th.
The book will also be published in Britain, Australia, Spain, Sweden and Canada.
The book will be available from www.sinnfeinbookshop.com
A major new drugs centre is set to open in Dublin's south inner city this afternoon. The "Paul Spellman Centre" which is situated in Ringsend and housed in a former bank is one of the largest treatment and rehabilitation centres in Dublin. It houses a CE scheme, gym, garden, kitchens and counselling rooms. The centre also offers education, training and family counselling.
Run and managed by the Ringsend and District Response to Drugs (RDRD), it is a community-based project. Set up in 1996 RDRD is one of the most successful community responses to the drugs problem in Dublin. The centre will be officially opened this afternoon, Friday September 12th at 3pm. One of the highlights will be special guest, singer songwriter Damien Dempsey.
Local Representative Daithí Doolan was a founder member of RDRD and is currently a member of the management.
Speaking from the centre today Daithí Doolan said:
"I believe this centre is one of the greatest responses to the drugs crisis I have seen across Dublin. Rather than bury our heads in the sand this community chooses to fight not just the consequences but also the causes of drug addiction. Our centre offers a holistic approach to the drugs crisis that has besieged many of our communities in the capital.
"We are very proud of what this community has achieved. This centre is a beacon to all those struggling against the scourge of drug addiction. We offer hope, help and rehabilitation of addicts, families and indeed the wider community."ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty after meeting NIO Economy Minister Ian Pearson has called on the NIO to address the funding deficit that is affecting the ability of our departments to tackle the legacy of under investment.
Mr Doherty said:
"Sinn Féin are concerned that with direct rule ministers running the departments that the funding deficit will not be properly addressed. The Executive was in the process of developing a coherent challenge to the Barnett formula that determines our overall Budget allocation through the Needs and Effectiveness Evaluations.
"In terms of the Budget allocations between the departments the reality is that unless we address this core problem, namely the issue of developing economic sovereignty and bringing tax varying powers to the Executive, then we will be hard pressed to make much progress in tackling the legacy of under investment that affects our schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
"Sinn Féin also told Ian Pearson in the strongest terms that the imposition of Water Charges was not workable and in effect was putting the burden of decades of under investment by successive direct rule administrations back onto the people who live in the North of Ireland.
"Similarly there are serious problems about the way in which the issue of ending industrial de-rating is being handled. Sinn Féin argued that there must be financial support mechanisms that are both targeted of areas most in needs and sectors most in need that address the problems created by high insurance costs, high energy costs and infrastructure weaknesses resulting from under investment that create disadvantage and hamper competitiveness.
"We also discussed the implications of the Review of Public Administration and in particular our view that there needs to be early movement in a number of key areas, specifically in developing new streamlined health service structures.
"It is also important that we get a full explanation of how a number of key reviews will dovetail. How will the reviews of rates, public administration, local government, public appointments and the boundary commission work together to produce a coherent blueprint. The most important question is not the number of future councils but their role and functions. We need checks and balances and we need to look at the electoral boundaries that have created discrimination and imbalance." ENDS
Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe and Councillor Larry O'Toole are this afternoon attending a meeting organised by the Dublin CityWide drugs crisis campaign to discuss the growing drugs crisis in local communities across Dublin. Deputy Crowe said that while a lot of good work has been done over the last number of years there is an urgent need for the government and local communities to prioritise what is again a growing problem in our communities.
Tallaght based Deputy Crowe said:
"There are huge concerns in communities across Dublin at the increase in the amount of drugs, particularly cocaine, available on our streets. To make matters worse this has co-incided with cutbacks in services and a decision within the health boards to re-orientate away from community involvement in programmes to a purely medical approach, something which we believe is having a very negative impact. If the last twenty years have shown us anything it is that it is essential to have community support and involvement in local drug initiatives.
"There is an urgent need for the government and local communities to re-prioritise this issue and to bring some urgency towards how we are addressing it. I hope that today's meeting will re-start that work."ENDS
Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew commenting on the resignation of an independent member of the Fermanagh District Policing Partnership (DPP) after reported threats from dissident republicans has said that such threats will not bring about the required progress on policing.
Ms Gildernew said:
"A death threat to any one of my constituents is a matter of concern.
"Sinn Féin have consistently called on these micro groups to stop to disband. They have nothing to offer. They have no strategy for Irish reunification.
"While Sinn Féin is opposed to the current policing arrangements, threatening members will not bring about the changes required to reach the Patten threshold or signal that we finally have a new beginning to policing.
"It is Sinn Féin's commitment and determination to get the policing issue right that has incrementally moved us forward towards that new beginning but there is still some distance to go particularly on the issues of transfer of powers, democratic accountability, the Special Branch and the role of MI5.
"At present the reality is that the Policing Board and the DPP's do not have the power to hold the PSNI to account." ENDS
Sinn Féin Lisburn councillor Paul Butler has accused a prominent loyalist in the Stoneyford area of orchestrating a campaign of intimidation against the Catholic population in the area in an attempt to drive Catholics from the village.
Cllr Butler said:
"Stoneyford, like other areas on the fringes of Belfast such as Glenavy and Crumlin, and the surrounding area has seen a marked increase in the number of Catholics moving into the village. Indeed within the past year there have been a number of new housing developments built in the Stoneyford area with the vast majority being bought by Catholics.
"However, many of those who have moved into this area, and indeed Catholics who have lived here for many years, have been faced with a campaign of intimidation designed to drive them out. This campaign that is, in effect, an effort to drive out the area of its Catholic population is being orchestrated by a prominent loyalist from Stoneyford.
"At present there are many Catholics moving out because of intimidation. The only Catholic owned business in the area has been forced to close with over 50 attacks being directed at the family in the past number of year. The local chapel has also been attacked on many occasions with both petrol and pipe bombs. If we add to this the sectarian graffiti and the Orange Volunteer flags, which are evident throughout the village, it is clear to see that there are those intent on intimidating the local Catholic population.
"However I am confident that if the community stands up to such intimidation and community leaders, particularly within the unionist community give positive leadership that we can make Stoneyford a village that welcomes everyone regardless of religion or background.
Cllr Butler added:
"It has not gone without notice that despite an ongoing campaign of terror directed at Catholics in this area that we have seen no arrests or charges by the PSNI. Their failure to act is seen as complicity in this campaign of intimidation and a reminder that for Catholics that little has changes in terms of policing." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, Bairbre de Brún has called on the British government to respond positively to serious criticism of the Human Rights Commission by taking immediate steps to halt the next round of appointments.
Ms de Brún said:
"The British government should clearly state that it will halt any further appointments to the Human Rights Commission in the absence of a credible process being put in place to select and appoint new Commissioners.
"Sinn Féin has consistently called for appointments to the Human Rights Commission to be governed by an independent, impartial selection process that is fully compatible with the Paris Principles, the international standard set for Human Rights Commission's worldwide.
"It is therefore imperative the British government makes no further appointments unless it takes decisive action to put in place a credible selection and appointment process that is governed by the Paris Principles. The Human Rights Commission has previously been made aware of our position and that our intent in this matter is to ensure that what emerges from this process is a fully independent and representative Commission." ENDS
Following last night's Sinn Féin convention held in the Holiday Inn on Pearse Street, the party has chosen Daithí Doolan to contest the Dublin City Council election in the South East Inner City ward.
Speaking tonight, Dublin Sinn Féin Chairperson, Daithí Doolan said he was looking forward to the election campaign. He said:
"It will give Sinn Féin a great opportunity to make further gains here in the inner city and indeed right across Dublin. It will also give our citizens the chance to choose the real alternative that is Sinn Féin. The party aims to increase our representation on City Council from its current 4 Councillors to at least 10 if not 12 seats. This will put us in a position to seriously challenge the cosy cartel of Fianna Fáil and Labour. This cartel has failed the people of Dublin and most notably here in the inner city. While private development moves ahead unchecked our communities remain left behind. I aim to change all that and put people's issues top of the political agenda. The battle to reclaim the city for the people of this city begins tonight."
"I will be campaigning to break the strangle-hold private developers have over land in this city and to provide housing for those who need it. I will be campaigning to change Dublin's Waste Management Strategy from bin charges and incineration to one based on reducing, reusing and recycling our waste.
We aim to put the people of Dublin at the centre of local government. And I have every confidence that the capital's citizens will help us do just that."
Endorsing party colleague Eoin O'Sé's nomination for the Rathmines ward Doolan said it was,
"A sign of the party's development that we are now contesting to win 2 seats here in Dublin South East."ENDS
Sinn Féin Delegate to the Forum on Europe Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has again called on the Government to publish a White Paper and facilitate a full public debate in civic participatory fora and in the legislature on the draft EU Constitutional Treaty prior to the opening of the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) negotiations on October 4. Speaking after a Forum meeting on the subject in Dublin Castle, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"The draft Constitution has been portrayed as a necessary consolidation and simplification of existing Treaties, but it is much more than that. It makes fundamental changes in the structures of the EU, gives those structures more powers, and gives the EU a single legal personality for the first time. The net effect is to shift the balance of power yet further from sovereign national parliaments and towards the EU, and to take the single biggest step so far in the creation of an EU superstate.
"Sinn Féin agrees that the simplification and consolidation of existing EU Treaties is necessary. But we are opposed to such a process being used to diminish national sovereignty and increase the power of the EU as the draft Constitution does. We have very serious reservations about a number of aspects of the draft document, and unlike Fine Gael and Labour, do NOT accept that the IGC should adopt the document as it stands.
"I am also concerned that while the Ministers have stated that they do not find every provision acceptable, they have so far refused to be specific about what they will be proposing to change. Given that even the British Government has now published a White Paper outlining their positions on the draft, it is just not acceptable that, for example, the Government has still not informed the Irish people of their position on the more contentious Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Defence provisions published in June.
"We believe that it is the responsibility of the Government to be open and transparent with the Irish people about its position particularly on the controversial aspects of the draft, and further, to seek in negotiations to remedy those aspects that are not acceptable, particularly those that undermine the fundamental principles of good global citizenship.
"Although Sinn Féin was excluded from the Convention, we have made constructive written submissions to the Government with respect to the IGC negotiating position on these and other issues. We have made our position clear and we want the Government to do the same.
"Time is running out. We need clarity, we deserve openness from this Government, and we need proper public debate - both in civic participatory forums and in the legislature - PRIOR to the opening of negotiations on October 4. We need this Government to listen to the people‚s reactions and take their concerns on board. We don‚t want to see the same situation we saw with their approach to Nice and the WTO talks, where they keep the public in the dark about their real position about how Ireland will be represented in international fora on issues of great importance about which Irish people care deeply. This is not acceptable.
"Despite Government assurances that their European Scrutiny Act and the National Forum on Europe have fixed the democratic deficit, it unfortunately still exists." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP met UUP leader David Trimble at lunchtime today. They have agreed to hold further meetings.
A spokesperson for Mr. Adams said:
"Sinn Féin will not be publicly rehearsing all the issues discussed by the two leaders. It is a matter of public knowledge that we are pressing for an election date as soon as possible.
"There is also a need to ensure that the institutions will be sustained and that outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement will be completed. Unionists have concerns as well of course and all of this argues for a collective effort.
"The least said at this point the better. No-one should underestimate the difficulties that have to be overcome."ENDS
Sinn Féin Leader Martin Mc Guinness responding to recent reports from the Saville Tribunal said:
" I have persistently refuted these and other allegations regarding IRA activity on the day and particularly those allegations directed towards me personally. Whether we are dealing with Liam Clarke's version of Paddy Ward's claims or the most recent version from Ward himself they are absolute rubbish.
"I have given extensive co-operation to the Inquiry making a number of submissions in regard to allegations coming from different British government sources and their agents. My primary motivation for co-operating with the Inquiry has always been to assist the Bloody Sunday families to uncover the truth about how and why their loved ones were murdered on that day. I will continue in my efforts to assist this quest.
"I will deal with these allegations robustly through my legal representatives when Mr Ward presents himself to the Inquiry. We will want to know if Mr Ward was a paid agent of any branch of British Intelligence Services? We have also requested a copy of the tapes of Liam Clarke's interviews with Mr Ward that Clarke now claims to have even though he has not submitted them to Saville." ENDS
Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe today joined parents protesting outside the Department of Education, who may be forced to drop out of VTOS run courses due to a government decision to withdraw childcare assistance. More than 1,000 parents are affected by the government decision, which came into force on Monday.
Deputy Crowe said:
"Last week people on VTOS run courses were dealt a body blow when the government announced that it was to withdraw childcare assistance beginning this week.
"It defies logic that courses run by VTOS, the Jobs Initiative and CE schemes, which are designed to bring people back into the workforce, are under attack from the government. The valuable role played by schemes such as these, in communities across the state, is clear for all to see and it is incredible that they are the first to come under the knife with a down turn in the economy.
"One week on we have yet to hear from the Minister and his Department why these cuts are being introduced. I have no doubt that today is the first of many protests by angry and distressed parents who want answers."ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Collusion, Newry Armagh representative Conor Murphy has said that speculation that intelligence gathering will in the near future be controlled by MI5 offers no assurance that a policy of collusion that has operated here for the last two decades and been sanctioned at the highest levels will be abandoned.
Mr Murphy said:
"Any attempt to put MI5 in charge of intelligence gathering is merely a smokescreen to deflect attention from the record of Special Branch in their role in a policy of collusion aimed at killing members of the nationalist and republican community.
"Collusion is the abuse of power by the state. Cosmetic changes, name changes do not alter the fact that a specific policy of collusion between British state forces and unionist paramilitaries has resulted in the murder of countless nationalists and republicans. MI5 was an integral part of the architecture and the policy of collusion.
"Speculation that intelligence gathering will in the near future be controlled by MI5 is merely an attempt to cover up a policy of collusion that has involved all state agencies operating here. It offers no assurance that a policy of collusion that has operated here for the last two decades and been sanctioned at the highest levels will be abandoned.
"No-one will be fooled into believing that any change has taken place within the architecture - involving British securocrats from a number of agencies - until and unless the British government acknowledges its role in the deliberate policy of collusion and the murder of citizens. It is time to open up the files. There is a widespread demand for the truth to come out. It is about the issue of accountability and MI5 is not accountable. The British government need to tell us how it intends to bring real accountability to the heart of all policing operation carried out in the north." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the issue of institutionalised child abuse is being dealt with "appallingly" by the Government and the Taoiseach has failed to give political leadership. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"The response of the Government to the resignation letter of Justice Laffoy flatly contradicts the statement of the Taoiseach that he accepts the judge's criticisms. The Government in fact refutes much of her valid criticism of the handling of this issue by the Minister for Education and his Department. The Taoiseach's remarks amounted to an admission of massive incompetence but the Government's detailed response to Justice Laffoy reveals something much worse - gross mismanagement and a disregard for the rights and sensitivities of victims.
"The Taoiseach has failed to give political leadership since the resignation of Justice Laffoy and instead has been more concerned to insulate his public image from the damaging fallout. Hence his feigned acceptance of the judge's criticism which is contradicted by the Government's statement.
"The Taoiseach should explain why he and his Cabinet colleagues agreed to the disgraceful deal between Minister Dempsey's predecessor Michael Woods and the religious orders. That deal and the current debacle over the Laffoy Commission, run totally counter to the historic apology to the victims which the Taoiseach issued on behalf of the State." ENDS
Gerry Adams MP and Cllr. Sue Ramsey today met with the Parents of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The group are campaigning for greater parental choice and additional resources to be targeted to support the needs of children with Autism.
Speaking after the meeting Gerry Adams said:
"Over the past number of year there has been a greater awareness and diagnosis of Autism. After diagnosis many families are left to find there way through a complex system of care and array of therapies. They also have to act as the primary care givers. The parents I met today have struggled to raise their children in the most adverse circumstances.
"Last year Martin McGuinness as Education Minister released a report into the needs of these children and their families. At that time Martin said, 'I support the view that every child is unique and that provision has to be tailored to meet the child's needs, not the other way round'
"Since suspension of the Assembly, the implementation of this report has been painfully slow. Through this period the needs of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have yet to be fully met.
"There is a need to support these families and children. There is a need to provide therapies such as Applied Behavioural Analysis at home and at school. And there is a need for these therapies to be free.
"I hope that the Department will now move to implement of the Taskforce recommendations and work with these families to develop a dedicated school of children with ASD." ENDS