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Commenting after the success of an action by former RUC members who operate within the PSNI preventing them having to declare their membership of secret organisations Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing issues Gerry Kelly said:

" This provision was a key demand of Patten. It was put there because Sinn Féin argued strongly that it be included.

" People are rightly asking the question what have these PSNI members to hide. Why are they so desperate to conceal their membership of secret societies from public view? Which secret societies are involved?

" It is clear that there is a cadre of old RUC and Special Branch operating to an anti-Patten agenda within the heart of the PSNI. This case is just the public manifestation of that and therefore comes as no surprise. It is not Sinn Féin who have repeatedly tried to tell the nationalist community that the PSNI are a new policing service." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Human Rights, Equality and Women's Spokesperson, South Down MLA Catríona Ruane has said that the fifth annual report from the Human Rights Commission, that was presented to the British parliament today highlights a number of areas where the British government has failed to live up to commitments to advance the Human Rights agenda and emphasises again the need for increased resources and powers for the Commission.

Ms Ruane said:

"This report highlights major failings by British government in living up to its Good Friday Agreement commitments to advance the Human Rights Agenda.

"The British government has failed to deal with issue of collusion. Until the British government accepts its responsibility for collusion and its central role in creating and maintaining the conflict there is little prospect of ensuring that the structures and policy, agents and agencies of collusion will be dismantled and that the human rights abuses of the past will be eliminated.

"It is highly significant that the British governments have yet to move to reform the inquest system. The continuing frustration of efforts to get at the truth behind controversial killings involving state agencies by the PSNI blocking full disclosure of information surrounding these events indicates that the culture of lies, deceit and cover-up by the state over human rights abuses will continue.

"The report emphasises again the need for increased resources and a broadening of the range of powers available to the human rights commission to create a fully effective commission that is capable of expediting the human rights agenda.

"It is also a matter of concern that we have not seen either progress on developing the roundtable on the Bill of Rights that is urgently required or the application of international human rights standards such as the Paris Principles that should govern the operation and powers of the Human Rights Commission." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Arthur Morgan TD, has said recent revelations about and decisions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency have thrown into serious doubt the credibility of the organisation. Deputy Morgan sited the recent appointment of a senior incinerator advocate to the board of the body and the rejection by the EPA of a number of its own inspector's reports as a cause for serious concern. He suggested that the EPA now was nothing more than a rubber-stamping mechanism for the Government to push through decisions that went against the interests of local communities.

Deputy Morgan said, "News that the Environmental Protection Agency rejected, indeed flatly contradicted, the report of one of its inspectors in relation to1m tonnes of waste dumped from the Aughinish Alumina plant in Limerick, coupled with another recent decision to go against a report from one of its inspectors in relation to incinerators at Carranstown and Ringaskiddy, raises serious questions over the quality and integrity of EPA decisions.

"When taken with the fact that the Government recently appointed a senior incinerator advocate to the board of the body it's hard not to believe that the EPA is now nothing more than a rubber-stamping mechanism for the Government to push through decisions that go against the interests of local communities. Rather than being an independent body entrusted with the protection of the environment its role is now that of a mudguard for the Government's increasingly reckless environmental policies.

"There is an urgent need for a full review of the workings of the EPA with the aim of insuring that it operates as a truly independent body with the protection of the environment at its core." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly group leader, Newry Armagh MLA Conor Murphy, a former member of the Assembly Public Accounts Committee, has said that a report into the payroll system for the Civil Service highlights serious weaknesses in monitoring and evaluation and in decision making over how public money is spent.

Mr Murphy said:

"Many people will be angered that millions of pounds of public money has been wasted on a civil service computerised payroll system that never produced a single pay slip when the British government is trying to force people to put even greater money into the public purse through water charges and increases in rates.

"This clearly demonstrates that people are just not getting value for money. Yet on a daily basis evidence emerges that we need more resources for our hospitals and schools, to invest in infrastructure and throughout many areas of vital frontline public services.

"This report highlights the failure, on a massive scale, of senior civil servants on the project board overseeing the development of the system to effectively monitor and evaluate how this project was failing to deliver for nearly ten years.

"But of greater concern than the failures with this particular project is the pattern surrounding the awarding of external contracts and the monitoring of performance of suppliers and their ability to deliver on time and within budget." ENDS

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On Monday next, November 15th Sinn Féin will outline its priorities for Budget 2005. The central focus of the Party's priorities will be in "putting children first" in terms of health, education and childcare. The Party will announce a series of measures that we believe, if adopted, would dramatically improve the quality of the lives of children, especially those from the most disadvantaged and marginalised sectors of our society.

The launch will take place at the Ringsend Community Centre in Ringsend, Dublin 4 at 11am on Monday morning.

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, the party's TDs, Catriona Ruane MLA and Michelle Gildernew MP and Dublin City Councillor Daithi Doolan, whose constituency is hosting the event, will attend it.

Afterwards Councillor Daithi Doolan will introduce the Sinn Féin representatives to the management and staff of the community crèche operating out of the Centre to hear first hand their experience in providing childcare facilities in Ireland today.

Sinn Féin Budget Priorities Launch
Ringsend Community Centre
Thorncastle Street (beside church)
Ringsend Dublin 4
Monday, November 15th
11am

Directions: Travel south on Pearse Street towards Ringsend. Cross over bridge in to Ringsend village and take 1st left turn at church on to Thorncastle Street. Community Centre is on the left after church and block of flats.

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Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has expressed her concern that up to 2,000 elderly people could die this winter due to the effects of bad weather and their homes not being adequately prepared for the winter season.

Ms McDonald was responding to a report by Age Action Ireland which revealed that 16,300 pensioner households cannot afford fuel for heating. Ms McDonald said that "it is a sad reflection on Irish society that up to 2,000 elderly people could die as a result of being in fuel poverty".

Speaking during a visit to community groups in Clondalkin Dublin, Ms McDonald said:

"The shocking statistics released by Age Action Ireland show that up to 2,000 elderly people could die this winter as a result of not being able to afford the money to heat their homes. This is a sad reflection on Irish society. Whilst the economy continues to benefit some and disenfranchise many, approximately 16,300 Irish pensioners will face a long difficult winter.

"Whilst the information booklet 'Energy for Older People' is a welcome and useful guide on preparations for winter, what is required is a multi agency approach to fuel poverty which combines assessing the occupants of a home and their specific needs along with the physical characteristics and location of the property.

"I am calling for funding to be made available and targeted towards those most in need. We must not waste this opportunity to positively impact upon the quality of life of one of the most vulnerable sections of society." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that the response to the 'Fit for Market' report represents a missed opportunity for the industry.

Ms Gildernew said:

"There are many important recommendations in the report and it is positive that significant funds have been set aside to implement these recommendations. However, it is disappointing that the response and indeed the 'Fit for Market' report have missed the opportunity to make progress on the development of a strong brand for produce from the island of Ireland.

"It does not make sense to argue for an aggressive marketing campaign yet reject the argument for basing such a campaign on strong branding. I agree that it is cost prohibitive to develop a separate brand for the six counties but there is already a well-established internationally recognised Irish brand that we should be building on. This demands that the potential of the all-Ireland agenda is realised.

"Similarly while the development of a cross cutting Food Strategy Implementation Partnership (FSIP) is an advance it is clear that there is no voice for the small farmer and crucially there is no relationship with the relevant agencies in the rest of Ireland and in particular there is a requirement that such a partnership should be working in tandem with Board Bia.

"If we are serious about the future of the agri-industry we must not miss out on the golden opportunity that this should have represented - namely to advance and build upon the clean green image of the Ireland brand that is instantly recognisable throughout the world. We need to move away, as a matter of urgency, from any linkage to the tarnished image of British farming that is famous for BSE and foot and mouth.

"Market development also demands that we give a priority to moving towards a single all-Ireland system of traceability in order to bring as much confidence as possible to potential markets.

"The agri-industry is vital to our rural communities which play and should continue to play an important role in our economy. Any missed opportunity now is an opportunity denied to the industry, to our rural communities and to our economy." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East, Councillor Daithí Doolan today called on the Minister for the Environment Dick Roche, "to stop imposing incinerators on our communities and to start focusing on reducing, reusing and recycling".

Speaking in Dublin this morning Councillor Doolan said:

"No one doubts that we face a growing waste management crisis. But so far consecutive governments have only offered us the burn or bury options, neither of which are acceptable to the communities in which they are imposed. These policies are laying siege to certain communities in Cork, Meath and here in Dublin. The Minister needs to stop imposing incinerators on our communities and to start focusing on reducing, reusing and recycling.

"Sinn Féin clearly rejects both these options as short term, profit motivated, unworkable solutions. To address the waste management crisis Minister Dick Roche must ensure that the focus of funding in the forthcoming budget must be on reducing, reusing and recycling of waste. It is time to stop viewing waste as something that must be burned or buried at the cheapest price and to start viewing it as a resource from which we can create jobs through community based recycling projects.

"Waste management problems are not confined to the twenty-six counties but are also causing major problems in the six counties. Illegal dumping along the border is causing major environmental and health problems. These issues clearly affect everybody on the Island and need an all Ireland solution. As the only all Ireland party Sinn Féin will be hosting a national conference in Ringsend this Saturday to address these very issues and to compile a comprehensive all Ireland waste management policy." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún (six counties) and Mary Lou McDonald (Dublin) have paid tribute to the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat following the announcement of his death this morning.

In a joint statement the Sinn Féin MEPs offered their condolences to the family of President Arafat and the Palestinian people. The MEPs said that the President will be remembered as an "enduring symbol of struggle".

Speaking this morning the MEPs said:

"It was with deep regret that we learnt of the death of President Arafat in Paris this morning, and we want to express our sincere sympathy to the family of President Arafat and the Palestinian people.

"President Arafat was an inspiration to people throughout the world who faced hardship and adversity. He will be rightly remembered as an enduring symbol of struggle." ENDS

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Commenting after the exposure of the involvement of the Orange Order in a property company aimed at preventing Catholics and nationalists purchasing homes or land across the six counties, Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew said:

" The Orange Order like to portray themselves as a religious and cultural organisation. This property scam is based on raw sectarian hatred. Its motivation is to prevent Catholics and nationalists purchasing homes or land. It gives a lie to the repeated claims that the Orange Order is a cultural marching organisation.

" The Orange Order is a sinister, anti-Catholic grouping with long standing links to the Ulster Unionist Party. Indeed UUP elected representatives have been proven to be involved in this operation. Property across the six counties and indeed into Donegal have been targeted by this company.

" Next summer when we hear the familiar lie from the unionists and the Orange Order about their cultural and religious objectives as they coat trail through Catholic areas, nationalists will remember well this very sinister Orange Order operation.

" I look forward to hearing comments on this operation from UUP leader David Trimble and the Orange Order Chief Robert Saulters." ENDS

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness and Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald will today attend the inauguration ceremony for Irish President Mary McAleese.

Speaking before the ceremony Mitchel McLaughlin said:

" President McAleese has over the past seven years shown herself to be a fine ambassador for the Irish people across the world.

" Significantly along with her husband Martin she has played a crucial and effective bridge building role in the development of the peace process.

" I look forward to attending today's inauguration in Dublin and I wish President McAleese and her family well over the next seven years in office." ENDS

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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaking as he returned to Ireland after his 7 day trip to the United States, and following meetings and conversations with Mitchel Reiss, President Bush's special envoy on Ireland, as well as senior Republican and Democratic politicians, including Ted Kennedy, Jim Walsh and Peter King said:

'We made it clear to all those we met that Sinn Féin is determined to find a resolution to the current crisis in the peace process.

" For the past 10 months and especially in recent weeks, Sinn Féin has been involved in a series of intense engagements with the two governments and through them with the DUP to try and achieve this.

" These have failed because the DUP wants fundamental changes which would subvert the powersharing, equality and all-Ireland nature of the Agreement.

" The DUP must understand, and the governments must make it clear, that the refusal by Ian Paisley to reach agreement with the rest of us cannot stop the process of change.

" The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister have to send a clear message to the rejectionists, and to all those who would frustrate the work of the peace process, that there is going to be a substantial and significant investment of effort and resources, into powersharing by the governments to bring about the full implementation of the Agreement.

" And if the DUP still refuses to engage properly then the British government should dissolve the Assembly.

" Mr. Blair needs to give the DUP a choice. They need to know they can be part of the process now but that if they don't, or won't, or cannot bring themselves to join with the rest of us then the process is not waiting any longer." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, today ffered his sympathy not only to the family and friends of Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat on his death but to the Palestinian people on the loss of an inspirational and dedicated leader of the Palestinian cause.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Today is a very sad and difficult day for the family and friends of Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat. It is also a very sad and difficult day for the Palestinian people who have lost an inspirational and dedicated leader of the Palestinian cause. I would like to offer my sincere condolences on behalf of the Sinn Féin TDs in Leinster House to his family, friends and comrades and to the Palestinian people.

"Yasser Arafat and his PLO were an inspiration to freedom fighters throughout the world. Their determination and resolve in the face of overwhelming odds gave encouragement to others around the world who were also involved in similar struggles for national self-determination.

"When efforts to secure a lasting peace between the peoples of Palestine and Israel began Yasser Arafat and the PLO were not found wanting. That he didn't live long enough to see the full establishment of a truly independent Palestinian state is regrettable, but his legacy must be built upon and the international community has a crucial role to play in turning his dreams and aspirations and the dreams and aspirations of the Palestinian people in to reality." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has expressed his deep sorrow at the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Paris overnight. Mr. Adams said that the most fitting legacy to President Arafat will be a sovereign Palestinian state.

The Sinn Féin leader has sent his condolences to President Arafat's wife Suha, to his family and to the Palestinian people in a phone call to Ambassador Ali Halimeh in Dublin this morning.

Mr. Adams

"Throughout a lifetime in struggle President Yasser Arafat has not only been a father of the Palestinian people he has been an inspiration to people throughout the world as he led the struggle for a sovereign Palestinian state. There is a close affinity and affection between the Irish and Palestinian people and his death this evening will be a cause of much sorrow.

"In recent years I spoke to President Arafat on several occasions and just last month Alex Maskey was in Ramallah meeting with Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekhat.

"The most fitting legacy to President Arafat is for the international community to act immediately to ensure that the Israeli Government remove its troops and illegal settlements from Palestinian lands and a return to the negotiating table.

"I want to extend my deep condolences, on behalf of Sinn Féin, to President Arafat's wife Suha, to his family and to the Palestinian people."ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social, Family and Community Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, this evening welcomed the announcement by the Minister Micheal Martin that he intends to reverse some of the cuts made to Employment Schemes. Deputy Crowe said the change in Government policy was "long overdue and must be entirely credited to those who campaigned so vigorously against these unjust cuts".

Deputy Crowe said, "These cuts were amongst the lowest of the low, even for this callous Government. There was absolutely no justification whatsoever for them.

Vital services for local communities and opportunities for people to re-enter the employment market were slashed as this Government sought to make short-term savings at the expense of some of the most disadvantaged areas in the state. It caused real fear and anxiety, as people didn't know what services would be maintained or cut in their communities.

"That Minister Micheal Martin is now going to reverse some of these cuts has to be welcomed. This reversal is long overdue and must be entirely credited to those who campaigned so vigorously against these unjust cuts. It highlights in a very real way the power of local communities when they come together to fight unjust and shameful Government policies."

Deputy Crowe went on to call for the mainstreaming of many of these schemes saying, "the services and work engaged by many of the people on these schemes is very real and indeed vital for local communities. As a consequence they should be turned in to full-time jobs, with all the entitlements and benefits that go with that." ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Arthur Morgan, has this evening challenged Fianna Fáil's Seamus Kirk over his welcome for the North Eastern Health Board's purchase of extra land at Louth County Hospital, Dundalk. Deputy Morgan said that Deputy Kirks position "directly contradicted" his Health Ministers policy to sell off land around hospitals.

Deputy Morgan said, "In his contribution to the Dáil health debate this evening Deputy Seamus Kirk (FF) welcomed the purchase of seven acres of land adjoining Louth County Hospital, Dundalk by the North Eastern Health Board.

"Deputy Kirk's comments directly contradict the position of Tánaiste and Health Minister, Mary Harney who has proclaimed that she is going to sell off Health Board lands to temporarily fund our ailing health service.

"I challenge my constituency colleague to clarify his position in relation to the Health Minister's policies on this matter. He can't have it both ways. Should the land be kept and used for future development at the hospital or not?

"I my view this land is essential for the future development and expansion of services at Louth County Hospital. Deputy Kirk should clarify his position in relation to this and have the courage to tell Minister Harney to take a run and jump.

"I am calling on the Government, and I would welcome Deputy Kirk's support, to provide adequate funding to ensure the provision of a proper health service for all our citizens rather than engaging in cynical PR exercises which will ultimately only benefit land developers." ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh, in the Dáil today called on the Irish Government to respect the will of the Irish people on the upcoming referendum on the EU Constitution and to give a commitment that Ireland will not participate in EU Battle Groups.

Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy O'Snodaigh said:

"The upcoming referendum on the EU Constitution is of vital importance to our future. Today I called on the Government not to repeat their anti-democratic behaviour from the Nice Treaty where they re-ran the referendum but instead to accept the will of the people even if they reject the EU Constitution, and to guarantee that they will take the peoples' verdict - whatever it may be ˆ to Brussels. But the Minister refused point blank to answer me. This does not bode well."

The Sinn Féin TD went on to ask the Government for a commitment that Ireland will not participate in EU Battle Groups. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Sinn Fein fully supports the strengthening of UN peacekeeping and genocide prevention capacity, but we do not support the outsourcing of such missions to EU Battle Groups. We are seeking a Government commitment that this state will not participate in EU Battle Groups, but instead provide increased support to chronically under-resourced UN-led missions. Specifically, we also want a commitment that Irish troops will not be deployed to Iraq as part of an EU Battle Group in future. But once again, the Minister avoided my question on the floor of the House today. I can only take that to mean that the Government has made its decision to commit Irish troops to the EU Battle Groups but is choosing its own time to make the official announcement. This is another example of their unacceptable dishonesty regarding their policy of incremental abandonment of Irish neutrality. The Government should come clean on this as well."ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald will tomorrow (11.11.04) visit Clondalkin and meet with a number of community groups in the area. Party colleague Cllr Shane O' Connor will accompany Ms McDonald on her visit.

Ms McDonald will be embarking on a schedule over the coming year to meet with local communities and local representatives to listen and consult with them. Tomorrow represents the beginning of this initiative.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Tomorrow's series of meetings in Clondalkin represent on-going efforts by Sinn Féin to engage with local communities in Dublin and throughout Ireland. I look forward to speaking with local community groups about a range of issues which affect their communities and daily lives.

"Sinn Féin is committed to extensive outreach work with local communities, women's groups, trade unions, voluntary organisations, the business sector, farming organisations and justice groups. Our emphasis will be on communicating and consulting. We want to demystify the role of an MEP." ENDS

Editor's note:

Ms McDonald will meet with various community groups including youth and family groups.

Ms McDonald will be available to speak with the media at 1.15pm tomorrow In North Clondalkin (Neilstown Shopping Area).

For further information contact Cllr Shane O' Connor on 087 2194950

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has welcomed the decision of the Scottish parliament to move ahead with implementing a ban on smoking similar to the successful legislation introduced in the south and said that the case for extending this legislation across the island of Ireland is now unstoppable.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"This move from the Scottish parliament adds even greater pressure on direct rule NIO Health Minster Angela Smith to get her act together. Ms Smith has the ability to publish a consultation document now and so begin laying the groundwork for the introduction of legislation banning smoking in the workplace similar to legislation that has been hugely successful in terms of reducing tobacco consumption in the south. She should do so without delay.

"The medical evidence cannot be ignored. The views of medical practitioners should not be ignored and the rights of people in the workplace must be protected. Angela Smith is running out of excuses. It is not good enough to avoid the issue because British Health Secretary John Reid doesn't want to protect the rights of workers. It is time that this NIO direct rule Minster got on with the job.

"It is also vital that Angela Smith handles the introduction of this ban properly by starting a process of dialogue with the relevant bodies including health practitioners, local politicians and representatives of the business and hospitality trade to work out the details for how such a workplace smoking ban can be implemented." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today held talks in Washington with the US Special envoy Mitchell Reiss and Senator Ted Kennedy. Mr Adams made it clear that the largest obstacle to progress was the demands of the DUP to fundamentally change the Good Friday Agreement and their refusal to share power with nationalists.

Mr Adams said:

" The impasse at this time in the talks process is the DUP failure to accept the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement and their failure to accept nationalists and republicans on the basis of equality. In particular they have targeted the power-sharing and all Ireland principles of the Agreement.

" The core issues were negotiated and agreed in the Good Friday Agreement. There will be no going back on these positions. That is the new political reality which the DUP has to come to terms with. The pro-Agreement majority cannot be expected to stand still while the DUP edge their way into the 21st century. The DUP's refusal to engage and to accept the reality of the Good Friday Agreement cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change." ENDS

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