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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said that there are serious concerns about collusion between the PSNI and the loyalists in the bomb attack on the home of Cllr. Paul Butler yesterday.

Mr Adams said:

" Paul Butler's home is overlooked by a number of spy cameras operated by the PSNI. The PSNI have said in this mornings Irish News that if the cameras were not recording then PSNI personnel were observing them. This means that the PSNI either recorded the attack or witnessed the attack and took no action. They then informed the media that what was clearly a highly flammable device was in fact a hoax.

" In addition to this after the forensic team left the Butler home yesterday parts of the device and a roll of tape possibly used in its assembly were found nearby. It is clear that the examination of the scene was seriously flawed and has ensured that potentially crucial evidence was not retrieved.

" These are classic symptoms of collusion. Loyalists being allowed to move with impunity past security installations and into the heart of republican districts, false spins given to the media and the follow up investigation carried out in such an indifferent manner as to render any convictions unlikely.

" This fits into the pattern of investigation outlined by PSNI detective Roy Suitters recently when he admitted failing to arrest those responsible for the murder of Gerard Lawlor." ENDS

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Responding to news from the UPRG that the UDA is shortly to announce the findings of a six month review of its alleged cessation Sinn Féin Lagan Valley representative Cllr. Paul Butler said:

" The UDA claim to have been on cessation for the past six months and they will announce the findings of some sort of review later in the week. I have to say that I am a little shocked by this announcement. It would indicate that the UPRG believe that the UDA is on cessation.

" In the past six months things have been quieter, but a significant level of violent UDA activity is on-going. In Lisburn and Dunmurry alone there have been a series of violent attacks and only yesterday my own family were targeted in a bomb attack.

" The UDA need to stop their campaign against catholics and they need to stop their involvement on peddling drugs within their society. That is the message people want to hear from the UPRG this week" ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew MP has criticised the British governments approach to the political process in general and in particular efforts to maintain calm this summer.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The British government is fascinated by the machinations within unionism and this has dictated the approach to their management of the process. The peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement have been stalled as a result.

"This has caused a dangerous crisis which the rejectionists have sought to fill. This includes people within the British system.

"Against this background, and against the odds, given the vacuum in the political process, community activists and republicans on the ground have done sterling work to reduce tension and ensure a peaceful summer.

"Their efforts and energy is in stark contrast to the political inertia being displayed by the British government both in regard to the overall process and the issue of easing community tensions in particular." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe confessed to a feeling of deja vú at the announcement that Minister Dempsey intended to review State support for private schools. Deputy Crowe expressed concern that Minister Dempsey had not thought the matter through properly and left his ideas vulnerable to rejection by the PDs again.

The Dublin South-West Deputy said: "I welcome the fact that the Minister is looking at the possibility of ending State aid to private schools but there seems to be very little information about exactly what he intends to do. No proposals or plans have been put in place and it is with a sense of deja vú engendered by the Fees debacle that we see Minister Dempsey going at an idea, which on the face of it is good and long overdue, without any preparation.

"I would be concerned that in his rush to grab some headlines the Minister has not thought the whole matter through and is leaving himself vulnerable to being slapped down by the Progressive Democrats again.

"A review of this issue is a welcome development and something I have previously raised. I must confess to being a little confused however when I saw reports suggesting that the Minister told Cabinet colleagues before the summer that he was considering the abolition of the grants while in a reply to me in June he said 'I have no plans, at this stage, to withdraw State support for the payment of teachers in fee-charging schools.'"

Concluding Deputy Crowe said: "In any such review we must be conscious of the possible implications for the 21 Protestant schools and our need to protect religious minorities." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has pointed out that the latest figures showing no improvement in hospital waiting lists have come as Fianna Fáil distributes leaflets to householders boasting of their 'achievements' in health. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The latest figures show almost 30,000 people on hospital waiting lists and they confirm that there is absolutely no chance that Fianna Fáil's pre-election promise of eliminating hospital waiting lists within two years will be fulfilled. As these figures emerge Fianna Fáil in recent weeks has been distributing a leaflet boasting of their so-called achievements in health.

"Having promised last year to end waiting lists within two years, the Fianna Fáil leaflet now promises that this issue will be dealt with by the yet-to-be-established Health Services Executive. Fianna Fáil claims it will, set 'national priorities' such as 'reducing waiting times for treatment'. This is a far cry from the promise which helped secure the re-election of the Fianna Fáil-led government. While patients suffer on waiting lists the main remedy from this Government is bureaucratic change rather than real reform." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Transport Seán Crowe has congratulated the workers and management of Aer Lingus for their tremendous accomplishment on delivering an operating profit of €14.3 million for the first half of 2003.

The Dublin South-West TD said:

"This is an excellent result for the company and underlines its success in recovering from the difficulties experienced by all airlines in the aftermath of September 11th. It shows that State owned companies can be successful and innovative in their approach. There can be no case for the privatisation or sell-off of such an important, and profitable, State company.

"These results will hopefully encourage the company to come to terms with cabin crew workers on pay and prevent the suggested privatisation of Aer Lingus' catering section. It is the workers of Aer Lingus who are responsible for these results and it is only just that they reap the benefits." ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture and Food, Martin Ferris TD has defended Sinn Féin's position on Genetically Modified food following an attack from Fianna Fáil backbencher John Cregan. Cregan had accused Sinn Féin of sensationalism and of issuing misleading press statements. He also claimed that Minister for Agriculture Joe Walsh has no responsibility for GM foods.

Deputy Ferris said:

"It is clearly Deputy Cregan who should check his facts. If he paid more attention to Dáil questions, he would realise that Minister Walsh, with responsibility for Agriculture and FOOD, is in fact the Minister who deals with the issue of GM. It was in this capacity that he replied to my questions on GM crops, and the holding of a public consultation before the Government makes any further decision on GM.

"I would also be confident that I was aware of the most recent EU legislation before Deputy Cregan. In fact we referred to it and to the detail of the new labelling regulations in our press statements. We are not denying that the EU has taken action on GM but we are stating that it is inadequate and that far more needs to be done before this country with its potential for high quality food production decides to open itself up to GM.

"The facts, as they stand at present, are:

  • There is no scientific evidence regarding the safety of GM food
  • GM crops do not increase agricultural productivity
  • It is therefore not the solution to world hunger which exists amid food surpluses
  • Multi-national corporations are attempting to control the entire food system by patenting GM seed". ENDS

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Responding to the announcement of a Review by the British government into safety at Maghaberry, Sinn Féin Representative Michael Ferguson said:

"The setting up of this Review is a tacit admission that the safety of prisoners is the issue. This makes it clear cut. What is required is segregation. The NIO should move immediately to introduce this.

"It is a question of commonsense.

"There is no logic in trying to force loyalist and republican prisoners to live together in prison.

"There is no need for a review to establish it is not safe to continue with a policy of forced integration. A review will only bring delay and possibly even allow for the situation there to deteriorate.

"The NIO already operate a policy of segregation in Maghaberry for individuals from within the differing factions of Loyalism. This was a decision taken on the grounds of safety and without any necessity for a review.

"The same logic should be applied across the board and segregation introduced without further delay." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP has said that the only way the current crisis in the peace process can be resolved is through the British government establishing a firm date for Assembly elections.

Mr Doherty said:

"Various unionists in recent days have been attempting to dodge the core problem in this process. The political institutions are at the very centre of the Good Friday Agreement. The absence of these institutions and the cancellation of the Assembly elections by the British government has caused enormous difficulties.

"This situation has been exacerbated by the continual pandering to negative and reactionary unionism by the British government.

"If the crisis in the political process is to be resolved the British government must end its patronage of the Ulster Unionist Party. A firm date for the postponed election must be set. The British government's moratorium on politics must be ended." ENDS

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West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty is calling for people to attend a major 'Truth about Collusion' rally to take place at Belfast's City Hall this Sunday at 3pm.

Sinn Féin, in conjunction with families of the victims of the British governments collusion policy, is organising the march and rally and will signal a stepping up of the campaign demanding the truth about collusion and to demanding that it ceases.

Mr Doherty said,

As in most other parts of the 6 counties, and indeed in many parts of the 26 counties, families and communities in West Tyrone are no strangers to the policy of collusion.

Hundreds of people were killed, and many more injured and maimed, in a vicious campaign of state-sponsored murder; the unionist death squads killed elected representatives, human rights lawyers, Sinn Féin members and their families, journalists, IRA volunteers and ordinary citizens.

On April 17th 2003, Sir John Stevens concluded his third investigation into collusion, acknowledging: 'My enquiries have highlighted collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder'.

To date no member of the Special Branch or British military intelligence has been indicted for these crimes. However, even more serious and worrying, this policy of collusion has never been reversed. It remains, perhaps less active, but nevertheless, intact and as potentially deadly today.

Those British agencies that executed this policy remain in place today. The Special Branch of the RUC has become the Special Branch of the PSNI while the Force Research Unit of the British Army that ran many of the British agents has been renamed the Joint Services Group. MI5 continues to operate as before.

The policy of employing the unionist death squads was not the actions of rogue agents or individual 'bad apples‚ who overstepped their responsibilities. It was a policy which was endorsed at the highest political level. It was British State murder. The British government has never accepted its responsibility for the deaths which resulted from this policy.

Sinn Féin, along with the families of the victims of this policy of collusion, is organising a march and rally to Belfast City Hall to take place on August 10th. We are calling for a large attendance in support of the families of those who were killed through the policy of state-sponsored murder and to demand from the British the truth about its role, and that of its various armed and intelligence agencies, in the killing of citizens.

It's time for the truth about collusion. END

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Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the announcement that the PSNI will be required to produce a register of interests declaring membership of organisations such as the Orange Order.

Ms Gildernew said:

"This is one of the key issues that Sinn Féin raised during the recent negotiations with the British and Irish governments on which there was progress.

"Clearly membership of organisations such as the loyal orders or knights of Columbanus are not necessarily compatible with the need for an impartial police force.

"What we now need to see is progress on outstanding issues, including crucially the transfer of powers on justice and policing to a local accountable assembly." ENDS

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A Sinn Féin delegation met with Lord Clyde the Justice Oversight Commissioner yesterday in the party's offices at Stormont.

Speaking after the meeting Newry Armagh representative Conor Murphy said:

"Criminal Justice was one of the key areas raised by Sinn Féin in the negotiations with the British and Irish governments leading up to the publication of the Joint Declaration. It was Sinn Féin that argued that the new Act and accompanying Implementation Plan would not achieve the changes necessary in the Criminal Justice system.

"The British government agreed to produce a new Implementation Plan and new legislation that will place a greater emphasis on All Ireland co-operation, human rights, on achieving representativeness and on accountability. These developments were hard won. But there still needs to be movement, particularly on the transfer of powers to a local Assembly, if we are to achieve a criminal justice system that is fair, representative, accountable and commands the confidence of the entire community.

"Today‚s meeting with the Justice Oversight Commissioner Lord Clyde is a continuation of Sinn Féin‚s determination to ensure that the required changes are put in place and that there is a clear timetable for implementing the new Criminal Justice Plan. We will also continue to push for the further moves that are required.

"Sinn Féin will monitor implementation to ensure that there is progress on the Judicial Appointments Commission and the mechanisms that ensure its representativeness; action to address the issue of judicial representativeness; the duty on the DPP to refer all cases of PSNI misconduct to the Police Ombudsman; and the duty of all criminal justice agencies to have due regard of international and human rights standards." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has welcomed the publication of the InterTradeIreland report on North South Trade but has called for the creation of a single measure on trade within the Ireland and a greater focus on developing the potential of trade within Ireland.

Mr Doherty said:

"The report from InterTradeIreland (North South Trade: a statistical ground clearing exercise) marks an important point in understanding the dynamics and importance of trade between the north and south of Ireland.

"However, the fact that data has had to be gathered from three different bodies points the urgent need to develop a single measure for monitoring economic activity between the two parts of this island.

"It is clear that the volume of trade has significantly increased over the past decade. The value of all manufacturing goods 'exported' from the north to the south has doubled and now account for 25% of our non-UK exports.

"While the overall value and volume of goods from the south to the north has also increased it is clear from this statistical analysis that there is a far greater potential for growth in the volume and value of internal trade. In particular southern businesses need to wake up to the opportunities that exist in doing business with their northern counterparts.

"Work on removing barriers to developing the all Ireland economy needs to continue. In recent weeks there has been the recognition about the importance of a single energy market, we now need to wake up to the other opportunities that exist particularly in developing and growing indigenous business."

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Sinn Féin Representative Conor Murphy has branded a Conservative Party plan to test all Asylum seekers for diseases in order to prevent burdens on the NHS, as a 'typical grubby little right wing Tory plan'.

Mr. Murphy said:

"For a start it is a bit galling for the British Conservative Party to be expressing concerns over the state of the NHS. It was of course the Tories who tried for almost 20 years to run the NHS into the ground.

"Their plan to forcibly test Asylum seekers for diseases is not about concern for the NHS, it is about appealing to a racist and right wing vote in England. The least the Tories could do is be honest about the motivation behind this grubby little ring wing plan.

"And the British Labour government would do better than simply criticise this plan and actually implement a humanitarian approach to the issue of Asylum Seekers here. The first stage along that road would be to release those Asylum Seekers currently interned in Maghaberry without having committed any offence." ENDS

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Lagan Valley Sinn Féin Representative Councillor Paul Butler has said he is in no doubt that loyalists were responsible for last nights attack on his home.

Cllr. Butler said:

"At around 11pm last night some sort of device was thrown from a passing car at the front of my home. This is the same address to which loyalists recently posted a bullet.

"I have no doubt that this attack is a response to Sinn Féin's ongoing efforts to highlight sectarian attacks in Lisburn and Dunmurry and our campaign against discrimination on Lisburn City Council.

" While these attacks are clearly very worrying, particularly for my family, I will not be deterred from continuing in my work in Lagan Valley." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice matters Conor Murphy has said that the minimalist nature of the information given to Gerry Adams at the weekend about a threat on his life is a high profile example of an unacceptable situation that frequently arises

Mr Murphy said:

"Frequently the PSNI call at the doors of republicans and nationalists and inform them that their lives are in danger. They refuse to give any further details of the nature of threat or the level of danger that they believe you to be in.

"This policy is wrong. The principle when dealing with such incidents should be maximum information not the minimum which is currently the case. Giving out the minimum amount of information actually adds to the anxiety and worry individuals under threat feel." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Vice President, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty commenting on media allegations about the editor of the North Belfast News Sean Mag Uidhir has said:

"These allegations are the latest in what is a British securocrats strategy of misinformation aimed at damaging the republican constituency and undermining the peace process.

"Mr Mag Uidhir has categorically refuted these allegations.

"These allegations come from the same people who killed Pat Finucane, who armed the Loyalist death squads, who continue to target ands gather intelligence, who at the most sensitive points in the peace in the peace process maliciously brief and leak misinformation to create crises and bolter anti-agreement elements.

"This is part of a British securocrats agenda. These faceless and unaccountable agencies must be brought under control by the British government." ENDS

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Commenting after Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was visited by the PSNI and told that dissident republicans were Œactively targeting‚ him, West Belfast Councillor Michael Ferguson said:

"Obviously republicans take all threats of this nature seriously, particularly at a time when the political process is in crisis.

"If this threat is true then I am sure that many republicans in West Belfast and further afield will be disappointed and indeed angry. However these republican micro organisations operate without either a mandate or a strategy to achieve change or deliver a united Ireland.

"Sinn Féin are absolutely committed to the peace process and we will not be deflected by threats from loyalists, the British or indeed so called dissident republicans." ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has highlighted the need to address the continuing fall in farm incomes. According to the latest Teagasc National Farm Survey, family farm income fell by 5.8% in 2002. Other figures show an increasing dependence on direct payments from the EU and that output fell by over 2%.

Deputy Ferris said:

"These figures are a serious cause of concern. What they prove is that falling incomes are an integral part of Irish farming. In real terms there has been a 16% decline since 1995. Although this has been partly compensated for by the increase in direct payments, the situation on the ground is that tens of thousands of small to medium farm households are finding it increasingly difficult to survive. Even with growing numbers choosing to take off-farm work, this has led to a consistent fall in farm numbers.

"While the CAP reform package with full decoupling does provide an opportunity to tackle the crisis, this will only be effective if combined with a radical new strategy designed to address long term structural defects. With farmers no longer dependent on production based subsidies, a conscious decision can be made to reorient farming towards higher quality and value added systems that will boost incomes, and increase the value of Irish exports.

Unless that takes place, and unless smaller producers can improve the value of their output, we will continue to witness a steep decline in farm numbers". ENDS

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Commenting on the significant rise in unemployment, Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the government was adding to the total by cutting 5,000 Community Employment places this year. He said:

"The highest July unemployment figures since 1999 are an indictment of the economic strategy of this Government. While it has repeatedly claimed that it is adding value to jobs located here by the multinationals, it is predominantly these firms that are laying off workers as they relocate in the global market. The Government has presented no coherent strategy to address this trend. As the most open economy in the EU we are more vulnerable to economic downturn and a jobs slide such as this could turn to disaster in a relatively short period if remedial action is not taken.

"Ordinary working people are now paying the price of the Government's failure to consolidate the economic advances of recent years. They have failed to deliver the essential infrastructural improvements that are necessary. They are over-reliant on the computer and pharmaceutical sectors and they have failed to tackle obstacles to the development of smaller indigenous enterprises such as the scandalously high cost of insurance.

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