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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has commented on the publication of the Department of Housing’s official homeless figures for September, which show for the 8th month in a row the number of people in homeless accommodation is over 10,000.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“For the 8th month in row the number of people officially living in emergency accommodation is over 10,000.

“In September 2019 10,397 men, women and children were living in hotels, hubs and B&Bs.

“This is an increase of 59 on the previous month with 34 more adults and 25 more children living in emergency accommodation in September.

“Minister Murphy’s’ failure to deal with this crisis is normalising homelessness.

“His time would be better spent addressing his own policy failures rather than going on the News at One to lash out at opposition politicians.

“Cheap political point scoring by the Minister responsible for Housing is not helpful.

“We are talking about more than figures here. It is 10,397 men, women and children and their daily lives.

“Separately, figures received by my office today show an increase in the number of families accessing one night only emergency accommodation in Dublin, which rose from 54 in July this year to 63 at the end of October.”

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that inaction from Health Minister Simon Harris to invest in our health service has left vulnerable patients lying on trolleys, and that the service will face an even greater strain over the coming winter months.

The comments come as the INMO published figures showing there were not enough beds for 11,452 patients in Irish hospitals this October.

Teachta O’Reilly said;

“The current situation across the health service is abysmal. This past October has been the second worst month for patient overcrowding since INMO records began.

“The thousands of people forced onto hospital trolleys month after month are a direct result of the policy choices of Minister Harris and his Fine Gael colleagues.

“We cannot tolerate a health service dragged into a constant state of crisis by bad policies and inaction. The solutions are there. It’s time to start implementing them.

“Fine Gael are destroying our health service. They have had almost a decade to address this crisis, but it has only gotten worse under their tenure.

“In our alternative budget, we showed the immediate steps needed to tackle this ongoing problem, including recruiting extra nurses, doctors and staff and opening an additional 500 beds.

“Minister Harris needs to stop sitting idly by and begin real investment in directly employed staff into our health service if its to stay afloat through the winter.”

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Carthy calls for BEAM scheme reopening to cater for farmers trading cross-border

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for the BEAM scheme to be extended and reopened to allow farmers who sold animals in the North to receive compensation.

Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said that the exclusion of farms who sent animals north for slaughter was nonsensical considering the scheme was secured as a mechanism to support those impacted by the Brexit process.  He further stated that he believed the criteria could breech the principles of the EU Single Market.

He said:

“I have written to the relevant European Commissioners and Minister Creed to request that the BEAM scheme be reopened for those farmers that have been excluded because they operate on a cross border basis.  It is ludicrous to suggest that the farmers most likely to be impacted by any Brexit shocks, namely those in the border region, are the ones who are denied access to the scheme designed to protect against those same shocks.

“The rationale behind the restriction is, according to the Department of Agriculture, purely technical.  The exclusion of farmers who trade cross border is because the proof of slaughter is not available on the AIMs system.

“However, it would be perfectly feasible for a manual application process to be utilised to allow these farmers to provide proof of slaughter dockets from establishments north of the border. The Department must therefore establish a new timeframe to allow these farmers time to apply for aid.

“The failure of Minister Creed to facilitate the provision of aid to these farmers can only be regarded as callous disregard towards those who operate on an all-island basis.  It was the reality of life for these farmers, and the communities from which they come, that allowed Irish concerns to become central to the Brexit process and secure support for this Beef Aid scheme at EU level.  That those same farmers have been excluded from the process is inexcusable and must now be resolved”.

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Limerick City TD Maurice Quinlivan, today criticised the Minister for Health’s handling of the trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick, as figures show October has seen the highest number of patients on trolleys in a single month since records began.

Speaking from Limerick City today, Teachta Quinlivan said;

“Enda Kenny infamously said “I’ll end the scandal of patients on trolleys.”

“What a lie that turned out to be.

“After eight very unsuccessful years in government, Fine Gael have managed to escalate the trolley crisis to levels never seen before.

“This month an incredible 1,450 patients were forced to lie on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick, the highest number ever recorded in one hospital, in a single month.

“This crisis has been ongoing in Limerick for years now, and the government haven’t bothered to do anything to address it.

“Fine Gael have stood by and watched this situation get completely out of control at UHL.

“They have promised more beds and more wards, but these are years down the line, and by the time they are completed they won’t even accommodate the number of patients on trolleys today, let alone the number of patients attending in a few years’ time.

“It’s a total joke, people in Limerick are fed up of being treated as second class citizens when it comes to healthcare.

“People are being packed into UHL like sardines, and it has created a very dangerous situation.

“How do we expect nurses and doctors to work effectively in such overcrowded conditions, which can see over 80 patients on trolleys at the hospital on some days.

“In 2011, when Fine Gael entered government, the number of patients on trolleys in UHL in October was 367.

“Now after almost a decade of incompetence, the number of patients on trolleys in UHL in the month of October has quadrupled, to 1,450.

“What a shameful situation to have presided over.

“The Minister for Health has utterly failed in his brief and it’s time for him to go.

“He would be doing us all a favour if he brought his Fine Gael cabinet colleagues with him out the door of government buildings."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Minister Murphy to state what information he had in relation to the failure of Irish water and Fingal County Council to fully implement the recommendations of the March 2019 Drinking Water Audit Report in the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant.

Commenting on the publication of the EPA drinking Water October Audit report on the Leixlip plant published yesterday, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The latest EPA audit on the Leixlip plant conducted after the Boil Water notice was issued concludes that the primary cause of the failure at the plant was a blockage in one of the treatment processes.

“The failure of Irish Water and Fingal County Council to implement the recommendations of the previous EPA audit of the plant in March was a contributory factor in the failure of the plant.

“In particular the failure to install, as recommended, an automatic shutdown system when plant alarms are not answered.

“The EPA report is welcome, but many questions remain unanswered by Irish Water and Minister Murphy.

“Why were March 2019 audit recommendations not implemented?

“Who is responsible for this failure Irish Water or Fingal County Council or both?

“Is the failure to implement the recommendations due to a lack of funding and resources?

“Was the Department aware of the failure to implement the March 2019 recommendations and what action will Minister Murphy now take?

“These are just some of the questions I will be putting to Irish Water, Fingal County Council and the Department when they appear in front of the Committee for Housing next Tuesday.”

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Following reports that the Police Ombudsman is to further delay publication of three reports on loyalist murders after the emergence of additional documentation from the PSNI, Sinn Féin victims and legacy spokesperson Linda Dillon said:

“The revelations that three reports relating to killings by loyalist death squads will be delayed after the emergence of additional documentation is appalling and unacceptable.

“It’s important to remember it is the families of victims who are being let down once again.

“These families, many of whose loved ones were killed by loyalist death squads in collusion with the British state, have been waiting decades for truth and justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.

“Many people will see this as further evidence that the cover-up of the role of British State forces in the conflict in Ireland is systemic.

“Sinn Féin will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman to discuss this latest failure to disclose information to his investigations and will be raising this at the Policing Board.”

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Sinn Féin victims and legacy spokesperson Linda Dillon has called on the British government to clarify what impact the upcoming election will have on victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.

Linda Dillon said:

“The victims need some reassurance about what will happen now an election has been called.

“Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has written to the British secretary of state regarding redress for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse. 

“She has told him this issue needs to be progressed without delay and that the legislation goes through before the Westminster parliament dissolves.

“The victims are absolutely distraught at the prospect there might be any delays on getting legislation implemented and redress for victims resolved.

“These victims and survivors many of whom are in poor health both physically and mentally cannot be the collateral damage in a chaotic parliament.

 “Their hopes have been dashed on so many occasions and we all thought they were finally going to be able to get long-awaited redress for the terrible abuses they suffered at the hands of state and religious institutions.

“Clarification is needed urgently on this to ensure victims receive the redress they are long entitled to.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has accused the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy of ‘giving developers a licence to hoard’ by extending so-called fast track planning.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“It is no surprise that Minister Murphy will today extend the so-called fast track planning for Strategic Housing Developments (SHD) by two years. 

“The SHD extension now comes with permission for developers to do nothing on the site for 18 months after being granted planning.

“While Minister Murphy is presenting this as a ‘use it or lose it’ clause that will speed up the delivery of homes it make like a ‘licence to hoard’ for developers ensuring that they can continue to delay new developments by 18 months.

“Once again Minister Murphy has demonstrated his total incompetence when it comes to his brief.

“The SHD legislation is not working. We know this thanks to the data and research undertaken by Killian Woods from the Sunday Business Post.

“Again, Minister Murphy chooses to ignore available evidence and pursues a policy that only benefits land hoarders and developers hoping to flip sites. 

“It will not lead to an increase in the delivery of affordable homes.”

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Sinn Féin general election candidate for Louth Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú has commended the National Drugs and Organised Crime Unit on this evening's arrest of two men and seizure of cannabis worth over €3 million. 

Councillor Ó Murchú, who is Chairperson of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum, said;

"This is a seizure of a huge volume of illicit drugs which would have made their way into the local supply chain.

"The removal of these drugs and the arrest of two individuals is extremely welcome news and represents a highly successful operation by An Garda Síochána.

"In addition Dundalk Gardaí seized €5,000 and made one arrest in Muirhevnamor on Sunday 27th October.

"Almost daily I am contacted by constituents who have concerns regarding drug use, addiction services, mental health supports or the crime and intimidation associated with the drug trade.

"In the past week I have conducted meetings in Dundalk with the Family Addiction Support Network and with the Manager of the Cox's Demesne Youth and Community Project.

"On both of those occasions the prevalence of drugs within communities in Dundalk was cited.  Also the hugely detrimental impacts of drug use on the addict themselves, their family members, their community and wider society was discussed.

"Community project managers have told me that low level drug dealing is rife in some areas of Dundalk.  

"Whereas in the past this activity was undertaken by a limited number of drugs dealers; currently drugs pushers are using a whole network of people, often children, in the sale and supply chain."

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams added;

"I have raised the issue of drugs in Louth and the associated crime and violence many times with the Minister for Justice.

"This evening's success demonstrates that targeted Garda resources can be successful against the drug criminals.

"It is every parent's worst fear that their child will get caught up in the drugs empire.  Any interventions to take drugs and drug pushers off the streets must be welcomed and I wholeheartedly commend this evening's operation in Louth."

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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O'Neill said the upcoming Westminster election is an opportunity to reject the DUP, reject the Tories and reject the destructive role of Westminster on the north of Ireland. 

Michelle O'Neill said: 

"This election is about our future.

“It is a welcome opportunity for the people of the north to have their say on the looming disaster of Brexit. 

"It is a chance to reject the DUP and the Tories, to reject Brexit and the Westminster chaos and its destructive influence on the north of Ireland.

"Sinn Féin has strong candidates who work tirelessly on behalf of their constituents, and we stand ready to fight this election. 

“Sinn Féin has successfully made the case to the Irish government and Europe that the north’s special circumstances needed to be recognised to protect our economy against the Brexit catastrophe, to avoid any hardening of the border and to protect the Good Friday Agreement. 

“The DUP have ignored the democratic wishes of the people of the north, of business, of farmers, of retailers. The people of the north did not consent to Brexit. 

“There is no good Brexit for Ireland. 

“Westminster is in chaos. It has no answers and no solutions.

“The Brexit debacle has shown that Westminster cannot, has not and will never act in the interests of the people of the north. 

“Your interests in this election are best served by voting Sinn Féin for a different future by sending a clear message to the British government that we want control of our own future through a referendum on Irish unity." 

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Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley has welcomed news that cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi will be made available in the north. 

The West Tyrone MP said: 

"I welcome the news that cystic fibrosis patients will have access to life-saving drug, Orkambi, in the north. 

"I want to commend all those who campaigned to have equal access to Orkambi over a long period. 

"This drug is available elsewhere on these islands and has significantly improved the lives of people with cystic fibrosis. 

"I had repeatedly called on the Department of Health to work with the manufacturers of Orkambi to ensure it is available for patients in the north. 

"This is good news for all of those living with cystic fibrosis as now they will have equal access to this drug."

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights Emma Sheerin MLA has called on the civil service to address underrepresentation of persons with disabilities within its workforce.

Speaking after a meeting with Jason Olsen from Ulster University on his recent research findings in the International Journal of Disability Management, Emma Sheerin MLA said: 

"The representation of people with disabilities within the Civil Service in the north is approximately 44% less than that seen in the US and Britain, with a mere 5.5% representation of persons with disabilities in its workforce.

"Pledges to ensure equality in the workplace have not resulted in substantive obligations to ensure equality in recruitment, or representation, of people with disabilities in the public sector.

"Sinn Féin wants to see opportunities for all and will continue to challenge underrepresentation of people with disabilities or any other group in our society. 

"People with disabilities face many challenges including higher daily living costs and lower levels of educational attainment. They have been disproportionally affected by the Tory policy of attacking those most in need in our society and by continued DUP opposition to the establishment of a comprehensive single equality bill for the north. 

"There is an onus on legislators to shatter a system entrenched in stigma, and to challenge, expose and address inequalities and ensure that people's rights and entitlements are secured."

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for employment and workers' rights Declan Kearney, has responded to UNISON’s report on the latest Tory Withdrawal Bill.

The report concludes that the current Withdrawal Bill allows the Tories to roll back on EU safeguards for workers' rights, by declaring that they are “unable to make a statement of non-regression” with EU Rights. 

According to UNISON, the Bill "would do absolutely nothing to stop a regression of rights, nor would they require the government to keep pace with future developments."

Addressing UNISON's conclusions, the South Antrim MLA said:

“This latest Withdrawal Bill proposed by the Tories will set the agenda for yet another attack on workers’ rights and entitlements.

"UNISON's report on the Withdrawal Bill supports Sinn Féin’s assertion that there is no good Brexit for workers.

"If implemented in its current form this Withdrawal Bill will allow the present and future British governments to regress on workers’ rights indefinitely.

"In practice the British government could roll back on entitlements concerning working hours, maternity leave and agency worker protections.

"This Bill demonstrates that the British government is intent on using Brexit as a catalyst for creating a labour market based on low wages and minimal rights.

"Sinn Féin will continue highlighting the need for both the EU and the Irish government to hold the British government to account and ensure that international obligations contained in the final agreement will not be diluted through British domestic law.

“We remain committed to working in partnership with UNISON and the labour movement in Ireland to protect workers' rights against the catastrophic effects of Brexit."

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The McGuinness family, in conjunction with the Gasyard Féile and friends of Martin, are set to launch a new peace foundation in memory of the late Martin McGuinness.

Speaking after the announcement in the Guildhall, Elisha McCallion MP said:

“We are delighted to confirm that the McGuinness family will launch a new peace foundation in Martin's memory. 

“The purpose of the foundation is to celebrate the life, work and achievements of Martin McGuinness through an inclusive program of education, sport, debate, art and culture.

“This work will be carried out through Martin’s vision of a united, agreed and peaceful Ireland by promoting understanding, equality, respect and reconciliation.

“As part of the process, the Foundation also work to establish a fitting, permanent memorial to remember Martin."

Fiachra McGuinness added:

“We want to make the Martin McGuinness Foundation a key part of my father’s legacy as a leader, an activist and international statesman.

“Through the Foundation we hope to tell the story of his life in the Bogside, his roots in Donegal – but also celebrate his commitment to bring about social, economic and political change.

“We are also delighted to announce that the 3rd annual Chieftain’s Walk will take place on Sunday 29 March 2020 – the route will be confirmed in the near future.”

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The Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has issued an appeal to the general public to assist the Gardaí in their investigation of the arson attack on the family car of Sligo Leitrim TD and Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Martin Kenny TD when parked in the driveway of the Kenny home at Aughavas near Ballinamore in Co. Leitrim in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday morning.

Deputy Ó Caoláin has described the attack as “a despicable act that deserves the outright rejection of all who believe in and value the democratic process in our land.”

Continuing he said; “Deputy Martin Kenny has been a fearless voice throughout his years of elected public service. He has given thoughtful and, when required, courageous leadership in his own county, in his constituency and nationally as a member of the Dáil, most recently in his spirited rejection of racism in all its ugly manifestations.

“I appeal to anyone and everyone who can assist the investigation of this cowardly crime to come forward and to co-operate with the Garda Síochána. Those responsible must be identified and brought to justice” stated Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has condemned an apparent arson attack at the home of the party’s Justice Spokesperson and Sligo/Leitrim TD Martin Kenny.

Deputy Kenny’s car was burned out at his home in Aughavas, near Ballinamore in Co. Leitrim in the early hours of the morning.

Mary Lou McDonald said:

“Martin Kenny TD’s car was set alight and burned at his home in Aughavas at approximately 2.30am this morning in what appears to have been a very deliberate and targeted attack.

“I want to extend my solidarity and that of Sinn Féin to Martin Kenny and his family after what was a very frightening experience. Thankfully no member of the Kenny family was injured but it could easily have been different.

“An attack on the home or property of an elected public representative is a deeply serious and sinister development. It represents an attack on the democratic system itself.

“This despicable act is a reflection on nobody but the criminal thugs who perpetrated it and I know it will be rightly condemned by the people of Aughavas, Ballinamore and Co. Leitrim.

“An Garda Síochána are investigating this very serious incident and I know that they will do all in their power to bring those responsible to justice.”

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney, joined a Party delegation which met the Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel during his official visit to Ireland earlier this week. 

Speaking afterwards the South Antrim MLA said: 

 "The visit by President Miguel Diaz Canel this week was historic. This was the first official trip by a Cuban President to Ireland. 

"Cuba and Ireland enjoy very deep, mutual historic connections. Our countries share deep bonds of political and cultural solidarity. This fact was symbolised in the official welcome and reception for the President of Cuba hosted by our own President, Michael D Higgins, and the Irish Government. 

"A Sinn Féin delegation headed by Party President Mary Lou Mc Donald TD, and including Gerry Adams TD, Seanadóir Paul Gavan, and myself, was delighted to have this opportunity to meet with the Cuban President in Dublin, at the invitation of the Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, Hugo Ramos.  

"Sinn Féin possesses very strong solidarity links with the Cuban struggle for national and social liberation. It was especially appropriate that this official visit by the President coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.  

"The revolutionary process there has delivered massive social and economic transformations in Cuban society. Its role in pioneering world class health care and educational provision for its own citizens has been inspirational. 

"The commitment of Cuba to international solidarity, and in particular, by providing practical assistance to other developing countries is unparalleled. 

"Sinn Féin remains committed to deepening the practical and political links between Ireland and Cuba, and in continuing to work closely with President Diaz Canel and his government in progressing our shared priorities of international solidarity, peace, equality, and social justice."

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Speaking today in response to Arlene Foster’s speech at the annual DUP party conference, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA said: 

“Arlene Foster and the DUP do not speak for the majority of people and business across the North.

“The toxic DUP pact with the Tories at Westminster has achieved nothing for the people here other than the continuing threat of being dragged out of the EU and into a nightmare which they have not consented to and ongoing Tory cuts to public services. 

“This has caused huge anger. 

“There is no good Brexit.

“The political unionist majority is gone. There will be no unionist veto as part of any rolling consent for the Assembly as part of any deal now or in the future.

“The people and businesses across every constituency have been clear that they want a deal which avoids a crash out and prevents a hard border on this island.

“As political leaders we have a responsibility to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods, and this means seamless trade and no land border checks or customs tariffs on this island.

“The DUP continues to deliberately conflate the principle of consent set out in the Good Friday Agreement on the constitutional status, with the issue of parallel consent which is in reference only to the workings of the assembly.

“The Agreement has been under ferocious attack by hard Brexiteers and I do not expect that to end anytime soon.

“Arlene Foster must recognise that human rights and equality guarantees in law are a central part of the Agreement.

“The DUP has yet to embrace these guarantees against the will of the majority of parties, MLAs and electorate.

“Sinn Féin remains fully committed to the restoration of the Good Friday Agreement institutions on a firm, fair and just basis in the short period ahead.

“This must be based on full respect for, and protection and expression of, the rights and identities of one another’s traditions which even-handedly afford our communities parity of esteem, respect and equality of treatment, and opportunity.

“What has impeded progress since April are the realities of the DUP failure to embrace human rights and equality guarantees in law, Brexit and their toxic pact with the Tories at Westminster.

“The continued stalemate is untenable and unsustainable and is quickly running out of road.

“The world is moving on, and it will move on quickly.

“Nationalists and republicans need a partner to negotiate with. 

“This will only be solved by political leadership. It’s time Arlene Foster and the DUP returned to the table to engage meaningfully in negotiations for the first time since they walked away from talks and an agreement in 2018.”

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Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has expressed his condolences after the death of an 18 year old man in a collision in Kilcoo.

The South Down MP said:

“The local community was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of an 18 year old man in a collision on the Hilltown Road in Kilcoo in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“Four other people were injured in this incident and were taken to hospital and I hope they make a full recovery.

“My thoughts are with the friends and family of this young man and all who knew him at this sad and tragic time." 

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said the Irish government must ensure that EU funding for the north west area continues post-Brexit. 

The Foyle MP said: 

"The wider north west area of Derry, Donegal and Tryone has benefited immensely from EU funded programmes through the PEACE and INTERREG initiatives. 

"There is widespread concern that this funding, which amounts to €550 million in the current funding period, will be lost when we are dragged out of the EU against our will by the British government as a result of Brexit. 

"My party colleagues in Leinster House challenged the Irish government on post Brexit funding for the north west region and have been told that the Dublin government is engaging with the EU about how the current funding, which is due to run until 2020, will be impacted by Brexit and what will replace it. 

"The Irish government have confirmed that the current funding will continue even in the event of a crash-out Brexit and that the EU has proposed a PEACE plus programme to continue funding post Brexit. 

"It is vital EU funding for projects in the wider north west region continues after Brexit, particular as border regions like the north west will be among those worst hit by this reckless British government policy. 

"I will continue to press the Irish government to secure this important funding for the north west and ensure it is delivered to the areas where it is needed most."

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