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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O'Neill led a delegation to meet with the Irish Government in Dublin earlier.  

Speaking afterwards, Michelle O'Neill said;

"We told the Taoiseach that urgency is required to conclude the Talks if we are to restore the Assembly in the coming weeks.

"We restated our commitment to achieving restoration of the Assembly.

"We agreed that key to any agreement is resolving the outstanding issues which lie at the heart of the Talks.

"We agree that the people of the North need and deserve good government, but that it must be one which is credible and sustainable.

She added, "Sinn Féin stands ready to re-enter Talks in the coming weeks and will work with all parties and both governments to reach a fair agreement."

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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O'Neill led a delegation to meet with the Irish Government in Dublin earlier.  

Speaking afterwards, Michelle O'Neill said;

"We told the Taoiseach that urgency is required to conclude the Talks if we are to restore the Assembly in the coming weeks.

"We restated our commitment to achieving restoration of the Assembly.

"We agreed that key to any agreement is resolving the outstanding issues which lie at the heart of the Talks.

"We agree that the people of the North need and deserve good government, but that it must be one which is credible and sustainable.

She added, "Sinn Féin stands ready to re-enter Talks in the coming weeks and will work with all parties and both governments to reach a fair agreement."

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Sinn Fein Senator Paul Gavan has called on the Government to “completely rethink” the proposed Retention of Records Bill.

This Bill provides for the retention, sealing and withholding from public inspection of records with regard to survivors of state and church abuse for a period of no less than 75 years and for the confidential disposal of any records not transferring to the National Archives. 

Speaking after an Oireachtas Education Committee Hearing at which survivors of state and church abuse had spoken out strongly against the Bill, Senator Gavan said;

“We have heard passionate testimony from survivors of state and church abuse who told us directly that if this bill passes it would make survivors of the industrial schools invisible once more.

“We also heard from academics and legal experts who told us that there was in fact no need for the bill at all, and that the proposed bill flies in the face of existing European legislation regarding personal data.

“The Department of Education has stated that the aim of this legislation was to strike a balance between those who gave evidence to the commission and redress bodies, and the need to never forget the harm that was done.

“Unfortunately the balance the Department of Education has chosen to strike is 100% in favour of silence and 0% in favour of victims”

“I am calling for the Government to completely re-think this legislation. Instead of this clumsy attempt to silence survivors we need action to ensure that the records of religious congregations who ran the institutions should be brought under the aegis of the state.

“The Department of Education should be assisting survivors of abuse by shining a light on records still kept by these institutions, rather than attempting to silence survivors and shut down debate.

“This proposed legislation is akin to the type of far-right politics we see raising its ugly head in certain parts of Eastern Europe. It has no place in this state.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA, and Westminster candidate, Declan Kearney has condemned a shooting in Crumlin’s Main Street in the early hours of this morning.

Declan Kearney said,

“People in Crumlin are in shock this morning following a shooting incident in Main Street late last night.

“A number of shots were fired at a business premises in the early hours of this morning, and whilst no one was injured during the incident, it has been met with shock and disbelief by the local community.

“I unreservedly condemn the use of firearms on our streets. This incident has served only to instil fear in the local community and has caused disruption to residents during the follow up police operation.

“I appeal to anyone with information concerning this incident to assist the PSNI in their investigation.”

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Sinn Féin TD’s Seán Crowe and Kathleen Funchion have published legislation to make it mandatory for dog owners to carry litter bags.

Deputy Crowe said;

“This is an important and serious health issue which is constantly raised by constituents on the doors, in clinics and even when just out walking about.

“Despite the introduction of the law making it an offence to not pick up your dog’s litter, our parks and communities are still littered with dog excrement.

“This is partially because wardens have to actually witness a dog fouling and the person responsible leaving the dog’s waste behind in order to impose a penalty.

“A small minority of dog owners simply don't give a damn what their dog does and have no real fear of being caught under the current legislation.

“This is also a serious public health issue as dog litter carries disease which can lead to fever, cough or wheezing, enlarged liver, rash or swollen lymph nodes and even blindness.

“If a child or an adult gets this on their skin they could potentially be damaged for life.

“This new legislation makes it easier for wardens to impose fines on irresponsible dog owners by making it an offence to be in charge of a dog in public without having a suitable bag or instrument to properly dispose of its waste.

“So it’s time literally to cut the shit and clamp down on the small but significant group of irresponsible dog owners who continue to destroy and pollute our communities.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has responded to comments made by Professor Christian Kastrop, a former official in the German Finance ministry and former President of the Economic Policy Committee of the Council of European Finance and Economic Ministers.

The former official said that the Irish people were hit with unjustifiably harsh austerity measures following the financial collapse as a result of ideology.

Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:

“The comments made by Professor Kastrop, a former high-ranking Finance official in Berlin and Europe will be of little consolation for those workers and families who have suffered under the long years of austerity.

“We still live with the scars of the austerity measures and cuts that were inflicted on the Irish people by the Fine Gael and Labour Government, with a recovery that that has failed to carry those who suffered the most.

“Our public finances are still saddled with the bankers’ debt that Fianna Fáil foisted on the Irish people.

“A recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General found that the outstanding cost of the bank bailout is €42 billion. It will cost the Irish people €1 billion a year to service this debt for the foreseeable future; money that could otherwise be spent on public services and priorities of the people.

“What this and the comments of Professor Kastrop make clear, is that the losers of the crash and years that followed were the workers and families of this country, who have been badly served during the past decade.

“His comments vindicate the positions that we in Sinn Féin took in the long years of austerity. Austerity policies were not only socially devastating and morally reprehensible, but as he acknowledges, purely ideological.

“The best way to hurt an already hurting economy is to impose austerity. That was true then and is true still.

“I welcome the former officials warning regarding the EU fiscal rules, which he said, may ‘mutate into a monster’.

“The fiscal rules are not fit for purpose, especially as we seek to respond to the climate crisis. The challenges we face require big ideas and radical investment.”

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Sinn Féin Cllr for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward has welcomed the news that Lucan and North Clondalkin are back on the Ballymore Eustace Water Supply, and has urged Irish Water to make this a permanent fixture going forward.

Speaking today, the Dublin Mid-West by-election candidate said;

“I want to welcome the news that North Clondalkin and Lucan are finally back on the Ballymore Eustace water supply. This is long overdue and long may it last.

“In the aftermath of Storm Emma in March 2018, Irish Water switched the supply of water to parts of Clondalkin and Lucan from Ballymore Eustace to Leixlip water treatment plant on a temporary basis.

"This decision was made after the cold snap led to burst pipes due to poor investment in water infrastructure.

“These areas were then left in short supply and restricted access to water. Twenty months later and this temporary measure has finally been resolved

“Residents across Clondalkin and Lucan raised concerns about the change in quality of water. This has led to complaints in increased turbidity. Turbidity is a measure of the total suspended solids in the water, the murkier it seems, the higher the turbidity levels.

“In addition to changing how the water looks there had also been numerous reports of grit particles and a change of taste to the water, with scum like substances appearing.

"The hard water from Leixlip also damaged electrical appliances such as kettles and showers. The reality is, some residents were forced to buy bottled water well before the boil water notices were even announced.

“There is enough water in Ballymore Eustace which is supplied by Poulaphouca hydro station to supply the whole of South County Dublin, if seasonally adjusted.

“I am calling on Irish Water and the Department of Local Government to invest in our water infrastructure to ensure that people will no longer be faced with sub-standard water services.

“The people in Clondalkin, Lucan and Palmerstown can finally return to the quality of water that they originally enjoyed and deserve.”

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said the postponing of surgeries for children at the three main children’s hospitals due to winter pressures is evidence of the damage that eight years of Fine Gael in government has done to the health service.

Speaking this morning, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Reports this morning that the main children’s hospitals in the State have begun to postpone elective surgeries for children due to the pressure they and their staff are under shows the depths Fine Gael have driven the health service to.

“There are around 86,625 children waiting to see a specialist in hospitals across the State, many for essential surgery; 46,000 of these are based in the three main children’s hospitals.

“I understand that postponing surgery is necessary due to how dangerous things are in these hospitals for patients and staff. However, the cancelled surgeries will increase the numbers on these waiting lists as well as the length of time the children have to wait.

“The hospitals are crippled due to a lack of nurses and a lack of consultant doctors across a range of specialties – the Unions representing frontline medical staff have been raising this issue for years, but it has not been addressed.

“The government have rolled out the usual lines that the flu is responsible for the pressure on the hospitals.

“We have had eight years of Fine Gael control of the health service with the last four budgets agreed with Fianna Fáil and they are still surprised by the flu and winter related illnesses arriving in winter – pathetic."

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Sinn Féin Higher and Further Education spokesperson, Maolíosa McHugh MLA, has today voiced the party's strong support for striking staff in the University and Colleges Union (UCU).

The West Tyrone MLA said:

"Sinn Féin stand unequivocally behind staff in Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University striking today for fairer pension contributions, and better pay and conditions.

"Academic staff in our local institutions perform a vital service for our students and are invaluable to the economic and social wellbeing of our society. It is paramount that they are valued and listened to.

"We urge Universities UK to engage with striking staff to bring this dispute to an end.

"We also call on local universities to use their influence within Universities UK to encourage meaningful negotiations in order to bring about a fair and acceptable resolution."

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Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has condemned those behind attacks on cars outside Seaview Stadium on Monday night. 

The North Belfast MLA said: 

“Three cars were attacked and had their windows smashed tonight outside Seaview Stadium following a match between Belfast Celtic and Newington FC. 

“I condemn those behind these attacks on property – there is no place for it. 

“There has been a lot of hard work to build relations through the sharing of facilities and this type of activity will only cause anger in the community. 

“Police are now reviewing footage and I would appeal to anyone with information to report it.”

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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said there should be zero tolerance for online abuse against election candidates. 

Michelle O’Neill said: 

“Those in public life are often targeted with online abuse, threats, harassment and intimidation and it is often women who are targeted most but no matter how often it occurs it should never be tolerated. 

“My colleague Elisha McCallion has been the victim of such online abuse, particularly in recent days, and much of it has been vile, disgusting, misogynistic abuse. 

“No one, including public representatives, should be expected to put up with this. 

“Elisha has children who should not be exposed to abuse like this so publicly directed at their mother. 

“No one should have to face this type of abuse and I would call on all those in public life, from across all parties to come together and to condemn it so those responsible are sent a clear message that it will not be tolerated.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that today's announcement of additional Garda resources for Cork is welcome but is nowhere near what's needed.

This comes following a sustained campaign by Sinn Féin for a fair allocation of Gardaí for Cork amid growing concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour in the city.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire was commenting after attending a meeting of the Cork Joint Policing Committee and raising the issue of Garda resources with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

He said:

"I have raised the issue of Garda resources in Cork with Commissioner Drew Harris on a number of occasions and have made the point that Cork is not getting a fair share of Gardaí. I raised this issue with him again today.

"Cork city has only got 2.5% of the Gardaí who have come out of Templemore since it was reopened in 2014 - an appalling figure and far below what we need.

"While I do welcome the announcement today that Cork will be allocated 24 additional Gardaí for the Christmas period, as well as 8 additional probationary Gardaí on a permanent basis, it isn’t anywhere near enough, but I know it will provide some level of reassurance to the people of Cork in the coming weeks amid growing concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour in the city.

"Sinn Féin has led the way calling for additional Garda resources in Cork and today's announcement vindicates our campaign. This it is a step in the right direction, but we need to go much further now.

"What's needed it to ensure that as many of these additional Gardaí remain in Cork beyond January and that Cork is assured of a strong Garda presence in the coming years.

"We are making progress, but we need to keep the pressure on for more and I intend to keep the campaign up. The people of Cork deserve no less."

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has written to the Minister for Justice following media reports which suggest that additional Direct Provision Centres are being considered for up to 8 regions across the State, including County Louth, to accommodate up to five and a half thousand asylum seekers in the coming years.

Teachta Adams said:

“Reports suggest that the Department of Justice is seeking providers to operate new direct provision centres across the State to house almost 5,500 asylum seekers in the coming years.

"I have written to the Minister for Justice to seek additional information about the possible locations of these centres and whether any are planned for Louth.

"Sinn Féin has long expressed our concerns at the direct provision system. It is not fit for purpose and should be replaced with a more humane, human rights compliant system. I have visited Mosney Direct Provision Centre several times and met with asylum seekers from that and other centres. A succession of reports have been critical of the system, including one two years ago which spoke to children held in these centres.

"The main conclusion emerging from that report was that children and young people living in direct provision are dissatisfied with the system. The report described how children and young people said that their 'personal well-being, family life, private life and social life is adversely affected by long stays in the Direct Provision centres.' They described their accommodation as 'overcrowded' and 'dirty' and the Direct Provision system as 'not fair', and 'not safe.'

"Asylum seekers have also told me of the practical difficulties of living in a Direct Provision Centre, often isolated in a remote area with no public transport, trying to survive on a miserly stipend from the government and whole families living together in one room. 

"If the government insists on not scrapping the system then at the very least Direct Provision requires a fundamental overhaul, with more resources for asylum seekers and local communities. There needs to be fulsome community engagement, additional infrastructure supports and additional personal supports for those citizens seeking asylum.

"Difficulties in the Direct Provision system are compounded by the current housing emergency and this must also be addressed by the Government.

“Asylum seekers come to us from all across the world. They come from war torn societies or States where their lives are at risk. They come in search of a new life in the same way that Irish people have travelled over the centuries throughout the world. They arrived in this State only to be treated in a most deplorable way. That needs to end.”

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Paul Maskey has said the Electoral Office must urgently address concerns regarding changes to where some West Belfast voters will be casting their votes on 12th December.

Paul Maskey said:

“The Electoral Office have made a number of changes to polling stations which are detrimental to voters but they have not communicated these changes adequately to the voters. 

“Clonard Youth Club was previously used as a polling station and due to a refurbishment at the time of the local government election, voters went to St Clare’s Primary School. The refurbishments have now finished but voters will continue to vote in St Clare’s on 12th December.

“This makes St Clare’s a ‘four box’ polling station which can become congested and some residents will now actually have to travel further.

“Residents from Hannahstown and the Upper Springfield Road used St Joseph’s Parish Centre in May but are now being referred to St Oliver Plunkett Primary School.

“St Joseph’s had the highest turnout in West Belfast but voters are now having to move.

“We have raised these issues with the Electoral Office but at this stage we can’t see any changes being implemented.

“The Electoral Office have failed in their obligation to simplify this election for those affected. It is a lot harder to get registered to vote here than it is anywhere else on these islands, which is disgraceful.”

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Sinn Féin justice spokesperson Martin Kenny TD has called for urgent action by the Garda Siochána in the Coolock area of Dublin, following the death of shooting victim, 22-year-old Eoin Boylan.

Deputy Kenny said:

“This is another violent death in what seems to be a feud between drug criminals, in a working class area of Dublin which has seen enough violence. Eoin Boylan is the fifth victim of this latest feud and like others who have been shot dead, he was only in his 20's.

“The local community has called for a Garda task force to be deployed to deal with this rampant violence and I call on the minister and the Garda Commissioner to listen.

“It is not good enough that Minister Charlie Flanagan says he is 'deeply concerned'. He is the Minister for Justice and we demand more than 'concern' from him. We need action.

“The people of Coolock, like the people of the North East Inner-City of Dublin, the people of Louth and all over the State must be protected. This is the basic function of the police service and it is not being fulfilled.

“While we realise that policing is not the only solution to the root causes of the crime and drug use that is causing this mayhem, it is where we look for protection.

“The cutbacks by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments in basic community services, youth facilities, projects and early intervention, plus lack of political will or funding to proper youth diversion programmes, community policing and juvenile liaison is one of the causes of the scourge of drug abuse and drug dealing in this and other working class communities.

“This funding and these resource deficits must be addressed urgently. This action will be a crucial step in stopping the violence on our streets.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Bay North Denise Mitchell has called on the Government to honour their commitments and increase Garda resources in Dublin Bay North in the wake of another fatal shooting in the area.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson for Dublin said:

“Last May, Government representatives were all too happy to stand in the constituency and talk about the increased Garda resources that they were going to divert to the area.

“Here we are six months later in the aftermath of yet another shooting in the area and the local Gardaí are just as overstretched as they were. We need to see extra resources deployed to the Coolock area.

“The people I represent deserve to feel safe and not in expectation of another gun attack. The Government must honour their commitments and increase Garda presence in the area. We need more Gardaí on our streets.

“I am calling on the Minister for Justice to establish a special taskforce as we saw in the North Inner City to provide the multi-agency response needed to stem this feud on our streets.”

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Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard has said sectarian abuse directed at his canvass team will not deter his campaign. 

The South Down candidate said: 

“While out canvassing in Rathfrailand at the weekend, one of my canvass teams was subjected to sectarian abuse. 

“This stands in contrast to the positive response we have been getting on the doors as people realise the disaster Brexit will be and look towards a new future. 

“This incident has been reported to the PSNI and will not deter me or any of my campaign team from engaging with and representing people across South Down.”

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Responding to comments from the DUP Leader today, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill said she remains committed to working towards a new Assembly and a new kind of politics in the New Year.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“Sinn Féin remains fully invested and committed to the Good Friday Agreement.

“The Agreement also requires, an Assembly, that works for everyone from all traditions and communities.

“The current political impasse is unsustainable and unacceptable.

“Three years after the RHI scandal brought the assembly down, people deserve a functioning government and genuine power-sharing.

“An agreement was reached in February last year, however, the DUP regrettably walked off the pitch. 

“That position is untenable.

“The delivery of rights cannot be avoided.

“Sinn Féin stands ready to form a credible, sustainable and inclusive executive.

“The Sinn Féin leadership met British Secretary of State Julian Smith last week to set out our position. We will meet Tánaiste Simon Coveney this week to do the same.

“If the Executive is to be credible, then it must deliver on issues such as public sector pay, safe staffing levels in the health service, economic policies that delivers prosperity for all and that invests in rural communities, and a mitigation package that protects people from Tory welfare reform.”

Michelle O’Neill added: “To be credible allthe outstanding issues must be dealt with including an Irish Language Act and reform of the Petition of Concern and we need to tackle the failure by the British government to implement the Stormont House Agreement and deal with the issue of legacy.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor JJ Magee has condemned a shooting in the New Lodge area of Belfast. 

JJ Magee said: 

“Shots were fired through the window of a house in the New Lodge on Saturday evening. 

“Luckily no one was hurt in this reckless attack, but it could have been much worse. 

“There is no place for guns on our streets.

“Anyone with information on this attack should bring it forward to the Police.” 

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Sinn Féin Seanadóir, Niall Ó Donnghaile, has today called a decision by a British Upper Tribunal, that the Good Friday Agreement is not a constitutional document, as 'extraordinary and concerning'.

Seanadóir Ó Donnghaille said: 

"Over time the DeSouza case has revealed extraordinary and concerning tendencies of the British judiciary to roll back the status of Irish citizenship in the north, and that of the Good Friday Agreement which underpins it.

"The latest claim by a British Upper Tribunal on the status of the Good Friday Agreement is yet another unacceptable denigration of the agreement and the basic rights of Irish citizens in the north.

"The Good Friday Agreement is an internationally recognised and legally binding treaty, overwhelmingly endorsed by people across the island of Ireland, and guaranteed in law by both the Irish and British governments.

"I urge Tánaiste Simon Coveney to step up his efforts on this issue, and make immediate contact with the British government for clarity on this matter.

"Sinn Féin stand unequivocally behind the DeSouzas in their efforts to assert and protect their right to Irish citizenship in law." 

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