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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has extended his “deepest sympathies and condolences” to the family and friends of former Irish Times journalist, writer and historian Brendan Ó Cathaoir who has died.

Deputy Adams said:

“Brendan Ó Cathaoir was an exceptional Gaeilgeoir, journalist and historian. Among his many accomplishments were his ‘Famine Diaries’ published by the Irish Times in the 1990’s to mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Hunger.

"Almost 40 years ago, Brendan visited Bobby Sands in Long Kesh along with Guardian journalist David Beresford. The visit took place on 3 March 1981 just three days after Bobby had commenced his hunger strike.

"In his daily Prison Diary covering the first 17 days of his hunger strike Bobby Sands records the visit. Much of his conversation with Brendan was in Irish. Bobby wrote: 'I’m feeling exceptionally well today. (It’s only the third day, I know, but all the same I’m feeling great.) I had a visit this morning with two reporters, David Beresford of The Guardian and Brendan Ó Cathaoir of The Irish Times. Couldn’t quite get my flow of thoughts together. I could have said more in a better fashion.'

"The visit was also recorded in an internal confidential NIO ‘weekly Bulletin’ which states: 'On 3rd March David Beresford (Guardian) and Brendan Ó Cathaoir (Irish Times) saw Sands on a 'family' visit. They were required to sign an undertaking that the visit would not be used for journalistic purposes, did so and then claimed on leaving that they would not abide by this.'

"Brendan Ó Cathaoir, like David Beresford, opposed censorship and believed that journalists had a duty to report. His was one of the courageous voices which tried to penetrate the fog of disinformation surrounding the injustices in the H Blocks and Armagh prisons. Bobby Sands appreciated his efforts. So did I and the other supporters of the hungerstrikers. 

"To Brendan’s family and many friends, I want to extend my deepest condolences. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis."

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Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has said the local community is shocked following the death of a young man in a road collision. 

The Mid Ulster MP said: 

“There is shock and sadness in the community following the death of a 19-year-old man in a road collision on the Moneysharvan road between Swatragh and Maghera. 

“Any death on our roads is a tragedy, particularly when someone so young loses their life. 

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of this young man at this sad time.”

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Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has welcomed the signing of Sinn Féin’s Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill into law by Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D. Higgins.

The Sinn Féin TD said the legislation will reform insurance contracts, increase transparency and shift the balance in favour of the consumer. A number of journalists have also described Sinn Féin’s legislation as ‘the most radical change in insurance law in centuries’, while the Alliance for Insurance Reform described it as a ‘game-changer’.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Rip-off insurance costs are squeezing incomes and closing down businesses. People are seeing their premiums  rocketing up year on year and the majority of cases are without anyone making a claim or changing the risk factor on their policy.

"The insurance market isn’t working for policy holders and too little has been done to hold the industry to account and reduce costs.

“Rocketing insurance costs have become a full-blown crisis across several sectors in Dublin South West. I have been contacted by the Naíonra in Scoil Chaitlín Maude, Killinarden Community Centre, and the Fettercairn Youth Horse Project who are all struggling to keep their doors open after extortionate increases in their insurance premiums.

“Our Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill will shift the balance in favour of policyholders, by increasing transparency and strengthening the hand of the policyholder during their insurance contract. It is the only legislation that has been passed since 2016 that focuses on policyholders, increasing their protections.

“It would require companies to inform consumers of the past 5 years of premiums paid by customers, and claims paid to customers and third parties for all non-life insurance contracts.

“From now on, where there is uncertainty in any document or contract, the rule of law and interpretation in favour of the consumer will prevail. From now on, it will be up to the insurer to ask the relevant questions when a consumer or business takes out a policy, reversing the current status quo which places the burden and responsibility on the consumer to volunteer information.

“Companies will no longer be able to easily settle third party claims without the policyholders knowledge. They will have to inform customers of any claim made against their policy, allowing them to submit their own evidence and informing them of the cost of any claim against their policy that has been settled.

"It would also ensure that policyholders would be told of any third party claims made against their policy, fraudulent or otherwise, and have a right to submit evidence concerning the claim.

“The  new legislation would also make it harder for an insurer to wriggle out of paying valid claims on grounds that have nothing to do with the accident or loss incurred by the policyholder.

“Sinn Féin are in the business of protecting people, not the profits of the insurance industry. While Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have peddled the spin of the industry for years, Sinn Féin has repeatedly called out the industry for ripping off customers, exaggerating the level of claims, and waging a public disinformation campaign.

“In this legislation Sinn Féin has delivered solutions for workers and their families 

“This ground breaking legislation is timely and is a big win for policyholders. It will have a huge impact on the industry."

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Sinn Féin Councillor Ryan Murphy has condemned a shooting in the Torrens area of North Belfast. 

Cllr Ryan Murphy said: 

“Shots were fired through a window of a house in Torrens this evening. 

“Thankfully 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 Police.”

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We need significant increases in public transport investment and electric vehicle charging points if we are to have any hope of reaching our climate action targets, David Cullinane, Sinn Féin spokesperson for climate action said today, adding that it will be a key issue in the upcoming general election.

Speaking on the announcement that the government is to bring in legislation to ban all new petrol and diesel vehicles after 2030, Deputy Cullinane said:

"It is proper and correct to have ambitious targets when it comes to climate action.

"The 2030 target sends out a clear message to car manufacturers that the times are changing and they need to change also by switching to election vehicle production and making them more affordable.

"But targets also need to be matched with public investment if they are to mean anything.

"The government's announcement that it plans to ban all new diesel and petrol car sales after 2030 will only happen if there is a significant overhaul in rural and urban transport, especially outside of Dublin. We also need to address public transport capacity in Dublin.

"We need to develop alternatives to road haulage such as freight rail, as outlined in the EU's recent Green New Deal plan.

"Sinn Féin will await the publication of the government's proposals, but it is clear to everyone that ambitious targets coupled with investment are needed if we are to slow down climate change and reach the 1.5 degree target."

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South-West Seán Crowe has said that the news of a sexual assault  on woman in Tallaght on Christmas Eve has shocked the local community. Crowe has called extra overt Garda resources to be located in the community and appealed for anybody with information to contact the Gardaí immediately.

Deputy Crowe said;

"The news of an apparent sexual assault in Jobstown area just off the N81  has been shocking and disturbing to the local community.

"We urgently need additional overt Gardaí on the beat to ensure that people are safe walking the streets during the holiday period.

"The Garda Authorities are appealing to anyone who was in the vicinity of the N81 near Jobstown on Christmas Eve with dash cam cameras in their car between 9 and midnight to check their footage.

"Anybody with additional information or who witnessed any unusual behaviour  should  also immediately make contact with An Garda Síochána."

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Writing in An Phoblacht today, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD - in her New Year's message - has said that the coming year marks the beginning of a new decade that brings with it the opportunity to write a new chapter in our country's history. 

Teachta McDonald has said that:

  • This should be the decade in which the people of Ireland are afforded a vote on the reunification of our country to end the historic wrong of partition.
  • This is a decade in which to achieve an equal and fair society in which the wellbeing of the many is prioritised over the enrichment of wealthy elites and corporate interests.
  • Over the coming years we need to see the largest public housing programme that Ireland has seen.

In relation to current negotiations to restore the north's political institutions, she has said:

"We have spent three years searching for agreement to re-establish the north’s institutions and we got there in February 2018 but the DUP walked away from that deal. We cannot have that scenario again. The choice is now for agreement, or elections, but the current situation cannot continue. 

"It is in the interests of all our people that we establish good government and real power-sharing based on equality and respect. The outstanding issues can be resolved. The time for acrimony and division is over, and the time for slogans and soundbites is over. The test now for every party that has talked up getting back to work is to go back to the Executive table and deliver."

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Note to editor: The full text of the Mary Lou McDonald's New Year's message is below:

2020: A decade for change, solutions, progress and unity

The coming year marks the beginning of a new decade and the opportunity to write a new chapter in our country's history.

It is a decade in which to achieve an equal and fair society in which your wellbeing is prioritised over the enrichment of wealthy elites and corporate interests.

It is a decade in which to renew the principles of decency, goodwill and common sense; principles that underpin prosperity and progress for you and your family.

These are things that should never be bartered away by those in power - a roof over your head, access to a doctor and a hospital if you become ill, fair pay and rights in the workplace and a free education from primary school to graduation.

I also believe this should be the decade in which you are afforded a vote on the reunification of your country and to finally end the historic wrong of partition. This is not for Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Green Party or any other party to decide, nor do they have the right to shutdown debate.

This is your country, it is your conversation and it will be your decision to make.

For you to prosper and for our country to reach its full potential, we need to change those who have led government in the south for the past century. You deserve better politics, fresh ideas and genuine commitment from those who you entrust with the running of our country. 

Not only do you deserve better, you are entitled to it.

The last ten years have shown why political change is absolutely necessary. You and your family have been held back by bad Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments, economic crisis and austerity. Families, workers and communities have suffered, and our public services have struggled.

This new decade must be about putting that right. 

With better politics and better government, 2020 can be the year in which we can kick-start a decade of change, solutions, progress and unity.

You should have a home that is secure and that you can afford.

We face a housing crisis that now touches every section of our society. It is a crisis affecting families, young people and renters, and we have an entire generation now locked out of any prospect of home ownership. This did not happen by accident. The crisis has been caused by terrible policies drafted and implemented by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil who have prioritised profit over the housing needs of ordinary people.

This must change, because our people and our economy cannot sustain another year of this housing nightmare. It is a crisis that can be met head on and solved but only with real political determination and the right policy approach. 

Sinn Féin have the solutions to turn the tide.

We need to see the largest public housing programme that Ireland has seen, and we need to cut rents and freeze them because we need action commensurate with the scale of this crisis and Sinn Féin is committed to delivering this. 

In the Ireland of 2020, you should be able to see a doctor if you are sick. Our health services struggle every day, and waiting lists, cancelled procedures and trolley counts bear testimony to this. 

There is an urgent need to invest in more capacity in our health system, yet the government continues to ignore the pleas of frontline staff that conditions are unsafe for patients. This a reckless approach. 

Sinn Féin is committed to fully resourcing our health system, to creating a health service that can recruit and retain staff, and building a health service that can give you excellent care. 

You should not be paying a second mortgage in childcare fees and sending your kids to schools should not be a source of distress.

Our childcare and education systems need investment and transformation and this decade must be the one in which we deliver truly free education - to give every child, every student and every person the opportunity to achieve and contribute to their greatest potential. 

It must also be the decade in which we make childcare a public service. Crisis and controversy over the last twelve months has shown that our system is not fit for purpose. Children and families deserve a system that is highly regulated, resourced and accessible and that transformation must start now. 

I am very conscious of the families, workers and people who will this year struggle to make ends meet because economic recovery hasn't come to their door. This year must be about putting money in their pockets and lifting the pressure on them. 

The guarantee of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work must be the minimum threshold for Irish workers and this year should be the year of the living wage, the year in which carers and people with a disability are supported and assisted in living a life of dignity. 

The Tory Brexit project now moves ahead from the withdrawal phase to the forging of a new relationship between Britain and the EU. The real dangers posed by Brexit should not be underestimated. The protection of Irish livelihoods, business and jobs is crucial, and the protection of our peace process and political stability is paramount. 

People in the north of Ireland did not consent to Brexit - they voted to remain and this pro-remain majority has been reflected again in recent European and Westminster elections. 

The collective, cross-party stance to protect Irish interests has served this country well. The voice of Ireland - in particular the concerns of the north - have been heard and heeded.

Allies in Europe and the United States have stood firm in defending Irish interests and the Good Friday Agreement against Tory belligerence, and Sinn Féin will continue in our efforts to ensure that Ireland, north and south, is protected. 

Brexit has also raised the most fundamental questions for the British constitutional order.

The debate on Irish unity is live in Ireland and internationally. The provision for a referendum on unity is part of the Good Friday Agreement, and it is now not a question of if there will be a referendum, but when it will happen. 

I have heard other political leaders say that now is not the time for talk about Irish unity, and while we can agree to disagree on the timing of a referendum - I believe a five year time frame is reasonable - Sinn Féin will never collude in the lie that partition is permanent. 

Irish unity may present challenges to be met and managed, but it is in the best interests of the future of our island.

To that end, we need a forum or a Citizens Assembly to talk about Ireland post-Brexit, to plan for constitutional change, to ensure that the path to reunification is inclusive, orderly and peaceful, because it is reckless to refuse to plan for the future. The Irish government and those parties who reiterate this position are acting recklessly and are not protecting or respecting any section of our people - unionist, nationalist or otherwise. 

It is now imperative that the British government sets out clearly the threshold, as they see it, for the calling of a referendum, and they too must begin the process of planning for Irish reunification. 

I believe that this decade is the one in which we will finally cast off the shackles of partition and unite all those who share this island.

There is no contradiction in working for Irish unity and working for the restoration of the Executive and Assembly - they are all part of the Good Friday Agreement. 

We have spent three years searching for agreement to re-establish the north’s institutions and we got there in February 2018, but the DUP walked away from that deal. We cannot have that scenario again - the choice is now for agreement, or elections, but the current situation cannot continue. It is in the interests of all our people that we establish good government and real power-sharing based on equality and respect.

The outstanding issues can be resolved. The time for acrimony and division is over. The time for slogans and soundbites is over. The test now for every party that has talked up getting back to work is to go back to the Executive table and deliver. 

The first act of a new Executive must be to restore pay parity for health workers, and a new Executive will require a significant cash injection from London to begin the work of repairing a decade of Tory austerity. There are big infrastructural deficits that must be addressed, as well as the collective job of protecting our island from the Brexit chaos. 

We are facing into a general election in the south in 2020 and I do not underestimate the challenge that presents. I do not take the support of any voter for granted and every vote will be hard won. Neither do I underestimate the real need and appetite for a viable alternative to the politics of the 'big two'. 

The political establishment want it all their own way and to reduce the election to a binary choice between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and between Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin. That is really no choice at all. It is in reality the political establishment attempting to shoe horn people into more of the same. 

Sinn Féin offers the alternative and real solutions. We are the party that stands up for you, that champion fairness and equality and that work hard in our communities every day to build a better Ireland. 

Sinn Féin is the party of Irish unity and we look to this new decade of opportunity with hope and optimism. 

I ask you to join with us in shaping a prosperous future that includes everybody.

There is work to be done, so let's get to it. 

Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit.

Happy New Year.

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Speaking following the AGM of the FAI, Sinn Féin Sports spokesperson Jonathan O'Brien TD has said the new board of the FAI needs to prioritise the grassroots of the organisation and ensure that there is no liquidation of the League under any circumstances.

Deputy O'Brien said;

"2019 saw some of the most bleak days for the FAI. It was an insult to every football fan in the country to see the heads of the FAI hide away at critical times and dodge accountability.

"There is still a lot that needs to be answered for in 2020. We need to see radical change in the organisation if we are to save the league and protect the grassroots structure.

"People have legitimate and urgent concerns including the workers at the FAI and the thousands of volunteers.

"As the undefined period continues, it is little wonder fans are so angry and disenfranchised.

"The future of Irish football is in the balance and the so-called leaders need to step up to the mark. 

"It is time for action not excuses." 

"Clubs, players and fans deserve the change needed to ensure the future of the league."

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Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has said revelations in newly released state papers from 1989 around the murder of Pat Finucane highlights the need for a full and independent inquiry into his killing.

The Mid Ulster MP said:

“Revelations in newly released state papers from 1989 showing the Irish government’s concerns that prominent solicitors were being targeted for assassination by loyalist death squads acting under the direction of the British state are deeply concerning.

“Unfortunately we know all too well from the murder of Pat Finucane that these concerns were legitimate.

“This adds to the overwhelming need for a full and independent public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.

“It is long past time the British government accepted that and constituted the full and independent inquiry it committed to and have since reneged on.”

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Sinn Féin activists in South Belfast have selected former Mayor of Belfast Cllr Deirdre Hargey for co-option to replace Máirtín Ó Muilleoir in the Assembly. 

Speaking after being selected at a selection convention in South Belfast, Deirdre Hargey said: 

“I am proud and honoured to have been selected for co-option to the Assembly to replace Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who is stepping down as MLA for South Belfast.

“I have worked closely with Máirtín over many years and know the great work that he has done for this constituency and his contribution to building the new Belfast.

“This is a crucial time in politics and just like my term on the Council and as Mayor of Belfast, I will continue to ensure that the people of South Belfast are heard loud and clear.

“Whether it’s standing against Brexit and Tory cuts or striving to make Belfast greener in the battle against climate change; I will be your voice.  

"There is no doubt that momentum for Irish Unity has grown rapidly in recent years and I will play my part in building a better future for all.

"We are in a new era of politics and I look forward to providing a strong voice, alongside other Sinn Féin representatives, to ensure the people of South Belfast continue to get the first class representation they deserve."

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Sinn Féin's Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has called on the Irish government to take immediate action to deliver an Irish passport office in the North.

Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile was speaking after end-year figures showed a record 900,000 Irish passport applications were made in 2019.

Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:

"A staggering 900,000 people applied for Irish passports in 2019, with some 94,000 of them coming from the North and from Britain.

"In the early months of 2019, monthly applications often exceeded 100,000 per month.

"These are record Irish passport application figures that show a growing demand for Irish citizenship across our island, particularly in the North of Ireland.

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Sinn Féin Councillor Gary McCleave has said a security alert on the Hannahstown Road has caused significant disruption. 

Cllr Gary McCleave said:

“There is significant disruption this afternoon caused by the discovery of a suspicious object on the Hannahstown Road. 

“The road is closed in both directions and I would urge people to avoid the route and follow local diversions. 

“This is the last thing the community needs particularly during the Christmas holidays.” 

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Sinn Féin Councillor Gary McCleave has said a security alert on the Hannahstown Road has caused significant disruption.

Cllr Gary McCleave said:

“There is significant disruption this afternoon caused by the discovery of a suspicious object on the Hannahstown Road. 

“The road is closed in both directions and I would urge people to avoid the route and follow local diversions. 

“This is the last thing the community needs particularly during the Christmas holidays.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice and Equality Martin Kenny TD, responding to comments by the Taoiseach that a referendum on Irish unity may be divisive, has said that the Taoiseach's remarks are "shortsighted" and "out of step with the electorate, north and south".

Teachta Kenny said:

"In a series of recent polls, a majority in the north have indicated that there is now a real demand for a United Ireland and polls indicate a similar sentiment in the south.

"At a time when the demand for Irish unity is growing, logic dictates that we must prepare for the prospect of a United Ireland in the coming years and to do that, we need institutional and legislative arrangements in place now to ease the transition to unity, because we are behind the curve in preparing to facilitate constitutional and political change on the island. 

"That preparation should involve the immediate establishment of an All-Ireland Forum on Irish Unity, as well as a dedicated Oireachtas Committee to plan for legislative changes needed.

"In addition, the government needs to bring forward a Green Paper on the issues that need to be addressed to tackle the hangovers of partition.  

"It is high time that the Taoiseach and his government began meaningful engagement with the British government to arrange a date for a referendum on Irish unity in the north within five years - as well as putting in place plans for a referendum in this State; in line with the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

"The issue of Irish unity is not going away, no matter how much the Taoiseach may want it to. 

"His comments today are utterly shortsighted, are out of step with the electorate - north and south - and do not reflect the reality of where people are at." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has demanded immediate answers following PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne posting an image on social media posing with heavily armed PSNI officers in Crossmaglen.

The Newry/Armagh MLA said:

“On Christmas morning, as the community in South Armagh were celebrating the festivities, Chief Constable Simon Byrne posed with heavily armed members of the PSNI at Crossmaglen Police Station.

“Further, in the text of the social media post the Chief Constable stated that policing in this area was ‘unique’ for the PSNI.

“This post by the Chief Constable is offensive to the local community and utterly unacceptable. It has only served to further undermine the public confidence in the PSNI within South Armagh. 

“The heavily armed officers posing with the Chief Constable is reflective of the militaristic style of policing that the community in South Armagh has had to endure in recent years.

“This community is no different to any other, any attempt to differentiate the style of policing has not and will not be tolerated.

“As new Chief Constable, Simon Byrne should have sought to address issues which have eroded the local community’s confidence in the PSNI in South Armagh, but this escapade has shown an intention to do anything but.   

“We need a new chapter for policing in South Armagh. 

“We need an end to fortress police stations, heavily armed officers and poor response levels. 

“We need a police service that serves the interests of this community in an efficient, effective and respectful manner.

“This community not only deserves nothing less, but will accept nothing less.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and Environment David Cullinane TD has thanked all the staff of An Post for their hard work over the Christmas period.

He said the post office network is vital in ensuring children’s letters to Santa Claus get to the North Pole on time and that the maintenance of a publicly owned postal network is crucial.

Teachta Cullinane said:

"The Christmas period is a very important time for all children across the island and it is a very busy time for post offices throughout the country.

"Our postal workers have a very important job helping to deliver letters to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve and Santa’s job would be a lot more difficult without the post office network helping him to do his job.

"Post offices - particularly in rural areas - are a valuable asset to communities throughout the State all throughout the year, not just at Christmas time.

 "This Christmas I am urging the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment to guarantee the long-term survival of An Post because the maintenance of a publicly owned postal network is crucial.

"In 2020, it is essential that the post office network is protected."

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Sinn Féin Councillor JJ Magee has appealed to the community in north Belfast to do all they can to assist the police in their investigation into the deaths of two people in Kinnaird Close.

JJ Magee said:

“Two bodies have been found in a home in Kinnaird Close and the police have launched a major investigation.

“This tragedy has shocked and saddened the local community.

“I have visited families in Girdwood who have been forced to move out of their homes while police forensic teams examine the scene and I am working with statutory agencies to provide those families with emergency accommodation.

“This has been an awful experience for all concerned in the mouth of Christmas but people understand the seriousness and the tragic nature of today’s events.

“I am appealing to the community to assist the police investigation in any way they can and to bring forward any information relevant to the investigation.

“It’s also important in the wake of this incident that people remain vigilant.”

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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill said today the party remains focussed on reaching an agreement in talks in the New Year.

Michelle O’Neill was speaking after church leaders called on negotiators to continue to work for a deal.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“Sinn Féin is committed to the restoration of the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement on the basis of equality and respect.

“There is a real opportunity to successfully conclude the talks and have a sitting Assembly and Executive to address the crisis in our health and public services.

“Progress and resolution is imperative.

“There is an overwhelming appetite in the public for good government formed without further delay.

“Sinn Féin’s focus is firmly on achieving an agreement to the outstanding issues and getting the political institutions back up and running and working for everyone in the New Year.” 

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Responding this morning to remarks made by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that a referendum on Irish unity should not be held within the next five years, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has branded the remarks “utterly shameful” and has said that Fianna Fáil has abandoned any pretence of representing Republican values.

Teachta Doherty said;

“Micheál Martin’s remarks this morning are utterly shameful.

“At key moments during Brexit negotiations and in attempts to re-establish the northern institutions the positions of Fianna Fáil representatives and their leader have more closely mirrored those of the DUP than the position of Irish Republicans and Nationalists. We see that here again.

"Whilst Fianna Fáil occasionally pays lip service to its Republican roots, it has long since gave up any notion of bringing the Republic proclaimed in 1916 to fruition and has, under Micheál Martin’s leadership in particular, become the party of gombeen men that Mellows foretold would accept partition. 

“It has become the ‘Anti-Republican’ Party by its deeds and actions.

“At a time when the demand for Irish unity is growing, it is time for the Irish government to begin meaningful engagement with the British government to arrange a date for a referendum on Irish unity in the north within five years - as well as putting in place plans for a referendum in this State; in line with the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

“There is nothing radical about any of this.

“A referendum on Irish unity is expressly provided for in the Good Friday Agreement; an agreement that was endorsed by the people of this island, north and south, overwhelmingly over 20 years ago.

“It is time the people had their say and it’s time we started planning for their verdict.” 

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Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Conor Murphy has said his party is 'deeply disappointed' a deal has not be done and that the DUP is holding up the restoration of the Executive.

The Newry Armagh MLA said: 

“Sinn Féin been very clear that we want to see a deal, want to see Stormont back up and working again.

“We have applied ourselves in the talks process over the last couple of days with both governments and the other parties.

"Sinn Féin has been committed to doing a deal, and that deal can be done in the coming days.

“There is an onus on us all to reach an agreement, to give the people hope, to address the outstanding issues and get back into institutions, which work for all.

"It is our understanding that both governments and at least three other political parties are in this space.

"Sinn Féin is deeply disappointed that the DUP are telling the media and the public the talks have to be closed down for Christmas

"The onus is now on the DUP, once again, to tell the public why they are now holding up the restoration of the Assembly.”

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