Palestinian ambassador to attend Hunger Strike Commemoration – Campbell‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed confirmation today from MP Michelle Gildernew that  the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland Ahmad Abdelrazek will address the National Hunger Strike Commemoration at Derrylin on Sunday 3rdAugust.BtzPD5MCMAAmMbg

Hundreds of people from Derry are expected to travel to Derrylin on Sunday and a number of buses from the city have been organised.

He said; 

“In the darkest hours of the 1981 Hunger Strike the Palestinian people stood in solidarity with Irish republicans as ten young men died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

“Today the Palestinian people are the victims of a genocidal attack from the Israeli government so it is important that we repay that solidarity by standing in support of their cause.

 “The Palestinian Ambassador has accepted and invitation to address the National Hunger Strike Commemoration on Sunday in Derrylin and we are calling for all Irish Republicans to turn out in support of the Palestinian people.”

A number of buses will be going from Derry for the event details can be obtained by contacting 02871 377551 or 02871 359747

Ends

Derry support for Gaza Toy Drive-Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has urged people in the city to help the”Gaza Toy Drive” underway to send toys to children caught up in the bombardment of Gaza

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Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly said  

 

“We are asking everyone to search their homes and hearts and give generously to the Gaza Toy Drive. Our local councillors and I have been approached by lots of people in Derry who are outraged and feel helpless at what is happening in Gaza especially to the children. 

 

There is a ship going from Ireland, England and Denmark at the end of August to Gaza and we need to fill it with essential supplies. Locally the  Gasyard is a collection point. All donations must be left there on  or  before Monday 4th August.

 

DEADLINE: MONDAY 4th August 2014
Drop off at Gasyard, Derry
The Gasyard opening times are;
Monday-Thursday : 9am – 9pm
Friday : 9am – 5pm

 

Sinn Féin delegation meet prisoners in Maghaberry‏

A Sinn Féin delegation consisting of Justice Spokesperson, Raymond McCartney, Jennifer McCann MLA, Seán Lynch MLA and Rosie McCorley MLA met yesterday with the republican prisoners in Roe House, Maghaberry and also with senior governors in the Prison.

 

Commenting following the visit Raymond McCartney said:raymond mccartney

 

“The visit is part of the ongoing work carried out by Sinn Féin in respect of ensuring prisoners are treated with dignity and respect and that this is reflected in their daily regime and particularly during family visits.

 

“It remains our belief that the agreement reached in August 2010 provides the basis on which all issues can be resolved in a meaningful way.

 

“Yesterday we raised our concerns over controlled movement, visits and how these have a negative impact on a regime which should be based on dignity and respect.

 

“Sinn Féin will continue in our efforts to have all these issues resolved and will not be deflected by baseless rhetoric.

 

“The party will be seeking a meeting with Justice Minister, David Ford to reinforce our views on all these matters.” CRÍOCH/END

Derry campaign calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland

Chairperson Michael McCrossan said the latest initiative was to encourage people locally to send a direct letter to the

he saidgaza_digs_out_01

 

 “We are glad to have got the support at the monthly meeting of Derry and Strabane Council calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador until the siege of Gaza is lifted.

 

But we need to keep the pressure on and members of the public can play their part in this campaign by sending a short  letter to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan calling for the expulsion with immediate effect of the Israeli Ambassador Boaz Modai from our country. And send their letters as soon as possible.

 

We intend to send as many letters back as possible this Thursday, people can call into any of the three Sinn Féin offices in the city and get a copy of the letter

Derry campaign calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland

Chairperson Michael McCrossan said the latest initiative was to encourage people locally to send a direct letter to the

gaza_digs_out_01 he said

 

 “We are glad to have got the support at the monthly meeting of Derry and Strabane Council calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador until the siege of Gaza is lifted.

 

But we need to keep the pressure on and members of the public can play their part in this campaign by sending a short  letter to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan calling for the expulsion with immediate effect of the Israeli Ambassador Boaz Modai from our country. And send their letters as soon as possible.

 

We intend to send as many letters back as possible this Thursday, people can call into any of the three Sinn Féin offices in the city and get a copy of the letter

Running the guns From ‘War by the Irish’, by John McCann

• Molly Childers and Mary Spring Rice aboard the Asgard

BARELY A WEEK after the formation of the Irish Volunteers at the Rotunda Rink in Dublin, on 25 November 1913, the British Government issued a Proclamation prohibiting the importation of arms into Ireland.

For a year previously, the Ulster Volunteers, under Edward Carson, had been receiving large supplies of arms and ammunition, paid for by English Tories, with the openly-defined purpose of opposing the application of the Home Rule measure to Ulster.

“Ulster Unionists,” said The Irish Times in its issue of 6 December 1913, “are convinced that the action of the Government has come too late, and that there are now sufficient arms in Ulster to enable effective resistance to be made to any attempt to force Home Rule on Ulster.”

The same newspaper, referring two days later to the Proclamation, added: “It, of course, puts an end to the arming of the Irish Volunteers.”

This unionist journal, despite its first feint, summed up accurately the real intent of the Government’s prohibition.

Irish Volunteer issue 1 no 9 adverts

In January of 1914, the estimated strength of the Irish Volunteers was in the neighbourhood of 10,000. By June of that year, more than 100,000 men had attested. In the meantime, the Defence of Ireland Fund had been launched with the express purpose of arming Ireland’s manhood. The fund was intended only to facilitate the purchase of fighting material in quantity as each volunteer paid for equipment supplied.

In London, Roger Casement had gathered around him a small committee of Irish people and by their own subscriptions and influence a considerable sum of money was available to supplement the collection in Ireland. Casement communicated with the Volunteers through Bulmer Hobson indicating plans for the purchase of arms on the Continent and asking Hobson to undertake their subsequent landing in Ireland.

Fifteen hundred Mauser rifles and 49,000 rounds of ammunition were purchased by Erskine Childers and Darrell Figgis at Hamburg, and it was decided to land some of the guns at Howth Harbour on 26 July at 12:45pm and the remainder at Kilcoole, County Wicklow, on the previous night.

At the port of shipment, Figgis had purposely given some curious people the information that the arms would be taken aboard fishing trawlers in the North Sea, with the result that the British Government, being apprised of this intention, ordered all coastguard stations on the Irish coast to keep a sharp look-out for trawlers and instituted a rigorous search of all fishing vessels.

The Asgard

Actually, the plan was that Erskine Childers’s yacht, the Asgard, navigated by Childers and his wife, should take over 900 rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition from the tug in the North Sea; while Conor O’Brien’s yacht, Kelpie, should take the remainder which would be transferred to the yacht Chotah, owned by Sir Thomas Myles, off the Welsh coast. The Asgard was to proceed to Howth and the latter to Kilcoole. The yachts, it was hoped, would not be suspected of such an expedition.

For some weeks prior to 26 July, the Dublin Volunteers engaged each Sunday on long route marches to accustom themselves to the fatigue and, more important still, to throw off any suspicion which the British would have at seeing a large body of men heading for Howth. The Volunteers decided that they would take delivery of the arms in the same way as the Ulster Volunteers had done at Larne – in the broad daylight.

pg20-1

Accordingly, at 10am on the appointed date, some 700 Volunteers and members of Fianna Éireann paraded at Father Mathew Park, Fairview, and all but a few officers thought that they were starting on one of their regular route marches, this time to Portmarnock. Bulmer Hobson and Thomas MacDonagh were in charge and Cathal Brugha waited at Howth in command of a group of picked men.

The day was stormy and heavy. Showers fell as the men marched in good order. Leaving Fairview at 10:40, there were but two hours to cover the approximate eight miles. At Raheny, a short halt was made while one hundred Volunteers from Lusk and Swords joined the ranks. Here Hobson informed the officers of the real purpose and probably told them, also, that the Fianna trek-cart carried 150 heavy oak batons, which would come in useful should police or coastguards attempt to interfere.

As the Volunteers drew near Howth, the Asgard was already lying off Lambay Island. Altogether the yacht had been 19 days at sea, going and coming. The return journey was a hazardous one, through heavy seas. The guns had been unpacked en route and were piled in the cabin four feet high, which made the voyage doubly uncomfortable for the crew, who had to crouch in the apartment. The Asgard had passed through a naval review at Spithead and might have encountered HMS Forward in Dublin Bay but for the fact that the warship had been ordered to the Wicklow coast, the Volunteers having spread a rumour that gun-running was to take place there.

Asgard-Irish Volunteers at Howth 2

The men halted at the East Pier, in full view of the police, who stood at their barracks door curious but unsuspecting. Guards were detailed to deal with the police and coastguards and to keep the public off the pier.

Meanwhile, Childers was waiting for the “all ready” signal, which was to have been given by Darrell Figgis from a small boat. No boat appeared. Nevertheless, the Asgard’s owner decided to put into port, a bold decision upon which depended the success of the enterprise, for HMS Forward returned to Howth some time later, its commander being apprised of events there.

The Asgard came alongside to the minute of its appointment. And as it did, the main body of Volunteers came down the pier at the double. Not a moment was wasted. Cathal Brugha’s men were already taking delivery when the main body halted. Words could not describe the enthusiasm that followed, the rank and file having been, until then, without knowledge of their detail. The men formed chains and the rifles were passed from hand to hand down the pier. Six motor cars took the greater part of the ammunition to appointed places, and the Fianna loaded 2,000 rounds into their trek-cart. No ammunition was distributed.

The police vainly tried to pass the guard, and coastguards, who endeavoured to land from a boat, did not persist when challenged by men holding rifles, which they did not know were empty. A bare 20 minutes passed and the Irish Volunteers were swinging proudly down the pier, rifles at the slope.

In good order, the men reached Raheny, where Dublin Metropolitan Police and armed members of the Constabulary, who had been sent to intercept the march, wisely refrained from interfering with 800 riflemen. Outside Raheny, word was brought that police and military were assembled at Clontarf and, despite this, the Volunteer officers decided not to alter their route for the city. However, nearing Clontarf, the Volunteers swung off the main road to avoid the imposing array of soldiers that blocked the way. But Assistant Commissioner Harrel, who was in charge of the party, was evidently seeking trouble for, observing the move, he brought his men at the double by a detour. The police lined the pathway and the soldiers held the road, their bayonets fixed.

pg20-5a

• A woman points out a bullet hole following the Bachelor’s Walk killings by British troops

Harrel held up his hand. Hobson, who was marching with Darrell Figgis at the head of the Volunteers, gave his men the order to halt. Hobson coolly asked Harrel his business. To which the Assistant Commissioner replied: “You are an illegal assembly. You have contravened the Arms Proclamation. Hand over the rifles peacefully or . . .” Hobson said simply: “You can’t have them.”

Harrel ordered his men to disarm the Volunteers and a number of policemen charged the ranks. Others, however, refused to obey his orders. A hand-to-hand fight followed, in the course of which some Volunteers fired pistol shots. The soldiers did not charge but a few Volunteers received bayonet wounds from contact with the military. The latter, though provoked by the pistol shots, which wounded two of their number, did not return the fire. It was a delicate situation for the Volunteers’ leaders. No ammunition had been distributed and those who had loaded short-arms were under orders not to fire. The leaders, therefore, signaled their intention of parleying with the Assistant Commissioner of Police.

And while Thomas MacDonagh and Darrell Figgis argued with Mr Harrel, Bulmer Hobson passed the word along for the Volunteers to disperse from the rear and, going by way of the fields, for each man to make his way home with his rifle. And before Assistant Commissioner Harrel realised what had happened, and much to his disgust, the parade had dissolved .

Mr Harrel marched his men towards the city and was unsuccessful in his further efforts to intercept the Volunteers. The military – the King’s Own Scottish Borderers – were followed through the city by a hostile crowd, who, it was said, threw stones at them. On reaching Bachelor’s Walk, Major Haig, who was in charge, ordered the soldiers to prepare to fire upon the ringleaders. The soldiers, thoroughly out of hand, needed no further order but immediately opened fire at point-blank range, with the result that four people were killed and 38 wounded. The Royal Commission set up to investigate the occurrence reported against the military, being of the opinion “that no occasion had actually arisen for using loaded firearms”.

In the fracas at Clontarf, the Volunteers lost but 19 rifles, the majority of which were broken in the fray.

A week later, the second consignment was successfully landed at Kilcoole, County Wicklow.

Rough weather had forced the yacht Chotah into a Welsh harbour where it berthed for some days, having suffered a split mainsail. Thomas Myles and James Creed Meredith were the navigators. Seán Fitzgibbon and Seán T. O’Kelly were in charge of the Volunteer party, who took delivery of 600 rifles and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. The yacht anchored some distance from the shore and the men went out in motorboats to meet it. Near Kilcoole railway station, a number of motor vehicles were loaded and the cars proceeded to Dublin without serious incident.

Asgard 26 July 1914 – Commemoration of ‘Howth Gun Running’ for 1916

The Commemoration makes its way down the East Pier, Howth

Speech delivered by County Councillor and Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Eoin Ó Broin at the commemoration at Howth Pier, County Dublin, marking the 100th anniverary of the Asgard landing weapons there on 26 July 1914 in preparation for the 1916 Rising.

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY, on this very pier, members of Fianna Éireann and the Irish Citizen Army stood ready to land a shipment of arms destined for the Irish Volunteers.

The landing was an important step in preparation for the 1916 Rising.

But the events in Howth on that day were much more than a practical matter of guerrilla war.

It was an act of political defiance.

It was a bold step by women and men who were determined to wrestle Ireland’s destiny from the clutches of the British Empire.

It was a signal of intent that Irish women and men were no longer willing to be subjects of a foreign monarch.

It was a declaration of Irish citizenship and an assertion of the right of Irish citizens to control our own destinies.

Some of the leading figures in the Rising were involved in the Asgard mission.

Constance Markievicz stood ready, wheelbarrow in hand, overseeing the events on this pier. Republican, socialist, feminist, she was already an iconic figure in the republican struggle. She would go on to become the first woman Cabinet minister in the world.

Erskine Childers was the skipper. A leading member of Sinn Féin, a TD for Wicklow, a republican Director of Publicity in the Civil War and, finally, executed by the Free State in November 1922.

Molly Childers was one of the fund-raisers for the operation and helped navigate the ship en route to Ireland.

Erskine, Molly and their crew made the journey from Hamburg through the North Sea, sailing unsuspected through the entire Royal Navy Home Fleet while it was being inspected by the King of England and encountering the worst storm in years in the Irish Sea.

The Citizen Army and the Fianna landed the arms and marched back to Dublin.

At Fairview, the Royal Irish Constabulary attempted to thwart them but they got away.

In response to the landing of the arms, soldiers of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers regiment opened fire on a crowd in Bachelor’s Walk in the city centre, killing three civilians: Mrs Duffy, James Brennan and Patrick Quinn; 38 more were injured, one of whom died later of bayonet wounds.

The Bachelor’s Walk killings stood in sharp contrast to the co-operation given by the British crown forces to the Ulster Volunteers when they had landed thousands of weapons at Larne earlier that year.

The mission was a success but it came at a very heavy price.

The landing of the Asgard here in Howth in 1914 was a key moment in the struggle for Irish independence.

It not only provided the Volunteers with the means to take on the Empire – it gave them the confidence.

Eoin Ó Broin (with Daire Ní Laoi)

Today we remember those women and men who played such an important part in the long struggle for Irish independence.

But we are here to do much more than just remember their actions.

We are here to remember the reasons behind those actions – the political ideals that motivated these men and women.

We are here to celebrate and to draw inspiration from their bravery and their determination.

Like Sinn Féin today, the women and men of 1914 were struggling for a New Republic – independent, democratic and equal.

Five years after the Asgard landing, Irish republicans set out what that republic should look like when, in 1919, at the first sitting of Dáil Éireann, the democratically-elected representatives of the Irish people unanimously endorsed the Democratic Programme.

That Programme took the 1916 Proclamation’s vindication of “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies” as its starting point and went on to detail the social and economic meaning of this fundamental republican principle.

The Programme asserted that “sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the nation, but to all its material possessions, the nation’s soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation”.

The Programme also prioritised the public interest over the private, affirming “that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare”.

The new republic was to be “ruled in accordance with the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice for all” and was to guarantee the “right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the nation’s labour”.

The document stated:

“It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as citizens of a free and Gaelic Ireland.”

The newly-established government was to have a “duty to promote the development of the nation’s resources, to increase the productivity of its soil, to exploit its mineral deposits, peat bogs, and fisheries, its waterways and harbours, in the interests and for the benefit of the Irish people”.

The final lines of the Programme committed the new government to promote a “general and lasting improvement in the conditions under which the working classes live and labour”.

The Democratic Programme outlined both the values and mechanisms through which the social and economic promise of the republican revolution was to be delivered.

It not only promised political equality but economic and social equality too.

It was a radical Left republican manifesto combining all that was progressive in the socialist and republican traditions of its authors.

This is the vision that inspired Constance Markievicz and her comrades on Howth’s East Pier 100 years ago today.

It is the same vision that motivates those of us assembled on that very same pier today.

The struggle for the New Republic continues.

But we are no longer landing guns in preparation for military confrontation.

We are mobilising the hearts and minds of the people of Ireland.

We are building our political strength on the streets, in our communities, across council chambers and in the Assembly, Dáil and European Parliament.

Howth Centenary at Lighthouse

We are building a movement for political, social and economic change in Ireland.

We are no longer taking a stand against an Empire – our ambitions are much greater than that.

We are in the business of taking power in Ireland – North and South- in order to implement the New Republic outlined in the Democratic Programme of 1919.

So, as we stand assembled here today, we must do more than just commemorate. We must take inspiration from the courage and vision of those who came before us.

We must go away from today’s proceedings and rededicate ourselves to the struggle for a fully independent, truly democratic and genuinely equal republic.

That is what the republican and socialist Volunteers on Howth Pier were struggling for in 1914.

That is what Sinn Féin is struggling for today.

That is what you must struggle for tomorrow and every day until the vision of the Republic as outlined in the Democratic Programme becomes a reality.

Duffy raises concerns over Derry gorse fires‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy commenting on a number of gorse fires in the greater Shantallow area in recent days  the most serious one being at Madam’s Bank Road.

Cllr Sandra Duffy said

Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

 

“Apart from being a risk to life, property and the wider environment, these fires are also tying up resources of the Fire and Rescue Services that could be needed elsewhere in an emergency.

 

“Gorse fires can prove to be a serious problem and while some of these fires are started accidentally, the majority are believed to be started deliberately.

 

“Accidental fires in the countryside can be started through discarded rubbish or carelessness when disposing of items like barbecue coals or cigarette ends that have not fully cooled.

 

“I would encourage people to be extra careful and ensure that they take everything home that they bring out into the countryside. And also appeal to people not to attempt to tackle gorse fires on their own but to ring the emergency services straight away.

Health chair McLaughlin supports local “Paul’s campaign”‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and Chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Maeve McLaughlin has pledged her support for a local campaign for funded research into sarcoma.

July is the month of Sarcoma awareness, on  Saturday the 26th of July locally a walk organised by “Paul’s campaign” took  place on Derry’s Walls to raise awareness of Sarcoma-pic Maeve taking part in walk
 
 
Maeve McLaughlin said BteUIxjIgAEUa1V.jpg large
 
“I have met with Paul’s family on the issue of raising awareness of Sarcoma and have raised it with the Health Minister Edwin Poots. I am urging people locally to support the campaign to raise awareness of this illness and look at funding for research into it”
Full details of the campaign http://www.paulscampaign.com/index.php
Notes
 
Sarcoma is rare cancers that develop in the supporting or connective tissues of the body i.e. muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, cartledge, and fat.
100 people each year from the North get diagnosed with some form of Sarcoma.
It accounts for 11% of childrens cancers and 14% of teenagers cancers.

Fleming welcomes unanimous support of Living Wage proposals

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming has welcomed the decision by the new Derry and Strabane Council to unanimously support his party’s call for adoption for a living wage to be introduced.

 

He also said Sinn Féin will also be pushing ahead to lobby for the formation a job creation unit locally.  ???????????????????????????????

 

Councillor Paul Fleming said

 

“We are pleased that we got support for our motion for the introduction of a living wage to be introduced.

 

In 2014 people deserve to be paid a decent wage and Sinn Féin believes that introducing the living wage will ensure that the lowest-paid workers will enjoy a better quality of life.

 

“Paying local workers a living wage would help boost the North West economy because they would have more money to spend in local businesses.

 

“Providing workers with a living wage would also help prevent the emergence of a two-tier economy which would leave behind those on benefits and low pay.”

 

“Sinn Féin is determined that people are paid a wage that reflects their work and allows people to move out of the poverty bracket.”

 

Concluding he said

 

We will also be pushing to ensure that one of the first actions of the new council will be the formation of a job creation unit for the Derry and Strabane area to help lift people out of unemployment and create sustainable jobs.

 

Notes Motion

Councillor Fleming to Move:-

`In recognition of the financial pressures faced by low paid workers,that this Shadow Council agrees to bring forward proposals for a living wage for its work force effective from 1st April 2015

“Criminals will not deter us” McCartney MLA

Commenting on the overnight arson attack on the Derry Sinn Féin constituency office at Ráth Mór, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said that the Party would not be

deterred from delivering a first class Constituency Service to the people of Derry by a bunch of criminals intent on destruction.DSC_0131

Raymond McCartney said:

“Although these criminals succeeded in causing some damage, it was confined to one room. I want to reassure people that the room which houses the Book of 

Remembrance to the many people who contributed to the republican struggle in every decade since the twenties did not suffer any damage.

“It says much for the mentality and motivation of the criminals who carried out this attack that they would attempt to destroy a Centre that contains so many pieces of remembrance dedicated to those who gave of themselves selflessly.

 

“But Sinn Féin will not be deterred in our work on behalf of the people of Derry and it is business as usual at all our constituency offices in Derry today, including the office 

at Ráth Mór.” CRÍOCH/END

Sinn Féin will oppose tracking at every level – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has reiterated her opposition to controversial fracking and vowed to continue to campaign vigorously against its introduction to Ireland. 
Ms Anderson said;
“Sinn Féin’s position on this issue is very clear; we remain solidly opposed to any form of fracking.??????????
“Our party has continually stood with the people of Fermanagh in opposition to fracking, which would have a devastating impact on the natural environment. 
“That policy is clear and has been ratified at several party Ard Fheiseanna. 
“In every elected fora, local councils, the Assembly and the Dáil, Sinn Féin has voiced our opposition to fracking and vowed to block it at the Executive if and when a planning application is made for fracking near Belcoo. 
“In the European Parliament I have repeatedly made it clear that Sinn Féin is strongly opposed to tracking. 
“I have consistently voted in favour of mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments for both the exploitation and exploration phases. 
“I also submitted my own amendments to European Parliament reports calling for such impact assessments in order to protect our environment. 
“That stands in stark contrast to the voting record of other parties from the North in the European Parliament, who have repeatedly voted against plans for mandatory environmental impact assessments. 
“Both the DUP and UUP need to explain to the people of Fermanagh and Ireland why they do not support measures to protect our environment from fracking. 
“For my part, I will continue to strongly oppose fracking in all its forms and to stand up for the people of Fermanagh.” Ends/Críoch

McCartney condemns arson attack on Sinn Féin office‏

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has condemned an overnight arson attack on Derry Sinn Féin’s main constituency offices at Ráth Mór, Eastway Road. 
Speaking after the constituency office was targeted in the attack, the Foyle MLA said; DSC_0116(1)
 
“This must be condemned as an attempt to attack the democratic process. 
 
“It will not stop us working or the people of Derry. 
 
“It will be business as usual for Derry Sinn Féin, continuing to serve the people of the city an the wider north west.” Ends/Críoch 

Irish Peace Process template applies to Gaza/Israel

LAST SATURDAY, 19 July, was the 17th anniversary of the IRA cessation in 1997. From it emerged sustained dialogue and inclusive negotiations. Once these were embraced by all sides, Irish society moved irreversibly away from conflict.

The next day, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert spoke in heart-wrenching terms from Gaza. He said:

“This is a genocide. This is a massacre. Israeli impunity has gone so far . . . they don’t consider Palestinians even human according to how they treat them now.”

Currently, almost 700 Palestinians are dead, 25% of them children; 4,000 have been injured; 101,000 are in UN shelters. Gaza’s population is 1.8million.

Gaza kids woundedThe image and reality of the carnage against Palestinians is unbelievable – the four Bakr children killed on the beach; 28 members of one family, including a baby, massacred only days ago.

The long-term humanitarian effects are unimaginable.

United Nations spokesperson Chris Gunness has told RTÉ Radio that 25% of Palestinian children in Gaza are deep in trauma.

Israel’s assault is absolutely barbaric, disproportionate and dehumanising.

Another immediate international atrocity occurred when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blown up over Ukraine by Russian-backed militias, killing 298 passengers; 80 were children.

In contrast to the Gaza crisis, international reaction has been correctly resolute. US President Barack Obama demanded that the Russians resolve hostilities in a way respecting Ukraine sovereignty and the rights of its people. British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged European economic sanctions against Russia’s aggression.

The corollary of their positions should be to support robust diplomatic sanctions against Israel until it unambiguously commits to binding negotiations, based upon an acceptance of the Palestinian people’s right to their own state alongside Israel – the two-state solution.

Without even-handed, strategic intervention and enforcement of and compliance with UN resolutions and international law, the cycle of violence against Gaza and attacks on Israel will continue.

The Irish Peace Process worked because all sides stopped armed actions, agreed to negotiations, implemented full demilitarisation, and embraced conflict resolution. This approach is urgently required in the Middle East. It applies equally to Palestinian and Israeli military organisations.

Earlier this week Sinn Féin called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.

Intensified international pressure is required to end the Israeli occupation and bombardment.

No more Palestinian children should die because of Israeli violence; nor should any Israeli children live in fear.

The Irish Peace Process is a proven template. Introducing a comprehensive military cessation, beginning inclusive negotiations and making democratic compromises, should be the uncompromising message from Obama, Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Expel Israeli Ambassador

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has reiterated his call for the Irish government to expel the Israeli Ambassador following another day of Israeli attacks on the civilian population in Gaza.

The Sinn Féin leader also accused the Irish government of “political cowardice in abstaining today in a vote during an emergency debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva which seeks to establish an international Commission of Inquiry into allegations of war crimes.”

Mr. Adams said:2 gerrys

“Almost 700 Palestinians have now been killed in 15 days of intense attacks by Israel by land, sea and air. According to the United Nations 74% of those killed by Israel have been civilians. Homes, hospitals and schools, including buildings housing refugees, have been bombed by Israel.

“One hospital was bombed four times and four people were killed and scores of people were injured. Thirty of the wounded were medics. The Israeli assault on the civilian population is in clear contravention of international law.

“This view is widely acknoweldged internationally and was evident in the course of today’s debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting. To its shame the Irish government abstained.

“The Irish government needs to take a clear stand in support of the civilian population of Gaza and send a clear message to the Israeli government that its actions will not be tolerated. This can best be achieved by expelling the Israeli Ambassador.”

Anderson welcomes EU call for end to occupation of Palestine

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a call from the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council for an end to the occupation of Palestine.

Speaking after the Foreign Affairs Council called for an immediate end to the violence in Gaza; Ms Anderson said; BsrQvQMCIAIm5jM.jpg large

“While it was selective in its condemnation of violence and legitimises the spurious claim by Israel that human shields are being used in Gaza, the Council has been forthright in its calls for the indiscriminate targeting of civilians to end. 

“The council has said it is particularly appalled by the human cost of the Israeli military onslaught and also expressed deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. 

“It also called for the immediate an unconditional opening of border crossings to allow the flow of humanitarian aid and people. 

“Crucially, the council’s conclusions examined the root of the problems and said the only way to end the conflict is through agreement that would end the occupation which began in 1967. 

“This is particularly welcome as it directly addresses the crux of the problems faced by the Palestinian people. 

“It also reaffirmed its commitment to to a two state solution and called for a halt on the expansion of illegal israeli settlements. 

“The conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council go much further than the frankly weak resolution passed by the European Parliament which failed to recognise the significance of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.” 

Hassan welcomes launch of £3million Community Works Programme

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news that the Joint First Minister Martin McGuinness  has announced a Citywide Community Work Programme (CWP) at an event at Derry’s Northside, Shantallow today.

Ballyarnett

Councillor Tony Hassan said “I am pleased that this scheme has got the green light and that it will be happening right in the heart of local communities. It will help improve employment and  provide long term placements targeted upon those on the margins especially young people in the 25 years age bracket and long term unemployed.

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McCartney welcomes MPE jobs boost for Derry

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the news that Maydown Precision Engineering (MPE) will create 40 jobs in Derry after Manchester-based A2E Venture Catalysts bought a majority stake in the company.

Speaking today Raymond McCartney saidRaymond head shot 22

 

“This announcement by Maydown Precision Engineering (MPE) that it is to create 40 high skilled jobs in Derry is a great boost for the local economy.

“The confidence of this investment will also send a positive message that the North West is competitive and a good place to invest.

“It is important that we attract more jobs of this high category into this region.

Sealed orders – The part the Fianna played at Howth

• Members of Fianna await orders on Howth Pier

By Corporal ‘Willie Nelson’ [Pádraig Ó Riain*]. From Nodlaig na bhFiann, December 1914.

Asgard commemorationI WAS AWAKENED by a loud knocking at the hall door. I awoke slowly and wondered who the disturber of the Sabbath morn was. I yawned, stretched myself and finally looked at the clock. It was five minutes to seven.

I then began debating with myself (for, being a member of the Sluagh committee, I have an aptitude for debate) as to whether the disturber was the post, a seller of the Sunday Freeman, or an early-rising milkman.

I pride myself for having a logical mind, a gift which Madame [Markievicz] was the first person to discover I possessed. I reasoned like this. It cannot be the post for he only gives two short raps and departs; neither can it be a milkman, for every sane milkman supplements his knocking by melodiously rattling his can on the kerb. I was about to turn over and leave the honour with the seller of newspapers when the knocking grew louder and more persistent. Curiosity impelled me to get up and, on looking out of the window, to my astonishment, I saw my leader, Paddy Holohan, renewing his attacks on the knocker with great vigour.

“Hello, Paddy,” said I. “What’s the row about?”

“You lazy beggar!” he shouted back. “I have been knocking here for the last half-hour and I might as well have been knocking at the morgue for all the notice was taken of it.”

Then, in sterner tones, he commanded:

“You are to parade in the Hardwicke Street Hall at half-past nine, and bring rations for a day’s march with you.”

And, muttering something about sealed orders from the Military Council, he bolted off.

***

When I arrived in Hardwicke Street, I found nearly all the older members of the Sluagh present; also members from An Cheud Sluagh and the Sluagh in Inchicore. They were all speculating about the march. Some argued that we were going to Lucan to start a new Sluagh, whilst others asserted we were going on a day’s manoeuvres with the Volunteers. This view was generally accepted when we subsequently joined the Volunteers at Fairview.

Pádraig Ó Riain, who was in command of the Fianna, in a few words gave us to understand that strict discipline was to be maintained throughout the day. Seán Heuston had charge the transport section. The trek-cart was heavily loaded and closely covered. I was in this section and understood Seán to say that the cart contained minerals and refreshments for the Volunteers.

We were allotted a position in the centre of the column, where we held until we were very near Howth, where we proceeded to the head of the column. We entered the village at the head of the Volunteers and halted at the pier near the foot of the hill.

Asgard-Irish Volunteers at Howth

A Fianna signaller awaiting the Asgard

***

We went up the pier at the double and outran the Volunteers. Some men were already unloading a yacht. The Fianna were ordered to assist.

Our section, under Seán Heuston, at once unpacked the trek-cart, which disgorged not minerals or sandwiches but large wooden batons. These were rushed down and distributed to the companies which blocked the entrance to the pier. The object of our march was now obvious – rifles had at last arrived.

The coastguards sent up rockets for help and the Volunteers sent up great triumphant cheers which re-echoed from the Hill of Howth to Dublin Castle and soured the champagne of the Kildare Street Club.

***

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 2

When I returned to the top of the pier, the Volunteers and Fianna were feverishly unpacking the rifles. There was an intense and silent activity. We quickly loaded our trek-cart with rifles and transferred them to the companies of the other end of the pier. I was engaged in this work until all the Volunteers were supplied.

The Volunteers and Fianna now carried rifles on their shoulders. Ammunition and rifles were also packed in our trek-cart and the remainder were dispatched in motor cars. We were ready to depart and awaited orders.

The long lines of armed men stretching the whole length of the pier was the most entrancing sight I have ever witnessed. We were filled with great joy and our souls were thrilled with the spirit of freedom.

As we left the pier, the people of Howth came out in great crowds to greet us. A priest from top of a tram blessed the rifles as we passed and we cheered response to his benediction.

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 3

***

I was beginning to feel tired as we neared Dublin. The long march to Howth and back, the pulling of our heavily-laden trek-cart, the running and exertion on the pier now began to tell against me. But the thought of a triumphal march through the streets of Dublin with a rifle on my shoulder buoyed me up and made me feel extremely happy.

I had not taken Dublin Castle into consideration and did not believe our friendly Government would permit her to play her last stroke in as villainous a manner as events afterwards proved.

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 4

***

On the Howth Road, a few hundred yards from Clontarf, I saw a company of soldiers with fixed bayonets blocking our way to the city. As if to avoid the military, we turned to our right along Charlemont Road and on to the Malahide Road.

Before we were a hundred yards on the Malahide Road we knew that the first companies of Volunteers were in conflict with the military. The sounds of rifles clashing, revolver shots and shouting made a terrific din.

We got the order to “Halt!” and were told we had got to defend the ammunition at all costs.

The Captain of Ceud Sluagh drew an automatic pistol and, with some of our fellows, dashed off to join in the fray. It was with difficulty Seán Heuston and Pádraig Ó Riain restrained others.

We clustered around the cart with our rifles gripped tightly in our hands. Suddenly we saw the Volunteers scatter and run. Some of the men were bleeding from the head but most of them seemed uninjured and still clung to their rifles. As they passed us we appealed to them to stand. We shouted and called them cowards. Our commander, not knowing that they had received orders to retire and get off with their rifles, shouted: “By God! We won’t. run away.”

***

Asgard commemorationBefore I had time to realise what had happened, the road in front of us was almost clear and I saw the police with batons and rifles rushing in upon us. Then Pádraig rushed out in front and shouted to us to come on. His voice was harsh and he shouted and cursed most horribly.

We dashed out to meet the police.

I was near Paddy Holohan and O’Connor. They, too, were cursing and shouting defiantly. Everything was confusion. I saw the police and the soldiers and the glitter of their bayonets as in a maze. A huge policeman with a rifle swooped towards me. I was seized with a sort of frenzy and, putting forth all my strength, I made a deadly blow at his head.

I think my last ounce of strength went into that blow for I do not remember what happened after till I heard Seán Heuston calling me to lend a hand to pull the trek-cart. I distinctly remember his shrill voice when he gave the order. “Take strain – quick march!”

***

We were now retreating back along the Malahide Road. Joe Robinson was clinging to the back of the trek-cart in which the ammunition and rifles were still safely packed. There were only ten or twelve of us. Eamon Martin, Garry Holohan and some others were left behind. They were enjoying the sport too much to leave till all was over.

We wheeled to our left off the main road and were soon clear of immediate danger. We passed a couple of old men chatting near a pump. They seemed to be enjoying the summer’s evening and apparently knew nothing of the bloody episodes that were being enacted only a mile away.

We turned up a country lane near a big house and concealed ourselves in a bit of a wood on our right. It was now dusk so we decided to make a pretence of camping out and to conceal the rifles and ammunition until we could have them safely removed after dark. Our commander went up to the house and got permission to camp near the wood.

We buried the treasure, which was removed after dark in a taxi, and is now safe.

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 5

The Fianna marching to Bodenstown 1912 or 1913. Pádraig Ó Riain leading Countess Markievicz on his right

*Pádraig Ó Riain was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and, according to Bulmer Hobson:

“From the foundation of the Fianna in 1909 to the Rising of 1916, he was the dominating personality in the Fianna. He had a natural capacity for leadership and did an enormous amount of work.”

Ó Riain’s father was caretaker of the Irish National Foresters’ Hall, 41 Parnell Square, Dublin, and the secret drilling of the IRB took place there before the formation of the Irish Volunteers in November 1913. Ó Riain went North in 1916 to help the rising in County Tyrone. When the Rising misfired he went on to Belfast and lived there until his death.

Ó Riain contributed the weekly notes on the Fianna to The Irish Volunteer and to the Nodlaig na bhFiann, the organ of the Fianna, under the nom-de-plume of ‘Willie Nelson’.

For another account of the part played by the Fianna at Howth, see Gearoid Ó hUallacháin, ‘Teacht na nArm go Beann Eadair i 1914,’ in An Gaedheal, i Meithearnh 1935, p2.

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy in Colombia peace process international delegation

Lessons from Irish Peace Process can help end Colombian conflict

FARC-EP rebels have been fighting the Colombian Government since 1964

SINN FÉIN MP Conor Murphy says lessons from the Peace Process in Ireland can help end the conflict in Colombia which has been raging since 1964 and has left more than 50,000 people dead.

Speaking on Tuesday during a visit to Colombia as part of an international delegation of politicians, trade unionists, journalists and lawyers to support the Colombian peace process, the Newry and Armagh MP said:

“This visit, organised by the Justice for Colombia group, will see us meeting with trade unionists, human rights activists, victims of the conflict, prisoners and representatives of the Government.”

As well as visiting Bogota, the delegation is travelling to rural and coastal areas to hear testimony from peasant activists and fishing communities on ongoing human rights abuses.

The conflict in Colombia has seen the state and its death squads (known as “Self Defence Forces”) pitted against the guerrilla organisations of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) – whose main support base comes from poor rural areas.

On arrival in Colombia the delegation was greeted by Dr Carlos Lozano, a spokesperson for the Patriot March movement and editor of Voz newspaper.

“He has to have armed bodyguards everywhere he goes as his predecessor was murdered by state forces,” said Conor Murphy.

“We met with human rights lawyers who briefed us on the ongoing murder of trade union activists. Almost 3,000 have been killed since 1986, 28 in the last year.

“They told us of plans by President Santos to allow military courts to deal with all accusations of violence and abuse by state forces and to counter what he claims is a ‘legal war’ by human rights lawyers on behalf of victims.

“This is despite the fact that the state has enjoyed a 98.5% impunity for all killings.”

Conor Murphy in Colombia

Pictured: Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy MP with Liliany Obando, a Colombian activist and academic who was jailed in 2008 while working on human rights projects with agricultural workers

Conor Murphy also says lessons learned in Ireland could be used in Colombia. 

“In an interesting parallel with Ireland, the lawyers spoke of attempts by the Colombian Government to downplay its role in the conflict and the creation of a hierarchy of victims ahead of any agreement around a proposed truth commission.

“One note of optimism was our meeting with a young woman, Yessika Hoyos, a human rights lawyer who established the group, Hijos y Hijas (Sons and Daughters) which brings together children of murdered trade unionists and other civic society leaders.”

Conor Murpy says there is clear evidence that the struggle for peace and justice remains strong in Colombia:

“After our engagements in Colombia some of the delegation will travel to Havana, Cuba, to meet with FARC negotiators who are currently in peace talks with the Colombian Government.” 

Thieves target new fence at Dolans GAC -Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has condemned  vandalism and attempted theft of fencing between Dolans GAC and Ballymagowan Estate in the Creggan.

3895995549 Councillor Campbell said:

“I was contacted on Sunday morning by a member of Sean Dolan’s GAC to inform me that part of the fencing bordering the land between Dolans and the new Ballymagowan housing development was removed.  When I arrived three panels and fittings that had been removed were still lying on the ground in Dolan’s land.

It was clear that whoever was responsible  must have been disturbed   and they abandoned the panels.

“I would appeal to those responsible to desist from these actions.  The fence was erected for a purpose and Dolans GAC are now in the process of constructing the new playing pitch to the value of almost £150,000.

 This pitch is a much needed facility for  Creggan and Sean Dolans GAC  has had its fair share of vandalism over the years.

 I would appeal to those responsible to leave this fencing alone and allow the club  to get on with the construction of the pitch in peace.

Councillor Campbell also said that he will be contacting Apex Housing who own the fencing to see if there is a way of making the fencing more secure.   

Concern over car vandalism in Culmore –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan said

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

 

 

I am concerned that a number of vehicles were found with their tyres slashed in the Ardanlee area of Culmore, once again the owners have been left  with a hefty repair bill.

 

Earlier this year there was several incidents in the Elmvale, Ardanlee, and Spruce Meadows areas in which attempts had been made to break into a number of cars and in other incidents cars had been vandalised.

 

The Sinn Féin colr. encouraged local people to report anything suspicious to the PSNI. “It’s important that if anyone sees people acting suspiciously late at night in the area they contact the police straight away,” he said.

Best wishes for the 2014 Foyle Cup – Kelly

Sinn Féin  Moor Councillor  Colly Kelly  has wished the organisers of the Foyle Cup and the participants all the best as the 2014 competition begins.colly new road pic

 

Cllr Colly Kelly  said   “The Foyle Cup is a great competition and is also a great showcase for Derry. I would like to wish the organisers and participants involved in this year’s event all the best as they get ready for the week long programme. And encourage the people of the city to give it as much support as possible

 

The opening parade  is always a colourful spectacle and sends out a great positive image for our city and in particular our young people “

 

Ends 

 

McGuinness calls for parties to return to the table

 

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said today that all parties should return to talks to deal with the issues of flags, parades and the past. 

 

Speaking after meeting British secretary of state Theresa Villiers, Mr McGuinness said; 

 

“It is important that we all show leadership at this time. Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

 

“All parties need to come back to the table to find a way forward on all the remaining issues around parading, flags and dealing with the past. 

 

“In relation to parading, it is our view that the integrity of the Parades’ Commission should protected and defended. 

 

“We are passionate about getting a resolution to this issue and to do that we all have to work collectively and all the relevant stakeholders need to be involved.

 

“This requires political leaders to show the necessary leadership and get back to the table with a view to resolving these issues.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

 

Derry emergency rally in solidarity with Palestine-TUESDAY NIGHT

Derry emergency rally in solidarity with Palestine


10376282_714143668641700_675468986003485963_n10376282_714143668641700_675468986003485963_n10376282_714143668641700_675468986003485963_n10376282_714143668641700_675468986003485963_n

Councillor warns over problems of teenagers camping out unsupervised

Councillor Patricia Logue said

 

I have received several complaints in recent days about groups of young people camping out in various locations in the city and the associated problems this has created for residents.

 

It  has included late night noise, underage drinking and safety concerns.Patricia Logue new pic 22

 

I would urge parents to check if their child tells them they are staying overnight in a friend’s house that they actually are. A lot of children get caught up in peer pressure and when you have ten, twenty young people out all night unsupervised then it can lead to problems.

 

The residents that have spoken to me are not trying to be killjoys ,they know it’s the summer and young people want a bit of adventure but when you are kept up all night with groups of teenagers drinking and carrying-on close to your home it’s certainly not fun for them.  

 

 

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Moves to address Ferndale anti community problems-Cllr Sandra Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed measures taken by Apex Housing, warden scheme and PSNI  to resolve issues around a vacant property in Ferndale which had become a gathering point for young people at night time and was causing upset to local residents.

Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

 

Councillor Duffy said “I have been dealing directly with Apex Housing   to try and get this resolved as speedily as possible following a number of complaints from local residents in relation to the property.

 

The rear of the building was full of rubbish and young people were entering the back yard each night and causing lots of noise and disruption to the local community and this has been made worse with the summer holidays.

 

Apex have now been out and cleaned up the back yard and removed a lot of rubbish and are going to erect a fence at the front and rear of the property. They have also asked their wardens to keep an eye on the property to minimise any anti-social behaviour taking place there.

 

The neighbourhood police have also agreed to include the area on their patrols over the weekend.

 

I would like to thank everyone involved in the multi-agency approach on this.

Expel Israeli Ambassador over Gaza slaughter – Adams

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has called for a diplomatic offensive by the Irish Government to encourage the Government of Israel to end it’s military onslaught against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.

Mr Adams welcomed the decision by The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to meet the Israeli Ambassador following the escalation of the Israeli Government’s military offensive in Gaza but said the time had come to expel the Ambassador.

Speaking today Gerry Adams said:

“Today marks the 17th anniversary of the IRA cessation in 1997. This is a timely reminder of the efficacy of dialogue and inclusive negotiation as an alternative to protracted armed conflict.

“That principle is as applicable today to the situation in the Middle East as it was to Ireland in 1997.

“The decision of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to meet the Israeli Ambassador, following the escalation of the Israeli Government’s military onslaught against the besieged population of the Gaza Strip, is welcome.

“However the time has long past for merely expressing concern to a Government that is clearly oblivious to the outrage of the international community at their actions in Gaza.

“Irish citizens have been upset and angered at the ongoing killing of men, women and children in Gaza.

“All armed actions, including attacks from Gaza must stop.

‘In 2009, following a fact finding mission to Gaza I published a report which proposed nine immediate steps to help resolve the conflict. They were:

1. All armed actions and acts of violence should cease.

2. An inclusive process of negotiation should commence in which all democratic mandates are respected, clear objectives are set, and there is a fixed timeframe.

3. The building of the separation wall should stop as a first step which would see its demolition.

4. The siege of the Gaza strip should end.

5. An immediate and intensive programme of reconstruction and economic development must commence.

6. The ongoing Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and the building of settlements should stop.

7. The occupation of the West Bank and the denial of freedom of movement to Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza strip, and between the West Bank and Gaza, should end as part of the process to decolonise the West Bank.

8. Mutual and expeditious co-operation between Palestinians and Israelis to enhance public safety and security should commence.

9. UN resolutions and international law should be enforced.

“Five years later, none of these steps have been taken and the situation has deteriorated once again.

“The decision by the Israeli Government, in the face of international anger, to escalate its military offensive by launching a ground offensive requires a firm and resolute response by the Irish Government, which must now expel the Israeli Ambassador.

“The Irish Government should also push for the immediate suspension of the EU’s preferential trade agreements (Israel-EU Association Agreement and Euro-Med Agreement) with Israel.”

ENDS

Abuse inquiry funds must be ring-fenced -McCartney‏

Sinn Féin Foyle  MLA Raymond McCartney said today that funding for the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry should be ring-fenced so that it receives the necessary finance to complete its work regardless of the dispute around Tory welfare cuts.

Raymond McCartney  said:DIGITAL CAMERA

“My party colleague Jennifer McCann has  spoken to all the Sinn Féin ministers on the Executive and they are all agreed that the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry must be guaranteed certainty of funding. The HIAI can and should be immune from the on-going dispute within the Executive over Tory welfare cuts.

“It’s Sinn Féin’s view that the HIAI must get the funding necessary to complete its important investigation into the abuse of children in homes.

“Sinn Féin will be contacting ministers from the other parties on the Executive  today  to ensure that this happens.

“Martin McGuinness will also be meeting Peter Robinson  to discuss this and other urgent funding issues.

“Political disagreements on Tory welfare cuts should not prevent routine but necessary reallocations and adjustments.”

Derry emergency rally in solidarity with Palestine

Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry is to hold a solidarity rally in the city tomorrow night Tuesday

gaza_digs_out_01

Speaking today chairperson Michael McCrossan

 

“The situation in Gaza is once again at crisis point. Millions worldwide are protesting against the slaughter happening there.

 

We have seen in recent day’s dozens of protests and rallies right across Ireland and throughout the world.

 

“Hundreds of Palestinians are dead; thousands have been injured; thousands have sought refuge; hundreds of buildings including hospitals, schools and homes have been destroyed by Israeli bombs.

 

We are asking people from Derry, Donegal and Tyrone to gather with us on Tuesday 22nd July at 7pm at Free Derry Wall in order to send our solidarity to the people of Gaza and Palestine and to also show our anger and opposition to the continued slaughter that the Israelis are carrying out on the Palestinian people.

 

We will proceed from Free Derry Corner, up Fahan Street towards the Diamond, down Shipquay Street and into the Guildhall Square.

 

We ask people of all ages to attend and to encourage young people and children to bring a toy to the event with a message attached that can be left at the Guildhall to highlight the slaughter taking place, quite often on young children.

 

Invite friends, family and all to attend so that we can send a very clear message from the North West of Ireland the attacks on Gaza must stop and justice for the Palestinian people must be served.

Vandals target Immaculate Conception College -Cllr Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson has slammed vandals who have broken 18 windows at Immaculate Conception College in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

 

Councillor Jackson said:

“People in the Top of the Hill area are disgusted by this latest incident. Around 4am on Wednesday morning vandals smashed eighteen windows in the school. Whoever was involved in this attack has now left the school with a hefty repair bill.

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

 

Schools are centres of our communities and provide not just education for our children but also services for families, after schools projects, and outreach to the wider community. Many local community groups are amongst users of the school and all are very appreciative of the use of the school premises. We cannot allow a handful of people put all of that good work in jeopardy.

 

This is an area with very few facilities and I would say to whoever is responsible for these attacks to stop, as they are only hurting their own community.

 

It’s very sad to see this attack happening following the good news last week that a Masterplan for the regeneration of Top of the Hill area is a step closer. We cannot allow a handful of people undermine the good work going on the in local community and i would urge  anyone with information on those responsible for the attack on the Immaculate Conception College to bring it forward immediately.

 

 

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McCartney announces venue for 2014 National Hungerstrike Commemoration

Sinn Féin Foyle  MLA  and former Hunger Striker Raymond McCartney has announced  that the 2014 National Hungerstrike Commemoration will be held this year in Derrylin County Fermanagh on Sunday 3rd August

 

Raymond McCartney said,???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

I would like to announce that the National Hungerstrike commemoration will take place in  Derrylin County Fermanagh on Sunday  3rd  August 2014.

 

The prison struggle of the late 1970s and early 1980s were without any doubt a key moment in the Irish struggle for freedom and justice. And within that period the Hunger Strike of 1981 is of course the defining moment.

 

Augusts National commemoration in Derrylin  is one of the biggest events on the Republican calendar and I appeal to the wider Republican community from Derry and our neighbouring counties of Donegal and Tyrone to join with us in remembering with pride the sacrifice of ten brave comrades who died in Long Kesh during those turbulent summer months of 1981.

 

The 1981 Hunger Strike was a pivotal event in the course of Irish history -it politicised and radicalised large sections of the Irish people. For this generation of republicans its was akin to the emotion generated in the wake of the 1916 rising.  The Hunger strike and related events mark 1981 out as a seminal year in the struggle for a united Ireland.

 

A number of buses will be going from Derry for the event details can be obtained by contacting 02871 377551 or 02871 359747

Fleming calls on Derry City Council to adopt living wage

Speaking after tabling a motion which will be debated at the next meeting of Derry City Council calling for a a living wage to be introduced, councillor Fleming said; ???
 
“People deserve to be paid a decent wage and introducing the living wage will ensure that the lowest-paid workers will enjoy a better quality of life. 
 
“The minimum wage is £6.31 for people aged over 21 years-old and while it is very important that it is in place, it is a very basic salary which many people find hard to live on. 
 
“We need to ensure that people get proper rewards for their work and the living wage of £7.65 would help lift people out of the working poor bracket. 
 
“Not only would a living wage provide a better quality if life for low-paid workers, it would also boost the local economy. 
 
“Paying workers a living wage would mean workers would have more money to spend in local businesses. 
 
“A number of major international companies have already introduced the living wage for employees which sends a very clear message to the scaremongering from some in the business community who claim it is unaffordable. 
 
“Providing workers with a living wage would also help prevent the emergence of a two-tier  economy which punishes those on benefits and low pay

Light for Gaza this Friday

Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry are encouraging people to take part in an initiative entitled “Light for Gaza” this coming Friday night.

They are encouraging people  to light a candle and place a solidarity message beside it, take a photo of it and upload it to Facebook and Twitter between 9 and 10pm.

 

Ógra chairperson in the city Michael McCrossan who has visited Gaza said “People have been outraged by what has been happening in Gaza with the continued Israeli onslaught. candle burning

 

What is frustrating people witnessing this ,is that many of the major news outlets are ignoring the horror of what is going on in Gaza  and people are only  getting the true story via social media.

Also thousands of people have protested across the world and again by in large sections of the broadcast media have ignored it.

 

In efforts to show our support the people of Gaza and highlight the horrors going on there we are encouraging people to  light a candle and place a solidarity message and location  beside it, take a photo of it and upload it to Facebook and Twitter between 9 and 10pm on Friday night.

 

We chose this time because its  when most of the main news will be broadcast across Europe. Everyone taking part can in their small way show solidarity for  the people in Gaza plus using the power of social media to get the message out of what is going on there.

558028_10150918243953642_1548665738_n

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Palestine Solidarity Protest in Plenary

Palestine Plenary Protest 2Martina Anderson MEP and Sinn Féin colleagues, Liadh Ní Riada, Lynn Boylan and Matt Carthy join other MEPs in Palestinian solidarity protest in the EU Parliament Chamber

McLaughlin concerned over children’s social work services

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the health minister to explain why more than 100 children have not been allocated a social worker in the Western Trust. 

Speaking after meeting social workers, the chair of the Assembly’s heath committee and Foyle MLA said; 

“A child is said to be accommodated by the Trust when he or she is looked after in a foster home or children’s home for more than 24 hours. 

“Normally between 400 and 430 are formally accommodated in the Western Trust area but this year it is 523. 

“That means there are more than 100 cases where children have not been allocated a social worker. 

“The system is currently so busy that staff have told me that the department is ‘running hot.’ ?????????????????????????????????

“The Trust has appointed eight new social workers for children at risk but there is still a backlog at present. 

“There are two specialist care placement schemes available which deliver a high level of care, one in England and one in the 26 Counties, but the costs can be prohibitive. 

“I have written to health minister Edwin Poots outlining my concerns about the high number of children formally accommodated in the Western Trust and the resources in place to deal with the situation.

“I will also be going on a placement visit with social workers to see at first hand the challenges that exist in the current system.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

OTR scheme neither secret or illegal – McCartney

Sinn Féin Vice-Chair of the Justice Committee, Raymond McCartney said today that as expected the Hallett Report clearly demonstrated that the On the Run scheme was neither secret or illegal.

 

Raymond McCartney said:DIGITAL CAMERA

 

“The OTR issue was one of a number which Sinn Féin and other parties raised with the two governments in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement.

 

“The scheme was put in place by the British government in line with commitments made by both governments to address this issue.

 

“In the aftermath of the Downey case, Sinn Fein cooperated fully with the Hallett Inquiry and outlined Sinn Féin’s engagement on this issue from the Good Friday Agreement onwards.

 

“Judge Hallett has said clearly that the process was lawful.

 

“The report also makes it clear that the process was not secret, there are over 30 pages of material included in the report, which was in the public domain.

 

“This included reports in the media, questions and answers in Dáil Éireann and in the two British houses of parliament, Policing Board minutes and the Eames Bradley Report.

 

“A long list of politicians from the DUP, UUP, Alliance and SDLP discussed the issue over a period of a decade in meetings with the British government and British officials.

 

“The two governments made commitments to deal with the anomaly of the issue of the On the Runs in the wake of the Early Release Scheme under the Good Friday Agreement.

 

“We expect the governments to live up to those political commitments.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Thatcherite welfare cuts put parades into perspective

THERE was considerable relief that the Twelfth weekend passed off without widespread incidents of disorder. That was as it should be. The nationalist and unionist community of the Woodvale, Crumlin Road, Twaddell and Ardoyne deserved this respite.

Everyone in our society is entitled to live free from sectarian threat or harassment; no one should be subjected to hate crime. The fact that graphic examples of bigotry and hate were still in evidence during the last week – most notably in Antrim town, the Short Strand, Donegall Street in Belfast, and against Orange halls in Ballycastle and Eglinton – demonstrates how much work needs to be done.

Political unionism has shown the influence that it can exert over events on the ground. The leadership it provided clearly restricted the ability of extremists to inflame tensions and cause instability.

This was a positive development and is to be welcomed. Now it’s time to build on that example.

The parading impasse at Ardoyne will not be resolved without proper dialogue. So, leadership is now required to resume talks between the Orange Order and local residents. Those talks must not be postponed indefinitely. An immediate initiative should be taken.

That is the engagement that really counts instead of meetings with a Secretary of State who doesn’t even live here far less understand the issues.

Political unionism walked away from the talks table two weeks ago. It was a pointless stunt.

The only question that arises is not whether the DUP and UUP will come back into talks but when, and to which format.

They should give leadership and make it sooner, not later.

That should be an incentive for the Irish and British governments, with United States support, to put the correct framework in place to address all the outstanding issues.

The political process and institutions have taken a hammering due to the absence of leadership and real engagement.

There is no alternative to pro-Agreement politics, Good Friday Agreement principles and process, and power-sharing itself.

Political unionism should give leadership and unite with all other parties in addressing the stark challenges we all face.

They include:-

  • Permanent resolutions to contentious parades;
  • Eradicating sectarian and racist hate crime;
  • Agreeing the compromises needed to deal with the past;
  • Leading a popular fightback against neo-Thatcherite welfare cuts.

Tory welfare cuts put parades into perspective. They will adversely affect the lives of all our citizens, regardless of religious or political affiliation. United leadership is now required from every party against welfare cuts.

Sinn Féin gets back to work

“Citizens want fundamental change. Sinn Féin seeks to offer a viable, do-able, political alternative.” – Gerry Adams

THE DUST had barely settled on the ballot boxes being put back into storage after the elections than Sinn Féin activists met for an all-Ireland strategy conference at a west Dublin venue on Saturday 21 June.

Under the banner of ‘Challenges and Opportunities, 2014-2016’, the west Dublin event was the starting point for a summer of stocktaking and strategic renewal to re-energise the party after gruelling election campaigns that had seen Sinn Féin win almost half a million votes with the election of four MEPs and more than 260 councillors to join the existing team of TDs, senators, MPs and MLAs.

The day-long event was addressed by national leadership figures including Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Martin McGuinness.

Immediate priorities outlined were:

Negotiations and dealing with difficulties in the political process and peace process;

By-elections and Westminster elections;

Preparations for a Dáil general election and Assembly elections;

Preparations for the centenary of 1916 with a strong focus on Irish unity;

Engaging with unionism, in all its forms, on issues of common ground.

Gerry Adams said:

 “Sinn Féin needs to be ready for government in this state on our terms, agree our policy priorities and political platform and our commitments need to be deliverable.

“We are ambitious for change and believe we can deliver on jobs, housing and health.

“But we will not do what the Labour Party has done – we will not enter government merely to give cover to the agenda of conservative parties. That’s the old, failed political system.

“Citizens want fundamental change. Sinn Féin seeks to offer a viable, do-able, political alternative.

“It is time for a realignment of politics. Let those on the Irish Left who really believe that a government without Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil is possible begin working together towards that end.”

Politics is not a spectator sport

• Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams with Sinn Féin’s MEP team of Matt Carthy (Midlands North West), Martina Anderson (Six Counties) Liadh Ní Riada (South), and Lynn Boylan (Dublin)

We must ferociously challenge the status quo and build progressive alliances

The first in a series of opinion pieces by progressive figures on ‘What now?’ after the sensational election results

THE local and EU elections represented a very significant political shift in Ireland, North and South. The very fact that Sinn Féin managed to secure almost 500,000 votes is a signpost of the progress we made. It also presents us with very significant challenges.

In councils the length and breadth of Ireland, Sinn Féin is in a position to represent our constituents and our communities, but we also have an opportunity to reshape the political dynamic in those institutions.

I was at the first meeting of Dublin City Council where our comrade Larry O’Toole was appointed Deputy Mayor. It’s very clear there is now a working-class majority in that council – it’s a completely different council. We need to be very proactive and positive in terms of how we use that transformed political landscape.

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Deputy Mayor Larry O’Toole with some of the new Sinn Féin Dublin City Council team

One of the things we are keen to advance is the mutual recognition of democratic mandates and not have a situation where the largest group or party hogs all the positions for themselves but to do things in a way that is truly democratic. That wasn’t received as it might have been, particularly by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who chose to relapse into the politics of exclusion, which doesn’t work. There is an appetite for doing politics differently.

In the North, there has been a process of political transformation underpinned by agreements that has not happened in the South. The economy collapsed, people’s lives were thrown into disarray but politics didn’t really change. Now we find ourselves in a very challenging but exciting moment where we can be a central driver in delivering that change.

At an EU level we have a truly all-Ireland team of four MEPs. We have an opportunity and political responsibility to shape the political momentum.

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•  Edmond Lukusa, Paul Donnelly and Natalie Treacy all took seats on Fingal County Council

For me, this period in politics is about two things.

The first is that we must continue to challenge the status quo – ferociously, fearlessley and fairly.

The other is about building progressive alliances.

We can’t imagine that those with whom we wish to build an alliance are going to share every single position of Sinn Féin (if they did, they’d be in Sinn Féin). But rather than magnifying differences we should work on areas where we share common ground.

People who voted for Sinn Féin at any level expect us to challenge and to build. This is not about institutions. It’s still about activism on the ground and on the street. It’s important we do not turn this into some kind of spectator sport where we sit back and just watch the Dáil, Assembly or local councils. Activism remains the key and bringing as many people as we possibly can onto shared ground.

Let me just say plainly to the critics: It’s not good enough now, given everything we’ve been through, to tolerate another five years of politics-as-usual. Whatever criticism some parties or groups might have with alliances with others at council level, it doesn’t answer the essential need to recast things when we now have sufficent numbers to do so.

As republicans we should not be distracted by negativity for the sake of negativity. One of the lessons from political life, and something republicans know well, is that you should never exclude yourself. You don’t voluntarily sit on the bench and complain.

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Lynn Boylan MEP and Mayor of South Dublin Fintan Warfield

We have now been given a chance. We will be watched carefuly to see how we use that opportunity. I don’t think there is an expectation from anybody that Sinn Féin can resolve all these issues and problems at the stroke of a pen or the wave of a magic wand. But people do expect to see a step-change in how politics is done and a change in priorities. They expect the top priority to be the welfare and rights of low-income and middle-income earners who have really taken the brunt of the austerity agenda. We will move heaven and earth to deliver on those commitments we made because we know that others have disappointed in that regard.

It’s a very exciting time for Sinn Féin and I could not let this opportunity go without saying it’s extremely positive that we got so many younger candidates and so many women elected. Our comrade Edmond Lukusa is the first elected black politician in Dublin.

You can see the diversity in our representation and membership from all sections of Irish society but the real heroes of these elections have been the teams of activists who worked so hard, day and night on the ground, to get us to where we are today. By God did they deliver, so now it’s up to us as elected representatives to do the same.

Belfast City Hall Gaza rally hears ‘boycott Israeli goods’ calls

THE war crimes of the Israeli Zionist state were once again the focus of anger as hundreds gathered at Belfast’s City Hall on Tuesday 15 July to call for an end to the genocide in Gaza.

Israel barcode

Among the speakers were Sinn Féin Councillor Jim McVeigh and peace activist Mairead Corrigan, whose work to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people is renowned.

Calls for an anti-apartheid-style boycott of the Israeli state are increasing as a weapon that ordinary people can use effectively by refusing to buy produce with barcodes beginning with the numbers 729.

image53

Hundreds attend Gaza solidarity rally in Derry

SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE attended a rally of solidarity with the Palestinian people outside the Guildhall in Derry on Wednesday night. The event was organised by  Ógra Shinn Féin.

The main speakers were Chairperson of Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry Michael McCrossan and Gerry Mac Lochlainn, both of whom have visited Gaza on several international delegations.

Gaza rally Derry women July 2014

Michael McCrossan said:

“We are very pleased with the great turn-out at such short notice. We had people from Derry and Strabane here and I spoke to one family who had travelled from as far as Gweedore in County Donegal, they felt that strongly about what was happening in Gaza.

“It has been reported in recent days that almost 50 people, including eight children, have been killed in Israeli attacks and another 400 injured. The health system in Gaza, under-resourced as a result of Israel’s siege, is at breaking point.

“There have been almost 500 air strikes, as well as naval bombardments of Gaza. Palestinian homes have been demolished and hundreds have been arrested. As many as 200 of these are now held by Israel in administrative detention – essentially internment without trial.

“Gerry Adams has said this week the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, which have resulted in no deaths, should end. But these actions cannot excuse the application of overwhelming military force by the Israeli Government.”

Gaza rally Derry July 2014 youth

Sinn Féin is also organising rallies in Belfast and Dublin.

Belfast’s Kincora scandal and MI5 must be part of Westminster paedophile inquiry – Ken Livingstone

KEN LIVINGSTONE, the former Mayor of London and long-time Ireland campaigner, is calling for the east Belfast Kincora Boys’ Home scandal to be included in the official inquiry into allegations of paedophilia against senior members of the British Establishment in Westminster in the 1980s.kincora-2

Documents alleging child abuse against MPs and senior public figures in the 1980s (when Margaret Thatcher’s Tory party was in power) are among 114 Home Office files on child sex abuse that have been destroyed, ‘lost’ or ‘gone missing’.

The systematic abuse of young boys in the Kincora Boys’ Home in the 1970s and the part played by British Intelligence organisations to keep the scandal under wraps ensured that one side of the murky world of unionist paramilitarism and its links to the crown forces was kept out of the public domain for years.

It all eventually unravelled in the early 1980s.

Kincora William McGrathAt the centre of the affair was Kincora Housemaster William McGrath (pictured). McGrath was the head of loyalist paramilitary group Tara and a man central to the formation of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in 1971.

McGrath was also closely connected to senior figures in both major unionist parties as well as having links to the Orange Order.

Calling on British Home Secretary Theresa May to extend the British Government inquiry announced on Monday 7 July to include Kincora, former Labour Party MP Ken Livingstone said:

“MI5 weren’t just aware of child abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home – they were monitoring it. They were getting pictures of a judge in one case, politicians, a lot of the Establishment of Northern Ireland going in and abusing these boys.”

Amnesty International later joined the calls for an inquiry to include Kincora.

Adding her voice to Ken Livingstone’s call, Fermanagh & South Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said:

“These allegations are a cause of great concern and need to be thoroughly investigated.

“The nefarious role of MI5 in Ireland is well-known but these allegations are particularly shocking.”

Unionism’s ‘graduated response’ more about opposition to power-sharing than parade ruling

THE NATURE of political unionism and Orangeism’s “graduated response” to the Ardoyne parade determination will be tactically short-sighted – albeit involving tactics which may have repercussions for the political situation and potentially events on the ground.

The position adopted to date – including the stage-managed walk-out from all-party leaders’ talks; asserting that the institutions are under threat; the manufactured avoidance of the North-South Ministerial Council; combined with the Orange declaration that governance in the north will be impacted – throws up real strategic questions for unionism and what it expects to achieve.Unionist_leaders_July_2014_parades

Whenever pan-unionism has mobilised around rejectionist goals, the most extremist elements have always set the agenda and political instability, unrest and violence occur.

That’s exactly what happened during the unionist strikes in 1974/77, against the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985, during the Drumcree crisis in 1996/97, throughout the last two years, and specifically arising from the Orange-organised protest at Twaddell last July.

Unless proper leadership is provided within political unionism and the extremists within the Orange Order are shunned, this society can have no confidence that anything different will happen this time.

Political unionism is not committed to power-sharing and partnership government and is opposed to managing the ongoing process of change in the North.

Blaming the Parades Commission for putting the political institutions under threat is a smokescreen for a significant crisis of leadership within political unionism.

In turn, the default position for the unionist parties and paramilitaries becomes a retreat into another (temporary) pan-unionist front and the formation of an explicit anti-Agreement axis.

Contested parades are a vexed issue and must be resolved. Political unionism’s “graduated response” is a sham. It has nothing to do with unresolved parades and everything to do with opposition to the Good Friday Agreement framework and principles, power-sharing, and partnership government.

However, for political unionism to move away from that template will be like setting off on a journey into the wilderness without the satellite navigation switched on. The Good Friday Agreement (and other Agreements) and existing power-sharing arrangements are the only show in town.

A pro-Agreement axis is required.

The Irish and British governments, supported by the US administration, must now take the lead.

There is only one direction for the political process and that’s forward – towards a new phase of the Peace Process.

Political unionism should accept that reality and get back to the talks table.

Much better ‘Plan A’ – so let’s make it work properly.

By Declan Kearney

Sinn Féin National Chairperson

Anderson criticises EU resolution on Gaza

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has criticised a European Parliament resolution on Israeli attacks on Gaza as ‘woeful’. 

Speaking after the European Parliament passed a European People’s Party and Socialists and Democrats resolution on the current violence in Gaza, Ms Anderson said;

“The situation in Gaza is once again at crisis point. Millions worldwide are protesting against the slaughter happening there. 

Sinn Féin  MEPS join a Palestine solidarity protest outside the European Parliament today

Sinn Féin MEPS join a Palestine solidarity protest outside the European Parliament today

“Unfortunately however, this joint resolution is a woeful attempt to address the reality of the current conflict. It neutralises the conflict to avoid criticising Israel. 

“The cosy consensus of European Peoples Party and Socialists and Democrats is disgraceful. 

“Almost 200 Palestinians are dead; 1,250 have been injured; 17,000 have sought refuge; 1,300 buildings including hospitals, schools and homes have been destroyed by Israeli bombs. 

“This is an appalling carnage. Attacks from both sides should stop immediately. 

“The causes of the conflict are ignored in this sham resolution. 

“Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in the aftermath of the murder of three young Israeli boys, which we all deplore, is not mentioned. 

“The arrest of hundreds of Palestinians which added to tension in the region is not mentioned. 

“Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law with the expansion of settlements and the construction of apartheid walls are not mentioned.”

“Israel’s impunity over such gross violations must end.”

Volunteer Cup to take place this weekend – McCourt

Republican activist Eamonn (Peggy) McCourt has said that the annual Derry Volunteer Cup will take place at Bishop Field on the weekend of the 18th and 19th July.

 

Peggy McCourt said,

 

“The Derry Volunteer Cup is an amalgamation of several football competitions that are held over the summer period in the Creggan area.

 

“The competition is in recognition of the local IRA Volunteers who died over the past forty years., many of whom where young men who played football.

 

“The eleven a side competition will be held over the weekend of the 18th and 19th July on Bishop Field with four teams representing Creggan, Bogside and Brandywell, Shantallow and Waterside competing for the trophy.

Councillor Colly Kelly with Brendy McDonald captain of the winning team Creggan 2013

Councillor Colly Kelly with Brendy McDonald captain of the winning team Creggan 2013

 

“This event is one of the ways in which we can pay tribute to those young men and women from the local community who paid the ultimate price in the struggle for Irish freedom.

 

“When Bobby Sands said ‘Our revenge will be the laughter of our children’ he was envisaging days like this as many of the players taking part in this competition will not have experienced the recent conflict.

 

“I would like to invite people to come along next week and participate in a weekend of fun and craic as well as paying tribute to the local patriot dead.”   

 

Fleming condemns Westlake disruption

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming has condemned those responsible for a security alert in the Westlake area of Derry. 
Speaking after the discovery of a suspicious object in the Westlake area, councillor Fleming said; ???
“This has caused nothing but disruption for people living in the community. 
“Several families have had to be evacuated from their homes early in the morning as a result of this security alert. 
“Whoever is behind this has caused distress and disruption to resident in the area who do not want to see this kind of thing happening.” Ends/Críoch

Independent inquiry into Kincora needed – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness said today that, to be effective, any inquiry into the abuse of children at the Kincora Boys Home in the 1970s needs to be international and fully independent.

The Deputy First Minister said that the British state is unwilling and incapable of investigating its own agents and intelligence services.

Martin McGuinness said:DSC_0877

“There have been a number of scandals around the activities of the British intelligence services in Ireland, including the murder of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane and collusion in the killings of hundreds of nationalists.

“The British government has spent decades trying to cover up the activities of its intelligence services in Ireland.

“The British state is clearly incapable of investigating itself.

“Therefore, to be effective, any inquiry into the abuse of children at the Kincora Boys Home during the 1980s needs to be international, independent and have the powers to sub poena witnesses and access documents.” 

Sinn Féin MEPs to explore funding opportunities with European Investment Bank Vice-Chair

Sinn Féin MEPs Martina Anderson, Lynn Boylan and Liadh Ní Riada will travel to Luxemburg on Thursday to explore opportunities for investment with the Vice-Chairman of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Jonathan Taylor.

 

Martina Anderson said: martina

 

“I recently took the opportunity to discuss with Johnathan Taylor, the possibility of funding opportunities such as coupling of projects such as Magee, Altnagelvin, C-Tric for Research and Development and roads and rail infrastructure.

“I then arranged a further meeting with him for this Thursday 17th July along with party colleagues Lynn Boylan and Liadh Ní Riada in Luxemburg to discuss a number of propositions with him.

 

“The EIB lends money on low-interest, long-term deals for big infrastructure projects.

 

“However, the British government blocks the Executive from accessing EIB funding for major projects such as the A5 and A6 and the development of a modern rail network.

 

“It is a crazy situation that councils and development bodies do have access to the fund while the Executive – the body charged with job creation and structural projects can’t at this time.

“The new super councils are due to come on stream with increased powers and responsibilities so it’s an opportune time for me to explore the possible benefits of this source of low-cost finance for essential development projects.

“The University of Ulster’s new Belfast Campus is an example of a project that has benefited from a £150 million loan facility from the EIB, which was crucial in order for the project to proceed.

 

“We intend to establish exactly what projects qualify for financial assistance and if the British government lifts its ban on Executive access to the EIB, what type of cross-border projects could access funding?” CRÍOCH/ENDS

Anderson calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and international recognition for Palestine. 
Speaking at a GUE/NGL press conference in Strasbourg, Ms Anderson said; DSC_0589
“This recent Israeli onslaught has seen more than 190 Gazans killed, mostly civilians and children, and unfortunately that number will probably rise. 
“The Israeli bloodbath undermines the two-state solution and obstructs the potential Palestinian unity government. 
“We need to see an immediate de-escalation of violence and a ceasefire by all sides in this conflicts. 
“The Israeli government must recognise the Palestinian unity government and engage in dialogue in order to find a way out of the current situation. 
“It is clear from this latest series of attacks that Israel is attempting to drive a wedge between Fatah and Hamas.” 
Ms Anderson also called on the international community must become involved to help the people of Gaza. 
“Expressions of concern are not enough; what is required now from the international community is decisive action. 
“International recognition for the two-state solution would be a hugely important step. 
“All governments should grant full embassy status to Palestinian missions. 
“The UN must recognise that Israeli actions have violated international law. 
“For too long the UN and the wider international community has watched the blockade of Gaza; watched an apartheid wall being built; watched as road blocks were erected and segregated buses introduced. 
“We have witnessed Israel demolishing thousands of Palestinian homes and forces thousands of families from their land to built settlements. 
“All of this is in violation of the 1993 Oslo Accord. 
“The Palestinian people and their elected representatives cannot tolerate this not should they be expected to.” Ends/Críoch

Summer appeal over dangers of electricity sub stations or electricity pylons – Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has urged parents in Derry to warn their children about the dangers of playing near electricity sub stations or electricity pylons during the summer holidays

Councillor Logue saidPatricia Logue new pic 22


“I would ask parents in Derry to try and ensure that they prevent their children from going anywhere near electricity sub stations or electricity pylons. And appeal also to the young people to understand the risks and to stay away from the likes of electricity sub stations as they are not a playground”

“We all know that children love to climb up, on and over things. Fences are particularly inviting. With more children getting outside to play during the summer, it is the perfect time for parents to talk to them about electrical substations and why they must never climb the fences surrounding them”

“An electrical substation has thousands of volts running through it. This can kill someone in an instant. Only authorized and trained workers are allowed to work in or near high voltage substations. The whole substation is a danger zone, so children have to be prevented from getting near them at all times”

“Electricity is part of our everyday life – designed to provide us with a safe and reliable source of energy, but sometimes it can be dangerous. This happens when we’re exposed to it in ways we were not meant to be. We can avoid these hazards by following some simple rules and informing children of its dangers”

Ends

Fleming condemns Eglinton flag theft

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming has condemned the theft of a flag from an Orange hall in Eglinton. 

Councillor Fleming said; 3140735984

“Flags and symbols should be treated with respect and the theft of this flag must be condemned. 
“We want to create a culture of tolerance and actions like this do nothing to contribute to that. 
“This is no different to the destruction of tricolours on loyalist bonfires. 
“I hope this will not do anything to raise community tensions in the area and I would appeal for the return of this flag to its owners.”  Ends/Críoch

Open Irish passport office in Derry –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has called on the new Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to open an Irish passport office in Derry.

 Councillor Kelly said colly new road pic

 

“Our three offices in Derry have been inundated with calls in recent weeks from people looking for assistance with Irish passport applications.

“As well as people making new applications, it’s not unusual for elected representatives to have been dealing with a number of people who have been seeking replacements for lost or out-of-date passports.

“On many occasions people have to travel to Dublin to collect their passports in time for their holidays.

“The staff at the passport office work very hard and are always accommodating but they are under a lot of pressure, particularly at this time of year.

“It is high time that an Irish passport office is opened in the North to deal with the huge volume of applications here.

“Sinn Féin will be writing to the new Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to call for an Irish passport office to be opened in the North.

“There are passport offices in Dublin and Cork and another office in Derry would be of great assistance to applicants from all over the north of Ireland.”

 

Ends

Notes

Sinn Féin ascertained in 2013  that over 125,000 people from the North applied for Irish passports  over a three-year period.

Hassan calls for Culmore Road safety measures‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed proposed road safety measures being  implemented in the Ardan Road area of Culmore but called for priority to be given to a “safer routes” to school programme at Hollybush Primary school to make it safer for school children.

 

Councillor Hassan said,

Minister Michelle O’Neill with Councillors Sandra Duffy and Tony Hassan

Minister Michelle O’Neill with Councillors Sandra Duffy and Tony Hassan

I welcome this scheme at Ardan Road but more needs to be done. Over the past year Sinn Féin has called on DRD Roads service to introduce traffic calming measures in the Culmore area such as Elmvale and Ardnalee and to put in place measures such a “safer route” to school at Hollybush Primary school.

 

Over the next few months we will be meeting with all the agencies in the city to look at what can be done to enhance the Culmore Point Road and others areas in Culmore.

Ends

Burning elections posters is a hate crime – Fleming‏

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming has said the burning of election posters on loyalist bonfires is a hate crime. 
 
Speaking after election posters of Sinn Féin councillors from Derry appeared on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark way in Belfast, councillor Fleming said; 
 
“Posters from the recent election featuring myself and my party colleagues Martina Anderson, Kevin Campbell, Mickey Cooper, Liam Friel as well as Belfast councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir have been placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way in west Belfast. 
 
“A poster of my party colleague Patricia Logue has also been placed on a bonfire in Derry. Lanark Way
 
Sinn Féin is strongly opposed to the burning of election posters on bonfires. 
 
“These are hate crimes against sections of our community and should be treated as such.
 
“The Orange Order and unionist politicians claim these bonfires are expressions of culture and should be welcoming for families but there is little evidence of that.  
 
“We need to see strong voices and leadership from political unionism in order to see that these despicable practices are stopped.” Ends/Críoch

Hundreds attend Gaza solidarity rally in Derry

Several hundred people have attended a rally of solidarity for the Palestinian people outside the Guildhall in Derry on Wednesday night organised by  Ógra Shinn Féin.DSC_0489

The main speakers at the event were Chairperson of Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry Michael McCrossan and Gerry MacLochlainn, both of whom have visited Gaza on several International delegations.

Speaking today the Chairperson of Ógra Shinn Féin Michael McCrossan said

“We are very pleased with the great  turnout at such short notice. We had people from Derry and Strabane in attendance and I spoke to one family who had travelled from as far as Gweedore they felt that strongly about what was happening in Gaza .In the coming days there will also be rallies in Belfast and Dublin. 

“It has been reported in recent days that almost 50 people, including eight children, have been killed in Israeli attacks and another 400 injured. The health system in Gaza, under-resourced as a result of Israel’s siege, is at breaking point.

“There have been almost 500 air strikes, as well as naval bombardment of Gaza. Palestinian homes have been demolished and hundreds have been arrested. As many as 200 of these are now held by Israel in administrative detention –  essentially internment without trial.

“Gerry Adams has said this week the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, which have resulted in no deaths, should end. But these actions cannot excuse the application of overwhelming military force by the Israeli government.

Concluding he said

 

I will would like to thank all those who attended the Derry rally and urge people to raise the plight of people of Gaza at every opportunity.

Top of the Hill Masterplan major step forward-Jackson‏

Sinn Féin Councillor for the Waterside Christopher Jackson has welcomed the decision to approve an outline planning application for the Top of the Hill masterplan. The masterplan consists of a new community centre, a MUGA, soccer pitches and play facilities, as well as a purpose built GAA pitch for Na Piarsaigh Doire Trasna GAC.

Councillor Jackson said

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

 

 

“The area is crying out for facilities and this development will service the needs of the many community and voluntary organisations in and around the TOTH who have been hampered by the lack of facilities in this part of the Waterside.

Top of the Hill hasn’t seen any significant investment for generations. I would like to commend all those groups in the area who have work very hard to formulate these proposals.  

Seeing these plans being approved by the council has brought us that bit closer to making this project a reality. I have spoken to many people in the community this week and there is a real sense of excitement on hearing news of these ambitious plans.

 

Ends

Sinn Féin MEPs raise concerns on peace process with European Parliament President

Sinn Féin MEPs raise concerns on peace process with European Parliament President

Sinn Féin MEPs Martina Anderson and Matt Carthy have briefed the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz on concerns on the Irish political and peace process.

Following the meeting Martina Anderson said:??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

“We explained our concerns about the pressure recent events are putting on the political and peace process in Ireland.

“We pointed out the potential for deterioration in community relationships caused by the issue of contentious parades as we approach the height of the loyalist marching period.

“I was encouraged by Mr Schulz’s interest in and support for our efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.

“I hope to arrange a discussion in the near future between Mr Schulz and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

“I was also pleased to receive assurances from Jean-Claude Juncker that he would continue to support an EU task force looking at creating jobs and promoting growth.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Nothing should be done to undermine Parades Commission – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said that nothing should be done to help unionists undermine the Parades Commission.

 

Speaking after unionist leaders and the Orange Order announced plans for protests and called for a Commission of Inquiry into the parade through nationalist Ardoyne area of Belfast, Raymond McCartney said; 

 

“The Parades Commission was set up and constituted by statute as an independent body to deal with disputed parades. 

 

“Unionists are asking for a Commission of Inquiry simply because they didn’t get their own way.

 

“Neither unionists or the British Secretary of State should do anything to undermine the Parades Commission. DIGITAL CAMERA

 

“The myth of the hollowing out of British culture flies in the face of the facts.

 

“The number of parades has doubled in the last five years, the number of loyalist bands has also doubled and more than 95 per cent of all loyalist parades are uncontested. 

 

“Walking out of talks with their partners in government and demanding that the British Secretary of State imposes a unionist solution can only raise tension and inflame the situation.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

 

Sinn Féin backs striking public sector workers – McLaughlin‏

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said public sector workers are entitled to a living wage.

 

Speaking as public sector workers took part in strike action today, the Foyle Sinn Féin MLA said; 

 

“Workers across the North are struggling to make ends meet and pay bills. 

 

“Low paid workers in particular have been badly hit as salaries have not kept up with rises in the cost of living. 

 

“Many front-line public sector workers, who provide essential services to local communities, are among the lowest paid. 

 

“Workers are entitled to a decent wage and I joined strikers at picket lines in Belfast this morning. 

 

“Sinn Féin has repeatedly called for the introduction of a living wage, which recognises the rise in the cost of living and we will continue to do so.” Ends/Críoch

Fire at Creggan shops complex –Councillor Kevin Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor for Creggan Kevin Campbell has urged anyone with information about a fire which damaged Ladbrokes bookmakers at Central Drive overnight to come forward.

Councillor Kevin Campbell said DSC_0042

 

“Once again a local business is counting the cost of a hefty repair bill following this fire. The businesses along Central Drive provide services and much needed employment for local people.

Whoever was responsible not only has caused damage to this building but potentially could have damaged the entire block if it had not been for the quick response of the fire service.

I would urge anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward.

 

Ends

Logue welcomes green energy schools funding

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed a £10 million investment in green energy in schools.

Speaking after Education Minister John O’Dowd announced the investment package, she said

 

“This £10 million investment by Minister John O’Dowd is welcome and will be used to make schools more energy efficient.

 

“Not only will it allow schools to reduce energy costs, it sends out a very important message about the importance of the green economy.

 

 “As places of learning schools have an important role to play in setting an example to children and young people about the benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and greener forms of energy. 

 

 “Schools are at the heart of local community so people will also learn a valuable lesson when they see solar panels on the roof and other energy saving measures.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Inquiry with full investigative powers required for Kincora – McCartney MLA

Vice chair of the Assembly Justice Committee Raymond McCartney MLA has called for an inquiry with the powers to subpoena MI5 files on child abuse at the Kincora Boys Home.

Mr McCartney said:raymond mccartney

“The allegations that British intelligence agencies monitored and facilitated the abuse of children at Kincora Boys home are shocking.

“Only a properly constituted public inquiry with powers of subpoena can uncover the whole truth and provide justice for the victims.

“If as alleged, MI5 recorded the abuse of young boys at Kincora, then any inquiry must have full powers to compel witnesses to appear and access all files relating to this issue.

“This is not the first time that allegations of MI5 involvement in this scandal have emerged.

“However, the British intelligence services have consistently been more concerned with covering up their involvement rather than in achieving justice for the victims of serial abusers.

“There needs to be a full investigation into the awful abuse at Kincora Boys Home and nothing less than full disclosure is acceptable.”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

“Work with SMEs to maximise EU opportunities” Anderson MEP urges Ministers

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has urged Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan and Employment Minister Stephen Farry to work with those in the communication sector and other SMEs to maximise the opportunities presented by the EU’s “Green Action Plan (GAP) for SMEs” which will enable them to turn environmental challenges into business opportunities.”

Martina Anderson said:??????????

“This Action Plan adopted by the European Commission presents a series of actions proposed at European level to help SMEs exploit the business opportunities presented by the transition to a green economy.

“The European Council identified a strong competitive industrial base in terms of both production and investment as a key driver for economic growth and jobs.”

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor said:

“The structural shift towards a green and resource-efficient economy is already bringing about fundamental changes across all sectors. It is an opportunity to generate high quality environmentally-friendly jobs, while securing the sustainable well-being of future generations and contributing to recovery from the economic crisis.”

Ms Anderson concluded:

“I am urging Mark H Durkan and Stephen Farry to exploit fully the opportunity that these programmes present and to work pro-actively with those in communications and SMEs to assist them in turning environmental challenges posed by the move to green energy into opportunities.”

Cancellation of Garth Brooks concerts a massive own goal for Dublin

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has described the cancellation of the Garth Brooks concerts as a massive own goal for Dublin.

The Dublin Central TD said there must be a review of the planning and licensing procedures for concerts to ensure that this episode is never repeated.

Deputy McDonald said;images

“The cancellation of the Garth Brooks concerts is a massive own goal for Dublin. Concert goers have been left disappointed and the city has lost out on a much needed economic boost.

“In Sinn Féin’s view the City Manager has called this wrong. We believe that the Mulvey report provided the basis for an agreed way forward that would have allowed the concerts to go ahead while providing the local community with a much needed economic boost and tangible community gain.

“It is clear from this debacle that the planning and licensing procedures for concerts are not fit for purpose and need to be reviewed. We need to ensure that this fiasco can never again be repeated.”

 

ENDS

Derry rally for Gaza on Wednesday night -McCrossan

Ógra Shinn Féin Doire will hold a demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people on Wednesday 9th July at 7pm at the Guildhall. Its comes in the wake of the ongoing onslaught by Israel on the people of Gaza and the young Palestinian boy Mohammed Abu Khdeir was ‘burned to death’ by Israeli extremists, his  fifteen-year-old cousin American student, Tariq Abu Khdeir being badly beaten  Israeli police.

 

Speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s rally Chairperson of Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry Michael McCrossan said

 

“People in Derry are rightly horrified at the scenes on their TV screens each night of death and destruction on the streets of Gaza .

 

There is the shocking case of the  Palestinian boy Mohammed Abu Khdeir who was ‘burned to death’ by Israeli extremists, and  his  fifteen-year-old cousin American student, Tariq Abu Khdeir being badly beaten by  Israeli police.DSC_0351

 

In 2012 I visited Gaza as part of a Derry delegation and  seen  up close the conditions people have to live in there and it  was shocking .It’s a daily battle for survival. The continual onslaught of the Palestinian people in Gaza is simply unacceptable and has to end now.

 

“Its  important that people in Derry and across the world show their revulsion at what is going on there. All such rallies big and small are very important in getting the message out through the local and international media particularly with many papers having an online presence .I would urge as many people as possible to attend.

SF Councillors call on City Manager to overturn Garth Brooks concert decision

The Sinn Féin group leader on Dublin City Council, Councillor Séamas McGrattan, has called on the Dublin City Manager to intervene and reverse the decision not to allow the five Garth Brooks concerts go ahead in Croke Park this summer.

Councillor Séamas McGrattan said;images

“The whole process has been a mess. There has been a breakdown in communication and trust between the local community and Croke Park going back over a number of years but the fans who bought tickets should not be the losers in this. There are no winners but there are clearly losers. The City of Dublin also loses out at a time where business needs a boost.

“Sinn Féin has been engaged in the discussions between the community and Croke Park from the beginning and had hoped that a compromise between both could have been reached. We have been in discussions with locals and had attended all the consultation meetings.

“I’m asking the City Manager Mr Keegan to intervene in the interest of the City and allow the concerts go ahead. The €500,000 earmarked under the Mulvey report, which was welcomed by Sinn Féin, would be a huge boost to the local community.

“If the manager does not reverse his decision Sinn Féin will explore the option of using section 140 of the Local Government Act to overturn the decision with the support of two thirds of the City Councillors.”

ENDS

Women must be included in all aspects of peacebuilding – Cllr Sandra Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has reiterated the importance of the inclusion of women in all aspects of peacebuilding and decision making across the island.

 

Speaking following  the launch of a Women in Peacebuilding guidance report informed by the views of 800 women who lived through conflict and conflict resolution she said;sandra and martin mcguinness photo 1

 

“Women play an invaluable role in building peace and stability in Ireland and in countries across the world.

 

“Very often their role goes unrecognised but all of us see the difference they make on a daily basis whether in political, public or community life.

 

“We all have a responsibility to challenge gender inequality and ensure the active and equal participation of women in all spheres of life.

 

“That includes removing the barriers and attitudes that result in their under  representation in political and public life.

 

“I believe the continued contribution that women make will encourage more young women to come forward into those roles.”

McLaughlin welcomes progress on Magee expansion

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed progress in the campaign for the expansion of the university at Magee. 

Speaking after meeting the consultants writing the business case for the expansion, the Foyle MLA said;

“The first stage of the business case for the expansion of Magee has now been completed. The final report will be delivered to Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry in September. 

“I met with the consultants involved in compiling the business base last week to discuss a number of issues around the expansion of Magee and course selection. I now look forward to the delivery of the final report. 

“I welcome the fact that this is moving forward and the positive decision on the planning permission for the expansion of the library and the building of new teaching facilities at Magee. 

“The expansion of Magee and the increase in student numbers is crucial to the regeneration of Derry and I will continue to engage with all stakeholders to secure this vital project.”

Cooper welcomes opportunities of Ebrington Creative Hub

Commenting on the news that Ilex has announced the appointment of Blick Studios as operator of the Creative Hub at Buildings 80 and 81 at Ebrington in Derry

 

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper said

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

 

“I hope the new facility will work hand in hand with the North West Science Park(NWSP), local companies and the community cultural hubs which we are working on with the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure to allow creative industry projects to be initiated in community areas. And hope it acts as a further economic multiplier for the Ebrington site.

 

Sinn Féin have also suggested a mechanism for ILEX as well as the NWSP to channel any enquiries from those businesses who are not eligible to be tenants of either site towards the economic development department  in Derry City Council. They will pass the enquiries to the wider private sector to ensure economic development opportunities  are  maximised.

Ends

Domiciliary carers pay delays unacceptable-McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and Chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Maeve McLaughlin has expressed concern that overtime and travel expenses of domiciliary carers in the Western Trust area have not been paid for the month of May.?????????????????????????????????
 
She said,
 
“The overtime and travel expenses of domiciliary carers have not been paid for the month of May and it looks likely that they won’t be paid for the month of June either.
 
“Domiciliary carers are on the lower end of the pay scale. They cannot afford to be out of pocket for several months while awaiting money they have personally paid out in order to carry out their duties.
 
“Sinn Féin has  met with a considerable number of carers and took on board their concerns at the delays in their entitled payments.
 
“The figures involved are up to and exceeding £500, so one can see the potential for difficulties in non-payment in leaving carers without a full wage.
 
“The Western Trust needs to explain if the private company administrating these payments is capable of carry out this function so that it does not reoccur on a monthly basis.
 
“They also need to expedite these payments at the earliest opportunity so that carers can go to work knowing that their expenses will be paid on time.”

Ends

McGuinness calls on unionists to show effective leadership

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said that unionist politicians must show leadership rather than playing to the lowest common dominator. 

Speaking after unionist parties walked out of all-party talks, Mr McGuinness said; 10157312_10152784476263642_2844411426185871120_n

“I am disappointed but not surprised that the unionist parties have decided to withdraw from an important talks process. 

“Prior to the talks I asked all party leaders to issue a statement calling for calm on our streets. That did not happen.

“Unionists need to show leadership, respect the determination of the parades Commission and support the rule of law. 

“Whatever the problems there can be no resort to violence.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Cllr Colly Kelly calls for living wage

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has called on businesses to introduce the living wage for all employees.

 

 

The living wage is now set at  £7.65 an hour.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

 

 

Speaking after Nestle became the first major company to adopt the living wage Councillor Kelly said

“Sinn Féin have been calling on companies to introduce the living wage for all employees for some time.

 

“This move from Nestle is welcome and I would encourage other firms to follow its example and adopt the living wage for all workers.

 

“When major employers take this step it sends a very clear answer to the scaremongering from some in the business community that the living wage is unaffordable.

 

“Paying workers a living wage would boost the economy because they would have more money to spend in local businesses.

 

“Providing workers with a living wage would also help prevent the emergence of a two-tier economy which would leave behind those on benefits and low pay.”

 

£2 Billion in Rural Investment by Sinn Féin Minister

£2 Billion in Rural Investment by Sinn Féin Minister

 

 

Republican Youth Anti-Racism Camp

Republican Youth Anti-Racism Camp

EU Roaming Charges reductions a victory for consumers – Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed moves to abolish mobile roaming charges across the European Union. 

Martina Anderson said:??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

“Cuts to roaming charges contained in EU legislation which will benefit those travelling across EU borders as well as inter-state businesses are now in effect but with the passing of these landmark new rules, people can look forward to roaming charges being abolished across the EU from 2015.

“This development will be welcomed by tourists and business people alike as they will no longer have to worry about incurring extortionate additional charges while travelling anywhere in the EU.

“In spite of a strong lobbying effort from large telecom companies, the European Parliament chose to protect consumers’ access to high quality internet and mobile services at reasonable cost rather than service rProviders increased profits.

“I will continue to keep a close eye on the activities of service providers to ensure attempts to recoup any revenue by other means or increased charges does not go unnoticed.”

CRÍOCH/END

Cooper welcomes Legacy fund support for Fest in the West

Sinn Fein Foyleside Councillor and legacy spokesperson Mickey Cooper has welcomed confirmation that the ‘Fest in the West’ community festival will receive support from the Derry City Council Arts Council legacy fund. He said the support would allow the festival to greatly increase its profile and offer:DSC_0043

He said “I am delighted that this funding has been made available to the Outerwest Neighbourhood Partnership and C.R.A.F.T.  to expand the Fest in the West event. The festival is a family friendly initiative which works in partnership with communities and schools across the Outerwest area and has proven its popularity in the past despite working with a very small budget.

This increased support, which was made possible due to our insistence that the legacy funding criteria was amended to target areas of need, will allow a greatly expanded festival which will undoubtedly benefit all residents of the Outerwest area. I congratulate St Marys College and the event organisers for their perseverance in establishing the ‘Fest in the West’ in the festivals calendar”

 

Ends

Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinian people must end – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney , has today expressed his regret at the killing of three Israeli settlers, but has called on Israel to stop its indiscriminate bombing and attacks on the Palestinian people, which amount to collective punishment.

 

Raymond McCartney said:

 

“It was with deep regret that I heard that the three missing Israeli settlers were found dead in the occupied West Bank yesterday.

 

“The abduction and killing of these teenagers was a tragic event and I condemn this action and those behind it.

 

“This particular case graphically highlights why we urgently need an inclusive peace process so that no more Israeli or Palestinian families have to grieve the loss of their loved ones.

 

“Since the teenagers went missing more than 400 Palestinians have been arrested, including 23 Palestinian MPs, thousands of homes have been raided, and six people have been killed by Israeli gunfire. The Israeli air force has also carried out air strikes on the blockaded Gaza.

 

“Israel’s military actions are collective punishment of the Palestinian people and will do nothing to advance a negotiations or a lasting peace process in the region.”

 

ENDS

One tourism strategy for all of Ireland is the only way forward –McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin , responding to the review of the NI Tourist Board and wider tourism structures said:

 

“Sinn Féin has argued for some time that three different bodies promoting tourism across Ireland is not the best model for delivery.

 

“What this review actually needed to consider is the potential benefits for the economy if greater integration were to occur across tourism on the whole of Ireland.

 

“When people around the world look at potential destinations to visit, they look at Ireland as a single location and not two separate places. It is vital that our tourism promotion bodies embrace this reality and promote the island and all its attractions as a whole.

 

“If attractions like the history of the Free Derry area ,Derry Walls ,Ring of Kerry, the Giants Causeway, the Marble Arch Caves and Cliffs of Moher were packaged as a single destination, more and more people would strongly consider coming here on holidays.”

Fergleen Park needs window replacement scheme –McCallion

Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion said photo-51

 

“Over recent months residents in the Shantallow/Galliagh  areas have been in contact with our office at Racecourse Road complaining about the state of the windows in their homes .Sinn Féin  have been in contact with the Housing Executive on a number of issues in the  those areas  including the need for window replacement schemes.

 

One of the areas of particular need is Fergleen Park .I would call on the Housing Executive to have an urgent look at the state of the windows in these homes and see what can be done to bring forward a project for their replacement as speedily as possible .

Sinn Féin welcomes funding for Derry Legacy projects

Sinn Féin councillor and party spokesperson on cultural legacy Mickey Cooper has welcomed the approval by council of joint Derry City Council /Arts Council legacy funding for a range of projects which includes support by Department of Culture Arts Leisure  through the Arts Council of a number of community festivals and other projects. He said this was due to Sinn Féin’s insistence that the criteria for the funding was amended to ensure smaller and community based organisations could apply:

 

He said

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

 

“I am delighted that a number of organisations across the city have benefitted from this funding. When Derry City Council announced that these monies were being made available I insisted that the criteria would allow organisations who hadn’t benefitted from Arts Council funding or indeed ran large scale cultural projects in the past to apply for the funding. We also insisted that deadlines for applications were extended to ensure bids could be made in time. The result is a much more balanced and city wide allocation of monies than would otherwise have been the case.

 

In addition a further £300,000 of funding has been ring fenced for a second round of applications for later in the year. This will allow new applications and revised bids by those groups who were close to success in this first round of applications. I am continuing to work with both the Department  and Derry City Council  on a number of further initiatives to ensure cultural legacy benefits all areas of the city”

Martina Anderson MEP calls for international inquiry into events in Palestine

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has today called for an international inquiry into the abduction and killing of three Israeli settlers and into the collective punishment of the Palestinian people through Israeli military actions.

She made the call after speaking with the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland this week.Derry Gaza Photo66

She said:

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms abduction and killing three Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. But, while horrific, these events in no way justify the policy of the Israeli state to collectively punish the Palestinian people through brutal military action and other draconian measures.

“The Israeli policy of collective punishment is at the heart of the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

“It is carried out with such a ferocity and frequency that we are now almost surprised when a day goes by that we don’t hear of a further violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people. These collective violations come in the form of arrests, executions, indiscriminate airstrikes and other obscenities such as the blockade of Gaza.

“Six Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire since the teenagers went missing. Surely, both of these realities highlight the pressing need for an inclusive peace process.

“The international community must now recognise that actions of collective punishment are not ad-hoc actions but rather the outworking of Israeli state policy. Such a policy warrants the establishment of an international inquiry.

“An inquiry into the abduction and killing of the three Israeli boys and the policy of Israeli collective punishment is an important part of building a process of peace and reconciliation.

“We want to see a peace process that will ensure that no more Israeli or Palestinian families have to suffer the loss of loved ones.”

ENDS

O’Neill announces Executive agreement for DARD headquarters move to the Ballykelly‏

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed Executive agreement for her plans to relocate her Departmental Headquarters to the Executive owned Shackleton Barracks site in Ballykelly, Co Derry. 

Michelle O’Neill said: 

Minister Michelle O’Neill with Councillors Sandra Duffy and Tony Hassan

Minister Michelle O’Neill with Councillors Sandra Duffy and Tony Hassan

“I now have Executive agreement for my decision to decentralise my Departmental Headquarters out of Belfast to Ballykelly, Co Derry. 

“We will now press on with the necessary detailed design work and the process of awarding a contract to begin the building work by the end of 2015 for completion late 2017. 

“The plan is to complete the move in two phases; the first by the end of 2017 and the remainder by the end of 2020. 

“This is consistent with my commitment to relocate to a rural area. This move to Ballykelly forms part of my broader programme of relocations. 

“The Forest Service is being headquartered in Fermanagh and Fisheries Division in Downpatrick by June 2015. The Rivers Agency will be headquartered in the Loughrey Campus of the College of Agri Food and Rural Enterprise by March 2016. 

“This decision will mean that I meet my Programme for Government target to decentralise DARD’s Headquarters to a rural location. 

“However, I also expect these moves to deliver real social and economic improvement in rural areas while enhancing the identification of the Department with the rural community

Minister trying to avoid responsibility over Owenbeg DVA swoop – Ó hOisín

Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has clashed with Environment Minister Mark H Durkan over a DVA operation last month, which disrupted the opening ceremony of Féile na nGael.

Cathal Ó hOisín said:

“DVA officers swooped on buses of young people at Derry GAA’s HQ at Owenbeg on Friday 20 June to ‘carry out road safety inspections’.2138163144

“They claimed it was a targeted operation but they had no regard for the thousands of children attending the event who travelled from all over Ireland.

“The minister claimed that the DVA decided not to proceed after ‘taking account of the circumstances’. 

“This flies in the face of the facts.

“The DVA only pulled back after GAA officials, local representatives and the PSNI Neighbourhood team persuaded them with some difficulty to end the operation.

“The minister is clearly trying to avoid taking any responsibility for an operation which disrupted Féile and the area’s potential for tourism.”

Ends/Críoch

Sinn Féin leadership to meet Cameron and Miliband

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew will be in London today  for separate meetings with the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The focus of both meetings, which are being held at Sinn Féin’s request, are the ongoing efforts to reach agreement among the Executive parties on outstanding issues arising from the Good Friday and other Agreements, including the issues of flags, parades and the past.2 gerrys

Gerry Adams said:

“This will be the first meeting that the British Prime Minister David Cameron will have held with the Sinn Féin leadership since he took office in 2010.

“This is deplorable and evidence of the British government’s failure thus far to properly engage with the process of change in the north.

“Key to making progress is a positive engagement by the Irish and British governments on issues which are their direct responsibility. The governments cannot with credibility speak off the lack of progress in the process unless they act to fulfil their obligations.”

ON SALE NOW

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Local input needed on masterplan for the Ballyarnett Country Park-Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has encouraged people living in the greater Ballyarnett area to have their say on a future masterplan for the Ballyarnett Country Park

 

Speaking after attending a meeting on the plans  Councillor Hassan said “ I would encourage people to go along and have their say ,have their input into what they would like to see at the Ballyarnett Country Park.

 

“I welcome the proposal’s contained in masterplan for the Ballyarnett Country Park .

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

 

The Ballyarnett Country Park can provide a wide range of opportunities and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the area.

This is one of best assets this city has but has been underutilised for many years .And I believe it has nowhere reached its full potential yet, in providing parklands and facilities for residents in the local area and for the city as a whole.

 

The plans include additional play facilities, biodiversity projects, walking and cycling routes and act as a venue for the Arts and Sporting sectors. It offers a real opportunity to build the foundation’s for the next 5-10 years and put in place something the entire community can be proud of.

 

A drop in day has been scheduled for Tuesday 1st July between 2.00pm and 6.00pm at the Outer North Neighbour Partnership offices in Northside.

 

 

Ends

Funding secured for Moss Park 15th August community festival

Sinn Féin Cllr Elisha McCallion has welcomed the news that funding has been secured for community festival at Moss Park on the 15th August this year.

 

She said  1

 

“The event last year saw many families attend, we had bouncy castles, face painters and puppet shows for children. Live performances from traditional Irish musicians and leading Irish band Bagatelle also took place.

 

So to hear the positive  news that funding has been secured for another festival this year on the 15th August will be warmly welcomed.

 

I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in making this happen.

Road safety measures for Creggan Heights -Cllr K Campbell

Sinn Féin Creggan Councillor Kevin Campbell commenting on the news that Creggan Heights is set to get new traffic calming measures.3895995549

 

He said “There have been serious  concerns about road safety measures in the Creggan Heights area following a child sustaining injuries in a hit and run incident last year.

 

At that time I told residents I would continue to lobby DRD Roads service for additional measures and that an assessment would be carried out.

 

I am glad that this work is now to take place.  If any residents wish to discuss this issue further or require additional information they can contact me on 71377551

Fleming attends meeting on Prehen Boathouse future

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming has welcomed progress on the redevelopment of Prehen Boathouse. 

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Speaking after attending a meeting between representatives of Foyle Paddlers, City of Derry Rowing Club and Derry City Council officials at the boathouse on Tuesday, colr. Fleming said; 
“Members of Foyle Paddlers and City of Derry Rowing Club met with representatives of Derry City Council to discuss the future use of Prehen boathouse. 
“Both clubs had concerns about the future of the boathouse and raised those concerns with Council officers. 
Foyle Paddlers and City of Derry Rowing Club do great work in getting young people involved in healthy sporting activities and in opening up the potential of the river.
“That has been particularly evident this week with their involvement in the Legenderry Maritime Festival.
“The meeting was positive and Council officers updated the members that new funding opportunities are being actively pursued which, if successful, would hopefully secure the long term future of the facility. 
“I am calling on the Department of Social Development to provide funding for the redevelopment of the boathouse to ensure modern facilities for both of these clubs as well as opening it up to wider use. 
“The Prehen boathouse has a great deal of potential and its redevelopment would assist the regeneration of the city’s waterfront.”
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Executive agreement on CAP welcome – Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed Executive agreement on £623million funding for rural development and the agri-food Industry announced by Minister Michelle O’Neill today.
Martina Anderson said:??????????
“We are at an extremely important juncture in terms of rural development and the Agri-food industry. I have always believed and advocated a well-funded, flexible and fair CAP reform and I believe that this announcement by Minister O’Neill today will address many of the inequalities that existed in previous funding.
“I have always supported the position that recognises the importance of agriculture to the north of Ireland and argued for the maximum amount of funding. There was an historical imbalance in how the current funding allocation was distributed particularly in the Severely Disadvantaged Areas.
“I am particularly pleased that the Minister is introducing an incremental flat rate of payments and that the North will be treated as one region. I believe that the compromise position on the time frame for achieving the flat rate is a reasonable one and will be welcomed by the vast majority in the farming community.
“These are potentially exciting times for the agri-food industry and rural communities which have remained strong through the recession despite the many challenges and financial strains on individual farming families.
“Today’s announcement will deliver a large degree of stability for future planning by the farming and rural communities and I congratulate the Minister on her perseverance.” CRÍOCH/END

Easyway set for traffic calming scheme –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has welcomed the news that the   Eastway Gardens area of Creggan is set to get traffic calming measures, he said

 

“I have been working on this issue for some time now . Residents had raised concerns with me about the speed and the volume of traffic on  what is one of the busiest roads in the area. This hopefully will address some of those issues .It’s important that residents are consulted as this process is moved to the next stage.

 

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Warning after Waterside break-ins – Jackson

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has urged residents in the Limavady Road area to be on  alert after a number of homes there were burgled.

He said

“Thieves have no respect for you or your property; helping to catch them is the best way of safeguarding your own property and your neighbours.

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

I would appeal to the public to practice vigilance in the area in an effort to catch those involved and prevent further break-ins. It also important that people make arrangements if they are heading off on their summer holidays to have a neighbour or family member to keep an eye on their house whilst they are away.

I would also appeal to anyone with information or who may have seen anything to pass this to the PSNI. People like this cannot be allowed to prey on our community.

Duffy urges support for Carnhill blood donation sessions

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said

“Blood donation is very important for the proper delivery of health care. Each year thousands of patients require blood transfusions in our hospitals, because they are undergoing surgery, recovering from cancer or have been in a serious accident.

There is a lot of pressure placed on the Blood Transfusion service particularly over the summer with people being away on holidays. They have said that the need for blood is constant, with 500 patients in the north needing transfusions each week, but at this time of year it can be particularly difficult to maintain their blood stocks.

I would urge anyone who can ,to go along to the blood donation session at St Brigids College on the Glengalliagh Road this coming Monday 30th June between 2.00 – 4.15pm and 5.30pm -8pm

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Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

Fire at electricity sub station Galliagh –McCallion

Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion commenting after a fire was started at an electricity substation in the Ederowen Park area of Galliagh and a number of other small fires were started in the locality last night said:

 

“I would like to alert parents in the area to this incident at Ederowen Park and a number of other small fires which took place. A fire was started at the electricity substation, thankfully on this occasion  it didn’t spread or cause serious damage but none the less it is a warning to everyone the seriousness of starting such fires. 1

 

 Whilst others are trying very hard to improve the lives of residents and the neighbourhood once again a very, very small minority can undo some of that work in a very short space of time.

 

There is a bulky lift scheme currently underway in the area and I would urge residents not to leave out materials overnight and leave them out at the designated times to avoid them being lifted by young people to be used as material to start fires.

 

 

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Bon Secour’s home motion receives all party support in Assembly –McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin MLA speaking following a motion in the Assembly on the scandal surrounding the Bon Secours Sisters’ Institution in Tuam Co Galway said: 

 

“I welcome the fact the Sinn Féin have secured all party support for this issue.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 

“Almost 800 children died in the Bon Secours Sisters’ Institution while in the care of a religious order and were placed in a mass unmarked grave over a period of five decades.

 

“The system of Mother and Baby Homes that existed across Ireland has been exposed, especially in recent weeks following the discovery of the unmarked grave at the site of the Bon Secours Sisters Institution in Tuam, Co. Galway.

 

“This contained the remains of almost 800 children who died in the care of a religious order over a period of five decades.

 

“This was a system that no one could stand over, and it was cruel and unjust. 

 

“The innocents who experienced this regime, more often than not behind closed doors, numbered in their thousands.

 

“It is shameful that these experiences had to happen at all. It is something that we should now investigate to give both a sense of closure and justice to victims and survivors.

 

“I would commend those who have campaigned bravely for recognition and dignity to expose what went on over a period decades.

 

“I welcome the fact that the Irish Government has now agreed to establish a commission of investigation following a Sinn Féin motion in the Dail.

 

“What occurred at the Bon Secours home was not unique.

 

“Sinn Féin is calling for all government departments across the island of Ireland and their agencies, as well as religious orders, to proactively co-operate with any investigation that takes place to establish the truth behind this scandal.

Campbell condemns sectarian attack

Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell has condemned a sectarian attack on a teenager in Derry. 

Speaking after an 18-year-old Catholic teenager was attacked by a group of up to 12 people in the predominantly loyalist Fountain estate last weekend, Councillor Campbell said; 

“There can be no place for sectarianism in our society. Councillor Kevin Campbell

“This attack on an 18-year-old youth from Creggan in the Fountain estate must be condemned outright. 

“I wish this young man a speedy recovery from his injuries. 

“Great strides have been made in improving community relations in Derry in recent years and those efforts will not be set back by attacks like this. 

“This is a city moving forward and no one wants to see these type of incidents taking place.

“I would call on anyone with information on this attack to contact the PSNI.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

Progress made on Rock Terrace gating –Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the news that after a long negotiation Roads Service have finally agreed in principle to permit gates to be installed at Rock Terrace. He said this would open the way for formal consultation to take place with local residents with the aim of securing the gating of the street

 

Councillor Cooper said 

 

I welcome the fact that DRD Road Service have agreed to remove objections to gating at Rock Terrace after a long series of negotiations with myself and the Derry City Councilor solicitor. The process will now move to formal consultation with local residents and in event of no objections being received I will work to secure funding for the gates to stop ongoing anti-social behaviour in the area which has been a problem for several years

 

 

“The plight of residents in Rock Terrace has been well covered in the local press over the years, particularly the problems they encounter at night time from large crowds of revellers..

DSC_0107

 

Residents have been calling for the installation of gates on the street to try and resolve some of these night time issues. They want to feel safe in their homes, they want to know their cars are not going to get damaged and they certainly don’t want large groups of people entering their street late at night. We are now one more step on the road to these aims being met”

McCartney backs Haass’ Irish language call

Sinn Féin Foyle  MLA Raymond McCartney  has renewed his call for legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers. 

Speaking after former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass called for the Irish language to be afforded official status in the North, the Foyle  MLA said; 

“I welcome Richard Haass’ comments that Irish should have more of an official role. Raymond head shot 22

“The Irish language is an integral part of our culture and continues to grow in popularity throughout the island. 

“I hope others will listen to his remarks and support our call for Acht na Gaeilge to be implemented to formally protect the rights of Irish speakers and promote the language. 

“In the St Andrew’s Agreement in 2006, the British government committed itself to an Irish Language Act but it has been opposed by unionists since then. 

“The Irish language threatens no one and this legislation should be brought forward as soon as possible. 

“Enacting this legislation would not only be of huge cultural importance but would also create employment for the Irish language community. 

“Legislation would benefit the lives of the thousands of people who use Irish every day and would allow them to use Irish on official forms and court proceedings. 

“Dr Haass’ remarks that Irish identity should be respected are also welcome, particularly following recent incidents where the PSNI have seized hurls from young people.”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Hats off to Music City Derry 2014 -Kelly

Commenting Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly said

 

“I have to say, hats off to all those involved in organising the Music City events which took place over a 24-hour period at the weekend ,particularly the large number of people involved in pulling it all together and making it possible.

 

From the Dawn Chorus at Grianan of Aileach to the venues right across the city centre there was an abundance of musical talent on show. There was an excellent atmosphere with all the stalls, music and for once we were blessed with good weather.

 

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