UN recommendation of Stop and Search recording mechanism needs implemented – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on the PSNI to implement a recording mechanism for people stopped and searched in accordance with the UN Human Rights report.

Raymond McCartney stated,PSNI

“The monitoring of stopping and searching of people in the street is an issue Sinn Féin have been pushing for on the Policing Board for some time

“The stopping and searching of people in the street is a contentious issue and does nothing to build community confidence with the PSNI.

“While it is recognised that stopping and searching can be used as a policing tool it also needs to be accountable and controlled.

“We welcome the recommendation in the UN Human Rights Report that the PSNI adopt the mechanism put forward by the Policing Board that a community background of those stopped to be recorded.

“This would allow for scrutiny of all stop and search incidents and protect people from harassment.

Ends

Hundreds of Rosemount homes set for gas –Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the news that 100s of properties in the Rosemount area  are set to benefit from the option of gas heating.

“This is a great news story for local residents that they will be available to avail of gas central heating in their homes.”Councillor Mickey Cooper said

Over the years  residents had complained to me about their lack of energy options .

I have been lobbying with Firmus for some time to make this happen in the Rosemount area.

This will provide a cleaner and more efficient source of heating for the residents and give them a cheaper option.

British government needs to step up to the plate – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has said the austerity policies of the British government are at the root of the difficulties currently facing the Executive.

Raymond McCartney said; City centre walkabout

“It is ludicrous for Theresa Villiers to talk about the need for all political parties to implement the Stormont House Agreement when her government is continually undermining the political institutions through cuts to the block grant.

“If Theresa Villiers is serious about ensuring the Executive has sustainable and workable finances then her government needs to provide the resources.

“It is not an independent broker in all of this and cannot stand back and attempt to pass the blame. It has a responsibility to step up to the plate.

“Instead of austerity policies from the British government we need to see investment which would allow the Executive to grow the economy and protect the vulnerable and frontline public services.”

Ends

Kelly to quiz Chief Constable on Derry house searches

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said that questions need to be answered by the PSNI about the use of British soldiers today during searches in the Galliagh area of Derry.5080344641_5eae13a7c3_b

 

Gerry Kelly said:

 

“I intend to raise the use of British soldiers in house searches in Derry with the Chief Constable at the earliest opportunity.

 

“The Good Friday Agreement and the promise of a new dispensation for policing was about making policing accountable to the community and did not include the British army.

 

“I want to know at what level in the PSNI was the request made to bring in the presence of the British army.

 

“The use of British soldiers in house searches is unacceptable and only makes it more difficult for political leaders and others to achieve genuine policing with the community.” 

Resolution to Baldrick Crescent road works –Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper speaking after concerns was raised about a temporary roadway at Baldrick Crescent in the Rosemount area.

“A number of residents have raised concerns with about aspects of the temporary roadway at Baldrick Crescent “he said

“I have spoken directly to Western Education and Library Board on the issue. They have said that the temporary roadway beside Baldrick Crescent will be removed in next few days .It had to remain in place for some final markings to be made in lower playground and contractor could only get in through back entrance of the school.

It’s hoped everything should be back to normal in next week .If anyone has any queries they should contact me on 028 7137 7551.

Positive meeting with US officials – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said the US administration remains engaged with the political process in the North.IMG_1175

Speaking from Washington after meeting officials from the White House, Mr McGuinness said;

“I had a positive and encouraging meeting with senior officials at the White House today.

“The US administration clearly remains engaged with the political process in the North and they continue to play a constructive role.

“At the meeting I made it clear to them that the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, which have underpinned the peace process for almost two decades, are facing a real crisis as a result of the policies of this British government.

“The political institutions, and the progress we have made over the last two decades of the peace process, are under a real threat and it is my hope that the US administration can encourage the British government to take a more positive approach on dealing with the North.” Ends/Críoch

McGuinness to brief US administration on political crisis

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness is in the US today to seek support for a resolution to the crisis threatening the political institutions in the North.CGQ53KFWoAEUfQd

 

Speaking ahead of meetings with the Friends of Ireland caucus on Capitol Hill, the State Department and other senior administration officials, Martin McGuinness said:

 

“The institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, which have underpinned the Irish peace process for almost two decades, are facing crisis.

 

“This is an extremely grave situation and I would urge all those with a stake in this process to make every effort to find a resolution which secures the power-sharing administration.

 

“In order to redress this crisis, we require an imaginative and innovative solution, which recognises the particular challenges faced by our administration. That means ensuring the institutions are politically and economically viable and able to meet the needs of a society emerging from a long and bitter conflict.

 

“To date, that has not been forthcoming from the British Government and they need to be persuaded that a new approach is required.

 

“It is my hope that the US administration ­ which has been a key ally since the inception of the peace process – can help convince the British Government of the gravity of the current situation and to end their current approach which threatens to undermine the incredible progress we have made.

Concern after medication found in Rosemount laneway -McLaughlin

Sinn Féin  Foyle MLA and Chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Maeve McLaughlin has urged anyone who wants to dispose of medication of any description to leave it in their local chemist for safe disposal.MLA   MAEVE MCLAUGHLIN


She was speaking after residents in Rosemount contacted her  concerned that several forms of medication had been found in a laneway in the area. Residents took photos of the medication they found.


Maeve McLaughlin said

“Residents contacted me concerned that in a number of bags they found in a laneway behind homes in Rosemount contained prescription drugs. They were very worried about the consequences if a child had found this medication.


I urge would anyone who has medication about the home that they no longer use that they safely dispose of it at their local chemist.

Moss Park residents sickened by another night of vandalism –Cllr Sandra Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has said residents in Moss Park are sickened by another night of vandalism in the area.

Street lights were smashed , lights on the main Glengalliagh Road damaged and fires started on a number of green areas.

Councillor Sandra Duffy said “I have spoken to a number of residents today and they are sickened by what took place there on Saturday night.

It was just wanton vandalism. It ridiculous that when community organisations and all the various agencies are trying to improve and enhance the area that a very small minority are intent on trying to wreck it. They must not succeed.

We can only wonder at the motivations of the those individuals  who carried this out, but whatever they hoped to achieve with these actions all they have done is strengthen our resolve to continue our work on behalf of the local community. ”

Ends

Action required on hospital waiting times – McLaughlin‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called for an action plan from the health minister to deal with hospital waiting lists.

The chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; ?????????????????????????????????

“The increase in waiting times for patients is not acceptable.

“The health committee carried out an inquiry into waiting times and a number of recommendations were made, which need to be implemented as a matter of urgency.

“One was to look at the patient’s journey from referral to treatment in its entirety and for set time frames to be introduced and enforced.

“An action plan is now needed from the department and the minister to reduce waiting times.

“As a committee we looked at the Scottish model and they have a unit within their health department specifically to deal with waiting times and perhaps that is something we should be looking at here.

“I will be raising these issues with the health minister.”

Kelly condemns attempted robbery of Bogside bookmakers

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly commenting after the attempted robbery of a bookmakers at  Blucher Street on Thursday nightCouncillor Colly Kelly

He said “Once again we are greeted with the news that a small business has been subjected to an attempted robbery.

Many small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and providing much needed employment for local people.

The staff are only doing a day’s work and should not be subject to this type of threat and intimidation.

I would appeal to anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward so that those responsible can be held to account by the justice system.”

 

Ends

United Ireland economy can deliver sustainable prosperity – O’Neill

Sinn Féin MLA and Agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill has said a stronger economy in a united Ireland can deliver sustainable prosperity for all. CKmRJa3UkAIZknR

Speaking at a Sinn Féin economic conference in Derry on Thursday , which was attended by party activists and leading economic experts, Ms O’Neill said; 
“We want to build an Ireland that all the people of Ireland can be proud of.

“An Ireland confident in itself, proud of its successes  and which delivers for all the people of Ireland.

“An Ireland of good government and empowerment.

“An Ireland vigorous and determined in its resolution to end poverty and disadvantage, to support business, promote growth and tackle inequality.

“This is what we in Sinn Féin are determined to deliver

“I earnestly believe that in working towards a New and Equal United Ireland, we will reflect the wishes, the hopes and desires of all the people of Ireland

“If we are to achieve a new and equal Ireland then we must discuss and debate our progress towards it and our vision for it.

“We must never shy away from robust debate, but we should strive always to be constructive and respectful

It is of surprise to no-one, that we in Sinn Féin will always argue the case for greater economic powers for the north of Ireland or that we will argue the case for Irish Unity

“The more power the people of Ireland have, the more we can achieve and that extends to delivering a New and United Ireland.

“In the north we face the daily challenges of the current financial and budgetary crisis.

“We will face these challenges boldly, we seek positive solutions

“We know that there are no positive alternatives from Britain.

“We must be mindful that the solution to our challenges will come from within ourselves.

“We will not be halted from delivering a just, fair and equal Ireland fit for all of her people.

“Sinn Féin’s approach to governance in the north, acting in Ireland’s interest, demonstrates clearly what is possible even within the very severe financial and economic challenges that we face.

“When Westminster and Dublin cut during the crunch years, we invested what we could, where we could.

“We invested all that we could in the northern economy.

“We protected our Health Service from privatisation.

“Protected people from water charges and prescription charges.

“Ensured that older people benefit from free transport.

“We retained the Educational Maintenance Allowance to support young people from poorer backgrounds to stay in education

“We have protected the people, invested in business, created jobs

“And we have done all of this within the crippling constraints of British budget cuts that show no sign of going away.

“If we can achieve all this within the constraints of a British Government determined to implement an economic and social agenda that is entirely at odds with our vision for the economy and society

“Then what more can we achieve within a United Ireland, which is a just fair and equal Ireland

“Two competing, fractured economies on this island will not deliver prosperity for the people of Ireland.

“Where joint enterprise is applied, such as in Health, not only does it provide a higher standard of care but it produces better economic outcomes also. It improves the economic and physical well-being of our citizens.

The jointly funded cancer centre in Derry demonstrates that progressive thinking can deliver public services across Ireland effectively and efficiently.

Similar approaches must be developed and implemented with regard to the economy.

It is crucial, for the economic and social welfare of the people of Ireland, that we

·      become champions for the creation of a Border Economic Zone as a means of fostering economic recovery in the border counties ensure that there is a timetable and plan for the full integration of public services in Ireland

·      ensure that there is an integrated economic strategy for Ireland

“Maintaining the status quo in the form of two competing, fractured economies in Ireland can only perpetuate and increase the obstacles to sustainable economic recovery.

“A new stronger economy in a United Ireland can deliver sustainable economic prosperity that the present status quo is incapable of delivering.

“Together we can build a new stronger United Ireland economy that works for us all.

“In a United Ireland we would have a government that can make decisions with all of Ireland’s interests at heart.

“We would have stronger, fairer more just and prosperous economy in a United Ireland.

“So let’s use the time today have a discussion firmly focused on the future.

“Let’s consider how we can deliver economic recovery to all the people of Ireland.

“Sinn Féin stand for justice, fairness, prosperity and equality for all.

“We have a restless desire to make Ireland, north and south, the nation we know it can be.

“A prosperous United country where everyone can fulfil their potential.

“A just, fair and equal Ireland in which all of us come first and where no-one gets left behind.

British government austerity biggest threat to institutions Murphy tells Derry conference

Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said the British government’s austerity agenda remains the biggest threat to the political institutions in the North. 

Speaking at an economic conference in Derry organised by Sinn Féin, which was attended by a panel of expert economists, Mr Murphy said;

“The austerity agenda of the British Government is the biggest threat to the institutions and the political process in the north.

“Austerity isn’t working, it doesn’t work in Ireland, it doesn’t work in Britain and it doesn’t work in Europe.

“But austerity is all that is on offer from Britain. In its place we need to see sustainable and workable finances for the Executive to enable it to deliver core public services, protect the most vulnerable and create jobs.

“We need to see a united campaign from a broad rage of society, including political parties, trade unions, community groups and others to fight austerity, protect public services and grow the economy.”

Ends

Community wants gating scheme extended to hotspots –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has urged all the agencies involved in securing gates for Madams Bank Road Tunnel to also look at the introduction of gates at similar hotspots at tunnels located at Collon Lane and Carnhill.DSC_0627

“There is much relief that the gates have finally been installed at Madams Bank Road” Councillor Duffy said

“All the political parties, communities groups in this area along with residents, the Council, PSNI  and statutory agencies have been working very hard to try and find workable solutions to resolve problems being encountered at this underpass for many years.

I would now call on all those  involved in this process to set up a similar initiative to address similar issues at the other two tunnels at Carnhill and Collon lane.The problems being encountered at these tunnels has been well covered in the local press over recent years and residents have been in touch with me again this week calling for action.

Gates will not solve all the issues but  would go a long way to help reduce much  of the anti-community activity which has blighted this area.

McCartney welcomes UN Committee call on Finucane and HIU

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Raymond McCartney MLA has welcomed the call by the United Nations Committee on Civil and Political Rights for an inquiry into the murder of Human Rights Lawyer Pat Finucane and the prompt establishment of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

Raymond McCartney said:

“Sinn Féin has consistently supported the campaign for an independent international inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. The demand has also enjoyed the support of many eminent judicial figures and human rights groups internationally.

“This demand has now been endorsed by a United Nations Committee on Civil and Political Rights. This is a significant development and one which the British government cannot afford to ignore.

“Relatives For Justice are to be congratulated on the successful outcome of its substantial submission to the committee.

“The committee’s call for the prompt establishment of the HIU is also to be welcomed. This was a Stormont House Agreement commitment and needs to be acted upon immediately.” CRÍOCH/END

Ballymagroarty vandalism condemned –McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has called on parents to ensure their children are not involved in recent burning incidents in Ballymagroarty.

 

Cllr. McGinley said: “Over the past two nights teenagers have set alight material at the entrance to the Pennyburn Credit Union and on the main road through Ballymagroarty.   Youngsters have also been able to access the main switchbox and have disrupted power to the street light system in the area.

 

Residents in Ballymagroarty are understandably angry at these recent incidents of vandalism and I would appeal to parents to ensure they are aware of their children’s whereabouts, particularly late at night.

 

I have been in contact with Street Lighting requesting that the main switchboxes in the area are properly secured as quickly as possible.   I would also appeal to local businesses to ensure that any materials which can be taken to be burned are properly stored out of reach.”

Britain must recognise unique challenges facing the North – McGuinness

David Cameron’s government must recognise the unique difficulties facing the Stormont Executive if the power sharing institutions are to survive, Martin McGuinness has said.

A Sinn Féin delegation, also including Party President Gerry Adams, Vice President Mary Lou McDonald and former MP Michelle Gildernew, met with the British Prime Minister at Westminster last night .CKdb93SW8AAkcMZ

Speaking afterwards, the Sinn Féin MLA and Deputy First Minister called for a renewed effort to restore the political and economic viability of the political institutions.

“Today’s engagement was useful and I believe that David Cameron can be in no doubt about the seriousness of the crisis we are facing,” he commented. “The political structures created by the Good Friday Agreement are at the point of imminent collapse due to the British Government’s austerity agenda.

“Sinn Féin will do everything in our power to prevent a collapse from happening. Others – particularly the British Government – must do the same.

“But for the institutions to survive, they need to deliver for all citizens, be they unionists, republicans or others. That requires a workable budget and a new approach and new investment from Westminster.

“The British Government needs to accept the special circumstances of the north, as a society coming out of conflict, which lasted for almost 30 years.

“If we are to deliver for citizens, consolidate and build on the peace, create a peace dividend, which is tangible in deprived communities which suffered most as a result of the conflict, then the Executive needs the tools and the resources to address these deep-seated issues.

“Successive British governments invested enormous, at times limitless, resources in pursuing a military agenda. They now need to bring a similar commitment to building a still fragile peace.”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

All-Ireland approach on sarcoma needed – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called for an all-Ireland approach to combatting the rare cancer, sarcoma.
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Ms McLaughlin said;
“Sarcomas are cancers which affect the connective tissues of the body such as muscle, nerves, bone, cartilage, blood vessels and fat.
“Around 100 people are diagnosed with Sarcoma in the North every year but more awareness is still needed.
“The tragic death of Paul Coyle in Derry from Sarcoma and the awareness campaign launched by his family and friends have helped increase awareness of the disease.
“The painting of Free Derry Wall has also added a very public dimension to that campaign and will no doubt help increase awareness of sarcoma.
“I have organised a public information session on Friday which will be addressed by Dr Charles Gilham, a leading expert on sarcoma. It will be part of a weekend of events which will also include an awareness raising walk and the release of lanterns in memory of Paul.
“At present sarcoma patients from Derry and Donegal have to go to London for treatment, often at great expense to themselves and their families.
“We should be looking towards the development of an all-Ireland approach to patients with sarcoma so they can get the best level of care close to home.” Ends/Críoch

Derry Volunteers Cup next weekend

The Annual Derry Volunteers Soccer competition will take place at Bishops Field in Creggan over  two days on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th  July at Bishops Field  .The final will take place on the Saturday at 7.00pm followed by presentations in the Telstar Bar at 9.30pm DSC_0421

Frustration and safety concerns over unfinished Hollymount work –Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson said CIS9L8pWwAQ4Ale

 

“Residents in Hollymount are becoming increasingly frustrated with the resurfacing work being carried out in the estate. Work began almost one year ago to replace existing flagstones and steps in the estate.

 

Now one year down the line the work still hasn’t been completed. Some steps have been left in an unusable condition, one elderly resident fell after losing her footing on a set of steps that are so narrow residents have no option but to tiptoe up and down them.

 

Over the last year residents have told me that they have faced a multitude of problems with the length of time it is taking for this work to be completed, that cars have been damaged, and claimed that building equipment and machinery had been left unattended for days and in some cases weeks posing a serious risk to children playing in the area.

 

I have been in contact with Transport NI over a number of months and have been assured each time that the railings will be in place within weeks. Now as we face into the holiday period there is a fear that this work will face further delays.

 

I would call on Transport to finish this site with a renewed sense of urgency and leave the residents with safe, functional steps similar to what was in place prior to the work starting.

 

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Sinn Féin opposed to trade union-busting legislation – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed confirmation that Tory union-busting legislation will not apply in the North. 

The Foyle MLA said:

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“It is patently obvious that this Tory government is intent on not only attacking the living standards of low-paid workers and those dependent on social protections but also to remove the hard-won rights of workers.

“The British government would better serve the people by bringing forward legislation to protect workers’ rights rather than interfering in Trades Union members’ rights to withhold labour.

“What is required is legislation to strengthen workers’ rights to engage in collective bargaining to ensure compliance with European Court of Human Rights judgements.

“One of those judgements ruled that the accepted right to join trades unions includes the right to collective bargaining. Vulnerable workers now more than ever need their rights enshrined in law and protected not diluted.

“If this Tory government succeeds in curtailing the rights of workers to take industrial action, I have no doubt it will result in increased exploitation by employers, more zero-hour contracts, lower pay, poorer working conditions, and lowering of health and safety provision.

“It is time for the political parties, trades unions and civic society to stand together against the immoral attacks by this Tory government on the working poor, the sick and the vulnerable.” 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

EU should not fund Israeli groups which breach international laws – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the EU should not be funding Israeli organisations, which are involved in breaching international human rights laws. 

Speaking after sending a letter signed by 79 MEPs to senior EU officials, Ms Anderson said;

“There is widespread concern among Palestinian groups about some of the Israeli groups accessing funding from the Horizon 2020 program.

“Those views are shared by a growing number of MEPs who are concerned that current EU guidelines to assist international law do not go far enough.

“Palestinian groups have brought it to our intention a report by the Stop the Wall group detailing financial assistance given to Israeli military and security companies who are involved in violations of international law.

“I circulated a letter to MEPs outlining these concerns and that letter has now been signed by 79 MEPs and has been sent to Fedrica Morgherni, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs.

“The international community and the EU in particular have a responsibility to support the Palestinian people and challenges breaches of international law.”

Vandals plunge Linear Park into darkness –Cllr Sandra Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has made an appeal for vandalism attacks on street lights in the area from Bracken Park throughout the local Linear Park to stop.

She made her appeal after it a fire was started at one of the lights which subsequently tripped all the lights in the system.

She said “Sadly vandals have once again targeted the lighting system at the Linear Park.

The Linear Park is one of the few facilities in the greater Galliagh area and the last thing local residents want is for it to be in plunged into darkness at night time.

These lights are the responsibility of the council, I have reported it to council and they hope to have a contractor out to fix them as soon as possible.

End

Carers should have free public transport when accompanying patients-McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said the party has written to the Minister of Regional Development Danny Kennedy asking that carers who are being forced to pay public transport costs when accompanying the person they care for get free public transport.City centre walkabout

 

He said:

 

“Carers save the government millions each year by providing a service that is invaluable to the person they care for yet they are paid very little in return.

 

“Most full-time carers get a small top up on their benefits and this is far below an average working wage. Yet many, who are family members, are constantly caring for their patients 24/7.

 

“However if the person being cared for has to use public transport to travel to hospital, go shopping or visit friends then the carer is expected to pay the full amount.

 

“This can become uneconomically viable and therefore a reason to restrict the mobility of a carer and those in need of one, especially those in rural areas who depend more on public transport.

 

“Sinn Féin has written to the Minister of Regional Development Danny Kennedy and will also be raising the issue with the Health Minister Simon Hamilton in order to allow free transport for carers when accompanying the person they care for.

 

“Carers need to be given full support in providing the service that they do and allowing them free public transport is one the issues we could address as soon as possible.”

Need for safe motorcycle facilities to be developed-McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has highlighted the need for safe motorcycle facilities to be developed within the Council area.

Cllr. McGinley said: “In recent weeks we have witnessed an increase in the numbers of young people using motorcycles in residential areas particularly in the upper Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank estates.   This activity traditionally peaks at this time of year with the longer evenings and school holidays.

These motorcycles are unsuitable for use in built up areas and cause inconvenience and disruption to many residents as well as posing obvious dangers to drivers and pedestrians in an unregulated environment.

Many young people are attracted to motorcycles and it is unfortunate that the facilities do not exist which would allow bikes to be driven within a safe and regulated area.

I have been in discussions recently with Council officers and representatives of motorcycle organisations, particularly the North West Community Motorcycle Project set up specifically to address this issue, in an effort to identify suitable locations for the creation of motorcycle tracks and I will continue to work with all concerned to find a solution which will provide much needed facilities for young people.”

Tánaiste’s Dáil distortion of facts about Ballymurphy Massacre

“The Ballymurphy killings were part of the immediate aftermath of the introduction of internment. As violence flared, gun battles broke out between members of the IRA and the British Army. In the midst of this chaos, 11 people were shot by the British Army in Ballymurphy.” – Tánaiste Joan Burton’s distortion in the Dáil of the facts on Wednesday 14 July 2015 as stunned Ballymurphy families watched from the public gallery.

IN AUGUST 1971, British soldiers gunned down in cold blood ten unarmed civilians. An eleventh person died of a heart attack after he was subjected to a mock execution by British soldiers who placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

Much like the events of Bloody Sunday less than six months later, the British Army’s shock troops of the Parachute Regiment claimed they had come under fire from republicans – thus attempting to justify their rampage through this west Belfast neighbourhood. As with Bloody Sunday, eyewitnesses were adamant that the firing came from one direction only – that of the British troops.

The Tánaiste’s ignorance of one of the worst atrocities in the history of the conflict – and during a Dáil debate – is at odds with her deep interest in incidents which involve victims of republican violence.

Ballymurphy families 2015 Dáil

Of course, victims of republican violence can often be used to attack Sinn Féin and to deflect and derail from answering tough questions in the Dáil on Government policy. The victims of British state and unionist violence offer her no such tactical advantage – therefore their suffering can be treated with indifference, ignorance or falsehoods.

At the time of the massacre, some Irish newspapers swallowed the British propaganda which the Irish Labour Party leader read into the Dáil record on Wednesday.

The Irish Independent reported at the time:

“Reverend Hugh Mullan was killed last night in Belfast following his attempt to administer the Last Rites to a dying guerrilla fighter in the New Barnsley area.”

The “dying guerrilla fighter” was in fact local civilian Bobby Clarke, who had been shot by a British soldier while walking across a field.

Bobby had been helping evacuate women and children from nearby houses which were under attack from loyalist mobs. He had just carried an 18-month-old child to safety and was returning to help others when he was shot.

The local priest phoned Henry Taggart British Army base to let them know he was going to administer the Last Rites to the wounded man. After anointing him, the priest attempted to return back through the field to get an ambulance. It was then that a British sniper on the roof of a nearby flats complex shot Fr Mullan. Witnesses could hear the priest praying aloud for some time as he lay dying. Bobby Clarke, the man he had anointed, miraculously survived.

Also killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre was grandmother Joan Connolly.

She was shot in the face by a British soldier as she went to the aid of a wounded man who was lying in the street near the barracks.

Even after the massacre, soldiers targeted the families.

Briege Voyle, Joan’s daughter, told An Phoblacht:

“We had already been through a terrible ordeal but it didn’t stop there. The paratroopers continued to torture us. They used to sing ‘Where’s your mama gone?’ [the chorus of a pop song Number One in the charts] outside our door and you couldn’t walk down the street without them taunting you. We were all so terrified.”

Joan Burton, of course, never bothered to inform herself of this. Such a horrific massacre, carried out by the British Army’s elite paratroopers against besieged nationalist civilians just months before they went on to gun down 14 Civil Rights marchers on Bloody Sunday in Derry isn’t the narrative that has been pushed by the Southern Establishment ad nauseum.

The Irish Government claims it will do all it can to help the Ballymurphy families in their quest for justice. But if the most senior elected representatives of that Government can display such wilful, unmitigated ignorance of the topic – can we really take their assurances seriously?

Grangemore and Ardgrange traffic calming measures

I recently raised residents’ concerns about  traffic in the Grangemore and Ardgrange developments with DRD Roads Service (TransportNI) in relation to the speed of traffic travelling through the area and  road markings.COLLY

There was a particular concern about traffic at  the main entrance into Grangemore and the speed of traffic both entering and leaving the development.I am pleased that  traffic calming measures have been introduced there.This a very busy junction with over 300 houses in Grangemore and Ardgrange.

Both myself and residents are disappointed that a number of road markings we had been lobbying for have not  been introduced at this time but i will continue to press for this to happen.

Major fire at Derry Poundstretcher store –McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin commenting on a major fire at the Poundstretcher premises on Bishop Street in Derry City Centre overnight.?????????????????????????????????

Speaking after visiting the scene this morning  Maeve McLaughlin said

“I would like to commend the work of the local Fire Service who worked throughout the night to contain this fire and stop it spreading to adjoining businesses. Due to the scale of the fire it obvious it will also have an impact on the other shops and businesses in the locality.

It’s important that the staff get as much support as possible and that the store is reopened to save up to fifteen local jobs. City Centre Initiative Manager Jim Roddy with others have been working very hard to ensure alternative premises are found.

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Coalition for reconciliation is essential, Declan Kearney tells Westminster audience

Coalition for reconciliation is essential, Declan Kearney tells Westminster audience

● Declan Kearney with Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty at Westminster

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney addressed a major reconciliation event in Westminster on Tuesday evening 14 July., 

He was speaking alongside former Labour Secretary of State Peter Hain; the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Canon of Reconciliation, David Porter; former Assembly Speaker John Alderdice; the Chief Executive of Irish in Britain, Jennie McShannon; and Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty.

The event – based on the ‘Uncomfortable Conversations’ series of articles carried by An Phoblacht – was chaired by Professor Mary Hickman, St Mary’s University College. 

This is what Declan Kearney said in his speech.

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Prince Charles’s recent meeting with Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness happened not just because of the Sinn Féin leadership’s total commitment to reconciliation and healing but also because the British royal family and key elements of the British state had the independent foresight to recognise it represented another important opportunity to create positive forward momentum

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All wars and political conflicts create carnage and suffering.

One hundred years ago, the unimaginable horror of World War One was unfolding.

It was described as “the war to end all wars”.

Yet, within 30 years, a new world war had erupted and it too caused colossal devastation and suffering. World War Two included events like the blitz of London, and the mass atrocities at Auschwitz and Belsen.

Last May marked the end of that war in Europe 70 years ago. Three months before, in February 1945, the city of Dresden was carpet-bombed. It became another of the many horrific events which were part of the carnage of World War Two.

Dresden

Dresden after being carpet-bombed by the Royal Air Force

A play has recently been written about this particular episode in European history called After Dresden. A review of it said:

“Together the central characters ask each other painful questions. ‘Is forgiveness possible? How does reconciliation happen? And can we ever recover the truth about the past?’ It is more important than ever that we address these issues in a society that still has not healed.”

Such questions – and the compromises implied within them – are part of the ‘Uncomfortable Conversations’ which need to happen for reconciliation and healing to grow.

There is no distinction to be drawn between the carnage and suffering resulting from conflict.

No war can be romanticised.

Terrible devastation and human loss were caused by the political conflict in Ireland and Britain.

Victims were created by and on all sides – by republicans; the British state, its forces and agencies; and by unionists.

All sides were part of the conflict which occurred and continued.

IRA operations in this city resulted in many military and civilian fatalities and casualties as well as enormous commercial damage.

Regrettably, our collective past cannot be changed. Neither can it be disowned by republicans or anyone else.

Too many families from all sides, across Ireland and Britain, live with real and continuing pain. I am sorry that cannot be undone. No reasonable person could disagree that there are many things which we wish had been done differently or not at all.

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the IRA’s formal announcement to end its armed campaign and support the achievement of republican objectives of Irish unity and independence through democratic and political programmes.

Irish society has now moved irreversibly beyond war.

The Good Friday Agreement was the catalyst for that transition. It is the definitive benchmark against which to measure change.

The absence of war, however, is not in itself enough.

The time has come for us all to develop reconciliation, promote healing and to embrace forgiveness.

That is a challenge which will be both difficult and painful because uncomfortable compromises inevitably need to be considered.

After two wars in 30 years, Europe had to compromise in order to find a relationship with its history and avoid recycling past pain for the future.

Courage will be required but, as Nelson Mandela said:

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving for the sake of peace.”

Mandela, McG and Adams

The fact is that the hurt caused by war still needs to be healed long after wars finish.

Now that the war which divided Britain and Ireland is over, we have to explore how new political and human relationships can be made.

That challenges us all to open our hearts and minds and embrace respect, generosity, forgiveness and trust. These must be the foundations of a shared future.

Reconciliation and healing must be our future, otherwise society and politics will remain trapped in the pain and resentment of the past.

However, a minority still oppose that vision.

In Ireland, North and South, and here in Britain, some believe that dealing with the past is a new battlefield.

They prefer endless recrimination to reconciliation and refuse to accept that reconciliation should be set above political agendas or allegiances in the greater good.

In his recent article in The Irish Times, Professor Richard English commented:

“Many pro-Union people were louder in demanding that republicans should give up violence and that they should respect Northern majority opinion than they have been to engage in meaningful dialogue with republicans once those crucial changes were brought about.”

This is why symbolic initiatives and political leadership supporting the reconciliation vision remain so important.

Given our history, such gestures should not be taken for granted. But, when carried out in a spirit of mutual respect and equality, these gestures and initiatives can provide hugely important examples for wider society.

There was great significance attached to the private meeting which followed the public encounter between Prince Charles sand Gerry Adams during the recent royal visit to Ireland.

Prince Charles meets Gerry Adams 2015

That meeting brought together Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, as the most central republican leaders of the last 45 years, with Prince Charles, the British royal figure most synonymous with the British military forces and imperial and military traditions of the British state and set to become the next British head of state.

Coming as it did in the context of Prince Charles’s own personal pilgrimage to Mullaghmore to remember his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, killed by the IRA, this meeting powerfully underlined the irreversibility of the Peace Process and our collective responsibility to open up a new phase based upon reconciliation.

It also symbolically gave expression to the multiple narratives about the past and was evocative of some (but not all) of the incidents which moulded the experience of our most recent conflict.

Importantly, this latest initiative happened not just because of the Sinn Féin leadership’s total commitment to reconciliation and healing but also because the British royal family and key elements of the British state had the independent foresight to recognise it represented another important opportunity to create positive forward momentum.

Queen Elizabeth has already made her own influential contribution to the Peace Process. The decision of Prince Charles to meet with Sinn Féin, repeat her words from 2011, and then offer his own words on regrets, resentment and attribution of blame, indicate the British royals are committed to developing authentic reconciliation and healing.

That sends a clear message to those who are hostile to this agenda.

There is a bigger picture.

Those who share a strategic vision for the future of the Peace Process must reach out to each other and make alliances for the greater good.

A coalition for reconciliation drawn from all sections of society and throughout Ireland and Britain needs to be formed to unlock a new phase of the Peace Process.

Nelson Mandela also referred to the importance of partnership in peace building:

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your friend.”

No government or state system is monolithic.

There are always competing positions, both progressive and regressive.

Some sectional and political interests did not want the meeting between the Sinn Féin leadership and Prince Charles to take place.

They are unwilling to place reconciliation above the political process or to promote healing and authentic reconciliation as strategic priorities.

That mindset is indicative of British Government policy towards the North over the last five years.

The reality is that the biggest threat to the viability of the political institutions and political process was the approach of the Tory-led coalition.

It reduced the North to a political backwater through negative mismanagement of the peace and political processes. The imposition of its austerity agenda has directly contributed to political instability.

No political process can flourish without a sustainable economic framework or the expenditure to meet society’s needs.

The worsening austerity crisis in the North is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement. The ideologically-driven approach of this majority Tory Government is now putting it on a direct collision with the very basis of the Agreement.

The current British Government’s economic and political policy is pushing the regional economy and political process into a negative downward trajectory.

That can only have extreme and long-term adverse consequences, including potentially fatal repercussions for the Good Friday Agreement itself and the North’s relationship with Europe.

May Day 2015 Belfast

Belfast May Day rally, 2015

The question which all of that poses is whether such an outcome has become a calculation of this British Government’s policy towards the North.

Deeper political instability and increased polarisation will surely undermine the prospects for reconciliation and healing.

That must not be allowed to happen.

But averting such a scenario will also depend upon the strength, depth and momentum of an emergent coalition for reconciliation.

The North is still a society emerging from conflict carrying deep-rooted structural economic inequality and under-development, endemic sectarian division, the highest mental health problems and child poverty, and the lowest wage structure and living standards of any region in Britain or Ireland.

The estimated loss of £2.3billion from the regional economy between 2010 and 2018 will have catastrophic economic, social and political consequences.

The North requires a ‘New Deal’ to build a fair society.

There is a need for a new negotiation with the British and Irish governments. New time and space has now been created to address the issues which threaten political progress.

If that does not happen – and British Government policy does not change – we will run out of road.

That will create the conditions for an unprecedented setback.

The alternative is a new negotiation process which delivers a ‘New Deal’ – a sustainable, workable budget – and which also restores political stability and proper power-sharing.

A defining period now faces the political and economic future of the North. What emerges from that will directly influence the potential for opening up a new phase of the Peace Process based upon authentic reconciliation, healing and a fair society.

Anderson backs EU wide equal marriage recognition call

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has backed a call for same sex marriages to be recognised by all European Union countries. Martina new pic 201

Ms Anderson said;

“In an interview this week the Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans called for all EU states to recognise same sex marriages conducted abroad.

“Given the growing support for marriage equality across Europe, and the freedom of travel rights enjoyed by EU citizens, it is time that all member states recognised same sex marriages from other countries.

“It would be ludicrous for a couple to be legally married in one part of the EU and then have their rights denied and their marriage not recognised if they moved to another country.

“Equality should not stop at state borders and people’s rights should be respected everywhere.”

Review of health and social care commissioning arrangements- McGinley‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed Council’s intention to contribute to the review of health and social care commissioning arrangements.

 Councillor  McGinley said:

“As a local authority which caters for 150,000 citizens Derry City and Strabane District Council should be part of any deliberations around the health and wellbeing of our communities.

In the context of the One Plan & Community Planning process this Council has a wealth of information which would be of use in informing the commissioning of health & social care services.  

Sinn Féin  would have serious concerns on how care is presently delivered to our communities and Council should have a say on future structures and quality of health and provision.  

There has to be a more effective way of commissioning services – at present there is significant duplication across all the bodies charged with this responsibility.

We would encourage Council to engage in the consultation on commissioning arrangements and to highlight the importance of raising health standards and reducing health inequalities in a far more strategic and productive manner than is currently the case.”

Can’t blame outsiders for illegal dumping –Cooper

Commenting on an upsurge of illegal dumping in laneways in the Rosemount which recently got gates Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper said Mickey Cooper

For a number of months now i have been trying to help alleviate many problems affecting residents in Rosemount due to illegal dumping and noise in the laneways.

I have been working with the council to ensure that all gates with missing locks get replacements as speedily as possible. And got a bulky lift organised for the removal of large amounts of household goods and rubbish.

Sadly there seems to be very small element who have  no regard for the area and whilst a free bulky lift is available they simple just dump stuff in the back lanes as if it is someone’s else’s fault. There is no excuse for this at all.

We have met properly agents to inform them that if rubbish is found from one of their properties the fines will fall on them not the tenant.

I am once again making an appeal for a bit of common sense around this issue.

Overnight disturbances in the Bogside –Cllr Patricia Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said

“I would like to state very clearly that those involved in these incidents are unrepresentative of the local community. Those behind the wrecking and burning have only succeeded in terrorising the Bogside community by inflicting inconveniences upon them and the wider Derry public.Patricia Logue new pic 22

When it is all over what we have is the local community being left to pick up the pieces. A mountain of work has gone on at night time on the ground in the area by community workers to help reduce tensions and make interventions to prevent many incidents from happening.

But they can only do so much and their job is made more difficult by the fact that many of those involved are not from the locality.

There is a clear issue of parental responsibility when we have children from the young ages of eight and nine up to fifteen years of age involved in this nonsense.

Parents really need to be asking where their children are at night and finding out if they involved in this violence. Key to this is early intervention to stop these attacks from happening and stop young people ending up before the courts and the implications that will have for their futures.

Speaking after a delivery van belonging to local businesses was set on fire and an attack on Verbal Arts centre .

This is another scandalous attack on a local business which provides much needed jobs for people not only in the Bogside but across the city. They are one of the very few employers in the locality and are part and parcel of the local community .Over the years they have been very supportive of countless community events.

An attempt was also made to set a residents car on fire and there is also total disbelief that anyone would even contemplate attacking the Verbal Arts Centre.

We cannot allow these sorts of senseless actions to occur in this day and age nor be used to heighten tensions in and around the greater Bishop Street area.

McLaughlin disgusted at latest obstacle to Remembering Derry Factory Workers

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has expressed disgust at the latest obstacle being put in the way of displaying the sculpture honouring the role of Derry’s Factory Women.

Maeve McLaughlin said:?????????????????????????????????

“It is now 10 years since the work to remember the role of Derry Women in the Factories of our city was first commissioned and still it has not been erected.  10 years of obstacles to what should have been a straight forward project is nothing short of a disgrace.

“Since being approached by the late Inez Mc Cormack to be involved in this project I have been frustrated by the constant hurdles that have been put in our way.  Every time one obstacle was overcome and we thought we were back on track another obstacle was placed in our way.

“With the latest obstacle being ‘NIEA concerns about the visual impact of the sculpture on listed buildings around harbour square’ I have now come to the belief that the powers that be, including the DOE Minister, Mark H Durkan do not “believe” that the profiling of such a piece of artwork honouring the Factory Women is of enough significance to occupy a prime city centre site.

“As I have worked closely over the last few years with the artist, Louise Walsh I can state categorically that none of these “obstacles” were of her making but were Issues arising entirely with those tasked with decision making.

“I recently took this issue to the DOE Minister Mark H Durkan where it the NI Environmental agency had concerns about the visual impact of the sculpture on listed buildings around harbour square was raised. NIEA indicated that they raised these objections in January 2015. 

“This is despite the fact that Preliminary Planning Discussion (PAD) meetings have been taking place since 2013 and no such objections were raised.  The Artist re-engaged in this process because of the successful outcomes of PAD meetings in 2013 on the understanding that progress was being made.

“Despite public consultation. a public campaign , public petition, letters/ deputations to Ministers this project is again under threat

“What does that say about how we recognise the role of the thousands of Derry women who were the backbone of our economy for decades. I must say I am disgusted at the litany of delays.” CRÍOCH/END

Treatment of Greece alarming – Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD commenting on the outcome of the EU summit meeting this morning said:CGQ53KFWoAEUfQd

“The conduct of a number of EU governments over the past number of weeks has been alarming.

“They have effectively closed down the Greek banking system and held the Greek Government and people to ransom.

“To its shame the Irish Government took the side of the strong against those in need of support and solidarity.

“It is obscene for Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil to lecture the Greek people while generations of Irish people will be paying off debts that are not of their making.

“The decision is now with the Greek government and parliament. I wish them well in their deliberations.

“Today could well be the day when all pretence of a Europe of equal states and people was lost and replaced by a Europe of the powerful and the wealthy.”

Income figures highlight need for statutory living wage -Raymond McCartney‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has said statistics published  by the Office for National Statistics in London, showed households in the north have lower average incomes than households in Britain. 

Raymond McCartney said:

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“These figures very clearly highlight that the north remains a low wage economy.

“We need to see the powers to set the minimum wage transferred to Stormont so that local politicians can set a minimum wage which enables people to have a decent standard of living.

“With the British government’s proposals to target billions of pounds in cuts towards in-work benefits, this is an opportune time to make this move.

“We can only protect working people from these cuts through increasing their earnings and removing the need for corporate subsidies for low-paying employees.

“The introduction of a living wage is the direction of travel we should be urgently moving towards to ensure we have a fair and sustainable economic recovery for all of our citizens.”

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Vital training project gets £200,000 funding -Cooper‏‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the news that Derry City and Strabane District Council have match funded £200,000 to unlock a larger pot of European Social Fund funding which will benefit a number of training projects across city and district.

Councillor Cooper said “This has come about as a culmination of work between party representatives the training agencies and council which will safeguard training jobs.

It will allow essential skills courses and other accredited programmes to be delivered to those most in need of them and also allows the training organisations to avail of substantial financial assistance from ESF (European social fund) which would not have been possible without council support.

I thank council’s development department for the strategic approach they have taken which has safeguarded jobs and also ensured the skills base in the city will be enhanced over the coming year.

Joe McDonnell – Died on July 8th 1981 on hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh

Joe McDonnell – Died on July 8th 1981 on hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh

JOE McDONNELL was the fifth Hunger Striker to die due to the intransigence of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her government.

Born on 14 September 1950, the fifth of eight children in a family from the Lower Falls in west Belfast, Joe eventually married and moved to Lenadoon.

Joe volunteered to replace his good friend and comrade Bobby Sands, who he was captured with on active service in October 1976, joining the hunger strike on 9 May.

A well-known and very popular man in the Greater Andersonstown area, Joe had a reputation as a quiet and deep-thinking individual, with a gentle, happy go-lucky personality, who had, nevertheless, a great sense of humour, was always laughing and playing practical jokes and who, although withdrawn at times, had the ability to make friends easily.

05-McDonnell-2

He had joined the Republican Movement soon after the introduction of internment without trial in August 1971. He was himself interned on the prison ship Maidstone in 1972 and in Long Kesh from 1973 to 1974.

Arrested and jailed for a commercial bombing operation, Joe was sentenced in September 1977 to 14 years’ imprisonment. He joined the Blanket Protest fro the restoration of political status and was denied visits unless he wore the prison uniform. His wife, Goretti, and their two children had not seen him in the more than three and a half years since he was sentenced up until the hunger strike and his dying days.

In June 1981, Joe was a general election candidate in the Sligo/Leitrim constituency and narrowly missed becoming a TD by 315 votes.

Joe McDonnell died on 8 July 1981 after 61 days on hunger strike.

05-McDonnell-1

The death of Joe McDonnell

IRA Volunteer and Hunger Striker Joe McDonnell, from Lenadoon in west Belfast, passed away at 5:15am on Wednesday 8 July after 61 agonising days on the Hunger Strike. His wife Goretti had maintained an almost constant vigil by his side but, with a callous act of disregard for her feelings when he died, the RUC called her in, ostensibly to identify the body.

From Wednesday evening through to the Friday morning, Joe’s body had lain in state in the family home. During this time, thousands of people filed past the coffin to pay their respects to the fallen Volunteer.

In a reflection of the effect the Hunger Strike had throughout nationalist Ireland, those filing past came from throughout the country. There were people from Dublin, Sligo, Leitrim, Crossmaglen, Tyrone and further afield.

Individuals who paid their respects included relatives of other Hunger Strikers – Rosaleen Sands, mother of Bobby; and Pauline McGeown, wife of Pat who was at that time on hunger strike. A particularly poignant visit was that of Jimmy Dempsey, whose 16-year-old son John, a member of Fianna Éireann, had been shot dead by a British soldier in the disturbances following Joe McDonnell’s death. Also present was Joe McDonnell’s brother Frankie, one of the longest-serving Blanket Men who had been released for 12 hours to attend the funeral.

It was a measure of the ripple effect that the Hunger Strike – and more particularly British intransigence and brutality – were having on the nationalist community that at the same time another Blanket Man, Tommy Cosgrove, was out on temporary release to attend the funeral of his sister, Nora McCabe, killed by an RUC plastic bullet, also in the disturbances following the death of Joe McDonnell.

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• Joe McDonnell’s wife Goretti, his children and his brother Frankie pay their respects

At midday, the coffin was sealed and a Tricolour and the black beret and gloves of an IRA Volunteer were pinned to it. With British Army helicopters hovering noisily and provocatively overhead, the cortege moved off. Led by a lone piper, it made its way to Oliver Plunkett Church at the top of Lenadoon for Requiem Mass.

After the service the coffin was carried towards Milltown Cemetery. Joe’s three brothers were among those carrying the coffin and it was flanked by his wife Goretti and their children Bernadette and Joseph and other members of the immediate family. When the cortege reached the Andersonstown Road the coffin was place on trestles and an IRA firing came forward and rendered a final salute.

After observing a minute’s silence the IRA firing party disappeared into a nearby garden. A barrage of high-velocity gunfire was heard as it became obvious that British crown forces were attempting to kill or capture members of the IRA firing party. Simultaneously, the British Army and RUC opened up on the cortege with a hail of plastic bullets amidst scenes of pandemonium and panic. In the assault, one of the mourners (a brother of then Sinn Féin Vice-President Gerry Adams) was shot and seriously wounded.

The head of the funeral cortege had moved on a few minutes before the attack and was making its way towards Milltown. Six IRA Volunteers took the coffin on their shoulders for the last leg of the journey to the Republican Plot.

Chairing the graveside proceedings was Eamon McCory of Sinn Féin. He extended the sympathies of the Republican Movement to the family and went on to condemn the SDLP and the Dublin Government who had not applied sufficient political pressure on British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As a result, Thatcher was claiming that not one responsible person in Ireland was asking her to concede the prisoners’ 5 demands.

J McD firing party

• IRA firing party honour of their comrade Joe McDonnell

After the blessing, conducted by Father Matthew Wallace, John Joe McGirl, Chairperson of Leitrim County Council and election agent for Joe McDonnell in the 26-County general election, gave the oration.

Speaking of the deceased Hunger Striker, he said:

“He has died rather than debase the cause he served, rather than live with the forced tag of criminality on him. His courage is an inspiration, not only to his fellow prisoners, not only to the Irish people who admire such courage – the world stands in wonder and admiration, accepting that men such as Joe McDonnell are not criminals but patriots.”

John Joe at Joe McDonnell funeral

John Joe McGirl went on to lambast British policy in Ireland, saying:

“The policy of England and the English government towards Ireland down through the years has been one of jailing, shooting and hanging. Today, this week, their policy has changed somewhat. They have left over hanging and replaced it with the rubber bullet, plastic bullet and live round.

“Men, women and children are murdered in the streets of Belfast and Derry and in the occupied part of the north-eastern Six Counties. I want to say here that the responsibility for this lies with the British Government, and I say to the British Government that she has no right in our country and never had, and that the way forward is for her to withdraw her forces from the occupied part of our country and let the Irish people resolve their differences themselves.

“She is not here as a friend, she is here as a treacherous foe, and we recognise her as such.”

In conclusion he said:

“We will build Joe McDonnell a memorial, we will build so many of his comrades who are buried here a memorial, and their memorials will be the freedom and the unity of the Irish people.”

Throughout the 26 Counties there were numerous vigils, reflecting the growing anger of the population, and in the North (as previously mentioned) two people were killed by crown forces in the aftermath of Joe’s death.

More worrying for the British was the continued and growing support abroad.

In the United States there were numerous protests in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco to name but a few. There were also many demonstrations in Australia and New Zealand.

In France, lawyers formed a commission tasked with investigating conditions in the H-Blocks. French parliamentarians wrote to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva, asking it to take action in support of the two newly-elected H-Blocks TDs, Kieran Doherty (Cavan/Monaghan) and Paddy Agnew (Louth).

In Italy, an incendiary bomb exploded on the roof of the British Consulate and there were protests and demonstrations in Belgium and Portugal.

Rioting after Joe McDonnell funeral

• Rioting in Belfast after the funeral of Volunteer Joe McDonnell

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Adams welcomes publication of Police Ombudsman’s report‏

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed “the conclusion of the Police Ombudsman’s investigation.”

Gerry Adams said:CGQ53KFWoAEUfQd

“I welcome the publication today of the Police Ombudsman’s report. Along with the Attorney General report it reaffirms that I committed no offence.

“Now that these matters have been investigated my family should be afforded the same privacy as any other family.

“There has been a distinct lack of sensitivity and compassion by some within sections of the media and of politics in how they have dealt with this case.

“It is frequently exploited in a nasty self-serving and vindictive way for narrow political ends. The same approach and criteria would not apply in other similar cases.

“It is also clear from these two reports that when allegations of abuse arise that every possible help and support is provided for victims and families.

“It is also important that the authorities create an atmosphere in which witnesses will come forward. “

Singer Fran O’Toole honoured in his native Bray 40 years after Miami Showband Massacre by UDR/UVF

Singer Fran O’Toole honoured in his native Bray 40 years after Miami Showband Massacre by UDR/UVF

● Miami Showband – Fran O’Toole is second left

SINGER FRAN O’TOOLE has been commemorated in his native Bray, County Wicklow, 40 years after his Miami Showband was ambushed in County Armagh at a bogus British Army checkpoint by serving soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment and members of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

On 31 July 1975, five members of the Miami Showband were travelling by minibus back to Dublin from a gig in Banbridge, County Down. At the townland of Buskhill, outside of Newry, they were stopped at a military-style checkpoint by gunmen dressed in British Army uniform. They were ordered to get out and line up by the roadside. Two gunmen hid a time-bomb on the minibus but it exploded prematurely and killing them.

The remaining gunmen then opened fire on the band members, killing Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty, and wounding Des Lee and Stephen Travers.

Two serving Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers and one former UDR soldier later received life sentences for murder. There are still serious questions about collusion between members of the ‘security forces’ and the UVF that need to be answered, however.

Miami Fran O'Toole events 2015 plaque

Councillors John Brady, Oliver O’Brien and Peter Carroll, who was the driving force behind the commemorative events honouring local legend Fran O’Toole

Sinn Féin Wicklow County Councillor John Brady paid tribute to local man Peter Carroll, who is a family friend of the O’Tooles and was the driving force in the campaign to remember and pay tribute to Fran O’Toole in his home town of Bray.

John Brady said:

“Unfortunately, nothing has ever been done in Bray to acknowledge, pay tribute or remember Fran O’Toole, who was the lead singer with the Miami Showband band at the time of his murder.

“The band had a massive following and played in packed-out venues right across Ireland, Britain and the United States. The band united people through music and gave people a glimmer of hope at a difficult time in our history.”

The Miami regularly played in Fran’s hometown of Bray in the Arcadia Ballroom. People would travel from far and wide and on occasions thousands would have to be turned away as the Arcadia was packed to capacity, John Brady said.

He continued:

“People right across Ireland were shocked at the murder of Fran and his colleagues, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty. Bray came to a complete standstill for his funeral, which people say was the largest ever to be held in the town.

“It’s only right that we remember Fran, his music and the legacy he left.”

Miami Fran O'Toole events 2015 bridge

● Des Lee, Stephen Travers, Councillora Oliver O’Brien and John Brady with Peter Carroll at the newly-named ‘Fran O’Toole Bridge’

On Saturday 4 July, Bray Bridge was renamed the Fran O’Toole Bridge and a plaque was unveiled at the former family home on Albert Avenue in Bray. This was attended by members of Fran’s family along with Des Lee and Stephen Travers, who survived the massacre 40 years ago. The day was completed by a performance by the Miami Showband in the Mermaid Theatre.

Window replacement scheme Rinmore Drive spring 2016.

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has said a window replacement scheme for homes in Rinmore Drive will go ahead as planned in the spring of 2016.3895995549

His made his comment after there was some confusion over different schemes for Rinmore Drive.

Councillor Campbell said

After receiving a series of complaints from a large number of residents regarding the state of the windows in their homes I lobbied senior management in the Housing Executive to have them replaced.

In January I was told that Rinmore Drive would be given priority status for a window replacement scheme in their budget of 2015 – 2016 and that they would  replace the wooden windows with white PVC windows.

There now seems to have been some confusion over a separate external maintenance scheme which is also taking place. I would like to reassure residents after speaking to the Housing Executive today that the windows replacement scheme will be going ahead as planned in the spring of 2016.

Greece a beacon of hope against austerity – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said Greece is a beacon of hope in the campaign against austerity.
Speaking from Athens, Ms Anderson said; 11222953_892017007521031_404512587404150184_n
“The resounding ‘no’ vote from the people of Greece to reject austerity is a victory for democracy.
“Throughout the evening there was a palpable sense of optimism as the results came in from all parts of the country.
“Greece is now a beacon of hope in the wider campaign against austerity. it was an honour and a privilege to stand with Syriza and the people of Greece tonight.
“I joined the Greek people on the streets of Athens to celebrate their rejection of austerity. At the same time republicans were on the streets of Derry and elsewhere standing in solidarity with the people of Greece.
“The Greek people have made their voices heard loud and clear in this referendum.
“Their voices must be listened to by the neoliberal elites who attempted to impose further austerity on Greece.
“Fresh negotiations are needed to secure a fair and sustainable resolution to the Greek debt crisis in line with the democratic will expressed by the people of Greece.” Ends/Críoch

Derry Gaza solidarity rally on Wednesday night

Speaking today chairperson of Ógra in Derry  Cáolan McGinley DSC_0228

We are asking people from Derry, Donegal and Tyrone to gather with us on Wednesday night 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 injustices and slaughter that the Israelis are carrying out on the Palestinian people.

We will also be remembering the first anniversary of four Palestinian children being killed in an Israeli air strike. It should never be forgotten that these four children from the Bakir family were slaughtered whilst playing a game of football on a beach in Gaza. The footage of the events around their deaths was beamed around the world.

Shahd Abusalama a resident of Gaza and survivor of operation Cast Lead will be a quest speaker on Wednesday night

We would encourage as many people as possible to attend so that we can send a very clear message from the North West of Ireland that what is happening to the people of Gaza must stop

Hassan calls for action after fire at traveller’s community centre at Ballyarnett

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has said urgent action is required in regards to the future of the traveller’s community centre at Ballyarnett.

He was speaking after a fire caused serious damage to the building on Saturday afternoon.image

He said: “We have been warning about the potential for incidents like that which took place on Saturday for some time now.

In July of last year myself and party colleague Maeve McLaughlin MLA called on the Department of Social Development and  Derry City Council to look at whether they could come to some agreement on the future of this building. Maeve also had a number of meetings with the various departments in relation to the Ballyarnett site and she will now be bringing this up with the Minister.

This community centre has been lying dormant out here for nearly three years and to date nothing has come out of this which would see a long-term resolution to bringing it back into use for the benefit of the local Travelling population.

It is ridiculous the building has been left like this .It is going to waste and now has become the target of vandals.

Community support for Shantallow family under attack –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has expressed her anger at the continued attacks on a family living in Liscloon Drive , that these attacks are completely unacceptable and that the family are living in fear of every noise outside their property.

Councillor Duffy said

I would like to commend the work of the  Shantallow Community Residents Association, CRJ and the local community safety team for their ongoing work to try and support the family and find a solution to this issue.

It’s very important that the Housing Executive ensures that it is doing everything possible to assist the family and address these ongoing difficulties in the area as it has a statutory duty to ensure its tenants are not living in fear in their own homes.

Ends

Appeal after Culmore crime spree –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has urged residents and business owners in Culmore to be on the alert following a number of break-ins in the area over the past 48 Hours .???????????????????????????????

 

Councillor Hassan said “I would urge everyone in the Culmore area to be vigilant. These incidents happened across a wide area with homes and vehicles being targeted in this latest crime spree.

I would appeal to residents if they are leaving their home for even a short space of time that they always lock their windows and doors, back gates and if they have valuable garden tools and machinery that they are securely locked up at night”

If you see suspicious activity around a neighbour’s house, particularly if there is no one at home, call the police. Your home or business could be next.”

 

Ends

Adams commends the people of Greece

Responding to the referendum result in Greece, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams said:15251175137_aa21579d1d_o

“The people of Greece have made a historic decision against austerity and an unsustainable bailout package. This democratic decision must be respected by all EU leaders.

“I wish to commend the people of Greece for this significant exercise in democracy on behalf of Greece and the rest of the EU.

“I also want to commend Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Government for the courageous leadership they have shown.

“The big question facing all citizens of the European Union today, including Irish citizens is whether people have the right to assert democratic control over decisions which affect their lives. That is at the heart of the crisis in Greece. It is also a huge issue in Ireland.

“The EU must now make clear its desire to keep Greece in the Eurozone by negotiating a solution that doesn’t impose years of economic depression on the Greek people.

“This decision of the Greek people should force a rethink on how the EU is run. It is now time to return to the values of solidarity and co-operation that the founders of the European movement claimed underpinned it.

“It is shameful that throughout this crisis the Irish Government aligned itself with the EU elite and against the interests of the people of Greece, of Ireland and of the EU.

“In the wake of today’s referendum result, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan must set aside their petty party political concerns and support Greek efforts to negotiate a fair and sustainable solution to their debt crisis.”

Martina Anderson to show solidarity with people of Greece in Athens‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will travel to Athens tomorrow to stand in solidarity with the Greek people in their battle against austerity. CI6i5cTWIAABHm8

Ms Anderson said;

“As a proud Irish republican and dedicated internationalist, I will be in Athens on Sunday with my party colleague Pearse Doherty to stand in solidarity with the people of Greece.

“The Greek people have an opportunity to send a clear message to the right wing elites of Europe that austerity is wrong and will not be tolerated.

“This referendum is democracy in action and stands in contrast to the anti-democratic actions of the ECB, IMF, and the European Commission in attempting to force further austerity on Greece.

“I wish the Greek people well in the referendum and encourage them to stand firm in the face of the relentless austerity regime imposed on them.

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Syriza and the people of Greece in opposing austerity.”

EU Co-operation needed to tackle scourge of legal highs – Anderson‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said partnership working across Europe is key to tackling the problem of so-called legal highs. CIv4nfxUAAACjxr

Speaking after meeting with the Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, Ms Anderson said; 

“The scourge of psychoactive substances or so-called legal highs does not recognise borders and has caused misery right across Europe.

“As part of a co-ordinated approach to dealing with these toxic substances, I met with the SNP’s Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs to discuss the best approach to dealing with legal highs.

“These substances have destroyed lives and devastated communities in both Ireland and Scotland, as they have across Europe.

“We agreed to share information and examples of best practice on the work being done to combat legal highs in the Scottish parliament, by the Assembly and local councils in the North and in the European Parliament.

“We identified areas of further co-operation and agreed to work together in the future to tackle this menace.”

Duffy backs calls from children’s commissioners to end cuts

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed a call from four children’s commissioners for the British government to abandon its plans to cut benefits before more children are driven into poverty. DSC_0627

Speaking after a joint call from the commissioners from the North and Britain, Sandra Duffy said; 

“Coming after a  report which showed a 3 per rise in child poverty levels here and Tory plans for a further cuts which will impact on low income households, this latest report by four children’s commissioners from Britain and the North must be taken seriously.

“Families in the North of Ireland are already becoming increasingly worried about how they can afford the very basics for their children.

“This report is disturbing as it warns that if the proposed cuts go ahead we will see child poverty levels double over the next five years.

“It clearly states the  Tory government is aware of the current and future impact of these cuts to the poorest and most vulnerable including children and yet they still continue to target those very families.

“Sinn Féin hopes to meet with all four of the Commissioners to discuss the concerns raised in this report.”

 

 

Previous messageNext messageBack to messages Deadline to end roaming charges must be enforced – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Council to enforce a new deadline for the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges.

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

Ms Anderson said;

“Last year the European Commission agreed to scrap roaming charges by December this year, however the European Council then halted that decision and pushed the date back to December 2018.

“That delay was unacceptable to us and would have led to people living and working in border areas being hit with unfair roaming charges for another three years.

“Matt Carthy and I met with senior officials from the European Council last week to call for a complete end to roaming charges as soon as possible.

“Today’s decision by the European Council to bring forward the date for abolition of roaming charges is welcome but unfortunately they will still be in place until June 2017.

“The onus is now on the European Council to ensure this deadline is adhered to so that customers, particularly those in border areas, are not penalised by unfair charges beyond that date.”

Previous messageNext messageBack to messages Logue welcomes court judgment on anti-poverty strategy‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue  has welcomed the result of a legal challenge taken by the Committee on the Administration of Justice on the lack of an anti-poverty strategy in the North. Patricia Logue new pic 22

She said;

“I welcome today’s judgement in the judicial review taken by the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) on the absence of an anti-poverty strategy.

“This judgement is in line with Sinn Féin’s position that a strategy needs to be put in place to tackle poverty and, crucially, that it must tackle objective need.

“The obstacles blocking the adoption of an effective anti-poverty strategy must be removed immediately so this can be put in place.

“The Tory government’s austerity policies and savage cuts are pushing more people into poverty and are designed to attack the most vulnerable in our society. Therefore a robust anti-poverty strategy is needed now more than ever.”

Tory austerity must be confronted collectively – McGuinness‏

Martin McGuinness spoke about the campaign against British government austerity in the Macmillan Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons. CI5t9jsUEAA2Mzq
The event was attended by MPs and members of the House of Lords from a range of parties, trade unionists, charities and campaign groups.

FULL TEXT OF MARTIN MCGUINNESS’ SPEECHI am delighted to be here and to welcome you all to the Sinn Fein Westminster reception.

I was in London a fortnight ago when I had the honour of addressing a quarter of a million people at the huge anti austerity rally organised by the People’s Assembly.

I know many of you were there also and I want to say that we in Sinn Féin have been greatly inspired by the strength of the anti-austerity movement on this side of the Irish Sea.

It has long been our position that we must use our collective strength to confront and confound this current Tory government and their disastrous austerity agenda.

So we look forward to continuing to work and campaign with other progressive forces across these islands over the weeks and months ahead.

I have no doubt that our MPs – Paul, Pat, Francie and Mickey will be at the forefront of that work.

Sinn Féin stood for election on an anti-austerity platform and we are absolutely determined to honour the mandate given to us.

That is why – in the south of Ireland – we have been the leading voice of opposition to the Dublin government’s austerity agenda, which has decimated communities across the state.

Public services and welfare were cut, new taxes imposed, workers’ rights reduced, wages and hours cut. Hardship, poverty and inequality increased. Young people are emigrating in their thousands.

That is the result of austerity. That is what happens when the debts of private business, banks and developers are passed onto the people.

In the north of Ireland – where Sinn Fein is in government and I am the Deputy First Minister – we blocked the Welfare Bill and the cuts that the Tories demanded we impose on the most vulnerable.

The response from the Tories has been as predictable as it has been reckless. Their ideological attachment to their Thatcherite agenda is such that they are willing to jeopardise the very future of the power-sharing institutions of the Good Friday agreement in order to pursue it.

Those institutions – which have underpinned the peace process for almost two decades – are now on endangered because of Tory recklessness.

It would seem that, unless we acquiesce to their demands to target the most vulnerable and decimate public services, they are prepared to see the power-sharing administration collapse.

But we will not allow the institutions – or our party – to become a proxy for a disastrous and counter-productive agenda.

Of course, I could simply stand here and tell you all the things that Sinn Féin is against.

But I also want to talk about what we are for.

Because there is an alternative.

The alternative is investment and growth, equality and prosperity, the safety net and the helping hand.

In the context of Ireland, the alternative is also in unity of the island. It is ludicrous at any time – but particularly at a time of economic crisis – for an island with a population of just 6 million people to have two economies developing back to back.

Two health systems, two education systems, two public sectors and all the duplication and waste that goes with that.

Sinn Féin is for equality and fairness, for prosperity and social justice across every aspect of life.

For instance, it is shameful that the only place in these islands – indeed the only place between here and California – that members of the LGBT community still do not have the right to equal marriage is in the North of Ireland.

But Sinn Féin will continue to defend the rights and entitlements of all minorities. We will continue to stand up for the most vulnerable in our society and demand and deliver a better future for our children.

We want to work constructively as part of a progressive alliance to achieve that. I know that many of you feel the same way.

So while these are challenging times we are living in, there is no one in this room who is afraid of a challenge and I greatly look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with you all as we face them together.

Warning over opportunist thefts-Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has warned residents in the Bogside and Creggan to be on alert following a number of opportunist thefts in the area over the past week.COLLY

Councillor Kelly said

“Sadly we always see a rise in these types of crime over the summer months .In the past week i am aware of gardening tools being stolen from outside a home in the Bogside and an iphone 5 was stolen from a workers van in Creggan.

In both incidents the thefts took place very quickly and were discovered within minutes but the culprits were gone.

It’s a sad state of affairs that we have to leave people to watch tools or lock a door every time we step out for a few minutes.The iphone is useless to the person who stole it because its  locked but it has recent family holiday photos on it  so if anyone finds it abandoned i would appeal for them  to contact me.

McGinley welcomes Ballymagroarty light improvement scheme‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the increased number of street lighting standards being replaced in Ballymagroarty.

Cllr. McGinley said: “In response to my request street lighting engineers initiated a replacement programme for standards along the main thoroughfares in Ballymagroarty.

As work progressed it became evident that a greater number of street lights needed to be replaced and I am pleased to say that a total of almost 70 new standards will be installed as part of this ongoing programme.

Not only will this initiative provide better quality lighting for Ballymagroarty it will also considerably enhance the appearance of the estate and I would take this opportunity to commend Transport NI’s street lighting section for its positive response to my request on behalf of residents.”

Mayor welcomes announcement of 289 jobs‏

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Elisha McCallion has welcomed the announcement today of almost 300 new jobs for the city and region.DSC_0615

Speaking following the announcement by Minister Jonathan Bell earlier today that OneSource Virtual is to create 289 high quality jobs at their local HR Outsourcing centre, the Mayor said she was delighted the company had made this substantial financial commitment to the North West.

“This is the second major jobs investment announcement in two weeks for our city and region and I am delighted that the work going on behind the scenes with the various stakeholders  to promote our city and region as a good place to do business, is reaping its rewards.

“As a city region we are committed to developing our economy by growing and attracting businesses and creating new jobs and opportunities for all our citizens, in particular our large and growing population of well educated young people.

“These are high quality jobs that reflect the quality of our city’s offering in terms of skills base. The Council will continue to work with Invest NI and other stakeholders to support business growth and to promote Derry City and Strabane District is to the forefront in terms of attracting foreign direct investment,” she said.

Ends

“Derry Jobs announcement welcome” – McCartney‏

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the announcement that Texas-based OneSource Virtual (OneSource) is to set up an HR Outsourcing Centre in Derry, creating 289 new jobs by 2017. 

Raymond McCartney said:

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“Today’s major investment by One Source, creating 289 high end jobs in Derry by the end of 2017 is welcome news.

“It is particular good news for Derry and the North West, which has the highest level of unemployment rates across the North.

“While I have, in the past been critical of InvestNI record in this constituency I acknowledge the assistance provided by them in securing this major job creation project for Derry.

 “When fully operational this job announcement with potential earnings of £36,000 a year will contribute upwards of £12million to the local economy giving a major boost to the local economy.” CRÍOCH/END

McCallion congratulates first Sinn Féin Mayor of Dublin‏

IMG_2689IMG_2681IMG_2715

Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry and Strabane Elisha McCallion has congratulated her party colleague Críona Ní Dhálaigh on being elected as the first Sinn Féin  Mayor of Dublin.

Jackson pays tribute to Immaculate Conception College‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has paid tribute to the staff, pupils and parents of the Immaculate Conception College , which closes its doors today after 49 years.

 

Councillor Jackson said,CIS9L8pWwAQ4Ale

 

“Unfortunately due to unsustainable numbers The Immaculate Conception College  will close today after 49 years service to the community.

 

“I would like to pay tribute to the staff, parents and teachers who made this school an integral part of the Waterside community for so long.

 

“There are many people in the area who have fond memories of attending this school and it has provided a first class education as a basis for many more to go on and succeed in life.

 

“It is now important that the site is utilised for the benefit of the entire community in the Waterside and I look forward to working with the relevant agencies to ensure that this happens.”

Logue welcomes court judgment on anti-poverty strategy‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue  has welcomed the result of a legal challenge taken by the Committee on the Administration of Justice on the lack of an anti-poverty strategy in the North.

She said; Patricia Logue new pic 22

“I welcome today’s judgement in the judicial review taken by the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) on the absence of an anti-poverty strategy.

“This judgement is in line with Sinn Féin’s position that a strategy needs to be put in place to tackle poverty and, crucially, that it must tackle objective need.

“The obstacles blocking the adoption of an effective anti-poverty strategy must be removed immediately so this can be put in place.

“The Tory government’s austerity policies and savage cuts are pushing more people into poverty and are designed to attack the most vulnerable in our society. Therefore a robust anti-poverty strategy is needed now more than ever.”

Somme remembered by mayor of Belfast

Deadline to end roaming charges must be enforced – Anderson‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Council to enforce a new deadline for the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges.

Ms Anderson said; Martina new pic 201

“Last year the European Commission agreed to scrap roaming charges by December this year, however the European Council then halted that decision and pushed the date back to December 2018.

“That delay was unacceptable to us and would have led to people living and working in border areas being hit with unfair roaming charges for another three years.

“Matt Carthy and I met with senior officials from the European Council last week to call for a complete end to roaming charges as soon as possible.

“Today’s decision by the European Council to bring forward the date for abolition of roaming charges is welcome but unfortunately they will still be in place until June 2017.

“The onus is now on the European Council to ensure this deadline is adhered to so that customers, particularly those in border areas, are not penalised by unfair charges beyond that date.”

PSNI allowed erection of loyalist flags it said would be breach of the peace

PSNI allowed erection of loyalist flags it said would be breach of the peace

THE PSNI has gone back on its word given last year to residents and elected representatives that it would treat the erection of loyalist flags on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast as a breach of the peace, local Assembly member Máirtín Ó Muilleoir says.

Rather than prevent 20 unionists putting up flags on Monday night, the PSNI actually “facilitated” what it had previously declared would be a breach of the peace, the former Mayor of Belfast said.

“The Ormeau Road is a vibrant, multicultural community which in many ways sets an example for the city. No one has the right to mark out territory in this intimidatory fashion.

“I understand that many of the individuals who erected the flags are not from the Ormeau area. Their actions are not reflective of the Ormeau community, nationalist nor unionist, who reject any effort to harm community relations in the area.”

He encouraged residents to voice their concerns to the PSNI by registering their complaint on 101 or by using the online non-emergency reporting form at https://www.urzone.com/NEIRF/Terms.aspx.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir added:

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with senior Belfast PSNI officers to raise my concerns that they have reneged on commitments and have colluded with this clear act of intimidation.”

False narratives obscure the need to negotiate ‘New Deal’ for the North

False narratives obscure the need to negotiate ‘New Deal’ for the North

● British and Irish government claims that Sinn Féin wants to collapse the political institutions because of the Southern general election are both preposterous and absolutely untrue – and both governments know that

THE Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle’s decision to conditionally support the current budget’s passage through the Assembly in the North has created space and time. Neither should be squandered.

That, however, will depend upon the commitment of the British and Irish governments and all the local parties to prevent the current austerity crisis pushing the North into an unprecedented political crisis with serious implications for the sustainability of the political institutions and the political process itself.

The party’s Ard Chomhairle meeting heard a range of different political opinions on what decision to take.

Everyone agreed that the election of a majority Conservative Government committed to cutting £25billion from public services, jobs, child tax credits and support for the long-term sick, disabled, the poor, and elderly had changed the context within which the discussion was happening.

In the end, the Ard Chomhairle decided that Sinn Féin would give conditional support to the current budget on the basis that it remained exempt from the immediate “in year” cuts which the Conservatives are trying to force upon the Executive and whatever further cuts to public expenditure will be announced in the 8 July Budget Statement.

The alternative was to vote down this budget, thereby triggering an immediate and real political crisis with ministerial powers being usurped by civil servants or Executive powers being handed back to the British Government.

In recent months and weeks, several false narratives have been encouraged (publicly and privately) to obscure the facts and to rationalise the continuing negative status quo in the North.

Both the British and Irish governments have been saying privately that Sinn Féin wants to collapse the political institutions because of the Southern general election.

That is both preposterous and absolutely untrue – and both governments know that to be the case.

However, it is a convenient fiction behind which to disguise their own inaction and indifference to the ramifications of the huge austerity crisis facing the North. Include in that (and not unlike in Greece) their ideological hostility to the anti-austerity politics of Sinn Féin and their annoyance that Sinn Féin in government refuses to support the Conservatives’ austerity agenda.

A second false narrative being jointly promoted by the Conservatives and all unionist parties is that failure to agree the welfare component of the Stormont House Agreement is the cause of all the economic problems in the North as well as continued political instability.

That is also untrue.

The welfare impasse is a by-product of the wider austerity crisis, not the cause!

Cameron on Trident

David Cameron on a Trident nuclear submarine – his and Theresa Villiers’s Conservative Party wants to spend over £23billion on replacing Trident nuclear submarines . . . and unionist parties at Stormont agree with that

The third fiction being pumped by the Conservatives and all the unionist parties (but particularly the DUP) is that there is no alternative to austerity and there is no more money. Wrong! There is always more money – the real crux is how that money is spent and the choices which governments and political parties make.

The Conservatives and unionist parties all support using 2% of Britain’s GDP on military spending. At the same time as the Conservatives plan to cut £25billion from state public expenditure before 2018, they want to spend over £23billion on replacing Trident nuclear submarines. And the local unionist parties agree with that.

Amazingly, the DUP went even further by proposing the the completion, equipping and deployment of two new aircraft carriers.

And all this while citizens are losing their homes and others live with mortgage distress. Why?

The latest figures from the British Office of National Statistics show that households in the North have the lowest incomes, on average, of any region in the British state. We already know that the standard of living is the lowest of any region in the British state or 26 Counties.

The fact is that more austerity in the North will set back the prospect of restructuring the regional economy. It could not be otherwise when the private sector is already too weak and British Government policy remains impervious to the special circumstances and needs of the North as a society emerging from conflict.

The welfare impasse does not have to hold up progress if the DUP reverts to the original agreement to maintain protections for future claimants and directs the Social Security Agency to proceed with implementation.

That doesn’t require a new negotiation.

The fundamental sticking point which has brought the political process to this crossroads is British Government political and economic policy. That needs to change. The political process will not deliver as envisaged under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement – and indeed the Executive’s Programme for Government – without a sustainable economic framework.

Most if not all sections of opinion and society in the North agree that a workable budget is needed to restructure the economy. There is broad consensus that the financial and economic resource is not available to the local Executive to ensure it can deliver its services, build infrastructure and housing, and grow the economy. That in itself becomes a source of further political instability.

Austerity is incompatible with the political compromises and governance arrangements which underpin the political process.

Unchecked, austerity will create greater inequality and reinforce existing and systemic inequalities within Northern society. It will undermine the development of a fair society and support for a potential shared future.

The trajectory set by the British Government for the regional economy will result in an estimated loss of £2.3billion to the North between 2010 and 2018. That carries with it catastrophic economic, social and political consequences.

The North needs a ‘New Deal’ to build a fair society going forward.

Negotiating and securing that ‘New Deal’ should become the focus for all political parties, the social partners and all stakeholders in civic society during this political space which has become available.

The positive and significant influence of Irish-America, the US administration and European Parliament should also be utilised.

The elements of a ‘New Deal’ should include delivery of a workable budget, provision of “off book” borrowing powers to the local Executive, and the agreed transfer of fiscal powers.

A ‘New Deal’ would equip the Executive with the tools to plan the regeneration of the regional economy with a mid- to long-term strategy and to draw upon the support and expertise of the key social partners from within the business, trades union, voluntary and academic sectors.

Such a strategy would depend upon the political parties and social partners uniting on a new economic and social agenda based upon a firm commitment to proper power sharing and partnership.

If that can be achieved, the next stage would be to commence a game-changing negotiation with the British and Irish governments.

The local parties and all social partners should meet and agree to speak with one voice.

A space has been created and the opportunity should be seized to remobilise the unity of purpose and goodwill which delivered the referendum endorsing the Good Friday Agreement. That possibility should inspire everyone.

If this does not happen, and British Government economic and political policy does not change, then we will quickly run out of road and no more political space will exist. In that context, we will all be left facing a very uncertain and unpredictable future indeed.

Logue welcomes New School Governors Resources‏

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the launch of new resources for school governors aimed at improving the skills and capacity of governors in dealing with an increasingly demanding role.Patricia Logue new pic 22

 The Sinn Féin Education spokesperson said:

 “I think this will be welcomed by Schools, their Boards of Governors, and parents right across the North.

 “Governors play a vital role in the management and development of our schools, thus they need to have the capacity to deal with an increasing workload and an evolving educational environment.

 “I’m sure that this new Guide for Governors, Internet portal, and Smartphone App will help governors embrace the challenges they face’

She said

 “It will also give assurance to parents that those in charge of their child’s school are provided with the best possible assistance.

  “Given that innovation plays a key role in driving up standards in our schools, I have no doubt that this new suite of resources for our governors will have a positive impact for local pupils and governors alike.”

Deadline to end roaming charges must be enforced – Anderson‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Council to enforce a new deadline for the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges.

Ms Anderson said; Martina new pic 201

“Last year the European Commission agreed to scrap roaming charges by December this year, however the European Council then halted that decision and pushed the date back to December 2018.

“That delay was unacceptable to us and would have led to people living and working in border areas being hit with unfair roaming charges for another three years.

“Matt Carthy and I met with senior officials from the European Council last week to call for a complete end to roaming charges as soon as possible.

“Today’s decision by the European Council to bring forward the date for abolition of roaming charges is welcome but unfortunately they will still be in place until June 2017.

“The onus is now on the European Council to ensure this deadline is adhered to so that customers, particularly those in border areas, are not penalised by unfair charges beyond that date.”

British must adopt imaginative approach-McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said today the British government need to bring an imaginative approach if we are to resolve the difficulties her government has created.

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

He said:

“The financial crisis facing the Executive is a direct result of the Tory cuts to the block grant and threats by the British government to public services and the welfare state.

“However, Theresa Villiers refuses to accept responsibility for the current political crisis despite raiding £1.5 million from the Executive’s block grant and proposing further Tory cuts to public services and welfare protections.

“In recent comments she has also adopted an increasingly partisan approach to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.

“If Theresa Villiers wants to make a positive contribution to the political process then she needs to end this one-sided approach. She needs to bring imaginative solutions to the problems her government has created.

“It’s important that all political parties and civic society stand together in the face of the austerity agenda of the Tory government in the interests of the people who elect us to deliver public services and protections on their behalf.”

Ends

Reconciliation the next phase of the peace process – McGuinness

“I am honoured to give the main address today and heartened to see so many here to pay tribute to our patriot dead.McGuinness_Derry_Vols_1

In particular, I welcome the Volunteers’ families and – on behalf of Sinn Féin – would like to express our ongoing solidarity and support for you all.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Charles English, the 40th anniversary of Jim Moyne and the 45th anniversary of Tommy McCool, Joe Coyle and Thomas Carlin, who of course died in a tragic explosion, which also claimed the lives of Tommy McCool’s young daughters Bernadette and Carol.

We remember them all with a heavy heart but also a determination to continue to work tirelessly to build the kind of Ireland, which they – and generations of republicans before them – dreamed of.

A free Ireland. a just Ireland, an Ireland where all are cherished equally, regardless of creed, colour or class. An Ireland that respects all of the traditions on this island and where our differences are celebrated not feared.

We have come a long way along that road. Derry is now a very different place. Ireland is a very different place – a better place – but there is still some way to travel.

Irish republicans have been at the centre of that process of change. Initiatives taken by the leadership of the Irish Republican Army created the space to break the cycle of repression, resistance and conflict and to explore and construct, for the first time in the history of this state, peaceful and democratic options for tackling injustice and delivering essential change.

As a result there is now a political way forward. Thankfully the gun has been taken out of Irish politics.

However, the bitter divisions of the past continue to dominate politics in this part of Ireland and that is why reconciliation must become the next phase of the peace process and our contribution, as Irish republicans, must be to embrace and build that process of healing and accommodation.

The past cannot be changed or undone. Neither can the suffering, the hurt or the violence of the conflict, be disowned by Republicans or any other party to the conflict.

Therefore, the challenge for all of us involved in the peace process – including the British Government – is to ensure that there can never be a repeat of what went before.

That will require leadership and courage on all sides and I firmly believe that republicans have been and are willing to show that leadership.

Reaching out the hand of friendship, taking initiatives and working together in a spirit of generosity doesn’t mean surrendering our principles or our political allegiances.

The flags flying above this graveyard are orange as well as green. Seeking unity among our people is at the core of our Irish republicanism and has been since it was first articulated by Theobald Wolfe Tone.

Reconciliation, respect and accommodation – these are the right things to do. It is the republican thing to do.

But if this process is to be successful it cannot be a one-way street. To be successful it must be reciprocated by political unionism and by the British state.

There can be no hierarchy of victims, just as there is no single or agreed narrative of the conflict. Everyone involved needs to be addressed and dealt with on the basis of equality and parity of treatment.

There needs to be an acceptance that human beings cry, die, bleed and grieve and are mourned in the same way, and that our common humanity should acknowledge that.

Our history is a contested space. It probably always will be. But that doesn’t mean that our future must be also.

During the Stormont House negotiations, the British Government publicly acknowledged their role in creating and sustaining the conflict – and their responsibility in terms of addressing the legacy of it.

It’s a small step but a necessary one and one that needs to be built on.

Unionist political leaders also need to recognise their responsibilities and the enormously damaging role that the sectarian structure of this state played in generating decades of conflict.

The leadership of unionism has been slow to do so. In many ways they cling to a past that no longer exists – and in so doing encourage others to do the same.

The triumphalist demands of the Orange Order in North Belfast are one of the consequences of this failure of leadership. Rather than encouraging intransigence, unionist parties should demonstrate the leadership, dialogue and mutual respect that delivered the now peaceful Apprentice Boys demonstration in this city every August.

And I do believe that many within the unionist community support that approach. They want to put the failures of the past behind us and to build a shared future based on accommodation, inclusivity and mutual respect.

I do believe that our society is moving forward, slowly but steadily and we need to continue that process. And it is our duty to continue to demonstrate to unionists – our fellow countrymen and women – that they have nothing to fear from Irish republicans and nothing to fear equality and nothing to fear from reconciliation and unity on this island.

Building a united Irish republic, which cherishes all of the children of the nation equally is the only fitting tribute we can pay to those we remember here today.”

McCallion congratulates new Dublin mayor Ní Dhálaigh

Sinn Féin mayor of Derry and Strabane Elisha McCallion has congratulated Críona Ní Dhálaigh on being elected as the new mayor of Dublin. CIsQtf1WEAAtg5d

Speaking from Dublin Councillor McCallion said;

“I am delighted Críona Ní Dhálaigh has been elected as the new mayor of Dublin for 2015/’16.

“Críona is an excellent public representative and I have no doubt she will make an brilliant mayor for all of the citizens of our capital city.

“Her commitment to the people and tireless promotion of equality will be hallmarks of her term as mayor.

“The election of another Sinn Féin mayor highlights the growing support for republicanism right across the island.

“As we approach the centenary of the Easter Rising Sinn Féin mayors will be in place in the four major cities on the island; Dublin, Belfast, Derry and Cork.

“She will also join the Sinn Féin mayor of South Dublin County Council, Sarah Holland, who was elected last week.

“It was an honour and a privilege to be in Dublin alongside my Sinn Féin mayoral colleagues to see Críona receive her chain of office.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Fleming welcomes start date for grass cutting Clooney Road.

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has welcomed news that Transport NI has confirmed it is to start grass cutting on the Clooney Road.

Councillor Fleming had been in discussions with Transport NI following complaints from businesses and residents living along Clooney Road.

Councillor Fleming said “I am pleased to have received correspondence from Transport NI (Road Service) that work is to begin along the Clooney Road next Tuesday 30st June.

This is one of the busiest roads in the city and I would urge motorists to be patient whilst this essential safety work is taking place.

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Annual Derry Republican Graves Association weekend of events

Spokesperson for the Association said

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“It will be a very busy weekend for the Derry Republican Graves Association with the annual of additions to the Derry Republican book of remembrance, the Volunteers commemoration and the big draw.

 

The additions to the book of remembrance will take place on Saturday at 3pm in the Sinn Féin Ráth Mór offices on the New Road. This is a very important initiative to produce an archive of Republican history in the city in the build up to the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

 

The main Volunteers Commemoration is on Sunday and is held each year to remember all those local people who died as a result of the conflict. It is a very important date in local republican calendar in Derry and Donegal.

 

The main speaker at Sunday’s commemoration will be Martin McGuinness, assemble at the Creggan shops at 2.30pm before proceeding to the city cemetery. Later in the evening the annual Graves Association prize draw will take place in the Gasyard at 7.00pm.

 

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Kelly backs legal challenge to equal marriage ban

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has called for equal marriage rights to be extended to the North. 

Speaking ahead of two couples going to court to seek a judicial review of the North’s equal marriage ban, he said; 

“Sinn Féin wants to see an equal society for everyone, regardless of their sexuality, gender, religion or anything else.

“Marriage equality threatens no one and sends out clear message that discrimination will not be tolerated.

“The recent referendum in the South shows the level of support for equal marriage.

“The North now is in the shameful position of being the only part of these islands which does not have marriage equality.

“It simply does not make sense to deny gay couples the right to marry in Derry or Belfast while gay couples can marry in Dublin.

“It is beyond time that equal marriage rights are extended to couples right across the island.”

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Split second from tragedy with motorbike terror –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said

The anti-social use of these motor bikes is a menace on the local community.

 

We have had a high number of complaints about the use of motorbikes and scrambler type bikes over the past few weeks. Many of the open  green spaces in the Galliagh area are being ripped up and badly damaged by these vehicles.

More worryingly is that in many cases they are being driven along the footpaths at speeds of 30 – 40mph placing pedestrians in serious danger as well as young children out playing in the street.

Many of the residents I have spoken to have said there is a real fear in the local community we are only a split second away here from a terrible tragedy.

 

It has been a case that people have turned a blind eye to the way these bikes are being driven about the place but it is now time that action was taken.

 

 

If anyone has information on who is behind this anti community activity then they should report it to the Housing Executive , Road Service or the PSNI .Those involved in bringing havoc and danger into our community should be prosecuted.

 

 

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Lives can be saved with defibrillator register-Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has said a register of all defibrillator machines will help save more lives. 551530_829422410447158_7011883869998710051_n

Speaking after an Assembly debate on defibrillators and the need for a register , he said;

“Defibrillators are now located in civic buildings, schools, sporting clubs, community organisations and many other locations across the North.

In 2011 I got unanimous backing for a motion in the then Derry City Council calling for the introduction of the machines at council facilities and for staff to be trained in their use. And this year we have seen the installation of defibrillators in the city centre with the help of City Centre Initiative  ,Council ,Ambulance Service and various bodies.

“But often paramedics and others responding to emergency situations are not aware of the location of these live-saving devices.

“After discussions with the medical director of the Ambulance Service, David McManus, he accepted the need for a register of defibrillators.

“I am pleased the Assembly unanimously passed my party colleague Olive McMullan MLA motion calling for a register, which would be accessible by the ambulance service and first responders.

“When an organisation purchases a defibrillator the sale should be immediately registered with the ambulance service so they can be aware who bought it and where it is kept.

“In emergency situations time is of the essence and the quicker paramedics can get access to a defibrillator the more lives can be saved.”

Lead theft not a victimless crime –Jackson‏

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson has slammed those responsible for the theft of lead valued at £18,000 from the Gransha hospital site.CIS9L8pWwAQ4Ale

Councillor Jackson said “I would urge anyone with any information about this despicable act at Gransha Hospital to contact the police straight away.

In the last few years we have seen a rise in the number of lead thefts from homes and businesses across the city .We have seen schools in particular being targeted by these gangs with the repair bills running into tens of thousands of pounds.  Obviously whoever is behind these thefts see our schools as easy targets. It’s very hard to keep a 24 hour watch on school buildings.

As we head into the summer holidays I would urge people living close to schools, that if they see anyone acting suspiciously to contact the police.

Prison Ombudsman report disappointing – McCartney‏

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has expressed his disappointment that complaints to the Prison Ombudsman have increased threefold in the past year.

Mr. McCartney said,

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“Last year myself and party colleague Jennifer McCann met with Prisoner Ombudsman Tom McGonigle to discuss our growing concerns over the conditions in which prisoners are being held.

“The main issues raised with Tom McGonigle were the proposed changes to visiting arrangements, strip searches, controlled movement and prisoners being held in isolation.

“We made it clear that the regime in place does not lend itself to providing dignity and respect to all prisoners.

“This latest report highlights the lack of action that has been taken to resolve the issues raised and I am calling on the head of the Prison Service Sue McAllister to address the concerns highlighted in the report.

“The agreement reached in 2010 must be implemented as the mechanism to improve the situation in the prison.

“Sinn Féin will continue in our efforts to have all these issues resolved to ensure that all prisoners can be treated with dignity and respect.”

Kelly welcomes extension of Translink 212 service between Derry / Belfast

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has welcomed the news that from next Wednesday 1st July a new late night Goldline 212  service between Derry and Belfast will operate .COLLY

Councillor Colly Kelly said “This is a very busy service between Derry and Belfast. Users of it will welcome the news that from Monday to Friday the time of the last bus from Belfast has been extended for weekdays to 1am and the last bus out of Derry has been given a new time of 11pm.

It’s good to see these services being extended which will give greater choice for the traveller.

It will allow workers, people attending the likes of concerts or sporting events in Derry or Belfast a bit of flexibility if they now know there is a later service to both cities.

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Brucellosis testing downgrade welcomed-Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has welcomed the relaxation of Brucellosis testing for beef cattle announced  by Minister Michelle O’Neill which will save farmers several millions pounds yet still protect the industry.

 

Cllr Paul Fleming said,

 

“Due to the fact that it has been three years since the last reported case of brucellosis in beef cattle we can now be downgraded to two yearly herd testing instead of annual testing. The Minister also indicated her intention to abolish pre-movement testing which will mean that cattle will no longer be subject to brucellosis testing when being moved here.

 

“These changes will in no way undermine the stringent measures which are in place to protect our beef and dairy herds from disease and maintain the very high quality and reputation of our produce both at home and abroad.

 

“The changes will save the Department of Agriculture up to £8m per year and farmers over £7m in associated costs, monies that now can be spent elsewhere.

 

“I congratulate the Minister Michelle O’Neill on working to attain Officially Brucellosis Free status (OBF) and her announcement today which will reduce control measures for farmers.”

New Derry jobs announcement welcomed-Raymond McCartney MLA‏

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the announcement of over 100 new jobs at Metaverse Mod Squad to be situated in the old City Shirt Factory.

Mr McCartney said,City centre walkabout

“Metaverse Mod Squad is one of the worlds premier digital engagement specialists that provide interaction between social and digital media and companies.

“Its impressive list of customers include some of the biggest names in entertainment including Warner Bros, Cartoon Network and Sony Online entertainment as well many businesses in different fields of communication.

“The announcement today of the creation of 100 new posts to be situated in the heart of the city is a welcome boost for the local economy and I believe that this can be built upon.

“With the Kelvin network providing the quickest internet connection between the US and Europe, a highly educated and conscientious workforce and modern office space Derry is ideal site for Metaverse Mod Squad to develop its business.

“I hope that this announcement can be the catalyst to attract similar companies into the North West so we can develop a digital industry in the Derry area.”

Europe’s shame: Refugee drowning horror in the Mediterranean

Europe’s shame: Refugee drowning horror in the Mediterranean

Irish MEP Martina Anderson and Basque MEP Josu Juaristi in Lampedusa

THE horror of the recent mass drownings of refugees in the Mediterranean was recounted to MEPs by survivors who they met at holding centres in Italy during a GUE/NGL mission in June.

So far in 2015, more than 2,000 people have drowned attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean in rickety, overcrowded boats and barges. Most are fleeing wars, violence and persecution in the Middle East, Africa and further afield.

Martina Anderson with refugees

The delegation, which included Irish MEP Martina Anderson, visited reception centres on the islands of Lampedusa and Sicily where they met with survivors, rescue workers, aid workers, the Italian Coast Guard and the Mayor of Lampedusa – to discuss the situation and report back on what facilities and assistance are needed.

The delegation say that in one reception centre in Sicily – already crammed to capacity – they met a 98 year-old Syrian man who had fled the civil war in his country along with a mother and her five-day-old baby who was born at sea. They also visited a centre for unaccompanied minors where more than 60 children are staying.

Many of those who arrive are in need of medical treatment and some require special care for post-traumatic stress disorder.

After visiting refugees at a centre in Pozallo in Sicily, the Sinn Féin MEP said that Irish people understand the plight of these people “We had our own coffin ships,” she said of those who perished trying to make a better life. The former IRA prisoner also hit out at the conditions in which survivors were kept, describing some of the holding centres as “worse than any prison I know”.

When a young Somalian boy asked the delegation, “Is this Europe? Is all Europe like this?” the members said they felt unable to answer. “Europe is doing everything wrong. The same Europe that created the wars and the conflicts these women, men and children have been escaping deprive the same persons of any rights once they reach Europe,” said MEP Angela Vallina.

In a meeting with a commander of the Italian Coast Guards the delegation was informed that most of the boats in crossing the Mediterranean do not have people smugglers onboard:

“We have to understand why people want to come to Europe, if we destroy boats, the people will find another way,” said Commander Cannarile. “Do we want these people to stay in Libya? That is a humanitarian problem.” He says the only way to resolve this problem is through humanitarian corridors that would enable refugees to reach Europe without risking their lives at sea.

Ending the delegation, Martina Anderson MEP said what they had seen and learned in Lampedusa and Sicily had made the MEPs more determined to do allthey can to help those refugees who survived the crossing and not to forget those who died “trying to live”.

British state sued by Glenanne Gang bomb victim

British state sued by Glenanne Gang bomb victim

● Maria McShane with a portrait of Gavin

A WOMAN injured in a no-warning bomb planted by a gang made up of serving RUC police officers and British Army soldiers working with unionist paramilitaries under the control of British Military Intelligence is taking a civil action against the British state.

Two people were killed in the attack by the notorious Glenanne Gang on the Step Inn, in Keady, south Armagh, in August 1976.

It has emerged that the vehicle used to carry the bomb was hidden on the farm of an RUC Reservist prior to the fatal attack.

Maria McShane, who was pregnant at the time, lost an eye in the explosion that killed Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard Gleenan. Now she is launching a legal action against the British state.

Tragically, the baby boy that Maria gave birth to, Gavin, was himself shot dead by a UVF gang in 1994.

The 17-year-old and his friend, Shane McArdle, were on a break from school when they were gunned down.

The killer, believed to be a member of the rabidly sectarian Portadown UVF gang run by Billy Wright, didn’t wear a mask, so confident he was that the RUC would not move against him.

The gun used in that attack was an RUC-issue “personal protection weapon” that is thought not to have been used prior to or after the double killing.

It has also emerged that the RUC destroyed evidence relating to the shootings.

Now, in a bid to expose the links between Gavin’s UVF killers and the British state, Maria is taking action against the RUC over its failure to properly investigate the killing.

The gunman is now believed to be a senior member of a Christian church organisation in County Armagh who was never questioned about the killing.

DUP's Willie McCrea MP and Billy Wright

DUP’s Willie McCrea MP with Billy Wright

Bodenstown 2015

EU derogation on Irish language must be lifted – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the remaining barriers to the full recognition of the Irish language in the European Parliament must be lifted.

Speaking after meeting officials from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Brussels, Ms Anderson said;

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

“The Irish language has had full official and working language status since 2007 but there has been a derogation in place since then meaning that the European institutions do not have to translate documents into Irish.

“It also means there are no Irish language interpreters available during meetings of the European Parliament.

“Not only is it a fundamental right that we should have these services available in Irish but it would also create 188 jobs.

“The Irish government have a responsibility to formally ask the EU Council of Ministers to lift this derogation and they must do so before the before the end of this year. If they don’t another opportunity will not arise until 2020.

“As MEPs, we will be working with colleagues from across Europe, particularly through the intergroup on Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages, to push for language rights for all.

“All of us need to work collectively and put pressure on the Irish government to remove this barrier to full recognition of the Irish language at the European Parliament.”

Martin McGuinness’s address to major London anti austerity rally

 

“I am delighted to be here and I bring solidarity from Ireland and from all of us fighting right wing Thatcherite policies on both sides of the Irish sea.

“Sinn Féin is an anti-austerity party.CIApsgQWgAAf67B

“We stood for election on an anti-austerity platform and we are mandated by our electorate to oppose austerity.

“Sinn Féin is in coalition government in the North of Ireland. I am the deputy First Minister in that government. And in government we blocked the Welfare Bill and the welfare cuts that the Tory led coalition demanded we impose on the most vulnerable.

“We said no to the coalition government and we are saying an unambiguous, unqualified and uncompromising ‘no’ to this new Tory government.

“The Tories have no mandate for austerity in the north of Ireland. They stood in the elections and they were trounced in every constituency.

“But in Britain the Tories were elected on the lowest share of the vote ever for a Tory government – just 24 per cent of the electorate. 24 per cent is no mandate for austerity.

“Sinn Féin will not do Tory austerity. Unlike the Tory millionaires, I live in the heart of the proud working class community of the Bogside in Derry. The people the Tories are targeting are my friends, my neighbours, my family. They are fine, hard-working, proud and decent – just like our people in working class unionist communities.

“They are not parasites or spongers. It is Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires who are the real spongers given free rein to live out their Thatcherite fantasies at the expense of ordinary, decent communities throughout these islands.

“Austerity is devastating these communities.

“The working poor, public sector workers, the disabled and the vulnerable are the hardest hit by this bankrupt and ideologically driven policy.

“In the North of Ireland, where we continue to build the peace and a fragile economy, their policies threaten the power-sharing institutions of the Good Friday agreement.

“Those institutions – which have underpinned the peace process for almost two decades – are now on the brink of collapse because of Tory recklessness.

“In the south of Ireland we have witnessed at first hand the brutality of austerity.  The debts of private business, of banks and developers were passed on to the people.

“Generations will be paying of the debts of the greed of the few.

“Austerity has failed. It has failed our young people, our public services and our economy.

“It is the communities of Dublin, Derry, Dundee, Cardiff and London that are paying the cost of Tory austerity while the wealth of the few continues to increase.

“Austerity means inequality, poverty and despair.

“The alternative is investment and growth, equality and prosperity, the safety net and the helping hand.

“I am heartened by the huge numbers here today. Because it reminds us all that we are not alone in this fight. We are strong if we unite and act together.And, by continuing to stand together, we can succeed.

“Defeat is not an option. Austerity is not an option.

” Today we send a powerful message to the Tories that we will not be cowed, threatened, bullied or bribed.

” I congratulate you all for taking this stand and I look forward to continuing to stand shoulder to shoulder with you during the days, weeks and months ahead.”

Woodland Mews residents demand action on unfinished development-Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson saidChristopher TOH 1

“The residents living in Woodland Mews I have spoken with are becoming increasingly frustrated at what they believe is the lack of action by the developer to bring the estate up to standard for adoption.

When buying their homes residents believed they were buying into a family friendly estate. Five years on with all the properties sold the site isn’t finished.They have told me children are continually falling on the uneven surfaces or tripping over the raised manhole covers.

Worryingly there is also a major concern with the sewage network, it blocks up on a regular basis requiring residents to physically clear any blockage themselves. The smell coming from the blocked sewers can be overpowering even inside the homes.

I would call on the developer to work with NI water and Transport NI to find a resolution to these issues as a matter of urgency and to take action to protect the residents that are living within this estate.

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