Personal debt levels very worrying –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor  Sandra Duffy has said levels of personal debt in the North are very worrying.

Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

 

Speaking after a report by charity, StepChange, highlighted the high rates of personal debt in the she said;

 

“The level of personal debt highlighted in this report in very worrying.

 

“The fact that almost 2,000 people sought help from this charity in the first six months of this year demonstrates the huge financial pressures people are facing.

 

“I’m very concerned that more and more people are turning to money lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates. That locks them into crippling repayments and even more debt.

 

“This situation will only get worse for people in Derry and across the north  if the drastic welfare cuts proposed by the Tory-led government are implemented.

 

“Sinn Féin are opposing these Tory cuts to protect people from spiralling cycles of debt where they are at the mercy of money lenders and modern-day gombeen men.

 

“I would urge anyone in Derry experiencing financial difficulty to seek help as soon as possible by speaking to independent debt charities.”

Anderson welcomes new Health Innovation Corridor programme

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the launch of a new programme to promote the North West Health Innovation Corridor. 
 
 Ms Anderson said; Bxj7lUnIYAAip0Z.jpg large
 
“The North West Health Innovation Corridor was launched in May 2013 by the President go the 

Massachusetts State Senate, Therese Murray, and since then has gained a growing international reputation  for excellence. 

“This new programme will involve collaboration between the University of Massachusetts, the University of Ulster, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the Clinical Transitional Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) in Derry. 
 
“It will provide the opportunity for start-up health innovation companies in Derry to travel to Boston each month to learn from the US market and will also allow companies for Boston to come to the north west. 
 
“The launch of this programme is the latest investment in this process, which began as a result of trade missions I led to Boston with the co-operation of Senator Murray. 
 
“And I’d like to congratulate Senator Murray on receiving the Tip O’Neill Award, which was presented by President Michael D Higgins at the weekend. 
 
“This is a further strengthening of the relationship between Derry and Boston and I am sure that will continue with many more collaborative initiatives as the health innovation corridor develops further.
 
“All of this will help us realise our goal of bringing about improvements and innovations in health and social well-being.” Ends/Críoch

Stop welfare cuts campaign to be launched in Hazelbank

Sinn Féin Foyleside Councillors Mickey Cooper and Eric McGinley have called on residents and community groups to support the campaign against the proposed Tory welfare cuts.995644_742839099105490_5846638456199882466_n

 

Announcing the start of the campaign  the Sinn Féin Councillors said: “ This week will see Derry Sinn Féin activists deliver thousands of leaflets across the constituency highlighting the implications of the proposed Tory welfare cuts.

 

These cuts will impact severely on the most vulnerable in our society and those least able to afford reductions in their income.   It is not only those wholly dependent on benefits who will be affected but also those who are on low working incomes and rely on support such as working tax credits.

 

Sinn Féin is opposed to welfare cuts imposed by Tory millionaires and we will not be bowing to pressure from other parties in the Assembly to impose these austerity measures on our communities.

 

The Foyleside area includes many individuals and families who will be directly affected by the policies of the Westminster government and we will be asking residents and community organisations to sign the petitions which Sinn Féin will bring to the doorstep.

 

We are calling on all sections of society to join with Sinn Féin in opposing welfare cuts and helping to protect those most in need within our communities.”

Warning after Waterside break-ins – Jackson

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

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

 

Councillor Christopher Jackson said

 

“Over the past week there have been a number of break- ins at homes in the Waterside area .Thieves have also  targeted bikes and  garden tools left outside.

 

I have spoken to one local resident who  has been left badly shaken after finding a number of people acting suspiciously outside her home .  I would urge anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation or hears, sees anything suspicious outside their home to call the police straight away.

 

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

 

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

Fire Service prevent large blaze at the New Road –Cllr Colly Kelly‏

Sinn Féin Councillor  Colly Kelly has commended the quick actions of the Fire Service on Saturday afternoon for preventing a fire spread on a large green area adjacent to the Beechwood Steps and homes at Beechwood Avenue /Westend Terrace.IMG_4451

 

Councillor Colly Kelly said

 

“I received  a number of phone calls from  local residents on Saturday afternoon to say the green area beside the steps at Beechwood Steps was on fire. The air was filled with thick smoke and a large area of the green space there was on fire.

Thankfully the Fire Service was on the scene very quickly and the fire was extinguished.

The ground has been dry for the last few days and this fire could have spread very quickly as there is a lot of shrubbery and trees around the steps and within yards of homes on Beechwood Aveune , Westend Terrace.

Apart from diverting valuable resources from the Fire Service on a busy Saturday afternoon , lives could be at risk as this type of fire tends to travel quickly disorientating people with their huge smoke plumes therefore trapping them and putting their lives at danger.

Ends

Living wage would promote economic growth -McCartney‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has said all jobs created with Invest NI support or public procurement contracts should be paid at the living wage.tony-sandra-and-elisha-shantallow-oct-2013-c-mc-menamin-pics-(72)

 

Speaking following  the launch of a NICVA report on the living wage, the Foyle MLA said;

 

“For the first time, there are now more people in work who are living in poverty than those out of work.

 

“The casualisation of labour, through low pay, zero hour contracts, growing self-employment and under-employment, presents an ever-growing challenge to those of us concerned with the rights of working people.

 

In July of this year the new Derry and Strabane Council  unanimously supported our party’s call for adoption for a living wage to be introduced.

 

“The introduction of a living wage would stimulate economic growth by increasing gross wages by £221 million, lead to the creation of 2,500 jobs and deliver a £1,300 annual pay rise for 173,000 low-paid workers.

 

“It would also lead to a reduced reliance on in-work benefits such as working tax credits and housing benefits and lead to increased productivity among workers.

 

“We need to work collectively to eradicate poverty traps.

 

“One of the first steps that need to be taken is that all jobs created with Invest NI support or through public procurement contracts should be paid at or above the living wage.

Emotional Hearing from Mother and Baby Homes Delegation-Anderson

A Hearing took place this morning in the European Parliament Buildings in Brussels of a delegation representing the survivors of “Mother and Baby Homes” in Ireland.BxE0_ihCcAA8sIj.jpg large

The delegation was organised by Sinn Féin and the hearing chaired by Martina Anderson MEP.

Various organisations such as Justice For Magdalene’s, Adoption Rights Alliance, Bethany Home Group and Irish First Mothers Group were present to deliver harrowing tales of abuse suffered by both mothers and children in Church and State run institutions.

Illegal adoption practices including forced separation of mothers from children, vaccine trials on children without consent, and forced labour in terrible conditions were just some of the human rights abuses highlighted at today’s hearing.

Several women present were able to give affecting first-hand accounts of their experiences. Particularly disturbing were descriptions of children being forcibly “kidnapped” from their mothers and sold on what was essentially an “adoption market”

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance drove home the message that the hurt inflicted on Irish women was due to a “systematic social engineering policy devised by Church and State.”

The audience also heard from individuals who had been born in to “Mother and Baby Homes”. Despite having mothers who wanted them they were treated as orphans and spent the early years of their life in some of Irelands Industrial Schools, many being subjected to both physical and sexual abuse. Others from the Bethany Home Group told of being “farmed out” to work as child labourers.

The Irish State has also been putting many barriers in place for those who wish to track down their parents and siblings whom they were separated from at birth. The documents and records necessary are currently being held by the HSE yet victims are being told they will have to wait 4-8 years before they will have access.

Martina Anderson MEP has stated that: “The Irish Government are trying to sweep a shameful part of Irelands past under the rug rather than give justice to the victims”.

“As with every scandal in Ireland this one began with a denial, then a delay, then a lie, followed by a cover up and eventually if forced the Irish Government will throw some pennies from the table at it in hope that it will go again.  SF MEPs will work to ensure that this one will not go away and that the Survivors of the Mother and Baby and other Children’s institutions – Protestant and Catholic get the justice they desire and deserve”

ENDS

Open Long Kesh site to the public – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called for the Long Kesh prison site to be opened to the public. Raymond head shot 22
Speaking ahead of the European Heritage Open Days which will be held this weekend, Mr McCartney said;
 
“In previous years visitors and historical groups were able to visit the Long Kesh site and had access to the buildings on the site including the prison buildings and the WWII hangars.
 
“However since Peter Robinson’s ‘letter from America’ last year access to the site has now been restricted and no-one has been able to visit the prison buildings. 
 
“This is an untenable position for a site of such historic interest.  Full access to all the facilities on the site should be granted immediately.
 
“Opening up Maze/Long Kesh in this manner could pave the way for developing the wider potential of the whole site. 
 
“With access to the jail and the WWII hangars reinstated and the site developed as a fee-paying visitor experience everyone would be a winner.” Ends/Críoch

Outer West Neighbourhood PB to oppose Tory welfare cuts- McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the decision of the Outer West Neighbourhood Partnership Board to oppose the proposed Tory welfare cuts.eric head shot 2013 pic 1

 

 Councillor . McGinley said: “Sinn Féin took the opportunity at the Board’s AGM to call for opposition to the welfare cuts proposed by the Conservative government at Westminster.

 

These cuts will impact severely on the most vulnerable in our society and those least able to afford reductions in their income.   It is not only those wholly dependent on benefits who will be affected but also those who are on low working incomes and rely on support such as working tax credits.

 

Sinn Féin is opposed to welfare cuts imposed by Tory millionaires and we will not be bowing to pressure from other parties in the Assembly to impose these austerity measures on our communities.

 

We are calling on all sections of society to join with Sinn Féin in opposing welfare cuts and helping to protect those most in need within our communities.”

Campbell welcomes intensive Irish language classes

Sinn Féin  Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed a series of free intensive Irish language classes offered by DCAL as part of the Líofa initiative.

 

Councillor Campbell  said:

Sinn Féin Councillor and spokesperson on the Irish Language, Kevin Campbell with Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín

Sinn Féin Councillor and spokesperson on the Irish Language, Kevin Campbell with Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín

 

“Culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s announcement of intensive Irish language courses to be held across the North is great news.

 

“These dianchúrsaí will cater for all levels of learners, from complete beginners to more advanced speakers.

 

“Clases will be held on Saturday, September 13 from 10am to 4pm.

 

“The intensive courses are a great opportunity to start learning Irish or to brush up on whatever Irish you may already have.

 

“They also provide advice on follow-up classes in your local area.

 

“These free classes are being offered at a range of locations in each of the Six Counties as part of the hugely successful Líofa initiative pioneered by Carál Ní Chuilín, which is promoting fluency in Irish.

 

“This further highlights Sinn Féin’s commitment to the promotion and development of the Irish language.”

 

Classes will be held locally

Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry

Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

Ends

SF comment on Shantallow car fires

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan said lg_tony_hassan_copy2

“There have been a number of incidents in the area in recent days, which we don’t believe are connected but none the less are having a terrible impact on local residents. This is normally a very quiet community and these incidents are certainly not the norm .I would appeal to anyone who has information about them to bring it forward to the police.

Ends

Minister needs to accept ban on blood from gay people wrong- Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has called on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to withdraw his appeal against a court ruling enabling gay men in the North to donate blood.1234090_10152158334668642_543777002_n

He was speaking after Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said that comments by Mr Poots in the Assembly which suggested that his appeal would not be treated fairly.

 

Councillor Fleming said

 

“I welcome the statement today by Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan which said the Health Minster’s comments on the Appeal Court were ‘detrimental to the rule of law and damaging to public confidence in the justice system’.

 

“Not only should the Minister immediately withdraw his remarks but he also reverse his decision to ban gay people donating blood.

 

“At a time of great challenges for the department of health the minister should stop wasting valuable resources in pursuit of a political anti-LGBT community agenda on blood donations and adoptions.”

Attempted hijacking of taxi in Ballymagroarty –McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley commenting on the news of the attempted hijacking of a car from a female taxi driver in Ballymagroarty area of Derry in the early hours of Wednesday morning said Eric new head shot 20144

 

 “This must have been a very frightening experience for the driver particularly as it happened in the early hours of the morning when there aren’t too many people about.

 

People out trying to provide an essential service for our community should not be targeted in this way. 

 

I would urge anyone with even the slightest piece information to bring it forward straight away to police so this can’t happen again.

Tackling inequalities key to suicide prevention – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said tackling inequalities is a key factor in suicide prevention. 

Speaking on World Suicide Prevention Day, the Foyle MLA said; 

“Suicide has touched so many families and communities right across Ireland. It impacts on young and old, male and female, from all walks of life. 

“While suicide affects everyone, it has been well documented that poverty and poor health and education have a huge impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

“These can lead to addiction problems and low self esteem which in turn can increase vulnerability and isolation. 

“We can help prevent suicide by challenging inequalities and deprivation and promoting positive mental health. 

“Programmes have been put in place to tackle suicide in areas of high deprivation and it is crucial these services are supported and expanded. 

“I would encourage anyone who is experiencing a personal crisis to reach out and seek help. There are many organisations such as The Samaritans and Lifeline and others who provide round the clock help and support to those in need.” Ends/Críoch

Public asking questions of unionist leadership – McGuinness

Martin McGuinness has said the public has to ask why the DUP now want fresh talks after walking away from previous talks processes. 

Mr McGuinness said; 

“We in Sinn Féin are open to discussion.

“We were involved in a genuine effort in the Haass O’Sullivan talks to get a resolution to several key issues. 

“Unfortunately the unionists walked away, just as they walked away from the all party talks on parading, identity and the past. 

“Now we have the people who repeatedly walked away from talks asking for new talks. 

“The public has to ask what is that about? Is it about a renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement or the St Andrew’s Agreement? Is it a unionist desire to return to majority rule or an effort to keep Sinn Féin out of decisions.

“The DUP want anti-agreement parties including the TUV, UKIP, PUP and elements of the Orange Order at their proposed new negotiations. People will question the reason for this and the prospect for agreement in any negotiation involving anti-agreement elements.

“Sinn Féin is for negotiations and dialogue and we have been absolutely clear that the British and Irish governments, as well as the US administration are involved. 

“There are a number of issues that need to be resolved including the toxic issues which were addressed in the Haass O’Sullivan process.

“But it should be also remembered that in relation to welfare cuts our argument is with the British government, which doesn’t care for the most marginalised and disadvantaged in our society.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

McLaughlin welcomes commitment on Whiteoaks

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed a commitment from the health minister to engage in discussion on funding the Whiteoaks addiction treatment centre. 

Speaking after raising the issue in the Assembly, the Foyle MLA said: 

“I raised the issue of funding the Whiteoaks addiction treatment and rehabilitation centre in Muff with health minister Edwin Poots in the Assembly. 

“Given the ongoing debate on the need for a detox facility in the north west, it is unacceptable that there is a purpose-built facility so close to Derry which is not operational at present.

“This is a result of the fact that, while there is an agreement in place with the health authorities in the 26 counties, no such agreement is in place with the health authorities in the North. 

“I welcome the minister’s commitment that he is happy to engage in discussions with Whiteoaks and I would call on him to begin those discussions immediately. 

“Substance misuse is a serious problem in the north west and we must ensure that every avenue is explored to deliver the best possible service for those in need.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

Rossnagalliagh to get bus service after long campaign -Duffy‏‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed the news that after a long campaign Translink are to introduce a bus service  to Rossnagalliagh.

The new stop will be incorporated on the Woodrook route.

Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

 Councillor Sandra Duffy said

 

“This is good news for the residents of Rossnagalliagh and surrounding area.

We have been campaigning on this issue now for the last eighteen months and are glad to receive this news. In May of this year I wrote to Translink to ask for a reassessment of the route and hoped that they would include a bus stop at the entrance to Rossnagalliagh in the near future.

“The residents of Rossnagalliagh have to walk out of their estate onto either the Glengalliagh Road or the Buncrana Road if they need to get a bus.

Whilst this may be ok for some residents for others who have a disability or young children this inconvenience can be very problematic and can result in residents choosing not to go out at all, which in turn can increase feelings of isolation and loneliness for these residents and contribute to poor mental health.

I would like to thank Translink for their cooperation.

Ends 

Sinn Féin MEPs meet with Palestinian Prime Minister‏

Sinn Féin MEPs met Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah this morning in a meeting in Ramallah, as part of a European delegation to the region.

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

Prime Minister Hamdallah praised the efforts of John Kerry during the peace negotiations but said that international diplomatic efforts were in vain when Israel disrupts the negotiations. Israel claimed that divisions between Palestinians mean Israel has no partner to negotiate with, yet once Fatah and Hamas united to form a consensus government the Israelis walked away from the table, accusing Fatah of working with ‘terrorists’.

Once again this demonstrates that Israel was never serious about negotiations or establishing a Palestinian state. UN resolutions are applied all over the globe but not here: there have been 10 UN resolutions all supporting the 1967 borders yet they are not applied.

The Prime Minister called on the international community, particularly the United States, to agree on a timeframe within which Israel must end the occupation, dismantle the apartheid wall, move settlers back to their own territory as defined by the green line and afford the Palestinians the dignity and respect to govern themselves as international law decrees.

Speaking today from Ramallah, Martina Anderson MEP said:

 

“We will double our efforts to get the 4th Geneva Convention and international law implemented for Palestinians and will work with other MEPs to push for a suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement; article 2 of this agreement can be invoked when there are clear breaches of human rights.”

McGinley welcomes Outer West Family Support Hub announcement‏

 

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the commitment from the Western Health & Social Care Trust to install a Family Support Hub Coordinator in the Outer West area.

Councillor Eric McGinley

Councillor Eric McGinley

 

Councillor McGinley said:

 

“At a recent Child Poverty seminar convened by Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin the WHSCT representatives in attendance fully accepted the need and the rationale for a Family Support Hub in the Outer West area.

“It is the long expressed view of Sinn Féin that the delivery of early intervention services in this locality will best be progressed through the creation of a distinct and separate family support hub.

“The need for such a dedicated and focused arrangement has been well articulated based on the challenges facing families across the Outer West area.

“Sinn Féin welcomes the stated commitment of the WHSCT to support the installation of a hub coordinator and we look forward to seeing this happen at the earliest opportunity.”

 

 

CRÍOCH/END

McGuinness sends best wishes to All-Ireland Primate Eamon Martin‏

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA has sent best wishes to the Archbishop Eamon Martin on his succession as Primate of all-Ireland on the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady.

 

Mr McGuinness said:DSC_0877

 

“I have known Archbishop Eamon Martin for many years. He is a progressive thinker and a man who has demonstrated an ability to connect with ordinary Catholics.

 

“The people of Derry in particular will be rightly proud at his elevation to the highest office of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

 

“The next few years will be crucial for the Church and Archbishop Martin as he sets about restoring confidence in congregations throughout the country. I look forward to his official elevation to the position of Cardinal and Primate of all-Ireland. I wish him well in meeting the many challenges that he will face in the years ahead.” CRÍOCH

Anderson refused entry to Gaza

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has criticised the Israeli government for refusing an international delegation of MEPs entry to Gaza. BwslcXqIEAAIfo2.jpg large

Speaking from Jerusalem, Ms Anderson, who is leading the delegation, said: 

“The Israeli government refused us, 13 MEPs from six countries, entry into Gaza on the grounds that our visit to the region is ‘not directly concerned with the provision of humanitarian assistance’. 

“This beggars belief considering that the horrific and harrowing humanitarian situation in Gaza is a direct result of Israel’s 53-day military attack on the Gaza Strip. 

“This resulted in 2,145 fatalities, including 581 children, not to mention Israel’s eight-year blockade of the region.

“We want to go to Gaza to assess the situation on the ground first hand. 

“This would have enabled us to relay that information back to the European Parliament and push for greater provision of EU humanitarian aid to Gaza and an end to the blockade and occupation. 

“We call on the Israeli authorities to overturn this decision and grant us access.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

McLaughlin secures Magee expansion Assembly debate

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has secured an adjournment debate on the campaign for the expansion of the university at Magee. 

Speaking ahead of next week’s debate in the Assembly, the Foyle MLA said; 

“The expansion of Magee is vital for the development and regeneration of Derry. 

“There is a political and civic consensus that the Magee expansion must go ahead.

“I have secured an adjournment debate which will be held in the Assembly next week on Tuesday, September 16. 

“Recent comments by the employment and learning minister Stephen Farry casting doubt on the expansion of Magee caused great alarm in Derry. 

“This debate will allow local representatives and others to outline the importance of the expansion of Magee. 

“A full business case for the expansion of Magee will be on the employment and learning minister’s desk in October and it is our hope he will look positively on that. 

“The expansion of Magee is a crucial part of the One Plan, which is a Programme for Government commitment, and Sinn Féin is determined to see it delivered.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Health a priority for Sinn Féin – McGuinness

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said today that addressing the difficulties in the health service is a priority for Sinn Féin. sandra and martin mcguinness photo 1

Martin McGuinness said:

“Peter Robinson and I met yesterday to discuss the challenges facing the health service.

“We are working together to address those problems. 

“Any decision on budgets will of course have to be agreed at a full meeting of the Executive but health remains a priority for Sinn Féin.” 

Ends/Críoch

Welfare cuts a blow to Protestant and Catholic families, says Gerry Adams

In an article in Tuesday’s ‘Irish News’, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD outlines Sinn Féin’s opposition to welfare cuts and says they should be opposed by a united Executive

SINN FÉIN has been accused of having no ideological basis for our opposition to Tory welfare cuts.

Either those making the accusations haven’t been listening or they have chosen to ignore what Sinn Féin has been saying.

I have long argued for a rights-based, citizen-centred society. Sinn Féin’s commitment is to the republican ideals of equality and social justice for all citizens. No one therefore should be surprised when this results in a consistency of political policy.

Sinn Féin is politically and ideologically opposed to austerity in Ireland – North and South – and in Europe.

There is a fallacy that our opposition to austerity is merely to do with an electoral calculation in the south. This is nonsense.

There is nothing in republican ideology that seeks to create a ‘benefit-dependent nation’ but what Sinn Féin will do is campaign for the right of people to live free of poverty and inequality.

‘Welfare reform’ is a misnomer for what is taking place under the Tories, which is an attack on the most vulnerable, the sick, the disabled, those out of work because of Westminster’s policies, and those on low incomes.

These citizens are being made to pay for the excesses and recklessness of property speculators, developers, bankers and tax dodgers. This is being imposed by a British Cabinet of millionaires with no experience, understanding or regard for life in the North of Ireland or indeed in working-class communities in Britain.

Tory policy threatens to destroy the economy through savage cuts to public funding and welfare.

The implementation of these measures in England has been a complete disaster and has plunged thousands into poverty and deprivation.

The North is a society emerging from decades of conflict. Clearly, you cannot apply here that which applies in England and Wales.

What we need is investment in jobs and business, not the removal of £1.9billion from the economy.

Citizens most directly affected by the conflict are among those suffering the highest levels of deprivation. The percentage of people in receipt of disability benefits is higher in the North than anywhere else in Ireland or Britain. Welfare cuts will merely worsen their situation.

Before the term ‘welfare reform’ was mooted, the Tories were imposing cuts by reneging on the St Andrew’s commitment of £18billion and imposing a £4billion cut to the block grant. These cuts impacted upon services and the present health crisis in the North can be traced back to these cuts.

At the time when other parties said such cuts were insurmountable, Sinn Féin produced a paper on how we could raise up to £1.6billion to offset them. Some may recall that we refused to sign off on the Budget until other parties also came to the position of looking at alternative ways of raising money to protect services.

The financial powers currently retained by Westminster should be devolved to the executive because people here are at the mercy of an unaccountable Tory regime determined to penalise the poor.

Sinn Féin has consistently produced proposals proving there is an alternative to cuts.

Welfare cuts should be opposed by a united Executive. They are a blow to the rights and welfare of ordinary Protestant working-class families as they are to their Catholic neighbours.

It would suit the DUP better to defend the rights and welfare entitlements of working-class unionists and loyalists than expend energy on bringing people on to the streets over the flying of flags or the right of Orangemen to parade wherever they please.

Of course, this merely underlines my contention that this is fundamentally a question of ideology – of what type of society you want to build.

Those politicians now predicting that the sky will fall unless welfare cuts are imposed are the same politicians who were prepared to roll over on the issue of water charges and who told the public then that the taps would be turned off.

Sinn Féin faced down prophets of doom then and we can do so again with the support of citizens, the other parties and civic society.

We will work positively to address health pressures – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said today that she would look positively at addressing current pressures on the health service.?????????????????????????????????

She was speaking after chairing a special meeting of the Assembly’s health committee at Stormont today.

Maeve McLaughlin said:

“There are clearly pressures on the health service and we need to ensure there is adequate funding to meet the needs of the sick and vulnerable.

“That requires additional resources and additional scrutiny and the minister has said that there is still waste in his department.

“Sinn Féin will come at this positively; the health service is too important to be caught up in party politicking.

 “We need to stretch ourselves to find funding in what are very challenging economic circumstances.

“On top of this we must ensure there is adequate scrutiny so that any additional resources are targeted at frontline services where they are most needed.” 

Continued isolation of prisoners is wrong – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the continued isolation of republican prisoners in Maghaberry is wrong. BwnGlOUIMAA5Zln.jpg large

Speaking after visiting prisoners in Maghaberry with party colleague Jennifer McCann MLA and Séanna Walsh from Coiste na nIarchimí, Mr McCartney said; 

“We met five prisoners who are currently held in isolation because the NIO believes they are under threat. 

“It is our view that these prisoners meet the criteria for admittance into the segregated regime in Roe House. 

“We are of the opinion that these alleged threats are spurious as there is no clear evidence. 

“Their continued isolation is wrong. 

“The NIO and Theresa Villiers must immediately ensure these prisoners are transferred to Roe House. 

“It is our intention to seek a meeting with Theresa Villiers to highlight our concerns about the ongoing isolation of these prisoners.”  Ends/Críoch

Kelly praises community effort in Creggan

Sinn Féin councillor Colly Kelly has praised the work efforts of community activists in Creggan to ensure a peaceful weekend for local residents. colly new road pic
Speaking after taking part in community engagement in the area over the weekend, councillor Kelly said; 
“Following a number of incidents of anti-community activity in Creggan last weekend, councillor Kevin Campbell and I engaged with local residents to come up with a solution. 
“We called a meeting of community stakeholders including local residents, businesses, Community Restorative Justice and a number of statutory agencies including the Housing Executive and the PSNI. 
“Over the weekend councillor Kevin Campbell and I joined others from the community on the streets to positively engage with young people and local residents. 
“Thankfully the weekend passed without incident and local residents were able to get peace. 
“We will continue to monitor the situation and engage with the local community to avoid repetition of problems in the future.” Ends/Críoch

Anderson meets Palestinian ambassador to EU

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson met the Palestinian ambassador to the EU, Leila Shahid, in Brussels today ahead of a visit to Palestine next week. 
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Anderson said; 
“I along with my fellow Sinn Féin MEPs met with the Palestinian ambassador to the European Union, Leila Shahid in Brussels today. martina
“The meeting was part of our ongoing engagement in Europe to end the suffering of the people of Gaza. 
“Ambassador Shahid briefed us on the latest situation in Gaza, including the unfolding humanitarian crisis. 
“As chair of the Palestinian Delegation at the European Parliament, I will be leading a group of MEPs on a visit to Palestine next week to witness at first hand the devastation caused by the recent Israeli onslaught. 
“I welcomed the latest ceasefire announcement in Gaza and I hope it will result in a lasting peace which will bring an end to the slaughter of the Palestinian people. 
“I also welcome the conclusions of a special meeting of the European Council held on Monday which called on all sides to respect the ceasefire and to continue negotiations. 
“It also called for the lifting of the Israeli blockade and for unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza.” Ends/Críoch

McLaughlin secures emergency meeting of health committee

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has secured an emergency meeting of the health committee this week to discuss Edwin Poots’ management of the budget.

The Foyle MLA who is chair of the Assembly’s health committee said: 

“Edwin Poots has many questions to answer on his handling of the health budget. 

“Sinn Féin has made it clear we will support more money being made available for health.

“We have a responsibility however, to ensure that any additional money for the health service will be spent on relieving pressures on frontline services.

“Edwin Poots has serious questions to answer about his management of the health budget which has been criticised by his party colleague, the finance minister.

“I have secured a meeting of the health committee so that important questions can be put to the minister. 

“The minister has much to do to restore public confidence in the health system and to convince people that he is actually up to the job.” 

No alternative to dialogue and agreement , says McGuinness in major statement on 20th anniversary of IRA cessation

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has said there is no alternative to dialogue and agreement. Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

Delivering a keynote address in Derry this morning on the 20th anniversary of the IRA ceasefire, Mr McGuinness said;

“The absence of dialogue and a commitment to dialogue as the way to overcome disagreements is at the heart of the growing difficulties we are now facing in the peace process across a range of key issues. 

“Rather than making progress on the issues of identity, parading and the past by building on the enormously important work carried out by Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan, the DUP and the UUP have now retreated into a coalition with rejectionist unionism and loyalist paramilitaries. 

“Three times in the last six months, the DUP have threatened the political institutions if they do not get their own way. 

“But the real threat to the political institutions is stagnation and the absence of progress. 

“The real threat is the retreat of political unionism from dialogue, compromise, agreement and reconciliation.

“I have personally tried to understand and reach out to the unionist population not least in my engagements with Queen Elizabeth. But reconciliation is not a one-way street. Unionist leaders need to engage in similar initiatives. 

“So there is an enormous onus on those who recognise the enormous progress we have made, and continue to make, since the IRA cessation in 1994 to make their voices heard. 

“There can be no return to the violence and repression that scarred this society for so long.

“I would urge anti-peace process republicans still committed to armed actions to take that same step in 2014 into politics and away from conflict.

“The supporters of the agreement internationally, in particular in the United States of America, need to reassert their interest and influence.

“The two governments need to be champions for progress not, as they have been over the recent past, facilitators of inertia.

“These are the challenges for all of us as we enter a new term in the Assembly but I am convinced that we can find a resolution to all the difficulties facing the political process. 

“There is no alternative to dialogue and agreement. This is the only path to a shared and better future on this island.”

Delegation meet Prisoner Ombudsman to express concerns about conditions at Maghaberry

Sinn Féin MLAs Jennifer McCann and Raymond McCartney have  met with Prisoner Ombudsman Tom McGonigle to outline serious concerns over conditions in Maghaberry prison.2953517854

 

Speaking after the meeting Mr McCartney said: “This meeting is a follow on from the recent visit to Maghaberry Prison where a Sinn Féin delegation met with republican prisoners in Roe House.

“Following that meeting we initiated a number of meetings including with the Justice Minister David Ford and now the 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 at the moment is an infringement of basic human rights and cannot continue. 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.”

Savage sectarian home invasion by 10 men wielding iron bars and hatchet

Mainstream unionist leaders challenged over ‘UDA attack’

THERE is serious concern after a 10-strong gang armed with iron bars and a hatchet viciously attacked a Catholic man sharing a home with his Protestant girlfriend and 11-week-old baby in a unionist area of west Belfast. UDA graffiti had been daubed on the couple’s home and it has been claimed the gang shouted “Highfield UDA” in the savage sectarian home invasion at 9:30pm on Friday night.UDA flag logo

Dee Sturgeon (22), originally from the Markets area of south Belfast, had both his arms broken and a finger was almost severed. He says the gang cried: “You will never be back here again, you dirty Fenian bastard.”

Declaring that he will never again feel safe in a unionist area, Dee Sturgeon said:

“I was targeted because I am a Catholic. I never had hassle with anyone.”

He said he feared for his life.

On Saturday morning, he had to undergo emergency surgery to insert steel plates in his arms and 14 stitches in his lacerated legs.

The gang caused extensive damage to the house and the couple’s car parked outside.

The Ulster Political Research Group, which “gives political advice” to the UDA, said claims the UDA was behind the attack were “rumours” and “untruths”. Gerald Solinas of the UPRG said:

“West Belfast UPRG condemns any violent attack, from whatever quarter it comes from.”

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said the attack was “shocking” and the appearance of UDA graffiti on the victim’s home “is a particularly sinister development”.

●  Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Paul Maskey slammed the failure of unionist leaders Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt and Jim Allister to condemn the brutal sectarian assault of the Catholic man in Ballygomartin apparently by the UDA.

“What we need now is clear political leadership from Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt and Jim Allister whose silence on this attack has been deafening.

“Only a few weeks ago, unionist leaders walked out of talks to join representatives of the UVF and the UDA in demanding an Orange Order parade through Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales.

“Twenty years after the first ceasefires, the UDA and the UVF are still in existence and active. The question is why?

“Political unionism needs to face these paramilitary organisations down instead of cosying up to them for short-term political expediency

Magee University expansion needs to be delivered-McGuinness

Following a meeting with the Derry Chamber of Commerce to discuss the future expansion of the University of Ulster Magee’s campus Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said,

 “I accepted an invitation from Chief Executive of the Derry Chamber of Commerce Sinead McLaughlin to discuss the future expansion of the Magee campus in Derry.

 “There is no doubt that the future economic development of the city is connected with the expansion of Magee campus so it is essential that we work together to see that expansion delivered.

 “In 2009 I attended an event where the University of Ulster announced plans of a financial strategy to invest £250m over 25 years for the expansion of the university on the Magee Campus.

 “In 2011 we seen another announcement of 350 extra places and the transfer of several departments to the campus but since then the development has stalled.

 “Todays meeting was helpful in bringing the economic arguments for expansion together and looking at ways how we can work together to deliver the project of the expansion of Magee.

 “I also intend to raise with Department of Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry his recent mixed messages about the future plans for Magee.

 “The expansion of Magee is a crucial part of the One Plan which is a programme for Government commitment and I am determined to see it delivered.”

Film-maker Ken Loach urges boycott of Israeli cultural and sports events

Ken Loach

FILM-MAKER Ken Loach – who directed The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Jimmy’s Hall – has called for a boycott of all cultural and sporting events that Israel supports, saying Israel must become a pariah state. Loach was speaking at the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Award ceremony in the Sarajevo Film Festival. The award went to two Palestinian documentary directors from Gaza, Abdel Salam Shehadeh and Ashraf Mashharawi.

Ken Loach said the situation of the residents of Gaza during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge resembles that of the residents of Sarajevo when the city was under siege in the 1990s.

Loach is one of the celebrity signatories of a petition calling on British Prime Minister to to implement an arms embargo against Israel.

Martin McGuinness attends Albert Reynolds’ funeral

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness  attended the state funeral today of former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds.
 
Commenting on his legacy, Mr McGuinness said,Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

“Albert Reynolds played a critically important role in building the embryonic peace process in Ireland. 
 
“His decision to open up direct dialogue with Sinn Féin was a crucially important development which led ultimately to all-party negotiations and agreement. 
 
“His courage in initiating political dialogue as an alternative to conflict is a model that should be followed across the world.”Ends/Críoch

Campbell condemns those behind Creggan security alert

Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell has condemned those responsible for a security alert in the Creggan area of Derry on Thursday night. 3895995549
Speaking after a delivery van was hijacked in the Iniscarn Road area and a suspicious object placed on board, councillor Campbell said; 
“This incident serves no purpose whatsoever and must be condemned. 
“It must have been terrifying experience for the driver of the van to have this happen while going about his normal business. 
“Once again those responsible have shown complete disregard for the people of Creggan and the wider city. 
“Residents, many of them elderly, had to be evacuated from their homes while this vehicle was examined
“This has brought nothing but disruption to the area and it is totally unacceptable. 
“The fact that this is the second such hijacking incident in the city in a number of days is very concerning.
“The people of Derry have made it clear they do not what this type of thing. 
“The city is moving forward in an atmosphere of hope and we will not allow it to be dragged back to the past by a tiny minority intent on causing disruption.”
Ends/Críoch

Health crisis is a result of DUP support for Tory cuts – McLaughlin MLA

Sinn Féin Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin MLA said today that the crisis in the health service is a direct consequence of the Tory government systematically cutting funding for the health service.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 

Maeve McLaughlin said:

 

“The Tory cuts of billions of pounds for essential services have caused the crisis in the health service and reduced budgets right across departments.

 

“The DUP has supported these Tory cuts which have been about stripping out the National Health Service.

 

“The current crisis has nothing at all to do with the issue of welfare cuts which Sinn Féin successfully resisted during the monitoring round. Otherwise departments would have faced an additional £87 million of cuts.

 

“The health budget was protected and an additional £20m was allocated to health. Sinn Féin proposed additional funding for health but the finance minister allocated it to DETI.

 

“No decision has been made yet on the October monitoring round and Edwin Poots knows well that he needs to bring in any bid for resources to the Executive.

 

“Mr Poots also suggested today on air that maybe he is not the man for the health job, if this is so then he and his party leader should immediately consider his future.

 

“His comments today follow criticism from his party colleague, the finance minister, about an over spend by Edwin Poots of £13.1m and his failure to spend £10.2m of capital funding.

 

“Edwin Poots declared that failure too late for the Executive to reallocate that funding to other areas which are facing cuts.

 

“The Department of Health requires clear leadership in what is a very challenging time for all Executive departments because of the Tory cuts the DUP has supported.

 

“It’s much too important to be held hostage to internal unionist bickering.” CRÍOCH/END

Martin McGuinness expresses condolences to family of Gerry Anderson

Deputy First Minister, Martrin McGuinness MLA has expressed condolences to the family, friends and work colleagues of broadcaster Gerry Anderson who has  passed away 6881364507_638b6020bc_z.

.

Mr McGuinness said;

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Gerry Anderson. Gerry was a broadcasting genius who brought brightness to the lives of everyone who listened to him during his distinguished career.

“Of course his loss will be felt greatest by his wife Christine, his immediate family and work colleagues at the BBC. I extend my sincerest condolences and those of my Party to them at this very sad time.”

CRÍOCH/END

Sinn Féin will continue to challenge homophobia and discrimination – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said homophobia must be tackled in all its forms.10603035_10152663303444345_1705315044_n 
 
Speaking before taking part in a panel discussion on Derry as part of the Foyle Pride celebrations, Ms Anderson said; 
 
“The Foyle Pride festival is a fantastic occasion as it gives us the opportunity to stand in solidarity with the LBGTQ&I community and celebrate the contribution they make to our society. 
 
“Thankfully attitudes are changing and society is becoming much more welcoming to the gay community. 
 
“Difficulties still exist however and, unfortunately, homophobic attitudes remain in some quarters. These must be challenged. 
 
“Sinn Féin has been to the forefront of supporting the LGBTQ&I community and have been driving the campaign for marriage equality. 
 
“We have tabled motions in local Councils from Cork to Belfast and Dublin to Derry. And we again had SDLP, DUP and UUP councillors not supporting the motions.
 
“Sinn Féin is the only political party where all MLAs turned up and voted in favour of marriage equality in Stormont 2013. 
 
“In Europe as a member of the LGBT Intergroup I have hosted delegations from the LGBTQ&I community in the North and challenged discrimination against the gay community across all member states.
 
“Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for the LGBTQ&I community and challenge homophobia and discrimination wherever it arises.” Ends/Críoch

Access to cancer drugs cannot be a postcode lottery -Foyle MLA

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Maeve McLaughlin has met with Prof Mark Lawlor, Queens Cancer Centre and Roisin Foster CEO of Cancer Focus to discuss the availability of new cancer drugs to people in the North.

 Ms. McLaughlin stated,

 “At present there are now 39 cancer drugs available in England Scotland and Wales that are not available in the North of Ireland and many people suffering from cancer would have their lifespan extended if they had access to these drugs.

 “While some of these drugs have not yet been NICE approved they have been subject to clinical trials and are currently being prescribed to cancer suffers in Britain.

 “Accessibility to cancer drugs is an equality issue and I met with Prof Mark Lawlor and Roisin Foster to look at ways of making these drugs available to sufferers in the North.

 “One of the issues arising is the cost of these drugs yet £2.83m was returned to the North in 2013/14 and with a revised Pharmaceutical Price Regulation scheme now in place that figure could be even higher this year.

 “We cannot continue to have a cancer drugs lottery and patients here need access to these drugs in order to combat their illness or prolong their lives.

 “It is ironic that many of these drugs or other leading cancer treatments have been developed at Queens yet remain unavailable to people here.

 “I am requesting a meeting with OFMDFM to discuss solutions to this issue which will provide better outcomes for patients and allow the North to be a leader in terms of health innovation and cancer research.”

 

ENDS

McCartney calls on unionists to tell truth on welfare cuts

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on unionist leaders to tell the truth about welfare cuts. raymond mccartney

 

“Unionist leaders and their pro-austerity allies in the Alliance party have been queuing up  to tell us that Tory welfare cuts are unavoidable.

 

 “But they have not explained to their voters and everyone else the effect that these devastating cuts would have on the most vulnerable in our society.

 

 “Instead they have simply swallowed the justification given to them by the Tory government and they parrot the lines of millionaire cabinet ministers.

 

 “The reality is that these cuts, if implemented, will have a crippling effect on individuals, on people in low-income jobs, on the disabled and on entire communities living in areas of high unemployment.

 

 “They would punish the poor and the vulnerable and will drive those who are already struggling on low incomes further into poverty. No one in the North, unionist or nationalist, voted for that. Welfare cuts are not part of our Programme for Government.

 

 “I challenge unionists and those who support the Tory cuts agenda to go into their communities and attempt to explain why they are so committed to drastically lowering people’s standards of living.

 

 “They need to explain to people struggling to get by in Derry and elsewhere  the real impact of supporting a remote, unelected government of elites in London.

 

 “Growing numbers of people are starting to realise the true consequences welfare cuts will have and are looking for an alternative.

 

 “Unionist leaders would be serving their electorate far better by uniting with those of us who are standing up for all communities, regardless of their political outlook, in resisting these savage cuts

Cooper raises residents’ concerns over PSNI “boy racers” event

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper  said that he has received complaints from residents in the Strand Road about a proposed PSNI “boy racers” engagement event to try and curb problems in the areas.

 

 He said “Earlier this year I raised residents’ concerns that the introduction of a barrier at the former Budget DIY car park on the Strand Road at night time to prevent vehicles entering the site had simply moved the problem a further couple of hundred yards up the road and is now impacting on the lives of local residents living near Smyths car park.

 

Since then we have held meetings with residents and the PSNI to try and resolve these issues. We have called for a twin track approach of enforcement and education around these issues. This has been based on the fact that whilst some of those gathering earlier in the evenings may be open to reducing their activities through education, it is clear that enforcement is key to dealing with the hardcore including those who gather later at night with no concerns about the impact their behaviour has on local residents.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

Some residents have contacted me this week on hearing reports in the media that at an event on the Strand Road site would see the PSNI handing out pizza to the ‘boy racing’ fraternity and holding a raffle for some tickets for Go –Karting.

 

I have contacted the PSNI and raised the residents’ concerns that this would be seen as a reward to the boy racers who are causing problems. They have taken those concerns on board and have agreed to scale back the event so that whilst the racers are engaged by the PSNI they are similarity not being given material incentives to stop their behaviour. I am also in talks with others to seek a longer term solution to this issue and would also encourage residents who have any evidence of criminality amongst the boy racers to either contact the police or myself with the information. This will allow proper enforcement and also remove the stigma from those racers who are not causing problems’

Hassan calls on Minister to break logjam on massive H2 site

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has called on the Minister for the  Environment Mark H Durkan to resolve once and for all the ongoing problems  around Article 40 at Buncrana Road H2 site.

 

Councillor Hassan said there appears to be an ongoing logjam with Planning service, developers and landowners  of the H2 site on the  Buncrana Road  .

 

 

Councillor Tony Hasssan

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

 

 

The future of this site has been an ongoing problem for over 10 years and not one development has been approved.

 

The planning service told councillors in this city in December of last year that issues around article 40 should be resolved by February of this year. It is now August 2014 and there is still no agreement.

 

This land could be used for a large development of social Housing and I know that at least two  housing associations are very interested to build social homes on the site to help  the over 2,000 families who are presently  on the homeless waiting list in Derry.

 

The development of this massive site would also bring work to the construction industry in the city and take many constructing workers off the dole.

 

 

If the landowners and developers can’t agree then the Minister should step in and free the land up for local housing associations.

 

 

Logue sends best wishes to Derry students awaiting exam results‏

Derry Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has wished all those who are due to receive exam results in the next few days the best of luck and urged all those who do not get the results they expected to explore other avenues and not to give up.

 

Cllr Patricia Logue said

-Education Minister John O Dowd , and Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue on a recent visit to the Model School.

-Education Minister John O Dowd , and Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue on a recent visit to the Model School.

 

“Hundreds of students in Derry are anxiously waiting to hear how they fared in their recent exams. With students having spent many months and even years putting hard work into preparing for the exams, there is a huge amount of pressure to deliver.

 

“Whether students get the results they hoped for or not, I would like to wish them all the best of luck for the future, as they move from one part of their life to another, which many see as a more exciting and challenging time.

 

To those students who do not get the results they had hoped for or were unable to secure a university place, I would like them to know that there are many other avenues for them to explore and that they shouldn’t give up. There are alternatives to the academic route and the time may now be right for them to focus on their strengths and talents.

 

Ends

Magee meeting with Farry robust but frank

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said that there was a frank but constructive meeting with Department of Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry to discuss the expansion of Magee.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 Ms. McLaughlin said,

 “There is a political and civic consensus that the Magee expansion is critical to economic regeneration of Derry and North West region and there was concerns raised when Stephen Farry made a comment on the radio last week that any expansion was out of the question.

 “Sinn Féin organised a meeting with the Minister which included all groupings associated with the university in order to determine a way forward.

 “While it was a robust discussion I welcome the assurance from the Minister that he will receive the business case and has not ruled out a bid going forward.

 “The needs analysis for the expansion will be with the Minister next week and a full business case will be on his desk in October.

 “The expansion of Magee campus is in the One Plan and therefore in the Programme for Government agreed by all parties so it is important that the Minister makes the expansion of Magee a departmental priority that will the campus expand to the targets set in the One Plan.”

Welcome for review into regulations of care homes-McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the announcement that Older Persons Commissioner Claire Keatinge is to hold a review into the regulations of care homes.

 Ms. McLaughlin said,

 “We have an aging population so we need to make sure that quality of care in our homes is paramount and all the patients are protected and respected.

 “There have been examples where care has failed and regulation has been slow and sometimes less than effective in addressing the problems in these homes and in domiciliary care.

 “We need to move to society that protects and upholds the rights and entitlements of our elderly population

 “This review must also examine protections for whistleblowers who quite often are often neglected are isolated due to coming forward.

 “I look forward to seeing the recommendations from the review and working with the Commissioners to ensure that they are implemented as soon as possible.”

 

ends

Warning after burglaries in the Steelstown area –Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan said lg_tony_hassan_copy2

During the summer months there usually is an increase in crime levels for a number of reasons. One of the main factors is that whilst people are away on holidays their home is left unattended. Despite having security alarms and neighbours keeping a watch etc. there is still a risk.

I would advise all residents to ensure that their doors and windows are closed and locked at night and when people are out during the day. I would also advise that as cars and their contents are being targeted, people should ensure they are not leaving valuables in their cars or where perspective thieves will see them.

There have been a number of break-ins in  the Steelstown and Shantallow areas in the past month during which the keys of cars have been taken and items such as laptops. 

Over the summer I would also urge local people to secure all their belongings particularly in garden sheds, outhouses and garages.Which are easy targets for criminals. And call on  any resident  who sees anyone acting suspiciously to contact the police straight away.     

Rural roads will be adversely affected by Kennedy’s threat – Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has said rural communities would be adversely affected if DRD Minister Danny Kennedy carries out his threat to refuse to repair street lighting and carry out essential road maintenance.

 

Councillor Fleming said,???????????????????????????????

 

 “At present rural communities are at a disadvantage as the condition of the roads are inferior to those in urban areas due to heavy machinery using narrow roads.

 

 “If the minister carries out his threat to refuse to carry out essential maintenance then many of these roads will become unsafe or impassable.

 

“With a rising death toll on our rural road network we actually should be looking at improving the quality of these roads as opposed to threatening to stop maintenance.

 

“If gullies are not cleared regularly then we also face the prospect of flooding which will result in further cost to the department in the long run.

 

“I am also concerned if street lighting deteriorates then many people including children going to school in the dark winter months will be at risk of serious injury or death.

 

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Access to cancer drugs cannot be a postcode lottery

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Maeve McLaughlin has met with Prof Mark Lawlor, Queens Cancer Centre and Roisin Foster CEO of Cancer Focus to discuss the availability of new cancer drugs to people in the North.

 Ms. McLaughlin stated,

 “At present there are now 39 cancer drugs available in England Scotland and Wales that are not available in the North of Ireland and many people suffering from cancer would have their lifespan extended if they had access to these drugs.

 “While some of these drugs have not yet been NICE approved they have been subject to clinical trials and are currently being prescribed to cancer suffers in Britain.

 “Accessibility to cancer drugs is an equality issue and I met with Prof Mark Lawlor and Roisin Foster to look at ways of making these drugs available to sufferers in the North.

 “One of the issues arising is the cost of these drugs yet £2.83m was returned to the North in 2013/14 and with a revised Pharmaceutical Price Regulation scheme now in place that figure could be even higher this year.

 “We cannot continue to have a cancer drugs lottery and patients here need access to these drugs in order to combat their illness or prolong their lives.

 “It is ironic that many of these drugs or other leading cancer treatments have been developed at Queens yet remain unavailable to people here.

 “I am requesting a meeting with OFMDFM to discuss solutions to this issue which will provide better outcomes for patients and allow the North to be a leader in terms of health innovation and cancer research.”

 

ENDS

Support Trocaire appeal to help prevent Humanitarian crisis in Gaza –Kelly

gaza-bomb

 

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has appealed to people in Derry ,Donegal and Tyrone to support Irish  charities working on the ground in Gaza in efforts to help the tens of thousands affected by the unfolding humanitarian crisis there, and to get food, water and urgent medical supplies in.

 

Councillor Kelly said

 

“The latest atrocities in Gaza, the results of which are being witnessed on TV screens around the world must immediately impress upon world leaders that the time for condemnation alone has passed. The international community including the Irish Government, must intensify efforts to resolve the situation before it deteriorates any further.

 

“There is a humanitarian disaster in Gaza as a consequence of the long standing Israeli policy of sanctions and most immediately the current Israeli assault on that region. There is a growing shortage of basic foodstuffs and fresh water because of damage to the infrastructure in Gaza. Humanitarian aid must have unhindered access to all areas of Gaza in order to provide for the population there, the local health services and aid infrastructure. Hospitals are stretched to breaking point.

 

“There are ways people in Derry ,Donegal and  Donegal can practically help those vital aid relief efforts by supporting Irish charities such as Trócaire.   They have been working in Israel and in Gaza since 2002 and are supporting local organisations on the ground, who are distributing urgent medical aid to vulnerable people   there. Donations can be easily made online at https://www.trocaire.org/donate/make-a-donation?fund=Gaza

Factory Sculpture takes a step closer –McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA commenting on the news that tenders are now out for the Factory Girls Sculpture planned for  Derry.
Maeve McLaughlin said ?????????????????????????????????
“I welcome the news that the tenders for the Factory Sculpture are due out very shortly .Hopefully this will mean that the project can proceed as speedily as possible.
The sculpture will be a fitting historical tribute to all those women in Derry who worked in the shirt factories in very harsh conditions and for little pay.
Women were the backbone of the economy in Derry at a time when there were no jobs for local men and there was great poverty in our city. We need to pay tribute to their contribution and to the life and history of Derry.
Last week’s unveiling of a new mural on the Lecky Road is all part of the retaining and maintaining the very important role that women had in  making the history of Derry and make
 
sure it is  remembered for future generations.

OVER 2,000 FAMILYS LOOKING FOR 67 SOCIAL HOMES IN SHANTALLOW

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news from Apex Housing that it has allocated the first  of 67 new social homes at Bradley’s pass.
 
The Housing spokesperson saidBALLYARNETT
 
“This is a good news for social housing provision in Shantallow as it will provide families with a modern well equipped home.
 
“Apex Housing have said that 23 homes out of the 67 units have been allocated this week and have also conformed the official name of the development is Racecourse Mews.


“However the number of people waiting for a home in the city has increased dramatically over the past few years with more than 550 people on the homeless list in the Colon office alone.

 

“It is therefore crucial that with over 2000 people on the citywide list that local Minister Mark H Durkan grants planning permission to the Skeoge lands for a major housing development that will help alleviate the crisis in housing.”

Warning following spate of burglaries -McGinley

 

Sinn Féin Foyleside  Councillor Eric McGinley has called on residents to take greater care in securing their cars ,homes and possessions over the summer holidays. Eric new head shot 20144

 

 

 

Cllr. McGinley said:  “In recent weeks there has been a spate of thefts from homes, garages and cars across the Ballymagroarty, Hazelbank and Cosquin areas.

 

 

 

It appears  some of these crimes result from the thieves being able to open unlocked doors and lift whatever items are most immediately available.

 

 

 

Homes with PVC doors are particularly vulnerable and I would appeal to residents to take extra care over the summer months whilst a lot are off on holidays and to get a neighbour to keep an eye on their home.

 

 

 

Be sure to check all doors and windows as often as possible and reduce the opportunities for your possessions to be stolen. Don’t leave items on show in cars and i would appeal particularly to Taxi drivers to remove their float from their vehicles each night.

 

 

 

The criminals involved in these break-ins and thefts only need a moment and I would urge residents to make it as difficult as possible for them to carry out these acts.”

 

£17.5m Investment in SportNI welcomed-Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed confirmation from DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín that SportNI is developing a new £17.5 million programme to improve infrastructure and boost performance and participation in sports.Sandra Duffy Glasgow pic from weekend

 

Sandra Duffy said,

 

“We have received correspondence  from the Minister that the £17.5 million lottery funded programme will be rolled out over a five-year period with investment for organisations being available from the end of this year.

 

“The new funding will be used to improve and develop sporting infrastructure and boost sporting performances.

 

“I particularly welcome the fact it will also be targeted towards increasing participation in sport and leisure among underrepresented groups.

 

“This will be underpinned by social outcomes such as addressing poverty and social exclusion.

 

 “SportNI intend to facilitate workshops in the autumn.

 

 “These will outline the funding priorities and assist groups in identifying and developing suitable projects.

 

“I appreciate the vital role that sport plays in creating a healthy society so I welcome this announcement.

 

 “In the meantime, I advise organisations in Derry to register their interest online by logging on to www.sportni.net/funding+registrations.

 

 “SportNI will then automatically contact organisations once more details of the programme becomes available.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

McLaughlin –Closure of Shipquay books

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin said

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 

 

“I am very sorry to hear that another local small business Shipquay Books and News is set to close after serving the city centre community for over a quarter of a century. I would like to thank the owners and staff for the service they have provided.

 

In January of last year I expressed my fears that the closure of the Bank of Ireland and subsequent removal of cash machine could have a knock-on effect for other businesses on the street and footfall through the area.

 

Sadly the closure of Shipquay books will also be a loss of an outlet for  local newspapers and locally produced books and that is something no one wants to see.

 

Ends

‘North’s political process is in trouble,’ says Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams: Critical of unionist axis, Downing Street and Irish Government

GERRY ADAMS has warned that the political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998. “The political process is in trouble,” the Sinn Féin leader said.

In what was described by Sinn Féin as “a keynote statement” issued on Friday, Gerry Adams said that the unionist axis against the Good Friday Agreement (which includes the mainstream unionist parties, the Orange Order and smaller parties linked to the UVF and the UDA), the pro-unionist stance of British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and the refusal of Downing Street to honour its own obligations are combining to create the most serious threat to the political institutions in the North in recent years”.

Most worryingly, Gerry Adams said, there is no evidence from Downing Street, the NIO or the unionist leaderships of any likelihood of a real negotiation on all of these issues commencing in September.

The Sinn Féin leader was also critical of what he called the Irish Government’s “passivity”.

He said that all of this presents a very significant challenge to everyone who wants to see progress and to all those who support the Good Friday and other agreements, including leaders of civic society, the community sector, the trade union movement, the business sector, as well as political parties.

Instead of actively and determinedly working with the joint First Minister Martin McGuinness to maximise the potential for a new beginning, Gerry Adams said, former First Minister David Trimble and now Peter Robinson have minimised the promise and potential of the Good Friday Agreement.

“The fact is that the anti-Agreement axis has been very active in asserting a negative agenda,” Gerry Adams said. “Too many in the pro-Agreement axis, with some notable exceptions, have been passive. This includes the Irish Government.

“The DUP has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to participate positively in any of the institutions. Instead, it has adopted a tactical approach aimed at serving the political agenda of a fundamentalist rump in their party rather than the needs of the whole community.”

The Sinn Féin leader recalled that Martin McGuinness has noted: “We are in government with unionists because we want to be; they are in government with us because they have to be.”

pg-3-1

The unionist axis, including the Orange Order

Gerry Adams said that the Tory-led government in London wants to impose changes to the welfare benefits system mirroring similar changes that have been introduced in England, Scotland and Wales, “changes that have resulted in disastrous consequences for the disabled, the unemployed and those in low-paid jobs”, Gerry Adams said.

“These should be opposed by a united Executive. These changes are not about reform. They are about cuts and they are part of a Thatcherite agenda designed to dismantle the welfare state. And Sinn Féin will oppose them.

“The effect of all of this and of the British Government’s handling of the political situation has been to reinforce political logjams.

“The political process is in trouble.”

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“The British Secretary of State is contemplating conceding to another of the recent unionist demands by setting up some form of inquiry into the Parades Commission decision on the Ardoyne march – a move that would dangerously damage the integrity of the Parades Commission, undermine the residents and further undermine the Haass proposals.

“Regardless of political allegiance, everyone who values a future based upon equality must become a champion for progress in their own community, in the workplace, in the voluntary and community sector, across the trade union movement, in the churches and the media.

“If the unionist leaderships refuse to engage positively in new negotiations then the Irish and British governments, as co-equal guarantors of the Agreement, must ensure that outstanding issues are implemented.”

Gaza Toy Appeal -”The generosity of people has been outstanding “Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell  said

 

“The generosity of people has been outstanding” 10271635_10153056997853642_7633316812466403653_n

 

“A great effort has been put in by the organisers of the local Gaza Appeal and they must be commended.

 

Hopefully this appeal and others across Ireland will go some way in helping the people of Gaza rebuild their lives and the children have some sort of rest bite from the daily and nightly onslaughts.

Solidarity greetings from Gerry Adams read out at London demo on Gaza

The following statement from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was read out at today’s massive demonstration in London in support of the people of Gaza attended by 150,000 people.

“I would like to send solidarity greetings to you today, on behalf of myself and Sinn Féin, in solidarity with the people of Gaza.


Many tens of thousands of people across the island of Ireland, like all of you here today, have come out in cities, towns and villages to say that this is unacceptable, and that ‘we stand with the Palestinian people’ for their right to live in peace, dignity and in a viable state.


@JayneBFisher reading out solidarity message from @GerryAdamsSF at the #GazaA9 rally in Hyde Park

@JayneBFisher reading out solidarity message from @GerryAdamsSF at the #GazaA9 rally in Hyde Park

We stand for a just and peaceful settlement – not one which attempts to starve the people of Gaza into submission through an illegal blockade; not one, which breaks international law.

Not one, which believes you can negotiate peace by excluding political representatives.

Nor one, which believes it can bomb and massacre innocent children and civilians with impunity.

That is why I called for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland. We need to send a clear and strong message. This must stop now.

I have urged the Irish government to end its shameful silence.

We in Sinn Féin have demanded a recall of our parliament, the Dáil, but to no avail.

Like in Britain, they want to avoid, at all costs, facing up to their complicity in the horror we have seen.

International pressure can make a difference.

So I commend everyone out in London today. We will continue to demand a just peace and stand with the Palestinian people.”

Expansion of Magee must go ahead – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said the expansion of Magee college must go ahead. 

Speaking after Employment and Learning minister Stephen Farry said the expansion of the college will not go ahead, the Foyle MLA said; 

“The expansion of Magee college is crucial for the regeneration of Derry. 

“All voices in the city are united in calling for the expansion of the university. 

“It is a key component of the One Plan and, as such,  a Programme for Government commitment agreed by the Executive. 

“Stephen Farry is practising microphone diplomacy, announcing unilateral decisions on the airwaves and is playing politics with vital issues. 

“It is totally wrong to use the proposed Tory-led welfare cuts as an excuse to block the expansion of Magee. 

“The cap on student numbers at Magee must be lifted and the minister must withdraw these comments and work with the University of Ulster and all stakeholders in Derry to deliver the expansion of Magee.

“I will be convening an emergency meeting of the Education and Skills Implementation group of all the stakeholders to ensure the expansion of Magee goes ahead”

Magee expansion must proceed as planned

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the expansion of Magee needs to proceed as planned. 
 
Mr McGuinness said;

Martin McGuinness and Sandra Duffy

Martin McGuinness and Sandra Duffy

 
“Comments by Stephen Farry in relation to Magee are outrageous and irresponsible.
 
“Any decision on this issue is clearly controversial, has serious equality implications and will therefore need to come to the Executive where Sinn Fein will robustly challenge the DEL Minister’s position. 
 
“Sinn Fein is totally committed to the resourcing and expansion of Magee.
 
“I intend to raise this issue at the first meeting of the Executive in September.” Ends/Críoch

Derrylin and the price of freedom

JIM GIBNEY, who proposed the idea of standing Bobby Sands in the Fermanagh & South Tyrone by-election, was at last Sunday’s hunger strike march in Fermanagh and in this feature he recalls the year of 1981.

THE CAR JOURNEY on Sunday to Derrylin to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike evoked strong memories of that momentous year. Back then I was constantly on the road from Belfast to Fermanagh and Tyrone on one errand or another related to the Hunger Strike.

Back then I relied on friends to drive me on my very busy schedule. On Sunday, I drove myself to Derrylin.

On the way I recalled hearing the news on the radio of the sudden death of Frank Maguire MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone and the idea striking me that we should stand Bobby Sands if a by-election were called. Later, I spoke to Gerry Adams about the idea and we, in turn, met Bernadette McAliskey to discuss it with her as her name was mooted as a possible candidate. Bernadette was on crutches and still recovering from an assassination attempt a few months earlier.

As I passed along the M1 motorway, I glanced at the Long Kesh site. The internment cages have been demolished but the prison hospital where the lads died on hunger strike is preserved with a number of other prison buildings for future generations to visit and learn about life for the prisoners and the guards who lived there.

With other republicans I am a member of a group that helped to protect and preserve the prison buildings, especially the prison hospital, and I am very proud of that.

I was interned in Long Kesh as an 18-year-old and again spent four years there in the H-Blocks in the mid-1980s.

In 1981, I visited Bobby, Francis, Raymond and Tom in the prison hospital and Martin and Joe in the visiting area of the prison.

As I passed the road sign for Loughgall I thought of the lads killed by the SAS there in 1987.

The sign for Dungannon brought me back to 1981 and the faces of Bernadette McAliskey and Francie Molloy came into my mind and the huge effort both put into Bobby’s election campaign. Their electoral knowledge was invaluable. The rest of us knew nothing about elections. I was 27 and had never voted.

Derrylin Sands poster

In the back of a car on the way to a meeting in our Dungannon election office I recalled writing a draft of Bobby’s election manifesto for his approval and amendments with the message about electing him to save his life.

I recalled sitting in a car with Gerry Adams at a church car park close to the Dungannon electoral office with Bobby’s nomination papers, with hours to go, ready to pull his name from the election contest if Noel Maguire (Frank Maguire’s brother) did not withdraw his nomination. We couldn’t risk Bobby fighting an election unless he had a clear field.

From a phone box close by I was in touch with Jimmy McGivern who was at a house in Dungannon. Republicans there were in touch with republicans in Lisnaskea who were in touch with the Maguire family.

As I drove towards the Ballygawley roundabout I recalled the hourly battle republicans had with the UDR on this stretch of main road to keep Bobby’s posters on the lamp-posts and telegraph poles.

There was a permanent team of republicans travelling that road, putting up posters as quickly as the UDR took them down.

The road signs of Augher, Clogher, Fivemiletown reminded me of the single-decker bus packed with canvassers from all over Ireland but especially west Belfast who, dressed in Bobby Sands T-shirts, knocked as many doors as they could in those villages.

The bus, its colour cerise pink, was dubbed ‘The Pink Panther’.

The sign for Maguiresbridge brought Owen Carron’s name to mind. Owen, who was Bobby’s election agent, was building a house in Maguiresbridge which had been destroyed by a loyalist bomb.

The sign for Enniskillen brought me to the Technical College where the announcement was made on Friday 10 April, that Bobby had won the election and that guttural cheer from Danny Morrison welcoming it.

As I approached Lisnaskea, more names came into my head. The Gleesons, with whom Gerry Adams and I had called to see, to sound out their opinion about standing Bobby in the election. I looked up the main street and recalled Gerry and I going into Maguire’s pub to speak with Noel about him withdrawing his name from the electoral contest.

I was there on one other occasion meeting Frank Maguire, who was then MP, about the situation in the H-Blocks and Armagh Women’s Prison.

As I got out of the car in Derrylin last Sunday, I saw a poster of Owen Carron on a lamp-post. It was a replica of the one used when he stood in the by-election after Bobby’s death. He won the seat with an even bigger margin than Bobby had.

I met Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin’s newly-elected MEP, with her partner Eoin Ó Broin and we chatted about the rise and rise of Sinn Féin in the South. We were joined by ‘Fawnsey’ from south Derry who had been on the Blanket Protest in the H-Blocks.

Pat Fahy, the campaigning solicitor from Omagh, also joined us and told the gathering the story of when he and I were canvassing for Bobby.

As I passed a pub at the end of the Derrylin Road I recalled a bitter cold winter’s night in 1978 when Fergus O’Hare and I met Owen, for the first time, to set up the Fermanagh Relatives Action Committee.

Along the road as I walked I was joined by Dessie McManus, who I hadn’t spoken to in 30 years. I think he was 20 when we last met. He was Owen Carron’s driver. He has a great memory and we spoke non-stop of those frantic and tragic yet heroic days.

Derrylin rally pic

I stood in the field outside Derrrylin where the Hunger Strike rally took place beside Phil Flanagan. He wasn’t even born when Bobby and the others died.

He is one of Sinn Féin’s bright and young MLAs elected for Fermanagh. There were several bright and young republicans on the stage who spoke about 1981, including Michelle Gildernew, who has held Bobby’s seat twice, taking it the first time in 2001 on the 20th anniversary of the Hunger Strike.

The guest speaker last Sunday was Ireland’s Palestinian Ambassador who spoke about the horror of the daily massacres of his people in Gaza by the Israelis.

He said that he and many others in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria first heard about the struggle in Ireland through the news coverage of the deaths of the Hunger Strikers.

His last words to the rally were that the Palestinian people, despite the human carnage, would never give in until they had their own homeland.

As I walked to my car, those words in my ears, I thought of the lads who died in the H-Blocks and of Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died on hunger strike, alone, in English prisons in June 1974 and February 1976 and I thought – the price of freedom is very, very dear, indeed.

•  This article was first published by the Bobby Sands Trust.

McCausland got Housing Executive figures wrong – Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has said the statement issued by the Department of Social Development and Housing Executive on a settlement with contractors on overpayments is an exercise in gobbledygook.

The Derry Sinn Féin housing spokesperson said;

 

“The fact is the minister and the chair of the Housing Executive made serious allegations that named contractors had been overpaid by the Housing Executive to the tune of £18 million.

 

“These contractors were then suspended from carrying out maintenance works.

 

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

“Now it has been stated that three of four contractors have agreed to pay £670,000 to the Housing Executive, while the fourth contractor was found not to have been overpaid at all.

 

“At the time we stated that the minister needed to explain where this figure came from but he refused to do so. It’s clear that Nelson McCausland got this very wrong and he should now consider his position.

 

“This issue had led to a delay in carrying out vital repair work such as refitting kitchens and window replacement schemes at Housing Executive properties across the North.

 

“In light of this settlement, I would hope that planned maintenance work will be carried out as it should have been in order to bring properties up to the standard that tenants deserve and require.”

“Locate alcohol unit in more appropriate location” Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor for the area, Patricia Logue has pledged her support for the residents of Bishop and surrounding district in their position regarding a proposed 24 bed Alcohol dependency unit at the former Nazerath House.

Cllr Logue said:Councillor  Patricia Logue

“I am in full agreement with the Housing Executive ‘Supporting People Strategy’ and the great work being done in existing facilities for those with alcohol dependency problems.

“However, given the number of existing facilities in the TRIAX area – four within a five minute walking distance – I can understand and support the residents in their objections to this proposal.

“As well as the existing facilities this proposal is for a site which is attached to a children’s school which raises child safety concerns for parents.

“I have been in consultation with and spoke in support of the residents and parents at the public meeting and now call on the statutory services to review their proposals and seek a more appropriate location for this facility.” CRÍOCH/END

Tax office jobs must be saved – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said jobs must be saved at a tax offices in Derry, Enniskillen and Newry. 

“Sinn Féin has been campaigning on behalf of staff at the Derry tax office on Duncreggan Road whose jobs are under threat. 

“My party colleagues Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew met with the British government treasury minister in March to raise concerns about the impact of job losses. 

“Sinn Féin has also met with the Equality Commission in Belfast to discuss our concerns about the possible loss of these jobs. And we will be meeting the new treasury minister in the coming weeks to discuss this issue. 

“This is clearly an equality issue. These offices in Derry, Newry and Enniskillen are in nationalist areas and employ predominantly women. 

“Loss of these jobs would have a disproportionate impact on women in nationalist areas. 

“As well as the impact job losses would have on staff, it would also lead to a reduction in services for local people with concerns over personal tax. 

“Staff has been told there may be opportunities for redeployment. The reality is those opportunities are extremely limited as this is a London-controlled service, so staff would not be able to transfer into the civil service in the North. 

“This is another example of the British government trying to target disadvantaged areas while seeking to protect the greater London area and the south of England where there are greater opportunities for the redeployment of staff. 

“These job cuts must be resisted and Sinn Féin will continue to support staff at the local centres to ensure the posts and service remains in place.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Early detection of diabetes crucial –Duffy

Councillor Sandra Duffy

 

“We felt it was very important to go along and take part in Risk Assessment roadshow.

Sinn Féin Councillors Sandra Duffy, Eric McGinley and Paul Fleming taking part in the Risk Assessment roadshow at Waterloo Place in Derry

Sinn Féin Councillors Sandra Duffy, Eric McGinley and Paul Fleming taking part in the Risk Assessment roadshow at Waterloo Place in Derry

 

There needs to be a focus on helping to try and raise awareness of this illness ,and alert patients to the early warning signs and to increase knowledge and awareness about diabetes and its treatment. Initiatives like this are very important.

 

She  went on to say

 

“For many adjusting to the news that they or a member of your family has diabetes takes time and it is often helpful to meet other people who have been through a similar situation. They can offer understanding, help and support at an important time”

 

 

Ends

Doire Colmcille GAC gives commitment on local use of facilities -Cooper

Sinn Féin councillor for Rosemount Mickey Cooper has welcomed a commitment from Doire Colmcille GAC that they will do whatever is possible to make their new facilities available  once completed. The local GAC club are currently completing work to their new pitch at Lowry’s Lane which will also incorporate changing and associated facilities.Mickey Cooper new head shot 2013 888

 

Councillor Cooper was commenting  after meeting with club representatives to ask for their facilities to be made available to the wider community especially younger residents in the Rosemount and Glen Road area. He said he was pleased with the positive response from the club:

 

 he said

 

“I was delighted to hear of the steady progress being made in construction work and the willingness of the team to make the facility available for use by the wider community. I was also impressed to hear that the club is already developing further bids to install a 3G pitch at the site on Lowry’s Lane which will further increase the sporting infrastructure in the area. I will remain in close contact with the club and work with them to develop programmes which will allow all residents of Rosemount and the Glen to avail of this fantastic new facility”

Donegal TD to speak at Derry Gaza candlelight vigil‏

We are pleased to have Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD for Donegal North East speaking at Tuesday night’s  vigil. People all over this island are marching in their thousands and attending vigils to protest against Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza. All these events as well as the boycotts of Israeli goods are very important to keep the global pressure on Israeli.The power of the online news reports and social media is key to getting around the wall of censorship.Raymond, Pearse & Padraig2

Much of the Gaza strip has been reduced to rubble . At this stage not even children and their refugee families sheltering in United Nations compounds are safe.

The footage of whole neighbourhoods decimated, homes, schools, hospitals all gone is stark. Almost half of this besieged region is now under the control of the Israeli military.

We want to support the Palestinian call for Gaza to be declared an international disaster area and echo Gerry Adams appeal to the Irish government and the EU to support this humanitarian call.

Kevin Lynch – Died on 1 August 1981 after 71 days on hunger strike in the H-Blocks

Kevin Lynch – Died on 1 August 1981 after 71 days on hunger strike in the H-Blocks

07-Kevin-Lynch-RGB

 

 

Died on 1 August 1981 having spent 71 days on hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh

KEVIN LYNCH, aged 25, was born in Park, north Derry on 25 May 1956.

Kevin, an INLA Volunteer, was arrested in December 1976 and charged with conspiracy to obtain arms. He received a ten-year sentence in December 1977.

Kevin excelled at Gaelic games and had captained the under-16 Derry team which won an all-Ireland hurling trophy in 1972. He stood as a H-Block/Armagh candidate in the Waterford constituency during the June 1981 general election in the South and polled extremely well despite missing out on election.

He spent 71 days on hunger strike from 23 May 1981. He died on 1 August 1981.

Kevin Lynch laid to rest in Dungiven

07-victory-banner

 

THE death of INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch after 71 days on hunger strike occurred on 1 August 1981. It was followed the next day by that of IRA Volunteer Kieran Doherty.

They were the seventh and eighth men to die on the fast.

Kevin had been lapsing into frequent periods of unconsciousness in the last four days, having already lost his sight, hearing and speech. His family were at his bedside throughout the final days until he died in the early hours of Saturday morning.

His funeral took place the following Monday in his home town of Dungiven in County Derry. Between the return of his body to his home and the removal for Requiem Mass on Monday afternoon, a constant stream of mourners queued outside to pay their respects. The road was decorated with Tricolours and black flags, along with posters of Kevin Lynch.

The RUC and the Ulster Defence Regiment made every effort to disrupt the funeral, holding up cars and forcing buses to park outside of town so that the passengers would have to make their way on foot. Ulsterbus in Belfast cancelled bookings at the last minute. Nevertheless, mourners came in convoys of cars and black taxis.

At mid-day, the coffin, bearing the Tricolour, Starry Plough, gloves and beret, was carried to the nearby church. The procession was led by a lone piper, followed by the Lynch family, relatives of other Hunger Strikers, and senior representatives of the IRSP and the broad republican movement, along with the National H-Block/Armagh Committee.

Five British Army helicopters flew overhead as the coffin entered the church grounds. Applause broke out momentarily as an 18-strong INLA guard of honour marched up to escort the coffin to the church door. The priest who celebrated the Mass, Fr John Quinn, expressed outrage later when the INLA Volunteers escorting the coffin fired three volleys after it had left the church. So enraged was he that he refused to wear his vestments at the graveside. This same priest had failed to refer to the suffering of the Hunger Strikers themselves and failed to condemn British intransigence. He tried to imply that the family had been opposed to the military funeral – an opinion later refuted by family members, who criticised the press and those who had made unsolicited comments on their behalf. At the graveside, the piper played I’ll Wear No Convict’s Uniform. The Last Post was also played and wreaths were laid, including from both the INLA and IRA Army Councils.

07-K-Lynch-funeral-1

  • A lone piper leads the cortege; (below) The funeral of Kevin Lynch makes its way through Dungiven

 

A uniformed INLA Volunteer then read a statement on behalf of the INLA Army Council, stating regret at Kevin’s death and applauding his heroism. “Kevin Lynch has made the greatest sacrifice, and he has done it in the face of the repressive machinery of British imperialism and in the wake of the greatest gesture of defiance against those who control the prisons and those who rule and ravage our country,” he said.

A short oration was given by Councillor Seán Flynn from Belfast, Vice-Chair of the IRSP:

“Kevin epitomised all that is good in a young Irishman. Playing our national sports of hurling and football, he excelled at both and in 1972 captained his native county to win an All-Ireland medal at hurling.”

He went on to contrast Lynch’s Gaelic spirit with the performance of the Gaelic Athletic Association leadership off the field.

“Yesterday, the Derry County Board and South Antrim County Board asked for a minute’s silence before the All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final between Limerick and Galway. It was no surprise to me when Croke Park refused. President Mac Floinn last week declared that no clubs, grounds or units were to be used for H-Block activity as it contravenes Rule 7.”

He added that work would be done to encourage support for the prisoners’ ‘Five Demands’ amongst the GAA.

Of Kevin’s courage and determination, Seán said:

“It must be remembered that if Kevin had conformed to the British authority he would be a free man today; but to Kevin, Kieran Doherty, Patsy O’Hara, Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson and the continuing Hunger Strikers, they knew if the political prisoners were criminalised then the British Government would attempt to criminalise the struggle on the outside.”

He added that Kevin Lynch knew the consequences of going on hunger strike.

“Deprived of every other means of defending his political integrity, he defended it with his life. Those who imply that he might have been ordered to do so, or could be ordered to cease to do so, fail to understand the depths or the personal integrity – the individual courage and the dedication to the principles he believed in – that made Kevin Lynch the person he was.”

Anderson writes to European leaders over Gaza

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has written to the heads of the European institutions calling on them to urge Israel to end its offensive in Gaza. 
The letter was sent to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, and the High Representative of the Commission’s Union for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton. 
Ms Anderson said; 
“I and a group of MEPs from across Europe have written the heads of the European institutions calling on them to do everything they can to secure an immediate end to the violence in Gaza. gaza-bomb
“A humanitarian disaster in Gaza has been unfurling before the eyes of the world. The EU cannot remain inactive. 
“An immediate verifiable ceasefire is needed that would put an end to the killing and the suffering of even more civilians, many of them children, that would allow immediate access of humanitarian aid to Gaza, particularly to provide for urgent medical needs. 
“The letter also reiterates that the European Parliament has called on Israel to halt the expansion of illegal settlements and a lifting of the Israeli blockade. 
“We are calling on the heads of these institutions to take action to demand that Israel ends all actions which threaten a two-state solution. 
“We also call for support for those voices within Israel, particularly writers and journalists, who are fighting against the policies of their government.” Ends/Críoch

Palestinian ambassador to attend Hunger Strike Commemoration – Campbell‏

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

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

He said; 

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

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

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

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

Ends

Derry support for Gaza Toy Drive-Kelly

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

DSC_0512

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly said  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sinn Féin delegation meet prisoners in Maghaberry‏

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

 

Commenting following the visit Raymond McCartney said:raymond mccartney

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

he saidgaza_digs_out_01

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

gaza_digs_out_01 he said

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

• Molly Childers and Mary Spring Rice aboard the Asgard

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

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

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

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

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

Irish Volunteer issue 1 no 9 adverts

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

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

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

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

The Asgard

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

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

pg20-1

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

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

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

Asgard-Irish Volunteers at Howth 2

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

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

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

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

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

pg20-5a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Commemoration makes its way down the East Pier, Howth

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

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

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

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

It was an act of political defiance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Ó Broin (with Daire Ní Laoi)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The document stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The struggle for the New Republic continues.

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

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

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

Howth Centenary at Lighthouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is what Sinn Féin is struggling for today.

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

Duffy raises concerns over Derry gorse fires‏

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

Cllr Sandra Duffy said

Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Health chair McLaughlin supports local “Paul’s campaign”‏

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

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

Fleming welcomes unanimous support of Living Wage proposals

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

 

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

 

Councillor Paul Fleming said

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Concluding he said

 

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

 

Notes Motion

Councillor Fleming to Move:-

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

“Criminals will not deter us” McCartney MLA

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

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

Raymond McCartney said:

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

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

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

 

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

at Ráth Mór.” CRÍOCH/END

Sinn Féin will oppose tracking at every level – Anderson

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

McCartney condemns arson attack on Sinn Féin office‏

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

Irish Peace Process template applies to Gaza/Israel

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

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

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

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

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

The long-term humanitarian effects are unimaginable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expel Israeli Ambassador

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

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

Mr. Adams said:2 gerrys

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

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

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

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

Anderson welcomes EU call for end to occupation of Palestine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hassan welcomes launch of £3million Community Works Programme

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

Ballyarnett

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

Ends

McCartney welcomes MPE jobs boost for Derry

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

Speaking today Raymond McCartney saidRaymond head shot 22

 

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

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

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

Sealed orders – The part the Fianna played at Howth

• Members of Fianna await orders on Howth Pier

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, in sterner tones, he commanded:

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

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

***

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

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

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

Asgard-Irish Volunteers at Howth

A Fianna signaller awaiting the Asgard

***

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

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

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

***

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 2

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

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

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

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

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 3

***

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

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

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 4

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

We dashed out to meet the police.

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

Fianna Éireann and the Asgard 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy in Colombia peace process international delegation

Lessons from Irish Peace Process can help end Colombian conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conor Murphy in Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thieves target new fence at Dolans GAC -Campbell

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

3895995549 Councillor Campbell said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concern over car vandalism in Culmore –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan said

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Best wishes for the 2014 Foyle Cup – Kelly

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ends 

 

DERRY SF FACEBOOK