British must adopt imaginative approach-McCartney

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

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

He said:

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

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

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

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

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

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Reconciliation the next phase of the peace process – McGuinness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCallion congratulates new Dublin mayor Ní Dhálaigh

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

Speaking from Dublin Councillor McCallion said;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fleming welcomes start date for grass cutting Clooney Road.

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

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

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

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

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Annual Derry Republican Graves Association weekend of events

Spokesperson for the Association said

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ends

Kelly backs legal challenge to equal marriage ban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ends

Split second from tragedy with motorbike terror –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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Lives can be saved with defibrillator register-Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lead theft not a victimless crime –Jackson‏

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

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

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

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

Prison Ombudsman report disappointing – McCartney‏

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

Mr. McCartney said,

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelly welcomes extension of Translink 212 service between Derry / Belfast

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

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

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

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

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Brucellosis testing downgrade welcomed-Fleming

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

 

Cllr Paul Fleming said,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

New Derry jobs announcement welcomed-Raymond McCartney MLA‏

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

Mr McCartney said,City centre walkabout

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

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

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

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

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

Europe’s shame: Refugee drowning horror in the Mediterranean

Europe’s shame: Refugee drowning horror in the Mediterranean

Irish MEP Martina Anderson and Basque MEP Josu Juaristi in Lampedusa

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

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

Martina Anderson with refugees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British state sued by Glenanne Gang bomb victim

British state sued by Glenanne Gang bomb victim

● Maria McShane with a portrait of Gavin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DUP's Willie McCrea MP and Billy Wright

DUP’s Willie McCrea MP with Billy Wright

Bodenstown 2015

EU derogation on Irish language must be lifted – Anderson

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

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

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin McGuinness’s address to major London anti austerity rally

 

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

“Sinn Féin is an anti-austerity party.CIApsgQWgAAf67B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Austerity is devastating these communities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Austerity means inequality, poverty and despair.

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

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

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

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

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

Woodland Mews residents demand action on unfinished development-Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson saidChristopher TOH 1

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

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

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

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

Hassan raises housing points system

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has presented Minister Mervyn Storey with a letter calling on him to move immediately to  review the housing points system.And to grant the many housing applicants, who are deemed homeless and as a result have sourced their own private rented accommodation the extra 20 points that other housing Executive applicants get when given temporary accommodation.

The Minister was in Derry and I felt it was important to ask him to have an immediate look at the housing points system which I believe needs an immediate overhaul”Tony Hassan said

“Families are having their chances of getting a new home curtailed by the Housing Executives current policy of not awarding the additional 20 points .In many cases this is because applicants who have been assessed as homeless by NIHE are not in a position to wait for temporary   accommodation and source their own private accommodation only to be penalized by NIHE.I believe this is wrong and should be addressed.

 

Sinn Féin has raised this issue many times over the last few years in the hope that this oversight would be rectified. And for a fairer system of the allocation of points for all those who are living in private rented accommodation.

 

We were told at the time that the Housing Executive and the Minister were looking at this under the Common Selection Scheme and it was hoped that this issue would be resolved early in 2011, it is now 2015 and still no resolution to the problem.

 

I am now calling on the Minister Mervyn Storey, Housing Executive and the Department of Social Development to make every effort possible to address this issue, and to give equality to all Housing Executive applicants.

Sinn Féin to bring Marriiage Equality motion to council on Thursday

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly speaking ahead of bringing a motion to Derry City and Strabane District Council calling for  marriage equality in the North .His call comes after the referendum success in the South a number of weeks ago.

“Sinn Féin believes that all citizens are entitled to full equality before the law, regardless of their background, including sexual orientation or gender. Nothing less can be tolerated in a modern, progressive and inclusive society. I have tabled a motion for this coming Thursday at the monthly Derry and Strabane Council meeting calling for support of marriage equality” Cllr Colly Kelly said

Ahead of the meeting we are asking people to gather for a short sort vigil outside the Guildhall at 3.30pm on Thursday  in solidarity of marriage equality.

The recent campaign in the 26 Counties energised and engaged a whole new generation of young people in the democratic process. This result shows when people fully participate in the political process that change is not only possible but inevitable.

“Sinn Féin played a very positive and active role in the Yes campaign. We took our message of equality to the doors, put up posters and engaged in a very active social media campaign.

“The fact so many of our people returned home to vote in this campaign highlighted yet again the need to tackle the issue of voting rights for the diaspora and for Irish citizens in the North.

“The marriage equality rights that will be enjoyed by Irish citizens in the south must be shared by citizens in the north.

Jackson welcomes news on Lisnagelvin jobs front

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has welcomed the news that 90 jobs have been created with the introduction of new stores and businesses to the Lisnagelvin shopping centre.

The businesses included Costa coffee shop, Card Factory, Poundland and Savers.

Councillor Jackson said “It’s good to see these new businesses opening in the Lisnagelvin shopping centre and creating much needed employment in the Waterside. This will hopefully act as catalyst to bring in more business to the centre and  sustain local  jobs.

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SIPTU launches international online petition in support of Clerys workers

SIPTU launches international online petition in support of Clerys workers

SIPTU says that an “overwhelming public demand” has led to the launching on Friday of an online petition for people in Ireland and abroad who want to show their support for the Clerys workers and demanding that the store’s new owners meet them.

SIPTU Campaigns and Equality Organiser Ethel Buckley said:

“SIPTU launched a written petition on Tuesday 16 June. Within 24 hours it had received over 5,000 signatures such is the level of public anger at the way these workers have been treated.

“People are shocked and sickened that the new owners of Clerys felt it was going to be accepted that they could just take the company over, liquidate it and throw loyal workers on the street with nothing.”

She added:

The petition makes a simple demand – that the new owners of Clerys meet the workers.

“At this meeting the workers will discuss face to face with them what they could do to go some way in making up for the hurt they have caused when putting into action this heartless scheme.”

The petition is also open to the many workers and activists from other countries who have been in touch wishing to express their support for the workers.

Feelings are running so high about the way the Clerys workers have been treated, SIPTU say, that protests are expected in the coming days in the US and Britain.

“These will target people involved in this deal which made them millions but left hundreds of loyal workers without jobs or the monies owed to them,” Ethel Buckley said.

◼︎ To sign the Clerys workers petition click here or www.siptu.ie

Clerys picket with GA

Sinn Féin and SNP discuss resistance to Tory cuts

Sinn Féin and SNP discuss resistance to Tory cuts

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA at Dublin Castle

IT IS important that progressive parties work together to oppose the British Tory government’s austerity agenda, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said after a meeting with Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon in Dublin on Friday.

The Deputy First Minister was speaking after a meeting with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP ahead of the British–Irish Council (BIC) summit in Dublin Castle.

Martin McGuinness said he and Nicola Sturgeon had discussed issues of mutual concern:

“We are keen to work together to develop a collective opposition to the austerity-driven policies coming from Westminster. There are various areas where we share positions and these should be explored as we move forward,” he said.

“In addition to our common opposition to the austerity policies of the British government, we share concerns about David Cameron’s plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and the prospect of a break from the European Union. We had a positive meeting today and I look forward to building on our relationship in the future.”

  • The BIC was set-up as part of the Good Friday Agreement and is holding its annual summit to discuss co-operation in the region. Membership of BIC consists of Government representatives from both parts of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. 

Community alert following Bogside crime spree

COLLY“Once again another area of the city has been targeted by criminals.

 

I would like to make an urgent appeal to residents in the Bogside area to a take a few extra security measures following a number of opportunist break-ins and attempted thefts of cars on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

 

Cars and outhouses were targeted in William Street, Colmcille Court and the Abbey Street area.

 

I have spoken to one family who had a considerable amount of damage caused to their car in an attempt to steal it.

 

I would urge extra vigilance from residents over the next few weeks and if they see anyone acting suspiciously to alert their neighbours and to contact police straight away.

 

 

Ends 

Traffic disruption during installation of new lighting system Northland Road –Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed a new street lighting upgrade scheme that is being introduced on the Northland Road.

Councillor Mickey Cooper said “As part of an upgrade programme new lights will be installed on the Northland Road from Crawford Square out to the top of the Rock Road.

I would like to inform residents and motorists there will be disruption to traffic whilst this work takes place.

There will be a one lane closure city bound on the Northland Road from Monday 29th June until Sunday 19th July with diversion signs in place.

 

Ends

Notes

Lane closure will be during the following times

Monday –Friday 09.30am -4.30pm

Saturday –Sunday 08.00-6.00pm

70 windows broken at Immaculate Conception College-Cllr Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson has appealed for vandalism attacks on the Immaculate Conception College to stop.

He was speaking after a number of incidents there over the last two nights. Christopher TOH 1

Councillor Jackson said

It’s shocking the scale of these vandalism attacks on Immaculate Conception College.

70 windows were broken in the school over the last two nights and also there have been attempts made to set the building on fire.

I am putting out an urgent appeal for parents in the locality to know where their children are.

There are plans in place to demolish the school building in September.

But there is a concern as the school year is drawing to a close that the building will become a target over the summer holidays leaving a large potentially dangerous building in the heart of our community. And that it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured on the site.

We must work together to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Ends

Tory austerity agenda threatening economic recovery – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said the Tory austerity agenda is threatening the green shoots of recovery in the North. CGQ53KFWoAEUfQd

Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Belfast, Mr McGuinness said;

“There are some signs of green shoots of economic recovery with more businesses reporting increased domestic orders and recruitment intentions.

“In the past year alone InvestNI support for businesses has helped secure nearly 14,000 new jobs, which will be created across a range of industries over the coming three to five years, delivering over £300 million of salaries annually to the local economy.

“However, we are facing into a political and financial crisis that has been inflicted upon us by the economic policies of the Conservative government in Westminster.

“The previous Tory led government stripped £1.5 billion from the public service budget of the Executive. They proposed to save more money at the expense of the most vulnerable under the misnomer of Welfare Reform.

“The new Tory government is planning billions of pounds more of reductions in public services and welfare benefits which will inflict devastating cuts on our society and our economy.

“You can’t take that kind of spending power out of any economy, particularly one as fragile and small as ours, and not expect there to be serious repercussions for our prospects for economic recovery.

“Austerity is bad for the community, bad for the economy and bad for business. So austerity and its imposition on our society is a serious challenge which the Executive has to deal with in the time ahead.

“I remain determined to find solutions. That remains my personal and political priority.”

Cooper welcomes initiative to resolve Rockmills safety issues

Councillor Mickey Cooper said “Over the last few months a number of residents had raised issues of concern about incidents taking place within the Rockmills complex on the Strand Road over the past few months which I subsequently raised with Oaklee Housing and the PSNI.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

I am pleased that an onsite meeting has taken place between the PSNI and Oaklee  to address ongoing issues and implement a sustainable solution. A report is now being compiled by the police with recommendations to be forwarded to Oaklee regarding access control and other security issues such as CCTV. This will tie into a major refurbishment programme which Oaklee are about to roll out within the complex.

Going forward I would urge any residents who still have issues to contact myself, Oaklee or the PSNI so we can collectively resolve any outstanding complaints.

Benvarden Ave raw sewage -residents step in

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson said

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

 

I was contacted by a number of residents on Monday regarding raw sewage running the street in Benvarden Ave and their natural concern for health and safety for local people .And in particular young children who would be out playing in the street.

I contacted NI water who told me they would have a contractor out as a matter of urgency but could only guarantee that someone would be out within eight hours.

Residents have told that me someone did come out but said it could take some time before they could get it cleaned as they had to carry out investigations, this left residents no option but to try and clear this sewage themselves with a power hose.

I’ve subsequently been told by NI water that an investigation needs to be carried out to identify the cause of the problem and this may take a few days.

Last month I contacted NI water about a similar problem in Primrose Street ,extensive works were carried out to repair the pipe. Given the close proximity local people believe that these are both linked.

Hopefully a solution can be found to resolve this.

Tánaiste refuses to confirm if she will meet family of collusion victim Eddie Fullerton

Tánaiste refuses to confirm if she will meet family of collusion victim Eddie Fullerton

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD beside a photo of Eddie Fullerton on the Sinn Féin corridor in Leinster House

THE Dáil heard today how an RUC Special Branch car was used to ferry the unionist killers of Donegal County Councillor Eddie Fullerton at his Buncrana home back across the border in May 1991.

Sinn Féin’s Justice Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD raised the issue of collusion between British state forces and unionist murder gangs today at Leaders’ Questions and challenged the Tánaiste to meet the Fullerton family.

The Donegal TD says a witness has stated that the killer gang who gunned-down the 57-year-old councillor inside his Buncrana home were collected by an RUC Special Branch car after the murder and brought back across the border.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn also outlined how ballistic evidence shows that two of the weapons used by the killer gang to carry out the massacre of eight people at the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel on Halloween night 1993 were the same ones used to kill Eddie Fullerton.

When the UDA gang responsible for the Greysteel massacre was in the custody of the RUC, the Gardaí were informed of the damning ballistic evidence against them, but seemingly ignored it and chose not to even bother interviewing those being held.

Eddie Fullerton

Deputy Mac Lochlainn asked how much longer the Irish Government is going to tolerate the refusal of the British Government to open up files on collusion.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said the Irish Government has consistently called on the British Government to face up to its responsibilities on the past:

“Collusion between security forces and paramilitaries was endemic. The people responsible must be brought to justice. The families of the victims deserve nothing less,” she said.

However, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that simply “raising the issue” is not enough:

“You have a responsibility to hold the British Government to account,” he told Joan Burton.

The family of Eddie Fullerton have been extremely critical of the Garda investigation into the killing. Eddie’s son Albert told An Phoblacht in 2001 that the family had not received a single piece of correspondence from the gardaí in relation to the investigation. They also say the well-planned assassination indicates the UDA gang had high-level assistance in the killing.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn challenged the Tánaiste to meet with the family of Eddie Fullerton, to listen to their concerns and act upon them.

The Tánaiste would not confirm if she would meet with the family of Eddie Fullerton but said she would “speak with the Taoiseach about this”.

Tory cuts will continue to be opposed

Alert after Knockwellan Park robberies –Jackson

Commenting on two break ins at homes in Knockwellan Park  this week Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson said Christopher TOH 1

“There have been a number of break- ins at homes in the Knockwellan Park area of the Waterside .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  appeal to anyone with information or who may have seen anything in their area over the past few days  to pass this to the PSNI. People like this cannot be allowed to prey on our community.

Ends

Eglinton bomb incident –

Commenting after a viable device has been found under the car of a PSNI officer in the Glenrandel area of Eglinton this morning

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming described the attack as “wrong and futile”

“This attack has to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

“We are looking to the future and we will not be held back by those who want to drag us back to the past.

It’s time these people caught up with the mood and wishes of the Irish people and abandon their activities.

Ends

Anderson calls for humanitarian action to tackle Mediterranean migrant crisis

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the international community to do more to tackle the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean which has already claimed the lives of thousands.

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

Speaking from Lampedusa, Sicily, as part of a GUE/NGL delegation to see the impact of the migrant crisis at first hand, Ms Anderson said;
“The scale of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean demands immediate humanitarian action from the international community.
“More than 2,000 migrants fleeing violence and poverty have already died making the Mediterranean crossing this year and many more have been rescued from the sea.
“Many of those who are rescued are taken to taken to reception centres in Lampedusa, including one for children who have made the crossing alone or lost their parents.
“No one who has visited those reception centres could fail to be moved by the harrowing experiences of the migrants, both during the crossing and the circumstances that led them to make such a perilous journey.
“Others have been returned to the horrendous conditions they sought to escape. Detaining migrants in Sicily or returning them to war zones is not the way to deal with this crisis. Any response must be based on humanitarian grounds.
“We also met with lawyers and others who are working on behalf of the migrants to get an update on the picture of the ground and it is clear that the humanitarian situation is getting worse.
“The international community, and the European Union in particular, must take immediate humanitarian action to prevent further deaths in the Mediterranean.” Ends/Críoch

Jackson condemns arson attack on Waterside chemist shop

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson commenting the news that there was arson attack on a chemist’s shop located on Trench Road overnight.

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

Slight damage was caused to Lloyds Pharmacy.

Christopher Jackson said

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

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

Ends

Community alert following Bogside crime spree

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly said COLLY

 

“Once again another area of the city has been targeted by criminals.

 

I would like to make an urgent appeal to residents in the Bogside area to a take a few extra security measures following a number of opportunist break-ins and attempted thefts of cars on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

 

Cars and outhouses were targeted in William Street, Colmcille Court and the Abbey Street area.

 

I have spoken to one family who had a considerable amount of damage caused to their car in an attempt to steal it.

 

I would urge extra vigilance from residents over the next few weeks and if they see anyone acting suspiciously to alert their neighbours and to contact police straight away.

 

 

Ends 

Overnight fire at Creggan bar

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell speaking after an overnight fire at the Telstar Bar on Central Drive in Creggan.

DSC_0042

Fire last summer

Councillor Kevin Campbell said

“I visited the scene this morning and spoke to a number of members of staff who are shocked at this incident.

The Fire Service have said they are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Hopefully there will be more detail on this as the day progresses.

Concluding he said

Just ahead of summer holidays I would put an appeal out to the local community to keep an eye out for any incidents taking place in the Central Drive area.

Last year we had several incidents at the shops with a number of businesses being damaged,we cannot allow this to happen again this year.

Ends

British must fund collusion investigations – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle  MLA Raymond McCartney  has said the British government must accept its responsibility to fund investigations into collusion.

Raymond McCartney said: DIGITAL CAMERA

“The British government has continually sought ways to attempt to cover up and ignore the role of its state forces and agents in collusion.

“It has often claimed it cannot afford to adequately resource investigations into collusion but it cannot hide behind such an excuse.

“We now have the bizarre spectacle of David Cameron supporting plans for a £15million museum to Margaret Thatcher.

“This money would be better spent addressing Thatcher’s caustic legacy of collusion, when her state forces and agents, together with the loyalist death squads they directed and ran, were responsible for hundreds of killings.

“The families of victims of collusion and those campaigning for the truth about Kincora are entitled to justice.

“The British government has a responsibility to fund these investigations and must stop using money as an excuse to continually deny justice to so many.”

Ends/Críoch

Collusion – Relatives for Justice call for action at ‘highest levels’

Collusion – Relatives for Justice call for action at ‘highest levels’

FAMILIES of victims of collusion between the British state and armed groups have contacted MLAs, MPs and TDs, as well as members of the US Congress demanding urgent action and an independent inquiry following recent television programmes which further expose Britain’s ‘dirty war’ tactics in the North.

The call comes as the Assembly prepares to debate a motion on collusion tabled by Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney this evening. A new RTÉ programme exposing further shocking details of Britain’s collusion with unionist death squads will also be screened on Monday at 9.30pm.

Relatives for Justice Director Mark Thompson said in a statement:

“Collectively the families bereaved and those injured through collusion, including the NGOs supporting them, feel that the issues raised on recent television programmes require full and comprehensive discussion at the highest levels of government in Belfast, Dublin, London and Washington if there is to be resolution of the appalling vista that is collusion.”

He said the scale of exclusion means that such a resolution would require a full independent inquiry and described Britain’s ‘dirty war’ tactics in the North as “the most egregious violation of human rights.”

A delegation of over 60 families recently held a meeting with MLAs, including Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who pledged support in their fight for justice.

It is expected that many families will attend the debate in the Assembly on Monday night:

“We believe that it is important that the issue of collusion, and the accompanying impunity, will be debated at the heart of government in this part of the jurisdiction and we very much welcome that first step in ensuring that similar debates are held in Dublin, London, Washington and Brussels,” Relatives for Justice said.

City of Derry 2015 triathlon another huge success –McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney commenting on the success of the City of Derry 2015 triathlon said DIGITAL CAMERA

“This is the 3rd year for the city to have a triathlon ,following on from its massive success in the  City of Culture year. Once again it’s great to see our beautiful waterfront being used for such an occasion.

It’s another great positive for Derry with over 500 competitors.

Fair Play to all involved in organising it  Paul McGilloway and his team and everyone in the North West Triathlon Club.

Events like this could not happen without the support of emergency services, council staff, helpers and marshals who were there in their hundreds.

Ends

Whitehouse Park incidents condemned –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has condemned those responsible for the theft of a car belonging to an elderly couple from Whitehouse Park which was found burnt out at the Collon Lane in the early hours of Monday morning.DSC_0627

This follows similar incidents across the city in the past week.

Councillor Duffy said ““This is absolutely a disgraceful act and should not have happened. The couple were awoken from their beds by the police to be told that their car had been stolen and found on fire in the Collon Lane area. Obviously it has come as a great shock to this couple and their family .They rely on this car to get about .Now they are left with the problems of trying to get a replacement vehicle and all the hassle that comes from sorting out insurance.

Sadly there were a couple of other thefts and attempted thefts in the Whitehouse Park overnight and there has been a number of similar incidents across  the city in the past week. I am aware of one car which was taken from outside a house in Elmvale Culmore and found burnt out in Sheriff’s Mountain a number of hours later.

I would appeal to anyone with even the slightest piece of information in regards to those behind these despicable criminal acts to bring it forward straight away.

Donegal Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil vote against monument to 1916 heroes

Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil vote against monument to 1916 heroes

A PROPOSAL to erect a monument dedicated to the rebels of 1916 and all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom was voted down by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour councillors in Donegal County Council on Monday.

The proposal, put forward by Sinn Féin Councillor Jack Murray and seconded by Letterkenny Mayor Gerry McMonagle, called for the council to erect an appropriate memorial on the grounds of County House in Lifford to mark the 100th anniversary of the uprising against British rule next year.

The motion was supported by the nine Sinn Féin councillors along with Independent John Campbell, however other parties and Independents joined ranks to oppose the move. Notably some Fianna Fáil councillors, clearly unhappy with their party’s stance, decided to abstain rather than object to the the plan.

Councillor Jack Murray said that to say he is disappointed in the decision of rival councillors to block the plan is an understatement:

“I can’t think of any other country which would oppose such a monument. I’m very, very shocked and let down today.”

British government must address its human rights failures – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the British government has a responsibility to address its failure to comply with human rights legislation in cases of collusion.

Ms Anderson said;

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

“It is rich of David Cameron to wax lyrical about human rights to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta given his own government’s track record on human rights.

“His government has already announced its intention to scrap the Human Rights Act and to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

“And Britain’s record of human rights abuses in Ireland is becoming increasingly clear to everyone through the involvement of its state forces and agents in collusion with loyalist death squads to murder hundreds of people.

“The British government cannot hide from its human rights responsibilities over the legacy of the conflict in the North, particularly its Article 2 right to life obligations in cases of collusion and its shoot-to-kill policy.

“If David Cameron is serious about the promotion and protection of human rights then the British government must demonstrate that commitment by coming clean on its human rights abuses and resourcing investigations into collusion.”

Warning after children trapped in storm drain -McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has called on parents to ensure children do not play at the Ringfort Road storm drain.

Cllr. McGinley said: “In recent days the Fire Service has been called out to free young children who have become trapped in the grills which protect the storm drain adjacent to Ringfort Road.

The Rivers Agency has carried out a significant amount of work to upgrade this culvert in response to flooding in the area and this has been viewed as a welcome development.

Unfortunately some young children who have been playing at the stream have become trapped in the grills covering the drain and this has led to the Fire Service having to visit the scene and free the children.

I would call on parents to ensure that children are discouraged from playing at the culvert and to avoid the distress which the youngsters experience when they find themselves trapped.   This would also ensure that the Fire Service’s resources do not become tied up responding to these situations.”

Council’s support for a campaign to achieve Fairtrade status

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed Council’s support for a campaign to achieve Fairtrade status for the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

Cllr. McGinley said: “Following on from the city being awarded Fairtrade status last year it would be a logical progression for the Council to support a campaign for this recognition to be achieved at a district level.

The Fairtrade system benefits producers in the developing world by guaranteeing them a minimum price which covers the cost of sustainable production and a premium which allows them to build social and economic development within their own communities.

Citizens of the Derry City and Strabane District Council area can help developing countries by purchasing Fairtrade products locally and making a meaningful contribution to the economy of local communities.

Council can play a key role in heightening awareness of the campaign’s objectives as well as lending practical support and I would encourage local workplaces and community organisations to join with us in our efforts to achieve Fairtrade status for the district.

Anderson welcomes meeting of human rights groups

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a planned meeting between human rights groups from across Ireland to discuss the implications of British government plans to scrap the Human Rights Act.
Ms Anderson said;

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

“Everyone interested in the protection of human rights will be alarmed by the plans by the Tory government at Westminster to scrap the Human Rights Act and to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Human rights are the basic protections which every society should be based on and any threat to that is very concerning.
“I wrote to the the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in Dublin expressing my concern at the British government’s plans and the possible implications for people in the North.
“They have now responded saying they will be meeting their counterparts in the North, the Human Rights Commission, to discuss the British government’s proposals and how they will respond.
“It is important that the Irish government are challenged over their responsibilities as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement to uphold the rights of nationalists in the North.”
“I welcome this meeting and will await the public position from these groups.” Ends/Críoch

North’s profound, long-term political crisis can be avoided but time is running out

North’s profound, long-term political crisis can be avoided but time is running out

● North South Ministerial Council – Tory Government policy has potentially fatal repercussions for the Good Friday Agreement framework

IT IS an increasingly stark reality that – as the scale of the next phase of British Government austerity measures becomes clearer – the North is at a serious political crossroads that could lead towards an economic cliff.

British Tory policy is now creating seemingly insurmountable challenges for the Northern Executive and the overall local economic and political situation.

The growing austerity crisis will inevitably push the political process into a profound and potentially long-term crisis unless urgent solutions are applied very quickly.

The British Government’s policy agenda is being set by Tory ideologues.

George Osbourne – Tory office pic

The stated intention of Chancellor [Finance Minister] George Osborne (pictured) to proceed with a £25billion reduction in the overall British state’s expenditure plan for the period 2015-2018 – and the recent declaration of £3billion in public expenditure cuts this year – means that an estimated £800million will also be lost to the local economy between now and 2018.

This quantum – combined with the actual net cut of £1.5billion already applied to the Northern Block Grant – translates into an overall loss to the Six Counties economy of approximately £2.3billion, and largely within the 2014 to 2018 period.

Some have wrongly characterised the current deep difficulties as a product of the welfare impasse since last February. The fact is that the welfare impasse represents a by-product of the deeper austerity crisis.

The local private and public sectors are already too weak to withstand such a virtual economic tsunami.

One direct consequence of the ongoing austerity crisis is that, in these circumstances, the regional economy will not be able to afford the introduction of Corporation Tax even if a date and rate were to be agreed. Moreover, the level of cuts on track will also wipe out the financial assumptions upon which the local budget is predicated.

If the proposed British Exchequer plans are implemented, greater systemic and perhaps irreversible damage will be caused to the local economy.

Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement’s political institutions were established as a framework to embed the Peace Process and to serve as agencies of economic and social regeneration. The prospect described would reduce them to delivery mechanisms for the austerity agenda of a Conservative Government and party with no electoral mandate in the North.

Against this backdrop, the ongoing political instability is bound to intensify and the political institutions will be threatened with the real risk of becoming unsustainable, and absent of credibility or purpose. The question which this presents is whether such an outcome has indeed become a calculation of British Government policy towards the North.

The escalating austerity crisis and Tory Government policy has set the regional economy and the political process on a negative downward trajectory. That can only have extreme and long-term effects, including potentially fatal repercussions for the Good Friday Agreement framework and the North’s relationship with Europe.

The emergent political crisis can be averted but for that to happen a change in British Government approach is now essential.

Specifically, that means the austerity agenda aimed at the North must be stopped. A new workable budget is required. (The £1.5billion cut from the Block Grant should be reinstated – this only represents 0.002% of total British state expenditure.)

Borrowing powers similar to the ‘off book’ arrangements proposed for Scotland should be agreed so as to attract new forms of investment. Incredibly, every council in the North presently has borrowing powers which British Government policy denies the Executive. That is an entirely absurd and contradictory policy position.

Full fiscal powers should be transferred to the local Executive.

The regional economy cannot be restructured without a larger private sector and sustainable public services. But this aim will not be realised without the instruments to attract new investment and design and drive forward a regional economic development plan over the next 5 to 10-year period.

A new strategic and policy direction of travel needs to be set for the North and away from political instability and austerity.

This poses an immediate challenge for all political parties, social partners and stakeholders in civic society to work together to establish common ground and to coalesce around an agreed economic and political agenda.

A new negotiation is required with the British Government on what this must mean to move forward in the North. Support for such an approach should be mobilised within the business sector, trades union movement, the churches, and right across civic society.

The potential exists to harness international goodwill in Scotland, Wales, Europe and the United States. The Irish Government has to bring itself onto the right side of any such coalition.

Going backwards is not an option. That will happen, however, unless the austerity onslaught is stopped and the political institutions and power-sharing are stabilised and energised with a sustainable economic and fiscal framework.

The political parties and social partners have to act and speak with one voice – but time is running out.


Maeve McLaughlin praises the role of carers

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has praised the role of carers in looking after those with health problems.

The chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; CG-ep4fVAAAfJrn.jpg large

“This week is Carers Week and it provides us with a timely opportunity to pay tribute to the amazing work carried out by carers every day right across our society.

“Carers provide unstinting service and care, often to their loved ones, and their dedication and commitment is an inspiration to all.

“At times it can seem like their hard work and high levels of care can go unnoticed as much of it takes place in the home. So events like this are a time to say thank you to all the carers out there.

“Without the efforts of carers, the pressures on our health service caused by the Tory government in London would increase.

“Carers Week allows us to show that we care for the carers and support them in the great service they provide day in, day out.”

Results highlight Sinn Féin education strategy working-Logue

Sinn Féin education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has said the latest figures from the School Leavers Survey 2013/’14 has again showed an increase in the number of children achieving 5 or more GCSE pass grades and increased A ‘Level results.

Councillor Patricia Logue said,

“The School Leavers Survey shows another year-on-year increase in the number of children who are gaining increased grades.

“What is particularly pleasing is that not only are we seeing increased grades but these increases are right across the educational spectrum.

“These results reinforce Sinn Féin’s strategy of promoting academic excellence and proves top grades can be achieved without selection.

“However, there is still work to be done in bringing equality into education as the gap between those in receipt of free school meals and those not in receipt shows.

“There is also a gap in the grades achieved by boys and those achieved by girls, with girls again coming out ahead of the boys.

“I commend the minister John O’Dowd in his efforts in identifying these anomalies and targeting resources to address the problem. I have no doubt we will see another increase next year.

“Those schools who practice selection now need to take heed of these results and join with the minister in bringing equality into education by abandoning selection and allowing every child to maximise their potential.

“I would like to congratulate all the students, parents and teachers who put so much work into getting these better grades in a wide range of subjects including English and Maths.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

 

Shock warning over abandoned dogs in the north

Sinn Féin Councillor and pet owner Sandra Duffy has said people need to look at the pros and cons of taking on a family pet .She made her comments after a new study found that in the north 10 dogs were abandoned every day and that 11 were destroyed each week.

The report was carried out by Northern Ireland Says No to Animal Cruelty; the study said between 2013-14 over 11,000 dogs were impounded.

“We always hear around Christmas time appeals for people to think about the responsibilities of taking on a new pet into the family home and the out working’s of that. These figures are very worrying indeed and are a timely reminder if one was needed the care and attention a family pet needs” said Councillor Sandra Duffy

A pet can bring great joy into a household and give companionship particularly for anyone living on their own.

A young pup isn’t something you buy at the supermarket and discard when the novelty factor wears off.

People need to remember a pet could be part of the family for anything up to 10-15 years and as well as feeding could require vet bills and the need to get a licence from the local council.

I hope people listen to these concerns and fully think things through before purchasing a pet dog.

Strong welcome for O’Neill’s ‘positive’ trade visit to China-Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has welcomed Minister Michelle O’Neill’s visit to China where she held a number of significant meetings with Chinese authorities to further new market opportunities for local produce.

 

 Paul Fleming said,

 

“I’m delighted to hear that Minister O’Neill has acknowledged that her recent visit to Beijing was positive. During the week-long visit Minister O’Neill met with representatives from the inspection team who recently visited the North to inspect our pork processing plants.

 

“With a growing population of over 1.3 billion, China is regarded as a key market for our local industry to do business. The recent visit to the North by a Chinese inspection team is positive news for local producers and our industry.

 

“This follow up visit by our Minister further indicates our commitment to developing new trade relationships and is a strong example of how our Sinn Féin Minister has prioritised seeking new market opportunities.

 

“Minister O’Neill also held a positive meeting with a leading Chinese based food marketing and importing company COFCO, to highlight the high quality standard and traceability of all our local produce including pork, beef, dairy and poultry produce.

 

“At a time when farmers and primary producers are currently feeling the pressure of difficult market conditions, I look forward to hearing positive reports in the coming weeks as a consequence of Minister O’Neill having further opened the door for greater exports for our local produce.”

Buncrana Road needs full upgrade now not 2018-20 -Hassan

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony Hassan is calling on the Roads minister Danny Kennedy and Transport NI to upgrade the Buncrana Road now into the four lanes of traffic that was promised rather than wait until the scheduled 2018/2020 time line.

Cllr, Hassan saidlg_tony_hassan_copy2

“While welcoming any plans to make the Buncrana Road a safer place for road users, pedestrians and local residents Transport NI should begin an immediate upgrade of the Buncrana road area.

As a major arterial route connecting Derry with Donegal the Buncrana Road is not capable of taking the volume of traffic that use it on a daily basis and with the other major developments that have taken place on the Skeoge Road, Culmore Roundabout and the widening of the Madams Bank Road only adds argument for upgrading the Buncrana Road.

All the problems that face the Buncrana Road at the junctions of the  Collon, Woodbrook, and Whitehouse areas and the entrance to shopping area at the Branch Roundabout can all be sorted by the upgrade that should  have been in place years ago.

“As the public representative  for the greater Shantallow area I would again call on Transport NI(Road Service) and the Minister Danny Kennedy to complement the Skeoge Link by starting the upgrade of Buncrana Road.

 

 

ENDS,

Lift the threat of further cuts to Executive budget – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney called today on Theresa Villiers to lift the threat of further cuts to the Executive’s budget if she wants to make a positive contribution to resolving the current difficulties.City centre walkabout

The Foyle  MLA said:

“Sinn Féin will look at any positive proposal, which achieves the implementation of the safeguards agreed at Stormont House and which delivers the agreements made on legacy and other issues.

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

“If Theresa Villiers wants to make a positive contribution to the political process then she should lift those threats immediately.

“Instead Theresa Villiers continues to evade her government’s responsibility for the current political crisis despite raiding £1.5 million from the Executive’s block grant and proposing further cuts to public services and welfare protections.”

Ends

Appeal after Culmore break-ins –Hassan

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

 

Councillor Hassan said “I would urge everyone in the Culmore area to be vigilant. Last week we seen a spate of crimes take place in the Ballyarnett area and now here.

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

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

Ends

Campbell welcomes awarding of Gaeltacht bursaries

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s awarding of 100 Gaeltacht bursaries.

He said; 3895995549

“As part of Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s commitment to promote and develop the Irish language, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure have awarded 100 bursaries to people attending Gaeltacht courses.

“These bursaries have been awarded to learners of all ages and will help people cover the cost of attending a range of Irish language courses in Donegal over the summer months.

“This scheme widens the access to the Gaeltacht and makes it possible for people to avail of these fantastic courses who would otherwise have not been able to do so.

“Sinn Féin is committed to supporting the continued growth and promotion of the Irish language.

“I congratulate all those who received these bursaries and wish them well with their studies.”

Derry ceremony to remember young Pádraig Barton

Derry ceremony to remember young Pádraig Barton

A CROWD of a hundred people gathered in the bright sunshine in Derry’s City Cemetery on Sunday afternoon for a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of a young Derry republican Pádraig Barton.

The event was chaired by Caolán McGinley and the main speaker was Nicole Ní Láimhbheartáin

Pádraig was involved in an accident outside Derry City in the early hours of Sunday morning, 6 June 2010 and tragically passed away in Altnagelvin Hospital the following day.

Nicole said:

“Pádraig was a well-known, extremely dedicated and likeable Ógra activist who will be fondly and proudly remembered by the many who met him, whether on their travels to the annual Bloody Sunday Weekend, at the Hunger-Strike Republican Youth Weekend in Derry, or the many national Ógra Shinn Féin events which he attended. He was also a seller of An Phoblacht from the age of 11.

“Pádraig, came from a family steeped in republican politics. His grandfather was republican stalwart Seán Keenan; his uncle, Óglach Colm Keenan, was killed unarmed with his comrade, Óglach Eugene McGillan; he has had relatives imprisoned for their role in the struggle and his family has endured the harassment and degradation wrought by the British state during the most recent phase of the conflict.

“He lived for many things: his friends and family, his beloved Stoke City FC, and republicanism, which he embraced through his activism in Ógra Shinn Féin.

“Pádraig was also very intelligent and academically astute, having just completed his A-Levels in St Columb’s, Derry, and was set for going to university.

“We are buoyed by his memory. We are extremely proud and honoured to have worked with and known such an inspirational and gifted young man, and we will do all in our utmost to keep his memory alive and to achieve all that he strived for in his short yet full life.”

EU must prioritise saving lives in the Mediterranean – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the priority of European border policies should be saving lives.
Ms Anderson said;
“The European Union has a duty under the terms its own Charter of Fundamental Rights to invest in saving lives.
“At a time when thousands of migrants have already died crossing the A-man-raises-hands-as-he-tries-to-calm-migrants-in-an-overcrowded-boat-on-the-Mediterranean-sea. the European Union should be focusing its attention on ending this tragedy.
“Instead, it feels that it is appropriate to invest colossal amounts of funding biometric and technologically smart borders.
“The Smart Borders Proposal appears to be more concerned with the mass collection of data rather than addressing the growing humanitarian crisis which is turning the Mediterranean into a floating cemetery.
“The scale of the migrant crisis is clear from the fact that the Irish naval vessel LÉ Eithne has rescued more than 1,000 people from the Mediterranean since leaving our waters in May.
“It is imperative that the European Commission prioritises the saving of lives in the Mediterranean instead of collecting information on its own citizens.” Ends/Críoch

International business interests cannot overrule democracy – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said international business interests cannot be allowed to overrule democratic institutions. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Speaking ahead of a vote in the European Parliament tomorrow on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Ms Anderson said;
“The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is one of the largest pieces of legislation to come through the European Parliament and its implications could be very far-reaching.
“It would allow allow major US companies and their subsidiaries to ride roughshod over democratically elected institutions.
“It would give them the power to sue the governments of EU member states for legislating in ways which would impact on their profits through the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.
“This has major implications, not least for for anti-smoking legislation introduced across Europe to improve health outcomes.
“Sinn Féin has repeatedly made our opposition to the ISDS clear, as have the vast majority of people who took part in the largest ever online consultation held by the European Commission, with 97 per cent rejecting it.
“This proposed legislation has sparked considerable anger across Europe and there will be a protest outside the European Parliament tomorrow. I and my Sinn Féin colleagues will be taking part to show our opposition to this legislation.” Ends/Críoch

Ballymagroarty, Hazelbank and Coshquin to get bulky lift scheme -McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has encouraged residents of Ballyamagroarty, Hazelbank and Coshquin to avail of Council’s bulky lift service which will visit areas on Wednesday.

 

Cllr. McGinley said: “Wednesday’s bulky lift which has been organised by the Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership will give residents the opportunity to dispose of many unwanted household items in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.

 

Those wishing items to be collected should arrange for them to be placed as close to the roadway no later than 8.00 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

 

If residents wish to check what items can be left for collection they should contact Council’s Street Cleansing section on 028 71 253253.”

Ceremony to remember Pádraig Barton held in Derry

A crowd of one hundred people gathered in the bright sunshine in City cemetery on Sunday afternoon for wreath laying ceremony to mark the 5th Anniversary of the death of a young Derry Republican Pádraig Barton .The event was chaired by Caolán McGinley and the main speaker was Nicole Ní LáimhbheartáinSunday Derry(1)

Pádraig was involved in an accident outside Derry City in the early hours of Sunday morning, June 6th, and tragically passed away in Altnagelvin Hospital on Monday, June 7th 2010.

Some extracts from her speech

Pádraig was a well-known, extremely dedicated and likeable Ógra activist who will be fondly and proudly remembered by the many who met him, whether on their travels to the annual Bloody Sunday Weekend, at the Hunger-Strike Republican Youth Weekend in Derry, or the many national Ógra Shinn Féin events which he attended. He was also a seller of An Phoblacht from the age of 11.

 

Pádraig, came from a family steeped in republican politics. His grandfather was republican stalwart Seán Keenan; his uncle, Óglach Colm Keenan, was killed unarmed with his comrade, Óglach Eugene Mc Gillan; he has had relatives imprisoned for their role in the struggle and his family has endured the harassment and degradation wrought by the British state during the most recent phase of the conflict.

He lived for many things: his friends and family, his beloved Stoke City FC, and republicanism, which he embraced through his activism in Ógra Shinn Féin.

Pádraig was also very intelligent and academically astute, having just completed his A-Levels in St Columb’s, Derry, and was set for going to university.

We are buoyed by his memory. We are extremely proud and honoured to have worked with and known such an inspirational and gifted young man, and we will do all in our utmost to keep his memory alive and to achieve all that he strived for in his short yet full life.

Pennyburn Pass to get additional Double Yellows –Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the news that the continuation of the double yellow lines on Pennyburn Pass to within Old Mill Court has now been forwarded to the contractor for commencement and it’s hoped that this work will be completed within the next month.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Cooper said “Residents will be glad to see this work taking place. This is a very busy area linking the Duncreggan and Buncrana Roads.

I had received a number of complaints cars were parking on Pennyburn Pass causing visual obstruction to drivers at the junction with Duncreggan road.

McLaughlin praises rescue services after major incident on Foyle

Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin has praised the efforts of the emergency services following a major incident on the river Foyle. 

Ms McLaughlin said; 

"24 people were rescued from the river Foyle close to Carrigans during a major incident this afternoon.MLA   MAEVE MCLAUGHLIN

"Several of those who were rescued were airlifted to hospital while others were transferred by ambulance. 

"The
 rescue operation was a combined effort involving Foyle Search and 
Rescue, the Irish Coastguard service, Fire and Rescue Service, the 
Ambulance service, and the PSNI. 

"Their swift efforts and team work in responding to this major incident are to be applauded. 

"Hopefully all of those involved in this incident will make a full and speedy recovery." Ends/Críoch

Government action can stop exploitation of workers

Government action can stop exploitation of workers

Dunnes Stores workers march on Saturday (Photo by Pádraig Mac Fionnlaig)

THE EXPLOITATION of workers through the use of low and zero-hour contracts can be ended if the Government is willing to enact legislation to protect workers rights, Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has said.

The Sinn Féin MEP made her comments at a rally outside Dunnes Stores head office on Saturday where hundreds of people marched in support of Dunnes Stores workers who went on strike earlier this year calling for fair pay, fair hours, job security and the right to trade union representation.

“People deserve decency in the workplace. This means fair pay, fair contracts and fair treatment. Dunnes Stores workers are being denied this. The blame lies with their employers, Dunnes Stores, but it also lies with the government because we don’t have legislation in place that gives adequate protection to workers,” she said.

She said the current collective bargaining legislation and the scope of the Low Pay Commission are not enough to adequately tackle the exploitation of workers:

“What is needed is fair hour’s legislation that will deal more comprehensively with low hour contracts. Existing legislation is simply insufficient. Sinn Féin has brought forward legislation to protect workers and have proper trade union representation. However these proposals were voted down by the government.”

Sinn Féin supports Dunnes Stores workers

6 June 1981 – Vote the prisoners No. 1

6 June 1981 – Vote the prisoners No. 1

THE candidacy of nine H-Block/Armagh prisoners, including the four current Hunger Strikers in the general election next Thursday 11 June, gives nationalist voters in the South a chance to indicate, in a clear and simple manner, their support for the single issue of the prisoners’ demands and the desperate desire of the Irish people to save the lives of the Hunger Strikers. 

The general election, coming opportunely as it does, has given a major boost for Hunger Striker campaigners to double and treble their efforts in a massive resurgence of activity aimed at saving the lives of this second phase of four Hunger Strikers, who all too quickly will be reaching that critical stage which tears at the hearts of all of us.

The pressure generated by the prominence of the H-Block issue in the Leinster House election campaign is focused on both premiers, Haughey and Thatcher.

It serves as a clear warning to Free State Premier Charles Haughey that the Irish people are not satisfied with his ‘special relationship’ with British Premier Margaret Thatcher with which he continues to excuse his refusal to act against her on the Hunger Strike issue.

Haughey can be shown that he dare not ignore the obvious discontent which is rumbling within his own base of support in the party.

The Fianna Fáil supporter (or nationalist-minded supporter of any other party or candidate) who votes the prisoner No 1 and continues on to vote down the line according to his or her political preference will have taken a unique opportunity to register clearly his or her view on one single issue, presented clearly and simply amongst all the electoral torment of policy and verbiage.

The thousands of votes that will be cast for the prisoners (and for those other candidates who unequivocally support their demands) will reinforce both nationally and internationally the 30,000 and more votes for Bobby Sands in the Fermanagh/South Tyrone Westminster election.

These votes will underline indisputably the marches, vigils and pickets on the streets, the votes passed at local councils, the resolutions of trade unions and trades councils, the motions in cultural and sporting bodies, the questions asked of public representatives, the telegrams sent, the letters to the press, the newspaper editorials, the work stoppages, the names on petitions and books of condolence, and the expressions of concern from churchmen, politicians and public figures.

An arrogant Margaret Thatcher, backed up by Britain’s military might, came to Belfast last week to sneer at all that support and, with all the Tory contemptuous hatred of Ireland, to dismiss it as non-existent.
She has set a simple question which the 26-County electorate can answer in this election – are you for the blood-thirsty Thatcher or for the prisoner?

‘Earn or Learn’ schemes only cheap labour-Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has said that it is clear from British government proposals announced in the recent Queen’s speech that the Tories are intent on forcing young people into what is little more than cheap labour.

She said

“It’s clear the Tory Government is intent in providing a large pool of cheap labour for employers with the proposed ‘Earn or Learn’ aimed at young people.

“Pushing young people in to dead end schemes offering an extra £10 a week on top of their benefit achieves nothing apart from providing employers with a source of cheap labour.

“Young people need to be provided with proper opportunities and incentives which encourages them to gain meaningful employment through education, training and apprenticeships.

“Most schemes where young people have been forced into cheap labour have failed due to the lack of potential of moving into employment which is a major demotivating factor for young people.

“All schemes need to be qualification based allowing young people to gain experience while acquiring qualifications that can be used to find full-term employment while being paid at the market rate.”

 

Diplock courts undermine principles of justice – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the decision to extend the use of non-jury Diplock courts undermines the principles of the justice system.

The vice-chair of the Assembly’s justice committee said;

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“Theresa Villiers has announced her intention to extend the use of non-jury Diplock trials for another two years.

“Our view on this is clear; the use of repressive Diplock courts was unacceptable in the past and is unacceptable today.

“They were part of the failed agenda in the North in the past and have no place in the justice system.

“The right to a trial before a jury of your peers is a basic right of the justice system.

“The British government has announced its intention to hold a full public consultation on the future use of Diplock courts in two years time but given the fact this is the fourth time this power has been extended that does not inspire much confidence.

“Sinn Féin will continue to challenge the use of these unacceptable and unnecessary powers.”

British government must release Dublin and Monaghan bomb files – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has called on the British government to release all files it holds on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Speaking after a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council in Dublin, Mr McGuinness said; CGQ53KFWoAEUfQd

“At today’s meeting of the North South Ministerial Council I called on the British government to release all files relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974 which claimed the lives of 33 people, including a pregnant woman.

“The families of those killed and injured in the attacks deserve justice and we will continue to support them in their campaign.

“The current difficulties facing the Executive were also discussed. I made it clear that the protection of the most vulnerable in society from the onslaught of the Tory cuts agenda remains a priority for Sinn Féin.

“There is a need for all Executive parties to adopt a common approach to challenge the British government whose austerity policies are at the heart of the current challenges we face.

“An Taoiseach Enda Kenny is due to meet David Cameron later this month. I would urge both men to remember the responsibilities they have in upholding and implementing the Good Friday and subsequent agreements.”

Anderson expresses condolences to family of Paul McCauley‏

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson has expressed her condolences following the death of Paul McCauley.

Ms Anderson said;2418733395

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul McCauley.

“I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, his parents Jim and Cathy, his daughter Maeve, and all his family and friends.

“It is almost nine years since their lives were shattered by the brutal sectarian attack on their much-loved son in July 2006.

“Paul, a young father with his whole life in front of him, was cruelly robbed of his future during a frenzied attack that caused devastating injuries.

“The fact is that up to 15 people were involved in the attempt to murder Paul and his friends, and their identities are well known in their community.

“Jim McCauley, Paul’s father often referred to the wall of silence within the unionist community.

“There is an onus on everyone, particularly elected representatives, to encourage those with information about the attack to come forward so that those responsible can be brought to justice.

“That would send a positive and reassuring message to the McCauley family and, indeed, the wider community of Foyle.” Ends/Críoch

Warning over criminals targeting Oakbridge –Cllr Sandra Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said

I am aware of a number of incidents of car crime in the Oakbridge area which took place in the early hours of Thursday morning .Four vehicles were targeted in these latest incidents.

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.

It is very upsetting to find that you have been a victim of crime, therefore I would advise everyone to be aware of their own security to ensure they minimise the risk to themselves. Sinn Féin  have met with the PSNI on a number of occasions in the past year regarding a similar spate of crimes  in the locality . We will be once again seeking assurances that this is an issue of high priority in the area.

 

Ends

Crown Estate assets should be returned to Assembly control -Foyle MLA

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has called for all monies raised from the Crown Estate to be handed over to the Assembly so that they can be managed for the benefit of all the people in the North.

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

The Foyle MLA  said,

“All monies raised from the Crown estate in Scotland are returned to the Scottish Assembly to be used in Scotland.  These additional monies have no impact on the block grant received by the Scottish Executive.

“This follows leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon call yesterday for Crown Estate monies to be used for projects on the Scottish isles.

“It is about time that similar action was taken by British Government in respect to the Crown Estate monies raised in the North.

“The entire Crown Estate is worth £9.9 billion which generates a annual profit of £280m and while the figures for the North are not available I am sure that it is well in access of the £1.5m returned to projects in the North.

“All monies raised through the Crown Estate in the North are removed to the British Exchequer and the Assembly has no control on how much is returned to the North.

“At present projects in the North are awarded around £1.5m from the Coastal Community Fund.  This is far less than the sum that the Crown Estate lifts from claiming ownership of the Irish seabed.

“The Crown Estate own substantial properties, land and other rights including lifting rent from sea and river beds and all profits raised in the North should be made available to the Executive for use here.”

Anderson backs Thalidomide compensation campaign in Brussels

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has backed a European campaign for compensation for victims and survivors of Thalidomide.

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

Ms Anderson said;

“For decades, victims and survivors of Thalidomide have been courageously campaigning for justice for the terrible wrong that was done to them.

“They have challenged the drug company and now victims and survivors from across Europe are taking on the German government for its promotion of Thalidomide, which was widely marketed throughout Europe by German pharmaceutical company, Grunenthal.

“The federal German government actively lobbied to prematurely end the negligence trial of Grunenthal in 1970.

“As the victims and survivors from across Europe brought their campaign to Brussels, I was honoured to meet Jacqueline Fleming, herself a survivor.

“Her courage and dedication are an inspiration to everyone who campaigns for justice.

“Jacqueline and other victims and survivors are entitled to and deserve justice and compensation. Many of the victims are now getting older and are in poor health; they cannot afford to wait any longer for justice.”

MEP Martina Anderson

McLaughlin welcomes plans for Altnagelvin health and wellbeing centre

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed plans for a new health and wellbeing campus at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The Foyle MLA said: ?????????????????????????????????

“These plans for a new purpose-built health and well being centre at Altnagelvin Hospital for cancer patients and others with long-term conditions are welcome.

“This will be a joint project between MacMillan and the Western Trust and will provide an information and support centre, particularly for patients with cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis and hypertension.

“As well as offering information and support for patients, it will also provide support to their families.

“Work is due to begin on the construction of the new facility, as well as the refurbishment of Agnes Jones House, in the Autumn and is expected to be completed by late 2016.

“This follows on from the development of the cancer centre and the construction of the £74 million new wing at Altnagelvin.

“These latest proposals are a further indication that we are now eventually seeing significant investment in the health service in the north west.” 

Villiers denial of cuts agenda not helpful-McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney today accused British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers of being in denial that it is her government’s cuts agenda, which is the root cause of the current crisis.

Raymond McCartney said:

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“The present difficulties facing the Executive are the direct consequence of Tory austerity cuts and their attempts to impose further welfare cuts on the most vulnerable in society.

“The British government is planning another £25bn of cuts to public services and welfare yet Theresa Villiers continues to refuse to spell out the impact of these cuts on the people of the north.

“She is clearly in denial of the role of her government’s austerity policies in provoking the crisis and there is no indication she is serious about addressing the key issues.

“The Tories have no mandate in the north for their cuts agenda.

“The local parties need to make it clear that Tory cuts to public services and the welfare state are unacceptable.”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Minister’s China trip will pay dividends for farming sector – Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has welcomed the upcoming trip to China by DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill to open up new markets for farmers and the agri-food sector here.

He said,

“If we are to increase our own farming and agri food sectors it is important we search out new markets and ensure countries around the globe see the high standard of our industry here.

“China is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and I believe the promotion of our pork industry will be one of the main items on the agenda.

“The trip by the Minister is a follow-up trip to continue the growing relationship between Northern farmers, food producers and China.

“There are also opportunities to expand our agri food industry including dairy products, which are one of the fastest growing sectors in China.

“I am sure this visit like the previous ones will deliver for our farmers and agri food sector with an increased number of contracts which will be reflected in greater growth here in the North.”

British Tory austerity crisis in North now threatens political institutions

British Tory austerity crisis in North now threatens political institutions

● Two Tories together – Prime Minister David Cameron with Taoiseach Enda Kenny

JOSEPH STIGLITZ AND PAUL KRUGMAN are both internationally-acclaimed and Nobel Prize-winning economists. Each has advanced robust critiques against austerity. Stiglitz was in London last week to promote his new book, The Great Divide. He said bluntly that austerity doesn’t work and had been bad for the Irish economy.

The Great Divide Stiglitz 2015

Both Stiglitz and Krugman (and other renowned economic thinkers, including Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek Finance Minister) are providing an important counter to the argument that austerity is the only way to repair economies in the aftermath of the financial crisis. They also dispute a narrative, camouflaged in the rhetoric of ‘realpolitik’, that the economic pain is unavoidable and should be accepted.

Stiglitz describes austerity as a simplistic package. He said: “It’s said austerity works; I very strongly believe it doesn’t.”

David Cameron’s new Tory Government is seized with an ideological worldview of how politics, society and the economy must be organised.

They have made austerity central to achieving their aims.

Other elements of this Tory agenda include an intention to:-

● Increase military spending (including a proposal to spend over £20billion on the Trident nuclear missile system, whilst simultaneously cutting over £25billion from public expenditure between 2015 and 2017);

● A plan to dismantle human rights legislation;

● Introduce anti-trades union measures;

● An ill-conceived referendum on an exit from the EU.

Cameron’s new Cabinet is an exclusively neo-Thatcherite government dedicated to less state intervention, an end to the welfare state, and unprecedented levels of political authoritarianism in Britain. All of that has very serious ramifications for the Six Counties.

Cameron’s previous government started to disengage from the Northern political process from 2010. It became increasingly partisan and negative in its interventions. The Tory-led coalition also introduced policies which cut the North’s public expenditure settlement (or Block Grant) by £1.5billion and unleashed the austerity crisis now gripping the regional economy.

British Tory political and economic policy towards the North is the context against which the DUP’s welfare legislation has been blocked twice by Sinn Féin, SDLP and the Green Party. The ongoing welfare impasse is one manifestation of this much wider austerity crisis.

During the last three weeks, DUP representatives have tried to argue that continued opposition to their welfare legislation will create a “black hole” in the local economy. That completely ignores and distracts from the fact that a “black hole” of £1.5billion already exists.

That is the reality which has already been driving down living standards in the North (already the lowest in the British state and 26 Counties), entrenching public sector wage restraint, increasing dependency upon food banks; and  further decimating already hard pressed health, education, training, higher education, and other key public services.

The threats now being issued that failure to pass the legislation could lead to senior civil servants taking control of departmental budgets and that welfare powers should be handed back to Westminster have been further exacerbated by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers’s public statement last week raising the prospect of Westminster “action”.

The biggest threat to the political process during the last five years has been the approach of the British Government.

As a result of the austerity crisis created by the previous Tory/LibDem coalition and the announcement that worse is to come, the potential now exists for an unprecedented political crisis to engulf the political institutions and the process itself.

The new Tory Government’s unyielding ideological crusade is the main negative dynamic pushing the North gradually towards that outcome.

This British Government needs to change its approach to the North.

Good Friday Agreement

The political institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) were intended to embed the Peace Process and take forward economic and social reconstruction and regeneration. They must not be reduced to instruments for imposing policies which will mean more economic inequality and hardship.

It appears that the Tory ideologues now in government and their commitment to austerity are set on a direct collision with the entire basis of the Good Friday Agreement. That should be a cause of alarm for all those who have supported the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent Agreements – North and South and internationally.

British Government policy has taken the political process for granted. Its role in contributing to political instability and the emergent austerity crisis is a total anathema to all democrats.

Tory candidates who stood for election in the Six Counties at the last election received a derisory vote. This Tory Government has no mandate for its policies in the North of Ireland.

A defining period is opening up for the political process and the economy in the North. Each must be reenergised with substantial positive investment not pushed into a negative downward spiral. Progressive leadership and initiative will be required both in Ireland and internationally to ensure there is forward momentum.

DerrySFCuts

Tragedy averted in Ballymagroarty -McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has described as reckless the lighting of a fire in the back garden of a house in Ballymagroarty.

Cllr. McGinley said: “On Friday afternoon a young family had a lucky escape when household items in their back garden were set alight.   The resulting fire led to the exterior window of a rear bedroom exploding with only the double glazing preventing injury to a small child who was in the room at the time.

This type of random vandalism may appeal to those responsible but it was only good fortune which prevented this incident from becoming a real tragedy and I would caution those involved to be aware of the serious implications of their actions and to refrain from any repeat.”

Slow down at Bull Park –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has urged motorists travelling in the roads adjacent to one of the busiest parks in the city Bull Park to  show due care and attention .He made his appeal after being contacted by residents and  parents of young children who use the park regularly about the speed of traffic and dangers for children crossing the road.COLLY

He said “I would like to make an urgent appeal for motorists to slow down in  roads around Bull Park. The roads in the area are always very busy and there also is a high volume of traffic. With the bright nights the park is very busy again and this presents obvious dangers for children crossing the road to the park.

Residents and parents have expressed concerns to me that the traffic is going too fast and are afraid that if a child steps out in front of a vehicle there will little or no time for the driver to react. Slowing down that extra 5-10mph can make a massive difference in improving road safety in urban areas.

Ireland’s ports and harbours can benefit from European funding – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said Ireland’s ports and harbours can benefit greatly from European Union funding. 301483_3914134815123_698311538_n

Speaking from Brussels where she facilitated meetings between port and harbour representatives and EU officials, Ms Anderson said;

“Ireland’s ports and harbours play a key role in the economic life of the island, north and south.

“Every day, tens of thousands of tonnes of materials are shipped through our ports, both into Ireland and to international markets. And the potential for further growth is huge.

“That is why I facilitated meetings between representatives of the various port and harbour authorities, as well as chambers of commerce, across the island with key European officials in Brussels.

“The EU’s ‘Motorways of the Sea’ policy, which aims to improve maritime trade links across Europe, together with the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T), includes significant funding opportunities for major infrastructural projects at Ireland’s ports.

“Huge possibilities exist to develop the Atlantic Arc which would increase shipping routes from Spain, Portugal, through Irish ports, and on to international markets.

“It is vitally important for representatives of Ireland’s port and harbours to be aware of the opportunities Europe provides to develop the huge potential of our island.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Assembly will not be a puppet to Tory austerity – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said British Government resistance to further devolution undermines progress made in the Assembly and devolved institutions in Scotland and Wales.

He was speaking after a series of meetings were held with Scottish Government officials and Members of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh as part of the Finance Committee’s inquiry into the Barnett formula.City centre walkabout

The Foyle MLA said:

“The problems we are trying to resolve in the face of Tory cuts to Executive budgets and welfare are made significantly more difficult by the fact we have no control over our own fiscal levers in the Assembly.

“Without any control over taxation the Tory government is attempting to force us to accept their austerity agenda through reducing budgets.

“This is not sustainable. Scotland will receive some limited fiscal levers in the next couple of years. However, both the Belfast and Edinburgh Assemblies need to receive full taxation powers to work effectively and avoid being undermined by Westminster policy making in the future.

“It is now clearer than ever before that fiscal levers need to be transferred to the Assembly.

“Economic policy set in London has fundamentally undermined our political structures. The Assembly cannot and will not be a puppet to the Tory government and its austerity project.”

Author of ‘Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland’ in Australia from 20 June

Author of ‘Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland’ in Australia from 20 June

● Anne Cadwallader

THE author of Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland – an exposé of the British state working had in glove with unionist death squads and with evidence from official documents will beon a speaking tour of Australia this month.

Lethal Allies

Prominent political commentator and investigative journalist Vincent Browne called Lethal Allies “a revealing and forensic insight”.

Anne Cadwallader, a former BBC and RTÉ journalist in the North of Ireland and now a researcher with the Pat Finucane Centre human rights NGO has tour dates in five major cities from 20 June:

PERTH: Saturday 20 June @ 2pm. Trades Hall, Unity House, 77-79 Stirling Street.

ADELAIDE: Monday 22 June @ 6:30pm, Irish Club.

SYDNEY: Tuesday 23 June @ 7.30pm, Gaelic Club, 1/64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills.

MELBOURNE: Friday 26 June @ 4pm, Celtic Club, Cnr La Trobe and Queen Sts.

BRISBANE: Sunday 28 June @ 4pm, University of Queensland (room TBC).

All events are free and open to the public without prior booking.

The Guardian:

“One of the most important books about the dirty war fought in Northern Ireland during the 30 years between 1968 and 1998.

Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland offers “indisputable evidence of security forces collusion” with loyalist paramilitaries.

“It alleges that members of the police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were part of a loyalist gang that killed more than 100 people in just one small area in the 1970s . . .”

Crisis in the North due to Tory Budget Cuts – Gerry Adams TD

Today Sinn Féin has convened a special meeting of its Ard Chomhairle to discuss the developing crisis in the North and the threats to the institutions.CGQ53KFWoAEUfQd

Speaking before the meeting Gerry Adams TD said;

“The institutions in the north are facing a developing crisis solely due to Tory party budget cuts.

“The Tory party are seeking to impose on the north, the same austerity policies that have devastated communities and the economy in the south.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose this approach.

“Over the past week there have been threats to push through cuts or remove powers from the Executive. These threats are unacceptable, unfair and undemocratic.

“The Executive needs the transfer of fiscal powers and a working budget. Sinn Féin has worked to build and maintain the institutions.  We are committed to safeguarding services, protecting the most vulnerable and building prosperity for all sections of the community, both north and south.

“We welcome the planned talks with both governments and parties next week. This is an opportunity for the parties to put forward a united voice against cuts and for a workable budget and powers to grow the economy.

“We will also raise the outstanding matters from the agreements and the Tory party’s ideological assault on the European Convention on Human Rights which is a central component of the Good Friday Agreement. Conor Murphy has been in the United States to update the Irish American Community and political leaders.

“The Ard Chomhairle will determine our approach to these talks and threats to the institutions, budgets and agreements.”


Workers Rights must be protected – Raymond McCartney MLA

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said today the British government was clearly signaling its intent to attack the hard-won rights of workers.Workers-Rights-are-Human-Rights-e1363086471974

The Foyle  MLA was speaking following the announcement of British government proposals in the Queen’s Speech.

 

He  said:

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

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

“The court ruled that the accepted right to join trades unions includes the right to collective bargaining.

 “Vulnerable workers now more than ever need their rights to collective bargaining enshrined in law and protected.

“This right-wing Tory government, which is hell-bent on further draconian cuts to public services and the welfare state, is now intent on attacking the protections provided to workers with its so-called Trades Union reform.

“If this Tory government succeeds I have no doubt it will result in exploitative employers demanding more zero-hour contracts, lower pay, poorer working conditions, and lowering of health and safety provision.

“This proposed legislation should act as a wake-up call to the Trades Union movement to stand with those of us who are fighting the Tory attacks on everything from the Welfare State, the Health Service etc and now the Trades Union Movement.

“It is time for the political parties, trades unions and civic society to stand together against the failed policies of austerity.”

‘Israel 2015: A government of extremists in charge of an-out-of control military’ – New briefing paper

‘Israel 2015: A government of extremists in charge of an-out-of control military’ – New briefing paper

THE Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign has distributed a new briefing paper to members of the Oireachtas, the European Parliament and local Irish councils called Israel 2015: A government of extremists in charge of an-out-of control military.

The IPSC says:

“The paper is an in-depth investigation of the extremist nature of the new Israeli Government, the shocking views of its leading members, and the appalling recent record of the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza.”

Finally the document makes a series of recommendations that the IPSC believes the Irish Government must take “to help ensure that Israel is held to account for its actions and that the Palestinian people receive the justice they so richly deserve”.

The Israeli officials’ words and soldiers’ testimonies contained in the document reinforce the immediate need for arms embargo and other sanctions against Israel, the IPSC says.

Tory welfare cuts Bill blocked by Sinn Féin and SDLP at Stormont

Tory welfare cuts Bill blocked by Sinn Féin and SDLP at Stormont

THE Welfare Reform Bill being pushed through Stormont by the Democratic Unionist Party – supported by the Ulster Unionist Party, Alliance and other unionists – was blocked by a Petition of Concern tabled by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Green Party late on Tuesday night, 26 May, as An Phoblacht was going to print. The future of the Assembly and the Executive is uncertain.

MLAs voted 58-39 in favour of the Bill but the Petition of Concern takes precedence. A Petition of Concern insists that there must be “cross-community” support for a motion. This means that 60% of all members present must back the Bill and this must include at least 40% of nationalists and 40% of unionists.

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness told the Assembly before the vote:

“The immediate difficulties we are facing into have been triggered by the DUP’s decision to bring forward a Welfare Bill to the Assembly which does not implement the protections agreed at Stormont House for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.

“It appears that the DUP is responding to pressure and demands from the Tories in London. In my view, that is a major tactical error.”

He said the crisis is not of the making of the parties in the Executive.

Martin McGuinness 600 SF logo

“The crisis has been created by the austerity cuts agenda of a Tory administration in London which is attempting to decimate our public services and punish the most vulnerable people in society.

“Sinn Féin stood in the recent elections against Tory austerity and for social justice and equality. Our approach was mandated by over 176,000 voters, almost 25% of the popular vote.

“In contrast, the Tories received only 9,000 votes in the North, just over 1% of the vote.

“This is a party which doesn’t have a single Assembly or local council seat. They have no democratic mandate for their austerity policies in the North of Ireland.

“Yet they have already taken £1.5billion from the Executive’s block grant. And Prime Minister Cameron’s Cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced plans for further eye-watering cuts of £25billion to our public services and to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.”

It has always been his view, he said, that the outstanding issues in the Welfare Bill can be resolved “but this requires political will, particularly on the part of the unionist parties” to protect the most vulnerable, including in unionist communities.

“Make no mistake about it – the biggest threat to our political institutions remains the ongoing Tory austerity agenda of cuts to our public services and the welfare state.

“We need an immediate negotiation with the British Government for a budget which protects our public services and for fiscal powers that give us control over our economy.

“We are not alone in this battle against austerity. The Scottish Executive has already requested a tripartite meeting of the representatives of the Scottish, Welsh and local Assemblies.

“We should be taking up this offer and developing a common position within the Executive and with the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies in opposition to Tory austerity.”

Martin McGuinness ended by saying:

“There is still time for the parties and the British Government to change tack and deliver a new budget that delivers for our public services, our economy and our people.

“If a choice has to be made to stand side by side with the Tories or stand up for the people here for our economy and public services, I know what side Sinn Féin will be on.”

Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for people and public services – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for public services and the most vulnerable in opposing Tory cuts.

Mr McGuinness said; 301483_3914134815123_698311538_n

“The crisis we are facing is not of the making of the parties in the Executive.

“It has been created by the austerity cuts agenda of a Tory administration in London, which is attempting to decimate our public services and punish the most vulnerable people in society.

“They have already taken £1.5 billion from the Executive’s block grant. And Cameron’s cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced plans for further cuts of £25 billion to our public services and to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.

“We made it very clear in our election manifesto that the Executive needs a viable budget for frontline public services and welfare protections for the most vulnerable.

“Sinn Féin will not support a welfare bill, which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services.

“It has always been my view that the outstanding issues in the welfare bill can be resolved, but this requires political will from all parties in the assembly, to protect the most vulnerable.

“This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

“We need an immediate negotiation with the British government for a budget, which protects our public services and for fiscal powers that give us control over our economy.

“If a choice has to be made to stand side by side with the Tories or stand up for the people here for our economy and public services? I know what side Sinn Féin will be on.”

Emergency departments human rights report ‘alarming’ – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said it is alarming that patients in emergency care departments in the North suffered inhuman and degrading treatment. ?????????????????????????????????

The chair of the Assembly’s health committee said;

“The fact the Human Rights Commission’s report found that individual patients in accident and emergency departments experienced inhuman and degrading treatment is alarming.

“While there was no evidence of systemic violations of patients’ human rights, any instance is one too many.

“It is also very worrying the report found that some patients did not get help with pain relief, food or personal care.

“All patients using our accident and emergency departments are entitled to care which respects, protects and fulfils the health service’s human rights obligations.

“It is also important we recognise and respect the human rights of hospital staff, particularly in accident and emergency departments and that their human rights should also be respected.

“It is important we now work with the Commission and with health trusts to ensure the recommendations of this report are implemented.

“We do not want to see a repeat of the unacceptable treatment and care received by some patients.

Sinn Féin will continue to support Palestinian statehood – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said her party will continue to support wider recognition of Palestinian statehood. 

Addressing a EuroParl delegation in the European Parliament, Ms Anderson said;

“In November 2014 the European Parliament debated the recognition of Palestine and then passed a joint motion the following month.

“That was part of a broader worldwide trend towards the recognition of Palestine which saw similar motions in Ireland, Britain, Sweden, Spain, France, Portugal and elsewhere.

“These motions are hugely important as the EU itself cannot recognise Palestine, it can only express support.

“The European Parliament motion was, however, a disappointment in our view, as it made recognition of Palestine conditional on a successful agreement with Israel.

“Recognition should not be conditional on anything. In fact, recognition would give Palestine additional leverage in any negotiations with the Israelis.

“We will continue to call on all member states to recognise Palestinian statehood to give further support to the Palestinian people and assist the peace process in the region.”

Opinion piece by Martin McGuinness on current political situation in the Assembly

This week we are facing into a building crisis in the political institutions in the North.

The immediate difficulties we are facing into have been triggered by the DUP’s decision to bring forward a welfare bill to the Assembly, which does not implement the protections agreed at Stormont House for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.

It appears that the DUP is responding to pressure and demands from the Tories in London. In my view that is a major tactical error.

However, the crisis we are facing is not of the making of the parties in the Executive.DSC_0877

The crisis has been created by the austerity cuts agenda of a Tory administration in London, which is attempting to decimate our public services and punish the most vulnerable people in society.

Sinn Féin stood in the recent elections against Tory austerity and for social justice and equality. Our approach was mandated by over 176,000 voters, almost 25 per cent of the popular vote

In contrast the Tories received only 9,000 votes in the north, just over one per cent of the vote. This is a party, which doesn’t have a single Assembly or local council seat. They have no democratic mandate for their austerity policies in the north of Ireland.

Yet they have already taken £1.5 billion from the Executive’s block grant. And Cameron’s cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced plans for further eye-watering cuts of £25 billion to our public services and to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.

These new cuts are set to begin almost immediately and they will devastate our core public services.

In meetings last week I challenged the British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers on two occasions for a breakdown on how the proposed £12bn cut to welfare and £13bn cut to public services would impact on the people of the North.

She refused point blank to tell me despite indications the Tories are even prepared to tax Executive top-up payments for the most vulnerable.

That is unacceptable to Sinn Féin.

We made it very clear in our election manifesto that the Executive needs a viable budget for frontline public services and welfare protections for the most vulnerable.

Sinn Féin will not support a welfare bill, which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services.

In my view the measure of any society is how it treats those most in need and those most vulnerable.

In the face of such devastating Tory cuts our public services, our welfare system, our departments and the Executive itself is not sustainable.

None of the Executive parties stood on a platform of implementing these Tory cuts and Sinn Féin will not abandon children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, families with children and the long-term sick.

Sinn Féin has moved a Petition of Concern to stop the passage of the Welfare Bill this week. The SDLP has now supported our position.

I urge the DUP to withdraw the bill and re-engage in the negotiations to achieve the implementation of the welfare protections agreed at Stormont House.

It has always been my view that the outstanding issues in the welfare bill can be resolved, but this requires political will, particularly on the part of the unionist parties to protect the most vulnerable.

But make no mistake about it the biggest threat to our political institutions remains the ongoing Tory austerity agenda of cuts to our public services and the welfare state.

This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

We need an immediate negotiation with the British government for a budget, which protects our public services and for fiscal powers that give us control over our economy.

We are not alone in this battle against austerity. The Scottish Executive has already requested a tripartite meeting of the representatives of the Scottish, Welsh and local Assemblies.

We should be taking this offer up and developing a common position within the Executive and with the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies in opposition to Tory austerity.

Sinn Féin will continue campaign for marriage equality in the North – Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said today Sinn Féin would continue its campaign for marriage equality for all in the north.

She was speaking following a resounding victory for marriage equality in the referendum held in the 26 Counties.

Cllr Sandra Duffy said.DSC_0627

“I’m delighted the people have voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality for all.

“This referendum was all about equality, inclusion and respect for our LGBTI brothers and sisters.

“The campaign energised and engaged a whole new generation of young people in the democratic process. This result shows when people fully participate in the political process that change is not only possible but inevitable.

“Sinn Féin played a very positive and active role in the Yes campaign. We took our message of equality to the doors, put up posters and engaged in a very active social media campaign.

“The fact so many of our people returned home to vote in this campaign highlighted yet again the need to tackle the issue of voting rights for the diaspora and for Irish citizens in the North.

“The marriage equality rights that will be enjoyed by Irish citizens in the south must be shared by citizens in the north.

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