Sinn Féin propose resumption of formal talks

In a letter to the Irish and British governments and leaders of other political parties, Sinn Féin Northern leader Michelle O’Neill has proposed a formal resumption of the Stormont talks on Monday 28th August.

Michelle O’Neill said:elisha mccallion

“With limited engagement since the talks concluded on 4th July, I am keen to formally re-engage at the earliest opportunity in order to re-establish an Executive and power sharing institutions on a proper and sustainable footing.

“Moreover, I do not believe there is much public appetite, or need, for another drawn-out phase of talks.

“In this context, and with an eagerness to resolve outstanding issues, I am also formally proposing that this round of talks be focused and time limited.”

Jackson condemns gun attack on Waterside home

Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson has condemned a sectarian gun attack on a house in the Waterside area of Derry.

Councillor Jackson said: jackson2

“This attack during which shots were fired at a house in Rossdowney Drive is wrong and must be condemned.

“Thankfully no one was injured in this incident but it must have been a frightening experience for those in the area at the time.

“There is no place for guns on the streets of our city and those behind these attacks need to end their war with the community.”

Sinn Féin slam SDLP hypocrisy on welfare

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has slammed SDLP ‘hypocrisy’ over the Tory Government’s Universal Credit plans.

The Foyle MLA commented:raymond-mccartney2

“The SDLP helped to deliver welfare changes not block them.

“Margaret Ritchie introduced the first Welfare Reform Act in the north and her party colleague Alex Attwood introduced the highly criticised work capability assessment under a private company.

“It is not surprising that the SDLP is again trying to exploit genuine concerns about the roll out of Universal Credit to score cheap political points.

“Universal Credit is being imposed by the Tory Government, no-one else and for the SDLP to pretend otherwise is spurious and hypocritical.

“The SDLP promised to block welfare reform at Westminster. They failed.

“The SDLP supported the £500 million welfare mitigation package secured by Sinn Féin then voted against it.

“Let’s be clear. Had it been left to the SDLP, the full extent of Tory welfare cuts would have been implemented here without any mitigation package to protect the most vulnerable.

Anderson hails aid workers on World Humanitarian Day

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has paid tribute to international aid workers on World Humanitarian Day.

Martina Anderson said:

martina anderson

martina anderson

“Every year on World Humanitarian Day, we shine a spotlight on the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict.

“On this day I want to pay particular tribute to the brave health and aid workers for their efforts in conflict zones around the world.

“Often these aid workers are targeted or obstructed as they work to help people in need.

“I also want to commend the the government employees, members of civil society and representatives of international organisations and agencies who risk their lives to provide humanitarian aid and protection.

“Those who carry out vital and lifesaving humanitarian work should not be targets; they are humanitarian heroes.” Ends/Críoch

Marriage Equality Rally

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Public Meeting

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Logue congratulates students who received results

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has congratulated all those who received A-Level and AS-Level exam results today. patricia-logue221-790x1024

The local Sinn Féin education spokesperson said;

“I want to congratulate everyone who received A-Level and AS-level results today on their efforts and successes. And also all of the students who received Leaving Cert results in recent days.

“I would also like to reassure those who may have been disappointed by their results that support and guidance is available as they look at their options and plan their next move.

“There are many options and paths open to students such as vocational training, further education, and apprenticeships.

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McCallion calls for introduction of Universal Credit to be postponed

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has called for the planned introduction of the controversial Universal Credit system to be postponed. _dsc8219

The Foyle MP said:

“Tory plans to introduce the Universal Credit system in September have created considerable concern, particularly around the processing of payments.

“The unacceptable delay of, on average, up to 6 weeks in administering the first payment has the potential to cause severe hardship during the most financially challenging months of the year.

“The Universal Credit advance, if granted, will not meet the costs of winter fuel, Christmas, housing and rising living costs.

“This delay in payment could drive people further into poverty, lead to evictions/arrears and debt.

“The seven Sinn Féin MPs have jointly written to Tory minister David Guake at the Department of Work and Pensions calling for the introduction of Universal Credit to be postponed, that the delay in administration of the first payment is reduced urgently, and that the payment process is more widely processed.

“The Universal Credit system is not fit for purpose and I am urging the department to take time to resolve the well documented difficulties experienced by many claimants in Britain.”

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Fight for marriage equality will go on –McCallion

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion said she is bitterly disappointed at a judgement in Belfast High Court today but said the fight to achieve marriage equality will go on.

The MP for Foyle was speaking outside the High Court after Justice O’Hara dismissed two legal challenges to the law denying equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

She attended today’s hearing with party colleagues Chris Hazzard MP and Carál Ní Chuilín MLA

Elisha McCallion said:dhcn6opxoaara9b

“We are obviously disappointed by this decision and we know that the couples involved in this case are looking at grounds for appeal.

“I want to pay tribute to them and offer our continuing best wishes.

“However, people should not have to resort to the courts in order to access rights, which are available across western Europe.

“Equal marriage should have been enacted in the north a long time ago.

“But it has been consistently denied because of the actions of the DUP in particular – in defiance of wider public opinion and a majority in the Assembly.

“The ongoing denial of rights by the DUP, with the support of the British government, which are enjoyed by citizens rights across these islands is unacceptable.

“This is an issue which is at the heart of the current political crisis.

“The fight for marriage equality will go on.

“We need to see the implementation of agreements and an end to discrimination if we are to have sustainable political institutions.”

Sinn Féin Ard Fheis to take place in November – Raymond McCartney MLA

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has confirmed today that the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis will take place on Friday and Saturday 17th and 18th of November in the RDS, Dublin.16118403984_76d6676d5e_o

The Foyle MLA said;

“Since the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis last met politics on this island has changed dramatically. Brexit, and its impact on Ireland, dominates the news headlines and Irish Unity is now firmly on the national and international political agenda.

“Sinn Féin believes there is now an unprecedented opportunity to begin a strategic discussion on the transition to a new, agreed, united Ireland built upon reconciliation and equality.

“In the North Sinn Féin has fought two elections, increasing our support in both. Our focus is now firmly on getting the institutions back up and running on the basis of equality, respect and integrity. A rights based society with anti-sectarianism at its heart is the only credible and sustainable way forward for politics in the North.

“In the South the new Fine Gael led Government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has actually allowed the health and housing crises to escalate further.

“While the new Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar, presents a hip new image to the public, the reality is that more families are facing homelessness and more patients are waiting longer to be treated. There is also an urgent need for comprehensive reform of the political system and public institutions such as An Garda Síochána.

“Sinn Féin is holding this government to account and we will contest any future general election seeking a mandate to be in government and implement policies to resolve these crises.

“All of these issues will be debated at our upcoming Ard Fheis which will be held in the RDS in Dublin on Friday and Saturday 17th and 18th of November.

“This year we also lost our much loved comrade and leader Martin McGuinness, and thousands of Party members and supporters will take the opportunity at this Ard Fheis to pay tribute to his huge legacy.”

Fight for marriage equality will go on –McCallion

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion said she is bitterly disappointed at a judgement in Belfast High Court today but said the fight to achieve marriage equality will go on.dhcn6opxoaara9b

The MP for Foyle was speaking outside the High Court after Justice O’Hara dismissed two legal challenges to the law denying equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

She attended today’s hearing with party colleagues Chris Hazzard MP and Carál Ní Chuilín MLA

Elisha McCallion said:

“We are obviously disappointed by this decision and we know that the couples involved in this case are looking at grounds for appeal.

“I want to pay tribute to them and offer our continuing best wishes.

“However, people should not have to resort to the courts in order to access rights, which are available across western Europe.

“Equal marriage should have been enacted in the north a long time ago.

“But it has been consistently denied because of the actions of the DUP in particular – in defiance of wider public opinion and a majority in the Assembly.

“The ongoing denial of rights by the DUP, with the support of the British government, which are enjoyed by citizens rights across these islands is unacceptable.

“This is an issue which is at the heart of the current political crisis.

“The fight for marriage equality will go on.

“We need to see the implementation of agreements and an end to discrimination if we are to have sustainable political institutions.”

Sinn Féin to meet student union representatives on sexual assault reports

Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight said today that her party will be meeting students union representatives to discuss the ‘Stand Together Survey’ into rates of sexual assault among Queen’s students.final-psmckinght-copy-copy

Speaking following the launch of the survey on Wednesday, which was conducted by the Student Consent Research Collaboration (SCORE), she urged the relevant authorities to take action on the students’ findings:

Councillor McKnight said:

“My party colleagues Caoimhe Archibald MLA and Megan Fearon MLA will be meeting representatives of the students’ union to discuss the results of the ‘Stand Together Survey’ into rates of sexual assault among Queen’s students.

“The results of this survey are a damning indication of the lack of knowledge in our society about sexual consent, and of the rates of sexual assault among students.

“Disproportionate rates of sexual violence against women and members of the LBGTQ community were prevalent themes in particular.

“As the first survey of its kind in the north, this work will be instrumental in providing an evidence base for authorities to take action on the proposed recommendations of the group.

“Public awareness on rates of sexual assault, the role of alcohol in these crimes, and an emphasis on improving consent education are welcome recommendations.

“The ‘Stand Together’ survey results also point to a problem of under reporting of crimes to the PSNI and other authorities. The group’s efforts may encourage silent survivors to come forward and share their experiences, and they should be commended.”

Mullan calls for cross-party approach to reverse sports cuts

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has called for a cross-party approach to press the Department of Education to reverse controversial cuts to the Sports Development Grant.

She was speaking after a Sinn Féin delegation met with the GAA Ulster Council, the Foyle MLA urged parties to come together and jointly tackle the cuts affecting over 30,000 children.

Karen Mullan said:image01-copy

“The intended cuts to the Sports Development Grant will have a severely damaging impact on sporting projects and the thousands of children who benefit from this funding in their local schools.

“The impact will be felt across our society, and this is an issue which has clearly animated several political parties who have been vocal in their opposition.

“This cut is the most recent symptom of relentless Tory austerity, enabled by the unconditional support from the DUP.

“In recent weeks we have very clear made our opposition to this and other education cuts to senior departmental officials. We will continue to do so and to relate the concerns of organisations in the sport and community sector.

“As a cross-community issue with a real impact on the lives of young athletes and on the health and wellbeing of children, I urge all parties to embrace a unified and common-sense approach by lobbying the Department of the Education to reverse these cuts.

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Major step forward in plans for pitch/ play park project in Ballymagroarty- McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the Council’s appointment of the principal contractor for the pitch and play park project at Shaw Court in Ballymagroarty.????????????????????????????????????

Councillor McGinley said: “The announcement of the contractor’s appointment will be warmly welcomed by the community in Ballymagroarty. It represents a highly significant step towards the realisation of a much needed facility for the area and is a testament to the hard work carried out by the Ballymagroarty Community Association in partnership with Derry City & Strabane District Council.

The resources for the pitch and play park largely came from the Executive’s Social Investment Fund which was driven by Martin McGuinness and the project will be a fitting legacy when it is completed.

I am delighted to have been involved in supporting the development of this project on behalf of Sinn Féin and I look forward to the very near future when the children of the area can at last access first class play facilities.”

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DUP remains in denial about collapse of institutions – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said today that the DUP remains in denial about its association with a series of financial scandals and the arrogance and disrespect, which led to the collapse of the political institutions.raymond-mccartney2

Raymond McCartney was responding to comments made by DUP MLA Gordon Lyons.

He said:

“Sinn Féin wants an Ireland that is defined by hope, prosperity and opportunity for all citizens irrespective of their age, gender, religious persuasion, cultural identity, political affiliation, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

“It will surprise no one that Sinn Féin as an Irish Republican party is calling on the leadership of Irish nationalism across this island to come together to plan for Irish unity.

“The DUP’s faux outrage at this fact demonstrates that the DUP remains in denial about its arrogance and disrespect which led to the collapse of the political institutions in the north.

“Sinn Féin is committed to getting the political institutions in the north back up and running on the basis of implementing previous agreements, an end to the series of financial scandals associated with the DUP in government and equality and respect for all.

“That requires an end to the DUP’s denial of rights, supported by the Tory government, such as marriage equality, language rights and the right to a coroner’s inquest, which are enjoyed by citizens everywhere else on these islands.

“The DUP/Tory deal has given the Tory government a blank cheque for further austerity cuts and a disastrous Brexit despite the people of the north voting to Remain in the EU.

“If the DUP wants to put Sinn Féin’s credentials to the test then it could engage immediately in talks to implement agreements and end its support for discrimination.”

Mullan praises summer community festivals across the city

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has praised all those involved in local summer festivals which have taken place in Derry over the past fortnight.dcws6dwxgaeofpt

The Foyle MLA said

“I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the many events and festivals that have taken place right across our city over the past fortnight.

A lot of time and effort was invested by the various organising committees and volunteers in putting on dozens of events which were attended by thousands of people of all ages .I was very heartened to see the amount of young people actively helping at many of the events I attended.

Over the years these festivals have proven to be of immeasurable benefit to the local community. It helps bring local residents together, provide summer diversionary activities for young people and opportunities for volunteering and active citizenship. It has also been instrumental in improving local confidence and boosting the feel-good factor within our communities

The grand finale of the festivals was the Return of the Phoenix –Féile Na Tine hosted in the Gasyard on Tuesday night .It was absolutely outstanding and something we must built on to provide a family friendly positive event that our city can be proud of.

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McCallion welcomes progress on A6 Derry to Belfast road upgrade.

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed progress on the development of the A6 Derry to Belfast road upgrade.

elisha mccallion

elisha mccallion

The Foyle MP said:

“News that the A6 dualling scheme between Drumahoe and Dungiven is set to begin in Spring 2018 is a positive step forward for the city.

“When completed, this road upgrade will reduce journey time between Derry and Belfast which is good news for the local economy and for local people travelling to Belfast.

“It will also make it much easier for visitors and tourists to travel to the city.

“This has been made possible because of the work to take this vital infrastructure project forward carried out by Chris Hazzard as Infrastructure Minister.

“This, along with other key infrastructure projects such as the A5 and the transport hub at the old Waterside train station, will all enhance this city and district for locals and others.”

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Bus service withdrawn after stone attack at Ringfort Road –McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has described as reckless the stoning of a Translink bus on Ringfort Road.

eric mcginley

eric mcginley

Cllr. McGinley said: “On Tuesday afternoon two windows on a Translink service bus were broken as it travelled along Ringfort Road. It was only through good fortune that no-one was seriously hurt and this stoning incident led to the service being partially withdrawn.

There are indications that the group responsible could have been as young as 10 years old and highlights the necessity of parents and guardians being fully aware of the whereabouts and actions of their children.

It is ironic that this incident took place in an area which only last weekend hosted a very successful community event which included a parade and fun day.

Community activists and youth workers have some indication as to the identity of the youngsters involved in this reckless behaviour and will be bringing this information forward to the relevant agencies and – in particular – to the parents and guardians.

Children need to be made aware of the potentially life threatening implications of their actions and there should be no reluctance in raising this issue with the families concerned.”

Anderson warns of growing humanitarian crisis in Mediterranean

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

Martina Anderson said:

martina anderson

martina anderson

“Untold numbers of men, women and children have died as they try to cross the Mediterranean fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.

“Rescue agencies and others have carried out tremendous work in order to save the lives of refugees who attempt to make the crossing but now their efforts are being jeopardised by an increasingly militarised approach adopted by the Libyan coast guard.

“Just this week, Doctors Without Border has suspended its rescue operations in the region after aggression from the Libyan Coast Guard.

“What we need to see is a humanitarian approach rather than a militaristic one in order to prevent further loss of life.

“The EU and others need to focus on saving lives and reject any increased militarisation in the Mediterranean.” Ends/Críoch

Lower Ballynagard Road Traffic Calming Measures-Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news that traffic calming measures are now installed in the Lower Ballynagard Road in the Culmore area of the city.

Councillor Tony Hassan said:bigpic-copy

I welcome the news that these traffic calming measures are now on the Lower Ballynagard Road. This will make the road safer for people in the area, the new shopping complex that has been built there and the many young children who cross the busy road.

Sinn Féin have been campaigning for these measures for some time and have been in negotiations with Transport NI for eighteen months regarding the need, and installation of traffic calming measures in the area. Thankfully they are now installed. We are still talking to Transport N.I about traffic issues in other areas of Culmore.

ENDS.

Student satisfaction levels welcome – Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the National Student Survey results for universities in the north, which show high levels of satisfaction of final year students with their degree courses.patricia-logue221-790x1024

The party’s local Education spokesperson said:”The National Student Survey results show a majority of 85% of students in north were satisfied with the quality of their course.

“All of the higher education institutions in the north: Queen’s University, St Mary’s University College, Stranmillis University College, Ulster University and Open University, scored over 80% in terms of overall student satisfaction and they must be commended for the student experience they provide.

“The survey results did highlight less than three quarters of students were satisfied with how assessments were marked, so this is something institutions must work to address.

“It is important that students have the opportunity to provide feedback and that universities listen to their students, the National Student Survey is one mechanism for doing this.

“All further and higher education institutions must continue to strive to provide a high-quality student experience in terms of both academic and social outcomes, and to do so through partnership working between students, staff and academics.”

McCartney speaks at National Hunger Strike event in Ballina

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney who spent 53 days on Hunger Strike in 1980 joined an international panel discussion at a weekend of events in Ballina Co Mayo to coincide with the National Hunger Strike commemoration taking place there.

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Thousands of people from all parts of Ireland and beyond gathered in Ballina to mark the 36th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike in which ten young men died in H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

The Commemoration also marked the sacrifice of Mayo Hunger Strikers Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg, who died in English prisons in the 1970s, as well as that of another Mayo man Seán ‘Jack’ McNeela and Tony D’arcy from Co. Galway, both of whom died on Hunger Strike in 1940.

Raymond McCartney reflected the prison protests in Long Kesh and Armagh Gaol in the 1980s. George Stagg brother of Hunger striker Frank Stagg spoke emotionally of his memories of the funeral of his brother being hijacked and thanked people for their continued support in remembering all the Hunger strikers. There were also speakers from Palestine.

Concern following Creggan Country Burn incidents- Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has condemned a number of incidents in the greater Rosemount /Glen areas over the weekend.mickey-cooper-head-shot-copy

Councillor Cooper said “There was a fire at Creggan Country Burn which had to be put out by the Fire Brigade and the police were also in attendance. And there were groups of young people gathering on the steps that go from the park up into Baldrick Crescent .They were drinking and obstructing people from getting up and down the steps.

I am asking parents to be aware where their children are at .Just last week i had to spend several hours in the area with local residents who were fearful of the young people that had gathered there.I have asked the council to consider closing the gates at the top of steps to prevent young people running from the park into side streets of lower Rosemount and asked the Outer West Community Safety Forum and PCSP to consider this proposal.

We also have to be realistic and put a particular focus on the area in next few weeks when the Exam results are out which could see even more young people possibly gathering in the area.

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Foyle MP calls on the community to support the positive alternatives to bonfires in the city

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has called on the community to support the positive alternatives to bonfires in the city.

The Foyle MP said:elisha-mccallion-copy

“As we face into the days ahead with the prospect of 11th night and August 15th bonfires, we must not take a step backward from the progress that has been made in this city in recent years.

“We need to see mature and responsible leadership across the community and engagement with the wider youth population. It is certainly challenging but it is possible.

“Previously I was directly involved in the eradication of a troublesome bonfire in Moss Park and replacing it with an inclusive and family friendly community festival as an alternative.

“Earlier this year after consultation with young people and youth groups in the Bogside area, a compromise position was reached, in line with the wishes of local residents, but this was then rejected by those behind this bonfire because they are insisting on burning flags, which is unacceptable.

“The organisers of the Gasyard Féile have put together a fantastic programme, including an innovative alternative to bonfires with the Return of the Phoenix event involving top quality bands and a unique fire sculpture similar to the successful Temple event held in the city in 2015.

“Events like these, together with the range of excellent community festivals organised across the city, are part of the alternative to the problematic bonfires of the past and should be embraced by all in the community.

“It is important that these positive community events are supported by as many people as possible.

“In particular, we need to see responsible leadership from wider civic society in the city to tackle the problems associated with bonfires in line with the wishes of local communities.

“We have an opportunity to continue to move forward as a city; let’s grasp that opportunity for the benefit of everyone.”

Now is the time to deliver Irish unity – Kelly

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has called on the leaders of the SDLP, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to put aside narrow party political interests and stand with Sinn Féin to plan for and deliver Irish unity.dhhwx_pxsaqiwd

Gerry Kelly was speaking today at the annual commemoration of the 1981 Hunger Strike, which was held in Ballina, Co Mayo.

Gerry Kelly said:

“Irish unity is now firmly on the political agenda.

“Sinn Féin wants an Ireland that is defined by hope, prosperity and opportunity for all citizens irrespective of their age, gender, religious persuasion, cultural identity, political affiliation, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

“A new, agreed and United Ireland, upholding, protecting and respecting the rights of ALL citizens. That entails upholding the rights of citizens to be British and Unionist.

“I challenge the leaders of the SDLP, Fine Gael, and Fianna Fáil to stop hiding behind the mantra of now is not the time to discuss unity. One hundred years on since 1916, as we face into Brexit, now is the time not only to discuss unity, but to plan and deliver Irish Unity.

“So Leo, Colm and Micheal this is the time put aside your narrow party political interests, the time for national leadership, the time to stand together to plan and deliver Irish unity.

“That is the project that can define the coming political era.

“Sinn Féin is willing to stand with all those in favour of unity.”

Gerry Kelly also paid tribute to the late Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness and said that the sacrifice of the 1981 hunger strikers and two IRA hunger strikers Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died in English jails had helped make Irish Republicanism stronger than ever.

“These heroic hunger strikers of our generation inspired not only fellow Irishmen and women but freedom loving people the world over.

“Today as a result of the efforts of these republicans there is a peaceful and democratic path to a United Ireland. The 1981 hunger strike led to a widening of the structures of struggle for a United Ireland, which facilitated the strengthening of Republicanism to a point where we are stronger now than we have ever been in our history.”

The North Belfast MLA said the political institutions in the north should be re-established. He said:

“We want the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement re-instated but on the basis of equality, mutual respect and integrity.

“The present talks, now stalled, are about implementing agreements already made. That is basic to a power-sharing Executive and Assembly.

“The right to an Irish Language Act; The right to have a loving relationship recognised in a Marriage Equality Act; the right of families to a coroner’s inquest into the killing of a loved-one; the right to be free from sectarian harassment; the right to have a Bill of Rights.

“These are not unreasonable asks for people living in the North of Ireland and especially when they are rights everywhere else in Ireland and Britain.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Full text of Gerry Kelly’s speech at the National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Ballina, Co Mayo 13th August 2017

A chairde agus a chomrádaithe,

I am very honoured to speak at this National Hunger Strike Commemoration, especially to address you all here, in Co Mayo, home to Sean McNeela, Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg: All three hunger strikers and patriots are buried in this historic cemetery.

It is in itself a great testimony to what Co Mayo has sacrificed in the fight for Irish freedom across the generations.

I would like to welcome the families of our fallen comrades who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of our country. I am acutely aware that when I speak of loss and grief that it is most deeply felt by those who knew and loved them personally.

The 1981 Hunger Strike in which 10 Irish Republican Political Prisoners sacrificed their lives came at the end of years of harrowing prison protest by the women and men in Armagh Jail and the Long Kesh H Blocks, supported by tens of thousands of people protesting on the streets of Ireland and internationally.

It is recognised as a hugely significant political watershed in our struggle, by friend and foe alike.

The history of hunger striking dates back to pre- Christian times in Ireland. Those who lacked power would fast in order to bring attention to an injustice done to them by powerful people when there was no other avenue to justice. It was basically saying to the wider community ‘I will prove my integrity and honesty in my commitment to go without food until death – if necessary’. People intrinsically understood how profoundly difficult such a sacrifice would be and could witness that commitment and integrity over a prolonged period of fast.

A hundred years ago Tom Ashe brought this to a much more significant political level by fasting against the British Government demand on him to wear prison clothing or do penal work. Essentially to criminalise him, his comrades and the struggle for freedom. He and his fellow hunger strikers, placed the value of their lives in support of their just demands to be treated as political prisoners. He was the first Hunger Striker to die and became the inspiration for political hunger strikers since.

Yet it is important to say that no Irish political prisoners who pitted themselves against the might of a British government in this way, wanted to die. Neither were they naïve in such a David and Goliath battle.

We will celebrate the life and death of Thomas Ashe on his centenary next month but it is worth noting that he was imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail and died as a result of force feeding just five days into his hunger strike. His death and the huge public reaction to it forced the British government to stop the brutal practice in Ireland. To my knowledge force-feeding has never been used on Republicans in any jail on the island of Ireland since.

When the British Government decided 56 years later to use force-feeding against political prisoners in English jails it was Michael Gaughan’s death, which brought an end to its use in Britain.

By the time Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg went on hunger strike in 1974 there had been a large number of deaths of Irish Republican prisoners, after Tom Ashe, including Seán McNeela’s comrade Tony D’Arcy

The hunger strike in Crumlin Road Jail by Republican prisoners, just two years before Michael’s death, had achieved political status for Irish Republican prisoners in the North of Ireland.

The hunger strike, which we embarked upon in jails in England after sentencing in 1973, was for transfer to jails in the North of Ireland to be treated the same as our comrades there.

The Price sisters, Michael Gaughan, Frank Stagg, myself and others were on that hunger strike.

Michael, like Thomas Ashe, died not of starvation but of force-feeding. He died on the 3rd June 1974. His friend Frank Stagg was given commitments by the British administration. They later reneged on them forcing Frank on to a number of hunger strikes which culminated in his death on 12th February 1976.

While I, and other comrades, were on hunger strike at the same time as Michael and Frank I never met either man as the prison authorities made sure to separate and isolate protesting prisoners in English jails.

When the 1981 Hunger Strike began Bobby Sands knew the odds were stacked against him.

But as our late great friend, comrade and leader Martin McGuinness said of the hunger strike:

“The 1981 hunger strike destroyed Britain’s strategy to criminalise the IRA and the republican struggle.

“Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Tom McElwee and Mickey Devine were not defeated or broken. Neither was Frank Stagg or Michael Gaughan. And neither will our struggle and our political strategy.

“They proudly take their place alongside Pearse, Connolly, Clarke and the rest of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation – they were the history makers of our generation. They are the people who have set the moral compass for the rest of us to aspire to.

“That is their legacy – just as The Proclamation set out a vision, which continues to inspire so too did the Hunger Strikers.”

These heroic hunger strikers of our generation inspired not only fellow Irishmen and women but freedom loving people the world over.

However, I think it is also important to state about our courageous comrades, that they were ordinary people like any of us standing here today. They had family and friends who they loved and who loved them back. What bonded them together as comrades, as revolutionaries, was a profound love of Ireland and its people.

What made these ordinary men so extraordinary, was that they had a vision of a New Ireland based on freedom and equality. They rose to the challenge of that vision, despite the fact that they might have to forfeit their own lives. They led from the front.

If courage was the measure of success then Ireland would have had her freedom many generations before now. Volunteers in the IRA knew that our opponents and enemies had to be faced up to in every single sphere of life.

Whether it was by being in the civil rights movement or fighting against discrimination in housing or unemployment; or fighting for and learning the Irish language or protecting our culture, or creating jobs or building communities or dealing with social problems.

The activists we are remembering here today were proud republican volunteers who took up arms against a massive military machine when there was no other option. But they were not war mongers.

These same activists had the courage and commitment to embark on the passive protest, which is Hunger Strike. They risked their lives and sacrificed themselves for others.

Today as a result of the efforts of these republicans there is a peaceful and democratic path to a United Ireland. The 1981 hunger strike led to a widening of the structures of struggle for a United Ireland, which facilitated the strengthening of Republicanism to a point where we are stronger now than we have ever been in our history.

Sinn Féin is a party born in struggle with our membership and elected representatives coming from the communities most under the strain of the deep economic austerity policies driven by Conservative governments in London and Dublin. We understand the needs of people trying to survive in their daily lives. That understanding and connection with our community is the bedrock of our politics.

For Sinn Féin, standing against the cuts affecting the most vulnerable in our society and standing up for equality, will be the battlefield in the time ahead.

We want the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement re-instated but on the basis of equality, mutual respect and integrity. The present talks, now stalled, are about implementing agreements already made. That is basic to a power-sharing Executive and Assembly.

The right to an Irish Language Act; The right to have a loving relationship recognised in a Marriage Equality Act; the right of families to a coroner’s inquest into the killing of a loved-one; the right to be free from sectarian harassment; the right to have a Bill of Rights:

These are not unreasonable asks for people living in the North of Ireland and especially when they are rights everywhere else in Ireland and Britain.

Our vision does not start or stop at the border. Unlike the nationalist parties of old, unlike the SDLP, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. We do not stand idly by.

Our job as republicans is to build a republic as a fitting tribute to all those who came before us, those who stood beside us and for generations to come.

This state is not the republic envisaged by the patriots of 1798, 1916 or 1981.

Irish unity is now on the political agenda.

Sinn Féin wants an Ireland that is defined by hope, prosperity and opportunity for all citizens irrespective of their age, religious persuasion, cultural identity, political affiliation, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

A new, agreed and United Ireland, upholding, protecting and respecting the rights of ALL citizens. That entails upholding the rights of citizens to be British and Unionist.

I would challenge the leaders of the SDLP, Fine Gael, and Fianna Fáil to stop hiding behind the mantra of now is not the time to discuss unity. 100 years on since 1916, as we face into Brexit. Now is the time not only to discuss unity, but to plan and deliver Irish Unity.

So Leo, Colm and Micheal this is the time put aside your narrow party political interests, the time for national leadership, the time to stand together to plan and deliver Irish unity.

That is the project that can define the coming political era.

Sinn Féin is willing to stand with all those in favour of unity.

There is much work to do. But we believe that a united Ireland is possible. That a united Ireland is achievable and that a United Ireland is in the best interest of all our people. We believe that together we can make huge progress and truly transform society on this island forever.

There is no short cut to a United Ireland. We have to prepare for it and that’s exactly what we have been doing and continue to do North and South, East and West.

Irish politics is undergoing its biggest shake-up since partition. We are at the core of that change. This is about you, your family, your hopes and your ambitions.

It’s about taking your country’s future into your own hands. Your opportunity to decide on our future.

It’s time as a nation to believe in ourselves. If not us, then who? If not now, then when.

We are now in a phase of nation building. What Connolly called “the re-conquest of Ireland by the Irish people” that requires building the political clout to bring about fundamental change.

Let us send out this political message. Not only have we not gone away but we are getting stronger by the day.

One of the reasons I refer to our fallen heroes as ‘ordinary’ men and women who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances is so that you all here today, especially the young, can recognise your own potential in the challenges we face now and into the future.

I would like to finish by returning to the very personal loss and grief of loved ones of our fallen patriots.

On Bobby Sands’ death I went to my cell and tried to write down my feelings at the loss of such a comrade. After coming back to it many times I realised that I was actually thinking of his mother’s pain, when she had to announce her son’s last moments to the world outside his cell. So I wrote this short poem:

BOBBY’S MOTHER

Rosaleen Sands

You do not know me

I saw you only

On a television screen

When, so reluctantly, you announced

‘My son is dying

Standing with such dignity and pain

In a deep well of grief

I felt an intruder

To your private torment

Witness to a mother’s

Naked mourning

Thank you

For allowing us to share

Your precious final moments

With a great man.

A Chairde agus a Chomradaithe,

Bigí Cinnte go dtiocfaidh ar lá.”

McCallion condemns posters on bonfire

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has condemned the placing of posters on a bonfire in Derry as a hate crime.

The Foyle MP said: elisha1

“The placing of posters in support of Derry man Tony Taylor, who is currently imprisoned, on a loyalist bonfire in Derry is wrong and should be treated as a hate crime.

“The appearance of these posters on a bonfire in the Nelson Drive area of the city has been reported to the PSNI.

“No posters or flags should be burned on bonfires in this way.

“I would call on those in positions of leadership in communities to act to bring an end to this activity.” Ends/Críoch

Vigil held for Tony Taylor

On Wednesday night as part of Féile 2017 a vigil was held at Free Derry Wall calling for the release of Tony Taylor who has been in prison for over 500 without charge or trial. Rosin Barton and Lorraine Taylor spoke at the vigil. George Galloway joined those at the vigil prior to speaking at an event in Pilots Row.
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Work at Killea Cemetery -Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue saidpatricia-logue221-790x1024

“I was contacted by a number of people in the Killea area and they raised concerns about the state of the grass in the local Killea Cemetery.

I have spoken to officials at Derry City and Strabane District Council and they have agreed to place it on the rota of regular grass cuttings.

This is a very isolated cemetery even though it’s on a main arterial route between Derry and Donegal. Thousands of people would pass it each day and not even know it was there.

It’s very important to ensure that Killea Cemetery and the area around it is both preserved and improved. Unknown to many residents of Derry the cemetery is still used but has absolutely no provision for car parking.

I have also asked for this to be looked at in terms of a pathway to the cemetery and what can be done around the parking as this is a very dangerous road.

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McGinley welcomes work on Foyle Springs traffic calming

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the news that work is now underway to install traffic calming measures in the Springvale Park, Strangford Park and Bantry Road areas of Foyle Springs.????????????????????????????????????

Cllr. McGinley said: “Residents have expressed long standing concerns at the volume and speed of traffic using this part of Foyle Springs as a short cut between the Springtown Road and Northland Road.

In response to requests from Sinn Féin traffic assessments had been carried out by Transport NI which confirmed the need for traffic calming measures.

I welcome the news that work in now underway to install calming measures in the Springvale Park, Strangford Park and Bantry Road areas of Foyle Springs. Hopefully this will address many of the concerns of local residents and lead to greater road safety there.

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Quiet space for children with Autism to be part of local festivals

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed a new imaginative initiative to provide a quiet space for children with Autism to be part of festivals taking part in the city over the summer.

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Foyle MLA Karen Mullan said “Following being contacted by parents of children with Autism on this issue I held a number of meetings with Autism groups, WHSCT and Triax Neighbourhood Management Team to discuss it out and see if we could all collectively come up with new ideas so that these children could rightly be part of the local festivals.

Many children with autism are extremely sensitive to all sorts of loud sounds, background sounds from radio and the TV all of which could overwhelm or distract them.

I am delighted that staff at the Traix Neighbourhood Management Team and Creggan Day Centre have come together to provide a safe play place located at Creggan Day Centre where children can have a break away space if required.

I want to commend these organisations for taking the iniatiative in this year Féile and hope that other organisations and festival organisations will take the lead in doing so.

Moves to address Galliagh sewerage problems –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy speaking following an onsite meeting with Philip Tierney the field Manager for NI Water regarding ongoing sewage issues in the Galliagh area.

Cllr Sandra Duffy saidsandra-duffy-pic-150x150-copy

It’s important to thank NI Water for their prompt action in addressing the ongoing issues regarding the sewers in and around Galliagh.

I have been contacted by a number of residents over the past week regarding separate issues with sewers overflowing. This was a very concerning issue for local residents as some suffer from ongoing health issues which this problem only served to exasperate.

NI Water has now discovered the reason for the sewerage problems and are on site rectifying this to ensure that there are no further incidents.

I would also like to praise them for the work they are carrying out to properties which have been damaged by raw sewage over the past few days.

Supporting People programme should not be cut – McCallion

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said that the Supporting People programme should not be cut and has arranged an urgent meeting with the CEO of the Housing Executive.

She went on say that the local Foyle Haven service cannot endure any further cutselisha-mccallion-copy

Elisha McCallion said:

“Supporting People helps some of the most vulnerable people in society to live independently, including those who are disabled, elderly, and victims of domestic violence.

“Cuts to the Supporting People programme would have serious implications for people’s well-being and will create more pressure on public finances in the long-term.

“I have arranged an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive of the Housing Executive, Clark Bailie on the back of this announcement and a number of engagements I and Karen Mullan MLA have had with the Foyle Haven.

Concluding she said

“Foyle Haven has already had to reduce their service on the back of cuts and there are other similar projects and services that cannot endure any further cuts. The Foyle Haven project provides a vital service and we will be asking the Housing Executive and others to ensure that there are no further cuts and indeed a need for committed investment.

Sinn Féin vision an inclusive and agreed Ireland – O’Neill

Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill MLA said today that her vision of a United Ireland is an inclusive and agreed Ireland, one in which all identities are respected and all rights respected.

Michelle O’Neill was speaking at Féile an Phobail’s ‘Imagining a New Ireland’ debate in St Mary’s College, Belfast.dafvr2ixoaagvd0

Michelle O’Neill said:

“I want to see an Ireland that is defined by hope, prosperity and opportunity for all citizens irrespective of their age, religion, cultural identity, political affiliation, ethnic origin, or sexuality.

“But I am neither naïve or insensitive about unionist unease about Irish unity.

“I see my role as a Sinn Féin leader to promote the merits, political, economic and social of a new, agreed and united Ireland.

“I am committed to building on the reconciliation efforts of Martin McGuinness.

“The Good Friday agreement guarantees the right of citizens in the north to hold both British and Irish citizenship.

“So constitutional change can be achieved without sacrificing identity or citizenship.

“For me upholding, protecting and respecting the rights of all citizens must define a new, agreed and United Ireland. That means upholding the rights of citizens to be British and Unionist.”

Michelle O’Neill said partition had failed and the Tory government’s Brexit agenda has brought the prospect of Irish unity into sharper focus.

“Now is the time to talk about Irish unity,” she said.

“Partition has failed but some argue the time is not right to talk about unity. I say to them now is the time. Now is the time to plan for unity, to build support for unity, to challenge division and build an Ireland for all.

“The prospect of a Tory Brexit has brought the debate on partition and the prospect of Irish Unity into sharper focus.

“The Brexit referendum result has swept away many of the previous political assumptions about the constitutional, political and economic status quo of the North.

“Brexit undermines the constitutional, institutional and political framework of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Sinn Féin is arguing the case for the North to be designated special status within the EU and special provisions to allow the North to seamlessly resume full status within the EU in the aftermath of a successful Irish Unity referendum.”

Michelle O’Neill said there is an onus on the Irish government to prepare for Irish unity.

“It is clear that a United Ireland will have positive economic benefits for the island as a whole.

“Kurt Huebner has argued that unification would result in a sizable economic boost in all-island GDP of €35.6 billion Euro over eight years.

“So now is the time for the Irish government to become a persuader for Irish unity; to begin preparations for Irish unity and develop an all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Unity and to develop plans a ‘United Ireland Investment and Prosperity Plan’.”

O’Neill meets with Chief Constable

A Sinn Féin party delegation led by the party’s leader in the North Michelle O’Neill MLA met with the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton today.

elisha mccallion

elisha mccallion

The delegation included Seán Crowe TD, Linda Dillon MLA and Gerry Kelly MLA raised a number of issues including ongoing UDA activity and the PSNI’s continued failure to provide information to the courts.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“I had asked for this meeting in the wake of the Colin Horner murder in Bangor a number of months ago.

“Today we had a focused and frank discussion particularly on the issue of loyalist paramilitarism and their continued activity and criminality which is holding communities to ransom through racketeering, drug dealing and extortion.

“We were seeking assurances from the PSNI about their actions and efforts to tackle these issues.

“We also raised the issue of the two recent court judgements from Justice Treacy and Justice Stephens in terms of two key issues.

“One the fact that there have been systemic failings on behalf of the PSNI in relation to collusion and the Glenanne Gang in particular.

“We want to be assured that everything is being done that should be done.

“We need to see action from the PSNI because clearly the fact that over 130 people lost their lives at the hands of the Glenanne Gang means that the PSNI need to do their job in terms of bringing together all the evidence.

“We also raised the issue of the continued failure by the PSNI to provide information to the courts and to comply with court orders.

“The police like everyone else have responsibility legally to comply with court orders. The continued failure to do so has a potential impact on our ability to develop the necessary levels of confidence in our new policing dispensation.

“The final issue we raised was that of bonfires and related hate crime.

“Hate crime is something that can not be tolerated in society and it is something that needs to be stamped out.

“We all have a role to play but I asked the Chief Constable today what action they were taking in relation to hate crime and some of the effigies we saw displayed.

“This was the first in a series of meetings with the Chief Constable and we will continue to look for resolution on all the issues raised.”

McCallion welcomes launch of Gasyard Féile

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed the launch of the Gasyard Féile 2017 and encouraged people to attend festival events.
elisha1
The Foyle MP said:

“Today marks the opening of the Gasyard Féile 2017, one of Derry’s largest and longest running community festivals, now in its 25th year.

“The Gasyard Féile symbolises everything positive about the city and celebrates community, empowerment and achievement.

“It also provides a platform to challenge attitudes, stimulate debate, raise awareness of important social, political and environmental issues.

“Most of all, it is a chance for the community to get together and have some fun.

“Today also sees the start of the Maiden City Festival in the city which also adds to our rich cultural offering in Derry.

“So it promises to be a great week for locals and visitors alike and I would encourage people to attend as many events as possible.”

Mullan condemns shooting in Bogside

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan has condemned the shooting of a man in the Lisfannon Park area of the Bogside .sandra duffy

She said:”The shooting of this man is wrong and I condemn it.

“The people of Bogside do not want these actions taking place on their streets.

“Its clear those responsible have nothing to offer society and are at war with the community.

“There can be no justification for such actions and I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it forward to the police.”

Schools paying price for Tory austerity – Mullan

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Karen Mullan has said local schools and local children are paying the price for Tory austerity backed by the DUP.

The Foyle MLA was speaking after it was announced that the budget for the ‘entitlement framework’ would be reduced by up to £2 million.

Karen Mullan said:

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

“Schools are facing significant financial pressures as a direct result of Tory austerity cuts to the Block Grant.

“Since the Tories came into power we have seen over a billion pounds cut from the North’s block grant and local schools and local children are paying the price for this.

“In recent weeks Sinn Féin have engaged several times with the Department and the Education Authority to push back against cuts and protect school budgets.

“Sinn Féin will continue to fight for proper resources for school budgets.”

Breaches in ambulance hygiene standards need addressed – Foyle MLA

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said breaches of infection control measures in the Ambulance Service need to be addressed for the health and safety of patients and staff.raymond mccartney

Speaking on the news that the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) had discovered breaches in hygiene standards Raymond McCartney said:

“It is important in delivering health and social care services to the public that the safety of patients is paramount. Breaches in hygiene standards increase the risk of infection in patients, and indeed staff delivering ambulance services, and they must be addressed.

“Ambulance staff provide a vital service to the public, being first to the scene of emergencies and helping people when they are at their most vulnerable.

“It is clear they are under increasing pressure to deliver what is often a life-saving service, due to increasing demand.

“We need to support ambulance staff to continue to deliver a high standard of service. Part of that is the delivery of a comprehensive HSC workforce strategy that takes into consideration, and provides for, the current and future demand on the Ambulance Service.”

Increased demand for passports highlights need for Passport Office in Derry – Kelly

Speaking after new figures show that the number of Irish passports issued in Britain is set to double this year compared with the last full year before the EU referendum, Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has said.cityside-candidates-for-2014-kevin-patricia-colly-and-liam-c-mc-menamin-pics-239-438x450-copy

“The demand for Irish passports has increased in Britain and the North since the Brexit Referendum as Ireland will remain inside the European Union.

“This is an indicator that many people living in the North, Britain and Europe that have Irish connections are looking for Irish passports in order to safeguard their position for the future.

“This is not surprising when we consider the detrimental impact Brexit is having on Ireland and Irish people who wish to reaffirm and retain their Irish and EU citizenship.

“These figures also highlight the need for a dedicated Passport Office facility in the North that can meet the demand there as well as act as a further support for the applications coming from the rest of Ireland and Britain. I have been constant in calling for an office to be opened up here in Derry.

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McCartney welcomes Taoiseach’s commitment to A5

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the stated commitment from the Taoiseach on the development of the A5 project.raymond-mccartney2

The Foyle MLA was speaking after Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff questioned the Taoiseach at Queen’s University, Belfast as part of Taoiseach’s first official visit to the north.

Raymond McCartney said:

“West Tyrone MP Barry McEluff asked the Taoiseach directly to reaffirm his personal commitment and the Irish government’s political and financial commitments to ensuring that the A5 Transport Corridor is developed as soon as possible.

“The development of the A5 is absolutely critical for Derry, Donegal and Tyrone and it is vital to redressing the infrastructure deficit in the North West.

“The A5 dual carriageway will provide opportunities to the North West in terms of attracting inward investment and tourism, reducing travel times and transport costs to make this region more economically competitive.

“It will also prove vital in improving road safety along the entire route given the many lives that have been sadly lost because of the inadequacy of the single carriageway.

“Sinn Féin have written to the Taoiseach to meet so we can discuss the detail of the £75 million commitment he made on Friday .”

Major work at Bluebell Hill Gardens –Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed an information meeting that was held in the Gasyard with residents of Bluebell Hill Gardens and the Housing Executive to discuss a major refurbishment scheme to be carried out in their homes.patricia-logue221-790x1024

Councillor Logue said “For years now these resident have experienced a range of issues with their homes such as dampness and plaster falling off walls.

They were advised that the long awaited essential work is to begin on their homes hopefully by the end September.

The work includes plastering and insulation outside of homes, new windows, doors and roofing work.

The timeline for the rest of the work is as follows-

New Kitchens -October 2018
External maintenance scheme – April 2019
Heating – August 2019

I am trying to get the installation of kitchens brought forward as residents have waited a very long time for these issues to be addressed.

To complement the work on the houses I have also been in contact with Transport NI to have the roadway in the street and footpaths renewed.

If any resident has questions on the work they should feel free to contact me.

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Tories have no idea what they’re doing in Brexit negotiations – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said it is clear the Tories have no idea what they are doing in the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

martina anderson

martina anderson

Martina Anderson said:

“Since the EU referendum last year the Tories have been lacking any clear direction or strategy on Brexit and that is now being seen in the negotiation process.

“Now we have the former head of the British diplomatic service, Simon Foster acknowledging that the negotiations have not begun well, which is an understatement to say the least.

“No significant progress has been made to date in the negotiations because of a lack of preparation and engagement from the British.

“Instead they are frustrating and delaying the process because they don’t want to get into a serious negotiation over their financial commitment to the EU.

“While they engage in foot-dragging, the economy is being damaged, the Good Friday Agreement undermined and the rights of citizens put at risk.

“The Tories may not have a clue what they are doing but one thing is clear, that we need to secure designated special status for the north within the EU. It is be most credible alternative to the disastrous Tory Brexit agenda.” Ends/Críoch

Mullan backs RCPCH recommendation on breastfeeding

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed recommendations from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health that pupils should be taught about breastfeeding in personal, social and health education (PSHE) classes.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Speaking today Ms Mullan said:

“Teaching children and young people about the benefit of breastfeeding is an important step in normalising it as a natural and healthy thing to do.

“I welcome the RCPCH recommendation, which aims to tackle the social stigma that is attached to breastfeeding which is discouraging to mothers.

“The North has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the EU. It is important, particularly during World Breastfeeding Week, not only to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding but to promote actions that actively support mothers who want to breastfeed.

“Breastfeeding legislation which my colleague, former Health Minister Michelle O’Neill, tasked the health department to develop is needed to ensure mothers have the right to breastfeed their children with confidence and without interruption in a public place.”

Repairs carried out at one of the Derry’s busiest parks–Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has said work has been carried out to repair swings at one of the city’s busiest play parks.Patricia Logue new pic 22

She said “ Jon ‘Ugg’ Clifford /Bull Park is one of Derry’s busy parks with hundreds of users each day .A number of regular users of the park contacted me to say the swings there were in need of repair and were out of action.

This is a great facility right in the heart of the community and with local children being off school it was important that the swings there were repaired as soon as possible.

I contacted the council just a few weeks ago to see if this could be done and I am pleased to have been informed that repairs will take place this week.

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Homophobic hate crimes must be reported – McKnight

Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight has encouraged victims of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes to report them to the police.

She said:20170329_213318-3-726x1024-copy

“It’s a very sad reality that homophobic and transphobic hate crimes continue to be committed in our society and there are concerns that many incidents are not being reported.

“Sinn Féin encourages people to report any such incidents to the PSNI.

“There can be no tolerance of homophobic, transphobic or other hate crimes and victims should feel confident that when they contact police their concerns will be taken seriously and responded to appropriately.

“Recently we have seen a number of initiatives taken by the PSNI to promoting equality in the delivery of its service to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“More work need to be done to break down the barriers faced by the LGB and T communities.

“One of the ways this can be down is by ensuring that all citizens regardless of race, religion or sexuality are equals in the eyes of the law.

“Sinn Féin remain committed to ensuring rights and equality for all.”

Repairs carried out at one of the Derry’s busiest parks–Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has said work has been carried out to repair swings at one of the city’s busiest play parks.Councillor  Patricia Logue

She said “ Jon ‘Ugg’ Clifford /Bull Park is one of Derry’s busy parks with hundreds of users each day .A number of regular users of the park contacted me to say the swings there were in need of repair and were out of action.

This is a great facility right in the heart of the community and with local children being off school it was important that the swings there were repaired as soon as possible.

I contacted the council just a few weeks ago to see if this could be done and I am pleased to have been informed that repairs will take place this week.

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Sinn Féin meets with women affected by mesh implants

A Sinn Féin delegation has met with a group representing women from across the north suffering serious side effects from vaginal mesh implants.

Mesh implants are used to treat prolapse and incontinence in women, often after childbirth.image01-copy

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan said:

“Sinn Féin met with representatives of women who have had mesh implants and who continue to suffer serious side effects. They heard harrowing and personal accounts of their experiences and the devastating effects it has had on their health.

“We need clarity as to how the HSC will address the health needs of these women.”

“The group raised a number of issues and concerns around the use of mesh implants and we intend to raise these concerns directly with the Department of Health.

“The physical and emotional pain they have had to endure is terrible. It’s important that the health and wellbeing needs of women affected by mesh implants are met as a matter of urgency.”

Supporting People programme should not be cut -Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has said that the Supporting People programme should not be cut.

She said patricia-logue221-790x1024

“Supporting People helps some of the most vulnerable people in society to live independently, including those who are disabled, elderly, and victims of domestic violence.

“Helping people to live in their own home and to remain part of the community is better for the health and well-being of the person involved.

“It is also better for the taxpayer because it reduces pressure on other public services, including the health service.

“Cuts to the Supporting People programme would have serious implications for people’s well-being and will create more pressure on public finances in the long-term.

“Sinn Fein have written to the Department for Communities demanding no cuts to Supporting People.

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Breastfeeding legislation needs implementing – Duffy

Speaking at the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed progress with the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme that has now 500 venues providing supportive environments for breastfeeding mothers.sandra-duffy-pic-150x150-copy

She said

“Breastfeeding is recommended by the World Health Organisation. It is a perfectly natural thing to do with proven health benefits for both mothers and their babies.

“Unfortunately here in the north of Ireland we have one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the European Union.

“We need to continue to promote and normalise breastfeeding and remove the social stigma that is attached to breastfeeding, particularly in relation to breastfeeding in public places.

“While the Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme is an important step in supporting breastfeeding mothers we also need the implementation of breastfeeding legislation that my colleague, former Health Minister Michelle O’Neill, tasked her department to develop.

“Breastfeeding legislation would ensure breastfeeding mothers have the right to feed their children with confidence and without interruption in a public place.”

McCartney brands Campbell’s comments as crass, offensive and lacking in respect

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said that Gregory Campbell’s latest remarks on the Irish language, a community festival in Derry and Martin McGuinness are crass, offensive and completely lacking in respect.

Raymond McCartney said: _dsc8219

“These comments are another example of the DUP’s Gregory Campbell’s total and utter disrespect for the Irish language with his offensive comments about the Gasyard Féile.

“The Gasyard Féile is a hugely successful and inclusive community festival, now in its 25th year, which promotes community health and wellbeing, international awareness and human rights and enables dialogue and discussion.

“Sadly, this is not the first time Gregory Campbell has insulted the Irish language community with his offensive anti-Irish mockery.

“His arrogant and ill-informed comments are ironic as the Féile also includes an event with Linda Ervine looking at the relationship between the Irish language and the Protestant, unionist and loyalist communities.

“His disgraceful comments and mockery are also at odds with recent comments made by the DUP leadership following meetings with sections of the Irish language community.

“Gregory Campbell also showed a lack of respect for others with his crass and offensive comments about the late Martin McGuinness and clearly at odds with his party leader’s attendance at Martin’s funeral.”

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Committee Report on Irish Unity shows urgency of planning for reunification – McCallion

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed the publication of a report on Irish unity in Leinster House today.

The Foyle MP said:

“I welcome the publication of today’s report from the Good Friday Agreement Committee. elisha1

“Among several of its recommendations it calls on the Irish government to pro-actively plan and prepare for the reunification of Ireland.

“The report also cites the role the EU would play in assisting that plan in the event of the people of the North voting for it in a unity border poll by calling on the EU to allow the people of the north to be admitted automatically to the EU without the necessity of an application process.

“The report is written in the new circumstances created by the impact of Brexit on the Irish economy North and South.

“The report also calls for the establishment of a second New Ireland Forum so all shades of political opinion can express their views on how to move peacefully from where we are now to a new reunified Ireland.

“The launch of today’s report makes the case for the need for a Joint-Oireachtas Committee on Irish Unity much more compelling.

“The establishment of such a Committee would further research, develop and utilise the detail collated in today’s report and also help action and scrutinise Government obligations on planning for Unity within the context of both the Good Friday Agreement and the negative ramifications of Brexit.”

Air Ambulance will provide life-saving service -McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the news that the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, also known as the Air Ambulance, has become operational today._97162916_airambulancepacemaker

Speaking today Raymond McCartney said:

“I welcome the news that the north’s first Helicopter Emergency Medical Service will become operational today.

“This saving valuable time in responding to a casualty with the ability of the air ambulance to reach anywhere in the north within 25 minutes.

“This news follows an earlier decision by my colleague, former Health Minister Michelle O’Neill, to proceed with the Air Ambulance service based on a doctor led model. This means the service will operate with a doctor and paramedic on board.

“Today’s news is a proud day for all the people who have campaigned and worked for the introduction of this service, including the late Dr John Hinds.”

Anderson calls for urgent action to save lives of refugees on hunger strike

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for international intervention to save the lives of refugees currently on hunger strike on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Martina Anderson said: dawph6oxsaas5mo

“A number of refugees who have fled war and persecution are currently on hunger strike in the Moria detention centre on the Greek island of Lesvos.

“They are being led by Iranian human rights activist, Arash Hampay, who, although not detained himself, is acting on their behalf to draw attention to their plight.

“It is unacceptable that people like Arash Hampay had more access to medical treatment and services in Iranian prisons where they were held for campaigning for human rights than they do in the EU where they have come to escape persecution.

“As their condition deteriorates we need to see action from the international community, and the EU in particular to save their lives.

“It would be a poor reflection on human rights standards if they managed to survive war and oppression, together with a dangerous sea crossing, only to die in a supposed place of safety.

“We need urgent humanitarian action to save the lives of refugees, not more tragedies.” Ends/Críoch

School uniforms must be affordable to all – Karen Mullan MLA

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Karen Mullan has said that school uniforms need to be affordable to every family.

The Foyle MLA said:

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.


“The cost of a school uniform in many schools is exorbitant and the price involved, which includes the need for a PE kit, is putting many families under severe financial pressure.

“It is especially affecting those who have several children at one school and actually influencing their choice of school.

“Apart from the identity benefit of having a uniform one of the other positive aspects is that regardless of the financial situation of a child’s family, they all dress the same.

“I have requested a meeting with the Education Authority to see what measures can be taken to ensure that school uniforms are accessible to every family.”

McCartney welcomes driving disqualification move

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said recognising driving disqualifications across the island of Ireland will ensure greater road safety for all users.

He said:raymond-mccartney2

“Any move which improves road safety on the island of Ireland is to be welcomed.

“The mutual recognition of driving disqualifications will prove an important road safety measure as it aims to target dangerous drivers on our roads.

“This move will help to reduce road injuries and ultimately save lives.”

Ó Muilleoir calls for 21st Century art museum for Derry and Belfast

Speaking during a fact-finding visit to the Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art today, Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir called for a stepping-up of efforts to build a 21st Century art museum in Belfast and Derry.dcws6dwxgaeofpt

“The excellent Belfast-Derry City of Culture 2023 bid would be boosted immeasurably by a European-standard art gallery on the scale of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate Liverpool, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston or, indeed, MIMA in Middlesborough.

“Given the enhanced capital budgets available in the North, now is the time to deliver on a proposal which has been kicking around since the 1990s. Fortunately, the Arts Council has already put on the agenda a bold plan to build a major permanent gallery of national and international standing dedicated to the visual arts.

“Fortuitously for the City of Culture bid, the Arts Council plan envisages twin site ‘distinct but complementary’ galleries in Belfast and Derry which would spread the benefits of the development. The capital cost of the twin sites was estimated at £38m but the net economic benefit over 25 year was estimated at £140m.

“It’s my view that a new gallery would not only be a boost to tourism in both Belfast and Derry but also demonstrate our continued commitment to putting the arts right at the centre of our society.”

The South Belfast MLA said he had written to the Art Advisory panel he established as Finance Minister, and which produced a report leading to renewed funding for the government art collection, asking that they explore how they might lead on the proposal for the new art gallery as part of the Derry-Belfast City of Culture bid.

“I will also write to my fellow MLAs in South Belfast asking them to join me in backing this approach.”

McCartney condemns gun attack on Derry home

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has condemned a gun attack on a house in Derry tonight.

Mr McCartney said: dsc_6528

“This attack during which shots were fired at a house in Racecourse Drive is wrong and must be condemned.

“Thankfully no one was injured in this incident but it must have been a frightening experience for those in the vicinity.

“There is no place for guns on our streets and those behind attacks need to end their war with the community.”

Provision of Bungalow type accommodation in Derry needs to be a priority –Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has called on the Department for Communities to allow the Housing Executive to instruct Housing Associations to build Bungalow type accommodation in all new builds of social housing developments in the city.

Councillor Hassan said,bigpic-copy

There is a need for bungalow type accommodation for the older members of our community and for people with disabilities. If you need bungalow type accommodation on health grounds or if you are disabled you have to be referred by an occupational therapist to the Housing Executive and for them to tell housing association’s to build Bungalow type accommodation for your needs.

I have many older constituents and people with disabilities come to my office on the Racecourse Road looking for bungalow type accommodation as the accommodation they are in does not meet there needs. I believe the Housing Executive could do more in persuading the Department of Communities to adopt a policy in building bungalows as this would free up many three and two bedroom homes which could be made available for allocations to younger families

If we are to move forward and have a better mix of our housing stock it’s clear that there needs to be a higher percentage of bungalow type accommodation and that this should be a priority for the Housing Executive.

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Sinn Féin will continue to press for education services’ – Mullan

Sinn Féin will continue to pressure Department of Education officials to ensure front line services are protected, the party’s Education spokesperson Karen Mullan has said.image01-copy

The Foyle MLA was speaking after leading a party delegation to meet with senior department officials .

She commented: “While we welcome the u-turn on the school uniform cut and the protection of the SureStart and Youth Services budgets, questions remain over other key services within education.

“However, we remain concerned that the Department still intends to proceed with cuts to the Sports Development Grant. This would impact on GAA and IFA coaching schemes and could affect up to 50 jobs, 400 schools and approximately 40,000 children.

“We are also concerned about proposed cuts to the Extended School Programme, which provides extra support for children from deprived communities.

“Sinn Féin is continuing to press for the reversal of these cuts in order to protect front line services for children.

“We also raised our concerns over delays to the implementation of the Anti-Bullying Legislation approved by the Assembly in April 2016.

“This legislation was introduced by then Minister John O’Dowd in April 2016 to protect children and young people from bullying.

“However, the Department says the law will not go live at the start of the 2017 school year as promised.

“The department has had a full year to provide the guidance and training needed and not to have done so is simply unacceptable and a major let down to the victims of bullying.”

McKnight condemns attack on Community Wardens

Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight has condemned an attack on Council Community Wardens in the Galliagh Park area on Friday Night.final-psmckinght-copy-copy

Councillor McKnight said

Residents I have spoken to are rightly outraged after an attack on the Community Wardens in the Galliagh Park area. The workers were shaken up by this attack.

Their van was stoned and badly damaged in the incident.

The wardens are out late at night dealing with all sort of incidents across our city and are a lifeline for many people in their hour of need.

I would appeal for these attacks on vital services to stop and if anyone has information on those responsible to contact the police.

Mullan welcomes renewed A5 confirmation

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed confirmation from the Department of Infrastructure that work on the Newbuildings to Strabane section of the A5 is expected to begin before the end of this year.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

The Foyle MLA commented: “I very much welcome this renewed confirmation of A5 construction timeline in response to an update we requested from the Department of Infrastructure.

“Departmental officials confirmed they are continuing to ‘expedite delivery of this strategically important project’ and expect to complete the vesting of land and begin construction on the Newbuildings to Strabane section of the road before the end of the calendar year.

“This is clearly in line with the explicit instructions of then Minister Chris Hazzard before leaving post and the A5’s status as a flagship executive project for which £229 million has been committed.

“Of course there is always the potential for legal challenges in projects of this scale but I believe if any such challenge was to materialise at this stage, it would represent a gross attempt to subvert the will and interests of people of this region.

“The development of the A5 dual carriageway is vital to redressing the infrastructure deficit in this part of the world and to reducing travel times and transport costs to make this region more economically competitive. It is also vital to improve road safety along the entire route given the many lives that have been sadly lost because the of inadequacy of the single carriageway.”

Court ruling on Glenanne Gang collusion killings welcome -McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney welcomed a judgement in the High Court in Belfast on Friday that the PSNI had failed to conduct a thorough investigation into collusion between the British state and the loyalist Glenanne Gang.raymond-mccartney2

He was speaking after Justice Seamus Treacy delivered his judgement on a judicial review taken by the brother of 13-year-old Patrick Barnard, who was killed in the bombing of the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon in 1976.

Raymond McCartney said:

“I welcome the judgement by Justice Seamus Treacy in Belfast that the PSNI had failed to conduct a thorough investigation of wholesale British state collusion with the notorious loyalist Glenanne gang.

“Justice Treacy found that changes made by the PSNI to how it investigated historic cases were ‘fundamentally inconsistent’ with its obligations in the European Convention on Human Rights.

“He found that the HET had examined individual murders committed by the Glenanne gang but had not undertaken an overarching thematic review of the allegations of collusion with the state.

“The judgement confirms what families and others have known for decades that there was collusion between the British state and the loyalist murder gang which was made up of serving RUC, UDR, British army personnel and loyalists.

“The Glenanne gang was responsible for more than 100 murders, mostly of nationalist civilians, in Armagh and Tyrone, as well as being involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

“The British state has continually sought to deny and delay the truth about the role of its armed forces in running murder gangs during the conflict.

“This continuous refusal to take responsibility for its actions is unacceptable and adds to the pain and suffering of the victims.

“Justice Treacy has placed an onus on the PSNI to return to the courts in a fortnight’s time to offer an ‘appropriate form of relief’ that would address the family’s concerns.

“I am calling on the PSNI to comply with the judgement and provide the necessary resources so that the families can get access to truth and justice.”

Summer appeal over dangers of electricity sub stations / pylons – McKnight

Sinn Féin Councillor for the greater Shantallow area Caoimhe McKnight has urged parents in Derry to warn their children about the dangers of playing near electricity sub stations or electricity pylons during the summer holidaysfinal-psmckinght-copy-copy

Councillor McKnight said

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

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

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

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

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Support for mothers who breastfeed – Duffy

Derry Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has said there is a need for support for mothers who breastfeed.

She was speaking ahead of the World Breastfeeding Week 2017sandra-duffy-pic-150x150-copy

She said:

“As a mother of two young children I am well aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and that breast milk is the best form of nutrients for babies.

“In many cases there is a social stigma attached to breastfeeding. Many mothers feel uncomfortable feeding their babies in public, and this is a situation that we must address. Mothers should be able to feel relaxed when feeding their babies, not made to feel that this is a socially unacceptable practice.

“Much good work is being done to remove the barriers associated with breast feeding in public. It’s important that we support ongoing campaigns which raise awareness of this issue and promotes the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers and their families.

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McCartney announces venue for National Hunger Strike Commemoration

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and Former Hunger Striker Raymond McCartney has announced that the annual National Hunger Strike commemoration will take next month in Ballina Co Mayo on Sunday 13th August.

The Foyle MLA said he was delighted that this year’s event was taking place in the home county of Hunger Strikers Seán McNeela, Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg.

Raymond McCartney said raymond-mccartney2

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

Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg died on hunger strike in English jails in the 1970s, while another Mayo republican, Seán McNeela, also died on hunger strike in 1940 along with his friend and comrade Tony D’arcy from neighbouring Co. Galway.

The National commemoration in Ballina is one of the biggest events on the Republican calendar and I appeal to the wider Republican community in Derry, to the people of Ireland and international sympathisers to mobilise and show support for the ideals for which the Hunger Strikers gave their all.

Notes

There will be a number of buses travelling down from Derry , for seats call 02871 377551.

The Commemoration march and rally will take place in Ballina, Co. Mayo on Sunday, 13 August beginning at 3pm.

Anderson welcomes commitment from Barnier over GFA

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a personal commitment from the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, that he will ensure the Good Friday Agreement is protected in the Brexit negotiations.

martina anderson

martina anderson

Martina Anderson said:

“I had sent Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, a copy of our ‘Special Status within the EU – Essential Principles concerning the border in Ireland and the status of the north of Ireland’ document to emphasise how important it is to protect the Good Friday Agreement during the Brexit negotiations.

“It is vitally important that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in all its parts in line with the joint resolution of the European Parliament.

“Michel Barnier has now responded and said he is ‘personally committed to make every effort to ensure that nothing in the withdrawal agreement undermines the Good Friday Agreement.’

“That commitment is welcome and underscores the EU’s determination to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

“However the fact that Michel Barnier has previously pointed out that more work is needed to protect north-south bodies sows that Britain does not share this determination.

“Securing designated special status for the north within the EU would not only protect the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts but it would also protect the rights of Irish citizens.” Ends/Críoch

Every effort must be made to reopen Altnagelvin beds’ – McCartney

Every effort must be made to quickly reopen 25 beds closed due to a vomiting bug and staff shortages at Altnagelvin Hospital, Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said._dsc8219

“These temporary closures will cause distress to those patients who were due to have important medical procedures carried out in Altnagelvin but who will now face an additional wait,” he commented.

“While I appreciate the important clinical reasons for the temporary closure in order to protect patients from a vomiting bug, it is vital that these beds are reopened as soon as possible.

“Every effort should be made to ensure that happens.

“Issues regarding staff shortages in Altnagelvin need to be addressed immediately.

“The department needs to develop a comprehensive workforce strategy covering all aspects of the Health and Social Care Service which they were tasked with doing by former Sinn Féin Health Minister Michelle O’Neill in her transformation plan, Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together.

“It is important that staff are supported to continue to deliver the top-class services they are trained to do.”

Sinn Féin welcomes protection of Sure Start and youth services budgets

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Karen Mullan has welcomed confirmation that Sure Start and Youth Service budgets will not be cut despite earlier warnings from department officials.

Speaking today, the Foyle MLA commented: image01-copy

“The protection of the Sure Start and Youth Services budgets, along with the reversal of the school uniform cut, were three of our key priorities across a number of engagements with the Education Authority and departmental officials over recent weeks.

“We greatly welcomed the u-turn on the school uniforms and now the department has also confirmed that Sure Start and Youth Services spending will not be cut after all.

“This news will come as a great relief to the thousands of families who benefit from Sure Start and Youth Services across the North and of course, those employed within these services who have been facing a great deal of uncertainty ever since the Department indicated a number of weeks ago that the budgets were to be cut.”

Raymond McCartney MLA welcomes Finucane court decision

Sinn Féin MLA and Justice spokesperson, Raymond McCartney, has welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court Justices to grant leave to appeal to the Finucane family challenging the decision of former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s reneging on a Public Inquiry into the murder of Human Right’s solicitor Pat Finucane.

Speaking today Raymond McCartney said:raymond-mccartney2

“Geraldine Finucane and her family should be commended for pursuing this case through the courts and for showing continued determination in their search for justice.

“The family have been involved in a long battle with the British state over the circumstances of Pat Finucane’s death and the role of the British state and of its agents in carrying out that murder.

“Sinn Féin will continue to support the Finucane family in their search for truth.”

Mullan wishes Derry triathlete Aileen Reid well in her retirement

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA, Karen Mullan today wished Derry Olympic triathlete Aileen Reid well in her retirement from active competition.martin-ellen

Karen Mullan said:

“I’d like to wish Derry’s Aileen Reid well in her retirement from active competition as a triathlete.

“She represented Ireland at two Olympic Games, receiving 75 caps. She was a among the world’s best triathletes and was internationally recognised for her abilities.

“She is an inspirational triathlete and is a great role model to young people in this city and further afield.

“Aileen served as a great ambassador for team Ireland and I wish her all the best in the future.”

CRÍOCH/ENDS

Karen Mullan welcomes decision to reverse cut to school uniform grant

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed a decision by the Education Authority to reverse the cut to the school uniform grant.image01-copy

The Foyle MLA was speaking after she and party colleague Caoimhe Archibald met with the Education Authority in Belfast today

Karen Mullan said:

“Sinn Féin opposed this cut since it was announced as it was an attack on children and families from deprived communities.

“We demanded today that the Education Authority reverse this cut so I am delighted that it has now done so.

“Our party leader in the north Michelle O’Neill stressed the unjust nature of this cut to the Interim Head of the Civil Service and why in her view it should be reversed immediately in order to afford families this critical assistance.

“The school uniform grant is a vital resource for many families and makes a real impact on the lives of thousands of children.

“Sinn Féin Minister Caitriona Ruane introduced the primary school uniform grant and her successor John O’Dowd extended the criteria allowing thousands more pupils to benefit.

“This news will provide some reassurance to parents as the processing of applications normally takes place in August.”

Irish passport office rules need to come into 21st century – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said Irish passport office rules need to move into the 21st century.

Martina Anderson said: eirepas

“I have been dealing with a constituent who has been trying to renew an Irish passport but has been facing eight months of delays because of outdated rules.

“This individual’s marriage has broken down and has gone back to her maiden name by deed poll but has been told by the passport office that they won’t recognise that change for two years.

“This is totally unfair and unacceptable.

“Not only is it a refusal to recognise the official deed poll process, but, more importantly, it is unfair towards women who may be fleeing abusive relationships and start a new life.

“I am calling on the Irish government’s Foreign Affairs and Justice departments to intervene and for the passport office’s rules to move into the 21st century.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the passport office to discuss this and to call for immediate change.” Ends/Críoch

Future of green energy research funding in doubt over Brexit – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the future of green energy research in the north could be jeopardised by Brexit.

Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson.

Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson.

Martina Anderson said:

“The fact that Queen’s University, Belfast has been awarded an £8 million Interreg funding package for research into renewable energy shows the opportunities that exist as a result of our EU membership.

“This funding will help benefit the all-Ireland green energy sector and has the potential to significantly enhance our knowledge in environmental research.

“This is the type of funding we stand to lose as a result of the Tory Brexit agenda.

“Not only will this loss of funding impact on research but it will also limit the opportunities of students as it could lead to less PhD places and post doctoral research places.

“It shows that not only is Brexit bad for our economy but also our environment and for young people.

“In order to protect EU Interreg research funding in the future we need to secure designated special status for the north within the EU.” Ends/Críoch

Tony Taylor should be released –Raymond McCartney MLA

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said called for the immediate release of Derry man Tony Taylor.

tony taylor

tony taylor

He was speaking as hundreds of people turned out on Sunday afternoon for a march and rally in Derry calling for Tony Taylor’s release.

The Foyle MLA “I was pleased to see such a large turnout from across the city and district at Sundays march and rally.

“Sinn Féin has long campaigned for Tony’s release. The continued use of unjust powers by the British government to revoke a person’s license without producing any evidence of wrongdoing is an affront to human rights and natural justice. He should either be released immediately or brought before a court and given due process.

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Duffy concerns over Ballyarnett Play Park Vandalism

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has expressed concerns over vandalism attacks at the site of the new state of the art play park at Ballyarnett Country Park.

Councillor Duffy saidsandra-duffy-pic-150x150-copy

“Work has been ongoing now for a number of months on the new state of the art play park within Ballyarnett Country Park.

The scheme is jointly funded from the Social Investment Fund (SIF) which was part of the Executive’s Delivering Social Change Framework, and the Council through its Play Development Programme to the value of £600k.

But over the past few weeks the site has been the subject of sporadic vandalism attacks, which is upsetting and worrying to the local community.

I have been in contact with local residents who have been raising their concerns regarding this issue and were looking forward to seeing this much needed park open for the local children.And have raised the issue of vandalism with the council and with the PSNI.

It is hoped that security around the site will be stepped up, but I would appeal directly to any young person involved in this activity to stop.This It is one of a number of major projects earmarked for this extensive park and will make it an even more attractive area for the public to visit and enjoy the outdoors.

I would also appeal to local residents to report any activity that they see around the site to ensure that this state of the art equipment is not damaged before the park is even open to the public.

Progress on Brandywell gathers pace -McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney speaking after he led a party delegation on visit to the Brandywell Stadium to view progress on the work at the Stadium, dog track and new state of the art play park facilities.12998349_1037714449617952_1759881580700105285_o

Raymond McCartney said “It was great to see the progress on all three projects gather pace. Once this stage of the work is completed it will bring these facilities into the 21st Century and act as a catalyst for these sports in our city for generations to come.

It will also provide a safe place for families and children from this area to enjoy the new park which is something Councillor Patricia Logue and residents have been campaigning on for many years.

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Al-Aqsa metal detectors should be removed and collective punishment ended – McGinley

Sinn Féin Republican Youth has called for an end to ‘collective punishment’ against Palestinian’s by the Israeli government after they erected metal detectors at the entrance of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, having previously closed the Mosque during Friday prayers. group-photo-1

A spokesperson for Sinn Féin Republican Youth in Derry Caolán McGinley said:

“The erection of metal detectors at the entrance of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, is a further attempts by Israeli authorities to occupy the Al-Aqsa sacred site.

“Just last week, for the first time in decades the holy site was been closed by Israeli authorities during Friday prayers.

“The actions of the Israeli authorities will only serve to heighten tensions in Jerusalem and will do little to deter further violent incidents – this draconian security response is a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian community in Jerusalem and will be rightly viewed as a direct attack on their religious freedom to worship at their sacred site.

“Israeli authorities should immediately remove the metal detectors from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and return to the shared agreement of the status quo which allows Palestinians the freedom to worship freely at their sacred site.”

Adams to brief Irish America and Capitol Hill

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD left for the USA today for several days of meetings with political leaders and Irish America.

On Tuesday, he will attend a Memorial Mass in Washington for Martin McGuinness. He will also meet with the Congressional Friends of Ireland group and State Department to update them on the recent negotiations and the situation arising from Brexit.dsc_4284

Gerry Adams said:

“The Congressional Friends of Ireland Committee has been a good friend to Ireland and to the peace process going back over two decades.

“My meetings this week will allow me the opportunity to update Irish America, the State Department, and Capitol Hill on recent developments in the political process, the failure to reach agreement at the start of this month, and the widely held concerns across the island about the damaging consequences of Brexit.

“These have been heightened in recent days following a week of confusing Brexit negotiations between the EU and the British government which suggest that the Tories are ill-prepared for Brexit, have no clear plan, and have little concern about the impact of a hard economic border on the island of Ireland.

“I will also tell Irish America and Congressional leaders that Sinn Féin is totally committed to the restoration of the political institutions but that this can only be achieved on the basis of equality and respect, and the implementation of outstanding commitments arising from the Good Friday and subsequent Agreements.”

Resolution to bonfire issue too serious for SDLP politicking –Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said there is anger  in the community around comments from SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan that there needs to be talks about bonfire issues in the Bogside and that any settlement should not be left to the last minute.patricia-logue221-790x1024

Despite the SDLP being invited to a number of meetings about the bonfire over several months which they didn’t attend.

Councillor Patricia Logue said

“People are angry today to hear  SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan in the media saying the worst thing would be to leave any settlement around bonfires to the last minute and its important that we find a solution.

Over the last number of months a series of meetings have taken place to try and find a resolution to the issue of bonfires, with a particular focus on the Bogside area.

Like many I am astonished at his comments as the SDLP were invited to every meeting on the bonfire in question but never attended.

All political party’s have been invited to these meetings. The meetings have been attended by the various statutory agencies, the Council, community organisations, local residents and there have been engagements with young people from the area. Local residents have also carried out wide spread consultations in the district.

All these efforts have been very constructive in trying to find positive solutions and outcomes not politicking or grandstanding at last minute.”

 

Ends

Tory promises on agriculture will not allay fears – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said Tory promises on future agriculture subsidies post Brexit contain no detail and will not allay the fears of farmers.

Martina Anderson said:

martina anderson

martina anderson

“Many farmers fear for their futures as a result of the Tory Brexit agenda and that situation was made worse by Tory minister Michael Gove’s warning over subsidies.

“His attempts to allay those fears at the Antrim Show have failed because he not not provided any details.

“We all know that empty words from the Tories will not help farmers, many of whom are already struggling.

“To date the Tories have shown little or no regard for the people of the north so why would we expect any different now?

“The best way to protect farm incomes in the future is to secure designated special status within the EU and that is what Sinn Féin has been building support for across Europe.” Ends/Críoch

Mullan named as Sinn Féin as new education spokesperson

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan has been confirmed as Sinn Féin’s new spokesperson on Education in the North.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

 Karen Mullan said she looked forward to her new role, while recognising the serious challenges facing the sector.

She said “I look forward to my new role, to developing new and positive working relationships with those working in the education, and I hope my contribution will help bring about the positive changes that are urgently needed for children and students.

I am under no illusions it will be challenging as we face the Tory austerity agenda.

We have just seen the recent the proposed £3 million reduction for school uniform grants which many seen as an attack on children and low income families.

Sinn Féin will fight any Tory proposed reductions.

 Mandela Nelson once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” so for me it’s important to be front and centre in championing education at every level.

Busy Creggan walkway gets clean up –Campbell

Welcoming the clean-up of one of the  busiest walkways in Creggan used by 100s of people everyday Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell said

kevin campbell

kevin campbell

“I am pleased that the Council staff using the Hako machine have cleaned the  Chapel Lane in Creggan. This is something I have been calling for a while.

This lane is an important part of the infrastructure of Creggan,hundreds of people use it every day going to 10.00am mass in St Marys Chapel or taking a short cut to the town and children using the local play parks.

So a big thank you to council staff for the clean-up as this particular lane can get really bad with broken glass and litter.

Sinn Féin challenge DUP over Irish language Act

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has challenged the DUP to ‘call our bluff’ if they seriously believe the Irish Language Act is being used as a reason to avoid sharing power in the North.raymond-mccartney2

The Sinn Féin MLA was responding to comments by DUP MP Edwin Poots at the Magill Summer School when he claimed the Irish Language Act was a ‘useful tool’ for Sinn Féin to avoid the hard decisions that come with government.

He commented: “I welcome the fact that Edwin Poots chose to make part of his address as Gaeilge and hopefully that indicates a move in the right direction on the DUP approach to the issue of an Irish Language Act.

“However, his comments regarding Sinn Féin’s motivation for an act simply don’t stand up to scrutiny. No party has done more to make the institutions work than Sinn Féin. No individual has done more than Martin McGuinness. So to claim we are seeking to avoid government is plainly ludicrous.

“Sinn Féin is absolutely committed to the re-establishment of the Executive and if the DUP really believe we aren’t then they should call our bluff. They should agree to an Irish Language Act and the implementation of the other rights-based issues which are still outstanding.

“Until now the DUP’s position has been that they are prepared to go back into the Executive providing that it is on the same basis that led to its collapse in January. Clearly that isn’t feasible.

“If the DUP are serious about getting back to power-sharing, they know very well what the issues are and that any new Executive will have to be based on the acceptance, recognition and delivery of rights for all.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Anderson warns of growing Gaza humanitarian crisis

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of power shortages.

martina anderson raymond mccartney

martina anderson raymond mccartney

Martina Anderson said:

“Conditions in Gaza have been deteriorating for some time and now the people there are forced to live without electricity for 20 hours a day.

“Sewage facilities have also broken down, causing contamination and leading to serious public health fears.

“Health provision in the area is on the verge of collapse with mounting pressure on hospitals which are without power.

“Israel has a responsibility to increase the power supply to Gaza in order to address the growing humanitarian crisis.

“Instead it has reduced the power supply, adding to the pain and suffering of the population of Gaza.

“The international community needs to act to save lives in Gaza and end the humanitarian and public health crisis.” Ends/Críoch

Sinn Féin slam Tories and DUP over pension move

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has condemned the decision by the Tory Government to increase the State Pension Age seven years earlier than planned.elisha-mccallion-copy

The Foyle MP was commenting after it was announced that the pension age increase to 68 will now be phased in between 2037 and 2039, rather than from 2044 as was originally proposed.”This will undoubtedly lead to increased rates of poverty,”
she said.

“The Tories are yet again targeting people who are already struggling due to their austerity driven agenda. “For many people, the stark reality is that the state pension age will now be higher than healthy life expectancy.

“It is also particularly cynical that they delayed making this announcement until after the election when they had originally been due to make their intentions known in May.”Ms. McCallion also criticised the DUP for supporting for agreeing to prop up Theresa May’s government.

She said: “The DUP represent a region that has the lowest life expectancy in these islands so today’s announcement again exposes the folly of them giving the Tories a blank cheque to continue their destructive austerity policies.”

Ends

No longer any excuse for school uniform cut’ – Mullan

The planned cut to the school uniform grant should be immediately scrapped, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

The Foyle MLA was speaking after the announcement from British Secretary of State James Brokenshire clarifying the funds available to the health and education departments.

“It’s certainly ironic that James Brokenshire made this announcement while his government, supported by the DUP, is still pursuing its austerity agenda and cutting the block grant to the North,” she commented.

“Nevertheless, any additional assurance that allows money to be spent on front line services is welcome and I have written to both the Education Department and the Education Authority to make it clear there is now absolutely no excuse for the disgraceful cuts they intended to make.

“In particular the cut to the school uniform grant was a direct attack on some of the most disadvantaged families and should be immediately reversed.”Other key protections for vulnerable children such as the Special Educational Needs budget should also be protected.”

Hundreds of new homes for Derry – Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news that Braidwater is to invest £60m in building over 400 new homes in the Skeoge and Belt Road areas of the city.

200 Skeoge and 219 at Birch Hill on the Belt Road.bigpic-copy

Councillor Tony Hassan said

“I welcome the development of these new homes at Skeoge and at Birch Hill on the Belt Road in the Waterside area of the city.

This £60million investment will create hundreds of much needed construction jobs over the next three to four years and support local firms in the supply business.

It sends out the message that the housing market is picking up again in the city and will allow first time buyers a chance to get on to the housing ladder.I will also continue to lobby at every opportunity to ensure that the need for new social housing schemes in Derry is kept firmly on the agenda.”

Tory Brexit agenda limits opportunities for young people – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has the impact of the Tory Brexit agenda will limit opportunities for young people.

Speaking to a youth council event at Queens University, Belfast, Martina Anderson said:

martina anderson

martina anderson

“Over the course of the last year young people have become more passionate about and more involved in politics.

“Brexit is undoubtedly one of the issues that has grabbed the attention of young people because it is their future that is being sold short by the Tories and it is they who will bear the brunt of this disastrous plan.

“Young people are already facing huge challenges as a result of the austerity policies of the Tory government and now they are seeing their opportunities further limited by Brexit.

“Study opportunities, employment options and travel choices will all be hit by the Tory Brexit agenda.

“We want to see those opportunities protected and to create more opportunities within a changed, more democratic and accountable EU.

“To retain these opportunities for young people we need to retain our EU membership through securing special designated status within the EU.” Ends/Críoch

McCartney urges supporters of human rights to attend the march for Tony Taylor

McCartney urges supporters of human rights to attend the march for Tony Taylor

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA, Raymond McCartney has called on people to attend the march and rally for Tony Taylor taking place in Derry on Sunday.

Raymond McCartney said:

tony taylor

tony taylor

“Tony Taylor was returned to prison in Maghaberry Prison at the behest of the previous British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, without having been charged, questioned or allowed legal representation.

“Sinn Féin has consistently stated that if evidence exists to show that Tony Taylor is a risk to the public it should be put before him and his legal team in open court so this can be challenged.

“His continued detention is a violation of fundamental human rights and subversion of due process. It is a form of legalised interment by remand and a denial of natural justice.

“Sinn Féin representatives have continuously raised this matter with the British Secretary of State and most recently, Elisha McCallion MP raised the matter with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May.

“I am calling on everyone who supports human rights to join the march on Sunday assembling at 2.30pm at the Brandywell Grotto.”

CRÍOCH/ENDS

No certainty over debit card surcharges ban after Brexit – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said people here may not be able to avail of new measures to be introduced to ban surcharges on debit and credit cards after Brexit.

Martina Anderson said;

elisha mccallion martina anderson

elisha mccallion martina anderson

“Plans announced today to ban surcharges on credit and debit cards will no doubt be welcomed by consumers.

“This will be brought in from January next year in line with a European Union directive.

“While this will help consumers once it is introduced, particularly when it comes to making airline bookings online, there is no certainty that it will be retained post-Brexit when the British government will no longer be bound by EU directives.

“This is just one of the many uncertainties, like the future of roaming charges, that we are facing as a result of the directionless Tory Brexit agenda.

“That reality is now being widely recognised, including by one of the authors of Article 50, Lord Kerr, who has now warned of the ‘disastrous consequences’ of Brexit.

“In order to avoid this uncertainty we need to secure designated special status for the north within the EU. We have been securing support for that across Europe and we need to see the Irish government making it a priority in the current Brexit negotiations.” Ends/Críoch

Light up social media for Gaza – SFRY

Sinn Féin Republican Youth are encouraging people to take part in the ‘Light for Gaza’ initiative by lighting a candle and placing a solidarity message beside it, take a photo of it and upload it to Facebook and Twitter ‪between 10.00pm and 11.00pm on Sunday 23rd July‬.

Spokesperson for Sinn Féin Republican Youth in Derry Caolán McGinley said:

10494614_712458908810176_7895656964251048383_n

“People have been outraged by what has been happening in Gaza over the past number of years with the continued Israeli onslaught and occupation.

“The most recent crisis has seen Gaza’s only operating power plant turned off due to a severe shortage of fuel, leaving the entire Gaza area in a complete blackout.

“Many news outlets ignore what happens in Gaza and the inhumane conditions in which people are forced to live due to Israeli occupation. Social media can be a powerful method of sharing their story.

“Gaza suffers chronic electricity shortages, meaning almost all of the 1.8m people who live there can’t pump water to their homes or get access to fresh water. Many people depend on limited supplies from the UN and humanitarian aid agencies.

“In an effort to highlight the horrible conditions in which people currently live in Gaza. We are encouraging people to take part in the ‘Light for Gaza’ initiative.

“Simply light a candle, place a solidarity message beside it, take a photo and upload it to Facebook and Twitter ‪between 10.00pm and 11.00pm on Sunday 23rd July‬, using the hashtag – #Light4Gaza.

“We chose this time because it’s when most of the main news will be broadcast across Europe.

“Take part and stand in solidarity with people in Gaza by using the power of social media to highlight the suffering the Palestinian’s endure.”

CRÍOCH/ENDS

Rural communities concerned over Brexit – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said rural communities are concerned about the impact of Brexit and are demanding special status for the north within the EU.

Martina Anderson said:

martina anderson

martina anderson

“I visited South Down today alongside local Sinn Féin MLAs Emma Rogan and Sineád Ennis and Chris Hazzard MP to meet with local groups to discuss the impact of Brexit.

“We met with rural community groups who are concerned about loss of vital funding and the prospect of increased rural isolation, particularly among older people.

“We also met with farmers who are fearful for their futures as they don’t believe that a Tory government which has been wedded to austerity will replace EU funding streams. They are also worried about the prospect of a reinforced border on the island of Ireland and the devastating impact it would have on the sector.

“I updated them on the work the Sinn Féin team is doing in the European Parliament to build support for the case for the north to secure designated special status within the EU.

“There is growing support across Europe for that case and we now need to see everyone, particularly the Irish government, getting behind it to make it a reality.” Ends/Críoc

Concerns over work on one of Derry’s busiest road –McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has written to Transport NI following concerns about the impact of the closure of the Northland Road from the junction of Great James street to the William Street roundabout to carry out roadwork’s._dsc8219

Raymond McCartney said

I have written to Transport NI Divisional headquarters in regards to the proposed road works that are due to commence within the next few weeks on the Northland Road from the junction of Great James street to the William Street roundabout.

This road is one of the main thoroughfares in the city and any closure has the potential to cause major disruption in the traffic flow in the city.

Furthermore, given that it is proposed that the road be closed for 4 weeks then this disruption needs to be mitigated properly with adequate Traffic management measures and proper diversions put in place.

It also vital that residents are fully informed of this closure and that adequate parking arrangements are put in place.
I have asked Transport NI (Roads Service) to request information on what plans they have to mitigate for this disruption.

DERRY SF FACEBOOK