Logue condemns Derry shooting

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has condemned the shooting of a man in the  Cecilia’s Walk area of Blighs Lane tonight.

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Patricia Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said

“Tonight’s shooting at  Cecilia’s Walk has to be condemned. There can be absolutely no justification for this type of action. This must have been a very frightening experience for everyone caught up in this, especially as its reported that  a number of young children were in the vicinity at the time of the shooting.

It’s very sad that when thousands of people were out tonight celebrating the turning on of the Christmas lights in the city centre that others were trying to drag our society backwards and bringing guns onto our streets.

We are in a new era, we are creating a new society for the younger generation and there can be no place for this type of activity.

End

Anderson nominates Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann for major European award

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has nominated Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann for the prestigious European Citizen’s Prize 2014.

Martina Anderson MEP with Gearóid Ó hEára supporting Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Martina Anderson MEP with Gearóid Ó hEára supporting Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Speaking after the announcement that Comhaltas was shortlisted for the award, Ms Anderson said; 

“Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is a fantastic organisation which promotes and celebrates Irish traditional music throughout the world. 

“It is best known for organising Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, by far the largest celebration of traditional music and culture, each year. 

“I am extremely proud to be a member of my local branch of Comhaltas and to have been involved in the incredible Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Derry in 2013. This was widely recognised as the biggest and best Fleadh in the history of the organisation. 

“Ahead of the Fleadh coming to Derry I brought the Comhaltas Ard Chomhairle to the European Parliament in Brussels to showcase the amazing work of the organisation. 

“I was pleased and honoured to nominate Comhaltas for the European Citizen’s Prize 2014. This is a prestigious accolade recognising groups who have particularly distinguished themselves in strengthening integration, openness to others and the development of mutual understanding.

“Each European member state is entitled to make one nomination for the award and the initial Irish nomination was for the Blue Star Programme Teachers. However, after lobbying myself, the vice-president of the European Parliament, Dimitrious Papadimoulis, said he would support Comhaltas and proposed that Ireland be given a second nomination. 

“His proposal was adopted and now Comhaltas has been shortlisted for this award and deservedly so,” she said.  

Gearóid Ó hEára, chairperson of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2013, welcomed the nomination. 

“The nomination for this prestigious prize is a recognition of the great work carried out by Comhaltas not only to promote Irish culture but to celebrate that culture in an inclusive and welcoming way. 

“The hundreds of thousands of people who came to the Fleadh in Derry will know that Comhaltas brought all communities together in a celebration of our shared culture in a way that has never been seen before. 

“Martina Anderson has done tremendous work to secure this nomination for Comhaltas and I look forward to them winning this award.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Executive must take united approach on north west unemployment – McGuinness

The Executive must take a united approach to tackle the high level of unemployment in the north west, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has insisted.

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Speaking after today’s meeting of the Executive, Martin McGuinness said: 

“I am increasingly concerned at the high levels of unemployment in the north west.

“As well as the economic crisis, there are historic reasons why that is the case. However, I firmly believe there is a responsibility on the entire Executive to tackle this issue, not least because the Executive is already committed to redressing the regional disparities, which exist in the North.

“There is also a specific focus required from individual ministers, particularly in terms of issues such as the promotion of Derry to investors and the wider North West, the expansion of Magee University and the provision of the required infrastructure and office space.

“I have raised this matter with Executive colleagues and there will be further discussions in the time ahead regarding the practicalities of what the Executive can do to assist the north west.

“I believe that all Ministers are open to providing whatever assistance they can from their respective departments.

“I will continue to work with all stakeholders including the local Council and The Ilex Urban Regeneration Company to build on the good work that has already been done to ensure the high levels of unemployment and disparity which exist in the north west are successfully tackled.” Ends/Críoch

Anderson supports COPD awareness in Europe

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has backed a campaign at the European Parliament to raise awareness of COPD. 

Martina Anderson MEP at the COPD awareness event at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Martina Anderson MEP at the COPD awareness event at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Speaking from Brussels on World COPD Day, Ms Anderson said; 

“Events like this by the European Public Health Alliance are necessary because many people don’t realise just how common an illness COPD is. 

“It affects more people in Europe than breast cancer and diabetes. 

“Unfortunately it kills around 300,000 people across Europe each year. 

“It is also an illness which is on the increase throughout Europe, increasing by more than 60 per cent in the last 20 years. 

“As a result, many families across the North, including my own, have been touched by COPD. 

“More must be done to raise awareness of the condition as well as promoting preventions and ensuring equal access to early diagnosis and correct treatments.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Warning over Bishop Street lead thefts -Cllr P Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has warned residents in the greater Bishop Street area to be on the alert for lead thefts.

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Patricia Logue

Its follows a number of thefts of lead from homes in Long Tower Court and Moore Walk in the early hours of Thursday morning.

She said

People would find it hard to believe that when they are in their beds, that in the middle of the night there are people taking lead from their properties. But this is exactly what happened in the early hours of Thursday morning in Long Tower Court and Moore Walk.

This is just not opportunist small time thefts.

There have been a number of stories in the local press over the past few years regarding the theft of lead from homes, businesses and schools in the Derry area.

I would urge the PSNI to put in place whatever resources are available to apprehend whoever are behind these thefts, and if the community have any information on who is responsible they should bring it forward.

I would also urge scrap merchants in the Derry and Donegal area to be wary of people trying to sell off lead material quickly.

 

Ends

 

McLaughlin welcomes progress on cross-border learning zone

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed a commitment from Employment and Learning minister Stephen Farry on a cross-border learning zone for the north west. 

The Foyle MLA said; 

“I asked the minister to outline what progress has been made with ministers in Dublin on the development of a cross-border learning zone in the north west. 

“Stephen Farry said he and his officials are engaged with government ministers in Dublin on a range of issues to increase cross-border cooperation. 

“In particular he said he is working with Department of Education and Skills to prepare a joint paper on cross-border education issues. 

“This is particularly welcome as part of the wider campaign for the development of Magee and increased cooperation with other colleges across the wider north west, including Letterkenny Institute of Technology. 

“The development of a cross-border learning zone covering the wider north west region would provide more educational opportunities for all of our young people.

“Meetings are continuing between officials from both departments, north and south, and a joint paper is being prepared which will be submitted to the Assembly’s permanent secretaries group next month. 

“We will continue to ensure all opportunities for greater all-Ireland co-operation on further and higher education are pursued.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Urgent need for American and European ‘hands-on’ role in Stormont talks

There is real risk of political drift, culminating in a British position which attempts to dilute the Haass compromise proposals

AS BILATERAL TALKS took place on Wednesday in Belfast between political parties and the Irish and British governments to discuss dealing with the past, parades and other issues, DUP leader Peter Robinson and Ulster Unionist Party Mike Nesbitt spent a second day visiting Brussels.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness went to the European Parliament one month ago to encourage cross-party support for the landmark resolution on the Northern political process (passed overwhelmingly today – Thursday) and to meet the leaderships of all political groups and senior officials in the parliament. The two unionist leaders’ trip was a belated political reaction to that Sinn Féin initiative.

No similar resolution about Ireland has been passed in Europe before.

It expresses concern that the implementation of the Peace Process has reached an impasse, welcomes the current talks and urges all parties to participate constructively to resolve all outstanding issues.

It was supported by every political group in the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, the talks in Belfast continue to lack a process and political momentum. Both are required for any possibility of progress to be made. Increased international attention will be needed to bring that about. 

This Conservative Party-led British Government has been completely indifferent to what is needed to end the current impasse. 

Its relegation of the North to a political backwater, an associated lack of positive politics, commitment and negotiation capacity, and their system’s loss of institutional memory and skills on Ireland all negatively feed into this British approach.

Add to that the Conservatives’ own unionist political bias, the political crisis in the British state, next year’s Westminster elections, and hedging their bets with the DUP.

The Conservatives and the British system are not concentrated on making these talks work. 

Sidebar conversations involving them about negative default scenarios regarding the New Year, if not before, are counter-productive.

As a result of the European Parliament resolution, it is now prepared to offer any support which can be of assistance to the Northern political process.

The United States administration is keenly aware that the Good Friday Agreement itself and the viability of the political institutions are directly threatened.

Gary Hart starts talks

US Senator Gary Hart has already conducted one round of meetings here to offer encouragement.

It is clear that unless the US Government – through Gary Hart – is directly involved in these talks, no substantive political negotiation will occur while the British continue pretending they are facilitators and not participants.

Instead, there is real risk for political drift, culminating in a preordained British position paper being tabled which attempts to dilute the Haass compromise proposals and is bereft of a serious economic reconstruction plan for the North.

● Senator Gary Hart should now be given a central role in helping to shape and drive the talks agenda.

● The political resources of the EU Parliament should also be brought into play. 

● The Irish Government ought to make these representations.

A properly-structured negotiation process with political momentum will depend on intensified international diplomatic attention, and a ‘hands-on’ role for America and Europe.

FG/Labour Govt in crisis – will struggle to stay in power, says Gerry Adams

THE Fine Gael/Labour Government is in deep crisis, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD told an internal party conference attended by 500 grassroots activists in Dublin on Saturday.

He also called for the biggest possible mobilisation for the Right2Water rally in Dublin on December 10th.

“As each day passes, it is clearer that it will struggle to stay in office until the end of its term.

“Tá an chomhdháil seo inniu mar pháirt d’ullmhúcháin Shinn Féin le go mbeidh muid réidh don lá nuair a chaithfidh an droch-rialtas seo, guth a thabhairt do na doine a rá cén cineál rialtais atá siad ag iarraidh.”

The Sinn Féin leader said that this Government has broken most of the promises it made during the last general election and “Fine Gael, with the support of Labour, have imposed relentless austerity on struggling families and vulnerable citizens”.

He said Fine Gael and Labour have failed to deliver on any commitment to political reform, accountability or parliamentary effectiveness even though the electorate voted last year in favour of reform in the Seanad and across the political system.

“There been no Seanad reform.

“Instead, this Government has used and abused the Dáil, the Seanad, sboards and ministerial positions to a degree that would make even Fianna Fáil blush!

Mary Lou water tax

“Yet again, this week, the Tánaiste would not answer a straightforward question put to her by Mary Lou McDonald.

“The Taoiseach does that regularly with me. 

“Sinn Féin in the Dáil voices the concerns of countless thousands of citizens. That is our mandate.

“Yet, time and time again, the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach refuse to answer straightforward questions.  The Ceann Comhairle continually allows ministers to get away with this.

“Is é is bunús le parlaimint ar bith ná go gcoinníonn an freasúra súil ghéar ar an rialtas.

“Ní tharlaíonn sé seo sa Dáil.

“Bíonn an Ceann Comhairle i gcónaí fábhrach d’Airí Rialtais agus don Taoiseach.

“The Ceann Comhairle’s treatment of Mary Lou on Thursday was unfair and petulant.

“She asked legitimate and appropriate questions about whether water charges would be deducted from the pensions, social welfare and wages of those who cannot afford to pay.

“His refusal to return to the Dàil chamber until Mary Lou left was silly and bizarre, especially when she sat tight – quite rightly – and refused to meekly serve her time. 

“Given his treatment of Opposition parties and Independents, and particularly Sinn Féin, I have no confidence in the Ceann Comhairle.”

Gerry Adams said that rather than use the exit from the EU/IMF bail-out agreement on 15 December to provide relief to those hit hardest by austerity, the Government inflicted further painful measures.

“Fine Gael and Labour can no longer hide behind the Troika for their decisions. They cannot say that ‘the big boys made them do it’.”

He pointed to the unavoidable resignation of Fine Gael Justice Minister Alan Shatter over Garda Síochána Ombudsman’s Office affair, the treatment of whistleblowers on Garda corruption; also Eamon Gilmore’s  resignation as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tánaiste and leader of the Labour Party in the wake of his party’s disastrous performance in May’s EU and local elections.

“Eamon Gilmore got out just in time.”

Eamon Gilmore – Going places

Yet more woes befell the Government with the Seanad ‘McNultygate’ scandal and two by-election defeats for the Government as well as losing its Seanad majority.

“The Budget was an opportunity to give people a break.

“Instead citizens got water charges, Property Tax, no help for carers, no investment in mental health, and a cut to the top rate of tax, rewarding a wealthy minority.

“The Government failed to listen to citizens and now faces its deepest crisis yet.

“This Government’s Frankenstein creation – Irish Water – has been characterised by excessive spending on consultants, bonuses and cronyism.

“Léirigh Sinn Féin gur féidir leis an Stát íoc as seirbhís uisce den chéad scoth gan bac a chur ar an lucht oibre. Mar pháirt d’aon rialtas gheobhadh muid réidh le táillí uisce. Tá sin déanta again sa Tuaisceart. 

“Sinn Féin is part of the Right2Water campaign.  I am calling for the biggest possible mobilisation on December 10th to demonstrate the continued widespread opposition to water charges.”

1916-executed-leaders

Turning to this week’s Irish Government programme to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Gerry Adams said:

“This incompetent Government, which has no intention of fulfilling the vision of the 1916 Proclamation, is now determined to dishonour its legacy.

“This week – under mounting pressure due to the fact that, after three years, it clearly had no plan for marking the Rising’s 100th anniversary – it produced a glossy brochure devoid of historical substance or detail.”

Gerry Adams said that and Assembly Junior Minister Jennifer McCann were in the GPO at the launch.

“Outside, the rebellious noise of anti-water charge protesters drowned out the self-serving ministerial speeches. 

“The video to launch Ireland 2016 makes no mention of the Easter Rising or of the signatories of the Proclamation.

“Going by this corporate-style video, the Government believes that the Rising was about Facebook, Google, Bob Geldof, Bono, David Cameron and the English queen!

“This effort and the fig leaf production of a flimsy commemorative brochure are deeply disrespectful to the men and women of 1916 and betray a cynical indifference to their ideals, hopes and vision. 

“It seems that John Bruton won the argument about how the Government should proceed on this important issue.”

But the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s vision of 2016 is no accident, Gerry Adams said.

“The reason this Government won’t mark the Rising appropriately is because it is opposed to the political, social and economic intent of the 1916 Proclamation.

“Despite this shameful official neglect, ordinary Irish citizens, North and South, and the Irish Diaspora will celebrate and educate and pay tribute to the brave men and women of 1916.”They will be joined by Sinn Féin.

“And Sinn Féin will continue to work to make the Proclamation a reality in an independent, united Ireland with peace and genuine reconciliation between all who live here.”

Referring to the political talks in the North that are “finally underway”, Gerry Adams said, though, “there is no evidence of a start to the type of credible negotiations that are required to unlock the impasse in the political process”.

He said Sinn Féin’s priority is to defend and to progress the “hugely significant political advances” that have been made over the past 20 years.

“It is of crucial importance however that the Irish Government adopts the same unambiguous pro-Agreement position and very clearly hold the British Government to account in relation to its obligations.” 

AP Election Special poster

In an effort to stem rising public support for Sinn Féin, it is clear that Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil will employ any dirty trick, lie, or disgusting allegation, the Sinn Féin leader said.

“That now includes the vile slur that Sinn Féin is involved in a cover-up of sexual abuse cases. But – despite the tsunami of anti-Sinn Féin propaganda – our activists and members should hold your heads high. Our commitment is to support and  to help victims and survivors and to honestly face up to any failures in the past. Be sure of this – Sinn Féin has not been involved in any cover-up.”

The veteran republican leader emphasised:

“Any  abuser within republicanism has done grievous wrongs to their victims. They did not do this in our name. They have sullied our cause.

“But they are not in any way representative of the tens of thousands of republican activists who served the republican cause in the ranks of the IRA and Sinn Féin.

“They are not representative of the tens of thousands of republican prisoners who served hard time for the republican cause. Or of our patriot dead.

“They are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of citizens, North and South, who vote for Sinn Féin.”

Gerry Adams said this “mud slinging” by political opponents is a sign of their political desperation.

“It is about trying to blunt the growth of Sinn Féin and our potential for gains at the next general election. It will not succeed. The people are not stupid.

“Sinn Féin believes in a real Republic, a citizen-centred, rights-based society. That is the fundamental ideological difference between Sinn Féin and this deeply unpopular government.

“That message is finding a deep resonance among citizens the length and breadth of this country. More citizens voted for Sinn Féin in 2014 than in the famous election of 1918.

“Today’s conference marks the next step in building a strong Irish republican party focused on uniting Ireland and committed to achieving real political, social and economic change.

“Ar aghaidh linn.”

1916 centenary must be all-Ireland and include Diaspora

Irish Government’s Easter Rising programme ‘lightweight’

Easter Rising leaders – left out of Fine Gael/Labour Government 1916 centenary video

THE Irish Government’s 1916 Easter Rising commemorative programme launched this week at the GPO has been described by Sinn Féin as “lightweight” and unfitting to the memory of those who fought for Ireland’s freedom from the British Empire.

A Fine Gael/Labour Government-sponsored video launched this week was widely criticised across the political and social spectrum for failing to even mention the 1916 Easter Rising or any of its executed leaders.

The Irish Times reported that a second version of the tourist-oriented video was hastily updated with “a lingering shot of a copy of the Proclamation” set against a photograph of a burnt-out GPO.

The Ireland Inspires 2016 video urges people “Let’s build a new legacy” when the legacy in the Proclamation of 1916 is still unfulfilled almost a century later.

1916 Govt video

The Irish Government video’s token opening shot

“Both videos feature footage of prominent figures including Ian Paisley, Queen Elizabeth, Bono, David Cameron and Bob Geldof but, other than a brief glimpse of the Proclamation document at the beginning of the newly-updated video, at no point are Pádraig Mac Piarais, James Connolly or indeed any of the other executed 1916 leaders mentioned in the piece,” the Irish Times noted.

The insult was compounded when a spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht confirmed that Google Translate was used to translate English into Irish on a Government website promoting the 1916 commemorations.

Sinn Féin Arts & Heritage spokesperson Sandra McLellan TD said that any state programme must be inclusive of the entire island and the Irish nation as a whole, including the Diaspora.

“It must aim to educate, motivate and celebrate around the very ideals and vision as espoused in the proclamation rather than become a military and ceremonial event without substance,” she said.

“Organisations that were centrally involved in the 1916 Rising such as Conradh na Gaeilge, the GAA and trade unions must be included in any official state commemorative programme.

“Citizens and communities must be actively encouraged and facilitated in an open way by the Government to generate and put forward their views and ideas on how we commemorate this critical period in our country’s history.”

Effective regulation needed for private rental sector –Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has said a review of private rental sector accommodation must result in effective regulation to protect the rights of tenantslg_tony_hassan_copy2
He said;

“The review of private rental sector accommodation which has been announced  is welcome and something that Sinn Féin has been calling for.

“The current regulations are clearly ineffective and need to be reviewed to include effective regulation to protect the rights of tenants and to make landlords responsible for their dwellings.

“The private rented sector receives huge amounts of public funding for rents through housing benefits and must be accountable to ensure the quality of the housing provided.

“At the moment social housing is provided by the Housing Executive and housing associations, as well as the private rental sector.

 

Ends

Anderson supports COPD awareness in Europe

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has backed a campaign at the European Parliament to raise awareness of COPD. Bxj7lUnIYAAip0Z.jpg large

Speaking from Brussels on World COPD Day, Ms Anderson said; 

“Events like this by the European Public Health Alliance are necessary because many people don’t realise just how common an illness COPD is. 

“It affects more people in Europe than breast cancer and diabetes. 

“Unfortunately it kills around 300,000 people across Europe each year. 

“It is also an illness which is on the increase throughout Europe, increasing by more than 60 per cent in the last 20 years. 

“As a result, many families across the North, including my own, have been touched by COPD. 

“More must be done to raise awareness of the condition as well as promoting preventions and ensuring equal access to early diagnosis and correct treatments.” 

‘SDLP refused to meet me on budget’ – McGuinness

The SDLP refused to engage with Sinn Fein during crucial budget negotiations and instead chose to pursue a publicity campaign of spin and dishonesty, Sinn Fein MLA Martin McGuinness has said.DSC_8208

“It is somewhat ironic to hear SDLP representatives lamenting the state of the health service because when they had the chance to do something about it, they failed to do so,” Mr McGuinness said.

“During the recent budget negotiations, my party made four separate attempts to arrange meetings with the SDLP to discuss how we could secure additional funds for Health and a number of other departments, including the SDLP-run Department of the Environment.

“All of those requests were ignored.

“This indicates that the SDLP didn’t want a resolution and are, clearly, more interested in political point scoring than patients or public services.

 “The SDLP have incorrectly claimed that Sinn Fein voted for a budget that would involve health cuts at the Executive meeting on October 30th. This is simply not true. Either the SDLP do not understand the budget or they are being deliberately dishonest. 

“The reality is that, at the Executive meeting on October 30th, Sinn Fein supported the ring-fencing of the health budget, protecting it from cuts. At that Executive meeting Sinn Fein supported a further £200m increase for our health service in the budget for next year. In stark contrast the SDLP voted against each of these initiatives at the Executive table.

“Bad decisions are being made at a Health Trust level. But these are, in part, a result of mismanagement by successive unionist health ministers. Specific accountability measures were inserted into the draft budget by Sinn Féin to address this mismanagement. Again, this was opposed by the SDLP’s Executive Minister when he voted against the draft budget.

“The SDLP’s lack of strategic thinking was highlighted at the weekend when they rejected any discussion of a pro-agreement strategy to maximise electoral support for the Good Friday Agreement. The SDLP’s lack of strategic thinking is also evident in their approach to the health service which is driven by party politicking and has nothing to do with protecting patients, the health service or the jobs of health workers.”

Ends

EU must take immediate action – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the EU must take immediate action to calm tensions in East Jerusalem. 

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

 

Ms Anderson, the chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council said; 

“This morning’s attack at the Har Nof synagogue was wrong and must be condemned. 

“Everyone in Jerusalem must be free to attend their chosen place or worship without fear of attack of intimidation. 

“This incident, and the ongoing tensions in the area of the al-Haram al-Sharif mosque, highlights the need for the European Union to take action to help progress peace in the region. 

“I am appealing for all sides to pull back amid the rising tensions in East Jerusalem. 

“Mere condemnation is not enough. It must be backed with action. 

“The European Union must take action against human rights violations carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people. 

“The illegal actions of Israel in expanding settlements in East Jerusalem also need to be challenged. 

“A resolution passed today states the EU is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to take action to protect the viability of the two-state solution and now it must live up to that and match those words with action.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Any potential health cuts must be subject to equality impact assessments – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the health minister to ensure any potential cuts to the health service are subject to equality assessments. 

Speaking after an Assembly debate on the the mishandling of the health budget, the chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; 

“Everyone recognises the pressures experienced by the health service at the present time. 

“However, it should also be remembered that our health budget of £4.6 bn has been protected through budgetary processes.

“As a result of Sinn Féin lobbying, health was allocated £80m in the October monitoring round and an additional £200m in the draft budget. 

“The heath minister must explain how, in spite of this, the health budget was so badly mismanaged by his predecessor.

“The situation got so bad that the finance minister publicly criticised the previous health minister, Edwin Poots’ handling of the budget, which he described as ‘hugely disappointing.’ 

“Unfortunately Jim Wells appears intent on continuing in this vein with the proposals to close community hospitals and units in Ballycastle, Dungannon and Down. 

“It is up to the minister to ensure that any potential cuts are are subject to full equality impact assessments in order to protect frontline services. 

“It beggars belief that when we are faced with such cuts we also have £34m paid to consultants in bonuses, increases in administration staff, and up to £65m paid to the independent sector annually.” 

SDLP response to election call a fundamental error – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has described the SDLP’s response to his call for progressive pro-Agreement parties to maximise representation at the next Westminster election as a fundamental error. And after the SDLP rejected his offer to open a discussion on developing a strategic pro-agreement approach to the next Westminster and Assembly elections.Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

 

 

Martin McGuinness said:

 

 “I think the SDLP’s response to my call is a serious political mistake.

 

 “The refusal by the SDLP’s leadership to even discuss how best we can maximise progressive and pro-Agreement representation in Westminster and the local institutions is a fundamental error.

 

 “I believe the SDLP’s negative response is an ill-thought out, knee-jerk reaction and represents a lost opportunity.

 

 “It demonstrates a lack of strategic vision on the part of the SDLP and points up the need for more innovative and forward-looking politics which can effectively counter the unionist anti-Agreement axis.”

Ends

Great News for Brandywell-Logue

Sinn Fein Cllr Patricia Logue has described progress on the planned service provision improvements in the Brandywell area as “Great News”Councillor  Patricia Logue

Speaking after attending an update meeting at the Long tower Youth & Community Centre on Friday 14th November Cllr Logue said:

“ The full plans for the entire development of the Brandywell, the Showgrounds and the Daisyfield have been a long time coming but its brilliant that we are now at this stage”

Cllr Logue continued:

“This entire project will see redevelopments in the Brandywell Stadium and equally importantly the provision of a brand new leisure centre to replace the old Brandywell Centre and a complete revamp of the Daisyfield, with new pitches, changing facilities, floodlights and parking. The entire development also incorporates a brand new £400,000 playpark, which I hope can be located on the Brandywell side of the Letterkenny Rd.

 “I have campaigned for many years to see the Brandywell, Showground and Daisyfield developed and it is great news to see this campaign coming to fruition. 

Sinn Féin Culture Minister, Carál NiChuilín and Joint First Minister Martin McGuinness have through their departments allocated more than £4,000,000 to this project and as a Sinn Féin Cllr I am glad to see this investment in the Brandywell.”

Cllr Logue concluded:

“At the meeting I made it clear that it is Sinn Féin’s preference that social clauses and local suppliers are maximised and I am looking forward to the appointment of the Project Design Team this side of Christmas.  Work on the stadium should start in April 2015 and the Showgrounds and daiseyfield works will follow on from that.”

“At the completion of this development the residents of the Brandywell will have access to a brand new leisure centre, 2 synthetic pitches and a state of the art play park that will rival any in the city.”

Moves to address dampness in homes at Bluebell Hill Gardens-Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed news from the NI Housing Executive that they are to carry out a survey of homes affected by dampness.

Councillor Patricia Logue said Patricia Logue new pic 22

I have been receiving a lot of complaints from residents regarding dampness and the effects that was having on their homes and their daily lives.

We all know the problems dampness can have on a home and affects it have on people health. The Housing Executive have been doing a lot of work to try and address this but the residents I have spoken to said it wasn’t working in the long  run and there needed to be long term solution to this.

I am pleased to inform residents of Bluebell Hill Gardens in the Brandywell that the NIHE have now appointed consultants to survey all Housing Executive properties on the street.

I am encouraging all residents to use this opportunity to raise the issue of dampness and any other concerns they may have.

The Housing Executive hope to have this survey completed by Christmas .I will be hosting another public meeting when the results of the survey are known .This meeting will enable us to develop a way forward for residents

Sinn Féin welcomes launch of centenary programme by 1916 Relatives Association

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan attending today’s launch at the iconic Wynn’s Hotel said, “I want to congratulate and pay tribute to the 1916 Relatives Association who have produced what is a comprehensive programme of political, social and cultural events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.lynn

“The proposed programme set out by the Relatives Association today will no doubt capture the public imagination and interest in a way that the Government failed to do so last Wednesday at the GPO.

“The Government must now directly engage with the Relatives Association and the public at large to ensure that 2016 is marked in a significant and fitting way which does service to what was a key historical period in our nations history.

“I am therefore urging all citizens and community, voluntary and other organised groups from throughout the island of Ireland and the diaspora to make submissions and tell the Irish Government how the Irish people want to both celebrate and commemorate this historic centenary in 2016.”

Logue expresses sympathy following fire tragedy in Derry

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Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue commenting on the news that a man has died in a house fire in the Upper Bennett Street area just off Abercorn Road this morning.

Speaking from the scene, Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue expressed her sympathy to the man’s family.

This a terrible tragedy and the last thing anyone would expect to hear first thing on a Sunday morning.

I have spoken too many of the local residents here and there is shock in the community.

I would like to express my sympathies  to the man’s family.

Have your say on new community centre Galliagh-McCallion

Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion has called on people living and working in the greater  Galliagh  area to take part in a public consultation which will be taking place next week  to explore the potential for a new community centre based in Galliagh. 1

she said

“I would urge as many people as possible to try and get along to this consultation and have their say on what they think should be a suitable site for a new community centre in Galliagh.And what they would like to see in the new community centre.

A lot of good work goes on in the area on a day and daily basis and this has been complemented with the various reimaging and environmental  projects which have taken place over the past few years.

Public consultation

Wednesday 26th November 2014

St Joseph’s Parish Centre, Galliagh

2:30pm to 4:30pm and 5:30 pm to 7:30pm

Tus Maith team carry out major clean up in city –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has congratulated staff from the TRIAX Tus Maith team who undertook a major clean-up operation of the laneways in the Marlborough, Oakfield and Windsor Terrace area.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

he said

The footpaths in many of the laneways are badly worn; there is a lot of vegetation, weeds and moss on the lanes. This is causing particular problems for older residents who fear slipping on it putting out their bins.  It was also causing problems for the likes of oil deliveries in the likes of Windsor Terrace and up around Marlborough and Oakfield areas.

I felt it was important to do something to help residents who had contacted me on these issues before the harshness of winter approached. I am very pleased that  the staff from the TRIAX Tus Maith team did a great job. Local residents have asked me through the press to convey their thanks for the work carried out.

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McLaughlin welcomes news on Foyle Hospice funding

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and Chair of the Assemblys Health Committee Maeve McLaughlin said

“I very much welcome the news that there will be an uplift in funding for the Foyle Hospice and follows a meeting I had with them during which the issue of the imbalance in funding for the hospice locally was raised  and subsequently lead to my assembly question raising  the issue.

Cancer is an illness that has touched practically every family in our city.

“The remarkable staff in our health service, the Foyle Hospice and those working out in the community are to be commended for all that they do, on many occasions  going far beyond the call of duty. They go about their work with great dignity and respect for the patient and their families in what can be quite challenging times.

We are indebted to services they provide and the important work that they do.

QUESTION TO HEALTH MINISTER
Q-To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety whether he intends to review the funding allocation to Foyle Hospice in Derry, given the level of need in the North West region.

Responsibility for the commissioning of health and social care services lies with the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) in conjunction with the Public Health Agency (PHA).
The Western Health and Social Care Trust currently sub-contracts with the Foyle Hospice for palliative care services in the north-west. Services provided by the Hospice include inpatient beds, day hospice and community services.

The HSCB recently reviewed the funding provided to voluntary hospice organisations across Northern Ireland. The result of their analysis highlighted that Foyle Hospice had a funding pressure in respect of the services they provide. The HSCB, in discussion with the Hospice, Western HSC Trust and the Local Commissioning Group, have agreed the following:

To uplift the SLA with Foyle Hospice by £200,000 in 2014/15, bringing the value of the funding for services in 2014/15 to £662,497; and

In conjunction with the Foyle Hospice to further review the financial position going forward into 2015/16 and 2016/17.

The HSCB, Local Commissioning Group and Western Health and Social Care Trust met with Foyle Hospice on 6 November 2014 to confirm the uplifted funding for the 2014/15 SLA.
The Western Health and Social Care Trust and Foyle Hospice share the services
of a Consultant in Palliative Medicine. The Trust is commissioned to fund 50% of
this post.

Sinn Féin to hold major public meeting in Derry

Sinn Féin is to hold a major public meeting in the city next week as part of a series of meetings across Ireland .The party have a held a  number of similar meetings in the past in the city with hundreds in attendance at the Guildhall and Millennium Forum.

The first meeting in this series is to be held in Derry.

Outlining the meeting Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said

“Sinn Féin are organising a series of Community Engagement Meetings across the north, led by Sinn Féin Leadership. 

These are public meetings, open to everyone and the maximum effort needs to be put in to mobilise for each of them.  No other party presents themselves in front of the public like this.

Gerry Adams TD, Mary Lou McDonald TD and Martin McGuinness MLA will each be addressing three of the meetings. They will be complimented by other Sinn Féin leadership figures at each event.

The meetings will provide an update on the current national political and economic situation, outlining the republican strategy towards 2016 and there will be an opportunity for Q & A.

Martin McGuinness will be the main speaker at the Derry meeting which will be held next Tuesday night in the Waterfoot Hotel at 7.30pm.

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SDLP should apologise to vital community and regeneration projects-McCartney

The SDLP should apologise to vital community and regeneration projects –following comments by the party’s West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood,

 

Local Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney  has insisted. Raymond pic 34

 

“During a recent radio interview , Alex Attwood launched an insulting and inaccurate attack, questioning the integrity of key projects and services working for the people of this area,” The Foyle MLA said.

 

“Threatening to remove funding from projects which received funds from the Social Investment Fund, Alex Attwood told BBC Radio that the SDLP were ‘going to be tough on £80million being managed by the Sinn Fein and DUP First and deputy First Minister which in the great part is going to their favoured loyalist and republican projects.

 

“That is an outrageous slur. The Social Investment Fund has been directed at projects in areas of high social deprivation which are aimed at improving the lives of the people who live there. In this area, projects such as a capital cluster to improve play facilities with a value of £1.75m at Ballyarnett, Ballymagroarty and Daisyfield. And £3.3 Million Community Work Programme ,a

 project to improve employment, providing long term placements targeted upon those on the margins but especially the young (25 years) long term unemployed  have benefited from significant investment.

 

“Is the SDLP saying that they would remove this funding as part of their ‘get tough’ policy? Is the SDLP saying that all these projects are republican or loyalist fronts?

 

“The SDLP should apologise to the groups involved immediately and they should lift the threat to oppose their funding.”

O hEára welcomes launch of Irish-medium youth work report

Sinn Féin Spokesperson and Irish Language enthusiast Gearóid O hEára has welcomed the launch by Education Minister John O Dowd of a report on youth work delivered through the medium of the Irish Language.

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Gearóid O hEára said:

“This is a welcome and important development in recognising the growing numbers of young people being educated through the medium of Irish and the need to cater for them through post primary stage.

“The recommendations in the report when implemented will offer opportunities for young people to develop their skills and continue education and training all through the medium of Irish.

“As someone who has been involved for many years developing youth programmes encouraging young people to participate in language, arts and culture through the Irish language I have no doubt that the opportunity to develop other skills through the medium their native language will be enthusiastically embraced by Gaeilgeoirí Óga.

“I also welcome the allocation by the Minister of an additional £130,000 to ‘encourage and support informal opportunities for learning in Irish’.”

Election an opportunity to maximise pro-Agreement representation – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said there is an opportunity to achieve the largest representation ever for progressive pro-agreement parties in the next Westminster and Assembly elections. Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

Mr McGuinness said; 

“For the past two years the political process has been challenged by those who are attempting to turn the clock back. 

“There is a need to send out a clear message of support for progressive politics, the Good Friday Agreement and genuine power sharing and partnership government.

“With an imaginative approach we could maximise representation of progressive Pro Agreement parties at the next Westminster and Assembly elections and in the process challenge the negative agenda of the anti-agreement unionist axis. 

“I am calling therefore on the SDLP to withdraw their candidates in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Upper Bann and North Belfast with the objective of delivering electable pro-Agreement candidates. If the SDLP choose to stand in these constituencies they risk handing these seats to anti-agreement unionists.

“This would be a setback for the political process in the North. It would also add further momentum to the British government’s shift towards increasingly partisan support for negative unionism and provide allies and support for a future Tory assault on public services. 

“In response Sinn Féin is prepared to withdraw candidates in other constituencies to reciprocate this move from the SDLP. This would clearly assist in the election of progressive pro-agreement candidates.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Fears for Glenabbey bus service after attacks –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has condemned a number of stoning incidents on buses in the Glenabbey area  and fears if these incidents continue the service could be withdrawn.

 He said ???????????????????????????????

“There have been a number of stone attacks on buses servicing the Glenabbey housing developments in the past week.

It’s fortunate there has not been serious injury to either the driver or the passengers. Those people involved in these actions need not only to consider the consequences of the physical damage they could cause and their repercussions but also the disruption to their own community that attacking a bus causes.

 “Glenabbey has many residents that depend on affordable public transport to get to and from the city centre and the removal of this service would cause untold hardship. There is now the fear that this service could be withdrawn and I fully understand the responsibilities Translink have to protect both their employees and passengers.

 “I would call on the local community to support Translink in helping to deliver a safe affordable service to the area by using any influence with the young people involved to desist immediately.

 

 

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Israel using British law to restrict movement in Palestine – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said Israel is using a British law to restrict movement in Palestine. 

Speaking after meeting representatives of the UN Habitat group in Brussels, Ms Anderson said; IMG_0977

“I met with Frank d’Hondt from UN Habitat in Brussels today to discuss the difficulties faced by Palestinians living in an area of the West Bank known as Area C.

“Thousands of Palestinians in Area C face difficulties every day because their movement is controlled and restricted by the Israeli government. 

“Palestinian communities have lost access to their land because of Israeli settlement expansion. Many have demolition orders against their homes and very few have access to the electricity or water networks. 

“Access to this land would not only allow Palestinians to build adequate housing for communities, but it would also provide opportunities to grow and develop the economy. 

“By restricting and controlling access the Israeli government is putting yet another stranglehold on the Palestinian people. Effectively Israel is trying to annex this land, contrary to international law. 

“The law the Israelis are using to block access dates back to the British Mandatory Regional Outline Plan which was developed in the 1920s and 30s for colonisation. 

“That is still being used today to block Palestinians from accessing their own land. 

“The British government should denounce this use of out-dated law at Westminster. 

“This would allow UN Habitat to work with the Palestinian authority to challenge this unfair legislation which is denying Palestinians their human rights.” Ends/Críoch

McCartney welcomes renewed focus on Maghaberry problems

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed a renewed focus on dealing with difficulties in Roe House in Maghaberry prison. DIGITAL CAMERA

Speaking after the publication of an independent assessment into conditions in Roe House, Maghaberry, Mr McCartney said; 

“This review is welcome and contains a number of measures to improve the situation in Roe House. 

“I welcome a more focused approach to dealing with the issue of full body searches, relaxations on controlled movement and a review of education provision for prisoners. 

“In all our dealings on this issue Sinn Féin has always made it clear that prisoners should be treated with dignity and respect. 

“The August 2010 agreement provided a template to support that position. 

“We see this review as a reinvigoration of that. 

“It reinforces the principle that everyone; prisoners, their family members and prison staff have the right to live their lives in an environment free from hostility.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Fleming calls for emergency meeting of DCC over threats against council staff

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has tonight asked the Chief Executive of Derry City Council Sharon O Connor to convene a special meeting of party group leader’s tomorrow morning (Wednesday) to discuss threats made against 11 council employees today.

Paul Fleming repeated his appeal for the threat against the workers to be lifted immediately.Paul-Fleming

 

Threats against Community Safety Wardens needs to be lifted.

Councillor Paul Fleming said

“I am concerned that a threat has been delivered against Community Safety Wardens in the Derry area and this needs to be lifted.???????????????????????????????
 
“The Community Safety Wardens are employed through Derry City Council across three areas in an effort to reduce anti social activity in high areas of risk and have been very successful in doing so right across the city and district.
 
“They also provide services such as ensuring council functions are carried out as well as providing a presence in the evenings and nighttime, giving confidence to local residents.
 
“The threat delivered through a community worker is a sinister development and the latest in a long line of threats issued against various groups and individuals in the city. 
 
“In fact it may now be easier to list the groups and people who are not under threat as opposed to those who are.
 
“The group behind these threats needs to lift them immediately and the people who give them political cover need to explain the rationale behind them.
 
“It is unacceptable that the community safety wardens cannot get on to providing the service that they were designed to do and that the entire community is being held under threat by an minority unrepresentative grouping.”

EU support for political process is key – McGuinness

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has said the European Union has a major role to play in supporting the political process in the North.

 

Speaking ahead of a European Parliament debate on the peace process on Wednesday, Mr McGuinness said;

 

“I welcome the continued interest of the European Union in the peace and political process in the North of Ireland.

 

“Last month I visited the European Parliament in Brussels and met with the leaders of the party groupings to update them on the current challenges facing the political process.

 

“The ongoing support of the European Union, particularly that of former president Manuel Barroso, is much valued.

 

“The Barroso taskforce, set up to support economic growth and underpin the peace process, is a great asset in terms of maximising the opportunities Europe has to offer.

 

“We have already witnessed its positive impact on the economy of the North and I am assured that will continue in the future with the support of the European Union.”

 

Martina Anderson MEP also welomed Europe’s support for the peace process.

 

“I welcome the ongoing interest of the European Union in the peace and politial processes in the North.

 

 “The fact that this resolution comes so soon after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness visited the European Parliament and met with the group leaders is an indication of how important the political process is in the life of the parliament.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

Anderson encourages people to attend Strabane EU referendum meeting

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has encouraged people to attend a meeting in Strabane on Friday on the possible impact on Ireland of Britain leaving the EU. 

Speaking ahead of the event, which will be hosted by Pat Doherty MP in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane, on Friday from 2-4pm, Ms Anderson said; 15251175137_aa21579d1d_o

“The North of Ireland has benefitted hugely from membership of the European Union over many years. 

“We see those benefits on a daily basis both in the North and on a north-south basis right across the island. 

“Now we have a situation where the British government has committed to holding a referendum on membership of the EU. No-one knows exactly what a British government withdrawal from Europe would mean. 

“For us in the north of Ireland, and particularly those who live and work in the border counties north and south, any change in our membership of the EU would have drastic consequences. These have the potential to stifle the progress and development of this region. 

“This is a hugely important issue. That is why Pat Doherty MP is hosting a public meeting on the impact Britain’s referendum on EU membership would have on Ireland. 

“I will be addressing the meeting alongside Ruth Tallion from the Centre for Cross Border Studies. 

“The meeting will be held in the Fir Tress Hotel, Strabane, on Friday November 14 from 2-4pm.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Hassan welcomes moves on Culmore “flood” wall

Speaking  after a of Derry City Council Environmental Services meetinglg_tony_hassan_copy2

 Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has said he has welcomes clarification from DRD Roads Service  that they have responsibility for maintaining the wall at the shore front in Culmore .

His comments come amid concerns in Culmore of flooding reoccurring following the bad weather conditions which affected roads across the city last week .

Councillor Hassan said “The DRD Roads Service need to remove the sections of the railings at the roadside along the riverfront and replace it with a continuous solid stone wall in consultation with local  residents and Derry City Council.

I am glad that they have now said they have responsibility for the maintenance of the wall .It is imperative that we get the situation resolved at Culmore as speedily as possible .We cannot have a situation every time  there is heavy rain residents are panicking their homes will get flooded or one of the main roads through the area will be closed.

I proposed a motion at the meeting calling on Derry City Council to contact DRD and have the wall repaired as soon as possible

End in sight for Killea “pumping station “problems

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the news above Waste Water Treatment Works Upgrade in Killea will be begin this week.

This follows a long campaign by Sinn Féin.Patricia Logue new pic 22

Councillor Logue said

“This is welcome news and follows a long campaign by my party colleague Mickey Cooper who has been liaising with residents and the various agencies for several years now.

The  upgrade is directly linked to the resolution of sewage issues in Killea as NI Water  are proposing to link a new pipeline between the new pumping station at Nixon’s Corner to the Killea developments once Nixon’s Corner is complete. We look forward to progress being made on the Killea connection in near future

Hopefully this new scheme should see a permanent resolution of the issues in Killea and will also give the residents of the wider area a much improved system.

McCartney supports Bloody Sunday Judicial Review

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has voiced his support for the Bloody Sunday families’ efforts to seek a judicial review of the decision by the PSNI Chief Constable to scale back the investigation into the murder by British Paratroopers of 14 civilians in Derry in January 1972.

The Vice-Chair of the Assembly Justice Committee said:

“I support the decision by the Bloody Sunday Families in seeking a Judicial Review of the Chief Constable’s action.

“I believe that most Derry citizens shared the anger of the families when this decision was announced.

“The announcement was made only a week before the British soldiers believed to have been involved in the shooting on Bloody Sunday were to be interviewed.

“This served only to add to the belief of many of the families that the decision was politically motivated.

“I accept that the PSNI like other statutory bodies are under serious financial pressures.

“But I do not accept that families who have waited almost 43 years for an investigation into the deaths of loved ones should be further victimised in a cash-saving exercise.

“There is an onus both morally and legally on the British government to fund inquiries into state killings or where the state colluded in killings.

“I wish the families success with the Judicial Review and assure them of both my personal and Sinn Féin’s continued support for whatever course of action they decide to follow.” CRÍOCH/END

British government must fund investigations into the past – Anderson

 

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the British government should pay for investigations into legacy cases from the conflict. ??????????

Speaking after attending a conference in Belfast where the Council of Europe Human Right’s Commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, said Britain must deal with its responsibilities on the past, Ms Anderson said; 

“The British government’s failure to comply with human rights regulations guaranteeing the right to life has been exposed to an international audience on numerous occasions. 

“At yesterday’s conference in Belfast, Commissioner Muiznieks clearly said Britain is currently breaching the European Convention of Human Rights through its failures to carry out effective investigations into killings during the conflict, particularly in cases of collusion and its shoot-to-kill policy. 

“His remarks, and the subsequent comments from the Assembly’s Justice Minister, David Ford, that Britain should foot the bill for investigations into state killings, is to be welcomed. 

“Britain cannot escape its responsibilities on its Article 2 obligations and it should not be allowed to use financial pressures as an excuse to deny relatives access to truth and justice. 

“I have been dealing with relatives who have lost loved ones as a result of state violence for many years and I have taken delegations to Europe to meet with senior MEPs to raise their cases with an international audience. 

“As a result of that engagement I invited Commissioner Muiznieks to Belfast to address this conference and bring these important issues to a wider audience. 

“I have also invited the Commissioner to return to the North and to compile an official report on these issues. 

“We welcome Commissioner Muiznieks’ intervention in this important debate and I will continue to work with him and the relatives who are campaigning for truth and justice.” Ends/Críoch

McLaughlin welcomes physiotherapists prescription move

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed changes to legislation to allow physiotherapists to independently prescribe certain medications without a doctor’s countersignature. 

The chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; 

“Legislation allowing physiotherapists to independently prescribe medicines for their patients without a doctor’s signature is a welcome step and will give patients increased access to treatment. 

“This has the potential to make a real difference to patients as it will speed up the prescription process.

“It will also help take some of the workload from GPs who are already under a great deal of pressure. 

“We will monitor the outworking of this initiative as it is rolled out across the North.” Ends/Críoch

O hEára welcomes multimillion Ebrington investment

Sinn Féin’s Gearóid O hEára has welcomed the completion of a £5.5 million investment at Ebrington. 

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Mr Ó hEára said;

“The Ebrington site has already transformed the cityscape in Derry and that will continue over the next few years as it continues to expand and develop. 

“Already it has hosted major international events which has showcased the best this city has to offer to a worldwide audience. 

“This investment from the Executive has brought huge changes to the Ebrington site and that is continuing with the development of a new car park and business units. 

“The real benefits are already being felt with the recent announcement of the establishment of a craft brewery on the site. 

“This will not only create much-needed jobs but provides an excellent vehicle for the creative talent and entrepreneurial spirit of our city. 

“The people of Derry taken the redeveloped Ebrington site to heart. It has also become an internationally recognisable symbol of the transformation of the city in recent years and we are committed to ensuring that redevelopment continues in the years ahead.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

British must be held to account

Threat to community workers is a threat to us all – Pat Doherty MP

 

Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty has condemned those behind threats which have culminated in four Strabane community workers resigning and called for the threats to be lifted immediately. lg_pat_doherty1

The West Tyrone MP said:

 

“Any threat to community workers is an attack on the whole community.

“The people of Strabane are rightly outraged at these threats. 

“The contrast between the activities of these criminal gangs masquerading as republicans and the contribution of community workers in delivering essential services to residents has not been lost on anyone.

 

“Those responsible for issuing this threat must state publicly that it is lifted immediately.

“These armed gangs need to leave the stage and allow people to build a better future for themselves and their families free from threat.

“People need to be able to get on with their lives without the shadow of these gangs hanging over them, who are besmirching the honourable title of republican.”    ENDS/CRÍOCH

HGV Levy hinders economic recovery – O HEára

Sinn Féin Spokesperson Gearóid O hEára has said that the imposition of a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) levy on hauliers traveling from the 26 counties is detrimentally impacting on economic recovery here.BziGQWHCUAEGYuj

Mr. O hEára said:

“Under new legislation introduced by the British Government, all HGVs crossing the border from April of this year are liable to a £10 per day levy. As someone working closely with the social economy and business sector in the border region I know the potential damage this will cause. 

“This is a particularly regressive measure which has the potential to cost jobs and will certainly damage the development of an all-Ireland economy.

“This levy will penalise already hard-pressed small and medium businesses. The high price of fuel coupled with this new charge will negatively impact on businesses that utilise haulage firms.  Inevitably the costs will be passed on to the consumer resulting in higher costs for goods and services.

“The levy has the potential to separate the northern economy from the rest of the island, at a time when the emphasis should be placed on building island wide trade which generates £2.3 billion annually for both economies on the island. Increasing barriers to trade can only harm both economies.  

 

“Sinn Féin has been vocal in its opposition to this move and our representatives, north and south have been to the forefront in highlighting the issue at every elected forum.

“As this is a tax the Assembly has no competency in the matter but the British Secretary of State (BSoS) has the power to exempt the roads in the North from liability for it. This is another example which dictates the need to demand the full suite of fiscal powers for the Assembly.

“Sinn Féin brought the matter to the floor of the Assembly in order to highlight the negative impact it is having on our economy and we will continue to fight it at every opportunity. We will continue putting pressure on the BSoS, in the interests of our local economy, to have our roads exempt from this regressive taxation.

“The British government needs to amend the legislation to exempt the north from this regressive charge. The Irish government must also use its influence in Europe and with their British counterparts to stop this charge which has the potential to severely affect the future viability of small and medium businesses especially along the already struggling border region.”  CRÍOCH/END

DUP need to clarify support for justice system – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called on the DUP to state whether or not they still support the justice system. 

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

“Recently several prominent DUP figures have publicly criticised the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Lord Chief Justice and the Police Ombudsman. 

“Former health minister Edwin Poots criticised the Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan.

“In the Assembly this week DUP members repeatedly called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider his position and made insinuations about the independence and integrity of the Police Ombudsman’s office. 

“This is from a party who in the past went to great lengths to paint itself as the party of law and order. What has changed?

“The DUP needs to come out publicly and state whether they still support the justice system in the North.” ENDS/CRÍOCH raymond mccartney

Clean sweep for Rosemount and the Strand -Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has congratulated the massive amount of work done by Derry City Council contractors to carry out a clean-up of private mews lanes in Rosemount and Lower Strand area.

 

Councillor Cooper said DSC_0043

 

I had received a high number of complaints from residents about the state of the laneways with request to see what could be done to do a major clean up.

 

After direct talks with officials from Derry City Council agreed to facilitate the clean up.

 

 

I’m now asking any residents who do not have keys for their news gates to contact me (07743175709) so I can arrange new copies to ensure the gates are kept closed at appropriate times-this will ensure further fly tipping and dog fouling is prevented.

 

It’s also important that once this work has been completed that residents play their part in the maintenance of keeping the lanes in their current good condition.

 

The council have only done this as a good will gesture and do not have normal powers to clean mews lanes in private streets.

 

I am aware of several properties in Rosemount which are still dumping in their mews lanes even after the clean-up has taken place. They should expect a visit from council officials as its totally unacceptable a small minority involve themselves in illegal dumping.

Campbell’s comments for any other language would be described as racist – Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell  has accused the DUP of once again going out of its way to insult the Irish language community and the hundreds of thousands of people who speak the language on a daily basis. 

Speaking today the Derry Sinn Féin Irish Language spokesperson said:Councillor Kevin Campbell

“Gregory Campbell’s ignorance and disregard for anything Irish was once again on full display as he strung together a line of English in a way to mock the Irish language.

“This is completely unfitting of an elected representative who would be at pains to insist that he represents everyone in his constituency. It is even more unfitting for these comments to be made in the Assembly chamber.

“If Gregory Campbell had have treated any other national language like this he would rightly have been accused of racism from all sides of this house.

“Unfortunately this is nothing new from the DUP who have blocked the development on an Irish language act, and whose representatives have a long history of insults to the Irish speaking community.

“While this might be funny in Gregory’s little closed world, it is hugely insulting to all of those who promote the huge benefits of endorsing and enhancing bilingualism in our society especially in our children.”

DUP need to clarify support for justice system – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called on the DUP to state whether or not they still support the justice system. raymond mccartney

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

“Recently several prominent DUP figures have publicly criticised the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Lord Chief Justice and the Police Ombudsman. 

“Former health minister Edwin Poots criticised the Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan.

“In the Assembly this week DUP members repeatedly called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider his position and made insinuations about the independence and integrity of the Police Ombudsman’s office. 

“This is from a party who in the past went to great lengths to paint itself as the party of law and order. What has changed?

“The DUP needs to come out publicly and state whether they still support the justice system in the North.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

McGuinness calls for all-island victims initiative

Martin McGuinness MLA has called for the establishment of an all-island initiative to ensure victims and survivors of abuse have access to professional support services. Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

Speaking in the Assembly, Mr McGuinness said; 

“The DUP motion before the Assembly today and the accompanying amendment from the SDLP are not about helping or supporting victims of sexual abuse.

“Those behind this motion are solely and singularly interested in attacking Sinn Fein and are blatantly politicising this very sensitive issue in the most crass and self-serving way.

“This motion is a wholly unjustified and unfounded attack on the integrity and sincerity of one of the most dedicated and capable members of this Assembly, my friend and colleague, Junior Minister Jennifer McCann.  The motion is a disgrace.

“But we have come to expect this type of gutter politics from some elements of the DUP. Gregory Campbell’s insulting comments on the Irish language yesterday – the derogatory comments of Jim Wells about the people of West Belfast are in the same vein. So we expect this type of insulting and personalised politicking from unrepentant bigots in the DUP.

“Even more disgraceful however is the collusion between the SDLP and the DUP in their combined and cowardly attack on Jennifer McCann. The SDLP have sunk to new depths in this cynical exercise. The SDLP are attempting to exploit the difficult issue of sexual abuse for the most selfish and self-serving political reasons. The SDLP amendment is a disgrace and the SDLP members who proposed this amendment should be ashamed of themselves.

“What has to be remembered is that the allegations at the centre of this debate have been tested in court and those accused acquitted.

“Members of this house are now arguing that due process should be set aside or ignored. They are doing so – not out of concern for an individual victim – but because they see her suffering as their political opportunity.

“That is a sad reflection of the priorities of some within this chamber.  

“Let me be absolutely clear on this point. I have no tolerance whatsoever for abusers. And nothing but empathy and sympathy for those who have been abused.

“But there is a duty on all of us to confront the issue of sexual abuse within Irish society in a responsible way.

“And to do so in such a way that enables all victims and survivors to access the support and justice they need and are entitled to.

“That is why I am proposing the establishment of an all-island initiative, resourced by – and under the remit of – both the Irish Government and Northern Executive through the North South Ministerial Council which will ensure that victims and survivors have access to the professional support services they need and, crucially, a channel through which complaints can be made to the appropriate statutory agency or police service.

“But let me be very clear, in her contact with Mairia Cahill, 7 years after the abuse occurred, Jennifer McCann acted at all times with care and compassion in attempting to support and assist a work colleague who she believed was the victim of serious sexual abuse.  Jennifer McCann did nothing wrong then or since. There is absolutely no basis or substance to any suggestion that she is in breach of the Ministerial Code.

“On the contrary, in her role as Junior Minister Jennifer has been the most effective and determined champion of victims, particularly in her work with the victims of institution historical abuse. She will continue in that important role with my total support and confidence. As long as I am deputy First Minister, Jennifer will continue to assist me as Junior Minister in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Kelly raises concerns over Creggan policing operation

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has called for an ombudsman’s investigation in relation to a search operation which took place in the Creggan area on Monday night by the PSNI Tactical Support Unit.

A number of homes in the Circular Road and Creggan Heights area were evacuated during the operation.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

 

Councillor Kelly said

 

“A number of residents have contacted me concerned about some aspects of the policing operation in Creggan on Monday night.

 

It was very a volatile situation with a large group of young people out on the street and a number of residents were out of their homes.

 

Several have complained to me to that PSNI TSGs were heavy handed in their approach and allegations that a young girl was pushed over.

 

I have been in contact with the PSNI this morning and raised those concerns.

 

I feel the best way forward is that if anyone has concerns that they contact their solicitor and the police ombudsman straight away to take up any complaints they may have.

 

As we have said in the past if the PSNI do a good job we will support them but that would also hold them robustly to account.

 

He ended by saying

 

I would also urge parents to make sure their children are not getting caught up in on street disturbances.

 

Ends

Man shot in leg -Ballymagroarty Derry – McGinley

Commenting on the news that a man was shot in the leg, in the Ballymagroarty area of Derry on Saturday night just before midnight.

Sinn Féin Councillor for the area Eric McGinley said:

“This is a very worrying development as it’s the second shooting in this area in just over a month.

“It’s important to repeat the message that there is no place for guns on the streets of our city.

“The community does not want this and  the people behind these actions need to stop.

Ends

McCartney condemns Derry bomb and gun attacks

Sinn Féin vice-Chair of the Assembly’s Justice Committee Raymond McCartney MLA commenting on shooting incidents in Shantallow and a bomb attack in Creggan this evening and a shooting in Ballymagroarty last night said:  raymond mccartney

“It is a very worrying development that there has been three incidents in less than twentyfour hours in the city.

“The people of Derry have made it clear over the years that they do not want this type of activity in their communities and they need to stop.

“The gangs behind these attacks have no regard for anyone and if they continue with this reckless agenda it is only a matter of time before a member of the public is killed or injured. 

He went on to say: 

The shooting incident in Shantallow  is the second on the streets of our city in less than twenty four hours.

Derry is a place looking to the future and will not be held back by criminal gangs masquerading as republicans.” CRÍOCH/END

Business case under consideration for Cityside Health and Social care Campus-McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee Maeve McLaughlin speaking after meeting the new CEO of the Health and Social Care Board Valerie Watts Healthy Living Alliance and Greater Shantallow area Partnership to discuss a Health and Social care campus on the Westbank of the city.
Maeve McLaughlin said
 
It’s important that a health campus is established on the Westbank of the city.  Despite a site being identified in Derry a number of years ago and an overwhelming case being made for such a facility a decision was made at the start of the year to choose Lisburn and Newry as the priority locations. 
I am glad now that the cityside is clearly on the agenda and a business case is currently being considered for location.
 
I have made the case that in a catchment area of over 70,000 population  there should be enhanced services of the kind promised by the new Health Campus model .It would include provision such as primary care professionals from a range of disciplines, including GP’s working with modern equipment and advanced technologies to provide services that are easily accessible and responsive to client and patient needs.” 
 
It is important that we maximise this opportunities in terms of health outcomes and targeting the Health inequalities that exist in Derry.

Student Support Payment Methods Need to Be Changed – Logue

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Patricia Logue  has called for changes to be made to the way in which further and higher education students receive financial support.Patricia Logue new pic 22

She  said:

“The current financial situation facing students is gravely concerning, with incomes falling and the cost of living continuing to rise.Its particularly worrying for families of students from Derry who have moved to the likes of Belfast,Liverpool or Glasgow to study,where it is harder for the family support network to help.

“It is a long standing pattern for many students to avail of part-time employment to help them survive financially.

“However, with the high level of unemployment having a negative impact on prospects for students seeking work it is now harder than ever for students to make ends meet.

“This means that most students are now more reliant than ever on the income they receive through student loans and other support funds.

“However, these payments are made three times a year making it difficult for students to manage their budgets. I believe that if these sources of income for students were instead paid on a weekly or monthly basis it would be more manageable and relieve some of the pressures on students.

“There are also  stories in the press of  students  being forced to rely on food banks or short term loans at excessive interest rates to see them through until the next student loan instalment.

 

“We are  calling on the Employment & Learning Minister Stephen Farry to review the methods of student financial support so that students can access them in a more manageable way. I will be raising this issue with him at the earliest opportunity.”

New Zealand to vote on ditching Union Jack from flag

New Zealand to vote on ditching Union Jack from flag

New Zealand rugby fans in Dublin

NEW ZEALAND Prime Minister John Key has announced that the country will vote on whether or not to ditch the Union Jack from their national flag in a referendum in 2016.

He believes public opinion is split down the middle on keeping or removing the current version with a Union flag canton. 

The referendum will cost an estimated €20million and no official alternative design has been announced.

However, the National Party leader said his personal preference is a new flag depicting a single silver fern on a black background, the logo used by the All Blacks rugby team.

New Zealand Green Party co-leader Russel Norman also supports the idea and said wide-ranging public consultation is needed.

Socialist indigenous rights Mana Party MP Hone Harawira says he’d like to see the current flag replaced byMaori Flag the Tino Rangatiratanga flag (pictured), sometimes referred to as the Maori flag:

“It’s more reflective of our history, of our world, and it shows that we’re not just babies of Queen Victoria we are our own people, an independent nation,” he said.

“I think New Zealanders need to get a sense of their own national identity.”

Independent MP Peter Dunne added:

“I think what we’ve got at the moment is anachronistic. It smacks of British imperialism and we’ve given that away a long time ago. I think we should have something that reflects our own identity.”

James Connolly School 2014, Dublin –

James Connolly School 2014, Dublin –

Saturday 8 November, 1pm to 5pm

Sinn Féin Átha Cliath 
James Connolly School 2014
Saturday 8 November – 1pm to 5pm
UNITE Union Hall, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
 

1pm – Launch of Dublin Sinn Féin 1916 Committee

Talk on James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

1.45 pm – Saving Moore Street – The next stage in the battle

Barry Lyons – 1916 Relatives Association
James Connolly Heron – Great Grandson of James Connolly 

2.30pm – The Housing Crisis – Campaigning for Solutions

Eoin Ó Murchú – Recollections and  Lessons of Dublin Housing Action Committee of the 1960s 
Cllr. Críona Ní Dhálaigh, Cathaoirleach, Dublin City Council Housing Committee – Solutions for Today

3.30pm – The Right to Water – the next phase

Cllr. Daithi Doolan – Where to for the campaign in 2015?
Lynn Boylan MEP – The EU dimension and threat of privatisation 

4.15pm – Towards a New Republic

Seán Oliver (Belfast) – After Scotland – A Border Poll for Ireland.  
Cllr. Eoin Ó Broin – Towards a Left Republican Government. 

5pm Críoch

Tea and coffee available during the afternoon. 

British government must face responsibilities on the past – McGuinness

Martin McGuinness MLA has said the British government must face up to its responsibilities on dealing with the past. 

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Speaking to relatives of victims of state violence at Stormont ahead of a human rights conference in Belfast next Thursday 6th November, which will be attended by the European Council’s Nils Muiznieks, Mr McGuinness said; 

“This has been a particularly difficult year for many families from across this society seeking truth and justice about the death of their loved ones. 

“We have witnessed families being denied an inquiry into the Ballymurphy massacre, the inaction of the PSNI to investigate the actions Military Reaction Force, the call for a public inquiry into the deaths of 18 people at the hands of loyalists in Mid Ulster, the PSNI refusal to co-operate with the Gerard Lawlor inquest, the ongoing refusal to honour their commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and the destruction of documents relating to shoot-to-kill deaths just weeks before an inquest was due to begin. 

“All of this is rooted in the British government’s failure to honour its Article 2 Right to Life obligations. It is clear that the British government fears the truth. 

“We in Sinn Féin will not tolerate the British government seeking to rewrite their role in the conflict. 

“There are many differing perspectives on the causes of the past conflict, what happened and who was responsible. We are up for a comprehensive discussion about the nature, causes and consequences of conflict. The question is, is the British government?

“In all of our deliberations we have sought to put the needs of victims first.” Ends/Críoch


Cooper welcomes £1m City of Culture legacy funding

Sinn Féin Councillor and local Tour Guide, Mickey Cooper has welcomed the latest tranche of funding from the Culture Minister, Carál NiChuilín, towards City of Culture legacy projects.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 
Councillor Cooper said:
 
“This latest  £1 million funding announcement will be welcomed by all of those involved in projects evolving from Derry’s City of Culture experience.
 
“The funding has been made available by the Minister in keeping with her pledge to assist in building on the legacy of the City of Culture. It is now incumbent on all of those involved in legacy projects to ensure that we get the maximum benefit from this funding for those for whom it is intended – the young people in the most disadvantaged areas.
 
“It is reassuring that Ministers NíChuilín and O’Dowd’s Departments are collaborating in this project to deliver programmes that will highlight the advantages of continuing education as well as provision for projects that will allow our youth to reach their full potential in arts, culture, creative industry and multi-media pathways. 
 
“This increased upskilling in STEM subjects will also increase the opportunities of our young people to step-up to further and Higher Education in line with the city’s ambition to expand the Magee Campus and NWRC.
 
“This funding, based on the cultural hubs concept which Sinn Féin  has been promoting with DCAL to advance across community areas and to  make the North West become a highly attractive location for employers in the digital economy.”
 
CRÍOCH/END 

40th Anniversary Volunteer Michael Meenan (Thursday 7.30pm)‏

On Thursday night a commemoration will take place in Shantallow to remember the 40th Anniversary of the death of IRA Volunteer Michael Meenan.

Michael died when the bomb he was transporting exploded accidentally on 30th October  1974

Councillor Elisha McCallion  said

These events are very important indeed .We will be gathering to remember with dignity and pride the memory of Michael and stand in solidarity with his family and friends. The commemoration will take place at 7.30pm at the Shantallow Monument and I would encourage as many people as possible to attend.

The commemoration is organised by the Shantallow Monument committee and Derry Republican Graves Association.

Fears over rat infestation Lone Moor Road

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly  said colly new road pic

I have been contacted by residents  who live along the Lone Moor Road and several of the off streets and they have reported to me that a number of dead rats have been found in the back gardens of local homes and that’s rats have also been seen in the laneways.

Also people putting rubbish out  have had the misfortune off rats being in around their wheelie bins.It can be a very frightening experience for anyone to   lift the lid on the bin for a rat to jump out in front of them .So its important all lids on bins are secured.

With winter now on us I would urge that residents take every precaution to ensure that rats cannot get into their homes, out houses, garden sheds.  It is obvious that if anyone dumps the rubbish in the laneways they  have no regard for others because while they wanted rid of the rubbish they were prepared to dump it on other people’s doorsteps.

 

Ends

Paul Whitters killed by plastic bullet remembered at “In Their Footsteps” Stormont

Day of Action: In Their Footsteps organised by the Pat Finucane CentreIMG_9203(1)

At the Assembly yesterday this week

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin remembering her cousin Paul Whitters with family members at the event.

Paul Whitters was only 15 years old when he was struck in the back of the head by a plastic bullet fired by the RUC in Great James Street on 15th April 1981. He died in hospital ten days later.

Queen’s Irish Unity referendum a victory for democracy – McCrossan‏

The chair of Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry and  Queens Student Mickey McCrossan has hailed the Students’ Union Irish Unity referendum as a victory for the democratic process.

Mickey McCrossan was speaking after the Unity motion fell just short with 49% of the vote.

He said:

“The QUB Student Union Irish Unity Referendum vote was a success for self-determination and for the democratic process.

“Students were engaged, voter turnout was high, and every student on campus today could participate in an enthusiastic, positive, fun and respectful debate on the future of Ireland.

“Over 2,400 students voiced their opinion in a period of ten hours. The turnout recorded was the highest on record at QUBSU.

“This was an overwhelming victory for the concepts of free debate and discussion about essential issues. We want to thank everyone who voted and took part in the campaign.

“Ultimately it demonstrates the burgeoning appetite among young people to discuss and vote on the future of their country.

“This is the first vote of its kind in recent memory in Ireland, and we believe it has reenergised the discussion on the prospect of a reunified, inclusive, all-island Republic.

“This is but one step on a journey to engage wider society on the very viable alternative to the union with Britain, and a leap forward on the path to a progressive, equal and united Ireland.

“We respect the democratic decision of the student body but we will revisit this issue with renewed vigour at the earliest opportunity.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

1264 (49.6%) of students who voted QUB Irish Unity Poll said YES.

Balmoral conf 5115251175137_aa21579d1d_o1234090_10152158334668642_543777002_nDerry Dongeal repsBwnGlOUIMAA5Zln.jpg large

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

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

DSC_0589

Fear criminals targeting Garden City /Kingsfort

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has warned residents in the Garden City /Kingsfort Park to be on alert following a number of attempted burglaries in Ardnarea/Lisnarea area.Mickey Cooper

Councillor Cooper said

“I have been contacted by residents in the area following concerns people had been seen acting suspiciously   around homes and cars there. A number of local people have told me they are very concerned about this development and ask me to highlight it in the local press in the hope it will prevent someone falling victim to these criminals.

We all know one of the worse things that can happen to anyone is to have their home broken into and personal items stolen. It can also have an impact on people wishing to live in the house after the event. Many feel vulnerable, unsafe and can have a detrimental effect on their health and if this warning prevents even one incident happening then it will be worth it.

I have also raised resident concerns with the PSNI.

McGinley welcomes the resurfacing of footpaths in Ballymagroarty.

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the resurfacing of footpaths in Ballymagroarty.

 

Cllr. McGinley said: “Residents towards the top of Ballymagroarty had expressed concern over the deteriorating condition of the footpaths particularly the sections leading towards the school and chapel.

 

I welcome the work that has been carried out by Roads Service recently and I will be in regular contact to ensure that other footpaths in the Ballymagroarty area are subject to repair and remedial work as required.”

Derry and Strabane to receive £7.54Million from rural fund -McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said that the Priority 6 Budget of almost £70million announced by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill will go towards tackling rural inequalities and is to be welcomed.raymond mccartney

LAG Geographical Area

The Derry and Strabane areas will receive £7.54Million (Indicative Budget Allocation)

 

Raymond McCartney said.

 

    “This money delivered as part of the Rural Development Programme will help tackle some of the rural inequalities like poverty, improving rural infrastructure, supporting business development, basic services, the renewal of villages and activities aimed at the restoration and upgrading of the cultural and natural heritage of rural areas.

 

    “The money divided across ten areas managed by the newly formed Local Action Groups has been allocated on the basis of rural population levels, poverty and deprivation while a minimum level of funding has been set to ensure the effectiveness of the new LAGs.

 

    “As part of the Sinn Féin promise to tackle inequality and disparity, the Minister has shown that targeting the most vulnerable areas of our society will allow rural communities to come together to become more economically sustainable while providing greater availability and access to basic services.

 

    ‘’While the program now awaits European approval, I would encourage community groups and organisations to begin engaging with their Local Action Groups once they are established in the coming months so that the positive impact of these funds can be maximised.”

NIO enabling unionist and Orange extremists’ veto over progress in North

Declan Kearney: ‘The DUP is dictating Villiers’ and the NIO’s approach’

THERESA VILLIERS chose the Ulster Unionist Party conference last Saturday to restate this British Government’s pro-unionism.

Nine days earlier, on the BBC, the British Secretary of State talked down a role for the US administration and explicitly excluded the Irish Government from a role in discussing ‘Strand One’ issues.

She represented her role as that of a facilitator rather than a talks participant.

The DUP is dictating Villiers’ and the NIO’s approach.

JimAllisterTUV

DUP leader Peter Robinson has set down preconditions in the form of welfare cuts, parades and the role of the Irish Government. The DUP excluded the first talks plenary session from Parliament Buildings because Jim Allister (pictured) of the inflexible Traditional Unionist Voice party ‘cracked the whip’.  Then they contemptuously boycotted the same session.

British Government pandering to unionist intransigence damages the political process. It undermines the Good Friday and other Agreements’ process and principles, and it strengthens the ascendant unionist anti-Agreement axis.

The British Government led by John Major in the mid-1990s adopted a very partisan and negative approach to the Peace Process before the 1997 election.

Worrying parallels exist between this British Government’s role and Major’s administration. There are also increasing similarities between the current DUP’s behaviour, and the UUP of that period. Significantly, a Fine Gael-led coalition also existed in Dublin then.

Republicans have no confidence in the commitment of the British Government to the political process.

Its approach has been characterised by explicit political bias towards unionism; negative indifference to the rights of all citizens, instead of some; and a relegation of the North to a political backwater.

Without an agreed work-plan the current talks are not credible. They will not succeed if this British Government refuses to accept its co-equal obligations to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and implement the elements of all extant agreements.

This British Government should be part of a pro-Agreement axis, and it is not. While that remains the case its political agenda will be set by the extremists.

Orange Order logo

The NIO is in fact enabling unionist and Orange extremists’ veto over progress.

All the evidence points towards this round of talks being negatively shaped and trammelled. Equally negative default options are being put into the political mix by both the DUP and the British Government regarding the New Year, if not before.

Pro-Agreement politics and democratic imperatives should have primacy.

There must be no diminution of the Irish Government’s co-equal involvement in these talks. That would be a subversion of Irish democracy.

The political process and institutions must be robustly defended and sustained.

Trilateral Irish, American and British Government commitment to the Good Friday Agreement political model and momentum is critical to the success of these talks.

Speech by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Saturday 25 October, in Belfast

Gerry_A_1

Gerry Adams TD speaking at the Balmoral Hotel on Saturday (Photos by Peadar Whelan)

THE ALLEGATIONS of Maíria Cahill have been at the centre of the media and political system, North and South, in recent times.

Nobody doubts that Maíria has been through great distress. I have never doubted that she suffered abuse. And, like every citizen, she is fully entitled to truth and justice.

Over the course of the past week, Maíria Cahill has made serious allegations against myself and named Sinn Féin members.

While I am very mindful of the trauma she has suffered, I and the others she has named reject those allegations.

The allegations made by Maíria Cahill have been seized upon in the most cynical, calculated and opportunistic way by our political opponents.

Their aim has little to do with helping victims of abuse but everything to do with furthering their own narrow political agendas.

The serious and sensitive issues of abuse should be dealt with in a victim-centred way by the appropriate authorities. Instead, they have been politicised in the Dáil, the Assembly chamber and in the media.

I am very conscious that a young woman is at the centre of this controversy.

So, let me be very, very clear – abuse is wrong; it cannot and must not be tolerated.

Let me be equally clear – Sinn Féin has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of this party.

This accusation is a vile slur on thousands of decent, upstanding republican people right across this island.

Those Sinn Féin members to whom Maíria Cahill spoke have said that they believed that she had been a victim of abuse and that she had suffered trauma.

They assure me that they did all that they could to support her.

That is what I did also.

The Taoiseach, the Fianna Fáil leader and some media commentators have also tried to draw comparisons between the actions of Sinn Féin representatives in this case and that of the Catholic Church in dealing with abuse allegations.

A cursory examination of the facts gives the lie to that ridiculous assertion.

The Catholic Church Hierarchy and the state presided over institutional abuse for decades.

It was a systemic and deliberate practice. In stark contrast, Sinn Féin has encouraged victims to speak out.

All the Sinn Féin members who spoke to Maíria Cahill acted in good faith to support her.

They advised her to speak to her family, to seek counselling or to approach social services.

Her uncle, Joe Cahill – at my request – asked her to go to the RUC.

Now even Joe is shamefully depicted as a sex abuser by some of the media. This has been deeply hurtful to his wife Annie, their children and grandchildren

Whose agenda is served by this despicable rubbish?

Some sections of the media – and in particular the Independent Group – have taken these allegations against Sinn Féin, added to them, and reported them as fact.

They speculate with ill-concealed glee about how much damage this controversy will do to me and to Sinn Féin.

While rightfully criticising the idea of ‘kangaroo courts’, they have set themselves up as judge and jury on this issue.

This is not journalism in the normal sense but a campaign with a clear political agenda.

This society is still emerging from decades of conflict.

That conflict caused widespread hurt and suffering, as did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful democratic societies.

There are many legacy issues arising from the conflict. Sinn Féin accepts our responsibility to help bring about the resolution of these issues. That is not our responsibility alone. The governments and others must deal with the past also.

Victims include a wider category than those killed or injured.

They include those badly served or mistreated by the forces of the state or by armed groups, including the IRA.

How the various protagonists dealt with the issue of sexual abuse is clearly one of the legacy issues which needs to be resolved as part of the necessary business of dealing with the past.

However, there is an onus on us all to meet the needs of victims of abuse and the concerns of the community in the here and now, to do what we can today.

To the maximum extent that this can be dealt with now, it should be dealt with.

I have already set out the circumstances in which the IRA sought to deal with some cases of abuse when asked to do so by families and victims.

I have acknowledged that while IRA Volunteers were acting in good faith, the IRA was not equipped to deal with these difficult matters.

But the clock cannot be turned back. Sinn Féin cannot change what happened in the past. But we can acknowledge failure.

That is what I have done.

GA at Balmoral Hotel Oct 2014 2

Everyone, including us, has a duty to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. That is not the responsibility only of Sinn Féin.

IRA actions failed victims of abuse. As Uacharáin Shinn Féin I have acknowledged that. I am sorry for that. And I apologise for that.

This week in the Dáil, the Taoiseach disgracefully twisted and sought to misrepresent what I have said on this issue.

He and the Fianna Fáil leader have shown a callous disregard for the facts as they turned the Dáil chamber into an episode of reality television.

Neither the Taoiseach nor the Fianna Fáil leader has ever sought to meet with me to address the false allegations that they have levelled against me and others in Sinn Féin.

Instead, they have rushed into media with their vindictive claims.

Mr Kenny and Mr Martin have done the very thing they accuse republicans of – they have set aside the judicial process and the rights of citizens before the law; they have ignored the acquittal of those they have accused.

The Taoiseach has claimed that sexual abusers were ‘moved’ – his words, not mine – to “Dublin, Donegal, Louth”.

The Taoiseach has repeatedly claimed that he has knowledge of alleged child abusers from the North but living in the South.

He says that others have given him information identifying these alleged child abusers. He has raised alarm and concern on this issue.

Has the Taoiseach gone to the Garda with this information?

Has he insisted that those who gave him this information go to the Garda?

If not – why not?

It is up to the Garda or the PSNI to investigate and to prosecute anyone they suspect of child abuse, irrespective of who they are, where they come from or what organisation they may belong to.

I have no knowledge of the claims that the Taoiseach is making.

I have already called on anyone who has any information whatsoever about any case of sexual abuse to come forward to the authorities, North or South.

They will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.

No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.

I am calling on any former IRA Volunteers who may have any information about any allegations of sexual abuse to pass this on to the appropriate authorities – the PSNI, An Garda Síochána, Social Services, the HSE or any of the advocacy groups or helplines which deal with sexual abuse cases.

This could also be done through any of the statutory and voluntary organisations which offer confidential 24-hour helplines.

These agencies are properly equipped to pursue these matters.

Secrecy has surrounded abuse in Ireland.

It was taboo to discuss and some victims were very fearful to disclose.
The only way to face this problem is to support victims and to empower them to speak out.

Republicans are reflective of wider Irish society. Abusers can be found in all walks of life. Any abuser within republicanism has done grievous wrongs to their victims and sullied our cause.

But they are not in any way representative of the thousands or tens of thousands of republican activists who served the republican cause in the ranks of the IRA and Sinn Féin.

They are not representative of the tens of thousands of republican prisoners who served hard time for the republican cause. Or of our patriot dead.

There are republican families in every parish in Ireland. Good men and women who have kept faith in hard times.

There are ten thousand citizens in the ranks of Sinn Féin today representing hundreds of thousands of republican voters the length and breadth of this island.

The politicisation of this issue by An Taoiseach and the Fiánna Fail leader comes at a time when we present a real alternative to the conservative parties that have failed citizens since partition.  

When challenged by me in the Dáil, Mr Kenny conceded that there are many decent people in Sinn Féin.

Let me tell you, Taoiseach, we don’t need you to tell us that.

We know that.

We also know that we are not part of any conspiracy to protect child abusers or to cover up abuse.

So the difficult issues raised by Maíria Cahill must be addressed.

But there are processes for doing this. They should be applied and respected.

Let us be clear – this is not achievable by exploiting her story in a blatant effort to demonise Sinn Féin.

Taoiseach and media accused of ignoring court judgment and rule of law in Maíria Cahill case

Taoiseach and media accused of ignoring court judgment and rule of law in Maíria Cahill case

SOLICITOR Peter Madden says in a letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Friday evening on behalf of his clients Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright and Maura McCrory regarding the Maíria Cahill allegations that “the rule of law has been subverted by the ongoing trial by the media and others against my clients”, adding that “their acquittals have been either ignored or devalued”.

In relation to comments in the Dáil made by An Taoiseach himself this week, Peter Madden of Madden & Finucane says:

“During the course of exchanges in Dáil Éireann on October 22nd, An Taoiseach set aside the judicial process and ignored the findings of a court of law.”

The full text of the letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings reads (with our emphasis):

Enda Kenny media

“On October 22nd 2014, I issued a statement on behalf of my clients in response to the unprecedented media onslaught that they have had to endure since the recent BBC Spotlight broadcast.

“Copies of that statement were released to the press and to your office via email.

“I feel it necessary to reiterate the core points of that statement:-

● The cases against my clients were the subject of an intensive and lengthy high-ranking police investigation. They were then prosecuted by the office of the PPS, which was represented at all times in court by an experienced Senior and Junior counsel. The complainant Maíria Cahill was therefore afforded every available resource the state could offer.

● There were protracted legal arguments relating to the procedures and evidence in these cases.

● The charges were to be contested and ultimately Maíria Cahill, the main prosecution witness, was to be cross-examined about her version of events which was not accepted by my clients.

● She refused to allow this to take place and would not participate in the normal method of giving evidence at a trial, where the truth of her version of events would be tested by cross-examination.

● My clients were therefore found not guilty of these offences.

● In any normal society that would be the end of the matter.

● However, the rule of law has been subverted by the ongoing trial by the media and others against my clients.

● Their acquittals have been either ignored or devalued.

“During the course of exchanges in Dáil Éireann on October 22nd, An Taoiseach set aside the judicial process and ignored the findings of a court of law.

“The Director of Public Prosecutions in Belfast has announced the setting up of a review of the prosecution of these cases.

“The Police Ombudsman is to also review aspects of the prosecution of these cases referred to him.

“Both of these processes have been undermined before they have even begun.

“Dáil Éireann is set to debate these cases.

“The Assembly at Stormont is set to debate these cases.

“There have been calls for the Justice Committees in both institutions to debate these cases.

“My clients have had any chance of fairness jeopardised by the continuing blatant disregard for the rule of law.

“An Taoiseach concluded his comments in Dáil Éireann by saying that he would meet “the four people . . . who are named” and that he “would not stand in judgment over them”.

“He has already passed judgment on them.

Dáil Éireann is not a court of law, neither is the media.

“I am seriously concerned that in the course of the parliamentary debates some will seek to hide behind ‘parliamentary privilege’ and conduct their own ‘kangaroo court’.

“I am advising my clients not to meet with An Taoiseach, at this stage, while the reviews and processes detailed above are ongoing.

I must also remind An Taoiseach and others that there are still unresolved legal matters on this issue in relation to one of my clients. 

“There are other matters and very dangerous precedents involved in all that has transpired over recent days and I intend to address these with the relevant offices and individuals.”

Thwart the oil thieves –Councillor Colly Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has warned householders across the city to be on their guard against home heating oil thieves in the run up to Christmas. 

His appeal follows a number of oil thefts in the Bogside in the past week

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

 

Councillor Kelly said

“I feel it’s timely to warn people across the city to be on their guard against home heating oil thieves in the run up to Christmas .With now being into the month of October, temperatures dropping and nights and mornings getting a lot darker we have seen in previous years a marked increase in oil thefts at this time.

“With the cost of home heating oil so expensive, having oil stolen is causing severe hardship to many families who cannot afford to refill their tanks

“This type of crime takes time and special equipment such as a tanker or large tank in the back of a van and siphoning equipment.We have had a number of homes targeted in the Bogside area in the past week.

“I would call on people to be observant. If you see suspicious activity in the laneways around a neighbour’s house, particularly if there is no one at home, to call the police.”

 

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Ó hEára welcomes Seagate jobs announcement

Derry Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson Geároid Ó hEára has welcomed the creation of 35 jobs by Seagate in Derry. 

 

Speaking after the jobs were announced this morning, Mr Ó hEára said; 

 

“This announcement that Seagate is creating 35 high tech jobs in the city is very welcome.

 

“These high-end jobs are what Derry needs to help boost our economy. 

 

“This is a significant commitment to the city by a major market leading global firm. 

 

“Seagate is one of the largest employers in the city and the fact that they have chosen to make this significant investment of almost £35million in their future in Derry is a hugely positive development which recognises the high quality of employee available in the North West

 

“I met with the global president of Seagate, Dave Mosely, last week in advance of this announcement at the Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and we discussed the need for further investment in the city. 

 

“Attracting investment from international companies, as well as encouraging our own small and medium sized enterprises and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship, is crucial to growing and developing our economy n Derry. 

 

“This is a very encouraging jobs boost and hopefully there will be many more positive announcements in the future.”    CRÍOCH/END 

 

Cooper welcomes Omniplex £1Million investment /jobs announcement

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the news that the Omniplex cinema on the Strand Road is set to get a £1m refurbishment with the creation of fifteen new jobs.omniplex

 

He said “This is good news for the city.

 

It’s great to see such a substantial investment in a business on the Lower Strand Road and the creation of fifteen news jobs.

 

In the current world economic climate every new job brought to this city is valued.

 

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McGuinness appeals for common approach to achieve maximum decision-making powers

McGuinness appeals for common approach to achieve maximum decision-making powersDSC_0877

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has appealed for a common approach with Scotland and Wales to ensure maximum decision-making powers in the three Assemblies.

Mr McGuinness was speaking after discussions between the First and deputy First Minister and their Scottish and ahead of a meeting with their Welsh counterparts.

Martin McGuinness said:

“No one should be under any illusions about the scale of the financial crisis which is facing the Executive as a direct result of the British Government’s austerity agenda.

“The Block Grant has been raided every year since the Tory-led coalition came into power in Westminster.

“But there is worse still to come. The Tories have made it abundantly clear that they are ideologically committed to dismantling the welfare state and the destruction of public services. They intend to slash the North’s budget even further in the years ahead.

“Scotland and Wales are facing the same challenges and these discussions with Alex Salmond and Carwyn Jones provide an opportunity to agree a joint approach to the challenges ahead.

“There is no reason why we cannot do that because there is already a great deal of common ground between ourselves, the Welsh and the Scottish.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Anderson welcomes declaration of EU support for talks.‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a statement made by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, urging all parties in the North to enter into talks.??????????

Schulz made a statement at the opening of this month’s parliamentary session in Strasbourg, saying he wanted the EU to accompany Irelands successful Peace Process and urged all parties to contribute towards finding peaceful solutions.

The statement comes following Martin McGuinness’ engagements with various European Parliamentary leaders where he highlighted the need for continued international support for the peace process.

Martina Anderson spoke in response from Strasbourg this evening saying:

“Many people in Europe and around the world view the Irish Peace Process as a success; however, we must not take this success for granted”

“For a number of years the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement have been working successfully but for the institutions to continue to work there needs to be a political will from all sides. In recent years that political will has been absent.”

“I welcome the statement made by President Schulz calling on all parties to contribute to finding peaceful solutions and to engage in new talks.

“The EU can play an important role in reminding people in the north of Ireland of the importance of the peace process. The successful advancement of our peace process can be of benefit, not just for the people of Ireland, but also for the EU, as an example for the resolution of other conflicts throughout the world.

ENDS

McCartney welcomes PPS review of cases

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the announcement of a review of cases linked to abuse allegations by Mairia Cahill. raymond mccartney

Speaking after the Director of Public Prosecutions announced the review, the Foyle MLA said; 

“The Director of Public Prosecutions has said there will be an independent review of these cases and that is to be welcomed. 

“The review will be carried out by an independent legal expert and that is entirely appropriate as these are sensitive legal issues that need to be dealt with professionally. 

“It will also examine whether any lessons can be learned from the way this has been handled to date. 

“The needs of victims must always be paramount in dealing with cases of this nature. 

“I look forward to the completion of this review.”

Legislation needed to deal with legal highs – Anderson‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said legislation is needed to deal with so-called legal highs. 
Speaking after meeting Attorney General John Larkin to discuss legal highs, Ms Anderson said; 
“It will shock many that Ireland has the highest use of so-called legal highs in Europe. 
“These substances are toxic, they can kill and unfortunately have tragically taken the lives of too may so far.
“It is clear that action is needed urgently to remove these toxic substances from sale in order to protect young people. 
“I met with Attorney General John Larkin to explore all the legal options available to deal with legal highs. 
“I also met with councillors Deirdre Hargey and Ciaran Beattie  who working on the ground in Belfast dealing with legal highs to discuss how they have been successful in preventing shops selling these substances. 
“Europe also has a role to play and I will following up on this meeting by asking the European Commission to explore all options, legislative and otherwise, to deal with the scourge of legal highs.” Ends/Críoch

Report all cases of abuse – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has appealed for anyone who has been the victim of abuse – or suspects that abuse is taking place – to report it to the PSNI or relevant statutory service.

Mr McGuinness said; Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

“The recent publicity surrounding the case of Maíria Cahill has again highlighted the issue of sexual abuse within Irish society and I would urge anyone who has any information whatsoever about abuse to bring it forward so that cases can be properly investigated and victims properly supported.

“If, for any reason, victims are reluctant to speak to the police, as was initially the case with Maíria Cahill, there are a number of statutory and voluntary organisations which offer confidential 24-hour helplines through which abuse can be reported.

“These organisations will also help support the victim and help ensure they receive the ongoing after-care which is required.

“As a society, I think we all have to acknowledge that victims of abuse have been failed in the past. Only now is society beginning to accept and deal with the true extent and horror of what has been perpetrated across the island of Ireland.

“However, there are now support structures in place and the relevant agencies are properly equipped to pursue complaints and assist victims. I would again appeal to anyone with concerns about abuse to use them.” Ends/Críoch

The Nexus Institute which provides support to victims of abuse advise that the following organisations offer 24-hour helplines:

The Rowan: 08003894424

Lifeline 0808 808 8000

The Samaritans 0845 790 9090

Childline 0808 802 1414

NSPCC 0808 800 5000

McCartney welcomes deferral of RTÉ long wave closure‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed a commitment from RTÉ to continue broadcasting on long wave. rte-logo-web

The Foyle MLA said; 

“RTÉ’s long wave service is hugely important to people living in rural areas who cannot access the FM signal. 

“News that RTÉ were closing this service caused distress among some listeners who were concerned about losing their service altogether. 

“I welcome the news that RTÉ will continue this service until next year.

“I would also encourage RTÉ to use this additional time to consult with listeners and provide alternatives so listeners in the North can continue to access their programming. 

“RTÉ also needs to invest in their broadcast infrastructure to ensure that people throughout the island can enjoy equal access to its services.”

Ends

Vandals torch Madams Bank Road Traffic lights –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has condemned the wanton vandalism that took place at traffic lights at Madam Bank Road this week

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

.

Councillor Hassan said

A number of young people  set fire to the traffic lights at around 8.30pm .It caused problems for road users, and is the second time these lights have been set on fire in the last six weeks.

These lights have been repeatedly attacked since they were introduced in 2012.They provide safety for pedestrians, particularly children going to school.

This is also a major road which services several housing developments and carries a high volume of cross border traffic.

I am appealing to whoever is carrying out this nonsense to stop. Attacking any sort of road safety measure is placing the lives of motorists and pedestrians in danger.

It is local people who are suffering and their lives being disrupted by these senseless incidents and that is something no one wants.

 

Ends

Moves to address speed of traffic on Park Avenue-Councillor Mickey Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor for Rosemount Mickey Cooper has welcomed confirmation from DRD Roads Service that they will examine a number of traffic issues along Rosemount/Park Avenue to improve safety for pedestrians.

He said a number of residents, including many with young children, had complained about the speed and conduct of traffic driving through the area:

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

He said

“I met with DRD Roads Service staff in the area this  week to discuss a range of issues.

I am pleased that they are going to conduct a traffic survey in front of Brooke Park as a number of residents have expressed concerns that cars were driving too fast in this area.

In addition I have been assured that they will also bring forward proposals to address other safety issues caused by the high volume of traffic going through the area which will hopefully alleviate some of the problems being experienced by local residents”

Ends

Hassan shocked at scale of damage at Temple Park fire

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan said he was “shocked” at the scale of the damage caused by a fire to homes in the Temple Park area just off the Skeoge Road in the early hours of Friday morning.

He said “The scale of the damage caused by this fire is quite extensive” lg_tony_hassan_copy2

“When I went to visit the homes affected I was shocked by what I seen”

“We could have had a very serious situation on our hands here .I have seen video footage of the fire and it was very intense. Had this spread to adjacent homes, it doesn’t bare thinking about what could have happened here.

The home owners will now be left with a hefty repair bill just a couple of weeks before  Christmas .People put a lot of time, energy and money into building up a family home and for this to happen must be heartbreaking.

I would urge anyone with even the slightest piece of information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI straight away.

End

McLaughlin praises handling of Ebola scare

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has praised the way staff at Altnagelvin Hospital’s accident and emergency department dealt with an Ebola scare. 

The Foyle MLA and chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; 

“Staff at Altnagelvin Hospital’s emergency department was faced with a patient who was concerned about Ebola. 

“The response from the staff in the emergency department was professional and impressive. 

“They followed the procedures in place for dealing with this scenario and liaised closely with the Public Health Agency and took advice from health experts. 

“Thankfully this patient did not have Ebola and no patients in the hospital currently have the disease. 

“The professionalism and diligence of the staff at the hospital in dealing with this patient is to be commended.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

Talks begin at Stormont

Child poverty levels in Derry show need to stand against Tory cuts –Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue responding to the End Child Poverty report published with new figures (October 2014) which showed that in the Brandywell Ward before housing costs   31.44% and after housing costs 48.72% of children are living in poverty.Patricia Logue new pic 22

Councillor Patricia Logue said

“These figures have once again highlighted the fears in this city that any proposed Tory cuts would have on children not only living in the Brandywell ward, but throughout the city and across the north.

Child poverty cannot be seen in isolation of the overall poverty that affects families. We all know the impact that poverty can have on a child’s life chances and there will never be equality of opportunity for all children unless we tackle poverty and disadvantage.

Growing numbers of people are joining us in the campaign against these proposed cuts as they realise the devastating impact they would have across a wide range of benefits.

Benefits many people  need just to get by day to day ,keep them in work ,put food on the table or pay fuel bills.

Sinn Féin is very clear in our opposition to the welfare cuts agenda of the Tory-led coalition which would punish the poor and the most vulnerable in our society.

Ends

Long term solution needed at Caw Roundabout -Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson said “It’s been quite evident that there has been a problem at this roundabout for years. The speed and the volume of traffic merging onto the roundabout can make the journey for any motorist accessing  from Limavady Road ,Clooney Road and Crescent Link  very difficult.1238129961

Back in February the Journal’ reported that residents of Waterfoot Park faced a daily traffic nightmare because the only way both in and out of the area is via the three lanes of the roundabout.

It’s vital that a long term solution is found here for both motorists and local residents to improve road safety and make it easier to access housing developments along the Limavady Road.

 

Ends

Bloody Sunday investigation must be properly resourced – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the PSNI investigation into Bloody Sunday must be properly resourced. 

Speaking after the number of detectives working on the murder investigation was reduced, Mr McCartney said;

“The families of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday are entitled to justice.

“I am concerned about the way in which this investigation is currently being handled by the PSNI.

“The PSNI investigation into Bloody Sunday is a major inquiry and must be properly resourced.

“There can be no question of this important investigation being downgraded or scaled down. The families deserve access to justice.

“I will be raising my concerns over this investigation with the PSNI and urging them to ensure it is adequately resourced.

“The relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday have fought a long campaign for truth and justice. Sinn Féin has always supported that campaign and will continue to do so.”ENDS/CRÍOCH

Anderson elected as chair of European Parliament’s delegation to Palestine‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the Irish government to follow the example of Sweden in giving full recognition to the state of Palestine. 

Martina Anderson said the international community has a responsibility to help the people of Palestine. Speaking after being elected as chairperson of the European Parliament’s delegation to Palestine, Ms Anderson said; 

“It is an honour to have been elected as chairperson of the EU’s delegation to Palestine and I will use the position to work everyday to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. 

“From our experience in the peace process, we know the importance of dialogue and inclusivity and I will bring that experience to this position. 

“I welcome the fact that the Palestinian unity government held its first meeting in Gaza last week. That sends a clear message to the world and I am encouraging the international community to recognise that. 

“In particular, I am calling on the Irish government to follow the example of Sweden in giving full recognition to the state of Palestine. 

“The international community, and the European Union in particular, has a responsibility to act to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and help find a sustainable solution to the problems in region. 

“I am calling for the European Union to implement the recommendations of the Russell Tribunal, which held a hearing on Palestine in Brussels recently. 

“The Israel-EU Association Agreement should be suspended immediately because of the human rights abuses carried out by Israel. The EU-Israeli scientific agreement must also be suspended. 

“I look forward to working with the chair of the EU’s delegation to Israel. Clearly we have differing views but we need to find a way to work together as MEPs to find common ground.”

McLaughlin welcomes certainty on Radiotherapy and Children’s cardiac surgery

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the health minister’s statement today giving certainty to two significantly important issues – children’s cardiac surgery and radiotherapy services at Altnagelvin.
 
The Chair of the Assembly Health Committee said:_66665109_surgery
 
“I welcome this announcement by health minister Jim Wells. It will bring a degree of certainty to these two crucial health issues. 
 
“I accept that many parents have expressed anxiety around the prospect of Children’s cardiac surgical procedures no longer being carried out in Belfast. However, I believe the assurance that a cardiac centre of excellence will be set up in the city to provide diagnostics and aftercare to northern-based children with congenital heart defects will be reassuring to those parents.
 
“I would urge the Minister to include positions on his governance group through which parents voices will be heard. He also needs to ensure that contingency measures are in place to cater for unforeseen circumstances during the transition between ending surgical procedures in Belfast and Dublin becoming fully operational.
 
“I believe that the single all-Ireland surgical unit to be based in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital at Crumlin, Dublin once fully operational will provide a more professional and superior standard of provision than a unit in Belfast which is underutilised.
 
“I am also delighted that the minister has confirmed the Radiotherapy Unit for Altnagelvin will proceed as planned to be operational by 2016.
 
“This will be a great relief to those many cancer patients from Derry, Donegal, Sligo and the rest of the north west, who presently have to undergo long and arduous journeys to Belfast or Dublin for treatment.” CRÍOCH/END

DUP needs to get real on talks – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said that if the DUP is serious about tackling the growing crisis in the political process then they should be at the table this week with the other parties and the Irish and British governments. 

Martin McGuinness MLA was speaking after meeting EU leaders to brief them on the current challenges facing the political process during a visit to the European Parliament in Brussels.

Martin McGuinness said:

“I’m taking this opportunity to brief the party group leaders about the growing crisis in the political process in the North.

 “The political institutions in the North established by the Good Friday Agreement have been undermined over the past number of years by the convergence of a number of factors.

“First mainstream political unionism has shifted towards an anti-agreement position. Second a partisan Tory-led British government is seeking to impose its policy of welfare and public service cuts on the North while pandering to a growing list of unionist demands. Alongside that the Irish government, a co-equal guarantor of the agreements has been focused on domestic economic issues.

“These three factors have encouraged anti-agreement unionists to frustrate the implementation of agreements, walk out of talks on the past, parades and flags and undermine the institutions by threatening to bring them down.

“We have consistently called on the Irish government to re-assert its role as a co-equal guarantor of the agreements and for the two governments to begin immediate, all-party talks and to reengage the American administration.

“Both governments have now called for talks.

“The DUP leader had called for talks but now appears to be preparing to walk out of talks before they have even begun.

 “Yesterday they refused to stand by the agreement to appoint Mitchel McLaughlin as Speaker of the Assembly.This is yet another broken agreement. They are also seeking to deny the role of the Irish Government as co-equal guarantors of the agreements. The Irish Government has played a constructive role in each successful negotiation from Good Friday, through to St Andrews and Hillsborough. This is a vain attempt to wind the clock back. This is unacceptable. It is unsustainable.

“Let me be clear Sinn Féin operates the institutions to deliver change. We are entering these talks to address the issues facing the political process; the need to honour agreements, the need for a working budget for the Executive and additional powers to safeguard public services and welfare for all our people.

“The leaders of Unionism however, are seeking to hide from talks and avoid addressing the pressing issues facing all in our community.

“It is clear that the British Government’s partisan handling of these matters has encouraged unionists to undermine the agreements.

“Both the British Government and the DUP needs to demonstrate by word and deed that it is committed to the implementation of the agreements, to powersharing, and to equality

“If the DUP is serious they will be at the talks on Thursday with the rest of the parties and the two governments.

“What is required is an immediate start to all-party talks, free from preconditions and threats and the implementation of all previous agreements. The political institutions need to function as intended and agreed. Budgeting and fiscal powers need to be addressed, And the issues addressed in the talks chaired by Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan need to be dealt with.

“I believe that the full operation of all the agreed political institutions is the best way forward for all in our society. In my opinion all can be resolved if the political will to do so exists. That requires positive forward-looking political leadership. At this minute it is unclear if that leadership exists within Unionism or the British Government.”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

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