Sinn Féin MEPs remember Martin McGuinness in Brussels

Sinn Féin MEPs have marked the late Martin McGuinness’ month’s mind at the European Parliament in Brussels. 17424724_1337286382994089_6075757283179062776_n

Martina Anderson said:

“It has been a month since we lost our friend, comrade and iconic republican leader Martin McGuinness.

“Just as people across Ireland mourned his immense loss, so too did people throughout Europe and across the world.

“Tonight at the European Parliament in Brussels the Sinn Féin MEP team, together with friends and supporters from right across Europe gathered to pay tribute to Martin while his Month’s Mind mass was being celebrated at home.

“Martin was a regular visitor to the European Parliament and valued the continuing support from Europe for the peace process and our campaign to secure designated special status for the north within the EU.

“It was important that we remembered Martin here tonight as we send our condolences to Bernie and all the family.” Ends/Críoch

Next stage Brandywell play park/Daisyfield projects -Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the proposal for Derry City and Strabane District Council to help provide funding to complete a new play park in the Brandywell  and also the Daisyfield project.

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Councillor Logue said “Its very important that these two projects are completed. This is another piece of the overall jigsaw in plans for the area.

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

The need for a play park in the locality has been a key issue for the residents and Sinn Féin for a considerable period of time.

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£1.5Million community centre development moving forward -McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the recommendation to provide £80,000 towards design costs for a new community centre for the Hazelbank / Ballymagroarty areas.eric-1

Cllr. McGinley said: “A recommendation will be put forward to Council that £80,000 is committed towards the design costs for a new state of the art community centre on the Ringfort Road.

This is a significant step forward for a project which will bring an investment of over £1.5m into the area and provide much needed facilities for thousands of families.

The Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership is currently leading on consultations with residents on what services should be provided and how the new facility will look and the design costs will greatly assist in this process.

This funding is a very positive step forward for the Hazelbank and Ballymagroarty communities.”

Cooper welcomes funding to complete disabled facilities at Brooke Park

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the announcement made by DCSDC that funding is being proposed  to complete a wheelchair adaptable swing at Brooke Park.A development which will help families whose children are affected by access issues to standard play equipment.

He said:

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

‘I am pleased that the council has agreed to propose  additional support for disabled facilities in the new Brooke Park. This will allow the development to be completed. Unfortunately when the original consultations on Brooke Park took place the issue of a wheelchair adaptable swing was not identified which meant it was not included in the designs or budget for the park.

I would like to congratulate everyone involved in helping make this now happen and addressing this issue. It will obviously be a massive boost to the families of people with disabilities who can now avail of the facilities that council support will provide.

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Good Friday Agreement should be protected in full – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said it is vital that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in full during the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Martina Anderson said: Martina news

“The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament has established a steering group on this and I am the representative on the body for the GUE/NGL group of 52 MEPs to which Sinn Féin belongs.

“The group is chaired by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator on Brexit and includes representatives of all the major groups in the European Parliament.

“We have been working to inform the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations which will be adopted at a Special European Council meeting on Saturday.

“I have been focused, in particular, on making the other members of the steering group aware of the unique position of the north, the fact that the majority of people voted to remain in the EU, and the disastrous impact Brexit would have on the island of Ireland.

“The European Parliament has already passed a joint resolution which calls for no hardening of the border, recognises the unique situation of the north and, crucially, calls for the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts.

“Through the Conference of Presidents steering group I have been building support for the Good Friday Agreement, particularly in the face of the attempts to dismantle and undermine the Agreement by the British government and DUP, as well as garnering support for Sinn Féin’s case for the north to secure designated special status within the EU.

“The European Council now needs to recognise the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement.”

Everyone must be equal before the law – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has said everyone must be equal before the law and there can be no immunity for people who have murdered Irish citizens.

The Foyle  said: dsc_6528

“The recommendation of this report by the British parliament’s defence committee that there should be a statute of limitations to prevent former members of the British armed forces being convicted of historic offences is an insult to victims and survivors.

“There can be no immunity for people who have murdered Irish citizens.

“Everyone should be equal before the law and no one should be above the law.”

Ends

Cultúrlanna in north of vital importance – Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has said we must stand up for the two Cultúrlanna in the north. 

Councillor Kevin Campbell

Councillor Kevin Campbell

He was speaking after Foras na Gaeilge announced there will be a public consultation relating to a new scheme for Irish Language centres.

  Councillor Kevin Campbell said,

“The two Cultúrlanna are of vital importance and have been for some time.

“Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin and Cultúrlann Mhac Adaim Ó Fiaich have a central role in the development of the Irish language not just in Derry and Belfast, but across the north.”

He continued:

“Undoubtedly, there is a need to develop the Irish Language in many areas across the country; this does not mean it must be to the detriment of two projects of great success. If there is to be a strategic way forward, options should be explored which do not remove funding from the Cultúrlanna.

“I would ask everyone to take part in this consultation and to make their voice heard for the two Cultúrlanna.”

The consultation process will continue until the 22 June 2017. ENDS/CRÍOCH

O’Neill urges parties to reconsider progressive alliance

Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill said today the failure of parties to agree a progressive alliance to fight the Westminster election may gift seats to pro-Brexit, pro-Tory and anti-equality hardliners.c3rymkpwcaasoae-jpg-small

Michelle O’Neill said:

“I am disappointed that parties which are opposed to Brexit and Tory cuts and which are pro equality have not been able to agree a progressive alliance to contest the Westminster election.

“This will almost certainly gift seats to some of the most pro Brexit hardliners.

“I would urge those parties to reconsider.

“Sinn Féin remains committed to maximising the anti-Brexit vote in this election.”

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Sinn Féin set out path to achieve designated special status for the north within the EU -McCallion

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion has said Sinn Féin has laid out a clear path to secure designated special status for the north within the EU.

Speaking after  the launch of a Sinn Féin Brexit document Elisha McCallion said: c-rfxtbwaaey98i-jpg-large

“Today Sinn Féin launched its second position paper on Brexit, with a specific focus on this Saturday’s special meeting of the European Council of 27 member states where the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations will be adopted.

“The guidelines will establish the framework for negotiations and set out the overall EU positions and principles during negotiations.

“Sinn Féin is opposed to Brexit, the border and this reckless Tory agenda, which will have devastating effects for the island of Ireland and our people, businesses, farmers, workers and communities.

“The people of Derry and  the North voted to Remain because it is in their best interests politically and economically.

“Since that time Sinn Féin has argued that the only credible approach is for the north to be designated a special status within the EU and for the whole island of Ireland to remain within the EU together.

“As the European Council meet on Saturday Sinn Féin is arguing for a declaration from the European Council that it will argue for designated special status for the north within the EU.

“This would involve seeking continued access to the Single Market, Common Travel Area, EU funding streams and institutions.

“The Taoiseach Enda Kenny must enter any forthcoming negotiations to defend the democratic mandate of the people to remain within the EU and act in Ireland’s national interest.

“This means that the Irish Government must now formally adopt the negotiating policy position of designated special status within the and for the North so that the whole island of Ireland can remain within the EU together.

http://www.sinnfein.ie/brexit

DUP out of touch on marriage equality -McCallion

Sinn Fein MLA Elisha McCallion  has said the DUP are out of touch with the people on marriage equality.

She  said: dsc_4127

“Comments from Jim Wells that the DUP could split if there is equal marriage in the north highlights the attitude of that party to equality.

“His remarks show just how out of touch he and his party are with the views of the general public.

“And it shows once again that the DUP is placing its party self interest above the need for equality for all.

“They have clearly learned nothing from the recent election where the majority of people voted for equality and respect for all.

“Marriage equality is an issue where the people are ahead of many politicians.

“It’s long past the time that equal marriage should be extended throughout the island.”

Human rights protections need strengthened – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA, Raymond McCartney  has said that designated special status within the European Union is the only guarantee that everyone on the north will have their human rights protected.

The Foyle  MLA was speaking after the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the North’s Human Rights Commission stated they “are concerned that there will be a reduction in current human rights protection once we leave the EU.”

Raymond McCartney  said:

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“In the face of the British government’s Brexit agenda and their intention to repeal the Human Rights Act it is imperative that human rights protections are strengthened not weakened.

“The British government has failed to implement United Nations human rights standards. We cannot depend on them therefore offering even the most basic protections to all in our society.

“An assessment of the British government’s human rights record will be made next month as part of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process.

“All three commissions have submitted reports to the UN making it clear that the British government has more work to do in regards to issues such as access to justice, welfare reform and gender equality.

“The people of the north know all to well the lengths that British government will go to avoid being held accountable for their actions and inactions.

“The only way we can ensure that human rights are strengthened not weakened is by ensuring that we remain part of Europe, have access to the European Court of Justice and have our own Bill of Rights as was set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

“The denial of a Bill of Rights reflects the mind set of those who are opposed to equality and Human Rights.

“The north must have Designated Special Status within the EU, it is only by this process we can guarantee that everyone will have their human rights protected.”

McCallion concerned at proposed cuts to Supporting People Programmes

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion has voiced concern at proposed cuts to Supporting People Programmes.

Ms McCallion said:elisha-head-shot-1

“Supporting People Programmes provide support to assist people to live independently in the community in a residential setting. This includes help and support to people with disabilities, older people and young vulnerable people to name a few.

“I have been contacted by Programme providers who are anxious about the future of the service.

“They have informed me that the Housing Executive has recently been advised by the Department for Communities (DfC) to plan for a 5% overall reduction in its funding for the 2017/18 financial year.

“Providers understand that the Housing Executive have decided to defer the cuts initially but reduce funding to projects such as Supporting People Programmes by 6.5% in the near future.

“I am calling on the Housing Executive to reconsider its proposals and to live up to its responsibility to support community projects.

 “Supporting People Programmes is one of the most successful community projects’ serving communities. I believe that the HE if minded to do so could find the required finance through efficiencies in other areas of its structures that does not directly impact on essential community programmes.”

Sinn Féin leaders in London for Brexit meetings

Sinn Féin leader in the north, Michelle O’Neill MLA, has said there is growing support across Europe for Ireland and the case for the north to have designated special status within the EU.c972v1uxuaaipqc

She was speaking from London where she and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD and Francie Molloy MP are involved in a series of engagements today.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“Today Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD, Francie Molloy MP and I are involved in a series of engagements in London to discuss Brexit and its impact in the North.

“At these meetings we are making it clear that the majority of people in the north voted to remain in the EU and will take the opportunity to again reject the Tory Brexit agenda during the general election on 8 June.

“It is clear there is a recognition across Europe of the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland and in particular the severe consequences of a hard economic border which will be a major setback for our peace process, the Good Friday Agreement and the progress of the past 20 years.

“There is now an onus on the Irish government who will be part of the EU negotiations to act in the national interests of all citizens, north and south, and to persuade their EU partners of the political and economic merits of designated special status for the north within the EU.

“This will ensure that the whole island of Ireland remains within the EU together.”

Anderson calls for release of Palestinian hunger strikers at Derry rally

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for the release of Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike in Israeli jails. 12314440_10154409357183642_3026089180583858071_o

Speaking at a Palestinian solidarity vigil in Derry’s Bogside on Friday night , Martina Anderson said:

“Sinn Féin sends international solidarity to all Palestinian prisoners, their famiies and the wider community.

“Palestinian prisoners and internees are suffering torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and other privations in Israeli prisons.

“There are currently close to 1,500 Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike led by Marwan Barghouti.

“Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions.

“The international community cannot stand idly by and look on.

“People across the world can show solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners and people by supporting the BDS campaign and boycotting Israeli goods.”

Sinn Féin Republican Youth urge support for Derry rally in support of Palestinian Hunger Strikers

Chairperson of Sinn Féin Republican Youth in Derry, Caolán McGinley, has called on the people of Derry to attend a rally in solidarity with over 1000 Palestinian political prisoners who are currently on a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons.12314440_10154409357183642_3026089180583858071_o
Caolán McGinley said:
“Over 1000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons embarked on a hunger strike on Monday evening, they are protesting in opposition to the inhumane and degrading treatment in which they suffer on a daily basis. The prisoners often endure torture at the hands of prison staff.
“The prisoners’ are demanding that they are allowed to communicate with their families, through the restoration of bi-monthly visits and also by telephone call. They are also calling for an end to administrative detention, a tactic used to imprison Palestinians without trial or due process.
“The Israeli authorities must abide by international law and end the policy of administrative detention against the Palestinian people.
“Sinn Féin Republican Youth sends solidarity to all Palestinian political prisoners including those currently on Hunger Strike. We call on the people of Derry to join the rally taking place at 7pm on Friday 21 April at the Hunger Strike memorial, Rossville Street in solidarity with the prisoners and the Palestinian people. Martina Anderson MEP will be the main speaker.”
ENDS/CRÍOCH

McCartney urges those denied vote to get back on electoral register

Sinn Féin MLA  Raymond McCartney has called on people denied their vote in the recent election as a result of a decision by the Electoral Office to remove them from the electoral register to ensure they get re-register now.raymond-mccartney-450x301

Mr McCartney said:

“Before the election some 60,000 people were taken off the electoral register by the Electoral Office.

“Despite the hard work to get people back on the register there are still thousands of people effectively being denied their right to vote.

“The right to vote was hard won through the campaign and sacrifice of the Civil Rights Movement so I would once again urge people to get re-registered.

“Anyone in Derry who requires more information on how to register to vote should contact their local Sinn Féin office or the electoral office on 0800 432 0712 or online http://www.eoni.org.uk.

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Westminster election opportunity to build further towards united Ireland – McCallion

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion  has said that Theresa May’s announcement  to call a snap Westminster General Election is further evidence, if it was needed, that the concerns and needs of people in the North of Ireland do not register on the British Government agenda.elisha-head-shot-1

She added however, that Irish republicans must seize the opportunity, provided by the election, to further to build political progress towards a referendum on Irish unity.

Elisha McCallion  said:

“The  announcement by the British Prime Minister Teresa May  to call a snap Westminster General Election is further evidence, if it was needed, that the concerns and needs of people in the North of Ireland do not register on the British Government agenda.

“Sinn Féin said at the weekend that the British Government will always put its own interests above any others and, at this time, that means the concerns of a very reactionary Tory Right Wing.

“Brexit has highlighted, in stark terms, the undemocratic, unnatural and unjust nature of Partition.

“Brexit and the recent Assembly election which saw the end of a permanent unionist political majority, have changed the context of the argument for a United Ireland.

“Despite the narrow political motivation behind the calling of a Westminster election, Irish republicans must seize the opportunity to further to build political progress towards a referendum on Irish unity.

“It is an opportunity to reject the Tory political agenda, to re-assert the North’s vote to remain within the EU, and to advance the cause of a shared inclusive and United Ireland.”

The time to prepare for Irish reunification is now – Mary Lou McDonald TD

During the course of her speech Teachta McDonald said Irish Republicans need to prepare for Irish reunification now and that an honest conversation about a new Ireland should take place.

 

Teachta McDonald said;mary-lou

 

“Ireland is in a time of great challenge and change.

 

“We need to prepare for Irish reunification now. We need a debate, honest conversations about a new Ireland.

 

“We need to listen, to understand, to accommodate all of our people, in all our diversity in the new Ireland.

 

“An Ireland that is Orange and Green, black and white, settled and traveller, Gay and straight.

 

“An Ireland that protects the many and not just the privileged few.

 

“An Ireland that remembers and celebrates the past – the history made at the General Post Office in Dublin or on the banks of the Boyne – an Ireland that courageously, fearlessly faces the future.

 

“Our strength is in unity, in making common cause with everyone who believes in a new political order in Ireland, grounded in equality.”Ends/Críoch

 

 

 

Full text of Teachta McDonald’s speech follows:

 

Táim fíor-bhródúil a bheith anseo i nDoire agus muid ag céiliúradh Éirí amach na Cásca 1916.

 

Is cúis bhróid ollmhór é domsa a bheith anseo mar phoblachtach agus gabhaimse mo bhuíochas leis na laochra a throid ar son na saoirse.

 

Táim bródúil chomh maith as ucht na cairde agus na comrádaithe atá againn sa chathair seo.

 

Easter is a very special time for Irish Republicans. It is a time to remember, commemorate and celebrate the heroism and vision of generations of Republican women and men.

 

More than a hundred years on the Rising against the British Empire remains a testimony to the triumph of human hope over oppression.

 

That those men and women took on, against all the odds, the might of what was called the greatest empire the world had ever seen; 

 

That those women and men stood prepared to sacrifice all to win freedom; 

 

That those same visionaries took a stand knowing they faced battle, imprisonment and death; 

 

That these things happened, and that we are the inheritors of such a brave tradition is our profound fortune and honour. 

 

It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of giants.  We do.

 

And from that privileged position, as successors to, inheritors of the dream of a free and equal Ireland, we proclaim the message of liberation and love, of freedom and fraternity this Easter Sunday here in the proud city of Derry.

 

Unrepentant Fenians, irredeemable believers in the cause of Ireland and in the equality of our people.

 

Our great leader and friend lies here now.

 

Martin McGuinness, whose heart came alive and kept faith with the Bogside.

 

Martin McGuinnes, a faithful son of Ireland.

 

Martin McGuinness who fought, who made peace and who will never be forgotten.

 

Martin lead from the front, he took risks for freedom and risks to build the peace.

 

We are stronger because of him, braver because of him, closer to reconciliation and freedom. 

 

The only fitting tribute to his great leadership is for us to lead on, to mobilise, to organise, to take a chance, to stretch ourselves and to match our dreams with ambition. 

 

We can live in a united, free Ireland. We can live in a socially just, equal Ireland.

 

I believe we will.  Martin believed we would.  We will prove him right.

 

We promise to meet the challenges of our time with the grit and graciousness that were the mark of our Martin.

 

We stand in solidarity with Bernie and his beloved clann as we lament his passing and honour his life and legacy.

 

Irish unity has never been so openly and widely considered as it is now.

 

The constitutional earthquake of Brexit has forced the debate to new levels and with a new urgency.

 

The people of the North of Ireland voted to remain in the EU. The people have not consented to Brexit.

 

Ireland will not be the collateral damage in a Tory power play. We will not accept the disruption of our social and economic life or the sabotaging of the Good Friday Agreement.

 

We will not tolerate a ‘hard border’ on our island.

 

We do not accept any border in Ireland.

 

Our respect for our unionist brothers and sisters, for our loyalist citizens, for those who cherish their British identity is matched by our absolute rejection of the British jurisdiction in Ireland, which has blighted our past and threatens our future.

 

The Tories, Theresa May et al, must realise that their writ does not run in Ireland.

 

This is not Finchley.

 

They have no support in Ireland, in any community.

 

They are hostile to Ireland. They have inflicted austerity, poverty and marginalisation on the people of the North of Ireland.

 

James Brokenshire’s recent visit to Daisy Hill hospital only served to remind us of the fact.

 

We take no lectures from him or any Tory on the protection of public services. 

 

They are wholly indifferent to the welfare of our people – Orange or Green.

 

Their agenda threatens to pauperise our farmers, our communities, our businesses and is rejected by our people, Orange and Green and every shade between. 

 

The Taoiseach and the Dublin Government must represent all of Ireland, all of our people. 

 

They have a responsibility to the people of Creggan and the Fountain just as surely as they do to people of Cabra and Fermoy.

 

We have argued for special status for the North within the EU. That position has the support of the Dáil. It has the support of the majority of members elected to the Assembly. 

 

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny must argue for and secure that special status.

 

He must stand up and be counted, he cannot stand idly by. 

 

We have fought two elections since we met last Easter. The political landscape is changed profoundly in the wake of the last election. Unionism has lost its majority at Stormont for the first time.

 

Electoral fortunes, as we know, rise and fall, but the loss of that majority position is significant.

 

It ends the generations old assumption of who held power and exercised power, since partition.

 

The insider, old guard, class has been challenged and chastened.

 

There is a new majority for social and economic progress, for a new political dispensation with respect, equality and integrity at its core.

 

I want to commend everyone who campaigned in that election. We are very proud to have returned Elisha McCallion and Raymond McCartney to represent the people of Foyle. 

 

I want also to acknowledge the leadership of Michele O’Neill in that campaign, she is a woman of substance and determination.  

 

One of us, mná na hÉireann, the most unmanageable of revolutionaries!!

 

The combination of the RHI scandal and the refusal of the DUP and the two Governments to honour agreements made conspired to bring down the Executive and triggered the election in March.

 

That same combination of negative politics has kept agreement beyond our reach and the institutions down.

 

That is very disappointing and unacceptable.

 

Those who hanker for the past, who cannot remove their sectarian blinkers, who have no vision or ambition for our future, cannot prevail.

 

It must be understood that we stand firm – that we are resolute, that we shall overcome the negative, discriminatory tactics of those parties who cannot accept that the past and second-class citizenship are gone, never to return. 

 

The issues at the heart of the talks are not Orange or Green. We have not come forward with a Sinn Féin shopping list of demands.

 

We insist only that agreements made are implemented.

 

We insist simply that the rights of citizens are respected, that civil liberties and respect for identity are not suppressed or withheld on the say so of any party.

 

We will not tolerate discrimination against any section of our people; we will stand up and fight for all. What we win we will win for everyone.

 

The right to marry is a fundamental human right.  It cannot be denied. It will not be denied. Our LGBTQ citizens are not second class. They will not sit at the back of the bus.

 

The Irish language and identity will not be demeaned or disrespected. 

 

The Irish language is not a political weapon. An Ghaeilge belongs to every person who wishes to speak it, to live through it, to rejoice in its lyricism, its poetry, its music.

 

Arlene Foster should meet with Gaeilgeoirí. When she does she should make clear that she and the DUP will support and deliver Acht na Gaeilge. That would be a good day’s work and an act of real leadership.

 

Tá scéal mhuintir na hÉireann fite fuaite leis an nGaeilge. Insíonn sí dúinn cé muid, cad as a tháinig muid agus cá bhfuil ár dtriall. Is fearrde muid an Gheailge. Ná bíodh eagla ar aon duine roimh chultúr na nGael atá oscailte agus fáiltiúil do gach aon duine eile. Tá súil agam go bhfuil tuiscint níos fearr ag an phobal Aontachtach ar an nGaeilge anois. Gabhaim buíochas leis na daoine ar fad a sheas an fód ar son na Gaeilge go háirithe an Dream Dearg – bhí sé iontach na daoine óga a fheiceáil ag éileamh a gceart. Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí amach ar na sráideanna!

 

The past, the suffering and loss in the course of our conflict is not a political football or the plaything of those who wish to score points against another.

 

Manus Deery, at 15 years old, lost his life to the bullet of a British soldier on the streets of Derry.  He was an innocent victim. He died in 1972. His family waited for 45 years for a new inquest. Forty-five years to have his innocence vindicated.

 

Shame on those who allowed his family to suffer. 

 

Shame on those who allow so, many other families to suffer, to wait and wait.

 

The Chief Justice has called for resources, for money to be made available for Coroner’s courts and inquests. 

 

Those monies must be released without delay – no preconditions, no excuses, no more waiting. 

 

British claims of ‘national security’ concerns are simply excuses to exonerate the British state from facing the past, collusion and Britain’s dirty war in Ireland.

 

The truth won’t go away. The victims and survivors won’t go away. 

 

The past and truth recovery will test all of us.

 

We are ready for the challenge. Others now need to step up, stop frustrating progress and implement the agreed mechanisms. 

 

Victims and survivors deserve nothing less. 

 

We have engaged extensively and in good faith in talks with all of the political parties and the two Governments since the election. 

 

We will continue to meet, to talk, to seek resolutions. 

 

We want to find agreement. We will work hard to reach agreement.

 

If that does not prove possible then we will return to the people in a fresh election.

 

Direct rule is not an option. 

 

The people are in charge, they have delivered an unmistakable mandate for progress and change, for good government and for the implementation of longstanding commitments.

 

Let none imagine that the people can be faced down or frustrated in those aims. 

 

Ireland is in a time of great challenge and change.

 

We need to prepare for Irish reunification now. We need a debate, honest conversations about a new Ireland.

 

We need to listen, to understand, to accommodate all of our people, in all our diversity in the new Ireland.

 

An Ireland that is Orange and Green, black and white, settled and traveller, Gay and straight.

 

An Ireland that protects the many and not just the privileged few.

 

That remembers and celebrates the past – the history made at the General Post Office in Dublin or on the banks of the Boyne – an Ireland that courageously, fearlessly faces the future.

 

Our strength is in unity, in making common cause with everyone who believes in a new political order in Ireland, grounded in equality.

 

Mar sin a chairde imeoimid as an áit seo lán le muinín, misneach agus neart. Tá a lán fós le déanamh. Táimid ag faire ar an todhchaí chun sin a dhéanamh caithfimid breathnú siar agus a chinntiú nach ndéanfar na rudaí céanna arís – an éagóir, an ghéarchúis agus an chríochdheighilt. Beidh Sinn Féin i mbun cainteanna ar bhur son – ar son na saoirse, cearta daonna agus meas ar gach duine. 

 

Our patriot dead, the heroes of 1916 and of every generation made history with a clarity of purpose and a determination to succeed.

 

Today at the gravesides of our patriot dead, we pledge again to keep faith, to honour them, to finish the journey, to end partition. 

 

That is the task.

 

Now it is our turn, our time to write the next chapter. 

 

We cannot be found wanting. 

 

We will not be found wanting.

 

Bígí linn agus feicfimid éirí na gealaí.

Headstone unveiled for Derry Republican Dale Moore

A ceremony was held on Saturday afternoon in the City to remember Derry Republican and former Sinn Féin press officer Dale Moore with the unveiling of a new headstone at his graveside in the lower section of the City Cemetery.17966818_10156080758913642_5299365784996654132_o-1

The headstone was unveiled by Martina Anderson MEP and Dominic Doherty with  family and friends in attendance.

30th Anniversary of local IRA Volunteer Gerard “Bogie” Logue remembered

Several hundred people attended an Easter Sunday morning commemoration in the Waterside to mark the 30th Anniversary of the death of local IRA Volunteer Gerard “Bogie” Logue.20170416_114335

The event was to have taken place last month but was postponed as a mark of respect following the death of Martin McGuinness.

A wreath laying ceremony took place at the Waterside Republican memorial garden. Local Republican Archie Fleming who spoke at the event thanked everyone for making it a fitting tribute to the memory of Gerard Logue.

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Unveiling of headstone for Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin in Derry  have announced that tomorrow (Sunday) a new headstone will be unveiled at the grave of Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness.

It will be unveiled at the Republican plot as part of the annual Easter commemoration.17424724_1337286382994089_6075757283179062776_n

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said “Today a headstone was unveiled at the grave of well known Derry Republican Dale Moore.

On Sunday as part of the annual Easter commemoration a new headstone will be unveiled for our leader Martin McGuinness who passed away just a few short weeks ago.

The loss of Dale and Martin within a very short of space of time was a big blow for Sinn Féin in Derry.

But they both will continue to inspire and encourage us in the time ahead. They believed that a better Ireland, a genuinely new Ireland is possible.

Unveiling of headstone for Derry Republican Dale Moore

A ceremony will take place this Saturday at 2pm in the City Cemetery to remember a Derry Republican who passed away in December of last year.dale-moore

Dale Moore will be remembered with the unveiling of a new headstone at his graveside in the new lower section of the Cemetery.

Councillor Kevin Campbell said “Dale was well-known and respected throughout Ireland.

He was inspiration to many of us, despite his failing health he didn’t complain, he got on with what needed done.

In his graveside oration, Sinn Féin stalwart Mitchel McLaughlin said that Dale, like many of his peers, when needed stood up with courage and determination for what they believed in.

He was a dedicated, good-natured, lifelong republican activist. And that’s how we will always remember him. I would urge all those who knew him to come along on Saturday for the unveiling of his new headstone at 2pm.

Easter Lily campaign launched at Stormont – McCallion

Speaking from the launch local Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion said:33863948401_93f336f61d_k

“Easter is a very special time for Irish Republicans. It is a time not only when we commemorate the heroic acts that took place in Dublin in 1916 but it is also a time when we remember all the brave men and women from across the country who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of creating a united and better Ireland.

“The Easter Lily symbolises unity, equality and prosperity for all the people of Ireland and it is with this in mind that we launch our campaign here today.

“I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to attend their local commemoration, check the local press for the times  and wear their Easter Lily with pride.”

Notes

Main Sunday Easter parade in Derry will assemble on Westland Street at 2pm

Local area commemorations will take place on Sunday at the following Republican monuments.

11.00am Waterside (Rose Court)

1.00pm Shantallow   Monument (Racecourse Road)

1.30pm Creggan (Central Drive), Bogside Brandywell (Lecky Road)

No prospect of political agreement unless British government and DUP address issues – O’Neill

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill has said there is no prospect of political agreement unless the British government and DUP address the fundamental issues in the current talks.

Michelle O’Neill said: 33283707170_b7c6376416_k

“We have been here five weeks during which time Sinn Féin has been fully engaged. We believe in the institutions and we have been working to restore them and to rebuild public confidence in them.

“However, to date there has been no measurable progress. And at this critical period there is no prospect of a political agreement unless the British government and the DUP tackle the fundamental issues, which Martin McGuinness addressed in his letter of resignation.

“There can be no return to petty-minded and bigoted ministerial decisions; no return to the treatment of any group of people as second-class citizens; no return to the arrogant disregard for the squandering of public money; and no return to the short-sighted dismissal of the need for genuine reconciliation and peace-building.

“Those are the issues which need to be dealt with if we are to take this opportunity to fix what is broken and to move society forward on the basis of equal partnership government and rights for all.

“But time is running out. We are now in a critical period and there needs to be substantial movement from both the British Government and the DUP over the coming days. If they again fail to do so then the people should have their say.”

£2,000 of damage at Shantallow Republican monument

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has appealed for information about those involved in a vandalism attack on the Shantallow Republican Monument on the Racecourse Road late on Friday night.

It is believed a small group of teenagers were responsible for the incident .

Councillor Hassan saidlg_tony_hassan_copy2

“There is anger in the local community on hearing this news.”

“A lot of damage was caused to the Centenary display which was unveiled just last year as part of the 1916 celebrations. In all the time since it has never been touched.

“It’s a lovely display which has the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation and the names and photographs of local Volunteers who died during the conflict.

“Preparations would have been taking place this week in advance of Easter Sunday, and this is the last thing we want to see happening.

“It’s believed a small group of teenagers were behind this and I would appeal for anyone who knows anything about this to bring that information forward.”

Cllr Hassan added:

We would like to speak to the parents of these teenagers to find why they carried out this vandalism. Six display panels of the 1916 signatories and our local volunteers were badly damaged at a cost of £2,000.

I would also like to thank local people who have been trying to help fix the damage done to the monument.”

ENDS.

Concerns over the state of the roadway in large Derry developments -Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has raised the concerns over the state of the roadway, road markings in the Grangemore –Ardgrange area with Transport NI.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

 

These are two very large developments with hundreds of homes connected with main one access road.

 

Councillor Kelly said

 

“The Grangemore and Ardgrange areas have grown considerably in recent years and with many young families.

 

I was contacted by a number of local residents and met with them this week to discuss concerns they have over the speed, the volume of traffic travelling through the area and lack of road markings there.

 

I have now written to Transport NI requesting an onsite meeting looking to go through the various aspects concerning residents.  

 

These are two very large developments with several hundred homes, so it always very busy with traffic anytime of the day or night .I would urge motorists to slow down whilst travelling through the area and to adhere to the speed limits in place in a built up area.

McCartney welcomes Deery ruling

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the findings from the Coroner that Derry schoolboy Manus Deery was ‘totally innocent’ when he was shot dead by the British Army in the Bogside almost 45 years ago.152293135

A British soldier who shot dead Manus Deery was unjustified in discharging the fatal round, a coroner has ruled.

Raymond McCartney said:

“I welcome today’s findings.

“This was a 15-year-old boy who was shot dead by British soldiers as he chatted with friends.

“The Deery family are entitled to the truth about the killing of Manus and hopefully today’s decision will help them in their quest for justice in setting the truth free.”

Step change required from British government and DUP – O’Neill

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill has said a step change is required from the British government and DUP to make progress in the talks.

Speaking ahead of a public meeting held in Derry on Thursday night Michelle O’Neill said: 20170128_154209

“The recent election was a watershed moment for the people of the North.

“The people understood the importance of the election. There can be no tolerance of incompetence and financial scandals such as Red Sky, NAMA, RHI or arrogance or bigotry in public office.

“We cannot be part of institutions which are being corrupted.

“To date there has been little progress on the key political issues. The next week is critical in the political talks. The political stakes are high.

“Getting the political institutions back in place will be a challenge given the DUP’s stated position on an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights and other fundamental requirements, and the British government’s obstructive approach to legacy issues and other matters.

“Over recent weeks Sinn Féin has been meeting all the Assembly parties and the British and Irish Governments and setting out our plan for getting out of this mess – for getting the power sharing institutions back up and running and for securing the place of the North within the EU.

“The reality is that the British Government has abjectly failed to honour its commitments on equality and rights. They must now step up and deliver on their commitments otherwise restoring the institutions is in serious doubt.

“The institutions will not be restored without movement on these key issues. The northern Executive is not sustainable unless it delivers and respects basic equality and human rights for all our citizens.

“Our absolute commitment is to the agreements we have made and their implementation. If others including the two governments do likewise then it is game on.”

Brexit will mean continued roaming charges – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said Brexit will mean people in the north will have to continue paying mobile phone roaming charges.

Martina Anderson said:

“In Strasbourg this week Sinn Féin MEPs backed a deal which means that roaming charges will be abolished throughout the EU so that people can call, text and use data just as they would at home.

“Not only would this be welcome for those travelling throughout Europe but also for those in border areas who face these unfair charges regularly.

“But the British government’s Brexit agenda means that people in the north won’t be able to avail of this deal if they are successful in dragging us out of the EU against our will.

“It is yet another example of the cost of Brexit to everyone in the community.

“It also highlights the need for the north to secure designated special status within the EU and for the Irish government to stand up and act in the interests of all Irish citizens.”

Huge victory for Right2Water campaign

British goverment blocking progress -McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has said it is rich for James Brokenshire to talk about his concern for public services while his government is blocking progress in the talks
The Foyle MLA said:

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“If James Brokenshire wants to ensure public services run smoothly in the north then it’s time he and his government lived up to their responsibilities to implement previous agreements.

“The British Secretary of State knows what he needs to do to make progress and to date he and his government have not focused on the key issues.

“Many people will also find James Brokenshire’s concern for public services a bit rich.

“Relentless Tory cuts and austerity policies have taken hundreds of millions of pounds out of public services over the last seven years and the Tories are also pursuing a pro-Brexit agenda which will be disastrous for the people of this island.

“For our part, Sinn Féin want to see an Executive in place based on equality, integrity and respect, delivering for all.”

Exciting plans for former Waterside school – SF

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson commenting on the news that planning approval has been given for plans for the old Clondermot School in the Waterside

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He said “This development will undoubtedly build on the great work that is currently ongoing between the communities in Irish Street  and Top Of The Hill.

Plans for the area include a full size Gaelic/Rugby pitch, a full size 3G soccer pitch, tennis courts, cricket rickets, a pavilion that will provide changing facilities ,and will also provide a much needed space to run community programs and events.

This iconic development will not only strengthen the work of bringing the two communities together it also has the potential to take away  an interface by creating a truly shared space where people of all ages and backgrounds will want to come to.

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Curryneirin set for new play park facilities – Jackson

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has welcomed the news that the green light has been given for a play park in Curryneirin.

He said

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

This development will provide play facilities in an area that has received little investment over recent years.

I would like to congratulate council officers on the plans and for designing a state of the art play park catering for a wide range of age groups. And for  taking the community’s needs into account by incorporating an area for ball games which is vital for the young people of the area.

This development has the potential to transform the entire community by utilising an area that had been a hot-spot for anti social behaviour into a space that will be open and welcoming to everyone.

DUP and UUP MEPs have let down people of the north – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the north’s unionist MEPs have let down the majority who voted to remain in the EU.

Martina Anderson said:

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

“Today in the European Parliament 516 MEPs from across Europe voted for a joint resolution which seeks to protect the interests of the people of the North during the Brexit negotiations.

“The resolution contained reference to protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, recognising the unique circumstances the north faces as a result of Brexit and calls for no hardening of the border on Ireland.

“MEPs with differing political views came together to support this resolution.

“Sadly the north’s two unionist MEPs could not bring themselves to support it.

“In doing so they have let down the majority of voters in north who voted to remain in the EU and have also let down those in our agriculture industry, our community sector and people from all walks of life.

“This is not the first time they have voted against the interests of the people of the north on Brexit. In the aftermath of the referendum 540 MEPs voted to maintain PEACE funding post-Brexit and once again their names were absent from the list.

“Clearly they are more concerned with reinforcing partition than the economy of the north or the wellbeing of its people.

“Sinn Féin will continue to build on the support we have in Europe for our case for designated special status for the north within the E

Hundreds of new homes for Derry –Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the proposed development of hundreds of new private homes in Derry that were approved and passed by Derry/Strabane Planning Committee this week.

Councillor Hassan said,lg_tony_hassan_copy2

I welcome the development of these private new homes in the Culmore and Waterside areas of the city. It sends out the message that the housing market is picking up again in the city and will allow first time buyers a chance to get on to the housing ladder.

It’s also important to stress that there is a need for more social homes to be built as the waiting lists here are growing each day.

The need for social house building in the city is still at a very high level.

The points you need for a social home is in the 190s, and when the different phases of building social homes stops, the points for a home will  go sky high again meaning many young families sitting on 140/150 housing points will find it very difficult to get a home of their own.

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Repairs to busy Springtown Road pushed back to May – Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has said that Transport NI have told him work that was to have taken place last  weekend  on the Springtown Road has now been pushed back to May .

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 Councillor Cooper said “Work at the Springtown Road was to have taken place last weekend but it did not take happen. Transport NI have now told me that this work had to be pushed back a number of weeks.

Transport NI will now be carrying out repairs to Springtown Road in the section going through the Springtown Industrial Estate at the start of May .Hopefully this will address a number of sections which have become worn down and will help local businesses as well as customers visiting area.

Ends

Councillor Mickey Cooper

McCallion encourages parents to monitor children’s online activity

Sinn Féin MLA Elisha McCallion has urged parents and guardians to be vigilant of children’s online use after a number of schools have banned chatroom app SimSimi due to reports of cyber bullying. dsc_4127

“I would urge parents to be extremely vigilant of their children’s usage of the internet. I have received a number of reports of cyber bullying on the online forum and mobile app, SimSimi.

“This is very concerning and many schools across the city and the island of Ireland have now banned the app.

“Whilst the internet offers opportunities for us all to connect with each other and engage with society in new ways, it can also expose children and young people to very real dangers.

“I would encourage parents to beware of the dangers of this app and if possible to remove the app from their children’s mobile phones, tablets and other devices to ensure their protection and safety online.”

Ends

Full text of address by Sinn Féin leader in the north, Michelle O’Neill MLA to public meeting in Derry’s City Hotel.

There will be no return to the status quo or business as usual. It is time to open up a new era of politics which delivers equality for everyone.

 

Introduction

A chairde,

For almost three decades our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness was the Sinn Féin chief negotiator and led us through many long and difficult talks’ processes.

His recent death has come as a huge shock and loss to the party, broader community and of course his family.c3rymkpwcaasoae-jpg-small

Martin was a towering pillar of strength and his commitment and determination never once faltered.

His leadership alongside Gerry Adams and our collective leadership has brought us to the position we are in today as the biggest party on this island, the engine for progressive political change, north and south.  

Today I want to pay tribute to Martin and to the family which he was devoted to and which stood behind him through all those difficult years.

In January, Martin was left with no other option but to resign as Deputy First Minister because of the RHI scandal and the total failure of the DUP leader to accept her party’s responsibility for this. This scandal alongside the arrogance and disrespect of the DUP towards whole sections of our society was entirely unacceptable.

Martin made clear that there can be no return to the status quo or business as usual.

We are at an important stage in the political and peace process – make no mistake about it.

The recent election was a watershed moment for the people of the North.

The people understood the importance of the election. There can be no tolerance of incompetence and financial scandals such as Red Sky, NAMA, RHI or arrogance or bigotry in public office.

We cannot be part of institutions which are being corrupted.

The results are a rejection of narrow-minded self-interest and bigotry. They are a rejection of the politics of fear and are in my opinion an endorsement of a new way – a demand for absolute respect, integrity and common decency within the political institutions.

People were once again re-engaged in the political process. This is a good thing.

We won the support of over 224,000 people – and I want to wholeheartedly thank everyone for that support.

We must now make a difference.

 

I want to tell you how I see it.

We have taken the political risks necessary for the benefit of all the people of this island.

We have gone with an open hand to our unionist neighbours in order to build the peace – because it is the right thing to do.

And I want to continue this important work.  I too am a bridge builder. I too want to heal the wounds of the past.

But it will be on the basis of equality and with unionist partners fit for the job.

The days of second-class citizenship for anyone are gone forever.

The Good Friday Agreement was declared in 1998 which promised a new beginning for everyone on this island.

And without doubt serious progress and transformation of this society from one of conflict to peace has been achieved over almost 20 years, and more.

But let’s be clear – the political process is broken.  That is why we called time on the DUP in order to stop and fix it.

 

Implementation Talks

To date there has been little progress on the key political issues. 

The next week is critical in the political talks. The political stakes are high.

Getting the political institutions back in place will be a challenge given the DUP’s stated position on an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights and other fundamental requirements, and the British government’s obstructive approach to legacy issues and other matters.

Over recent weeks Sinn Féin has been meeting all the Assembly parties and the British and Irish Governments and setting out our plan for getting out of this mess – for getting the power sharing institutions back up and running and for securing the place of the North within the EU.

The reality is that the British Government has abjectly failed to honour its commitments on equality and rights. They must now step up and deliver on their commitments otherwise restoring the institutions is in serious doubt.

The institutions will not be restored without movement on these key issues. The northern Executive is not sustainable unless it delivers and respects basic equality and human rights for all our citizens.

Unionism needs to understand this central point;

The British government needs to understand this central point; and

The Irish government needs also to understand this central point.

Equality, integrity and respect are not election slogans. they are the only basis on which Sinn Féin will return to the Executive.

If the British Secretary of State brings in new legislation to restore direct rule that will be an act of enormous bad faith and a clear breach of an agreement between the Irish and British Governments in 2006.

Direct Rule is unacceptable.

The Irish government has a huge responsibility to prevent any return to direct rule and to ensure that the partnership arrangements agreed in 2006 are put in place to defend and build on the Good Friday Agreement principles of equality and mutual respect.

I am glad to hear the Taoiseach say that the restoration of the power sharing institutions is one of his key priorities.  If that is to mean anything then we need to see a complete step change from them.  We need the Irish government to leave the sidelines and come into the talks as a joint and co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and ensure that full implementation is delivered.

The DUP now needs to live up to its responsibility to share power on the basis of equality and the terms established in the Good Friday Agreement.

Yes, this election has ended the perpetual unionist majority at Stormont, however Sinn Féin does not want minorities or majorities – we want equality – for everyone and for every community.

The significant mandate we received is a mandate for partnership, reconciliation and genuine power sharing. We will use our mandate wisely.

We will stand up for all citizens who want to see progress, who want to see genuine equality and respect regardless of political aspiration, gender, the language they speak, their race or sexuality.

I believe that for the first time there is the potential for a progressive political consensus among the majority of MLAs and parties on these issues.  This is something which could be ground breaking.

Our absolute commitment is to the agreements we have made and their implementation. If others including the two governments do likewise then it is game on.

 

Brexit and the Future

The DUP position on Brexit is entirely wrong and will have huge consequences for the people of the North.  It is already clear that Brexit will mean a hard economic border, that Brexit will cost jobs, that Brexit will have a devastating impact on our agriculture sector.

That is why Sinn Féin opposed Brexit. That is why we developed our proposal ‘The Case for the North to achieve Designated Special Status within the EU’ and went on a major offensive to build support for it. The position of Special Status is now supported by Fianna Fáil and Labour in Leinster House, and by the majority of parties and MLAs in the Assembly. 

If the people of the north are dragged out of the EU, the political landscape, North and South, will change dramatically. This poses a severe threat to the Good Friday Agreement and the political and economic future of the island.

This has brought the issue of Irish reunification firmly back on to the political agenda.  

A new conversation about the future is underway. It is happening in living rooms and workplaces across the country.

The triggering of Article 50 and the imminent start of Brexit negotiations; the Assembly election results, which saw the Unionist parties lose their Assembly majority; and the Scottish government’s call for a second Independent referendum, are the context for the current discussions on a United Ireland.

The determination of the British government to impose Brexit on the North, despite the vote of the people, underlines the undemocratic nature of partition and the unequal relationship between London and Belfast.

Sinn Féin is about strategising, organising, and persuading for a new and united Ireland we believe can be delivered.

A new Ireland built on the principles of equality and inclusion.

A new Ireland with a new constitution and Bill of Rights.

A new Ireland with symbols and emblems to reflect an inclusive Ireland, that includes the safeguarding of British Citizenship and recognition of the Unionist Identity.

The Good Friday Agreement obliges the Irish and British governments to legislate for unity if that is the choice of the people north and south.

We are seeking to initiate a genuine, respectful and inclusive debate about the reunification of Ireland and the prospects for new constitutional, political and economic arrangements which better serve the whole island and its entire people in the future – together.

I am confident that despite the political challenges we face now and in the coming period with Brexit, that with imagination and generosity the future can be a momentous time for this island and our people.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir.

ENDS.

Easter Lily appeal 2017

Irish government need to build on European support for north to have designated status within EU – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the Taoiseach and the European Council to act on a joint resolution debated at the European Parliament calling for the north to be protected from Brexit.

Speaking following a debate in the  European Parliament in Strasbourg on Brexit, Martina Anderson said: MartinaAndersonMEP

“It’s clear from this resolution that Ireland has friends in Europe.

“We feel now that the European Parliament is a partner to the people of the north of Ireland – and particularly those living in partitioned border areas.

“Martin McGuinness travelled to the European Parliament and met virtually all of the signatories to this resolution and asked; that you preserve the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, that there would be no hardening of the Irish border; and that the unique circumstances and special status of Ireland would be supported

“This is why we associate ourselves with this resolution.

“There is now an onus on the Taoiseach and the European Council to take heed of this, stand up for the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and act in the best interests of Irish citizens.

“It is clear we have support across Europe. Enda Kenny and the Irish government must now harness that support and stand up for Ireland and argue for designated status for the north within the EU.”

Easter lily launched in Derry -Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan  saideaster lily launch shanty 1

 

“The Easter Lily is an emblem of unity between the different traditions within the nation as well as the heroism of those who sacrificed so much in 1916. The lily has always had strong symbolic value, though its meaning and symbolism have changed through the ages. Today in 2017 it symbolises the possibility of unity, equality and prosperity for all the peoples of the island.

The annual distribution of the lilies will take place in the lead up to Easter weekend. A limited numbers of metal pin badges are also available at Peadar O Donnell’s and Checkpoint Charlie gift shop on Waterloo Street and local Sinn Féin offices.

The Easter Sunday parade  is next weekend on the 16th April  and further details will be released in the Derry press shortly.

The Irish Government must act in the plight of Ibrahim Halawa – SFRY

Sinn Féin Republican Youth today reiterated the call for the Irish Government to increase its action to secure the immediate release of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa from prison in Eqypt.hhhhh
A spokesperson for Sinn Féin Republican Youth in Derry Caolán McGinley said:
“Ibrahim Halawa has spent over three years of his life in an Eqyptian prison without due process in the form of a trial. Ibrahim has been subject to a farcical mass trial which has been postponed 20 times already.
“In recent weeks, Ibrahim’s physical and mental health has deteriorated significantly. A recent plea from his lawyer for release on medical grounds was rejected in court by a judge. This shows a total disregard for human rights, particularly as video footage provides evidence that Ibrahim has no case to answer.
“The Taoiseach and the Irish Government must act to defend Ibrahim’s human rights through a legal trial and secure his immediate release.”
CRÍOCH/ENDS

Duffy welcomes investment at Leafair Jogging Track

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed the news that  Derry City and Strabane District Council have agreed £17,000 funding so that work on the Leafair Jogging Track can proceed .Sandra Duffy Head shot 1

£90k of funding had been secured from the Department for Communities and a further £17.5k has also been provided from Northside Development Trust on the basis that Council would match this funding.

Councillor Duffy said “I welcome the news that this match funding has been provided by the Council so that works at the Leafair Jogging Track can proceed.

The development of this facility will  compliment recent projects completed such as the Synthetic Pitch, Play Provision and the outdoor GreenGym.

Its great to see investment in facilities right in the heart of local communities and also provide facilities for people to take part in healthy  outdoor sports.

PSNI performance should be measured on impact on people’s lives – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has said PSNI performance should be measured on the impact it has on people’s daily lives. raymond-mccartney-450x301

He  said:

“The publication of this report by the Controller and Auditor General into continuous improvement arrangements in policing raises a number of issues.

“While there are some welcome indicators, the report still identifies some long-standing concerns over the relationship between the PSNI and the Policing Board on how performance is monitored.

“It is clear that some of the reporting mechanisms in place need to change in order to properly judge the PSNI’s performance.

“We need to ensure that communities can see policing make a real difference in their daily lives and for that to happen we need to see PSNI performance measured for the impact it has.

Ends

DUP and UUP MEPs have let down people of the north – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the north’s unionist MEPs have let down the majority who voted to remain in the EU.

Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson.

Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson.

Martina Anderson said:

“Today in the European Parliament 516 MEPs from across Europe voted for a joint resolution which seeks to protect the interests of the people of the North during the Brexit negotiations.

“The resolution contained reference to protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, recognising the unique circumstances the north faces as a result of Brexit and calls for no hardening of the border on Ireland.

“MEPs with differing political views came together to support this resolution.

“Sadly the north’s two unionist MEPs could not bring themselves to support it.

“In doing so they have let down the majority of voters in north who voted to remain in the EU and have also let down those in our agriculture industry, our community sector and people from all walks of life.

“This is not the first time they have voted against the interests of the people of the north on Brexit. In the aftermath of the referendum 540 MEPs voted to maintain PEACE funding post-Brexit and once again their names were absent from the list.

“Clearly they are more concerned with reinforcing partition than the economy of the north or the wellbeing of its people.

“Sinn Féin will continue to build on the support we have in Europe for our case for designated special status for the north within the EU.”

McCallion appeals for continued support for Foyle Haven

Former Mayor, Sinn Féin MLA Elisha McCallion has appealed for financial support for Foyle Haven

 

Ms McCallion said:

 

“During my term as Mayor I took particular interest in issues around addiction and people in crisis, one of which was theFoyle Haven.

“I established a working group to assess the situation and sought funding to secure its future.

“We were successful in securing funding until June 2017.

“The steering group met again on Monday to discuss the future prospects of the Haven and I want to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the group which has ensured that the present level of services offered will remain in place until June 2017.

“I also know that within the Steering Group there continues to provide much support for the work of the Haven, I am however concerned that many of the current funders have indicated that it will be difficult to provide the extra funding required to sustain the service.

“The Steering Group is however committed to finding a solution and I would urge all those across Departments and organisations that have responsibility for ensuring the service continues to seek a resolution to the difficulties in which the Haven now finds itself.

“I will continue to meet with the working group and liaise with all possible funders in an attempt to achieve sustainability.

 

“While the search for funding and effortsto assist the working group in securing the long-term future of the facility continues I would appeal to all with the success of the Haven at heart not to add to the difficulties through negativity.

 

“If we stay positive and focussed I would be hopeful that we can reach a resolution in the best interests of those vulnerable adults who depend on this excellent facility.

 

“At every stage of this process staff have been kept informed and from my contact with them are appreciative of the efforts of the Working Group to secure the necessary funding.”  CRÍOCH/END

Hassan welcomes go ahead for Ballyarnett Play Park

Sinn Féin Councillor for the greater Shantallow area Tony Hassan has welcomed the news that  planning approval has been given for a new play park in Ballyarnett Country Park   by Derry City and Strabane District Council 

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Councillor Tony Hassan said

“This is welcome news for the  thousands of people who live right across the district. The Ballyarnett Country Park can provide a wide range of opportunities and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the area. It has been underutilised for many years .And I believe it has nowhere reached its full potential yet, in providing parklands and facilities for residents in the local area and for the city as a whole.

This announcement that planning approval has been given by the Council for a new play park there is a major step forward. 

The  master plan for the Ballyarnett Country park offers a real opportunity to build the foundation’s for the next 5-10 years and put in place something the entire community can be proud of.

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Previous agreements must be honoured – McCallion

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion  said the British government and the DUP must make it clear that they will commit to honour previous agreements.

Speaking today Elisha McCallion said:dsc_5535

“Sinn Féin has continued to engage with the other parties and the two governments to re-establish the Executive on the basis of equality, respect and integrity.

“This could have been done last week, and a new Executive up and working today. However, the continued refusal of the British Government and the DUP to honour previous agreements made that impossible.

“Sinn Féin remain talking to the parties and the governments, but we cannot have an endless round of talks to reach an new agreement, while other agreements are left to gather dust on the shelf. That is not credible. That is not what the public want.

“If these talks are to have any credibility, with the hope of reaching a deal, the British government and the DUP must make it clear that they will honour the agreements and the talks will move onto a programme of implementation.

“This can be achieved speedily. If previous agreements are implemented we can address the issues which are not part of existing agreements and reestablish the Executive.”

Duffy concerned over flooding at new Glenabbey development

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has said she is concerned about drainage and subsequent flooding problems in the new Glennabbey developmentSandra Duffy Head shot 1

She said “I have raised this issue before but felt it was important to raise it directly with Fold housing association again this week.

This is a great new development which is striving to provide good facilities and services for its residents, with a play park and a community hub building, but unfortunately this drainage issue is detracting from the estate.

It is not just an occasional big puddle it is a year round problem which completely covers a section of the footpath and green area next to the park.

Local residents who have complained to me about it have said they have nicknamed it the ‘swimming pool’.

At my meeting with  Fold this week it has transpired that responsibility for this land lies between Council and Road Service.

I have now written to both asking that this issue be addressed immediately.

 

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O Neill /Doherty to speak at major community engagement meeting in Derry

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said 20170128_154209

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

Our new party leader in the North Michelle O’Neill and Pearse Doherty TD will be the main speakers at the Derry meeting which will be held this  Thursday night in the City Hotel at 7.30pm”

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Tory child tax credit cuts an attack on those most in need -McCallion

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion has said Tory plans to cut child tax credits are an attack on women and those most in need.

Elisha McCallion said: dsc_4127

“Changes to the child tax credit system brought in by the Tory government are yet another attack on those most in need, particularly women.

“This benefit was brought in to help tackle child poverty but now this change in how it is operated by the Tories will actually drive more and more people into poverty.

“Stopping child tax credits payments at two children is a crude and crass form of discrimination and social engineering which is not acceptable.

“The clause where a mother can receive child tax credits for a third child if she can prove the child was conceived through rape is disgusting and will only traumatise women further.

“It will also have a disproportionate impact on the north where the average family is traditionally larger than those in England.

“Once again this is a Tory attack on those most in need and i would urge anyone concerned about child tax credits to seek the help of a benefits advisor.”

CCTV to tackle illegal dumping /dog fouling – Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the news that Derry City and Strabane District Council has set a out a code of practice policy for all CCTV cameras operated by council .

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

He said “I welcome this initiative by the council. Its comes a result of over a year of work I have been involved in with council officers.

It’s envisaged that once it’s adopted the council will, amongst other things,  be able to install cameras and signage in Rosemount and other areas affected by illegal dumping and dog fouling which will provide both a visual deterrent and also better enforcement options against offenders.

Up until now we have only been able to deal with the dumping issue reactively by getting area cleanups carried out as council had no policy on the use of cameras.

We hope that all of these initiatives will provide a long term resolution to dog fouling, littering and dumping issues in the Rosemount, Glenview and Lowrys Lane areas which remain one of the key areas of concern for local residents”

Support across Europe for designated status for the north – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said there is support across Europe for the case for the north to have designated status within the EU. 

Martina Anderson said:

“The EU has said there must be an ‘innovative and imaginative’ approach to Brexit. Sinn Féin has put forward a case for the north to secure designated status within the EU. That is our innovative and imaginative approach.

“We have been building support for our case for designated status across Ireland and across Europe.

“Over the last two days a task force of MEPs from across Europe have been visiting Ireland at the invitation of my colleague Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy and I.

“They have seen at first hand the hugely negative impact Brexit would have on Ireland, particularly on border counties.

“We met with business, civic, agricultural and elected representatives north and south and engaged with local communities.

“The MEPs clearly acknowledged the need for the north to secure designated special status within the EU.

“The majority of people in the north voted to remain in the EU.

“I would call on people to lobby MEPs and, in particular, the Irish government, to make their voice heard on the British government’s undemocratic Brexit agenda and to demand special status for the north within the EU.”

Talks must be about implementation of agreements – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has said political talks at Stormont must be about the implementation of previous agreements.
Raymond McCartney said: dsc_6528
“Public confidence in the political institutions was damaged by the DUP’s handling of the RHI scandal, the allegations of corruption associated with the scheme, and the DUP’s disrespect for whole sections of the community.
“That’s why Martin McGuinness called time on the DUP’s arrogance and disrespect.
“Martin McGuinness made it clear there would be no return to the status quo and that position was endorsed by the people in the recent election.
“There is a need to restore public confidence by securing political institutions based on equality, respect and integrity and delivering for everyone.
“That requires the British government and the DUP to commit to implementing the outstanding commitments of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements. The Irish government is a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and it must hold the British government to account.
“That will be Sinn Féin’s focus in the talks.”

Repairs to busy Springtown Road this Sunday – Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed confirmation from Transport NI that they will be carrying repair work out on the Springtown Road this Sunday 2nd April .

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

 

Councillor Cooper said “Transport NI will be carrying out repairs to Springtown Road in the section going through the Springtown Industrial Estate on Sunday (2nd April).Hopefully this will address a number of sections which have become worn down and will help local businesses as well as customers visiting area.

 

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Exclusive: Gerry Adams interview

Appeal over illegal dumping in the TOH –Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson has appealed for illegal dumping in the Top of the Hill area of the city to stop.

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Councillor Jackson said

I am appealing for a community response to help tackle the dumping within our community. Dumping in the Top of the Hill is becoming a major problem over recent years, with bags of household waste being dumped at street corners on a weekly basis.

This is not only an eyesore for everyone living in the area; it also poses an environmental health risk with the rubbish attracting mice and rats. This needs to stop and to stop it we need everyone to take pride in our community and dispose of their waste responsibly.

Every household should have both a black and blue bin, unfortunately in many cases throughout the district it is not the case. In conjunction with the Council and Hillcrest House we are carrying out a survey to try and determine who doesn’t have either a black or blue bin and where possible we will provide bins.

Concluding he said

Anyone caught fly tipping bags of rubbish could face a fine of up to £1000. I would urge anyone without either bin to contact Hillcrest House on 02871347515 or contact myself to ensure that everyone in the area has the facilities to manage their waste and bring an end to the dumping on our streets.

Tamneymore Park pipe bomb find –Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor and local resident  Christopher  Jackson commenting on the news that a viable pipe bomb has been found in Tamneymore Park.

He said

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

“While it is not yet known who  may have been responsible for leaving this device, what is known if it had detonated it could have caused serious injury to anyone in the vicinity.

I am making it clear to those responsible for leaving this viable pipe bomb that the Waterside community does not want this and those behind it need to stop.

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Glenowen shooting – Campbell

Commenting on the news that a man was shot in the legs, in the Glenowen  area of Derry on Wednesday night,kevin-campbell

 

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell said:

 

“This is a very worrying development, it’s the second shooting in the city in a week.

 

“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.

 

 

 

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No return to Direct Rule – Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O Neill MLA has challenged the British Secretary of State James Brokenshire on his assertion today that he will “consider all options” after Easter if talks to form the Northern Executive fail.20170128_154209

Michelle O’Neill said:

“There is only one option which the British Secretary of State is entitled to take and that is to call an election.

“There is no legal basis for any other course of action. And while parties may or may not want an election the fact is if the British Secretary of State brings in new legislation to restore Direct Rule that will be an act of bad faith and a clear breach of an agreement between the Irish and British governments in 2006.

“Sinn Féin has made it clear that all of the outstanding issues can be resolved. There can be no return to the status quo.

“We have no objection to the British Secretary of State leaving some time for that to be done but we are totally opposed and we would look to the Irish government to oppose, any new legislation to bring back Direct Rule.”

O’Neill welcomes green light for A6

Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill has welcomed today’s court ruling in favour of the A6 Derry to Belfast road project.

“The A6 upgrade represents an investment of over £160m and has long been a key priority for Sinn Féin,” she said c3rymkpwcaasoae-jpg-small

“It is a key infrastructural project to help redress regional balance and was significantly moved forward by Sinn Féin Minister Chris Hazzard when preparatory work began last year.

“Today’s court ruling is an endorsement of the Minister’s approach and clears the way for the work to move onto the next stage.

“When the project is completed in 2019, it will greatly reduce travel times between Derry and Belfast, a development which will be greatly welcomed by the many thousands who use this road daily.

Concerns over anti community activity at Culmore Play Park –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has called for parents in the Culmore area to ensure that their children are not caught up in anti-community activity taking place in the vicinity of the Ballynagard Play Park.

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Councillor Hassan said “We have received a number of complaints about anti community activity in the play park there and the affect this is having on residents who live adjacent to it.

A number of issues have been raised such as trespassing, property damage, broken windows, noise and abusive language.

There are groups of young people gathering there and this can be very intimidating for those residents.

I will be visiting the site and talking with  council officials to see what can be done here to lessen the issues raised by residents.

I would urge parents in the area to ensure that their children are not getting caught up in this.

Concluding he said

Culmore is an area crying out for facilities the last thing we want to see it having to close or restrict access to ones that are there.

Ends

Someone could be killed -Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has appealed to parents to warn their children about the dangers of crossing the busy Lonemoor Road and appealed to more people to use the pedestrian  crossing a few yards away.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Kelly said “I have been approached by a number of residents and motorists concerned that  there could be a very serious accident at the junctions of Blighs Lane and Lonemoor Road following a number of incidents there.

One motorist reported to me a group of children on bikes came down the hill at Bligh’s Lane didn’t stop at the junction and flew straight out in front of him and he said it was sheer luck they didn’t hit his car with awful consequences.

Residents I have spoken to would tell you this is a common occurrence at this junction with small children also taking changes running across the road. A lot of time cars are travelling in excess of the 30mph on this stretch of road.

I would urge local parents to tell their children about the dangers of crossing this busy road and would encourage more people to use the pedestrian crossing a few yards away.

Support for Stormont Breaking Down Brexit rally -Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper speaking ahead of the Breaking Down Brexit group is taking holding  a rally at Stormont on Wednesday at 2:00pm to coincide with the  triggering of article 50.

He said cursac3xyaufl2z

“I wish to commend Border Communities Against Brexit for organising this protest at Stormont on Wednesday at 2pm to highlight the deep and widespread concerns of those living along the border counties. Locally there are serious fears along the Derry- Donegal border about the impact of Brexit and the urgent need for these concerns to be addressed by the Irish and British Governments.

In the aftermath of the recent EU referendum Sinn Féin held a series of public meetings in Derry and across Ireland and it’s clear there is a great deal of concern about the prospect of being dragged out of the EU.

In border areas in particular there is huge uncertainty over the impact on agriculture, business, trade, travel, tourism and those who cross the border on a daily basis.

The uncertainty which is already damaging trade and investment and impacting on cross-border business will be  nothing compared to the hardships which will ensue with the imposition of tariffs and the restriction of the free movement of goods, services and people on this island.

The local council will lose a massive amount of EU monies which are currently used for job creation, Rural Development and infrastructural programmes. When this money disappears post-Brexit the council will have little choice but to downsize these initiatives or else increase rates to allow these programmes to continue.

I would encourage as many people as possible to attend Wednesdays protest to send out a clear message that the triggering of article 50 is wrong and against the democratic wishes of the people of the North.

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Ballymagroarty oil thefts -McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has called on residents to ensure that oil tanks are properly secured from burglars.eric-1

Cllr. McGinley said: “A number of oil tanks were recently targeted by burglars in the Ballymagroarty area and in other parts of the city.

Whilst the sole responsibility for these actions lie with the criminals involved it is still the case that some residents are not ensuring that their possessions are securely locked or fastened.   This makes it easier for thieves to invade people’s property and privacy.

I would appeal to all residents to ensure that they take the time to secure oil tanks as best as they can and to make it is as difficult as possible for these individuals to carry out their criminal activities.

I would also make residents aware that they can avail of home security equipment and I am happy to assist with any enquiries in this regard.”

Talks process has run its course – O’Neill

Speaking in Belfast today Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill said:c3rymkpwcaasoae-jpg-small

“This talks process has run its course. Sinn Féin will not be supporting nominations for Speaker or the Executive tomorrow.

“When the extent of the RHI scandal became apparent and the First Minister refused to step aside, Martin McGuinness acted and made clear there could be no return to the status quo.

“The decision by Martin McGuinness to resign was endorsed in the election.

“The election result has transformed the political landscape. The approach of the unionist parties and the governments must reflect this change.

“We entered talks to implement what had already been agreed, to rebuild public confidence in an Executive and Assembly, operating on the basis of equality and respect and rights for all in society.

“This was an entirely reasonable approach.

“Sinn Féin in the talks sought the full implementation of the outstanding issues of equality and rights. The governments and the DUP have failed to step up to the plate.

“The British Government has refused to honour its responsibilities. Their objective has not been truth and healing but continued cover-up of their actions in Ireland.

“They have also set aside the democratic wishes of the people and are intent on imposing Brexit and continued austerity.

“Sinn Féin is still intent on honouring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored but when we said there will be no return to the status quo we meant it.”

GERRY ADAMS’ GRAVESIDE ORATION AT THE GRAVESIDE OF MARTIN MCGUINNESS

MARTIN MCGUINNESS- A life well livedc737bqexuaijhp2-jpg-large

Ar dtús ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le Bernie, bean chéile Martin, Fiachra, Grainne, Fionnuala agus Emmett agus garpháistí s’acu.

Tá Sinn Féin an-bhródúil as Martin McGuinness.

Cúis mhór bróin againn uilig gur chaill muid ár gcara agus ár gcomrádaí Martin cúpla lá ó shin.

Bhí Martin ina phoblachtóir paiseanta a d’oibrigh gan sos ar son na síochána, agus ar son athmhuintearais agus ar son athaontú na tíre.

Ach thar rud ar bith eile, bhí grá agus bród mór aige ar a chlann agus ar mhuintir Dhoire agus muintir na hÉireann.

This week, Ireland lost a hero.

Derry lost a son.

Sinn Féin lost a leader and I lost a dear friend and a comrade.

But Martin’s family has suffered the biggest loss of all.

They have lost a loving, caring, dedicated husband, father and grandfather. A brother and an uncle.

On behalf of Sinn Féin, on my own behalf and Colette and our family, and for you all, I extend our solidarity to all the McGuinness family.

All of us thank the doctors and nurses who looked after Martin so well during his illness.

We think and pray also for the family of Ryan McBride.

We send our sympathy to them and to all in the world of Irish soccer.

One of the very best things Martin ever did was to marry Bernie Canning.

One of his very best achievements was the family, which he and Bernie reared in the Bogside in Derry.

Above all else, Martin loved his family.

Our heart goes out to his wife Bernie, their sons Fiachra and Emmett, their daughters Fionnuala and Gráinne, Bernie and Martin’s grandchildren, Tiarnan, Oisin, Rossa, Ciana, Cara, Dualta and Sadhbh; his sister Geraldine, brothers Paul, William, Declan, Tom and John and the extended McGuinness family.

Those of us who knew Martin are proud of his achievements. Of his humanity and compassion.

Martin was a formidable person of the rarest kind – one who did extraordinary things in extraordinary times.

He would not be surprised at the commentary from some quarters about him and his life.

He would be the first to say that these people are entitled to their opinions.

In particular, those who suffered at the hands of the IRA.

But let me take issue with those in the editorial rooms or in their political ivory towers who denounce Martin McGuinness as a terrorist.

Mar a dúirt An Piarsach at the grave of another Fenian  – the fools, the fools, the fools.

Martin cannot answer them back.

So let me answer for him.

Martin McGuinness was not a terrorist.

Martin McGuinness was a Freedom Fighter.

He was also a political prisoner, a negotiator, a peacemaker, a healer.

But while he had a passion for politics Martin was not one dimensional.

He had many interests. Especially in nature. In spirituality. And he was famously and hugely interested in people.

He also enjoyed story telling.

And he could tell a yarn better than most, including me.

In the early weeks of his illness after Christmas I tried to encourage him to write a book and he was up for that.

A book about childhood summers in Donegal, in the Illies, outside Buncrana.

About his mother. His memories of his father. His brothers and sister.

Schools days and much more.

Meeting Bernie. Their courtship. The births of their children. Their grandchildren.

Unfortunately, he will never write that book.

He was a good writer, decent poet with a special place in his heart for Seamus Heaney and Patrick Kavanagh.

He loved growing herbs. He thought he was the world’s best chess player.

He loved cooking. Fly fishing. Walking, especially around Grianan Fort – Grianán Ailigh.

Bhain sé sult ag gach sórt spóirt, ach an raibh peileadóir ní na mheasa ná é riamh?

He enjoyed watching sports of all kinds.

Football, hurling, cricket, golf, rugby.

Soccer – he was the world’s worst player.

He once broke his leg playing soccer. He had a plaster from his ankle to his hip.

He had to go up and down the stairs on his backside.

His mother Peggy – God rest her – told me that he tripped over the ball.

He was great at telling jokes.

He liked all of these past times.

But he especially loved having the space to have time with Bernie and their clann.

That’s what grounded Martin McGuinness.

Bhí Martin ina chara mór acu siúd uilig a bhí ag troid ar son na saoirse ar fud an domhain.

He was a friend to those engaged in the struggles for justice across the globe.

And he travelled widely promoting the imperative of peace making, in the Basque country and Colombia, the Middle East and Iraq.

He travelled to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela and others in the ANC leadership, as well as in the National Party, to learn from their experience.

Martin was also a man who was, in many ways very ordinary.

Particularly in his habits and personal lifestyle.

Like many other Derry ‘wans’, Martin grew up in a city in which Catholics were victim of widespread political and economic discrimination.

He was born into an Orange State which did not want him or his kind.

Poverty was endemic.

I remember him telling me that he was surprised when his father, a quiet modest church going man, marched in the civil rights campaign here in Derry.

The Orange State’s violent suppression of that civil rights campaign; the Battle of the Bogside, and the emerging conflict propelled Martin into a life less ordinary.

Bhuail muid don chéaduair blianta fada ó shin i nDoire Saor. Is cairde agus comrádaithe sinn ó shin.

We first met, 45 years ago, behind the barricades of Free Derry.

We have been friends and comrades ever since.

From time spent on the run, to imprisonment in the Curragh and Portlaoise and Belfast Prison, through his time as Northern Education Minister and later deputy First Minister, along with Ian Paisley, then Peter Robinson and then Arlene Foster, Martin made an unparalleled astonishing journey.

Reading and watching some of the media reports of his life and death in recent days one could be forgiven for believing that Martin, at some undefined point in his life, had a road to Damascus conversion; abandoned his republican principles, his former comrades in the IRA, and joined the political establishment.

To suggest this is to miss the truth of his leadership and the essence of his humanity.

There was not a bad Martin McGuinness or a good Martin McGuinness.

There was simply a man, like every other decent man or woman, doing his best.

Martin believed in freedom and equality.

He resisted by armed actions those who withheld these rights, and then he helped shape conditions in which it was possible to advocate for these entitlements by unarmed strategies.

Throughout it all Martin remained committed to the same ideals that led to his becoming a republican activist in the first instance – the pursuit of Irish unification, freedom, equality and respect for all.

Martin believed that the British government’s involvement in Ireland, and the partition of our island, are at the root of our divisions.

He was absolutely one hundred per cent right about that.

The British government has no right whatsoever to have any involvement in Ireland.

Along with others of like mind he understood the importance of building a popular democratic radical republican party across this island.

He especially realised that negotiations and politics were another arena of struggle.

In this way he helped chart a new course, a different strategy.

This involved taking difficult initiatives to make political advances.

Our political objectives, and our republican principles and ideals did not change.

On the contrary these guided us through every twist and turn of the peace process.

Thanks to Martin we now live in a very different Ireland, which has been changed utterly.

We live in a society in transition.

The future now can be decided by us.

It should never be decided for us.

Without Martin there could not have been the type of peace process we’ve had.

Much of the change we now take for granted, could not have been achieved.

In my view the key is in never giving up.

That was Martin’s mantra also.

He was also tough, assertive and unmovable when that was needed.

Dogmatic at times.

Wimps don’t make good negotiators – neither do so-called hard men.

Martin learned the need for flexibility.

His contribution to the evolution of republican thinking was enormous, as was his popularising of republican ideals.

Over many years of working together, Martin and I both realised that advances in struggle require creativity and imagination and a willingness to take initiatives.

Martin embraced that challenge and he didn’t just talk about change, he delivered it.

He once said: “When change begins, and we have the confidence to embrace it as an opportunity and a friend, and show honest and positive leadership, then so much is possible.”

Bhí sé ina ábhar mór bróid agam chun Martin a ainmniú mar an chéad Aire Oideachais i ndiaidh Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta.

It was a source of great pride for me following the Good Friday Agreement to nominate Martin as the north’s Minister for Education.

It was a position he embraced; putting equality and fairness into practice in the Department of Education, seeking to end the Eleven Plus and improve outcomes for children.

In 2007, he became deputy First Minister and an equal partner to Ian Paisley in government.

They forged a friendship that illustrated to all the progress we have made on the island of Ireland.

His reconciliation and outreach work, and his work on behalf of victims and for peace, in Ireland and internationally, have been justifiably widely applauded.

As part of that work, Martin met Queen Elizabeth of England several times.

He did so while very conscious of the criticism this might provoke. He would be the first to acknowledge that some republicans and nationalists were discommoded at times by his efforts to reach out the hand of friendship.

That is the real test of leadership – to reach out beyond your own base.

It is a test that Martin passed every time.

Some unionist leaders were discommoded also at the sight of their Queen greeting Martin or on another occasion using a cúpla focal or bowing in salute to the men and women of 1916.

These are symbolic gestures but they are important nonetheless.

As Martin pointed out in his letter of resignation on January 9th; “The equality, mutual respect and all-Ireland approaches enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement have never been fully embraced by the DUP. Apart from the negative attitude to nationalism and to the Irish identity and culture, there has been a shameful disrespect towards many other sections of our community.”

I quote this more in sadness than anger.

And I try to understand why this is so.

That’s what Martin did.

So, here at the graveside of this good man let me appeal to our unionist neighbours.

Let us learn to like each other, to be friends, to celebrate and enjoy our differences and to do so on the basis of common sense, respect and tolerance for each other and everyone else – as equals.

Let me appeal also to nationalists and republicans – do nothing to disrespect our unionist neighbours or anyone else.

Stand against bigotry. Against sectarianism,

But respect our unionist neighbours.

Reach out to them.

Lead, as Martin led, by example.

By little acts of kindness and generosity.

Is féidir linne bheith iontach bródúil as Martin.

Is duine é de na fir agus de na mná iontacha sin a sheas an fód ar son saoirse na hÉireann.

We can be very proud of Martin.

He is another of those great and remarkable men and women who have stood up for Irish freedom and for what they believed to be right.

Martin believed that a better Ireland, a genuinely new Ireland is possible.

He rejected any suggestion that gender or race or class or skin colour or disability or sexual orientation or religion should exclude citizens from their full rights and entitlements.

That is a legacy we must build upon.

Of course, while much progress has been made – not least in the numerous lives saved in the last 20 years – nevertheless Irish republicans know that a long, long road, with many twists and turns, still lies ahead.

It’s all about rights.

Civil rights.

Human rights.

Religious rights.

Language rights.

LGBT rights.

Social and economic rights.

Rights for women.

National rights.

The right to freedom.

These rights can’t be left to any political party.

If you want an Acht na Gaeilge campaign for it.

Ná habair é. Dean é.

If you want a Bill of Rights campaign for that.

If you want marriage equality – mobilise for that.

If you want freedom, go out and take it.

Organise. Mobilise. Unite for your rights.

That is the challenge facing us.

To build a mass movement for positive change across all 32 counties of our island.

And for all our people.

Facing that challenge we are the stronger because of Martin.

So, don’t mourn. Celebrate and organise. That’s what Martin would want.

He exemplified all that is decent and fair about our republican ideology and our core values of freedom, equality and solidarity.

It is now over to us to take the struggle from where he has left it.

Like Bobby Sands he believed that our revenge should be the laughter of our children.

By his example he showed us that it is possible to build peace out of conflict; to build a better and more equal future based on fairness, and to build unity out of division.

Martin will continue to inspire and encourage us in the time ahead.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.

I never thought I would be giving this oration today.

Martin was looking forward so much to stepping back in May from public office.

This wasn’t to be but his was a life well lived.

That is little consolation to Bernie and her clann today but we pray that she and they in the time ahead will take comfort from the happy times they enjoyed with Martin.

He said Bernie was his rock many times during his illness, “My Rock of Cashel”, he told me.

“I am lucky to have her.”

Bernie was also lucky to have him.

So were the rest of us.

We also loved him.

Thank you Bernie for sharing Martin with us.

He will be missed by many. But you will miss him more than anyone else.

Farewell Martin.

Slán a chara, slán go deo.

We thank Martin McGuinness.

We salute Martin McGuinness.

We applaud Martin McGuinness.

Up the Republic.

Full text of Michelle O’Neill’s speech at the graveside of Martin McGuinness

Words can’t express my sense of pride, sense of privilege and honour to say a few words as we lay our friend Martin to rest. 

Bhí Mairtín ina cheannaire againn uilig agus ina chara againn uilig.33283707170_b7c6376416_k

Martin was a leader to all of us

He was a friend to all of us 

And he will be a huge loss to all of us. 

He was a man of great passion. 

Passion for his family and passion for his country

And he gave everything he could to both. 

To his family Bernie, Grainne, Fionnuala, Emmet, Fiachra, the grand kids and the wider McGuinness clan, we know you are hurting. 

And we are forever thankful to you for the many sacrifices you have made down through the many long and difficult years of struggle. 

I hope that you can take some comfort from the way that Martin touched the lives of so many people. In how he is revered by so many for his contribution to building a new and united Ireland. 

He inspired us, he challenged us, he led from the front. He didn’t just make followers he made other leaders.

I’m proud to say he was my good friend. Two months ago to this day on 23rd January he held a press conference in Stormont where he announced he was passing on the mantle to me as our new leader in the north. 

On that day I felt I was the proudest woman in Ireland. Proud to have learned from the best, proud to have been asked to take over from a man that I spent my whole life looking up to.

But most of all I was proud of him.

Because Martin didn’t just talk about republican ideals, he lived his life by them each and every day through his actions. 

We didn’t know then that just two months later we would be standing here today supporting his family and laying our comrade to rest. And our hearts are aching. 

Much has been said about Martin over the last few days, the depth of the man that he was, the journey that he was on has been discussed by many. 

But he wasn’t a man of two sides, he was one man, with one struggle, with one aspiration – a Republic of Equals.

His legacy will live on in our hearts and in our actions. 

We will build on all of his work, he has laid the solid foundations. 

He is now a guardian of our struggle and takes his place alongside the iconic republican leaders of the ages – Tone, Pearse, Connolly, Sands, Drumm and so many others.

They have never left us.

And Martin never will.

Grma Martin 

Statement from Bernie McGuinness and the McGuinness family

Bernie McGuinness, wife of Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness, has asked the party to issue a statement on her and the family’s behalf.

In this statement she thanks all of those who offered their condolences in recent days on the death of Martin and the many thousands who visited the house, held vigils or attended the funeral service on Thursday.32833921943_3d2074a459_o-1

Bernie McGuinness said:

“On my own behalf and Martin’s family I want to thank all of those who have offered their condolences since Martin’s death, including the countless people who sent messages, mass cards and prayers.

“I want to thank the doctors and the nurses who looked after Martin during his illness.

“I also want to express our deep appreciation of the many thousands of people who attended vigils in the course of the week in many parts of Ireland and overseas.

“From Martin’s return home on Tuesday, and until we left for the funeral service on Thursday, long queues of people visited our home. The family took great comfort from their presence. I want to thank the local businesses who during this time very kindly provided food and sandwiches for those visiting the house.

“I want to especially acknowledge the many thousands who attended the funeral. Words cannot express our appreciation at the outpouring of love and solidarity, which embraced us throughout Thursday.

“Finally, I want to thank all of Martin’s comrades in Sinn Féin, especially here in Derry, the many stewards, the friends who travelled from overseas, and in particular all of those who attended or participated in the funeral service in Long Tower Church and at the Republican Plot, including the singers and the musicians.

“I and our entire family have been touched by the efforts of so many to provide solace and comfort to us throughout this very difficult period.

“Martin was my husband, a father and a grand-father. He was a republican activist for all of his adult life. He was passionate about his political beliefs but also about his many other interests. Despite the frequency with which his political activism took him away from our home and family, he was at heart a proud family man who took great delight in the accomplishments of our children and grandchildren. He loved his family. And we love him. Our hearts are broken.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Sinn Féin Leader and former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness dies after short illness

It is with deep regret and sadness that we have learnt of the death of our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness who passed away in Derry during the night. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Speaking this morning Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said:17426092_1439307229701149_2874232241966975743_n

“Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.

“He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country.  But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both.

“On behalf of republicans everywhere we extend our condolences to Bernie, Fiachra, Emmet, Fionnuala and Grainne, grandchildren and the extended McGuinness family.

“I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a anam dílis.”

by Gerry Adams TD

‘Time to plan for Irish Unity’ – Gerry Adams

Speaking in Washington Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD called on: “All parties which see the value of Irish Unity to act together.”

Gerry Adams said:gerry-adams

“The academic paper by Professor Kurt Huebner of Vancouver University, entitled, ‘Modeling Irish Unification’, which was published in November 2015 is an important contribution to the debate about Irish unity. The author concluded that political and economic unification would likely result in a sizable boost in economic outcomes and incomes in the North and a smaller boost in the South

In November 2016 Sinn Féin launched ‘Towards a United Ireland’. It is a detailed discussion paper setting out the arguments for a United Ireland. It addresses the impact on the economy, on inward investment, on exports, on the health service, on the border region and much more.

It takes head on and demolishes the argument that the people of the North and South cannot afford a United Ireland.

The cause of uniting Ireland is not the property of any one grouping or party. That has always been Sinn Féin’s consistent position. I therefore welcome Fianna Fáil’s entry into the discussion. It will be interesting to read the detail of whatever paper Fianna Fáil publishes. They should also engage with campaigning in communities and political actions and cooperation within the Oireachtas.

For Sinn Féin’s part we are currently exploring the possibility of establishing a Dáil Committee on Irish Unity, that would bring forward proposals for what a United Ireland might look like, how we get there and how the Irish State needs to plan for reunification across all areas of the economy and society.

To inform that discussion we are also working on a follow-up paper to our ‘Towards a United Ireland’ discussion document. It is a white paper-type document that lays out the benefits and outworkings of Unity across a range of areas, including enterprise, health, education, agriculture, energy, infrastructure and taxation on a short/medium and long-term basis.

It is expected that the British government will trigger Article 50 shortly to commence the negotiations on Brexit. This, the Assembly election results, which saw the Unionist parties lose their Assembly majority; and the announcement by the Scottish First Minister of a second Independence referendum, are the context for the current discussions on a United Ireland.

It is crucial that Irish-America is fully aware of the hazard that a hard Brexit poses for the island of Ireland.  The reality is that Brexit is bad for the island as a whole. It runs contrary to the political, economic and social interests and aspirations of the Irish people. In the Brexit referendum vote in the North last June Brexit was rejected. This was repeated in the recent Assembly election, which saw a majority of MLAs opposed to Brexit elected.

The people of the six counties have not consented to being dragged out of the European Union. For the British government to ignore this fact flies in the face of the progress that been made in the North since the start of the peace process and the signing of the Good Friday.

On Monday, Michelle O’Neill warned that Brexit will significantly undermine the Good Friday Agreement and lead to the imposition of a hard border. She argued that all of this increases the urgency for a referendum on Irish unity.

The Good Friday Agreement obliges the Irish and British governments to legislate for unity if that is the choice of the people north and south. These changing times present real challenges and real opportunities. We need to continue to strategise, organise, and persuade for Irish Unity. We need to plan for a United Ireland. There is no short cut. Irish America has a real and crucial role in this transition.

Reunification cannot be simply a case of adding the north to the south. It must be an agreed Ireland – in which unionists can feel comfortable and secure.

It is about creating a new Ireland – in which the rights of citizens are upheld by the state. A new Ireland built on the principles of equality and inclusion. A new Ireland with a new constitution and Bill of Rights.

A new Ireland with symbols and emblems to reflect a fair and inclusive society, that includes the safeguarding of British Citizenship and recognition of the Unionist Identity.

This cannot be a rhetorical debate. All parties that see the value of reunification and hold to the ideal of unity must act together.

There is an onus on the Irish government to plan for unity. To become a persuader for unity. To build the maximum agreement and to secure and win a referendum on unity.

The days of leaving the debate on a united Ireland for another time are over. History has presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to advance this entirely legitimate and logical objective. Let’s not waste it.”

Time to deliver on unfinished business – O’Neill

Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill said today, “it’s time to deliver on the unfinished business and chart a course for the future”.20170128_154209

Michelle O’Neill said:

 “Over the past two weeks Sinn Féin has met daily with the other Assembly parties and the two Governments as part of the implementation talks at Stormont Castle.

“The recent election and strengthened mandate which Sinn Féin has been given makes clear that the people made the extra effort to come out and vote and stand up against corruption, arrogance and bigotry.

“This election has ended the perpetual unionist majority at Stormont, however Sinn Féin does not want minorities or majorities, we want equality and integrity in Government which must deliver for everyone and treat citizens decently, fairly and with respect.

“Nothing less is acceptable.

“The DUP has demonstrated a negative and cynical approach towards the Good Friday Agreement and the power-sharing institutions, including the All-Ireland bodies, which must operate on the basis of equal partnership.

“Responsibility within the Agreement for delivering on equality and rights protections lies ultimately with the British Government. They must now step up and deliver on their commitments otherwise political progress on restoring the institutions is in serious doubt.

“We face into a week where it is crucial we make a difference, which means full implementation of political commitments and firm actions which can restore public confidence in the Assembly, Executive and All-Ireland dimensions of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Sinn Féin has entered these implementation talks in good faith and will continue to honour our responsibilities and agreements. We will continue to represent all within the community based on respect and equality.

“There is a rightful expectation that the Irish government will assert itself as a co-equal guarantor of the Good FridayAgreement and ensure that full implementation is now delivered.

“I want to make clear that now is the time to deliver on the unfinished business and chart a course for the future based on equality, respect and integrity.”

McCartney pays tribute to Derry City captain Ryan McBride

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has expressed his sympathies following the death of Derry City FC captain Ryan McBride. mcbride

The Foyle MLA said:

“There is widespread shock across the city and beyond following the sudden death of Derry City FC captain, Ryan McBride.

“Ryan was an excellent player, a great leader on and off the field and an inspiration to many.

“I send my condolences and those of the party to the McBride family and everyone who knew Ryan.

“I have no doubt the community across the city will rally round to support them at this sad and difficult time.”

Success on Irish bi-lingual signs on bus service in Derry campaign –Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed the news that Translink is launching a public consultation on the proposed display of English/Irish bi-lingual destination screens for place names on buses operating in Derry. And that they are looking at a pilot scheme in the city. kevin-campbell

Councillor Kevin Campbell said

This is great news .Sinn Féin have been lobbying on this issue for a number of years in Derry and have held a number of meetings with Transport NI and have raised  this with successive Transport Ministers.

I and party representatives Maeve McLaughlin and Colly Kelly met with the senior management of Translink in the Derry office at Foyle Street bus depot back in February 2015 to discuss our request that a bilingual destination signage pilot scheme be established for the Derry area.

In November just past I wrote to the Minister Chris Hazzard and i outlined our request for a pilot scheme.

I believe this is doable and is achievable at very little cost.

Translink bus services operating in West Belfast have been featuring both English and Irish language signs on destinations screens since 2011. And there has been bilingual passenger information on bus shelter timetables and route information.

There are hundreds of children going to schools in the city learning through the medium of Irish and hundreds of people of all ages attending night classes and hundreds taking part in cultural musical and sporting activities. This was magnified tenfold when Derry hosted the Fleadh in 2013.

To have bus services using bilingual signage on a number of routes would i believe a very positive and progressive move for the city and would encourage people to take part in this consultation.This can be done via the online link http://www.translink.co.uk/bilingualbusscreens or fill out the questionaire at the Foyle Street bus depot .

In January of this year the Minister Chriz Hazzard said

 “Translink has provided bilingual destination information on buses travelling along Metro corridor 10 in Belfast for some time.  This has been well received by those using the services.

“I now want to look at the possibility of introducing similar signage in Irish in Derry city.  I believe that the provision of this information would be welcomed by many in the city and would improve access to public services by Irish speakers.

“I have therefore asked Translink to take forward a public consultation on this issue, with a view to signage being in place in May this year.   The consultation will formally launch in March following the completion of an Equality Impact Assessment and engagement with key stakeholders. I would urge people to come forward with their views during the upcoming consultation period ”

Kelly proposes DCSDC send condolences and solidarity to Irish Coast Guard.

Chair of Environment and Regeneration Comittee Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has requested that Derry City and Strabane District Council send a letter of condolences to the family and colleagues of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick who tragically lost her life while on a rescue mission with the Irish Coast Guard off the Mayo Coast in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Kelly proposed that the Council ‘on behalf of the citizens of the District express sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who has lost her life as a result of the R116 Coast Guard helicopter crash off Blacksod Bay Co Mayo and solidarity with those involved in the combined rescue services that continue in efforts to find the remaining missing crew members. They are in all of our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.

Councillor Kelly said:

“It was with deep sadness that we heard of the tragedy which occurred off the Mayo Coast in the early hours of Tuesday morning when an Irish Coast Guard helicopter crashed into the sea with four crew members on board. While Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was rescued she unfortunately died a few hours later.

“As we are acutely aware, the Irish Coast Guard is called into action regularly on rescue missions in all 32 counties of Ireland to fishermen, seafarers, and many others who have gotten into difficulty over the years. I want to pay tribute to their dedication and send a message of solidarity to all the emergency services who are currently involved in the search for the remaining missing crew members. We can only imagine how difficult it must be to be involved in such a search, especially when it involves colleagues in service.

“On behalf of the citizens of Derry City and Strabane District Council I recommend that a letter of condolences on the death of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and thoughts and prayers for the families of the three missing crew members be sent to the Irish Coast Guard.”

British government Brexit border plans will not allay fears – McCallion

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion has said attempts by the British government’s Brexit secretary to offer reassurances on the border will not allay fears. dsc_4127

She said:

“Attempts today by the British government’s Brexit secretary David Davis to reassure people about the prospect of a hard border in Ireland post-Brexit were laughable.

“He claims there will be a digital border and that his government will develop the technology to manage it. But given his government’s track record of trying and failing to develop bespoke computer systems his comments will not reassure anyone.

“And his comments are all the more ridiculous because it won’t be up to Britain to decide what any EU border will look like. That decision will be taken by the 27 member states.

“There is a genuine fear across Ireland that the British government’s reckless Brexit agenda will lead to a hard border to the detriment of the economy across the island. That is one of the reasons the majority of people here voted to remain in the EU.

“The only alternative is to secure designated special status for the north within the EU.”

Direct rule not an option – Adams

Speaking at a meeting with the Congressional Friends of Ireland, on Capitol Hill in Washington later this morning Gerry Adams TD will commend all of those Irish Americans and others in the USA and Canada who advocate on behalf of Irish Unity.dsc_4284

The Sinn Féin leader will brief the Congressional leaders on the outcome of the recent Assembly election; the negotiations currently taking place and the threat posed by Brexit. Gerry Adams TD and Mary Lou McDonald TD will meet the Congressional group at 10 am Washington time.

Gerry Adams said:

“Currently the two governments and the political parties in the North are engaged in talks following the Assembly election.

“The election result has transformed the political landscape. The unionist majority in the Assembly has ended.  There is also have for the first timer the potential for a progressive political consensus among the majority of MLAs and parties. Sinn Fein’s focus is on reaching agreement on the restoration of the political institutions. But it cannot be on the same basis as before. That is why the current talks are for us about the implementation of agreements previously made.

“It has been suggested that British Direct Rule could be imposed if there is no agreement.  This would be an enormous act of  bad faith by London and a reversal of the joint position set out by the two governments in 2006.

“In April 2006 the British and Irish governments in a joint statement agreed that the restoration of the political institutions would see the British government’s power to suspend the Assembly lapse for good.

“They also agreed, if the Executive was not formed, to begin detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is actively developed across its structures and functions. At that time the British government committed to introducing emergency legislation to facilitate this.

“A year later the DUP, led by Ian Paisley, joined with Sinn Féin to form an Executive. This arrangement lasted for almost ten years. While the governments have not developed the British Irish partnership arrangements envisaged if the Executive was not formed at that time, the British governments power to suspend the Assembly is gone. Of course this legislation could be reintroduced at any time but this would be a very serious step  which the Irish Government would be compelled to oppose.

“Let me be very clear Sinn Féin is totally committed to the re-establishment of the political institutions. But these must be based on good governance and on the terms which underpinned the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements.

“The British government is not committed to these principles. In fact, its current position is in opposition to some of these, particularly on the issue of rights. I am also concerned that the Irish government is not assertive enough – as a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.

“So, getting the institutions in place will be a challenge given the DUPs stated position on an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights and other fundamental requirements, and the British government’s obstructive approach to legacy issues and other matters.

“The DUP position on Brexit is also entirely wrong. The consequences of Brexit represents the biggest threat at this time to the wellbeing of the people of the island of Ireland. I presented the Congressional leaders with Sinn Féin’s proposal ‘The Case for the North to achieve Designated Special Status within the EU.’  Special status for the North is now supported by Fianna Fáil and Labour in the Oireachtas and by the majority of parties and MLAs in the Assembly. I asked the Congressional leaders to support this position.”

Sinn Féin committed to Acht Gaeilge – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle  MLA Raymond McCartney has said the party remain committed to an Irish Language Act which delivers rights, along with recognition and respect. dsc_6528

His comments come after the publication of a discussion document regarding an Acht Gaeilge was published today by Conradh na Gaeilge.

He  said:

“Sinn Féin remain absolutely committed to Acht Gaeilge and to the delivery of rights and respect for the Irish Language and for Irish speakers.

“I welcome Conradh na Gaeilge’s publication today, which once again highlights the need for legislation.

“An Irish Language Act is well over due. Now is the time for legislation that shows respect and recognition, and delivers rights.”

Privacy requested for the family of Danielle McLaughlin – Mac Lochlainn

Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has requested that the media respect the privacy of the family of Danielle McLaughlin, who was tragically murdered in India.

Senator Mac Lochlainn made this appeal after meeting with the family in Buncrana today.

The Senator from Donegal said:jan-top-right

“The people of Buncrana and Inishowen are united in grief with the McLaughlin family at the loss of their daughter and sister. This is a tragic loss and Danielle is in all of our thoughts and prayers.

“On meeting with the family earlier, they had one request and that was that their privacy be respected. Media outlets from Ireland and further afield have been bombarding the family with messages and queries and I strongly believe that this is unwarranted and inappropriate at this time.

“The McLaughlin family must be given room and come to terms with their loss and they will come forward when they feel it is time.”

McCartney welcomes return of Clipper round-the-world yacht race

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the news that the Clipper round-the-world yacht race is to return to Derry in 2018.Its comes following the approval of the £250k plan by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

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Raymond McCartney said “It’s good news that the Clipper round the world yacht race is to return to Derry in 2018.

Bringing the race back will be of immense benefit to the North West economy and offers global media exposure money simply can’t buy.

The last Maritime Festival was a very exciting week for the thousands of people of all ages who thronged the quayside walkway from Bay Road right up to the Peace Bridge. For years the people of Derry have been crying out to see the riverfront location fully utilised.

McCallion welcomes SEUPB final approval for North West Transport HUB.

Sinn Féin MLA Elisha McCallion has welcomed the SEUPB final approval of the North West Transport Hub which will be located at the Old Waterside railway station.
Ms McCallion said:dsc_4127

“The purchase of the Old Waterside Station for the development of the North-West Integrated Transport Hub was completed in January and today seen the final phase put into place with the SEUPB Committee approval.

“This will allow the project to be progressed without further delay and I look forward to work beginning on it now that all of the statutory requirements are completed.

“This is a very important development for Derry and the North West and will incorporate a new train station, park and ride facilities with approximately 100 spaces and additional facilities to improve public transport in the City.

“It is further evidence of Chris Hazzard’s delivery on committments to the North West in the short time he was Infrastructure Minister and I have no doubt it will be welcomed by all.”

CRÍOCH/END

Brexit could hit future infrastructure projects – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said future infrastructure developments could be jeopardised as a result of Brexit. 

Martina Anderson said: 

“The north has benefitted hugely from European Union funding to help develop our transport infrastructure network.

“I welcome the fact that the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) has approved funding for the North West Transport Hub at the old Waterside railway station.

“We want to see more of these type of projects in the future but if the British Tory government succeeds in dragging us out of the EU then this type of funding will not be available.

“That, along with so many others things, is the impact of the British government’s Brexit agenda.

“Sinn Féin has put forward a case for the north to secure designated special status within the EU and we are working to build support for that across Ireland and across Europe.” Ends/Críoch

Brexit damaging to Irish economy north and south – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  said Brexit is damaging to the economy across Ireland with the people of the North being hit the hardest.

The Foyle  said:dsc_6528

“Brexit is damaging to the economy across the island.

“News that the economic activity is expected to slow will hit customers hard. The reality is that the people of the North are already paying the price of a proposed Brexit.

“It is impacting on their everyday lives and the rising cost of living, fuel and household goods is proof of this.

“Last week the British Minister Philip Hammond unveiled his budget which will see further austerity measures being implemented in the North. This will also pose a threat to the economy in the North.

“The people of the North voted to remain in the European Union, the people of North and South are better off in the EU, in the Single Market and no hard border.

“The Irish government need to stand up for the island of Ireland when they are negotiating with the British Government and the EU and secure special designated status for the North within the EU.”

New safety railings to be installed outside busy Blighs Lane school

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has said new safety railings are to be installed outside St Johns Primary on Bligh’s Lane .She made her comments following a meeting she held with Transport NI and the Principal and Vice Principal of St Johns.

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Logue said “I am glad that this decision has been reached. Anyone who is in and around Bligh’s Lane on any week day will tell you how busy it is particularly at peak times of the day. You have hundreds of children attending St Johns Primary, the adjacent St Cecilia’s College and the nursery school.

It was apparent there needed to be a couple of additional safety measures in and around St Johns to prevent any accidents taking place there.

Transport NI have now agreed to install new railings at the school and paint the road safety markings in the area. It’s anticipated that this work will take place in the next 4-6 weeks. It was also agreed that there is a need to look at the situation outside the nursery school.

She went on to say

I would also appeal to motorists to show due car and attention whilst travelling through the area particularly during school hours and also the same when parking in around the schools there.

End

Cooper welcomes visit by Pennsylvania State Economic Development agency to Derry/Strabane:

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the local economy Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the forthcoming visit by a delegation from the Pennsylvania state government’s Office of International Business Development to the Derry and Strabane district. He said it was the culmination of a long term engagement involving himself, former finance minister Mairtin O’Muilleoir and Derry Strabane Council to bring the delegation to the city. Councillor Mickey Cooper said 

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

“I am delighted that representatives from the Pennsylvania State government have agreed to make a presentation to the Business & culture Committee this week to outline opportunities that exist for further trade and investment links to be developed between the two areas. Pennsylvania is already a key export location for Irish firms in product areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical and surgical instruments, cosmetics, industrial machinery and IT equipment with total exports of over $1.5 billion dollars going from Ireland to Pennsylvania in 2015.

 

As our council area continues to diversify its product and services base it is vital that we as a local council make further connections with PA and other cities on the eastern seaboard to maximise opportunities for export and also to allow Irish companies to reciprocate trading opportunities for US companies seeking to forge alliances here. I am therefore delighted that PA state representatives have agreed to come to our city and district to see all that it has to offer. This presentation will hopefully be the start of this relationship and lead to further job creation and economic benefit for both Derry/Strabane and Pennsylvania”.

Ends

Multi agency response to Bogside rat problem – Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the news that a multi-agency meeting is to be held to address the issue of rats in the Bogside area.CVz6GH9XAAAjCyt

 

 ‘While I understand that rodents can be a problem in any district, there has been a particular problem in the Meenan Square area and a number of streets off it and in and around Lisfannon Park.

 

I am glad that following  discussions with the Bogside and Brandywell Initiative (BBI)  a multi-agency meeting will now be held with the NI Water ,Housing Executive, Environmental health and the local residents group to see what measures can be put in place to jointly address this problem.

 

End 

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