Week in Review 10 – 17 February 2017

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
10 – 17 February 2017

What Sinn Féin wins is a win for all – Michelle O’NeillONeill
Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has said what Sinn Féin wins in this election and the negotiations that follow is a win for all.
Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s Assembly election manifesto in Armagh, Ms O’Neill said: “We go to the polls on March 2nd because we called time on the arrogance and contempt of the DUP as a result of their mishandling of the RHI scandal and their disrespect for whole sections of our community. It’s now over to the people to have their say. In this election Sinn Féin is standing up for equality, integrity, and respect. This also means dealing with the challenges of legacy. We are moving forward. We are about achieving political institutions, which deliver for all our people on the basis of equality and respect. We are for a new, united and agreed Ireland. The best way to achieve that is by returning the strongest possible Sinn Féin team because we have shown time and again that we will defend the interests of all citizens and the integrity of our peace and political process. What we win in this election and in the negotiations that follow, we win for all.”

Incompetent Taoiseach and shambolic government on borrowed time – Mary Lou McDonald TDMcDonaldTD
Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD has said that Enda Kenny and his government are “on borrowed time”.
Deputy McDonald made the comments as the Fine Gael-led minority government scraped through a vote of confidence in the Dáil on Wednesday night with the effective support of Fianna Fáil.
She said; “This Taoiseach and his shambolic government are clearly on borrowed time, and the clock is ticking. Enda Kenny and other senior cabinet Ministers, in their mishandling of the scandal caused by the campaign of character assassination waged against Garda Whistleblower Sgt McCabe, have proven themselves to be utterly incompetent.”
Deputy McDonald continued, “However, this incompetence is not a new development. The unprecedented and ever-worsening crises in housing, health and public transport is proof positive that this government is not fit for office. Thousands of citizens are in danger of falling into homelessness, patients are stacked on trolleys in our hospitals on a daily basis and cannot access vital treatment, and Bus Eireann is on the verge of collapse. Nurses and hospital support workers will strike on March 7th. Secondary School teachers are preparing to strike and rents are now at a record high right across the state. The delusion at the heart of government is highlighted by the fact that the Taoiseach and his Ministers continue to pay lip service to the threat posed to Ireland by a hard Brexit but have failed to produce a credible plan to meet the challenge.”
Deputy McDonald stated that the government has lost its authority and “only remains in power by way of favour from Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin. Abstaining on vote of confidence in a government is not an expression of neutrality. It is an expression of support. The actions of Fianna Fáil’s forty-four TDs have kept this chaotic government in power. They have put their own narrow, electoral considerations ahead of the needs of the people. They have decided that homelessness, a two tier health service and growing inequality are tolerable because the timing for an election does not suit them.”
She concluded, “Never has their been such contempt expressed for the idea of giving the people their say, in an election, on the crucial matters impacting their lives. It has been breathtaking. Given the conflicting views expressed by the chairperson and the vice-chairperson of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party on RTÉ radio this morning, it is clear thar Enda Kenny does not retain even the support of his own party. He certainly does not enjoy the confidence of the people. The sooner there is a general election the better. The chaos has to be brought to an end. This Taoiseach and his government has to go.”

Trade Union Movement has key role in effecting change – Declan KearneyKearney
Sinn Féin National Chairperson and Assembly candidate for South Antrim, Declan Kearney, has urged the Trade Union movement in the north to realise its potential as an agency of change in society.
Mr Kearney was speaking at a hustings event organised by the trade union Unison in Belfast last Friday.
He said: “The election to be held on March 2nd will be a watershed election for society in the north. Sinn Féin took decisive action in standing against political corruption and arrogance. Our decision will ensure that the electorate will have its say on these issues and the future of society. Sinn Féin will not return to a situation where these issues remain unresolved. As the largest civic organisation on the island, the trade union movement should seize this opportunity to ensure that the necessary step change in politics is enacted. There is agreement among progressives across a wide range of issues ranging from the rights of workers and marriage equality to tackling poverty and protection of public services, and ensuring equality and power sharing are delivered.”
Mr Kearney noted, “Brexit poses the most serious threat to workers and human rights. It will undermine the Good Friday Agreement” and appealed to the Trade Union Movement “to look beyond the rhetoric and to stand against corruption and the DUP, and support parties committed to equality and respect for all, for powersharing and the Good Friday Agreement.”

Gerry Adams TD welcomes convincing Dáil vote on Brexit motionAdamsTD
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed today’s vote which has seen the Dáil adopt a composite motion from Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil which calls on the government to negotiate for the North to be designated a special status within the EU.
Gerry Adams said: “Today’s successful vote puts an onus on the Irish government to defend the democratic mandate of citizens in the North to remain within the EU. This means the North being designated a special status within the EU. The vote requires that the government should protect the Good Friday Agreement, its institutions, human rights guarantees, all-Ireland bodies and the right to achieve a United Ireland by referendum.
This is an important step forward. It must be grasped by the government and the designated status position should now be part of its approach to all of its engagements with other EU states and the Commission. The EU has demonstrated its ability to be flexible in coming forward with pragmatic arrangements for dealing with complex situations. 25 Overseas Countries and Territories have a special relationship status with the EU.”
The Sinn Féin President concluded, “I have repeatedly called on the Taoiseach and government to agree a strategic approach to the negotiations with clear political, economic and trade objectives. They must protect the interests of all citizens on the island of Ireland, defend the Good Friday Agreement and ensure that the frontier between the EU and Britain is not on the island of Ireland.”

Legacy delegation raises British failure to deal with legacy in Strasbourg – Martina Anderson MEPAndersonMEP
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said relatives of victims of state violence raised concerns directly with EU officials about the British government’s failures to deal with the legacy of the past.
Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Anderson said; “I am currently leading a legacy delegation to Strasbourg to meet senior European officials, including Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights. We also met with Genevieve Meyer, head of division at the Council of Europe’s Execution of Judgement Committee, who is currently preparing a report into the British government’s breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.”
Ms Anderson stated, “These were very positive meetings. The relatives of victims of state violence on the delegation had the opportunity to raise their concerns at the British government’s failure to live up to its responsibility to deal with the legacy of the past. Nils Muiznieks in particular was very concerned at the British government’s failures to implement the legacy aspects of successive agreements and its refusal to release funding for the Lord Chief Justice’s plans to deal with legacy inquests. Europe is very concerned with the British government’s failures on legacy and we will continue to update MEPs and officials from across Europe on behalf of victims.”

Paul Maskey MP welcomes bus lanes taxi trialMaskeyMP
Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey today welcomed the announcement by Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard to initiate a trial allowing Class A taxis to use the rapid transit bus lanes for 12 weeks from Monday 20th February.
Mr Maskey said: “I am pleased the Minister has taken this initiative to allow taxis into rapid transit lanes in West and East Belfast and the city centre for a trial period. I have been contacted over the past few months on numerous occasions by taxi drivers to voice their frustration at being excluded from bus lanes. The drivers were strongly of the opinion that the exclusion of taxis from bus lanes was damaging their industry. They have been finding it increasingly difficult to earn a sufficient wage, particularly those drivers who work during mornings and early evenings.”
Mr Maskey continued, “I made representations to the minister asking him to consider the concerns of taxi drivers with a view to a trial allowing taxis into bus lanes and which would assess the impact of those taxis on the operation of the bus lanes. I welcome this announcement by the minister and I will continue to work to ensure that balance is given to all road users and industries.”

Brexit could risk stability of Good Friday Agreement – Kathleen Funchion TDFunchionTD
Speaking on Wednesday evening, Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Committee said that the potential consequences for the stability of the Good Friday Agreement were significant.
She said: “The Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Committee has been inviting civic and business groups and political representatives to present to the committee since the Brexit vote was passed. There has been cross party consensus in the committee there will be consequences for the whole island – not only economically but crucially, politically as well. Initially, we heard from both governments there could be absolutely no return to a hard border. As of yet, we haven’t heard what alternative there is. There appears to be no urgency on this government’s part through its negotiations with the British government for special status for the north or to ensure the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.”
Ms Funchion concluded, “We in Sinn Féin have argued at a local, national and European level for a special designated status to assure the north remains in the EU. The only way to ensure that consequences of Brexit for both north and south are minimised economically and politically, is if the democratic wish of the people of the north of Ireland is respected with the north receiving special status to remain in the EU.”

John O’Dowd calls on DUP to clarify on who funded lavish pro-Brexit campaignODowd
Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd has called on the DUP to clarify who funded its lavish pro-Brexit advertising campaign.
Mr O’Dowd said; “Revelations that the DUP received huge amounts of money from England to fund its lavish pro-Brexit advertising campaign raise serious questions. The DUP took hugely expensive newspaper ads in a London newspaper which is not circulated in the North and DUP campaign material was also used in other British cities where they do not stand for election. The DUP need to come clean and clarify who gave them the money and how much they received. It is vitally important in the wake of other scandals that the DUP clarify this in order to ensure integrity in the political process. There are strict rules around corporate sponsorship and there can be no place for anyone attempting to get around those rules.”

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Email joseph.dwyer@parliament.uk to join the list or sign up here. For further information visit www.sinnfein.ie or follow us on twitter @sinnfeinireland

Week in Review 03 – 10 February 2017

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
03 – 10 February 2017

Unionist parties stand with the Tories on Brexit and against the Good Friday Agreement – John O’DowdODowd
On Wednesday, Westminster once again overwhelmingly voted to trigger Article 50.
In these votes both the DUP and UUP stood with the Tories. In one amendment both parties voted against protecting the Good Friday Agreement in the Brexit process.
Speaking on Thursday, Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson Mr O’Dowd commented: “Last night in Westminster the UUP and the DUP stood with the Tory government to vote down Amendment 86, which would have protected the Good Friday Agreement in the Article 50 process. Both unionist parties have failed to act in the best interests of the people of the north who voted to remain as part of the European Union. Both have become cheerleaders for Brexit. They have now voted against protecting the Good Friday Agreement.”
Mr O’Dowd said, “The Good Friday Agreement is the basis upon which the peace process was built and as such the agreements made need to be protected. The actions of the Tory Government and both Unionist parties have now placed Brexit above the Good Friday Agreement.”
He concluded, “This vote is further evidence that political unionism remains opposed to the principles of the Good Friday Agreement of genuine power sharing based on equality and respect and integrity in the political institutions.”

Taoiseach need to stop playing junior partner to Tory party and protect Good Friday Agreement – Gerry Adams TDAdamsTD
Speaking on Wednesday, after the British House of Commons voted to trigger Article 50, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said that now is the time for the Taoiseach stopped playing junior partner to the British Government.
Mr Adams stated: “Tonight, the Tory party voted down an amendment in the Article 50 debate which would have blocked any changes to the Good Friday Agreement. Two weeks ago, I warned that the Good Friday Agreement will be destroyed if the north is dragged out of the EU. This decision confirms my worst fears. The British government does not care one iota for the people of the north.”
He continued, “An Taoiseach puts great faith in statements from the British Government; he did so again in the Dáil today in response to questions from me. Tonight’s vote shows the short sightedness of the Taoiseach’s approach Mr Kenny has to stop playing junior partner to the British Government. The Good Friday Agreement must be protected. That is his duty.”

Martina Anderson MEP to lead legacy delegation to StrasbourgAndersonMEP
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will lead a delegation to Strasbourg next week to meet the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights to discuss the legacy of the conflict.
Ms Anderson said; “This delegation will include families bereaved by state violence from across the North. During the visit we will meet with Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights. Professor Muiznieks previously challenged the British government on its total failure to deal with the legacy of the past. He stated that it is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. He also called on the British government to fund all legacy investigations.”
She continued, “Since then the British have taken a step further and are taking steps to put British soldiers beyond the law. The British government and its forces cannot be above the law and any attempt to give immunity from prosecution to current or former soldiers is unacceptable. Everyone must be equal before the law.”

Girls should be encouraged to pursue careers in STEM – Caoimhe ArchibaldArchibald
Sinn Féin candidate for East Derry, Caoimhe Archibald said it is important to highlight the potential of careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to girls.
The former vice Chair of the All-Party Group on STEM said: “It is very important to ensure girls are encouraged to take on STEM subjects for GCSE, ‘A’ Level and degree level, this must start at a young age. It is important there are no barriers, real or perceived, to girls pursuing STEM subjects; it is also important they are, for want of a better word, ‘marketed’ towards girls. STEM subjects can lead to a very wide range of careers which I, as a scientist, can attest to. It is important the role of women in STEM and their achievements are highlighted and to have female role models in STEM type careers for girls to look towards. Events like #GirlsinSTEM taking place today (Tuesday) and others such as the Science Festival are important in doing this.”

Arlene Foster trying to distract public from RHI scandal – Gerry KellyKelly
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly has dismissed claims by Arlene Foster that this ‘election is about republicans trying to rewrite the past’ as a ludicrous attempt to distract the electorate from the RHI scandal and sectarianise the election.
Gerry Kelly said: “Arlene’ Foster’s comments last night are the latest attempt by the DUP to turn this into a green vs orange election. Her comments make it clear that what she is seeking is an investigation into conflict killings but not those carried out by state forces. She stated that there has been a focus on ‘blaming’ the state and rewriting history. I would like to point her towards the recent figures released by the PSNI and the PPS which contradict these claims. The PSNI figures show that just 30 per cent of their investigations are into state forces and the PPS figures reveal that seven republicans were prosecuted as opposed to just three soldiers.”
Mr Kelly stated, “Sinn Féin’s position has always been that an independent international truth commission be put in place to deal with the issue of legacy and enable victims and families to get the truth. Many families and victims wanted more and as such mechanisms were put in place under the Stormont House Agreement, to facilitate independent investigations, information recovery, storytelling and improved services for victims and survivors. These mechanisms are being blocked by the DUP and the British government. In any victim centred approach dealing with legacy the victims and families should be central to the process. There can be no amnesty, no one can be above the law.”

Equality and power-sharing are no longer negotiable – Declan KearneyKearney
Sinn Féin National Chairperson and candidate for South Antrim, Declan Kearney, has said political unionism and the British and Irish governments need to understand that the fundamental principles of equality and power sharing are non-negotiable.
Writing in An Phoblacht, Mr Kearney said; “Sinn Féin wants to put equality at the heart of the political process for all citizens. But the DUP and powerful agencies within the British state have never reconciled themselves to the outworking of power sharing and partnership.”
He said that the DUP leader’s dehumanising description of republicans as “crocodiles” and disrespect for the Irish language offered “a further stark illustration of that party’s mentality. It was an echo of David Trimble’s previous words when he alluded to Sinn Féin as dogs who needed to be ‘house trained’.
Mr Kearney said that the failure of the British and Irish governments to fulfil their international obligations under the GFA have contributed massively to the current crisis;
“The reality is that when political unionism believes it is not accountable, it reverts to the comfort zone of orange state politics. The British Conservative government has become increasingly pro-unionist and politically aligned with both the DUP and UUP, as evidenced in their shared positions on Brexit; promoting the single unionist narrative of the conflict; opposition to Irish language rights; and blocking any progress on dealing with the past. The British and Irish governments need to understand equality, parity of esteem and respect are no longer negotiable. That negotiation is over. It concluded in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement; and yet 19 years later it has still not been fully implemented.”
He concluded, “Unless there is a qualitative step change in the political process and an end to political corruption; unless equality is firmly entrenched at the heart of the political process; there is no point in having the political institutions because they will have no value. The Sinn Féin position is clear – republicans, nationalists, the LGB&T communities, women, and ethnic minorities are not going to be pushed to the back of the bus again.”

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Email joseph.dwyer@parliament.uk to join the list or sign up here. For further information visit www.sinnfein.ie or follow us on twitter @sinnfeinireland

Equality and Power-sharing are no longer negotiable – Declan Kearney

By Declan Kearney

Originally appeared on An Phoblacht, Tuesday 7 February 2017

KearneyMLA

The political crisis in the six counties is deepening. An election on the 2nd March is the next immediate consequence of this worsening political situation.

The actions of DUP Ministers which led to the collapse of the political institutions made that inevitable. But the value and viability of the political institutions have been under sustained pressure for a long period of time.

The DUP’s hostility towards power sharing and partnership; its refusal to embrace equality or properly adhere to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA); and its institutionalised bigotry and intolerance for mutual respect have been steadily corrupting the political process.

Red Sky, NAMA, inappropriate relationships with unionist paramilitaries, and most recently RHI, have all become bywords for the DUP’s political arrogance and contempt.

All of these factors climaxed in a tipping point in December, which made the political institutions and existing status quo unsustainable – a fact mirrored by unprecedented popular anger at the DUP’s abuse of political power.

The failure of the British and Irish governments to fulfil their international obligations under the GFA has contributed massively to the current crisis.

This is the culmination of both governments taking the peace process for granted since 2010 and 2011 respectively. Both governments have ignored this reality.

A significant and influential section of the DUP have always opposed power sharing and partnership: known euphemistically as the ’12 Apostles.’ That has found expression in their opposition to power sharing and partnership, and hostility to equality in all its manifestations.

These are the people who forced Ian Paisley out of the DUP leadership after he led that party into coalition government with Sinn Féin and others in 2007.

The ’12 Apostles’ regressive mind-set still dominates within the DUP.

So when the Conservative party came back into government in Britain in 2010 an opportunity was seized to push back against the progress of the peace process. That fact has defined the political process for the last seven years.

The reality is that when political unionism believes it is not accountable, it reverts to the comfort zone of orange state politics.

Instead, the Conservative government has become increasingly pro-unionist and politically aligned with both the DUP and UUP, as evidenced in their mutually shared positions on Brexit; promoting the single unionist narrative of the conflict; opposition to Irish language rights; and blocking any progress on dealing with the past.

The British and Irish governments need to understand equality, parity of esteem and respect are no longer negotiable. That negotiation is over. It concluded in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement; and yet 19 years later it has still not been fully implemented.

Recently a senior unionist suggested that this crisis was inevitable and it just happened to be on the issue of RHI.

He was right – RHI was the tipping point. However, for as long as the DUP and others within political unionism remain opposed to power sharing and equality, the north will be destined to remain locked in permanent crisis.

During the debate on the GFA before the Assembly closed down, DUP speakers referred to their party’s negativity towards power sharing and how they still hold their noses towards Sinn Fein.

Those were significant insights to current DUP attitudes.

The DUP leader’s dehumanising description of republicans as ‘crocodiles’ and disrespect for the Irish language is a further stark illustration of that party’s real mind. It was an echo of David Trimble’s previous words when he alluded to Sinn Féin as dogs who needed to be ‘house trained’.

When republicans, nationalists and others refer to the DUP’s arrogance and contempt, we speak of how that party has been abusing and misusing political power. That reality goes to the very heart of this crisis.

Equality is not a concession or an appeasement.

All sections of society are entitled to have high expectations of our political institutions.

Sinn Féin has kept the political process under very careful review since 2013 when the DUP broke the agreement on the Maze/Long Kesh project; after their behaviour alongside loyalist paramilitaries during the flags protests; when they opposed the Hass/O’Sullivan proposals; and then following their deceitful undermining of the agreement on welfare in February/March 2015.

Our Party has invested heavily in the political institutions and persevered with inordinate patience.

The difference between Sinn Féin, the DUP, and others in political unionism, is that we want to share power. The DUP is opposed to that agenda.

Republicans want to develop a reconciliation process. The DUP, the British Government, and others in political unionism, are locked into a mode of continuous psychological war, and recrimination.

Sinn Féin wants to put equality at the heart of the political process for all citizens. But the DUP and powerful agencies within the British state have never reconciled themselves to the outworking of power sharing and partnership. This is the reason why political unionism and the British Government have become clearly aligned in opposition to dealing with the past, with their demand for complete immunity from prosecution of all British state forces.

That position clearly indicates both the British and DUP have decided they do not want to positively resolve this impasse in any post-election negotiation process.

The most recent public interventions by senior DUP figures, including the party leader, also suggest that party does not want to engage seriously in post-election negotiations.

The GFA drew a line under the political conflict in the six counties. As a result the peace process is irreversible.

However, until the DUP and others in political unionism, and both the British and Irish governments accept responsibility for implementing the GFA, and their binding international obligations, this much is clear – there will be no restoration of the political institutions.

Direct rule was a failed status quo. The DUP’s refusal, and the two governments’ failure, to adhere to the GFA and all successive agreements, has now created another failed status quo. There can be no return to either scenario.

The Sinn Féin position is clear – republicans, nationalists, women, LGB&T communities and ethnic minorities are not going to be pushed to the back of the bus again.

Unless there is a qualitative step change in the political process and an end to political corruption; unless equality is firmly entrenched at the heart of the political process; there is no point in having the political institutions because they will have no value.

In those circumstances, the north could face the prospect of protracted political crisis.

That would be an untenable situation.

The alternative must be for civic society to stand with political parties committed to equality, and against corruption, and the DUP. And the Irish Government must stand up against the negativity of the British Government. This is the only way forward.

The forthcoming election on 2nd March will be another watershed for the peace process.

Week in Review 06 – 13 January 2017

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
06 – 13 January 2017

Martin McGuinness MLA announces resignation as deputy First MinisterMcGuinnessMLA
On Monday 9th January, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness announced his resignation as deputy First Minister in protest at the DUP’s failure to accept the principles of power sharing and parity of esteem and their handling of the RHI crisis.
Mr McGuinness said; “Over the last ten years I have worked with DUP leaders and reached out to unionists on the basis of equality, respect and reconciliation. Over this period the actions of the British government and the DUP have undermined the institutions and eroded public confidence”
Mr McGuinness continued, “Sinn Féin will not tolerate the arrogance of Arlene Foster and the DUP. Sinn Féin wants equality and respect for all. That is what this process must be about. Today I tendered my resignation. Today is the right time to call a halt to the DUP’s arrogance.”
Read Martin McGuinness’ Letter of Resignation in Full.

Martin McGuinness has taken decisive action – Gerry Adams TDAdamsTD
Speaking on Monday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that Martin McGuinness had taken decisive action, in resigning as deputy First Minister, as a result of the DUP’s handling of the RHI scandal and attitude to power sharing.
Deputy Adams said: “Martin McGuinness has led from the front in the Executive for the last ten years, defending the integrity of the political institutions and realising the potential of the Good Friday Agreement. He has worked with successive DUP leaders and is recognised throughout the north, across Ireland and across the world for his leadership and peacemaking.”
He continued, “In spite of the provocation, disrespect and arrogance from the DUP, and the failures of the British government to fulfil its responsibilities over that time, Martin McGuinness has always put the people and the political process first. This is in contrast to the DUP who have been acting to undermine equality and partnership. The money squandered in the RHI project belonged to unionists as well as other taxpayers. It is money which should have been used to end poverty and disadvantage or to build public services. No minister responsible for such bad governance in any other administration would be still in office. Today, once again Martin McGuinness has taken decisive action to bring the RHI scandal, and the DUP’s attitude to the political process, to a head.”
On Wednesday, the Sinn Féin President, and Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald TD, met with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to discuss “the deepening crisis in the political institutions in the North and the role of the Irish and British governments in helping to achieve a sustainable resolution.”
Speaking after the meeting Deputy Adams stated: “As co-equal guarantors of the Agreement the Irish and British governments have a responsibility to defend and implement the Good Friday Agreement. The British government will not do this unless the Irish government holds them to account. The British refusal to fulfil its their obligations has to be tackled. The government now needs to engage positively in an ongoing and consistently strategic way with the British government to ensure the full implementation of the Agreement.”

Clear anger over British government’s Brexit agenda – Martina Anderson MEPAndersonMEP
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said there is a clear level of anger and frustration over the British government’s plans to drag the north out of the EU.
Ms Anderson said; “There are huge levels of concern right across the community at the prospect of the British government dragging us out of the EU against our will. I hosted a series of events in Derry this morning and met with a range of groups in order to give them a platform to discuss their concerns over Brexit. I met representatives of the business community, the community and voluntary sector, trade unions and people with disabilities.”
Ms Anderson continued, “It is clear there is a great degree of anger and frustration at the British government’s Brexit agenda and the arrogance of Theresa May, who has shown no regard for the impact of Brexit on the north and no clue about what she is doing. There is a need to harness that depth of feeling against Brexit and channel it to ensure the vote of the majority of people in the North to remain in the EU is respected and to achieve designated special status for the North within the EU.”

Paul Givan abused ministerial position over Líofa funding – Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile
Sinn Féin Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has said DUP Communities Minister Paul Givan abused his ministerial position over the Líofa bursaries funding decision.
Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile; “While I am glad that DUP Communities Minister Paul Givan has reversed his shameful decision to remove funding from the Líofa bursaries scheme, the whole episode has highlighted the DUP’s attitude to the Irish language. The DUP minister initially claimed his decision to cut the funding was not political, then, after his climb-down, made it clear that restoring the funding was a political decision, taken for petty electoral reasons.”
Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile continued “Ministers are supposed to represent everyone regardless of their background or identity and I believe Paul Givan has abused his ministerial position over this issue. People should be able to have confidence that ministers will act in the best interests of everyone, not out of party political motivations.”

Border Communities Against Brexit warn GFA Committee on potential Brexit repercussions – Kathleen Funchion TDFunchionTD
Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Committee has said that Border Communities Against Brexit, an organisation which seeks to highlight the concerns of people who live close to the border, raised crucial points regarding any reinstatement of a hard border to the Good Friday Agreement Oireachtas Committee.
Following their presentation to the Committee, Deputy Funchion said: “Opposing any re-imposition of border restrictions is one of the group’s top priorities, as are protecting trade and tourism. The broad, cross community and non-party-political group’s contributions provided an invaluable insight for committee members on the stark realities that Brexit could present via a renewal of a hard border, for the whole island.”
She continued, “They stated to committee members that if Brexit proceeds under the current constitutional arrangements, the border dividing Ireland will become an external border of the EU, possibly classified by the EU as a Third Country. This would be hugely problematic and obviously something we in Sinn Féin could not support or accept. They also highlighted the worrisome fact that Frontex which is the company responsible for managing Europe’s external border on the Eastern part of Europe could potentially become involved in the managing of the border between the 6 and 26 counties. Currently, Frontex is responsible for the implementation of the Hard Border that exists there. The group voiced their concern to the committee that this could be an eventual step taken should Brexit be realised for the 6 counties. It’s abundantly clear that the ramifications of Brexit on north-south relations and the reinstatement of any kind of border, soft or hard, will be huge if the 6 counties exit Europe along with Britain.
The Sinn Féin TD concluded, “The group concluded that European Prime ministers, Governments and Commissioners ‘need to hear a very clear and strong message of the necessity for the North to stay within the European Union’. We in Sinn Féin have been calling on this government for months to step up to the plate and play its part in ensuring that happens.”

I won’t accept botched solution to RHI scandal – Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLAÓMuilleoirMLA
Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said on Tuesday he will not accept any botched solution to the loss of public funds through the DUP’s Renewable Heat Incentive.
Mr Ó Muilleoir said: “Today the DUP Leader Arlene Foster claimed her party had been working on solutions to the RHI issue over the last number of weeks. For over seven months I have been requesting credible proposals from the Economy Minister. The DUP minister has brought no plan forward. In fact a paper from the Department for the Economy was submitted to my department at 5:55pm on Monday but withdrawn ten minutes later. My officials have continued to examine the operation of the scheme. Yesterday [Monday], Moy Park briefed my officials in relation to new concerns over the RHI scheme. That briefing has raised further issues. The operation of this scheme has been botched; I can assure the public that I will not accept a botched solution.”

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Email joseph.dwyer@parliament.uk to join the list or sign up here. For further information visit www.sinnfein.ie or follow us on twitter @sinnfeinireland

Dublin City Council passes Motion on a Border Poll for Irish Unity – Cllr. Carney Boud

Sinn Fein

Speaking at a Dublin City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Sinn Féin Cllr Carney Boud said:
“Sinn Féin will continue to challenge for the best interests of Ireland within the EU. Currently, this small island is run by three governments, has two currencies, two welfare systems, two health systems, two education systems, and two tax systems . This is not about whether we can afford Irish Unity; we can no longer afford partition.
So what do we need? We need this discussion of a United Ireland to begin now. We need to prepare for Brexit. We don’t need the issue to become a political football. Sinn Féin do not claim to own this campaign. Of course, a United Ireland has always been one of our objectives, but for us, it’s about inclusively. It cannot be about a political battle of ideology; it’s about the people.
Now is the right time to give people hope beyond Brexit, give the people their say and show leadership, particularly at a time when the North is in such political and economic turmoil with the resignation of Martin McGuinness over Arlene Foster’s refusal to step aside and the continued DUP arrogance.”

Note: Please see the motion in question below:

    That this Council calls on the Irish Government to work with the Northern Executive to ensure that the democratic wishes of the people of the North of Ireland to remain within the EU (as per the Brexit referendum vote) is respected and facilitated through a border poll. The provision for a referendum on Irish Unity is enshrined in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which was overwhelmingly voted for by Citizens North and South of this Island.

Make 2017 a springboard to raise international support for Irish unity

By Declan Kearney

KearneyMLAHUNDREDS of delegates from European political parties of the Left and from further afield gathered last weekend at the European Left 5th Congress in Berlin to discuss the Congress theme and programme, Building Alliances for a Europe of Solidarity.

I represented Sinn Féin and addressed this huge event on the issues of Brexit, Irish Unity and a Europe of Solidarity.

In my opening remarks I pointed out that dramatic changes for politics and society have been brought about by the British state’s decision to exit the EU; by the election of Donald Trump in the USA, and his emergent administration; and the momentum of right-wing politics across Europe.

The reality is that the rise of populism and right-wing reactionary political forces now present new strategic, political and electoral challenges for the Left and progressives.

Brexit exemplifies this race to the bottom.

It is indisputable that the outcomes from Brexit are all negative.

Brexit is entirely counter to Irish national interests.

The prospect of the North being removed from the EU against the will of the citizens in this region, and the return of a ‘hard border’ bringing new divisions in Ireland, has put the issue of Irish reunification back onto the political agenda.

So, Brexit has changed everything.

The Brexit decision highlights again the contradiction and undemocratic nature of Ireland’s partition.

It exposes the folly of one part of our country being in the EU and another part of the island being removed.

Partition has been a failure.

It is a block to progressive political change and social transformation in Ireland.

The Brexit referendum was a proxy for the ideological civil war within the British Conservative Government and its battle against the electoral rise of narrow English nationalism epitomised by UKIP.

Anti-immigrant sentiment, xenophobia and political alienation within sections of English society fuelled the debate which took place.

As a result, the British state is gripped by an existential constitutional and political crisis.

Political instability is fuelling economic uncertainty.

The consequence, however, is that all these factors have pulled Ireland into unchartered territory.

But Sinn Féin is putting forward a decisive alternative agenda to that uncertainty.

On 8 December we launched our document The Case for the North to Achieve Special Designated Status Within the EU.

We are saying that it is essential to secure a Special Designated Status for the North of Ireland within the EU and in an all-Ireland framework.

    The key elements of that must be to ensure:-
     Protection of the Peace Process;
     Access to the EU single market;
     Remaining part of the Common Travel Area;
     Maintaining all EU funding streams;
     Protection of EU access to employment, social security and healthcare;
     Protection of workers’ rights;
     Environmental protections and regulations;
     Full political representation within EU institutions

Sinn Féin refuses to accept that the democratic decision of voters in the North – or Irish national interests – should be subverted by English voters or the British Conservative Party.

Brexit has fundamentally changed the political context in Ireland, North and South.

It has begun a new national debate about the future of politics and society in Ireland and prompted a re-evaluation of Ireland’s relationship with the European Union.

Sinn Féin believes Ireland’s place is in Europe – but that Europe needs to change.

In the immediate term, Sinn Féin recognises the need to build alliances with other regions such as Scotland who share our objective to remain in Europe. Yesterday (Tuesday) the Scottish Government published its alternative prospectus, Scotland’s Place is in Europe.

It makes sense for us to work positively together to maximise our influence in the forthcoming negotiations on Brexit.

Our party also recognises the need for broad political support within the European Parliament and among member states to achieve Special Designated Status.

It is obvious that there is significant goodwill across the Left and progressive opinion in Europe for republican democratic objectives.

The Left and progressive civic opinion in Europe are crucial in advancing the strategic objective of getting Special Designated Status for the North of Ireland.

In the post-Brexit context, that is the only way to protect the Peace Process; Irish national interests; economic opportunity; and to defend workers and social, democratic and human rights.

There was widespread interest in Berlin in Sinn Féin’s proposals. I outlined our proposals for delegates and visitors from Greece, Germany, Spain, France, Euskal Herria, Italy and elsewhere. It was particularly useful to have bilateral meetings with leadership representatives from Syriza of Greece and Die Linke of Germany (Die Linke has just become a coalition partner in the government of Berlin’s regional parliament). This type of goodwill and solidarity needs to be consolidated and taken forward.

Like Sinn Féin, the European Left is a strong advocate of a new Europe based upon equality and social solidarity.

The EU is supposed to be a vehicle for co-operation and friendship.

Instead, it has become associated with elites and undemocratic control; the punitive treatment of the Greek people; a lack of compassion over the refugee crisis; and its disgraceful response to the conflicts in the Middle East.

Sinn Féin believes an alternative must be found in the form of a social Europe – a Europe of solidarity which puts people first.

We advocate a democratic Europe that respects national sovereignty and accountability.

We oppose moves towards the creation of a European army and pan-European militarism.

Of course, the post-Brexit context poses big challenges for democrats, progressives, and those on the Left in Ireland and who are committed to the transformation of Europe.

It also opens up new opportunities to popularise domestic and international support for Irish reunification and to forge new progressive relationships between Ireland, Europe and the wider international community.

That potential in itself is a hugely positive and significant development because it creates new circumstances within which to develop important political and civic alliances for social and economic transformation across Europe.

Parties of the Left and other progressives must engage closely with each other and agree how to maximise popular support in pursuit of shared strategic objectives.

Opposition to Brexit and securing Special Designated Status for the North is an important element of such a political trajectory.

This post-Brexit context is now an opportunity to promote the democratic argument for Irish unity.

Developing an international axis (and in mainland Europe itself in particular) to end partition and achieve Irish unity has become more important than ever.

Strategically maintaining Ireland’s position in Europe is an important beachhead at this stage in the pursuit of Irish national independence.

That is the best way to strengthen the links between the struggle for ‘An Ireland of Equals’ and achieving a Europe of solidarity.

A new phase of political change has arrived. Brexit is a strategic moment to convert a crisis into positive opportunity.

The significant influence of the Left in Europe and wider international community has a very important role to play in helping to facilitate the democratic transition towards a new, agreed Ireland.

2017 should be seized as a springboard from which to intensify international support for Irish unity and independence.

Week in Review 09 – 16 December 2016

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
09 – 16 December 2016

Note: The ‘Week in Review’ will be taking a break over Christmas and will return in the New Year.
On Behalf of Sinn Féin’s MPs & Staff we would like to wish all ‘Week in Review’ Subscribers a Merry Christmas & a Happy 2017!
Nollaig shona daoibh!

Urgent action required over RHI debacle – Conor Murphy MLAMurphyMLA
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said today that there needs to be urgent action to address the growing crisis in public confidence surrounding the Renewable Heating Initiative debacle.
Mr Murphy said: “Everyday brings new allegations and accusations about the mishandling of this scheme which was flawed from its inception and by the allegations of abuse and corruption surrounding its operation.”
Mr Murphy continued, “This is compounded by the claim, counter claim and infighting over who was responsible for this between former DUP ministerial colleagues. We need to get to the bottom of this and hold those responsible for this mess to account as a matter of urgency in order to restore public confidence.”
Mr Murphy said that there needs to be an independent investigation into the matter in which “all information, including internal departmental papers, records, and email trails should be fully disclosed by all of those involved.”
Mr Murphy stated: “We also need to know who benefited from this flawed scheme and who made the decisions surrounding its design, operation, and failure to monitor and slowest to close the scheme.
In addition there needs to be urgent action to reduce the impact of this debacle on our public finances and on our public services.”
He concluded: “It is not acceptable that our health, education and other vital frontline services are suffering as a result of a scandal for which no-one has yet been held to account. Sinn Féin MLAs and leadership team will be meeting tomorrow to discuss what further actions are required.”

Eoin Ó Broin TD identifies significant flaw in Rent legislation
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD revealed last night a significant flaw he had identified in the Planning and Development Bill that Fianna Fáil and Fine have signed up to.
Teachta Ó Broin believes that the mathematical formula being used in the Bill to determine rent increases next year would in fact allow rents to increase by 8%, and not 4%.
Speaking outside the Dáil on Thursday evening, the Dublin Mid-West TD said: “If those of us who have to scrutinise government legislation hadn’t done our homework properly, would hard pressed renters in January have been hit with an 8% increase?”
Teachta Ó Broin continued “It’s a bad way to do legislation. To launch a strategy on Tuesday, not give the opposition a real opportunity to scrutinise it and then to try and rush it through in the last sitting day of the Dáil before Christmas, is not the way to make such significant change. Who’s going to lose? Hard pressed renters.”
He concluded: “What we have this evening is a massive capitulation by Fianna Fáil to a badly designed Fine Gael rent plan.”

Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust shining example to us all – Mickey Brady MPBradyMP
Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady has praised the work done by the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.
The Newry and Armagh MP said: “The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust provides an invaluable service to families during their deepest time of need when they receive the devastating news that a loved one has been killed or died tragically abroad. I salute the work of Kevin Bell’s family, their friends and the trust’s volunteers for the great work and the practical and emotional support they offer. Since its inception in 2013 the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has helped bring home the bodies of over 230 Irish citizens. They continue to be shining example to us all.”

Brexit would have detrimental consequences for Agri-Food sector – Caoimhe Archibald MLAArchibaldMLA
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said a British House of Lords report into the impact of Brexit highlights the huge effect it would have on the agri-food sector.
The Chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs committee said: “Stakeholders have been telling us for months how huge the impact will be, particularly regarding cross border trade. This report highlights some 38% of our exports from the north go to the south and in the agri-food sector around £700 million of the £1.15 billion annual exports go south. Any change to the relationship on this island will have detrimental consequences for both sides of the border. The south exports at a very high level to Britain and we are already seeing the impact the referendum result has had on some sectors, for example the mushroom industry.”
The East Derry MLA concluded, “This report is another reminder of the need to create some stability and to secure designated special status for the north within the EU, which reflects how the majority of people here voted.”

Now is the time to plan and build for a United Ireland – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the results of an RTÉ opinion poll, which shows a majority of respondents agreeing with the proposition that it is time for a United Ireland, should be reflected in practical political preparation for unity.
Matt Carthy said: “The results of this poll confirms those of successive opinion polls, which show a majority in the South in favour of Irish reunification. It is time that political leaders reflected the desire of people by starting the necessary, practical preparation for unity. In recent years, the North has been transformed as a result of the Peace Process. The prospect, since the Brexit referendum result, of one part of Ireland being taken out of the European Union, against the democratically expressed wishes of the people there, highlights the logic and desirability of Irish unity.”
Matt Carthy stated that a united Ireland would “benefit all of our people North and South, unlocking the real economic potential of the island and acting as a spur for economic growth. It will lead to more jobs, an improvement in living standards across the island and more effective public services such as Healthcare.”
He continued, “Sinn Féin seeks an agreed, inclusive, pluralist Ireland which is constructed by citizens from all backgrounds and traditions. We are seeking a referendum on a united Ireland, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement. Securing such a referendum would be an historic opportunity for all the people of Ireland to build a better future together. Now is the time to plan and build the for unity. The leadership of those political parties which say they support Irish unity, acting together, could provide the leadership to deliver it.”
Mr Carthy called on the Irish Government to prepare “a real plan for unity”, saying that “a first step in the next term of the Oireachtas would be the development of an all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper on this issue.”
He concluded, “In recent weeks Sinn Féin has published a discussion document which aims to stimulate debate and to make the case for unity. It is now time that others parties did the same.”

Lynn Boylan MEP welcomes EU push for Ibrahim HalawaBoylanMEP
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has responded to the news that Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa’s trial has been postponed for the 17th time and will resume on January 17th, 2017.
Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Boylan said; “Today Ibrahim is having his 21st birthday in an Egyptian jail in appalling conditions where he has been detained without trial for almost 3 and a half years since he was arrested as a minor at a pro-democracy demonstration. That this is now the 17th time his trial has been postponed shows plainly what a farce the Egyptian justice system is and the unlikelihood that Ibrahim will ever be offered the chance of a fair trial, especially given the fact that he is also being prosecuted along with 493 others.”
The MEP continued, “The President of the European Parliament made a clear statement this week in the plenary and called on the Egyptian government to respect its human rights obligations on Ibrahim‘s case and has now sent a letter to the Egyptian president to express his concern. In Ireland, where the Taoiseach’s own letters to the Egyptian president have clearly had little impact, it is now well overdue that Enda Kenny picks up the phone to speak to him directly. Furthermore, given that there is currently a review ongoing by Egyptian authorities on its young prisoners, it is essential that the Irish government lobby hard to ensure that Ibrahim’s case is included in this process.”
Ms Boylan concluded, “A Dublin teenager is missing out on some of the best years of his youth and it is absolutely urgent that all possible avenues are explored by the Irish government to end this travesty of justice in Egypt.”

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Email joseph.dwyer@parliament.uk to join the list or sign up here. For further information visit www.sinnfein.ie or follow us on twitter @sinnfeinireland

Week in Review 02 – 09 December 2016

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The Week in Review
02 – 09 December 2016

British government can’t ignore Good Friday Agreement for Brexit – Paul Maskey MPMaskeyMP
Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has said that the British government cannot ignore the Good Friday Agreement in its approach to Brexit. Speaking from London, Mr Maskey said;
“This hearing in the British Supreme Court is a major political and constitutional challenge to the British government’s Brexit agenda. I attended the court today while the sections of the hearing relating to the North took place.”
The West Belfast MP continued, “Regardless of the outcome of the case the fact is that the majority of people in the North voted to see their future in the EU and that must be respected.”
Mr Maskey concluded, “It is also our view that the British government’s approach is in conflict with the Good Friday and subsequent agreements which state that the constitutional position of the North can only be changed by the agreement and consent of the people of the North.”

May’s Brexit proposal is ludicrous – Chris Hazzard MLAHazardMLA
Sinn Féin MLA and Minister for Infrastructure Chris Hazzard has said that Theresa May’s desire for a so-called red, white and blue Brexit is ludicrous.
Speaking after attending discussion with the British, Welsh and Scottish Governments, Mr Hazzard said:
“My party colleague John O’Dowd and I travelled to London today for the latest Joint Ministerial Council meeting which concentrated on Brexit. The British Government cannot claim on one hand to want to work with the devolved administrations and then on the other make such ultra Unionist statements as we have heard from Theresa May.”
Mr Hazzard continued, “Not only is it a trite and meaningless phrase, it also shows a total lack of understanding of or thought about the impact of Brexit on the North and the Good Friday Agreement. It is clear Theresa May and her government do not understand the North or how it will be affected by their directionless approach to Brexit. What she cannot ignore, however, is that the majority of people in the North voted to remain in the North and that vote must be respected. Rather than causing further difficulties to an already difficult process the British government, and the Irish government, should work to achieve designated status for the North within the EU.”

Education Committee agrees to conduct hearings on Brexit – Carol Nolan TDNolanTD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Teachta Carol Nolan, has welcomed the fact that the Oireachtas Committee on Education has committed to conducting hearings on the impact of Brexit on the Education sector after she proposed the item on this week’s agenda.
Teachta Nolan said: “I welcome the fact that the Committee has agreed to conduct hearings with relevant stakeholders on the potential impact of Brexit on the education sector. There are huge issues in respect of student mobility north and south and also in respect of third level funding for research and development.”
The Offaly TD said, “It is important that the various stakeholders have an opportunity to present to the committee so that we have a full overview of the issues affecting the sector and the plans of government to deal with them. I look forward to meeting with all of the relevant stakeholders as soon as possible to discuss in detail the relevant concerns for the sector and help inform the debate and the government’s approach to this issue.”

DUP must step up to plate on Irish language – Gerry Adams TDAdamsTD
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said the DUP must step up to the plate and live up its responsibilities in government to the Irish language.
He was speaking on Saturday morning at the Sinn Féin Slógadh taking place in Richmond Barracks, Dublin.
Teachta Adams said: “Despite the continuous opposition of the leaders of Unionism, Sinn Féin have delivered considerably for the Irish language in government – through negotiations and through our departments the north. Sinn Féin Ministers have consistently improved the condition of Irish medium education. We have supported Acht na Gaeilge and have continuously called on both the Irish and British governments to fulfil the commitments made in the St. Andrew’s Agreement.”
The Sinn Féin President explained, “Carál Ní Chuilín brought an Irish language strategy to the Executive in the last term, but it was rejected by the DUP and UUP. In relation to the recent Programme for Government, we were successful in including a commitment to an tAcadamh, taking forward the Gaeltacht Quarter Action Plan and securing an acknowledgement of the importance of Gaeilge to our cultural heritage. We tried to get agreement on the inclusion of an Irish language strategy right up to the close of negotiations and we recognise the frustrations of the Irish language community regarding its absence. I share those frustrations, and it is crucially important that the voice of Pobal na Gaeilge is heard.”
Teachta Adams called on the DUP to “step up to the plate, and acknowledges that Irish identity, culture and the Irish language are as equal and valid as any other cultural background and must be treated as such.”
He concluded, “There is a real need now for a collective recognition that an Gaeilge is an asset to our nation and communities, and organisations are equipped with the means of growing use the language. Unionist leaders must acknowledge that the Irish language is not a threat to anyone.”

Counselling is one of the ways we can connect with people before they reach crisis – Michelle O’Neill MLAO'NeillMLA
One of the best ways of keeping people from reaching crisis point is to equip them with the skills to cope with life’s more difficult challenges such as relationship break up, bereavement, redundancy, exam pressure, and so forth.
That was the key message from Health Minister Michelle O’Neill as she visited the newly refurbished Lenadoon Community Counselling Service in west Belfast.
The Minister said: “We must bear in mind why services such as those provided by Lenadoon Community Counselling are so vital. The fact is that there are too many tragic deaths by suicide in this area and in the north of Ireland as a whole. Many more people die by suicide here per year than die in road traffic accidents. Each loss leaves behind grieving families and friends. All sudden deaths are difficult to come to terms with, but bereavement through suicide is particularly traumatic.”
The Minister noted, “In the north of Ireland, the suicide rate in the 20 percent most deprived areas is three times higher than in the 20 percent least deprived areas. The association between suicide and deprivation is very clear. That is why it is so important to have the necessary services located in the areas where people are most in need of them.”
The Minister concluded: “We all have times in our lives when we feel like we can’t cope. You might think that things are not going to get better and that no-one else has ever experienced what you are going through. If you are feeling like this, you should know that you are not alone. Talking can help so speak to a friend, family member, your GP or a counsellor and get the help and advice you need.”

Gerry Adams TD sends best wishes to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Speaking after the North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness withdrew from a planned visit to China to enable doctors to conduct a medical assessment Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said; “I’m sure everybody who values his work will send best wishes to Martin, Bernie and their family. I met with Martin as normal at Stormont on Monday. I have been in regular contact with him since and he is totally committed to fulfilling his duties.”

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Email joseph.dwyer@parliament.uk to join the list or sign up here. For further information visit www.sinnfein.ie or follow us on twitter @sinnfeinireland

Week in Review 25 November – 02 December 2016

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The Week in Review
25 November – 02 December 2016

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams extends condolences on death of Fidel Castro.AdamsTD
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD was in Cuba this week to represent Sinn Féin at the Funeral of Fidel Castro.
Speaking from Havana, Gerry Adams said; “Fidel Castro was a global leader and a good friend of the Irish people. I am proud and honoured to travel to Cuba to represent Sinn Féin, as we remember Fidel Castro.”
Mr Adams continued: “Fidel was an internationalist. He was keenly interested in the experiences of others. During our conversations, we discussed matters of mutual interest and concern including the issues of human rights, civil and religious liberties, democratic values, social justice, climate change, and equality. We also discussed the attacks on the USA on September 11th. He remarked that, following those attacks, no progressive struggle would be won by armed actions. They could only be won by the power of ideas and the mobilisation of people.
“Under Fidel Castro Cuba’s internationalist commitments, thousands of Cuban health workers travelled across the world providing health care to millions. More recently, the Cuban government has helped broker peace in Colombia and put an end to one of the longest running wars in modern history. On my last visit to Cuba in October 2015, I met with senior negotiators from FARC. The Cuban government facilitated that meeting. Other senior Sinn Féin representatives have also visited the region to discuss the Irish peace process with the negotiating teams of the Colombian government and FARC.
The loss of Fidel Castro is a huge blow to the people of Cuba and to the world.”
The Sinn Féin President signed the Book of Condolences in Revolutionary Square and was one of a large international delegation that joined the million strong crowd in Revolutionary Square to remember and honour Fidel Castro.
Mr Adams later laid flowers at the Hunger Strike memorial in Victor Hugo square in Havana in remembrance of the men and women hunger strikers of 1980 and 81.
Mr Adams also met with the Secretary for International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera.
Mr Adams concluded; “It is very clear that there is a deep sense of loss and mourning in Cuba on the death of Fidel Castro. There is also a deep commitment to continuing his efforts to build a stronger economy and to Fidel Castro’s internationalist approach, including providing doctors and health care resources to states in Africa, south America and Asia. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to come to Havana to extend the solidarity of Irish republicans to the people of Cuba.”

Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil move on Diaspora voting rights ‘gutter stuff’ – Mary Lou McDonald TDMcDonaldTD
Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil on Thursday afternoon, has said the move by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to block the extension of Presidential voting rights to citizens in the north and the Diaspora in the Seanad on Wednesday was ‘gutter stuff’.
Teachta McDonald said: “The Taoiseach is in the United States this week and I have no doubt he will be meeting with representatives of Irish America as part of his visit. I welcome that. Outreach and dialogue with our diaspora is essential. I know too that the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was in Queens University Belfast last week preaching the rights of citizens in the north to the benefits of EU citizenship. Again, I welcome that, but we need more than rhetoric. We need better than parties saying one thing and doing another.”
Ms McDonald continued; “Yesterday in the Seanad, we got one of the worst examples of hypocrisy we have seen from either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil in the current term, when a Bill to give voting rights in Presidential elections to people in the north, people forced to emigrate and the Diaspora was voted down. When the opportunity to extend rights – when push came to shove – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil both walked off the pitch. It’s gutter stuff, on an issue that should not be divisive – on an issue that’s about connecting the people of the north and the Diaspora and giving them a place in our society, that’s about giving those forced out during the economic crash a say.
The Sinn Féin Vice President noted that the Good Friday Agreement is now 18 years old and that the Agreement, “enshrined in law the rights and entitlements of Irish citizens across all of Ireland’s thirty-two counties. It didn’t give partial citizenship or second-class citizenship. It gave full Irish citizenship as a birth right.”
She concluded by urging the government to “do the decent thing, the right thing, and commit to extending Presidential voting rights to Irish citizens, in the north and in the Diaspora”.

Martin McGuinness MLA criticises British Prime Minister for Brexit summit no-showMcGuinnessMLA
Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has criticised the British Prime Minister for not attending a major inter-governmental summit in Wales last Friday which focused on Britain’s plans to leave the EU.
Speaking in Cardiff at a meeting of the British-Irish Council, Mr McGuinness said; “This was the first meeting of the British-Irish Council that British Prime Minister Theresa May had the opportunity to attend and she did not show up. This is the biggest issue on the political agenda it would have been hugely important for her to come along and allow members of the devolved administrations to ask questions.”
Mr McGuinness continued: “The fact that she did not attend was a missed opportunity for her to engage directly with the administrations which are facing huge implications as a result of the British Government’s actions. I fear this is further evidence that this British government doesn’t know what it’s doing and has no plan or strategy in terms of Brexit.”
The Joint First Minister called on both the British and Irish governments to recognise that the majority of people in the north voted to remain in the EU and that vote needs to be “recognised and respected”, he further stated that they should be “working to reach a situation which would afford the north designated special status within the EU.”

Sinn Féin stands by the people of Palestine – Martina Anderson MEPAndersonMEP
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said her party will continue to work to build international solidarity in support of the Palestinian people.
Speaking from Palestine last Tuesday, on the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine, Ms Anderson said; “Sinn Féin continues to support the people of Palestine and is constantly working to build solidarity at home and internationally.”
The MEP said: “Just this week I attended the Fatah congress in Palestine to show solidarity and welcomed the re-election of Mahmoud Abbas. The international community has a responsibility to support the Palestinian people and challenge the continuing human rights abuses of Israel. For our part, Sinn Féin will continue to support the people of Palestine and efforts to secure a just and lasting peace in the region.”

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Email joseph.dwyer@parliament.uk to join the list or sign up here. For further information visit www.sinnfein.ie or follow us on twitter @sinnfeinireland

Week(s) in Review 11 – 25 November 2016

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The Week(s) in Review
11 – 25 November 2016

Sinn Féin launches landmark reconciliation documentKearneyMLA
On Wednesday 23rd November, Sinn Féin launched a reconciliation policy document: “Towards an Agreed and Reconciled Future – Sinn Féin Policy on Reconciliation and Healing” in Clifton House, Belfast.
Speaking ahead of the launch Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA and national chairperson of Sinn Féin said: “This year has been hugely significant in terms of the potential to advance increased understanding and reconciliation in Ireland. Important events to remember, celebrate and commemorate seminal centenaries have occurred, reflecting our shared histories and multiple narratives.”
Mr Kearney continued: “Increased understanding and mutual respect are the basis upon which to address our historic and current cultural and political differences and communal divisions. As a society we should open our minds to a discussion on the development of a shared culture of commemoration based upon parity of esteem, mutual respect and equality. This represents the way forward to building an inclusive, equal, agreed and shared future.”
McGuinnessMLAAt the launch, Sinn Féin MLA and deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness stated that such a process of reconciliation requires increased involvement from political unionism.
Mr McGuinness said: “Republicans have rightly embraced the challenge of reconciliation. Sinn Féin has demonstrated our commitment to this process through a number of public initiatives which at times have also presented challenges for Republicans. But in order for that process to be successful, for our people to be truly reconciled, there needs to be a reciprocation of our efforts; this cannot be a one-way process.”
Mr McGuinness stated: “There needs to be respect for all the traditions on this island, for all narratives. The Irish language, Irish identity, culture and aspiration is as valid as any other and needs to be respected as such. That will require mature leadership from political unionism because we alone cannot deliver reconciliation. A genuine reconciliation process must seek to create common ground where the collective focus is to build for the future.”
The deputy First Minister concluded: “Sinn Féin will continue to offer positive leadership and we will continue to pursue the national reconciliation of our people.”

Unity Makes Economic SenseÓMuilleoirMLA
Writing for thejournal.ie Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said that partition has been an economic cul-de-sac for Ireland and that it’s time to talk about Irish unity.
The South Belfast MLA and Minister for Finance said: “Partition has been an economic cul de sac for Ireland; north and south. It has held back economic progress right across the island.”
Mr Ó Muilleoir said, “The North now lags behind the south on all growth indices: average wages south of the Border are €37,000, but just €25,500 in the North. Economic growth rates in the South are estimated at 3.6 per cent for 2017 but at just over 1 per cent in the North. Along the border region in particular the impact of partition was, and is still keenly felt. “
The Minister for Finance stated, “A united Ireland with a single, all-Ireland economy would not only end the duplication of services on an island of 6.4 million, it would also address the economic uncertainty created by partition. That would create an environment where business can thrive and grow.”
SenConwayWalshEarlier in the week, Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh called for a debate in the Seanad on the economics of Irish Unity.
The Senator from Mayo said: “I am pleased that the debate surrounding Irish Unity has moved to a real discussion of the ongoing costs of partition. It is no longer as simple as can we afford unity; it is a debate around whether we can afford continuing division.”
She continued, “It is estimated that the island could benefit by up to €35 billion in the first years after unity. We must also address the flip side of this argument. Continuing with the status quo would deny the island such an economic boost. It is also not just an issue for Sinn Féin. It will impact us all.”
Read ‘Unity Makes Economic Sense’ Document

Children’s human rights must be protected – Paul Maskey MPMaskeyMP
Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast, Paul Maskey, has stated that the Human Rights of children should not be abused and they should be free from intimidation following an image appearing of a young girl being questioned by the PSNI during a stop and search operation.
Speaking today Mr Maskey said: “It has come to our attention, following a picture being widely circulated on social media, that children were caught up in a stop and search operation by the PSNI. The picture appears to show a young girl being questioned by the PSNI. This is unacceptable policing. The Human Rights of children should not be abused and children should be free from intimidation from anyone including action such as this by the PSNI. We have already contacted the PSNI and have strongly criticised these actions.”
The West Belfast MP concluded: “Sinn Féin will commend good policing when it occurs however we will also challenge and raise poor policing such as this at all levels.”

Taoiseach must ring Egyptian President Sisi as second avenue for Ibrahim’s release is highlighted – Lynn Boylan MEPBoylanMEP
Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has said that she will contact An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to provide evidence of a second legal avenue that is open to Ibrahim Halawa. Despite assurances from the Taoiseach that he would contact President Sisi directly, it appears that Mr Kenny is once again opting for soft diplomacy by writing a letter instead.
Speaking from Strasbourg, the Sinn Féin MEP said: “There are two very concrete options open to Ibrahim Halawa. The first is the Presidential Decree, Rule 140 which allows for foreign nationals to be returned home to face trial or serve out their sentences. While the Irish Government endorsed an application under rule 140 in July, Mr Kenny has insisted that this is a difficult option to pursue.”
The MEP continued: “Correspondence I received today from the Egyptian Ambassador to the EU outlines a possible second option available. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo recently released a statement concerning the Presidential Pardon granted to 82 young people. Needless to say Ibrahim Halawa was not included among those 82 young people. The Ministry clearly stated that ‘the Presidential pardon [for the 82] was issued in accordance with Article 155 of the constitution which allows for the President to issue pardons or mitigate final sentences after consulting with the cabinet’.”
Ms Boylan concluded: “As Ibrahim’s seventeenth so called ‘trial’ approaches on December 13th, I am asking once again that Enda Kenny lift the phone to President Sisi and specifically outline the two viable options under Egyptian law that are available to Ibrahim Halawa.”

Irish Government must challenge Turkish authorities on political repression – Seán Crowe TDCroweTD
Sinn Féin’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Seán Crowe TD, has challenged the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, to urgently raise the case of Faysal Sariyildiz, an MP with the pro Kurdish party HDP, who is currently stranded in Brussels after having his passport revoked by the Turkish Government.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Seán Crowe TD said: “Last week I was due to meet with the HDP MP, Faysal Sariyildiz, but he is currently stranded in Brussels because his passport was revoked by the Turkish authorities.”
Mr Crowe stated: “The HDP is the third largest party in the Turkish Parliament and they have been targeted by the Turkish Government due to their success, and their progressive and left wing policies. Faysal was carrying out important legal and diplomatic work for the HDP and has been travelling to European capitals detailing the mass killing of Kurdish civilians by the Turkish military in his home city of Cizre. The cancelling of his passport would appear to be a crude attempt to silence that work.”
The TD continued, The Turkish security forces sealed off the Kurdish majority city of Cizre and implemented a siege from December 2015 to February 2016. The city had limited access to water and food and many of the injured were prohibited to receive professional medical treatment. According to independent news reports, the level of damage to the city was comparable to the brutal siege of Kobani by Da’esh. In April 2016, the Turkish Human Rights Association watchdog submitted a report to the United Nations detailing the mass killing of over 120 Kurdish civilians in Cizre. Faysal was a witness to the mass killing of civilians and the gross violations of human rights.”
Mr Crowe called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to raise Faysal’s case directly with the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, saying: “The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs must call in the Turkish Ambassador to explain Ireland’s complete condemnation of the imprisonment of eleven HDP MPs and the two HDP Co-Chairs.”

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