The Week in Review
03 – 10 February 2017
Unionist parties stand with the Tories on Brexit and against the Good Friday Agreement – John O’Dowd
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 TD
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 Strasbourg
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 Archibald
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 Kelly
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 Kearney
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.”
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