The Week in Review
06 – 13 January 2017
Martin McGuinness MLA announces resignation as deputy First Minister
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 TD
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 MEP
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 TD
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 MLA
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.”
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