The Week in Review
10 – 17 February 2017
What Sinn Féin wins is a win for all – Michelle O’Neill
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 TD
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 Kearney
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 motion
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 MEP
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 trial
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 TD
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 campaign
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.”
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