The Week in Review
14-21 August 2015
Tory government stoop to new lows to push anti-benefit ideology
Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady condemned the recent revelation that the Department for Work and Pensions in London fabricated quotes on a leaflet promoting Welfare changes. Mr Brady commented: “The news that the Department for Work and Pensions in London, which is under the control of the millionaire minister Iain Duncan Smith, produces quotes from fictitious “benefit claimants” in order to put a gloss on punitive benefit sanctions is a new low.”
He continued saying: “Lets be clear, sanctions negatively affect people. Removing the already subsistence levels of benefit payments to people only pushes people into further hardship. As a result Sinn Féin successfully reduced the sanction time frame in all party negotiations on Welfare in the Stormont House agreement.”
He said that the incident only confirmed that “not only is this British government wedded ideologically to destroying the welfare state and the safety net it provides for society but it appears that they will even lie in their efforts to do so.”
Leadership needed to face down threat to political process
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said that now is a time for calm heads and political leadership and he called on political leaders to stand together in facing down the threat to the political process posed by people trying to drag society back to the past.
Gerry Kelly stated that: “The families of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison and Kevin McGuigan deserve justice and the task of the police is to carry out a thorough investigation. These killings were wrong and those responsible need to be brought to justice. The PSNI have said that the Action Against Drugs group threatened to kill anyone involved in the killing of Gerard Davison only days before the killing of Kevin McGuigan.”
Mr Kelly continued “I am on record as saying, and I repeat, this is a criminal gang which has been involved in extortion, intimidation and murder in nationalist communities. The PSNI need to get on with their investigation and bring to justice those responsible for the killing and I call again on people with any information connected to these killings to bring it forward to the police. I and my party colleagues have repeatedly called on the public to support and co-operate with those investigations and the criminal justice system needs to be allowed to run its course.”
Mr Kelly called the killings “an attack on all the people of this community.” And concluded by calling for “calm heads and mature political leadership.”
Sinn Féin committed to marriage equality
Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane has said that equality and civil rights is at the core of Sinn Féin’s decision to pursue the issue of marriage equality.
Ms. Ruane said, “Sinn Féin gave a commitment to campaign for marriage equality and given the recent moves in both Britain and the South of Ireland we believe the time is right to extend these rights to the north. There has been a huge change in attitudes towards the LGB&T community as was expressed in the referendum in the South and also the support given to Pride events right across the North. Equality threatens no one and it is time all parties stood up for the rights of all citizens regardless of creed, colour or sexual orientation and allow the introduction of marriage equality.”
She concluded by pledging to once more bring a motion for marriage equality to the floor of the Assembly the new term.
Stormont House legacy section needs implemented now
Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has said that the mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House Agreement dealing with the legacy of the conflict are intended to achieve the maximum disclosure for all victims.
Ms. McCann said, “Sinn Féin is committed to helping families of victims to achieving truth and closure and support the mechanisms enshrined in the Stormont House Agreement as a step in achieving it. These include: the establishment of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU); putting in place processes that are victim centered; improving Legacy inquests to ensure that they are conducted to comply with ECHR Article 2 requirements; ensuring that both governments provide full disclosure to the HIU; and establish the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR). While it is recognised that not all families will be satisfied with the Stormont House Agreement approach it will be a step forward.”
She continued that “Sinn Féin has consistently called for an independent international truth commission to be set up. In the absence of such a commission the mechanisms agreed at Stormont House present the best way forward for bereaved families and victims to achieve maximum disclosure. The British and Irish governments need to implement those elements of the Stormont House Agreement which deal with legacy issues and the past. Victims and their families should not be prevented from achieving truth and closure because of the failure to reach agreement on other issues.”
Ms McCann concluded by saying that the two governments should proceed with establishing the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU); improving Legacy inquests and establish the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR).
Scandal of Ballymurphy case
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has expressed his “deep concern and anger at the failure of the British government to progress the Ballymurphy case.”
The Sinn Féin leader has been given a copy of a letter sent from the Crown Solicitors Office to the Coroners Service in Belfast which reveals that ‘serious hurdles have been erected by the British state to the families getting to the truth of events in Ballymurphy in August 1971.’
The letter confirms that the ‘member of staff assigned to Ballymurphy has been reassigned’ and it also reveals that the British MOD ‘has not been able to uncover any records within its control regarding the original cipher list (British Army personnel) at Ballymurphy in 1971 … MOD has not as yet been successful in tracing any ciphered soldiers involved in Ballymurphy.’
Gerry Adams said that: “These are very serious matters which in light of the all-party motion passed by the Dáil on the killing of 11 civilians in Ballymurphy in August 1971 deserves the urgent attention of the Taoiseach.”
He said that the “deliberate withholding of resources and the failure to speedily identify the soldiers present in Ballymurphy is evidence of a British government and MOD deliberately frustrating the families efforts.”
He said that the Irish government “has a responsibility and a mandate from the Dáil to challenge the British Prime Minister and government on the way it which it is dealing with the Ballymurphy families and with this case.” He called on the Irish government to adopt a robust and assertive approach.
Mr Adams said he has asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to raise concerns with David Cameron and instruct the Minister for Foreign Affairs to raise the matter with the British Secretary of State. He also called on the British government to give a commitment to allocate the necessary financial and personnel resources to the Ballymurphy Massacre case.
Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Email email@example.com to join the list. For further information visit www.sinnfein.ie or follow us on twitter @sinnfeinireland