Week in Review 17 – 24 February 2017

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
17 – 24 February 2017

Theresa May’s crass comments insult to victims – Michelle O’NeillONeill
Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has said the British prime minister Theresa May’s crass attack on those bereaved by British soldiers and their agents, including elected representatives, has insulted the many victims of British state forces.
Her comments that “it is absolutely appalling when people try to make a business out of dragging our brave troops through the courts” are dangerous and disgraceful.
Michelle O’Neill said: “The verbal attack by British prime minister Theresa May on those who she claims have dragged British soldiers through the courts is dangerous and disgraceful. In the past we have had attacks, directed by the British government through its agents and proxies, on those who have campaigned to uphold the rights of victims and who have worked to hold the British state to account.”
She continued, “We have witnessed the outworkings of such a policy, with murderous results. Last week we marked the anniversary of the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, who was killed by a unionist death squad, directed by agents of the British government. Those who work for human rights and who hold the British state to account should not be subject to this disgraceful attack. No one can be above the law and everyone should be held to account.”

Gerry Adams TD welcomes Taoiseach’s comments on Brexit and Irish reunificationAdamsTD
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed comments by the Taoiseach in Brussels today saying he wants the final Brexit agreement to allow for Irish reunification in line with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Teachta Adams said: “I want to welcome the Taoiseach’s remarks today in which he said he wants the final Brexit agreement to allow for Irish reunification in line with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin have been making the case since the Brexit result became clear. Furthermore, it is incumbent on the Taoiseach to press the case for a special designated status for the north within the EU. That is essential to guarantee the protection of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Fianna Fáil show sheer hypocrisy in relation to Workers’ Rights – Carol Nolan TDNolanTD
Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary Carol Nolan has said that the hypocrisy and sheer brass neck of Fianna Fáil on workers’ rights is staggering. Teachta Nolan was speaking during the debate on the Industrial Relations (Right to Access) Bill yesterday evening in the Dáil.
Teachta Nolan said: “We had Micheál Martin stand up here in this house this very morning during Leader’s Questions and speak about the race to the bottom, terms and conditions for Bus Éireann workers and also the need for the Minister to engage with the unions. He waxed lyrical about the need to protect workers – to ensure they don’t bear the brunt of government policy. Yet now, when Fianna Fáil have an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, to do something that will bring
She continued: “Fianna Fáil show their contempt for ordinary workers as they stand firmly behind the corporations that reap millions in profits on the back of the sweat and hard work of our people. The Bill simply gives trade unions the right to meet their members regarding official trade union business in the workplace. It seeks to limit the ability of employers to undermine trade union membership and the solidarity of workers. I am asking again that all deputies in this house stand with ordinary workers across this state and support this legislation.”

Declan Kearney meets ICTU to discuss Brexit and political crisis<Kearney
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney and Senator Paul Gavan met with the North/South Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Dublin on Thursday.
Speaking after the meeting, Declan Kearney said:
“We had a comprehensive discussion about Brexit and negative repercussions for Ireland north and south. Patricia King, Congress General Secretary, set out its analysis of the current situation and concerns about the approach of the Irish and British governments. Sinn Féin shares those concerns and we reiterated our view that Brexit will have catastrophic consequences for the island economy, workers’ rights, the Good Friday Agreement, and political stability. Our meeting addressed the convergence of the current deep political crisis in the north and overall impact of Brexit. The Sinn Féin delegation shared our newly published anti-sectarianism plan ‘One Community’ with Congress and explained that our focus in any post-election negotiations would be to secure equality and the Good Friday Agreement.”
Mr Kearney concluded, “I urged Congress to continue providing leadership in helping to mobilise civic society across Ireland in support of proper power sharing and partnership.”

Carál Ní Chuilín challenges Brokenshire over failure to implement Irish language act
Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín has challenged British secretary of state James Brokenshire over his government’s failure to implement an Irish language act.
Speaking on Wednesday, Carál Ní Chuilín said: “Today, Irish language activists from across the north gathered at Stormont to protest at the failure of the British government to live up to its commitment to implement an Irish language act. This was agreed in the St Andrew Agreement in 2006 but more than a decade later the British government still haven’t acted.”
She continued, “Their failure to live up to this responsibility has given cover to the DUP who have treated the Irish language and identity with disrespect and disdain. I have today written to James Brokenshire calling on him to fulfil his government’s obligation by implementing the agreement for an Irish language act. It is long past the time the Irish language community is treated with respect and equality.”

All talk and little action from Government on Diaspora issues – Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on the Diaspora An Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has said that there is little concrete progress from the Government to match their rhetoric on emigrant issues. Speaking on Wednesday after the Minister of State for Diaspora Joe McHugh appeared in the Seanad – the Galway/Mayo South Seanadóir said:
“We need to see diaspora as Irish citizens abroad to which the Government has a responsibility to help if they choose to return home. It isn’t words of encouragement or solidarity that the returning Irish need, but concrete government action on the myriad of problems and obstacles that face them. Many of these have been identified by advocacy groups and highlighted consistently by myself, yet we have seen little action and a lot of passing the buck.”
He continued, “Many returning emigrants face difficulties such as obtaining car insurance and are often charged extortionate premiums. There are problems having qualifications recognised, accessing education, healthcare and securing accommodation. Financial institutions are creating difficulties which the Government are not addressing. Many banks now demand that recent utility bills be produced as proof of address in order to open a new account. Mobile phone bills are not accepted for this purpose. It is impossible to sign up to utility services in the first place pay utility bills on a regular basis without the facilities of a bank account.”
He concluded, “The issue of Presidential voting rights has not gone away. Minister McHugh indicated today that an ‘options paper would be put before members of the Global Civic Forum in May. We will hold him to that and his previous promise to have them in place by 2018. Minister McHugh needs to drive the Interdepartmental Working Group on Diaspora Affairs much harder than he is. His relaxed approach is simply not delivering for Irish citizens abroad.”

In other news…

Pat Doherty MP speaking on ‘London School of Economics Irish Society’ Panel Discussion on Brexit & Ireland – 21/02/2017

Francie Molloy MP delivering ‘Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence’ Seminar on Brexit & Ireland, hosted by The University of Manchester – 22/02/2017

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