The Week in Review
30 September – 07 October 2016
Francie Molloy MP at the British Conservative Party’s Conference 2016
Francie Molloy MP was in Birmingham on Tuesday to attend the annual CHAMP Ulster Fry Breakfast at the Conservative Party Conference.
Mr Molloy reiterated the risks presented by Brexit for the north of Ireland. Mr Molloy stated: “Whenever you get 11 out of 18 constituencies voting to remain – that vote needs to be respected.”
The Mid Ulster MP challenged Arlene Foster on how she intended to “represent the majority who voted to remain” in discussions around Brexit.
Turning to the Taoiseach’s announcement of an All-Ireland Brexit Forum to meet in November, Mr Molloy stated: “I think its very important that the Forum is in place, so that all of the views can be heard – because not all of the views of Unionism are represented here today at the Conservative Party Conference.” Mr Molloy expressed the opinion that there are many unionists who wish to remain within the European Union.
British government must respect Remain vote – Michelle Gildernew MLA
Speaking on Thursday, the Sinn Féin MLA Michelle Gildernew has said the British government must respect the right of the majority of the people in the North to remain inside the EU.
Ms Gildernew said; “British Secretary of State James Brokenshire visited Moy Park today as part of his phoney consultation on the impact of the EU referendum. But his comments on Brexit to date will do nothing to allay the fears of EU workers at Moy Park or anywhere else, nor the concerns of the wider population.”
Ms Gildernew concluded that: “James Brokenshire needs to realise that the people of the North have already had their say on the EU in the only consultation that matters on June 23, and they voted to remain and that must be respected.”
Concerns raised over US military flights at Aldergrove – Declan Kearney MLA
Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MLA for South Antrim, Declan Kearney has raised his concerns surrounding the use of Belfast International Airport, to facilitate US military flights.
Following reports from local people and numerous pictures emerging online of US Air Force flights entering and leaving from Aldergrove Mr Kearney said: “A number of local people living in the vicinity of the Airport have raised concerns with my office regarding the the on-going US military flights entering at and leaving Belfast International Airport.”
Mr Kearney continued, “Questions must be answered by Belfast International Airport as to the purpose of these now regular flights. Given the on-going humanitarian crises in Syria and through out the Middle East and the role of the US Airforce as a protagonist in these conflicts, it is essential that local airspace is not being misused to facilitate and exacerbate these terrible events.”
Mr Kearney noted that, “In recent years another Irish airport at Shannon has been used for illegal rendition flights from the Middle East to Guantanamo Bay. It is imperative that local airspace and the International Airport itself are not now used for similar reasons. I will be contacting airport management to seek answers.”
The Sinn Féin National Chairperson concluded by reiterating that: “Sinn Féin will oppose all attempts to use the north, or anywhere else on this island as a stepping stone for the furtherance of conflict and war.”
Martin McGuinness MLA slams British government plans for immunity for armed forces
Joint First Minister, Martin McGuinness has slammed British government plans to exempt its armed forces from prosecution under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Mr McGuinness was speaking after British Defence Minister Michael Fallon unveiled plans at the Conservative party conference which would mean that soldiers in conflict situations would no longer be bound by two key articles of the charter – the right to life and the right to liberty.
“This move signals yet another attempt by the British government to effectively make its military immune from prosecution,” the Joint First Minister said.
Mr McGuinness continued: “Michael Fallon talks about the derogation applying to future conflicts but the question has to be asked whether he actually means future investigations? It’s a question I will be putting directly to Theresa May because, if that is the case, it will have profound implications for the prospects of a legacy agreement in the north as it would completely undermine the proposed bodies to deal with our past such as the Historical Investigations Unit.”
Mr. McGuinness also criticised the British government’s justification of the move as an attempt to protect their forces from ‘vexatious’ claims.
He commented: “The European Convention on Human Rights is a fundamental protection for citizens in conflict situations and when you look at the situation that the British government helped create in places like Iraq, Syria and Lybia, it is needed now as much as ever. And for British Ministers to argue they are protecting their soldiers from so called ‘vexatious’ claims is a complete distraction. In reality, this is about protecting them from prosecution and protecting their government from embarrassing and costly cases which expose the illegal actions being carried out in the name of the British people.
He concluded, “The British government has already been forced to pay out £20 million in 326 cases to date. There’s nothing vexatious about such cases. They are obviously cases with substance or compensation wouldn’t have been paid.”
Seán Crowe TD calls on Colombian Government to respect ceasefire
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has reacted with deep disquiet to the Colombian President’s announcement that he will end the ceasefire with FARC rebels on 31 October.
Deputy Seán Crowe said: “Many people around the world were shocked and saddened when the Colombian peace process was rejected by a very small margin in the referendum on Sunday 2 October. However, it was clear that the people of Colombia didn’t want to restart a war that has dragged on for 52 years and that peace negotiations needed to restart. Confidence needs to be restored in the peace process so that it can achieve a lasting peace.”
Mr Crowe continued, “President Santos’ statement that the ceasefire will end on 31 October is extremely worrying and FARC units that were expecting to demobilise are now taking up secure positions. Further conflict in Colombia will only widen the deep rooted inequalities in the country. Dialogue and inclusive negotiations is clearly the best way forward. On Wednesday tens of thousands of supporters of the peace deal demonstrated and marched in several cities in Colombia to demand the peace agreement is implemented and acted on.”
The Sinn Féin TD appealed to President Santos: “to ensure that the Colombian Army abides by the ceasefire agreement after 31 October and that peace negotiations with the FARC are urgently restarted and intensified in Havana.”
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