After 2 years of campaigning for her daughter’s right to have access to medicinal cannabis, Vera Twomey finally displayed the licence for which she campaigned. She showed it as she, Ava, and partner Paul returned via Cork Airport from Holland on Saturday December 2nd, 2017.
Ava was in The Hague for medical care – which could easily have been provided on this island – since June, making Ava a very young (now 8 years old) medical exile.
The return of the family was eagerly awaited once it became known that the licence was to be issued. The announcement of this was made only the previous Tuesday, shortly after Minister for Health Simon Harris was made aware that the question of how young Ava Barry was abandoned by the southern ‘Republic’ could threaten his reelection.
However, young Ava has a mother of such strength and fortitude that being abandoned by the State was never going to be an insurmountable obstacle for her. Ultimately, assisted by a large array of people who would not stand idly by in the face of injustice, the State provided that which was required.
Below are photographs from the occasion of the return of the Barry family.
You can read more about the extraordinary efforts of Vera Twomey by choosing from the menu above.
Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has asked for any journalists or photographers attending in Cork Airport NOT to use flash photography.
As a result of her medical condition, Ava Barry is photo-sensitive, particularly to bright flashes.
While Ava’s symptoms have improved vastly since her parents Vera and Paul took her to Holland for treatment, the underlying condition remains, and this means that excessive flashes – such as with flash photography – could trigger a seizure.
“It might not, but why would we take a chance?”, is the thought for tomorrow.
Ava and her family are due in around 10:20. Contact Martin Browne for media and other arrangements.
Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has expressed his delight at the news that his intervention last night in the case of the 7 year old medical refugee Ava Barry has yielded a successful result. Cllr Browne cautions however that there are many, many more children and families that need similar treatment.
Cllr Browne said: “I am delighted to report that Minister Simon Harris has signed a licence for medicinal cannabis for Ava Barry. This is very, very, good news for this Cork family. We’re absolutely ecstatic that this Christmas that the Barry/Twomey family can be home together in West Cork.”
“Sinn Féin in Tipperary have followed the plight of Ava and her absolutely indomitable mother Vera Twomey since the start. I myself am glad to be able to say that starting in this county we connected the dots from Tipperary to Dublin to make the task of walking easier for Vera, and I thank all the Sinn Féin volunteers who helped out along the way then, and have helped up until now.”
“There were and are such a large number of people that came out to support Vera from all parties and none, both on that walk and since, that it should never have been the case that Ava had to go abroad. But she did, and the worry about that family being split up haunted us.”
“I hope that Vera is pleased at this point. Her achievement is immense. The work done by Gino Kenny TD in supporting her aim to care for her child cannot be overstated. His bill remains live, for as long as this Dáil remains, courtesy of Jonathan O’Brien and Louise O’Reilly among others.”
“But let’s not forget that Ava, special and wonderful as she is, isn’t unique in benefitting from medicinal cannabis. There are still so many more people who need access to this completely natural herb to live a normal life.”
“That we came as close as we did to the game of political Chicken between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil bringing down the Government, to be followed by a dissolution of the Dáil, remains a problem that the political systems of the Southern State seem unable to resolve. That those parties would even play their games before first looking after a 7 year old medical refugee all the way out in The Hague in Holland, from the little village of Aghabullogue in West Cork is worrying.”
“As a minor matter that should never have had to be debated about, the departure of former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald from the position of Táiniste is also to be welcomed.”
“But today, our thoughts are with Vera, Paul, Ava, Sophie, Michael, and Elvera and the extended Barry family and the prospect of them being at home in West Cork together for Christmas.”
“Every Irish citizen is entitled to a home, an education, comprehensive health care free at the point of delivery, and, equal pay for equal work.” – Declan Kearney.
“To break the connection with England…and to assert the independence of my country, these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland… and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in place of Protestant, Catholic and dissenter, these were my means.” – Wolfe Tone.
This is the address by Declan Kearney at Bodenstown 2017: Advancing towards Irish Unity – in the United Irish tradition
This time 220 years ago Ireland was in the midst of dramatic political and revolutionary change.
It was described as ‘The time of the Hurry’ in the poem ‘The man from God knows where’ dedicated to Thomas Russell.
The United Irishmen were the engine of that change.
They took their inspiration from the new democratic and egalitarian ideals of the American and French revolutions.
They were Republican separatists committed to the promotion of anti-sectarianism, fraternity and equality.
They forged alliances across Irish society and mounted an unprecedented military insurgency in every Province.
In my own county the United Irishmen took control of towns like Randalstown and Ballymena. Local United Irish leaders such as Henry Joy McCracken, Roddy McCorley and William Orr remain household names to this day.
Jemmy Hope “The Weaver” from Templepatrick and his farseeing revolutionary vision became an ideological reference point for Fintan Lawlor and later generations of Irish Revolutionaries.
These and others personified the central tenet of emergent Irish Republicanism – the unity of Protestant, Catholic and dissenter.
Wolfe Tone famously summarised the United Irish Republican programme:
“To break the connection with England…and to assert the independence of my country, these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland… and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in place of Protestant, Catholic and dissenter, these were my means.”
As modern day Irish Republicans in the tradition of Tone, we are dedicated to the establishment of a national Republic, built upon equality, fraternity, unity and reconciliation between all citizens in Ireland.
Our primary aim is for an agreed, multicultural united Ireland, which celebrates diversity and equality, and shuns bigotry and discrimination.
Sinn Féin stands against all forms of sectarianism, racism, homophobia, sexism, and intolerance in society.
Today’s Ireland is one of huge social change and political realignment.
Partition continues to be the central fault line at the heart of Irish politics and society.
The imposition of the Brexit decision upon the people of the six counties has now magnified that fault line.
We are clear; Brexit is a by-product of partition and continued British jurisdiction in the North of our country.
It has now become a catalyst for a new realignment of politics in Ireland; in relations between this island and Britain: and, it is redefining politics in the British State and Europe itself.
Irish Unity has become central to the political discourse.
Next Saturday in Belfast at the Waterfront our party will host a major national conference on Irish Unity to build on that discussion.
Many citizens are now looking beyond the Brexit fall out and towards new constitutional and political opportunities.
In the North, greater numbers of ordinary people are now more engaged with politics.
Young people have become increasingly politicised.
All that is reflected in the Assembly and General election results in March and just last week.
The election of 27 Sinn Féin MLA’s and 7 MPs with 239,000 votes is an historic high in electoral support for our party, and for progressive politics.
I want to thank every activist and supporter and all their families who contributed to these spectacular achievements; and also to all of our voters.
There is a building momentum for Irish Unity and in support of anti-unionist and progressive politics.
There is also a new, popular expectation of real, and substantial political change.
The people of the North have spoken.
Sinn Féin respects the mandate secured by the DUP.
But make no mistake Sinn Féin’s electoral mandate is a vindication of our pledge that there will be no return to the status quo: and I repeat; no citizen or section of society will be put to the back of the bus again.
In 1967 our parents and grandparents and others in this gathering set out to demand civil rights in the North. They were beaten and shot off the streets.
Fifty years later an equality revolution is happening in the six counties and it is being led by young people.
Agus tá siad tiomanta agus diongbhailte. Tá siad dearg le fearg agus tá muid go léir dearg le fearg.
For the first time since partition electoral support for political unionism has fallen below 50%.
These are the new realities.
And this is the new context for the current round of political talks.
Let us be clear – the political crisis in the North can be resolved.
The political institutions can be re-established.
However, that means the DUP and British government need to get the message – which they have ignored since Martin McGuinness’ resignation on 9th January.
So I will spell it out.
The equality and rights agenda is not negotiable.
Agreements previously made on equality, rights, parity of esteem and legacy must be implemented.
The Good Friday Agreement cannot be unpicked.
The political institutions must not be misused to advance institutionalised bigotry.
Continued refusal by the DUP and British government to accept these fundamental positions will create only one outcome: a future of permanent political instability.
The DUP have spent the last week in talks with the British Government trying to strike a deal which will keep the Tories in power.
As with Brexit, any deal with Tories will be bad for the economy, public services and for citizens.
This Tory government cares as little for working-class unionists as it does for working-class republicans.
Working-class unionists did not vote for Tories.
The DUP leadership know that. They know the north is of no consequence in Westminster.
Even Edward Carson recognised this nearly 100 years ago. He said:
“What a fool I was… in the political game that was to get the Conservative party into power.”
The central fact is the political process in the North remains overshadowed by financial scandals.
That is why Sinn Féin stood the DUP leader down from her position last January.
The focus on her future role in an Executive is completely misdirected and premature.
That discussion will only arise when there is an acceptable implementation plan to restore public confidence in the political process and ensures that the institutions will work on the basis of proper power sharing, equality, respect and integrity.
This is a serious situation, which demands a serious focus by all parties.
It is not a game, and it is certainly not a dance.
If the DUP really wants to go into the Executive, that party needs to decide whether it is now prepared to embrace a rights-based approach to government in the North.
Instead of pretending that a crisis does not really exist, the DUP should get with the programme.
If the DUP imagines it can wind back the clock, with a Tory side deal or not, and reestablish the institutions without adherence to equality and rights, then the DUP is indeed living in a fool’s paradise.
As for the two governments, instead of talking up the prospect of a successful outcome to these talks, they and the DUP should reread Martin McGuinness’ resignation letter on the 9th January.
It sets out exactly what is required to restore public confidence, and to create the conditions for proper government in the North.
We don’t need optical illusions; we expect change!
The new Irish government now carries a huge responsibility.
The failure of the last Irish government to fulfil its obligations as a co-guarantor for the Good Friday Agreement is a national scandal.
This dereliction of political leadership must end.
The new Taoiseach and his administration should now publicly disassociate itself from the pro-unionist, partisan position of the British government.
This Irish government should bring forward a comprehensive plan for Irish reunification, including:
– A joint Oireachtas committee on preparing for Irish unity;
– A government White Paper on national reunification;
– And, specific proposals for a unity referendum on the island.
This month 40 years ago and here at Tone’s grave our comrade Jimmy Drumm correctly observed that the achievement of national and social liberation relied upon the development of a popular progressive movement for change throughout Ireland.
Today we live in an Ireland of endemic financial scandal, political corruption, gombeen elites, discrimination and sectarianism.
The strategic position articulated by Jimmy Drumm in 1977 is now more relevant than ever.
The austerity programmes imposed by Fine Gael and the British Tories have entrenched social inequality, both North and South.
None of our children should have to live in fear from poverty or austerity; inequality or discrimination; or from intolerance or sectarianism.
Social inequality is the antithesis of values enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation and the democratic programme of 1919.
Every Irish citizen is entitled to a home, an education, comprehensive health care free at the point of delivery, and, equal pay for equal work.
Instead social inequality, political corruption and financial scandal have become bywords for public policy under Fine Gael.
The new Taoiseach seems determined to take his government further to the right.
If that is his intention, then he should call a general election now, and let the people cast its verdict on that political programme.
In those circumstances Sinn Féin will go forward with our progressive political agenda.
We know where we stand, and it’s not with the gombeen men, the crooks, or fat cats.
To paraphrase Tone Sinn Féin stands with:
“That numerous and respectable class of the community, the men of no property.”
Irish unity has never been more achievable.
But that goal is only inevitable when Republicans successfully persuade sufficient numbers of our people that an agreed, united Ireland will serve their interests.
The refusal of significant sections of political unionism to embrace a shared future, and divisions caused by deep-seated sectarianism, create enormous challenges for Republicans.
Yet despite that, we must continue to show generosity of spirit, and reassurance to our unionist neighbours in the North.
As agents of change it is up to us to reach into the wider unionist constituency.
As republicans in the United Irish tradition we have to demonstrate how their rights, traditions, and identity will be accommodated in a new constitutional framework of an agreed Ireland.
It is for us to convince them that it is far better for Irish unionists to exert their influence over a progressive Ireland, instead of being reduced to stage props for a right-wing British Tory government.
Sinn Féin’s policies on reconciliation and anti-sectarianism represent genuine contributions towards the development of reconciliation between Republicans and unionists, within Irish society, and, between Ireland and Britain.
These need to be internalised and mainstreamed within our political work, both North and South.
Our generation of Republicans are history makers.
Martin McGuinness atá anois ar shlí na fírinne, and whom we greatly miss here today, as well as others in our leadership, have brought us to this point.
Now it is for the rest of us to finish that work.
We must become the nation builders.
We must continue the transformation of Irish society.
Meeting these responsibilities requires a step change in our party.
We need to be always strategically focused, cohesive, flexible and creative.
Let us be clear: building popular support and political strength is not a plan for opposition.
Our political strategy is a road map for governmental power.
So that means Sinn Féin being in government North and South.
This is our road map to achieving national democracy and a united Ireland.
But being in government is not a vanity contest.
This party is not interested in acting as a prop for the status quo North or South.
Political institutions are not ends in themselves: they should be made to work as the means to make positive change.
And of course, we must avoid being defined by the nature of the political institutions.
Sinn Féin participation in the Dáil, Assembly, all-Ireland institutions and European Parliament must be at the heart of a broader momentum for political and social change in Ireland.
If change is to be people centred, then change must be driven by the people.
A popular democratic movement for transformation needs to be developed across Ireland.
That is a progressive coalition of political, civic, community, cultural and labour activists united in support of economic democracy, sustainable public services, equality, rights, and the welfare of citizens.
These are the means of modern Republicans today.
Ireland is in transition. Our party is in transition.
The process of leadership succession has already commenced.
We have begun to implement a ten-year plan to regenerate our party with more youth and women; and enhanced skills and capacity.
Mar sin, más cearta, cothromas agus Poblacht atá uaibh – ná habraigí é – eagraigí, tógaigí, agus déanaigí é.
If you want equality and rights – if you want fairness in Irish society:
If you really want a Republic – then just don’t vote Sinn Féin:
Join Sinn Féin – and get your family and friends to do the same.
We continue to take our inspiration from Tone.
This afternoon in Bodenstown we stand resolute in the tradition of Henry Joy McCracken, William Orr, Roddy McCorley, Jemmy Hope, Betsy Gray and Mary-Anne McCracken.
Now let us go forward reenergised and confident, to mobilise and organise, and to achieve national independence and Irish Unity.
I am not pleased that Mr Simon Harris has so far shown no inclination to assist; instead, it seems he has already reneged on his commitments.
Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin has commended Tipperary County Councillors on their passing of a Sinn Féin resolution to support Vera Twomey. Vera Twomey has walked from Cork to Dublin to gain access to medicinal cannabis for her 7-year old daughter Ava who has epilepsy.
Cllr Browne said: “When I visited her at home on Sunday Vera wrote out some points she wanted me to make. I believe that the clear presentation of her argument is one of the deciding factors. Of course, it could just be that this was the right thing to do.”
“As we’ve seen, Vera’s case has garnered huge attention; regular readers should remember that just because RTE and the local papers don’t cover a story, doesn’t mean there isn’t a story. The story gets out via new media, and that’s true in this case. That attention is welcome if it brings change, and that means motions like this one to put the State on notice that the citizens aren’t happy with the treatment of the most vulnerable.”
“We put in a motion in the name of the 5 Sinn Féin councillors and are pleased to say the other councillors present supported it.”
“We in Sinn Féin in Tipperary were touched when we heard of the story of Vera and Ava. We really didn’t have any choice but to support her; we don’t see how anyone could fail to be moved by the situation of that family.”
“I’m glad to be able to say that I was able to travel much of the distance with her, and was witness to the huge outpouring of support in Dublin and outside Leinster House. But I am not pleased that Mr Simon Harris has so far shown no inclination to assist; instead, it seems he has already reneged on his commitments.”
“Seán Ross Abbey has to be added next to the list of homes for enquiry. An excavation and exhumation process must now be begun; each human so casually buried in unmarked grave should be recorded and treated with respect.”
After hearing of reports of small bones being ploughed up in the 1980s Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin has called for exhumation and respectful re-interment of young children buried in a mass grave in Seán Ross Abbey, Roscrea.
Cllr Browne said: “With the discovery of proof that 796 young children and babies had died and were buried unmarked in a septic tank in Tuam, our attention naturally turns to similar homes in our own locality. The Bons Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam was only one such home, that operated in an uncaring Ireland to effectively imprison and stigmatise women who became pregnant without being married.”
“This went on for 4 decades, and in many parts of the country. In Roscrea, a similar home was the Seán Ross Abbey. It operated for about the same period of time as the Tuam home.”
“We like to think that bad things only happen in other places, and that the place down the road from us is just fine. It seems that may not be the case in Seán Ross Abbey in Roscrea.”
“Yesterday Teresa Collins of Portroe visited the home for the first time in 53 years since she was taken from there as a baby. Her family had to pay £100 in 1963 to secure the release of Teresa and her birth-Mother.”
“After several years of effort, and despite the efforts of the Nuns in the home, Teresa has made successful contact with her father in the last year, and the two of them went to the home together on Sunday 12th.”
“While there, Council worker Mike Donovan revealed that he had worked at the home in the 1980’s. When working in what is now the children burial ground, he said that the tractor he was operating ploughed up many bones, small bones, and the job they were engaged in was called off. The whole area is now changed, and this work was carried out by another contractor in the 1990s. The layout of the area in question is now very different to the 1980s. There are two other areas on the grounds where there as yet unsubstantiated suggestions of unrecorded and mass burial of babies and children.”
“Seán Ross Abbey has to be added next to the list of homes for enquiry. An excavation and exhumation process must now be begun; each human so casually buried in unmarked grave should be recorded and treated with respect.”