There can be no return to the status quo

A chara,

There has been no substantive progress in the talks at Stormont Castle because the DUP and the British and Irish governments have failed to step up to the plate.

Sinn Féin is still intent on honouring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored but there can be no return to the status quo.

No substantive progress in talks – Adams

There has been no substantive progress in the talks at Stormont Castle because the DUP and the British and Irish governments have failed to step up to the plate. Sinn Féin is still intent on honouring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored but there can be no return to the status quo.

Posted by Sinn Féin Ireland on Sunday, March 26, 2017

Adams urges Irish government to raise Finucane case internationally

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD, today raised the Pat Finucane case with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil.

He did so after the Court of Appeal in Belfast dismissed the appeal by the Finucane family against the refusal of the British government to honour its commitment on a Public Inquiry.

Speaking to the Taoiseach Gerry Adams called on the Irish government to bring the Finucane case before the United Nations, the European Union, the government of the United States and to every other available international forum.

Teachta Adams said:

“I have to ask the Taoiseach what the government has done to implement the Weston Park agreement between the British and Irish governments in 2001?

“This committed both governments to hold inquiries if a judge appointed to examine these cases recommended this. Judge Peter Cory concluded that four inquiries should be held. Three have taken place. But the British government has refused to hold an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane!

“In October 2011 the British Prime Minister appointed Desmond de Silva to review the case files. The de Silva report was published in December 2012. It revealed a scale of collusion that is staggering. It serves to reinforce the need for an enquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.”

De Silva revealed that:

·        85% of intelligence that the UDA used to target people for murder originated from British army and RUC sources

·        Agents working for MI5, RUC Special Branch and British Military Intelligence were participating in criminality, including murder.

·        This issue was also considered extensively at British cabinet level and ministers were aware that the agents were being run without guidelines. The director general of the MI5 briefed Margaret Thatcher in 1988.

Teachta Adams added:

“Pat Finucane’s murder by state agents was not a one-off incident – it was the norm. Collusion was a matter of institutional and administrative practise by successive British governments. It involved the establishing of unionist paramilitary groups, the systematic infiltration by the British of all unionist death squads at the highest levels, the controlling and directing of these groups, their training and providing them with information on people to be killed.

“The role of successive Irish governments in all of this has not been helpful, strategic or as consistent as it could be. That is why I urged the Taoiseach today to develop a strategy that will employ the full resources of our diplomatic service to raise this case with our international friends at every opportunity. This should include bringing the Pat Finucane case before the United Nations, the European Union, to the government of the United States and to every other available international forum.”

Gerry Adams TD raises Orkambi with Taoiseach

Sinn Féin Party leader and Louth TD, Gerry Adams, has urged the government to resolve urgently the crisis around the provision of the cystic fibrosis drugs, Orkambi and Kalydeco.

A major demonstration is being planned for next Wednesday March 1st outside the Dáil.

Deputy Adams said:

“Before Christmas Oireachtas members heard distressing first-hand accounts of CF sufferers and their families. Orkambi and Kalydeco can save lives. They can dramatically improve the well-being of hundreds of patients.

“At the beginning of February media reports suggested that HSE drug committee had not recommended the use of the drug Orkambi for more than 550 Irish CF sufferers.

“Today, I raised the availability of Orkambi with the Taoiseach. His response was deeply disappointing and failed to clarify the current state of discussions between the HSE and the drug company Vertex.

“New evidence has now emerged to support the case for approving Orkambi. According to Cystic Fibrosis Ireland this new data shows Orkambi will save the health system even more than was previously estimated.

“Whatever decision the HSE makes the ultimate decision on the availability of Orkambi and Kalydeco will rest with the Minister and the Government.”

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called for a General Election

Deputy Adams was speaking in Belfast this afternoon on the controversy surrounding the Government’s handling of the campaign against Maurice McCabe.

He said: “The Fine Gael led government is one without authority. It is stumbling from one crisis to another – in health, in housing, in homelessness.

“They have covered up on the NAMA scandal and they are now playing the public for fools on the Garda/Tusla/McCabe controversy.

“Fine Gael is in power only by dint of patronage from Fianna Fáil, and Fianna Fáil is keeping the wreck afloat.

“Citizens are scandalised by the arrogance of Enda Kenny and his Cabinet colleagues. The Taoiseach should do the right thing. So should Micheál Martin. He should withdraw his support for the government.

“Sinn Féin in government would not tolerate this type of behaviour.

“People deserve an election. They deserve to have their say on all of these matters.

“The Sinn Féin Chief Whip has written to the Business Committee in the Dáil seeking a debate on the Commission of Investigation to be brought forward to Tuesday to allow the Tánaiste and the Minister for Children to clarify their positions.”

 

The POLITICAL CRISIS in the Six Counties is deepening

THE POLITICAL CRISIS in the Six Counties is deepening. The election on 2 March is a consequence of this worsening political situation.

The actions of DUP ministers which led to the collapse of the political institutions made that inevitable. But the value and viability of the political institutions have been under sustained pressure for a long period of time.

The DUP’s hostility towards power-sharing and partnership, its refusal to embrace equality or properly adhere to the Good Friday Agreement, and its institutionalised bigotry and intolerance for mutual respect have been steadily corrupting the political process.

Red Sky, NAMA, inappropriate relationships with unionist paramilitaries and RHI have all become bywords for the DUP’s political arrogance and contempt.

All of these factors climaxed in a tipping point in December which made the political institutions and existing status quo unsustainable – a fact mirrored by unprecedented popular anger at the DUP’s abuse of political power.

The failure of the British and Irish governments to fulfil their international obligations under the Good Friday Agreement has contributed massively to the current crisis.

This is the culmination of both governments taking the Peace Process for granted since 2010 and 2011 respectively. Both governments have ignored this reality.

A significant and influential section of the DUP (known euphemistically as “The Twelve Apostles”) have always opposed power-sharing and partnership. That has found expression in their opposition to power-sharing and partnership, and hostility to equality in all its manifestations.

These are the people who forced Ian Paisley out of the DUP leadership after he led that party into coalition government with Sinn Féin and others in 2007.

The regressive mind-set of the The Twelve Apostles still dominates within the DUP.

So when the Conservative Party came back into government in Britain in 2010, an opportunity was seized to push back against the progress of the Peace Process. That fact has defined the political process for the last seven years.

The reality is that when political unionism believes it is not accountable, it reverts to the comfort zone of Orange State politics.

Instead, the Conservative Government has become increasingly pro-unionist and politically aligned with both the DUP and UUP, as evidenced in their mutually shared positions on Brexit, promoting the single unionist narrative of the conflict, opposition to Irish-language rights, and blocking any progress on dealing with the past.

The British and Irish governments need to understand equality, parity of esteem and respect are no longer negotiable. That negotiation is over. It concluded in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and yet, 19 years later, it has still not been fully implemented.

Recently, a senior unionist suggested that this crisis was inevitable and it just happened to be on the issue of RHI.

He was right – RHI was the tipping point. However, for as long as the DUP and others within political unionism remain opposed to power-sharing and equality, the North will be destined to remain locked in permanent crisis.

During the debate on the Good Friday Agreement before the Assembly closed down, DUP speakers referred to their party’s negativity towards power-sharing and how they still ‘hold their noses’ when working with Sinn Féin.

Those were significant insights to current DUP attitudes.

The DUP leader’s dehumanising description of republicans as ‘crocodiles’ and disrespect for the Irish language is a further stark illustration of that party’s real mindset. It was an echo of David Trimble’s words when he alluded to Sinn Féin as dogs who needed to be ‘house trained’.

When republicans, nationalists and others refer to the DUP’s arrogance and contempt, we speak of how that party has been abusing and misusing political power. That reality goes to the very heart of this crisis.

Equality is not a concession or an appeasement.

All sections of society are entitled to have high expectations of our political institutions.

Sinn Féin has kept the political process under very careful review since 2013, when the DUP broke the agreement on the Maze/Long Kesh project, after their behaviour alongside loyalist paramilitaries during the flags protests, when they opposed the Hass/O’Sullivan proposals, and then following their deceitful undermining of the agreement on welfare in February/March 2015.

Our party has invested heavily in the political institutions and persevered with inordinate patience.

The difference between Sinn Féin, the DUP and others in political unionism is that we want to share power. The DUP is opposed to that agenda.

Republicans want to develop a reconciliation process. The DUP, the British Government and others in political unionism are locked into a mode of continuous psychological war and recrimination.

Sinn Féin wants to put equality at the heart of the political process for all citizens. But the DUP and powerful agencies within the British state have never reconciled themselves to the outworking of power-sharing and partnership. This is the reason why political unionism and the British Government have become clearly aligned in opposition to dealing with the past with their demand for complete immunity from prosecution of all British state forces.

That position clearly indicates both the British and DUP have decided they do not want to positively resolve this impasse in any post-election negotiation process.

The most recent public interventions by senior DUP figures, including the party leader, also suggest that party does not want to engage seriously in post-election negotiations.

The Good Friday Agreement drew a line under the political conflict in the Six Counties. As a result, the Peace Process is irreversible.

However, until the DUP and others in political unionism, and both the British and Irish governments accept responsibility for implementing the Good Friday Agreement – and their binding international obligations – this much is clear: there will be no restoration of the political institutions.

Direct rule was a failed status quo. The DUP’s refusal, and the two governments’ failure to adhere to the Good Friday Agreement and all successive agreements, has now created another failed status quo. There can be no return to either scenario.

The Sinn Féin position is clear – republicans, nationalists, women, LGBT communities and ethnic minorities are not going to be pushed to the back of the bus again.

Unless there is a qualitative step-change in the political process and an end to political corruption, unless equality is firmly entrenched at the heart of the political process, there is no point in having the political institutions because they will have no value.

In those circumstances, the North could face the prospect of protracted political crisis.

That would be an untenable situation.

The alternative must be for civic society to stand with political parties committed to equality, and against corruption and the DUP. And the Irish Government must stand up against the negativity of the British Government. This is the only way forward.

The Assembly election on 2 March will be another watershed for the Peace Process.

 

Taoiseach must clarify contingency plans in respect of transplant patients – Gerry Adams TD

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon raised recent revelations relating to children waiting for heart and liver transplants at Crumlin Children’s Hospital, not being guaranteed transport for transplant surgery. Teachta Adams has said that “the Taoiseach should clarify what contingency arrangements are in place for the transport of transplant patients.”

He said that this is “another shocking case that highlights the utter incompetence and inability of the government to manage our health service.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Yesterday, I raised with the Taoiseach the scandal of tens of thousands of patients being omitted from official waiting list numbers published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

“Today, I want to raise with him another shocking case that highlights the utter incompetence and inability of the government to manage our health service.

“The Taoiseach will recall the case of Meadhbh McGivern and the failure to transport her for a liver transplant in July 2011. An enquiry was put in place into the circumstances that led to the failed transportation of Meadhbh and the inter-agency arrangements in place for people requiring emergency transportation for transplant surgery.

“Among the recommendations of the enquiry was the need for co-ordination of land and air logistics, including all State assets and private charters for patients requiring transplants and also for patients requiring emergency aeromedical transportation.

“On the 22nd December 2016, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin was told by the National Aeromedical Command Centre that the transport of ‘Priority 1’ children for heart and liver transplants could not be guaranteed over the Christmas period.

“This matter was brought to the direct attention of Minister Simon Harris.

“On the 3rd January, the hospital was informed that the situation had worsened and that the four hour timeframe for heart transplants was likely to be ‘unachievable’ and the six house timeframe for liver transplants was also in doubt.

“This affects seven children whose lives are at risk and whose families were not informed of these developments.

“On the 16th January, the hospital was told that the situation will remain unchanged until the end of May this year, at the earliest.

“The Department of Health said it will continue to raise the issues with the Department of Defence, and the Taoiseach is the Minister responsible for Department of Defence.

“So I want to know, has the Department of Health raised these issues with the Department of Defence, and if so, can if the Taoiseach will provide the details of this contact and if the Taoiseach will clarify what contingency arrangements are in place for the transport of transplant patients?”

Responding, the Taoiseach said that:

“This was brought to my attention at the weekend and I have asked for a report from the Department of Defence.  I am the Minister for Defence, but I have given statutory responsibility for many areas in the Department to the Minister of State, Paul Kehoe.

“He is meeting the Minister for Health today. As soon as I have that report I will make it public in order that parents of children, in particular, will have the comfort of knowing that if a call comes in respect of their child, it will be answered with available transport within the time period.”

Gerry Adams TD calls for early decision on Traveller ethnicity

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams today raised the issue of Traveller ethnicity with the Taoiseach in the Dáil.

The Sinn Féin leader welcomed the meeting between the Taoiseach and Traveller NGOs on Monday evening but expressed “disappointment that the government has again breeched its commitment to taking a decision on this issue”.

Gerry Adams said:

“The recent report by the ESRI highlighted the many areas of inequality and disadvantage confronting the Traveller community. Crucially, the report supports Traveller ethnicity.

“Prior to Christmas, I raised this issue with the Taoiseach who said that he expected to be in a position to bring a report to the Dáil on this matter by the end of January.

“It’s now February 7th and we still have no report. The Taoiseach today said that he expected to be bringing a memo to Government shortly.

“The delay in agreeing Traveller ethnicity is unacceptable. Then Minister of State, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, told the Traveller community two years ago that Traveller ethnicity would be recognised within 6 months.

“This has still not happened. Last autumn, the European Commission said that it may initiate proceedings against this state for discrimination against Travellers.

“The Commission has begun an investigation into possible breaches of EU rules on racial equality on the basis that Travellers face discrimination in respect to housing, employment and access to goods and services. None of that will come as any surprise to Travellers or anyone else who has an eye to fairness and understands the challenges Travellers face.

“The Commission decision follows on from the landmark judgement last summer by the European Committee of Social Rights into the violation of Travellers rights by the Government. The Committee found that the Government has failed to provide enough accommodation for Travellers, that many of the sites provided are in a poor condition and that legal safeguards for Travellers threatened with eviction are insufficient.

“There is an imperative on the Government to stop stalling on a decision on Traveller ethnicity, and to conclude that work and announce official recognition of Traveller ethnicity.”

Minister Ross must protect, preserve and enhance our public transport network – Gerry Adams TD

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, has said the Minister for Transport needs to engage with all stakeholders to find a resolution to the current crisis at Bus Éireann.

Calling for an increase in funding for the Free Travel Scheme, he said that the Minister’s aim must be to “ensure we find a way to protect, preserve and enhance our public transport network”.

Teachta Adams said:

“The management of Bus Éireann have recently announced measures that threaten the rights of bus workers. By slashing overtime and Sunday rates and cutting pay, management is forcing the issue to an industrial dispute. This race to the bottom when it comes to workers’ pay and conditions is completely unacceptable.

“A huge amount of people, particularly in rural Ireland, rely on Bus Éireann services. They are the young, the old, the poor, the rural dweller, the tourist.

“It is possible with good management, by listening to transport users and workers and taking on board what they have to say, to create a service which will attract more people to use public transport.

“That should be the Government’s position. It is not the position of the Minister for Transport Shane Ross. He has a responsibility to ensure the future sustainability of Bus Éireann.

“There are a range of decisions he could take, including a full review of the Expressway service, a review of loss making routes on which private carriers currently operate and a review of the number of private licenses issued on these routes.

“There should also be an increase in funding for the Free Travel Pass. As it currently stands, the amount allocated covers just 41% of the cost of the average journey. This has contributed significantly to losses at Expressway.

“The Minister needs to provide clarity regarding routes and services that have been identified for potential closure and he needs to engage with all of the stakeholders immediately in order to prevent serious travel disruption.

“His aim must be to ensure that together we find a way to protect, preserve and enhance our public transport network.

“So, I would urge the Taoiseach to ensure that Minister Ross engages with all stakeholders, including the Department of Transport, the National Transport Authority, Bus Éireann and the unions to find a resolution to this issue without delay.”

Gerry Adams TD calls for urgent clarity on Orkambi

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today questioned the Taoiseach about media reports that the HSE drug committee has decided against recommending the Orkambi drug for CF sufferers.

The Louth TD described the Taoiseach’s response and correspondence that he received today from the drug company Vertex, as “creating serious confusion and upset for CF sufferers and their families”. Teachta Adams called for urgent clarification from the Minister for Health.

Gerry Adams said:

“This morning’s media reports that the HSE drug committee has not recommended the use of the drug Orkambi for more than 550 Irish CF sufferers will cause serious concern to those citizens faced with this life threatening condition.

“Before Christmas, Oireachtas members heard distressing first-hand accounts of CF sufferers and their families. Orkambi and Kalydeco can save lives. They can dramatically improve the well-being of hundreds of patients.

“The HSE’s drug committee has now referred this issue to its executive management team but media speculation also claims that it is unlikely to give the go ahead for an agreement with Vertex.

“However, the Taoiseach’s response to me in the Dáil suggests that discussions with Vertex have not closed.

“Vertex in its letter to me says that ‘in the last six months, we have put multiple proposals to provide access to Orkambi, including options available in other European countries like Germany and Austria. Our latest proposal – which we have developed with input and direction from the HSE – would provide access to Kalydeco and Orkambi and we believe meets all the criteria set by the HSE’.

“In light of the media reports, the distress that these will have caused to hundreds of CF sufferers and their families, and the confusion that now exists I am calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to immediately clarify the state of discussions and decisions to be taken on this issue.”

Gerry Adams TD raises Seamus Ludlow case with Taoiseach

Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised the High Court action which has been commenced by the family of Seamus Ludlow.

Teachta Adams said:

“The Final Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in 2006concluded that Commissions of Investigation were needed into important aspects of the Seamus Ludlow case.

“Despite this clear statement of support for Commissions of Investigation, there has been a refusal by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments to do this.

“As a consequence of the state’s actions or lack of action, the Ludlow family, who have been seeking truth for 40 years, are today in the High Court.

“It is unacceptable that the government is actively blocking the creation of Commissions of Investigation as recommended and has forced a family to endure a High Court action.”

Note:

Seamus Ludlow was shot dead in May 1976 by unionist paramilitaries.

His case was one of those investigated by the Barron Commission and was the subject of the Final Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Murder of Seamus Ludlow in March 2006.

At that time, the Commission concluded that collusion had occurred involving the loyalist gang which included two officers from the Ulster Defence Regiment. It also recorded its disappointment at the lack of co-operation by the British authorities.