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.”
Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tipperary has welcomed Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada to County Tipperary to talk with representatives of the Angling community. Following her visit, MEP Ní Riada has said that the potential of the River Suir to support the development of angling tourism has yet to be fully realised. She made the comments following a visit to Golden this week.
Liadh Ní Riada said: “Golden is a beautiful village in an area of outstanding scenery. Its location close to Cashel and its proximity to the main Dublin – Cork motorway mean that it is accessible for domestic and foreign tourists alike.”
“As a member of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries I have taken a keen interest in the potential for the further development of angling as both a sport and a lure for tourism.”
“Rural Ireland is crying out for investment and for job opportunities. The development of sustainable tourism, based on our greatest natural assets, would be a fantastic boon for rural communities, not least here in Co. Tipperary.”
“I will continue to work alongside Cllr. Martin Browne and with all stakeholders to work towards a sustainable, clean and vibrant tourism offering for anglers that benefits the community and rural economy.”
Cllr Martin Browne adds: “In one of the most historic and one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland, we have a significant opportunity in terms of a unique angling experience. The potential of tourism has never been doubted, and I compliment the members of Cashel/Golden Anglers Association on their work. We received a short tour from Owen Jackman who is Secretary of the Association and were impressed with the commitment of the Association to maintaining the environment.”
“The potential for employment in any environmentally friendly tourism industry should not be overlooked.”
“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.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport ,Imelda Munster TD, has today criticised Bus Éireann management for their approach to talks with transport unions in the Workplace Relations Commission on the matter of the crisis in Bus Éireann’s Expressway service.
Deputy Munster said:
“Bus Éireann management did not act in good faith when they sent out provocative correspondence to the workers threatening job losses, pay cuts and changes to terms and conditions on the day that talks were to commence. This is not how talks should be conducted, in what is already a tense environment. We have to ask if this was a deliberate move to destabilize the talks.”
“There are many issues at the forefront of these negotiations, and the number 1 issue is bad policy and decision-making by government and the NTA in relation to over-saturation of profitable routes.”
“How could they not have foreseen that financial loss was inevitable following a policy of oversaturation of certain routes. It’s unacceptable that their primary target now is the workers with no resolve to correct the bad policies.”
“The first thing Bus Éireann management need to do, if they are sincere and genuine about preserving and protecting our public transport network, is to carry out a full review of all licences issued on intercity and rural to urban routes.”
“The government needs to play a part in this too. It’s absurd to think that this can be resolved without government participation, and an admission and re-examination of past policy failures.”
Speaking in Leinster House today, Sinn Féin’s Agriculture spokesperson, Martin Kenny TD, has said that the measures introduced by Minister Michael Creed on the National Reserve were welcome, but do not go far enough.
Deputy Kenny said:
“While I am glad that, at last, the Minister has done something to help young farmers and new entrants to farming for 2017, after leaving them in the lurch last year, these measures do not go far enough to resolve the situation.
“However, €5 million is not enough to deal with the backlog of young farmers who have completed or who are now trying to complete green cert training and who will be seeking entitlements soon.”
Speaking on Saturday at the ‘New Generation: New Voices’ event in Enniskillen, Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, said that in an era of so-called ‘Post Truth Politics’, Sinn Féin did not accept contempt for the truth while in the Assembly, and would be damned if they would accept it from Enda, Fine Gael or his cohort of Fianna Fáil backers in the Dáil either.
The Donegal TD said:
“As we fast approach yet another election campaign here in the north, and perhaps in the south also, the political landscape is anything but certain.
“It’s a period which has been described by many social and political commentators and analysts alike as the era of ‘Post Truth Politics’. This is a political culture in which the political narrative is framed by strong appeals to emotion as opposed to reality by the repetition of unfounded assertions to which factual rebuttals are ignored, if not rejected outright, as irrelevant.
“We, as Republicans, do not buy into such lies, half-truths or disdain for truth…the very hallmarks associated with the particular way by which many of our political opponents care to do business.
“Sinn Féin does not and will not follow their example. Just as the events of recent weeks have shown, and as Arlene Foster and the DUP have witnessed first-hand, we did not accept contempt for the truth while in the Assembly, and we’ll be damned if we accept it from Enda, Fine Gael or his cohort of Fianna Fáil backers in the Dáil either.
“Here in the north, where the controversy over the DUP’s bungled handling of the RHI scheme, coupled with their persistent refusal to embrace equality of any kind, these are the events which have left citizens in the six counties disillusioned, weary and sceptical of the institutions’ ability to deliver real and effective change.
“Likewise in the south, where the shambolic handling by Government of the orchestrated smear campaign against Garda Whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe, which over recent days has brought the current administration to the brink of collapse, there too citizens are questioning the role which government, or more broadly speaking, which politics in general can play in improving society and the lives of ordinary people.
“And these are the very same forces who, motivated by hatred and driven by ignorance, have recklessly stood and advocated for this part of our island to be dragged, against the will of its people, out of the European Union. In doing this they are showing they are happy to deny you and the generations to follow the very same opportunities enjoyed by those of us who’ve long benefitted from access to a continental community of some 500 million people.
“Our young people deserve better. They deserve to live in a society, not where their life prospects and future successes are reliant on whether or not they have the means or financial wherewithal to afford it, but one in which everyone, no matter whom they are or where they’ve come from, enjoys the equal opportunity to go out into the world and make their dreams a reality.
“It’s about moving forward as a society, where zero tolerance for racism, sectarianism, homophobia, and for inequalities of any kind is the sole and accepted benchmark.
“It’s about choosing a path which ensures that the institutions, even with their imperfections, deliver for each and every citizen on the basis of equality, parity of esteem and mutual respect.”
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, continually raised the case for the North achieving special status in EU in a series of meetings in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Crowe was part of a cross party Oireachtas Joint Committee on EU Affairs delegation which met with Michel Barnier (Chief Negotiator on Brexit for the EU Commission), Guy Verhofstadt MEP (European Parliament Representative on Brexit), Emily O Reilly (European Ombudsman), Phil Hogan (European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development), and MEPs from Scotland, Cyprus, and Malta.
Speaking at the end of the two day programme, Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“In all our meetings, I detailed how forcing the North out of the EU against its democratic wishes would be a disaster for the entire island of Ireland and have implications for the Good Friday Agreement.
“I continually raised the case for the North to have special status within the EU and that the EU has shown itself to be flexible in coming forward with pragmatic arrangements for dealing with other complex territorial situations.
“Both Mr Barnier and Mr Berhofstadt were keenly aware of the unique and difficult situation that Ireland is in and the role that the EU has played in the peace process.
“Sinn Féin will continue to press the Irish Government and the EU to ensure designated special status for the North to remain within the EU.”
Sinn Féin MEP, Liadh Ní Riada, has facilitated a meeting between Irish fishermen and the group that advises the European Commission on stock sustainability.
The Ireland South MEP brought together representatives from the Irish South and West Fish Producer’s Organisation (ISWFPO) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to discuss a range of issues.
Ms Ní Riada said the meeting had been “constructive” but “raised a number of questions”.
Ms Ní Riada stated:
“The ISWFPO raised the issue of landing obligations with ICES who clarified that there was no scientific advice given by them on the landing obligation, that there was none requested and consequently it could be established that there was no scientific basis for the landing obligation.
“This begs the question of what was the basis for the landing obligation rule was. Was it politically motivated by the powers that be? The ISWFPO made clear their members feel it is a recipe for disaster.
“The impact of seismic surveys on spawning stocks and larvae was also raised, particularly in reference to the effects of large scale seismic survey operations in all waters on fish stocks, as evidence has suggested it is having a detrimental effect.
“The scientific and ecological impact of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by supertrawlers was also a major concern, especially regarding by-catch and over-catch.
“A discussion was also had on the value of Irish fishermen being given a scientific quota by Irish national authorities so that scientific data can be collected by Irish fishermen. This is then used with anecdotal evidence to evaluate the health of various stocks and to make a stronger case for larger quotas for Irish fishermen.
“All in all it was a constructive and revealing meeting. The very fact I was able to facilitate it is an improvement in itself as the intention was to give Irish fishermen, particularly the small-scale, inshore fleet and coastal communities, a direct line of communication with this international scientific body.
“This influential group is now well aware that Irish fishermen often feel excluded from the decision making process whilst the wealthy fishing cartels, who have most to gain and lose from the advice ICES gives to the EU, are often involved in every aspect of the process.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of a change in that unhealthy culture.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has said when it comes to protecting workers’ pensions, Minister Varadkar does not want to know.
Deputy Brady was speaking last night during Fianna Fáil’s Private Members Business on the need to tackle the issues around defined benefit pension schemes.
The Wicklow TD said:
“Last week, Sinn Féin launched a Bill to ensure that no company with positive net revenues or which has a parent company with positive net revenues would be allowed to close a defined benefit scheme unless this scheme has reached a minimum 90% funding standard.
“Our Bill would prevent a similar situation to what happened last November in Independent News & Media. This would send a clear message to profitable companies that you will not be allowed to simply decide to renege on and walk away from your obligations to your employees.
“Minister Leo Varadkar’s excuse for doing nothing to protect employees is for fear of ‘threatening a company’s financial stability’ or ‘rendering some employers insolvent’. However, we are talking about companies who are profitable and therefore, the Minister’s argument makes no sense.
“The Minister’s rhetoric of his Department scrutinising issues around defined benefit pension schemes is achieving nothing and this is not good enough for workers in this State.
“Theinaction by Government sends out a message to companies right across this State that they are free to consciously wind down defined benefit schemes and walk away from their pension obligations. Sinn Féin absolutely oppose this.
“Despite some concerns, Sinn Féin will support this Bill, but we will be looking at ways to improve this Bill to ensure maximum protection for workers.”
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Jobs, Maurice Quinlivan, has said the loss of 500 jobs at the HP Inc. facility in Leixlip will be a major blow not just to the town, but to the whole area.
Deputy Quinlivan said the area needs prioritisation from the IDA and that education and training courses should be made available for the workforce to help them to find alternative employment.
The Limerick City TD stated:
“HP has been a major employer in Leixlip since 1995. The loss of this site and these jobs will be a major blow to the area.
“The scale of the jobs losses in today’s announcement by HP Inc. is shocking! Whilst HP Inc. had announced in October last year that it would be cutting 3,000 to 4,000 jobs globally over the next three years, nobody expected 500 people to lose their jobs in Leixlip.
“Questions must be asked about what has happened in the intervening period.
“As the company have indicated that jobs will be transferred abroad, we must ensure, if possible, that the EU globalisation fund should be accessed early and that particular opportunity of funding not wasted as has been the case in previous large scale jobs losses.
“Those people who have lost their jobs must be given access to proper education and training courses to help them to find alternative employment. It is a very stressful time for them and their families as many will struggle to repay mortgages and pay their daily bills.
“I will be raising this issue in the Dáil chamber at the earliest opportunity.”