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October 22, 2004

News 10/22/04 - SF Week In Review

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
15 to 22 October 2004

DUP cannot be allowed to stop the process of change

On 22 October Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP said that
the DUP could not be allowed to paralyse the process of change
indefinitely and must move from their anti-Agreement position if
a deal was to be secured.

Mr Doherty said that it was almost a year since the Assembly
election and that time has seen talks in Lancaster House in June
and then Leeds Castle last month, and `time and again it has been
hinted at that the DUP are prepared to do a deal which would see
the institutions restored and the outstanding elements of the
Good Friday Agreement implemented'

However, he added, the DUP had shown `no willingness to move away
from their anti-Agreement position and this remains the greatest
obstacle to seeing a comprehensive package agreed'. He said the
Leeds Castle engagement `demonstrated that the other outstanding
issues can be resolved' but that work `needs to be completed
quickly if we are to achieve a deal'.

He concluded: `We cannot wait on the DUP forever. If it becomes
clear that the DUP are not going to move then it is inevitable
that we will have to explore other options of moving the process
forward and seeing the Agreement implemented. The DUP cannot be
allowed to paralyse the process of change indefinitely.'
----

Another World is Possible - Gerry Adams MP at the European Social
Forum

On 14 November Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP addressed a
welcome rally on the eve of the European Social Forum in London.
Mr Adams was speaking alongside others including London Mayor Ken
Livingstone, Dr Aleida Guevara, daughter of Che Guevara, anti-
debt campaigner and writer Susan George and TUC Deputy General
Secretary Frances O'Grady and South African Ambassador to Cuba,
Thenjiwe Mtintso.

In his opening remarks Mr. Adams said: `We need to be willing to
share the burden of struggle and the lessons of our own
experiences. This Forum is about demonstrating that another world
is possible. This potential for progress, for real and meaningful
change, is something that Irish republicans passionately believe
in.' He stressed: `It is wrong that anyone should have to suffer
because of their nationality, sexual orientation, disability,
colour or creed. It is wrong that the third world should be
crippled with debt while the first world is affluent. That debt
should be cancelled. It is wrong that over one billion people
live on less than one dollar a day and that 11 million children
under 5 die each year from preventable causes'.

He said the goal, emerging from this Forum and other similar
discussions, `must be to build peace, freedom, human rights,
tolerance and an international society based upon the rule of
law, on justice and equality - a truly united human family. Irish
republicans are committed and determined to play our full part in
working with others to achieve this.' The full text of the speech
is available on request or on the Sinn Fein website
http://www.sinnfein.ie

Mr Adams also addressed a packed seminar discussion on `The
Lessons of Ireland' chaired by Dr Mary Hickman of the London
Metropolitan University.

Over 20,000 people attended the Forum, which debated a range of
issues including global and social justice, human rights, anti-
racism, equality of women, Palestine, opposition to war and many
other issues.

On Ireland, a range of seminars and workshops took place. Sinn
Fein MEPs Bairbre de Brun and Mary Lou McDonald were also among
speakers. Ms de Brun addressed issues of civil liberties (see
below) and Ms McDonald spoke on a platform including former Irish
Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Inez McCormac and
Maggie Birne from the CAJ on the issue of the next steps for the
peace process. Sinn Fein's deputy Mayor of Belfast, Joe O'Donnell
joined Belfast Islamic Centre Chair Jamal Iweida to discuss
overcoming sectarianism and racism and a range of speakers
including Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane centre, Brendan
Curran from the An Fhirinne (Truth) campaign and representatives
from Justice for the Forgotten dealt with issues of collusion and
the British state in Ireland. A Saturday evening social of song,
music and dance was packed with hundreds of young people from
across Europe.

In the seminar on human rights and criminalising communities at
the ESF on 15 October, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún said that
'Human rights and equality are damaged and denied when those in
power defend the erosion of internationally accepted standards'.

Other speakers at the session include Gareth Peirce -Human rights
lawyer, Thomas Mathiesen -Norwegian academic, and Martxelo
Otamandi -Basque journalist.

Speaking at the event Ms de Brún said: `Human rights and equality
- the basic rights and entitlements of all - are damaged and
denied when those in power defend the erosion of internationally
accepted standards, irrespective of whether such actions are
carried out in the name of 'defending democracy' or protecting
'national security'.

She said `Bringing about an end to criminalisation can often
appear to be an uphill struggle for those communities trying to
engage in rational and reasonable debate. But the key as is
always the case, is to persist, to widen out the debate, to seek
allies and build your strength from the local to the national to
the global, in order to bring about change. This debate, and
indeed the entire European Social forum provides us all with a
wonderful opportunity to do just this, and find ways to move
forward together in building societies which are based on the
principles of equality, liberty and solidarity.'
----

Report on Irish economic success does not reflect widening
poverty gap

Speaking on 15 October, Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald
commented on the report by the Economist magazine, which has
claimed that Ireland is now regarded as a role model for some of
the EU's poorest states. Ms McDonald claimed that the Economist
report did not 'reflect the reality of the widening gap between
the rich and poor'.

The Economist magazine published the report entitled 'The luck of
the Irish' the previous day, which found that Ireland had leaped
from being one of the poorest EU member states in the 1980's to
one of the richest today.

Ms McDonald said: `It would be wrong not to acknowledge the
tremendous wealth produced over the past number of years. There
is in no disputing that Ireland is one of the richest member
states within the EU and that this is a result of a booming
economy over the past two decades. However, the Economist report
does not adequately reflect the reality of the widening gap
between the rich and poor. Ireland has become an increasingly
unequal society both economically and socially. Whilst this state
is the fourth wealthiest in the world, it has the lowest level of
social spending and the highest poverty rate in the EU'.

She added `There has not been an even distribution of the wealth
generated and this is borne out by numerous statistics including
the ESRI and Combat Poverty reports which have shown that a fifth
of people in the state are living in poverty. This is
unacceptable as there is sufficient wealth within our society to
ensure that citizens are protected by the state - unfortunately
this is not the case. We have a Minister for Justice who believes
that inequality is an incentive to the economy. This right wing
strand of thought leads to a 'survival of the fittest' approach
to society and pitting people against each other to compete for
resources, when there is obviously enough to go around'.

She concluded that Sinn Féin was `committed to the eradication of
poverty both in Ireland and across the globe. The needs of the
poor and disadvantaged must come before the needs of the wealthy
and big business. As a small step towards this, Sinn Féin calls
for the level of social spending to be increased to protect our
social, health and education services.'
----

Sinn Féin slams North Belfast petrol bomb attack

On 18 October, Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast Gerry Kelly
condemned an attack the previous night which saw a petrol bomb
and a brick thown at a family home, at around 11pm.

Mr Kelly said the family of six had a `lucky escape' and that had
petrol bomb followed the brick though the front window `we could
very well be dealing with the loss of life or the destruction of
a family home'. He said this was not the first attack on
nationalists in the past two weeks in North Belfast, and houses
had been attacked in Newington, a young man stabbed in the Mill
Road area and an Ardoyne man intimidated from his work by a RHD
death threat.

He added `What is clearly absent however is any voice from the
areas MP, Nigel Dodds. He should be speaking out in defence of
Catholics under attack form loyalism. This is not the case and I
am calling on all unionist and loyalist representatives to show
political leadership and help end these attacks.'
----

Irish Labour Party encouraged to organise in 6 Counties

On 18 October, commenting on the establishment by the Irish
Labour party of a forum for people living in the six counties,
Sinn Féin Vice President pat Doherty said: `The news that the
Irish Labour party is to establish a forum for people living in
the six counties is a welcome move and follows the logic of the
all-Ireland political map drawn by the Good Friday Agreement'.

However, he added, `I would encourage the Irish Labour party to
embrace this new all-Ireland approach and follow the Sinn Féin
lead and fully organise themselves on an all-island basis and
contest elections in the six counties in addition to the south.'
----

British Army incursion into County Monaghan

On 18 October Clones Councillor Pat Treanor hit out at the latest
British Army incursion over Clones town and surrounding area the
previous day at 5pm. The large helicopter flew up to two miles
into County Monaghan and then over Clones town on its return to
Co. Fermanagh.

Cllr Treanor said : `This was a totally illegal and provocative
incursion into County Monaghan by the British Army. It is
particularly outrageous at the present time, when serious efforts
are being made to bolster up the Peace Process. People are
rightly suspicious and concerned by this incident. I have
reported it to the local Gardaí and have asked for an
investigation'.

Cllr Treanor said that he has contacted Sinn Fein Deputy
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who will raise the issue with the Dublin
Government. He has also contacted the Sinn Féin representative on
the British/Irish Intergovernmental Body, Arthur Morgan.
----

IMC admit that report contained lies

On 15 October, it emerged that the PSNI and IMC had acknowledged
that their first report contained totally inaccurate information
regarding the murder of Michael O'Hare. Sinn Féin Assembly member
Gerry Kelly said: `At the time the IMC Report was published Sinn
Féin denounced its contents and exposed a series of inaccurate
sections. Other political parties accepted it as gospel. Now the
PSNI and IMC have themselves acknowledged the report was based on
inaccurate information'.

He added, `The fact is the IMC has no credibility and this news
further exposes this unrepresentative British securocrat tool.
Those who jumped up and down and were quick to try and use the
shoddy IMC Report as a basis to attack Sinn Féin should reflect
long and hard on their reaction given the gradual exposure of the
report as lies. The IMC has no positive role to play. It operates
outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and it is little
more than a mechanism to be used to exclude the largest
nationalist party, Sinn Féin, from the process.'
----

International community must act to ease despair in Palestine

On 19 October Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey and Aengus
Ó Snodaigh TD briefed officials from the Department of Foreign
Affairs, Dublin on the worsening situation in Palestine. Mr
Maskey called upon 'the international community to act
immediately to ease the sense of despair in Palestine'.

Mr Maskey was speaking on his return from Ramallah, and said:
`Myself and my colleague Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD briefed officials
from the Department of Foreign Affairs on the worsening situation
in Palestine. On my recent trip to Ramallah I was struck by the
sense of despair and alienation many Palestinian people feel.
There is a growing belief amongst Palestinians that the
international community has abandoned them'.

He added `The barrier erected by Israel continues to run through
Palestinian land and separate families from each other. Many
areas of Palestine are under curfew and people feel isolated and
disconnected from each other and the outside world. The so-called
'Road Map for Peace' lies in tatters. The message from the
Palestinian people is that 'the peace process is dead and we are
bleeding on a daily basis'.'

He said `It was important for me to give the Department of
Foreign Affairs a first hand account of the situation which now
exists within the Middle East. Sinn Féin seeks a commitment from
Minister Ahern that he will use his influence to assist in the
search for peace. It is imperative that the issue of the Middle
East is made a policy priority for the Minister'.

He concluded `We reiterate our call for the international
community, under the direction of the UN to act immediately to
ease the sense of despair felt in Palestine. An initiative is
required to place pressure upon the Israeli Government to remove
its troops and illegal settlements from Palestinian lands. I am
also calling upon the EU to support the suspension of
preferential trade with Israel.'
----

Kelly slams treatment of asylum detainees

Speaking on 21 October, Sinn Fein MLA for north Belfast, Gerry
Kelly, slammed the recent treatment of asylum detainees being
held in Crumlin Road prison. This followed reports that two of
the detainees were moved to Maghaberry at the weekend due to
staff shortages where they were racially abused and strip
searched by staff.

Mr Kelly said: `The treatment of these two men is completely
unacceptable. Over the weekend they were transferred to
Maghaberry Prison due to staff shortages where they were racially
abused, strip searched and locked in their cells for most of the
weekend. If anything the NIO has learnt nothing over three
decades here. Republicans struggled for, and won the right to
proper prison conditions, a right that all who are detained
should be able to avail of'.

He added `The asylum detainees, should not even be held in prison
as they have committed no offence, and yet while there, they are
still treated in this disgraceful manner that no-one ought to
encounter. This is yet further indictment of the Prison Service,
following the damning report by the Human Rights Commission
revealing widespread human rights abuses at Maghaberry Prison'.

He said Sinn Féin had requested access to the Crumlin Road
detainees on a fact finding basis and he would be in contact with
the British minister for Prisons, Ian Pearson, `to address this
issue as a matter of urgency.'

According to statements the two men, who are Muslim, have given
to the Refugee Action Group they were: Subjected to strip
searching; Subjected to racist comments by a female prison
officer; Denied access to hot water while fulfilling the fasting
obligations of Ramadan; Denied access to telephones for three
days; Locked in their cells for most of the weekend; Denied open
air exercise.

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Telephone 020 7219
8162. email fisherj@parliament.uk


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