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January 21, 2005

01/21/05 - Sinn Fein Week In Review

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
15 to 20 January 2005

Dialogue is key to progress

On 18th January Sinn Fein Vice President, Pat Doherty MP said that sanctions and the politics of exclusion would not move the peace process forward.

Mr Doherty said those advocating exclusion of Sinn Fein were `working to their own narrow agendas’ and `ignoring the reality that Sinn Fein's right to participation in the political process stems from our substantial electoral mandate’. He said by contrast, the British government had `no mandate in Ireland and no right to sanction or discriminate against those chosen by the Irish electorate to represent them’. Such failed policies were `of the past’.

He added that progress would only come through `dialogue, inclusivity, negotiation and accommodation.’

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly has urged the SDLP Assembly team to distance themselves from remarks made by SDLP MP Eddie McGrady and MLA Alistair McDonnell, who had indicated the SDLP should accept DUP proposals for a voluntary coalition of parties.

Mr Kelly said the proposal for a voluntary coalition was about `replacing the Good Friday Agreement and undermining the equality and inclusivity principles which underpin this process’. He said the leadership of the SDLP lacked `direction and cohesion’ and that these problems `should not be allowed to damage the Good Friday Agreement project’. He called on the SDLP to distance itself from the proposal that the SDLP `join with the DUP and abandon the Good Friday Agreement.’

Assembly costs down to British government suspension

Sinn Fein Assembly group leader, John O’Dowd MLA this week said that the £53 million cost in maintaining the institutions were `a result of the British government's unilateral suspension the institutions’.

Mr O’Dowd said the institutions were brought down by the British government 27 months ago `amid allegations of a Stormont spy ring’ which were `unfounded PSNI allegations’.

He said the prospect of a quick return of the institutions was `again at risk because of PSNI allegations which have not been supported by any evidence’.

He added that it was `a disgrace that in effect the British government has spent £53 million to maintain the fiction of the Stormont spy ring’. The British government were `denying our elected politicians the right to get on with the job they were elected to do’.

British bugging of Sinn Fein admitted by MI5

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has urged Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern to raise the bugging of Sinn Fein’s Belfast offices with British Secretary of State Paul Murphy.

On 16 January a Sunday newspaper had revealed that MI5 head, Eliza Manningham-Buller had admitted her organisation had bugged the Sinn Féin offices in Belfast. The report said her disclosure came at a closed meeting of the Westminster intelligence and security committee before Christmas. The discovery of the device came at a critical time in the peace process.

Ms de Brún said there was `shock’ at the admission, and that Sinn Fein had said at the time the device was found that Paul Murphy `must have authorised the surveillance operation’. She said she would be raising the issue in the European Parliament, along with party colleague and Dublin MEP, Mary Lou McDonald.

She called upon the British government to provide `a satisfactory reply to the European Parliament, to the Irish government, and most importantly to the voters whose rights have been infringed’.

She concluded that `time and again undercover British securocrats have created difficulties in the peace process, culminating with the closure of Stormont after unsubstantiated allegations of a spy-ring. These are the same people who have admitted responsibility for spying on republicans ten years into a peace process.’

Judicial review of British government sanctions against Sinn Fein brought

On 20 January, Sinn Fein Assembly Member, Conor Murphy, brought a full Judicial Review into the decision of the Paul Murphy to impose sanctions upon Sinn Féin electorate in the wake of the IMC Report into an incident in a Belfast bar last year will begin tomorrow morning in the High Court.

Mr Murphy said the move was to challenge the sanctions which were brought ` to discriminate against the majority of nationalists in the six counties’ and with `the cover provided by the securocrats through the IMC for this decision’. He added that recent comments by Mr Murphy indicated that he was `again exploring ways in which to discriminate against the Sinn Féin electorate’ underlining the important timing of the hearing.

Sinn Fein centenary event launch

On 14 January Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams gave a keynote address at the national launch of the Céad Bliain/Sinn Féin 100 event, in the Mansion House, Dublin. The event marks the beginning of a year long celebration of events to celebrate the centenary year of the foundation of Sinn Féin. The full text of Mr Adams’ speech can be found at

British abuse photos `come as no surprise’

On 19 January Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said that images of British soldiers torturing and abusing Iraqi detainees came `as no surprise to the thousands of nationalists in the six counties who had to endure similar treatment at the hands of British regiments here’.

Ms Gildernew said `For decades British Army personnel have routinely abused nationalists and republicans on the streets and in the detention centres. They were also of course found guilty of torture in a number of high profile cases including the one involving the so-called hooded men. Claims of denial from the British military top brass will cut little ice with those of us here who know only too well the reality of British military occupation and the human rights abuses it entails.’

Sinn Féin MEPs meet with family of Pat Finucane

On 21 January Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brúnand Mary Lou McDonald will meet he family of Pat Finucane at the offices of Madden and Finucane Solicitors in Belfast.

Bairbre de Brún said the purpose of the meeting was to 'receive an update from the family on recent aspects of the case'. Ms McDonald said it would ascertain 'what we, as MEPs can do to assist the family in their search for the truth'.

O Snodaigh rejects proposed national ID card

On 17 January Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson, Aengus O Snodaigh TD, rejected the proposed national Identity Card scheme as having `massive implications for civil liberties and privacy rights on this island.’

He said the Minister indicated his belief that he must introduce compulsory ID cards `once the British have done so’ and that such ID cards may contain biometric data and other information such as a person's PPS number. He said he had not indicated what the scope of the card's use would be, or the organisations that could demand its production. He added that the proposals had `massive implications for civil liberties and privacy rights’ and should not go ahead.

He added that the Minister `cannot force Irish people to carry national ID cards for the convenience of the British Government’ and urged him instead to `seek an exemption from this requirement for all those living on the island, and the failure to produce a national ID card must not be allowed to hinder freedom of movement on the island.’

Bairbre de Brún joins calls for a nuclear disarmament

On 19 January Bairbre de Brún MEP attended an event in Brussels on the role the EU could play in promoting nuclear disarmament. Ms de Brún said she was 'pleased to lend her support to the campaign for a nuclear free world'.

Mayor of Hiroshima, Akiba Tadatoshi, who chairs the 650-strong 'Mayors for Peace' campaign, will travel to Belgium as part of a world tour of capital cities to promote a nuclear free world in advance of May's UN nuclear disarmament conference in New York.

Ms de Brún welcomed Mayor Akiba Tadatoshi to Brussels and lent support to his campaign for a nuclear free world. She said the people of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki `have had to live with the terrible legacy of nuclear devastation’.

She said Sinn Féin was in favour of `the active promotion of demilitarisation of the EU, including full nuclear disarmament’ and said if the EU was to continue to promote itself as a progressive and forward thinking institution, `it must throw its collective weight behind efforts to campaign for a nuclear free world.’

Sinn Féin supports student opposition to top up fees

On 19 January Sinn Fein Employment & Learning spokesperson, Michael Ferguson, supported the NUS/USI decision to highlight dismay at the imposition of further top up fees on students in the Six Counties.

Students from NUS/USI travelled to Westminster to lobby the NI Grants Committee, meeting on the introduction of Variable Differed Fees. Students will calling for the decision to be made by the political parties in the six counties, rather than being imposed by an Order of Council and 36 MPs.

Mr Ferguson said it was `outrageous’ that Minister Barry Gardiner was seeking to impose the fee system `that his own colleagues in both Wales and Scotland reject’. He said evidence from America, Australia and Canada showed that the introduction of such fees reduced the number of applicants from low and middle income families `and in particular communities that have suffered marginalisation and exclusion’. He said Universities should be `learning places not market places’

From Bogside to Basra

On Sunday 6 February Sinn Fein Assembly Member Raymond McCartney will join Jean Heggarty representing Bloody Sunday relatives, and Sabah Jawad from Iraqi democrats organisation, at a seminar, `From Bogside to Basra’, at 2pm, Conway Hall Red Lion Square London. The meeting will take place a few days after the Bloody Sunday Inquiry returns to Westminster, and a week after the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration march in Derry.

Sinn Fein Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs, telephone 020 7219 8162 or email or visit

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