23 March 2006 Edition

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In Brief

McDowell refuses to apologise over Daily Ireland slur

Speaking in the Dáil, 21 March, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD unsuccessfully urged Justice Minister Michael McDowell to withdraw a Nazi slur he made against the Daily Ireland newspaper. This followed two public apologies for intemperate remarks directed at the Greens who he linked to the attack on PD offices during the recent Dublin city riot and Fine Gael's Richard Bruton who he compared to Nazi propagandist Josef Gobbels. Unlike other sectors, it seems Northern nationalists can be branded with impunity, O Caoláin said.

McDowell challenged on Justice Bill

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has slammed Justice Minister Michael McDowell's attempt to introduce substantial legislation through the back door. At the last moment, 200 amendments contained in over 330 pages to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 were tabled, substantially changing the original Bill.

Bribery institutionalised

Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has said that the amended Part Five of the 26-County Planning Act has institutionalised bribery by allowing speculators and developers buy their way out of providing social and affordable housing. He said it was clear that the brown envelope culture, confirmed by the planning tribunal, has been replaced with the institutionalised brown envelope.

TD's raise racism

Marking International Day against Racism Sinn Féin TD's raised the issue in the Dáil 21 March. Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin and Seán Crowe sought, unsuccessfully, to have the business of the Dáil adjourned so there could be a discussion. Crowe said that the Governments failure to deliver on areas like housing was scapegoating immigrants, while Ó Caoláin and Ó Snodaigh raised the need for a national strategy for integration and institutional racism respectively

Fáilte initiative launched

Sinn Féin spokesperson on racism, Alex Maskey announce details of the Fáilte' initiative to mark Intercultural week. The initiative is being taken by Sinn Féin Mayor and Chairs across Ireland to mark Intercultural week (19 - 25 March) and International Day Against Racism on 21 March.. It is a lead all of us in political and civic life should follow said Maskey.

Racist attacks continue

Racist attacks continue in the North with an Asian man being attacked in Derry and an East European attacked in his home in south Belfast.

In Derry Asian business man was attacked by up to seven men as he left a nightclub at the bottom of Shipquay Street in the city centre at around 1.30am on Monday 20 March. Sinn Fein Mayor of Derry Lynn Fleming said those carrying out racist attacks are not representative of local people and are tarnishing the image of the city.

In south Belfast an East European man received hospital treatment for an injury to his arm after a gang of masked men entered his home in the Donegal Road area and attacked him with baseball bats.

Sectarian attacks

Sinn Féin has accused loyalists of attempting to stir up trouble in Derry after missiles, including paint bombs, were thrown from the Fountain Estate into the Bishop Street area on Sunday afternoon 19 March.

Up to ten people, including middle aged men and teenagers, were involved in the sectarian attacks.

Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue told An Phoblacht her party has been involved in a number of initiatives to ease tensions at the Bishop Street- Fountain interface, but Sunday afternoon's attacks do nothing to help the situation.

McGuinness joins London St Patrick's Day celebrations

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness joins the St Patrick's celebrations in London with Mayor Ken Livingstone. Addressing the 150,000 strong crowd in Trafalgar Square, McGuinness paid tribute to Livingstone who has been a consistent friend of Ireland over many years. Photo James O Jenkins

DUP hypocrisy

Reacting to Peter Robinson's assertion, following a DUP meeting with the IMC, that he might be prepared to talk to Unionist murder gangs directly, Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan, said DUP involvement with groups such as Ulster resistance and its importation of South African weaponry made it strange that they were attempting to convince nationalists that a relationship does not already exist.

Mallow Sugar factory closure

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, reacting to the news that Mallow sugar factory is to close in May, has said Greencore and the Irish Government have failed both sugar producers and the employees at Carlow and Mallow. Since it was privatised, Greencore's only interest was to parasitically feed off an industry which they had no intention of developing and this was done with the blessing of the Government.

Government must act on Israel

Reacting to the Israeli incursion into the Palestinian town of Jericho, Sinn Féin International Affairs and Human Rights spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD called on the Dublin Government to ask the United Nations and the United States to put pressure on Israel to end it's occupation of the Palestinian territories. Speaking at a press conference on 16 March he also called for the suspension of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel

Tom Smith comemmoration

Dublin republicans turned out on St Patrick's Day to commemorate the death in Portlaoise Prison, 31 years ago of IRA Volunteer and political prisoner Tom Smith.

Smith was shot and killed by troops during an attempted jail escape on St Patrick's Day 1975. The commemoration was addressed by Sinn Féin Councillor Felix Gallagher and chaired by Larry O'Toole.

Government fails on disability services

Sinn Féin Dáil Leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, commenting on the Comptroller and Auditor General's report on the provision of disability services by non-profit organisations, said the 26-County Government is not living up to promises made when it introduced the Disability Act. The Report highlights the fact that people with disabilities are almost totally dependent on non-profit organisations to deliver the services they need.

McGuinness Meets Sri Lankan Delegation

Martin McGuinness met a delegation from Sri Lanka last week, including Presidential Adviser, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, to discuss the peace process in Sri Lanka and the renewed negotiations between the government and the Tamil Tigers.

McGuinness expressed Sinn Féin's ongoing support for the Sri Lankan peace process and the party's willingness to assist in any way in ensuring that the current negotiations are successful.

Language equality

Sinn Féin has challenged British Direct Rule Minister, Angela Smith, on her government's record of discrimination against the Irish language in schools in the Six Counties.

This came after it emerged that the 'Education Order ('Northern Ireland') 2006' has recommended that secondary school students should study at least one official European language - other than Irish and English.

Assembly member and Irish language spokesperson, Francie Brolly said the Order would constrain students wh

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