Adams urges Varadkar to meet O’Farrell family

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to meet the family of Shane O’Farrell who was killed in a hit and run incident in August 2011.

Speaking to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil on 30th May Gerry Adams said:

“I want to commend the O’Farrell family, particularly Lucia, for their resilience and tenacity. Like many other citizens who suffer an injustice they’ve had to take on the entire state. As a consequence, they have been put through the wringer for the last 6 years.

You are aware of this case Taoiseach. In a letter in response to me last September you said that when GSOC had completed its work the Minister for Justice would consider what future action is open to him.

When the family met with the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny in November 2016 he told them at that time that he did not rule out a public inquiry when GSOC’s report was completed.

The O’Farrell family have quite rightly rejected the GSOC report. They also didn’t receive it until a year after it was completed.

So Taoiseach will you meet with the O’Farrell family? And will you establish a public inquiry. I believe that 30 members of the Oireachtas are in support of such a public inquiry.”

The Louth TD also raised his concern at the role of the DPP which took decisions in this case around the Lithuanian man responsible for killing Shane O’Farrell and decisions it also took in respect of Crevan Mackin who was responsible for the death of Garda Tony Golden.

He said: “There is also a key issue here about the role of the DPP and it is exactly the same situation around its role in the killing of Garda Tony Golden”.

MEPs & Anti-Brexit Border Group to meet with Louth County Council

L-R Emma Rogan MLA, Lynn Boylan MEP, Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú and Martina Anderson MEP

“Brexit and its impact on the people of the border area must remain front and centre of political discourse both in Louth and in Europe” Dundalk councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has said.

The Sinn Féin representative was speaking after making a proposal to invite MEPs and the Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB) group to a special meeting of Louth County Council in the coming months. This future event was approved by members at the recent council meeting.

Council CEO Joan Martin advised it could take until September before schedules are fixed but Councillors pressed for it to take place in June, before the crunch EU Council meeting.

Cllr. Ó Murchú said, “At the council meeting, I stated that while welcoming the recent

Cllr Antoin Watters, Edel Corrigan, Megan Fearon MLA, Ruairí Ó Murchú and Anne Campbell at a recent BCAB event

event in DKIT, attended by EU negotiator Michel Barnier, this invitation to the MEPs and the BCAB, is about keeping the border issue and this area especially, front and centre of the Brexit discussion.

“We would like to see the meeting sooner rather than later but unfortunately, it is very likely that even if it did happen as late as September, the detail from the British government would still be lacking.

“While the EU Commission and Council deal with majority of the business end in relation to Brexit negotiations, there will be an EU parliamentary vote on the final deal. Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Michel Barnier have stated many times that detail is necessary in June from the British government in relation to the backstop or any alternative Brexit deal.

“Unfortunately negotiations are hampered as the Tory Party can’t agree amongst themselves. It is unacceptable for the people of County Louth and across Ireland to be pawns in these British political games.

“Theresa May’s new position of seeking an extra transition period that could extend until 2023 is unworkable. The north remaining aligned with EU customs regulations and procedures is to be welcomed, but needs to be permanent without the danger of any future border infrastructure.

“This uncertainty and the attempt at kicking the can down the road is offensive to the people of this area.

“We welcome the actions of BCAB taking their protest to the streets of London on Friday 1st June. University College London is hosting a conference, Introducing the Irish Border: Conflict, creativity & Customs posts. BCAB are taking part in the conference

Louth Cllrs Edel Corrigan, Tom Cunningham and Pearse McGeough with Imelda Munster TD at a recent BCAB event

and then at 10:30am assembling outside the university to show support for maintaining the north’s position within the EU.

“Apart from a United Ireland which makes economic sense, the only sensible solution is that the north remains within the Single Market and the Customs Union; in other words, Special Designated Status for the North.”


Adams calls for decent rents for students

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the government to support a Sinn Féin Bill that will provide protection for students in student accommodation by bringing them under the Residential Tenancies Act and give them access to the Residential Tenancies Board.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday evening the Louth TD highlighted the difficulties faced by students attending the Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 is a comprehensive piece of legislation that will give students in student accommodation the protection of the Residential Tenancies Act. It will allow students access to the Residential Tenancies Board and ensure that they are included in the rent pressure zones.

“If the Dáil really believes in access to education at all levels then all obstacles must be removed so that our young people, in particular, can reach their full potential and that includes student accommodation with decent rents and conditions.

“In my own constituency of Louth USI representatives at DkIT tell me that the lack of affordable accommodation is affecting the numbers able to take up courses. Accommodation and its cost can also badly impact on educational attainment and course completion rates.

“In its 2017 student accommodation report, Cushman & Wakefield reported that there were sixty thousand students chasing thirty-five thousand spaces. It is estimated that this number will increase to almost seventy thousand students looking accommodation in the next 5 years.

“The reality is that there is not adequate student accommodation, especially in border constituencies like Louth.

“A year ago there were 11 student accommodation projects under construction, ten of these are being built by private developers. This means that this is seen as an opportunity for profit.

“For students it is a nightmare as they try to find somewhere to stay and pay exorbitant rents. Most students at DKIT can expect their current student accommodation to cost almost 500 euro a month, with many paying significantly more than that. This is generally for a single room.

“We know that in Dublin the costs are even greater with some students being expected to pay over 900 euro a month in rents. The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 is one way of tackling this. It does what it says on the tin. It’s about including student licences under the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.

“This ensures that properties in the affected areas are covered by the rent pressure zones and provides access for those living in student properties to the Residential Tenancies Board. It’s a common sense proposal that has been welcomed by student’s groups. It can assist students to stay in full time education by ensuring that they are not being charged exorbitant rents”.

Cllr Flood Condemns Those behind Suspect Device

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has condemned those who left a suspect device in Drogheda yesterday.

Cllr Flood who is also Chairperson of Drogheda’s Joint Policing Committee said “The fact that the device turned out to be non-viable is immaterial. It was left in the open on Duke Street and caused alarm and disruption to those in the area.  It diverted the Gardaí and Army EOD Team whose time and resources could have been better spent elsewhere.”

Cllr Flood commended “our thinly resourced Gardaí for their swift action. This selfish act caused traffic chaos, terrified afternoon shoppers and meant workers in the area were unable to leave their workplaces to go home. What did all this achieve for those who left the device? Let’s hope the culprits were captured on CCTV and that an arrest and prosecution is imminent.”

Gerry Adams: Thoughts on Repeal, an Opinion Piece

Today citizens in the south will have an opportunity to remove the eighth amendment. That is citizens will, if they wish to, remove this amendment from the Irish constitution or leave it in. This amendment was originally proposed by Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Charlie Haughey in 1982. The referendum on this was subsequently held under a Fine Gael/Labour coalition government in September 1983.

The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in 1982 took the decision to oppose this amendment. This was four years before Sinn Féin ended our abstentionist policy to the Oireachtas. So, the Ard Fheis decided not to campaign against the amendment, though individual party members, especially women activists, did. In the decades since then Sinn Féin has constantly revised party policy on the role and rights of women in Irish society.

35 years after the 1983 referendum the people of the south now have the opportunity to vote again on this issue and to right a wrong done at that time. The question we are being asked to decide on is whether a woman has the right to a public health service that allows her and her doctor to take decisions on her health if she has a crisis pregnancy. Or are women inferior, are they suspect, are they not to be trusted, are they to be criminalised, and should there be a constitutional bar that puts women’s lives at risk?

Like everyone else I have been on a learning curve on this issue. I grew up in the fifties and sixties and I am from a family of 13. I have 5 sisters. My mother had 13 pregnancies. 10 of us survived. Three little brothers died either directly after they were born or were still-born. It was a household of its time. I was reared in a largely Catholic culture with all the strengths and shortcomings of that experience. Taught by the Christian Brothers I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. So I have a good sense of the matriarchal nature of Irish society, as opposed to the patriarchal nature of the state. The two states on this island are very patriarchal and very conservative.

In those days – if he had a job – the man brought home the wages and the mother usually did all of the rest – managing the household finances, cooking, cleaning, running the household, looking after the children, everything you could conceivably think of. Women were the home managers. The pawn shop was an essential part of this. We were poor. But so was everyone we knew. We were also homeless, living with my father’s mother or in a slum tenement. For much of those years we relied in my Granny’s on an outside toilet. There was a single water tap in the yard. Because of our family’s politics we had a slightly different attitude to the Catholic Church, on account of the hierarchy’s shameful attitude to the national question, and the way uncles of mine had been excommunicated.

As I became an adult I was also influenced by people like Fr. Des Wilson, who was very radical and progressive. My views were also influenced by the discriminatory manner in which women were and still are treated by the state, by the Catholic Church, by sections of the media, in business, and so on. The older I get the more I resent the undemocratic nature of the Catholic Church and its deeply unacceptable attitude to women.

I have come round to a position that it doesn’t really matter what position I, as an individual may have on abortion. This referendum isn’t about whether you are pro-abortion or anti-abortion. What you must be is pro-woman. And you have to set aside whatever position you may have yourself because we need to trust women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families and we need to enable health professionals to do their jobs.

I have listened to the testimony of women who had fatal foetal abnormalities, to the stories of women and their partners who had to go to England for an abortion, and to our own Ard Fheis discussing this issue for almost 30 years.

I have many women in my life. Colette, our granddaughters. Their mother. My sisters, sisters-in-law, nieces, grand nieces, many women friends and comrades.

Any of them – though I hope it never happens –might find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. The only way to help women who are seeking a termination because they are pregnant as a result of rape, or who have received a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality, is to vote YES on Friday.

I also have this abiding notion that if men could get pregnant this would not be an issue.

When I learned about symphysiotomy – when I learned about the Magdalene’s – when I heard about the horror of the Mother-and-Baby-Homes, about the Tuam babies, and how women were shamefully and disgracefully treated, then I have become more and more convinced that this is an issue of equality and an issue of rights. Whatever decision a woman takes that it is for her to take and the doctor and medical staff must be protected.

This is an issue for everyone. It is unthinkable that if the No vote wins that women could be saddled with the status quo for the next 30 years or so.

And what is the status quo? It is legal for a woman to go and have an abortion elsewhere but it’s not legal to have one in the 26 counties. So we have opted out. We export this issue. An English solution for an Irish problem. It means if you have the money, or can find the money, to travel to what is a strange place, generally on your own, then you can have an abortion. That’s not right. If a woman has the right to travel to terminate a crisis pregnancy, she should have the same right in her own place.

I know friends who have carried full term in the knowledge that the child would not live and that’s their right. And I know others who have had terminations because they couldn’t face the trauma. I think in both cases we have to respect the decision of those affected.

It’s also ridiculous and dangerous and illegal for a woman to take pills bought on the internet with no medical supervision. She is risking her health and a fourteen-year prison sentence. Society is forcing her into a very lonely, desperate place. This is not acceptable. I recently heard an interview given by a woman who was in a crisis pregnancy. She lived in a one-bedroom flat with her mother, and didn’t want her mother to know she was pregnant. She took a pill on her way home on the bus and became very ill. No one should be put in that position.

So, today, on Friday May 25th I am appealing for people to vote YES. I am especially asking men to trust women and to go out and vote YES for their wives, their partners, their sisters, their daughters, their nieces, their granddaughters, their friends.