Friday, May 29, 2009

Is this an omen?

Is this an omen?

Sinn Féin members were out this week in the lashing rain putting up the posters above. We were soaked to the skin, tired and had been at it for several hours. However, then the sun came out and a beautiful rainbow appeared behind one of our posters. So I took this picture with my phone.

Maybe we have spent too much time campaigning, or maybe our brains our getting messed up, but we feel/hope this image will sum up these elections. Hard work and dedication will let us overcome the bad times we are in and Sinn Féin will help us create a better place tomorrow.

Go on help us build a brighter future, vote Sinn Féin.

All together now "Somewhere over the rainbow....."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

Children still subject to State neglect and future cuts in Child care services cannot be allowed

Balbriggan Sinn Féin joins with the whole nation in expressing our support for the victims of abuse suffered in care homes in Ireland. These victims have a right to justice and we fully support them in their fight.

However, we must also not ignore the present state of child welfare services in this state. These services are woefully underfunded and rather than this government looking to make cuts in this area, it must do the opposite and give support to children who are suffering abuse. If this government does not do this then they will be as guilty as previous governments in failing to protect children.

Below is a statement from the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Commenting on the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse,
Sinn Féin Dáil Leader and Spokesperson on Children Caoimhghn Caolin
said it was a horrific litany of abuse of children by Church and State and that children are still subject to State neglect. He called for the Reports recommendations to be fully implemented.

Deputy Caolin said:

The Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is a horrific litany of abuse against children in institutions over decades. These most vulnerable children were subjected to a system of deplorable abuse amounting to a catalogue of crimes carried out when they were supposedly in the care of both the Catholic Church and the 26-County State. That system of abuse claimed the lives of many children. We may never know exactly how many children died of neglect and ill treatment in those

The Church and the State bear huge responsibility for what was done.

Our first and last concern should be the survivors of abuse and the memory of those who did not survive. The Government must implement the Reports recommendations to alleviate or otherwise address the effects of the abuse on those who suffered. It must also implement the recommendations to prevent where possible the incidence of abuse of children in institutions and to protect children from such abuse.

The sad reality is that children are still subject to State neglect and
are suffering abuse or in danger of abuse as a result. The Report focuses on institutions but many children in the community today are not receiving the protection they need. Yet the Government is refusing toimplement the recommendation of the Monageer Report for an out-of-hours social work service.

Child protection services are woefully inadequate with insufficient social workers and other front-line workers in place. The HSE knows of cases where children are in danger but the services are not in place to make the interventions required.

The nightmare of child abuse is not a thing of the past. It is happening every day. Most of this abuse takes place in the family home. If the services are not in place then the State today will be just as culpable as it was in the past when it conspired with the Catholic Church to cover up the abuse of children.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

National Famine Memorial Day by a Balbriggan Sinn Féin member

Today, Sunday May 17th, was the second National Irish Famine Memorial Day. On Friday of this week schools throughout the country held a minutes silence in remembrance of the Great Hunger. This weekend sporting events were asked to also observe a minute's silence and a national event was held in Skibereen in remembrance of the terrible events of 150 years ago.

Today, I took a trip with my children to the famine memorial at Custom House Quay. It was my intention to simply lay some flowers and pay a personal tribute to the victims of this catastrophe.

When I got there I found that a ceremony was being held to remember the millions who died or emigrated as a result of the potato blight.
This event was organised by the COMMITTEE FOR THE COMMEMORATION OF THE IRISH FAMINE VICTIMS. The event they organised was a dignified one involving the laying of wreaths, speeches, music and the casting of flowers onto the Liffey. The Lord mayor of Dublin was present as were a number of ambassadors. I found the whole experience deeply moving and I believe it made a great impression on my children as well.

At the end of the ceremony I spoke with some of the organisers and I found out that this small group has campaigned for many years to raise the awareness of the plight of the Irish Famine Victims and all those who were forced to leave. Their aim was for the establishment of an Annual Commemoration for the whole of the Island on the last Sunday in May each year in commemoration of the Famine Victims and Emigrants who had to leave this country.

It is thanks to the efforts of this group that this weekend saw the second National Famine Memorial Day and it was a great inspiration to see what a group of concerned local people can achieve if they are convinced their cause is right and they have the dedication to see it through to its end.

One thing I wish to say though is that the "Great Famine" was not a famine. There was plenty of food in this country and in fact wheat and other food stuffs were exported from Ireland throughout the course of the great hunger (Gorta Mór). What there was, was a potato blight that impacted on the poorest sections of Irish society and that the British government made a choice not to provide Irish people with sufficient food to eat.

This same choice is being made on a wider scale today. The world we live in has sufficient food to feed all the people who live here, yet people die from hunger, and the effects of hunger, each day.

Allowing this slaughter to happen 150 years ago was wrong then, and it is still wrong now.
Given our history we in Ireland should be a voice in the world community demanding action to remove hunger from this planet. We should demand there is "real" development aid given to poorer countries, that poorer countries are paid a fair price for the goods they produce and that third world debt is tackled in a positive manner.

In the 21st century there is no reason to allow people to die through lack of food. So, let's not be like those who allowed the great hunger to ravish this country. Let us remember the victims of the great hunger in a positive manner by demanding the world be a better place now than it was 150 years ago. Let us demand that the world takes action now and there is finally an end to death through hunger.
For some information on the famine in Fingal visit

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Fergus Byrne

Standing up For Jobs in


Unemployment is 388,000

Up by over 188,000 in one year.

Predicted to go over half a million

So, what is the government doing?

What are their policies to protect jobs?

What are their policies to create jobs?

What are the policies to retrain people?

In the past ten years the government had the chance to build a better Ireland for all of us. We could have built a proper health system, new schools, communities with real facilities and a country that was ready for the economic downturn that would inevitably come.

But what did Fianna Fáil do?

They listened to the greed of the bankers,property developers and the get rich quick brigade.

At the last election Sinn Féin warned of the dangers of the creation of the property bubble. We pointed out the growing gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. And most of all we said there was a complete failure to run the economy in the long term interests of the Irish people.

Sinn Féin was right on these matters and Sinn Féin knows what is needed now. Unemployment MUST be at the very centre of government policy. We need to get Ireland back to work.

'Getting Ireland back to work

Time for Action'

Sinn Féin's key Employment Proposals

Let's build the schools and infrastructure that we need now!!! Create 1,000's of jobs by the fast tracking of the much needed school building programme, expansion of the national home insulation programme, broadband rollout etc. This work needs to be done - So let's do it now!

Help businesses keep people working! Follow the German example of establishing a job retention fund to subsidise workers in viable small and medium businesses. This fund will be time limited and used to help keep people working and training. Remember it costs over €20,000 to keep a person on the dole, so let's spend the money to keep people working?

Fast track business start-ups! We are bailing out the banks, so let's demand they work closely with our current job creation agencies. One-stop enterprise business points should be set up that would bring together funding, expertise and advice for entrepreneurs who want to start
new businesses and create jobs.

Develop our green energy and alternative technologies - We have thewind, we have the waves, so let's set up an agency whose aim is to have Ireland lead the way in green energy. These are the jobs of the future, let's go and get them!

Retrain people in the skills we need. FÁS, the VECs and third level institutions have a combined budget of almost €4billion. They need to have a joined up approach to ensure that we are training people for sectors that will provide jobs in the coming decade.

These and over 70 other proposals are contained in the Sinn Féin document'Getting Ireland back to work - Time for Action'

Local Fishermen Meet with Mary Lou McDonald and Martin Ferris as Livelihoods Threatened

Representatives of Sinn Féin held a meeting in Howth on 30th April with local fishermen from County Fingal to discuss the issues currently threatening the livelihood and culture of those in the fishing industry. The meeting was attended by Mary Lou McDonald, Dublin Sinn Féin MEP and European candidate for 2009, and Martin Ferris TD, party spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development and Marine and Natural Resources. Local election candidates Fergus Byrne (Balbriggan Ward) and Colm Ó Murchadha (Howth / Malahide Ward) were also present.

Local fishermen outlined the crisis facing them, as severe restrictions have been placed upon them regarding the number of days they are allowed to fish – two days in a three month period. Some have had their boats decommissioned but have been told they are not entitled to unemployment payments as they were self-employed. Martin Ferris said “The new EU laws introduced have all but sounded the death knell for another substantial section of the Irish fishery sector. A further indication, if needed, that the real object of EU policy is to close down the Irish fishing industry. The Common Fisheries Policy which has been the bedrock of the disastrous mismanagement of the Irish fishery since this state joined the EU. Unless and until an Irish Government reverses the shameful sell out made at that time, we will be merely tinkering around and allowing Brussels to engineer the effective liquidation of the Irish fishing sector. And yet there seems to be little political will here to demand a radical overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy.”

Mary Lou McDonald undertook to investigate the ownership status of, and difficulties in, Howth Fish Market, which was purchased with EU funds. She will pose questions in the European Parliament about the matter, and pledged her commitment to explore it fully, in her capacity as an MEP.

Local election candidates Fergus Byrne (Balbriggan Ward) and Colm Ó Murchadha (Howth / Malahide Ward) stated that they were glad to lend their support to the local fishermen, and assured them of Sinn Féin’s continued defense of their cause. ENDS

PR Department - Balbriggan Sinn Féin / Howth & Malahide Sinn Féin

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bobby Sands died on 5th may 1981 - Not forgotten

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death on hunger strike of Booby Sands MP.

We in Balbriggan Sinn Féin view his struggle as an inspiration and a call to us to help make Ireland a better place for all of us.

However, we should not forget that we in Fingal have our own republican history. On 25th September 1917, Thomas Ashe died on hunger strike for political status. He was a talented musician and a school teacher in Corduf National School near Lusk.

These two pictures show Corduff National School and the plague in his memory that is inside the school grounds.
Let us all remember the sacrifices of these two men and let it inspire us all to help create a better Ireland that is worthy of all those previous generations who struggled for our independence.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Launch Night for Mary Lou McDonald and Local Candidates’ Campaign

An official launch night was held at the Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street for the election campaigns of Mary Lou McDonald, Dublin Sinn Féin MEP and European candidate for 2009, and all candidates standing in local elections in June. Local candidates for Fingal, including Fergus Byrne (Balbriggan Ward) were in attendance. The theme was “New Leadership for a New Time”. Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin Vice-President, was hosting the event, and Martin McGuiness and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams lent their support also.

Fergus Byrne said: “These next five weeks leading up to the elections are going to be extremely hectic, but all of us in Sinn Féin are buoyed up by the fact that we are confident that our policies are actually viable, unlike this Governments’, and we can make a real difference. We are for the ordinary middle- and lower-income people, not the rich, and people know that”.

The function room was full to the brim with supporters and well-wishers, and when Ms McDonald and Martin McGuinness entered, they received a standing ovation. The evening was chaired by Aengus O Snodaigh, and local candidate Paul Donnelly was the first of the speakers, who pointed out that when canvassing and being asked by people on the doors what made Sinn Féin different, he was able to confidently highlight the party’s detailed and workable policies, including strategies for job creation. He was followed by EU Candidate Thomas Sharkey, who gave an upbeat talk on why Sinn Féin were the best party to represent the interests of ordinary people locally and in Europe, and that the party can give ordinary people hope in these depressed economic times. A lively musical interlude was then provided by Kíla's Ronán O Snodaigh, who impressed greatly with his unique vocal and bodhrán skills!

It was now time for Mary Lou McDonald to speak, and again she was given a standing ovation. She spoke powerfully, outlining the importance of using one’s vote in June in the EU and local elections, and sending the Government a strong message that “we will not tolerate being walked all over”. “Sack the Government and send them packing!” was what the voters were urged to do. Ms McDonald drew attention to Sinn Féin’s track record in Europe with regard to fighting for worker’s rights, for the people of Gaza, and against the Lisbon Treaty. She pointed out that Sinn Féin was a pro-European party, but that the people of Ireland needed a good deal for their country.

Martin McGuinness was the final person to address the room, and underlined how far Sinn Féin have come, both from being in government in the North, to having the most feared (by other parties) EU candidate in Mary Lou McDonald. He stressed how the peace process has brought about changes that no-one could have foreseen even a few years ago, and how the party was laughed at when they predicted some of these changes! He said that whilst many people have gone into politics in the past for power and financial gain, he was proud that his party had an egalitarian, socialist attitude to remuneration, and that, whilst striving for a united Ireland, the primary focus was on working for ordinary people.

Gerry Adams also spoke briefly during the course of the evening, outlining the importance of ensuring that Sinn Féin were elected so that the party could make a real difference to ordinary people. He also praised, as did the other speakers, Mary Lou McDonald for her commitment and dedication to her job.

Fergus Byrne, local and town council candidate for the Balbriggan Ward, was delighted with how the night went, and said: “I really feel privileged to be standing for Sinn Féin in the local elections. Tonight has yet again outlined the fact that Sinn Féin is the party with real solutions, and I do hope that people will come out and support us in June. We will not let them down.”