[Sinn Fein]

20 January 2000

Agriculture Minister cannot be a spectator - he must be a proactive player in resolving beef crisis

Sinn Fein has welcomed the lifting of the High Court injunction against pickets on meat processing plants. Reiterating its support for the farmers' call for 90p per pound for their meat, Sinn Fein called on Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh to take a more proactive role in resolving the escalating beef price crisis.

Sinn Fein Kerry County Councillor Martin Ferris said:

``It is simply not good enough for the Minister to sit back and just say he is available for more talks while the crisis threatening the backbone of rural communities in Ireland spirals out of control. He cannot think like a spectator - he is a key player in this drama.''

Sinn Fein said there must be a concerted effort by the State to redress the farmers' grievances by getting involved in the meat processing industry. ``The current system leaves farming communities at the mercy of the commercial self-interest of big business conglomerates and cartels.

``While a thriving food processing business has grown of out farm activities, farmers have had little share in the benefits and no control in the industry. The underlying problem is that agriculture as a business in Ireland is a profitable and growing industry while agriculture as a way of life is in decline. How many of the IFA's 85,000 members will survive to be actively engaged in farming in five years' time?''ENDS

20 January 2000 - For Immediate Release

Drogheda rally against service charges: County Manager and councillors accused

Louth County Councillor Arthur Morgan has accused the County Manager and councillors on Drogheda Corporation of acting against the democratic wishes of voters by trying to force through the privatisation of bin collection services and imposing charges.

Councillor Morgan was speaking after addressing a rally of 1,000 people in Drogheda on Wednesday night - 700 people inside a packed hall and another 300 outside who could not get in. ``The sheer numbers demonstrate the depth of anger about these charges,'' the Sinn Fein councillor said.

``Drogheda councillors voted in favour of this but the people who elected them to represent their views don't want it,'' Councillor Morgan said. ``The arrogance of the County Manager, who foisted this on the people, and the ease with which the councillors rolled over is breath taking.''

The Sinn Fein councillor said that there is no waiver system in privatised schemes for people on low incomes, such as pensioners and people who are long-term unemployed. ``In privatised schemes they just go for the financial jugular, for the maximum price they think they can get. The service must remain within the control of the local authority,'' Councillor Morgan said.

Sinn Fein is supporting a mass picket against privatisation and service charges by residents and community groups and trade unionists at the next meeting of Drogheda Corporation, on 7 February at 7:30pm. ENDS

For immediate release 22nd January 2000

Adams thanks David Andrews for his contribution to the search for a lasting peace

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking prior to a meeting of the party's Ard Chomhairle in Dublin this morning, thanked David Andrews for his substantial contribution to the search for a lasting peace and wished him well for the future.

Mr. Adams said:

``On behalf of republicans everywhere I want to thank David Andrews for his substantial contribution to the search for a lasting peace throughout his time as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

``He took office at a difficult and challenging time and worked diligently on behalf of all of the people of Ireland.

``I want to wish David well for the future.''ENDS

22 January 2000 - For Immediate Release

Foreign Affairs Minister David Andrews tenure criticised over erosion of neutrality and Sellafield

Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member Seán Crowe, the party's candidate for >Dublin in the European Parliament elections, paid tribute to Foreign Affairs Minister David Andrews for his work on the Irish peace process and East Timor. But he also criticised Mr Andrews' tenure for ``the erosion of Irish neutrality and the Government's failure to mount a vigorous, public international campaign to close the Sellafield nuclear plant''.

Councillor Seán Crowe said:

``My personal working relationship with David Andrews in crucial peace process summits in the North and Downing Street with Tony Blair was a good one. I would like to thank him for his efforts and I wish him well for the future. Mr Andrews also deserves praise for his contribution to the independence of East Timor.

``This should not obscure the fact though that, under his term of office, Ireland's neutrality was eroded by press-ganging us into the NATO-led `Partnership for Peace'.''

Councillor Crowe said that Mr Andrews was entitled to change his view in Opposition that membership of PfP was a step towards joining NATO. ``But the Minister was not entitled to tear up an election pledge to voters to hold a referendum on joining PfP, then claim in Government there was no need to consult the public, and frog-march us into the arms of NATO.'' ENDS

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