[Sinn Fein]

11th July 2003

New Sinn Fein office opens in Galway city

Sinn Fein is only political alternative in West of Ireland - Ó Caoláin

TD also tackles British Government on funding for Irish language TV and Radio

Sinn Fein is today formally opening its new office in Galway City. The official opening is being performed by the party's Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD. Speaking at the event, Deputy Ó Caoláin said Sinn Fein is the fastest growing party in the West of Ireland and ``offered the only real alternative to the failed polices of the establishment parties who have let down the people of the West''. As he was in Galway, the home of the Irish language TV station TG4, Deputy Ó Caoláin also took the opportunity to call on the British government to live up to its Good Friday Agreement commitments to make the television station accessible to all areas of the Six Counties saying it was a matter of ``equal rights'' for Irish language speakers. He also called for the British government to urgently establish a properly resourced Irish language TV and radio fund for the Six Counties. He said:

``The opening of the new Sinn Fein office in Galway is another demonstration of the accelerating growth of our party throughout the 32 Counties. In the last three years Sinn Fein in County Galway alone has developed from three cumainn to ten. That growth is matched throughout Cúige Connacht.

``The people of the West of Ireland continue to be sold short by the Fianna Fáil/PD government. Like successive administrations they have failed to decentralize economic development from the east and south. Health services are in crisis as witnessed by the closure of Tuam Hospital. The transport infrastructure is totally inadequate and our natural resources like Corrib Gas have been virtually given away to multinational corporations.

``People quite rightly feel cheated by the broken promises of the FF/PD government. While many people have become disillusioned with politics as a result, many have also become more politicized and are looking to Sinn Fein for leadership. We are determined to provide that leadership as we work towards the unification of our island and our people and the building of an Ireland of Equals.''

Speaking in relation to the funding of Irish language TV and Radio production the Cavan/Monaghan TD said that ``here in Galway TG4 has shown tremendous innovation and ingenuity from the very start and they are to be commended for their consistently high production values and output. It is clear that direct funding from the Irish Government has played a crucial part in this. However, I would like to take this opportunity to address the situation regarding funding for Irish language TV and radio production in the Six Counties and indeed the promises to make TG4 accessible to all areas of the north. The British Government has not lived up to its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement in this regard. This is a question of equality and parity of esteem. They need as a matter of urgency to establish a properly resourced Irish-Language fund for TV and radio production in the Six Counties as well as making TG4 accessible so that the growing body of Irish language speakers there can access this important media source through their native tongue. This isn't about special rights and entitlements for Irish language speakers ? this is about equal rights.''

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