MIL-OSI UK: Sinn Féin congratulate new IFA president – Brian Stanley TD

Source: Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin congratulate new IFA president – Brian Stanley TD | Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin – On Your Side

17 December, 2019 – by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture Brian Stanley TD has congratulated Tim Cullinan on his election as the new Irish Farmer Association (IFA) President.Speaking earlier, Deputy Stanley said: “I want to congratulate Tim Cullinan on his appointment as the new President of the IFA. “I hope to work on a constructive basis Mr Cullinan. “It is essential that as we move forward, the IFA continues to fight for and protect the small family farm. “We need to see beef farmers fully supported in their campaign for a fair price. We need to see the cartel-like beef sector tackled. “There must be an emphasis by the IFA on transitioning our agriculture sector towards production that is less carbon intensive. That transition should also include an increase in on-farm afforestation. “With regards to CAP, it’s vital that we see reform towards a fairer system which favours and supports the smaller farmer. We need to impose a ceiling on €60,000 on payments and level out the payments. “Sinn Féin also hopes that the IFA will work with our party to investigate the potential for farmers to move into the renewable energy sector through Biogas and Biomass in order to provide new income streams for farmers. “2020 will be a crucial year for the Agriculture sector and we wish the new IFA President all the best with the challenges which lie ahead.” 

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MIL-OSI UK: John McDonnell warns Tory Brexit plan will sacrifice basic rights – The Labour Party

Source: Labour Party UK

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor,  responding to reports that the government will cut workers’ rights and environmental protections from its EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill and that a no-deal Brexit cannot be ruled out, said:

“This is a sign of things to come from a government that will sacrifice our basic rights and certainty for business at the altar of turning the UK into a Trump-supporting tax haven.”

“Boris Johnson has already given up the effort to get a good deal with the EU to leap into the arms of Donald Trump as soon as possible with a toxic deal to sell out our NHS and food safety.

“Boris Johnson’s government may go down as the most dishonest administration in history – and Labour will stand shoulder to shoulder with the British people to fight it every step of the way.”

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MIL-OSI UK: British Secretary of State refuses to meet parties to avert health workers strike – O’Neill

Source: Sinn Féin

17 December, 2019 – by Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said the decision by the British Secretary of State to refuse a meeting with the five party leaders on the health workers’ strike is ‘regrettable’. 
Michelle O’Neill was speaking after party leaders met with the Head of the Civil Service and the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health to discuss a solution which could avert tomorrow’s strike action by health workers.
Michelle O’Neill said: 
“We met with senior civil servants today to urge them to do the right thing and provide pay parity to health workers in order to avert tomorrow’s strike action.
“There is consensus among party leaders that a resolution can be found by the British Secretary of State Julian Smith and civil servants.
 “The pay and staffing issue must not be used as a political football within the talks.
“Party leaders restated there is consensus if the Executive is restored by 13 January that we will adopt a policy to award pay parity.
 “On this basis we invited the Secretary of State to come and meet with the five party leaders, where he would provide a commitment to deliver this in the event of no agreement by that date. 
“Regrettably he refused to meet the leaders.
“Sinn Féin remains in contact with Union leaders and party leaders and we will continue in our efforts to achieve pay parity for health and social care workers.”

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MIL-OSI UK: HSE must clarify closure of long-term care beds outlined in Service Plan – Louise O’Reilly TD

Source: Sinn Féin

17 December, 2019 – by Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly called on the HSE to clarify the inclusion of the closure of long-term care beds in the HSE Service Plan published today as a cost reduction measure for the coming year.
Speaking this evening, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The HSE Service Plan on the whole is a general regurgitation of service targets from the 2019 plan which were never achieved, but the finance section contains a curious inclusion for cost reduction – the proposed closure of long-term care beds at a number of locations.
“Within the Service Plan, under the heading of ‘Areas where cost reduction is required’, it states that there is a need for the ‘Reconfiguration within the public long-term care bed stock to address value for money issues around the public cost of care in a number of locations. This will require significant internal focus and external support, up to and including the closure of beds, preferably temporarily, to deliver the 4-5% cost reduction required within 2020’.
“Effectively, this means the removal of valuable long-term care beds in 2020.
“Given the ‘Health Service Capacity Review 2018’ stated that there was a need for a 39% increase in the number of long-term care beds within the health service between now and 2031, any attempt by the HSE to close these beds is a contradiction to already existing policy.
“The CEO of the HSE and the Minister for Health need to clarify why the decision has been taken to close beds to achieve cost reduction and outline where the beds due to be closed are located.”

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MIL-OSI UK: In office but not in power – Jon Trickett responds to Institute for Government report – The Labour Party

Source: Labour Party UK

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, responding to a report by the Institute for Government which details the disruption to the day-to-day business of government caused by the uncertainties of Brexit, said:

“In office but not in power, the Conservatives are failing to govern.

“Theresa May’s botched negotiations and nearly a decade of public sector cuts have forced the regular business of government to grind to a halt, placing at risk the public services on which everyone relies.

“Labour is the only party advocating a sensible Brexit that can bring the country together and end the uncertainty, and the only party prepared to properly support our civil service at a time of unprecedented challenges.”

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MIL-OSI UK: Petitions Committee Report: Online abuse law not fit for purpose, says Petitions Committee

Source: British Parliament News

22 January 2019
The Petitions Committee today publishes its report “Online abuse and the experience of disabled people”, revealing the extreme level of abuse that disabled people receive online.

The disabled people who took part in the inquiry were enthusiastic users of social media, but many were driven from online platforms while their “abusers went unchecked.” The inquiry was triggered by a petition started by Katie Price, who has a disabled child, which attracted 221,914 signatures before it closed early due to the 2017 General Election.  It talked about online abuse directed at people from all backgrounds, but also highlighted shocking abuse directed at her disabled son, Harvey. The petition called on the Government to “make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders.” The Petitions Committee agrees with Katie Price’s petition that the law on online abuse is not fit for purpose. The report recommendations were made after listening to disabled people during the inquiry and in consultation events, where it was heard that online abuse can destroy people’s careers, social lives and cause lasting damage to their health. It also took oral evidence from Google, Facebook and Twitter, representatives from the police and disability campaigners.
 
Key areas covered by the report include:
The Government must accept that self-regulation of social media has failed.
The Government and social media companies must directly consult with disabled people on digital strategy and hate crime law.
Social media companies need to accept their responsibility for allowing toxic environments to exist unchallenged.
The Government needs to recognise that the way disabled people are often marginalised offline plays a significant part in the abuse they receive online. It must challenge stereotypes and prejudices about disabled people, particularly among children and young people, and require proportionate representation of disabled people in its advertising.
Disability hate crime is not fully recognised and perpetrators are not appropriately punished. The law on hate crime must give disabled people the same protections as those who suffer hate crime due to race or religion.
The criminal justice system is too quick to categorise disabled people as “vulnerable”. Hostility towards disabled people is often based on a perception that they are an easy target who can’t contribute to society.
It must be possible to see if someone has been convicted of a hate crime on the grounds of disability before employing them to work closely with disabled people. If the Government acts on our other recommendations, this should be possible through a Disclosure and Barring Service check.
The Government must review the experience of disabled people when reporting crimes and giving evidence. Too many disabled people have not been treated seriously because frontline officers and staff do not understand disability.
The Government needs to review the law on exploitation within friendships or relationships, often called “mate crime”. Social media companies need to review their processes and provide advice and support for those who identify as needing additional protection. It found this so-called “mate crime” can lead to financial, physical and sexual exploitation.

Committee Chair, Helen Jones MP, said: “Our inquiry into online abuse and the experience of disabled people has shown that social media is rife with horrendous, degrading and dehumanising comments about disabled people. The law on online abuse is not fit for purpose and it is truly shameful that disabled people have been forced off social media while their abusers face no consequences.“There is no excuse for the continued failure to make online platforms as safe for disabled people as non-disabled people. Self-regulation has failed disabled people and the law must change to ensure more lives are not destroyed.” Another worrying finding was when organisations were made aware of serious problems with abuse of disabled people, they were unwilling to act. As part of the inquiry, a high proportion of  abusive content against disabled people, including Harvey Price, was related to football. The report stated: “It is deeply disappointing that the footballing organisations with whom we raised concerns about abusive behaviour expressed no interest in addressing the problem. Their lack of response is shameful.”

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MIL-OSI UK: Suspect device causing serious disruption for Springfield Road residents – Canavan

Source: Sinn Féin

Suspect device causing serious disruption for Springfield Road residents – Canavan | Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin – On Your Side

21 January, 2019

Sinn Féin Councillor Calire Canavan said tonight that the discovery of a suspect device in Lanark Way, Belfast, is causing serious disruption in the Springfield Road area.
Claire Canavan said:
“A suspect device has been found in Lanark Way which has now been closed.
“The discovery of this device has caused serious disruption with residents from Springfield Road being evacuated from their homes.
“It’s very upsetting for local residents caught up with all this disruption.
“I have been in touch with police who hope the disruption won’t last much longer.
“I have also been in touch with Belfast City Council who are organising a venue close by for residents to go to for those who may need it if the disruption continues.
“Those responsible for this incident care nothing for the people who live in this area.”

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MIL-OSI UK: Irish Sea should be submarine free zone – Hazzard

Source: Sinn Féin

Irish Sea should be submarine free zone – Hazzard | Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin – On Your Side

21 January, 2019 – by Chris Hazzard

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said the Irish Sea should become a submarine free zone. 
Chris Hazzard was speaking after it was confirmed that a British Navy submarine was involved in a near-miss with a ferry in the Irish Sea.
The South Down MP said:
“Sinn Féin want to see an end to British military activity in Ireland in all its forms.
“The confirmation by the British Ministry of Defence that a Royal Navy submarine was involved in a near-miss with a ferry in the Irish Sea has raised serious questions.
“The lives of those on board the ferry were put at risk.
“The British Government and the British Ministry of Defence should end its submarine activity in the Irish Sea to avoid similar incidents in the future.” 

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MIL-OSI UK: ‘Brexit exposes failure of partition’ – O’Neill

Source: Sinn Féin

21 January, 2019 – by Michelle O’Neill

Brexit has exposed the failure of partition and the strategic opportunity that now exists to end it must be seized, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
Speaking at a major event in Derry’s Guildhall to mark the 100th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil, the party Vice President called for the transition to Irish unity to begin.
“Brexit challenges all of the old assumptions about the previous constitutional, political and economic status quo in the north and south of Ireland,” Michelle O’Neill commented.
“It has exposed the undemocratic nature and failure of partition in Ireland which created an artificial future which has and will remain contested.
“The fulcrum of the Brexit crisis is the border in Ireland.
“There is a growing sense that circumstances are rapidly changing which will inevitably lead to the final break-up of the constitutional structures of the United Kingdom which Theresa May and the DUP say they are committed to preserving.”
Michelle O’Neill said the Sinn Féin leadership had made it clear to British Prime Minister Theresa May in the event of a no-deal crash-out Brexit that it is absolutely incumbent on the British government to put the constitutional future to the people here through a unity referendum.
Michelle O’Neill said, “The Sinn Féin leadership has met with the British Prime Minister and the British Secretary of State over the past few months.
“We have made it clear that in the case of a Brexit crash-out and no-deal scenario that it is absolutely incumbent on them to put the constitutional future to the people here through a unity referendum.
“Their planned imposition of Brexit in Ireland once again demonstrates the failure of partition, and exposes further the gaping democratic deficit inherent in a partitioned Ireland.
“People from across this society, and even those of a British identity, are questioning what will be the merits, benefits of staying within the union after Brexit.
“The EU has said in the event of reunification the whole of Ireland will automatically be subsumed back into the EU.
“So the debate on our constitutional future is as much about our relationship with Europe as it is about Ireland itself.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides a peaceful democratic pathway to Irish Unity.
“There will be no unilateral rewriting of the Agreement by Theresa May, or anyone else, because it is an international Treaty lodged at the UN and had the overwhelming support of the majority of people who live on this island and who voted in support of it 20 years ago.
“The issue of Irish Unity has taken on a new dynamic because of Brexit.
“Beyond Brexit demographics are changing and so too is the political landscape.
“This cannot be ignored. A unity referendum will be held.
“The political momentum on change is moving in that direction.
“The Good Friday Agreement gives people the opportunity and choice to decide our future together.
“Now on the centenary anniversary of the First Dáil there is an onus on the Irish government to plan for unity. To become a persuader for unity. To build the maximum agreement and for all progressive nationalists and republicans to secure and win a referendum on unity.” 
Full text of Michelle O’Neill’s speech at tonight’s event in the Guildhall, Derry to mark the 100th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil, 
INTRODUCTION
A chairde agus chomrádaithe
I want to begin by condemning the weekend bomb attack on Bishop Street, here in Derry City and the alerts which have taken place today.
It’s well past time for those involved in such actions to turn the page and support the task of advancing the peace process and republican and democratic goals or close the book, because there is zero support for armed actions in this society. 
We will not allow these individuals to deflect us from this task or destroy the process of peace-building. 
There is absolutely no justification for these actions. The GFA provides a democratic and peaceful avenue to pursue political change including the central republican objective of unifying our country. 
This bombing is totally unacceptable and, ironically, comes at a time when support for a peaceful  democratic  transition to a United Ireland as set out in the GFA is at an all-time high.
There is no support or tolerance for these types of actions. Those involved need to accept that reality.
That said, it is fantastic to join you all here in Derry’s Guildhall to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First Dáil Éireann.
When the TDs of An Chéad Dáil met in the Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House a century ago, they did so as the legitimate and democratic representatives of the Irish people.
They were the embodiment of a nation’s desire to be free.
Just weeks earlier, in the historic election of December 1918, the country had overwhelmingly voted to finally break the connection with England which then – as now – was the source of so many Irish ills.
ACTIVE ABSTENTIONISM
Women and men came together from every class, creed and background to reject British interference in Ireland and vote for abstentionist Sinn Féin MPs.
Of a total of 105 seats, 73 were won by Sinn Féin candidates who refused to take their seats at Westminster and instead established the First Dáil.
That election – and that act of democratic defiance – has important parallels for us today.
When nationalist and republican Ireland turned their backs on Westminster in 1918, they did so because they knew the solutions to Irish problems would never be found in London, where they were created in the first place.
This was not just about the taking of an oath of allegiance to an English Queen.
That was certainly part of the equation.
But the key issue was and is one of sovereignty.
Today, once again, the nationalist people of the North have turned their back on Westminster, electing seven Sinn Féin all-Ireland abstentionist MPs to represent their best interests.
And it is an insult to that electorate when Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the SDLP demand that these MPs abandon the mandate they have been given by the people in order to go to Westminster, swear an oath to obey a foreign monarch and take their place on the backbenches of historical irrelevance.
With breath-taking hypocrisy, these same parties will all line up to celebrate and commemorate the democratic patriots of 1919.
But they are nothing more than rhetorical republicans and our message to them is clear.
Just like the patriots of An Chéad Dáil, Sinn Féin will not be sending Irish representatives to Westminster.
We as Irish republicans believe in the sovereignty of the Irish people.
We are opposed to monarchies and elites of all kinds.
Those who voted for Sinn Féin in election after election see no disadvantage in our MPs being active abstentionists.
Active abstentionism is about energetically representing citizens and providing republican leadership.
It’s about working with those citizens as equals and empowering communities to effectively fight for their rights, whether they are cultural rights, economic, national or political rights.
Sinn Féin has an unparalleled reputation in this regard, and do not let anyone tell us otherwise.
We won’t take lectures from Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar, Colum Eastwood or anybody else!
DEMOCRATIC PROGRAMME
The vision of the Proclamation; the courage and generosity of the men and women of 1916, and of those who met in the Mansion House three years later, contributed to the production of that Democratic Programme of the First Dáil.
The Irish Republic they established 100 years ago was based on the proposition that the people are sovereign and that the public right and welfare comes before the interests of private profit and property.
A real Republic, where people are citizens, not subjects; where they have fundamental rights, not arbitrary privileges; where there is equality, not elitism; and where there is unity, not partition and division.
Never was that principle of the Democratic Programme needed more than it is now 100 years on.
The Rising and the establishment of the First Dáil was a declaration of freedom heard all around the world.
The patriots of this revolutionary period believed that a better Ireland is possible.
But what of Britain’s response to Ireland’s peacefully declared and democratically endorsed desire for freedom in 1919?
Predictably, the self-declared mother of democracy refused to recognise the democratic will of the Irish people.
Irish democracy meant nothing to England. It was collateral damage in Britain’s wider agenda to protect and expand the empire in its war with the other European powers.
An Chéad Dáil was quickly declared illegal and the Irish people were forced to mount a revolutionary war in order to assert their right to national sovereignty.
That history has always reverberated through Irish politics and we are still dealing with the legacy of it today.
Almost 100 years later the two states created by partition have failed to meet the objectives or vision set out in the Proclamation and the Democratic Programme.
Partition created two narrow, conservative, elitist, sectarian regimes.
In the North a deeply sectarian unionist regime institutionalised decades of inequality and injustice which the nationalist and republican people confronted and smashed.
In the south poverty, emigration and inequality was rampant.
NEW IRELAND AND REAL REPUBLIC
Today in 2019 Sinn Féin remains on the frontline confronting these injustices too.
But, much more must be done.
We are for a new Ireland that builds, repairs and organises this society into one that is democratic and inclusive, and based on equality, freedom and social solidarity.
A new Republic that embraces the ethos of the Proclamation and the Democratic Programme and shares its wealth more equitably, looks after its aged and its young, provides full rights for people with disabilities, liberates women, and delivers the highest standards of public services accessible to every citizen.
There are immediate challenges facing those of us who want a united independent Ireland.
These include getting the Irish government to change its policy from one of acquiescing to the union with Britain to one of becoming a persuader for Irish unity; getting the Irish government to begin preparations for Irish unity; and lastly engaging with those of an Ulster British identity on the type of Ireland we want to create.
I believe that the opportunities for real change are within our grasp.
Sinn Féin, with others, can unite our people and unite our country, to help build, shape and lead a new, modern and progressive Ireland.
One in which all identities and traditions have a place and the opportunity to contribute to our shared nation – together.
Sinn Féin is about transforming Ireland and uniting our country for everyone.
This is our raison d’être as a political movement.
We don’t want to hark back to old Ireland.
We are not sentimentalists – we are realists.
We want to build, shape and be part of leading a New Ireland.
We don’t want to face inwards and talk about a united Ireland.
We want us to face outwards and listen to those who don’t want a united Ireland.
Because it is our task to persuade those people, sectors and communities of why it’s in their best economic and political interests to share power not only at Stormont – but on an All-Ireland basis together.
I believe that Irish unity, on the basis of equality, offers the best future for all the people of our island.
Therefore, we need to listen and understand unionist fears, because they too must belong.
Not as a minority.
But as equals and critically as nation builders and political leaders.
Those of us who are united Irelanders must sell our vision.
We are confident about the economic, social and political benefits that a new Ireland will bring.
BREXIT
Brexit has once more brought into sharp focus the contradiction of partition at the heart of Irish politics.
It has created huge uncertainty and directly challenges democracy and Irish national interests.
Just as in 1918/19, the British Parliament is again ignoring the democratic will of the Irish people who do not want Brexit and see there is no good in it for Ireland.
Once again, Britain views our democracy, our economy and the future of our country as collateral damage in their wider European agenda. Our interests are expendable to them.
That has always been the way – and always will be.
Irish interests will never be best served in an English parliament. Even with the best will in the world that would still be the case.
Our future, our potential, our prosperity as a nation rests in the reunification of our country. That is the best way to serve the needs of all our people. That is the best way to maximise the resources of our island.
Our priority is to defend the Good Friday Agreement which is under constant attack from Tory/DUP Brexiteers; and to advance the Irish peace process; the political and constitutional arrangements that were achieved as a result of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements, and our republican objective of Irish reunification.
This is the pathway to success.
There is no other way.
A huge re-evaluation has been provoked about the island’s economic and political future including those of a unionist or British identity in the six counties.
A positive, national conversation about how our constitutional, political and economic future can be reimagined and redesigned has been started by civic and progressive nationalists – but the Irish Government must take their head out of the sands and understand that this reality is in fact occurring.
That the political and demographic landscape on the island is changing and they must fulfil their constitutional obligations by planning for constitutional change and a referendum on Irish unity.
Real potential now exists for a mature, rational and inclusive conversation in Ireland about our shared future – about a new relationship between Ireland and Britain, and between the island of Ireland, Europe itself, and the international community.
Ireland’s future, North and South, should be allowed to evolve in the context of new, progressive, democratic international relationships based upon social solidarity and mutual democratic co-operation.
Brexit challenges all of the old assumptions about the previous constitutional, political and economic status quo in the north and south of Ireland.
It has exposed the undemocratic nature and failure of partition in Ireland which created an artificial future which has and will remain contested.
The fulcrum of the Brexit crisis is the border in Ireland.
A strategic opportunity exists to maximise the democratic argument for an end to partition and to persuade for Irish unity, both domestically and internationally.
A new phase of political change is not only emerging – it has arrived – and the significant strategic political influence of the international community should now assist with planning for the transition towards a new, agreed, united Ireland.
It is time to end the division of Ireland and prepare the transition to Irish unity.
CONCLUSION
Citizens are looking to the future to see where their best interests are served.
Change is in the air.
Over the past two elections in the north the unionist majority has gone.
The notion of a perpetual unionist majority – the very basis of partition – is gone.
Be in no doubt that a Unity Referendum is coming, and we are preparing for it.
But the ultimate task is to win it.
The Irish people were denied their democratic entitlements in 1919 when the men and women of An Chéad Dáil sat for the first time.
Today, Sinn Féin’s aim is exactly the same as it was then – to end the connection with England and establish a genuine all-Ireland Republic.
That is our vision. That is our aim. That is our goal.
And that, is what this generation of republicans is going to achieve.
Míle buóochas agus go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.”

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MIL-OSI UK: Labour tables amendment to break Brexit deadlock – The Labour Party

Source: Labour Party UK

Labour has today tabled an amendment to tonight’s government motion to break the Brexit deadlock and protect the UK from a No Deal outcome.

The amendment would instruct the government to rule out a disastrous No Deal and allow parliament to consider and vote on options to break the impasse. 

 

That would include:

·       An alternative Brexit deal that protects jobs, living standards and workers’ rights and environmental standards, including through a comprehensive customs union with a UK say and strong single market deal.

·       The option of a public vote on a deal or proposal on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union

The amendment reflects Labour’s existing policy of a Jobs First Brexit, along with the unanimously agreed conference policy of keeping all options on the table to avoid a No Deal exit, including the option of a public vote. 

 

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“Theresa May has shown today that she has no Plan B after the comprehensive rejection of her botched Brexit deal by MPs last week. 

“The prime minister is both refusing to change her red lines or take the threat of a no deal exit off the table. MPs must now act to break the deadlock.

“Our amendment will allow MPs to vote on options to end this Brexit deadlock and prevent the chaos of a No Deal.

“It is time for Labour’s alternative plan to take centre stage, while keeping all options on the table, including the option of a public vote.”

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