*Scandal as Children in Cavan Monaghan waiting 2.5years for disability assessment*

*Scandal as Children in Cavan Monaghan waiting 2.5years for disability assessment*

Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has described as ‘scandalous’ the confirmation he received this week from the HSE that children in Cavan Monaghan are now waiting 2.5years for an appointment to meet an ‘Assessment of Needs’ officer to be assessed for disability supports requirements.  The waiting times have been growing substantially since 2013 when there was a zero waiting time.  Matt Carthy welcomed the fact that an Assessment of Needs Officer has been appointed but said that clearly additional resources are required.

Matt Carthy said:

“It is widely recognised that early intervention is of critical importance when it comes to improving outcomes for children with a learning disability.  However, despite the recognition of such a need, the HSE is failing to ensure that children receive the earliest possible intervention to provide them with the support they require.

“Under the 2005 Disability Act, assessments of children’s needs must be started within three months of the application and must be completed without undue delay; if there is a delay in completing the assessment the
HSE has a duty to inform applicants giving a reason for the delay and the given timescale for completion.

“I welcome the fact that, after much delay, an Assessment of Need Officer for Cavan and Monaghan was appointed in May.  However, the figures I received this week show a scandalous waiting time of 2.5years currently for children to be assessed.  That clearly points to a need for additional resources to be put in place.

“The figures point to a massive failure for which the Fine Gael government in office with Fianna Fáil support, must take full responsibility. According to the figures I received from the HSE this week, there was zero waiting time in 2013.  This increased to 6 months in 2014, 1 year in 2015, 1.5 years in 2016 and 2 years in 2017.  The fact that waiting times now stand at 2.5 years point to a growing systemic failure that is causing real anxiety among the families affected.

“No family should be in a situation where they are waiting for two and half years for their child to have their needs assessed.  My office is working with several parents who have been told that their children need support but that this support cannot provided until an assessment has been carried out.

“This is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed as the numbers of children being presented for assessment is rising.  I will be again writing to the Minister urging for additional resources to be put in place to resolve this scandalous situation” Matt Carthy concluded.

EirGrid’s control of department approach to North South Interconnector raises massive questions – Matt Carthy MEP

EirGrid’s control of department approach to North South Interconnector raises massive questions

Matt Carthy response to Northern Standard FOI documentation relating to North South Interconnector

“It is impossible now for anyone to have faith in the government or the department relating to the North-South Interconnector.  Indeed it is obvious that the independent study commissioned by Minister Denis Naughtan, ostensibly to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the project, is irrelevant as the department and government are clearly happy to take their instruction and direction from EirGrid without any due consideration for the views of the local communities that stand to be negatively affected by the development”.  So said Matt Carthy in response to the FOI documentation released by the Northern Standard containing details of communication between EirGrid and the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment.

 

The Sinn Féin MEP (and Cavan Monaghan General Election candidate) has commended the Northern Standard and Michael Fisher for an excellent piece of journalism in seeking, acquiring and disseminating the FOI material.

 

Matt Carthy said:

 

“This is a massive and important public interest story that should send shock waves through the political system and provoke concern among anyone who cares about the planning and political processes.  We essentially now have indisputable proof that government policy in the strategically essential area of energy provision is been directed – not by elected politicians, or even civil servants – but by a company that has shown itself incapable of understanding the concept of public acceptability or consultation.

 

“That EirGrid have been monitoring the public statements and social media comments of elected representatives from this region (and kindly passing on details to the department) yet have refused to actually listen to the views that those representatives have conveyed is symptomatic of their entire approach.

 

“What is much more worrying is that the department have gladly received these types of updates and have been willing to be directed at each and every turn by EirGrid.  This creates huge questions of credibility as to both the planning and political processes.  EirGrid are supposed to be answerable to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.  Instead they’re writing his answers for him!

 

“Every aspect of the department’s interaction on the North-South Interconnector is done in collaboration with EirGrid.  The papers show that they even liaised as to who would represent each body during the hearing I held between campaigning organisations from the region and the European Commission in Brussels last year.

 

“Many of us suspected that the department was not an honest broker on this issue.  This is no longer a suspicion – it is an absolute fact.  How can anybody discuss this issue with the Minister or his officials in good faith knowing that they will consider as gospel all information provided by EirGrid.

 

“EirGrid itself is in conflict with the communities of this region.  The department’s actions have clearly placed the government on the side opposite those communities.  Many will already be asking questions as to whether there is a pre-determined outcome to the study commissioned by the Minister into the feasibility of undergrounding the interconnector.  That is extremely concerning but understandable as the papers secured by the Northern Standard show that at no point has the department or Minister questioned a single action of EirGrid.

 

“For the sake of the integrity of the political process it is now vital that every elected representative in this region make a stand on this issue.  Bland statements calling for reviews are not good enough.  The Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil representatives from this region that are keeping this government in power must pledge to withdraw that support unless and until EirGrid is treated as the vested interest it is and the voices of our communities are inserted into the heart of the decision making process.

 

“The department, as well as being led by EirGrid, is also being misled.  While receiving EirGrid’s weekly messages they have not yet understood the central message that has been conveyed by communities and their political representatives – that is that the North South Interconnector will only be completed on the basis that it is developed using the underground technology that is available”.

ENDS

Carthy slams Commissions failure to address farm income inequality

Carthy slams Commissions failure to address farm income inequality

 

Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has said he is disappointed but not surprised to learn that degressivity measures, aimed at reducing the highest CAP payments in order to increase supports to other farmers, have been a failure.  Carthy was referring to information received in a Written Question he submitted to the commission querying of the mechanism.

 

Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee, commented:

 

“The Commission regularly claims that it has taken effective action to reduce farm payment inequality.

 

“The headline action was the introduction of degressivity as part of the 2013 reforms. It was agreed at the time that payments over €150,000 would be digressive.

 

“Unfortunately the measure was immediately diluted by the provision of Member State flexibility to decide by how much they would reduce the monster payments.  The majority of Member States decided to do the minimum by applying just a 5% reduction.

 

“When the Member States notified the Commission of the estimated result of the reduction of the payments mechanism, for the five years 2015-2019, a figure of €553 million was given. This equates to €111 million being reduced through digressively annually.

 

“In 2016 direct payments amount to €41 billion, making the prospective savings gained that year a little over a quarter of 1%.  This is hardly the necessary radical rebalancing of payments that the Commission promised.

 

“The response to a written question I submitted to Commissioner Hogan unearths the true extent of the measures inadequacy.  The information provided clarifies that for the two years for which figures are available less than €200 million has been redistributed; €98 million in 2016 and down to 79 million in 2017.

 

“On those figures, by the end of 2019, the target will have been fell short of by over €100 million.  This is €100million that could and should have been redistributed to farmers currently receiving lower payments.

 

“Such underwhelming results should provide the Commission with the impetus to finally address the inequalities in farm payments through the new CAP process.  Unfortunately Phil Hogan’s proposals simply tweak a broken system rather than attempt to fix the inherent unfairness that sees 80% of CAP payments go to the wealthiest 20% of farm enterprises.

 

“Plans for putting in place an upper payment limit capping in the new CAP have been deliberately riddled with loopholes to such an extent that representatives of the European Commission have informed me, in an assuring way, that larger payment recipients will not be affected by the changes to any great extent.

 

“The CAP process is failing to support those farmers who need it most in order to protect the wealthiest and largest farm enterprises.  This needs to change.

 

“I, and Sinn Fein, will continue to campaign for a fairer distribution of farm payments so that we can guarantee Irish farmers a viable future for generations to come”.

ENDS

 

‘Irish Government fails to apply for EU Transport Revision despite PfG commitment’ – Matt Carthy MEP

‘Irish Government fails to apply for EU Transport Revision despite PfG commitment’ – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has accused the government of breaking its commitment to address the transport shortfalls in rural Ireland including through a revision of the TEN-T CORE network to include a reinstatement of the Western Rail Corridor which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had removed while being the Minister responsible.

 

Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee, revealed this week that he has received confirmation from the European Commission that the Irish government has not sought to review its TEN-T priorities despite a commitment to do so in the 2016 Programme for a Partnership Government.

 

Speaking following correspondence with the European Commission, Matt Carthy said:

 

“In the 2016 Programme for Government Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Independent TDs supporting the arrangement agreed:

‘In the first three months the new Government will apply to the European Union for the revision of the TEN-T CORE Network, including applying for the reinstatement of the crossborder Western Arc’.

 

“My contact with the European Commission has confirmed my suspicions that the Irish government has not applied for a review, in any shape or form, of Ireland’s TEN-T CORE Network.

 

“The commitments made to rural communities by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil at the time of the formation of the confidence and supply agreement obviously count for little.

 

“When I sought information from the Commission relating to the application, which was promised within three months of the formation of the government, the European Commission informed me that has been no moves to seek a review on the part of the Irish government.

 

“Ireland’s current TEN-T CORE map excludes the cross-border Western Arc, meaning that these regions are excluded from even applying for any substantial transport funding from the EU.  This exclusion is, of course, a direct result of Leo Varadkar’s intervention to remove the Western Rail Corridor from Ireland’s TEN-T map in 2011.

 

“That Fianna Fáil continue to engage with the confidence and supply agreement despite the failure to address key provisions of the Programme for Government, especially those relating to rural communities makes them complicit in this scandal of neglect.  Of course, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have a record of decades of underinvestment in transport provision especially in the Border, Western and Midlands regions.

 

“The European Commission does not intend to carry out a review of the TEN-T core network until 2023.  With the inaction of the current government that could mean that EU transport funding will be closed off to the Irish regions that need it most for the next five years.

 

“That is not good enough.  A strong Irish government position could force a review earlier, despite Commission reluctance.

 

“I, and my Sinn Fein colleagues in the European Parliament, the Dáil and the affected council areas will continue to demand for TEN-T funding to reach rural Ireland and in particular for the Western Rail Corridor to be developed.”

 

 

NOTE: Correspondence from European Commission to Matt Carthy MEP attached.

ENDS

 

 

Carthy welcomes adoption of Medicated Feed Regulation

Carthy welcomes adoption of Medicated Feed Regulation

 

Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has welcomed the recent adoption by the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee of a new regulation on medicated feed.

 

Carthy commented this week:

 

“This is a positive conclusion to what is another important step in the battle against antimicrobial resistance. As the shadow rapporteur of this file, I worked to ensure that this it was congruent with the Antimicrobial Resistance and Veterinary Medicated Products files.

 

“The regulation will cover the manufacture, placing on the market and use of medicated feed for animals.  It will also update and harmonise existing rules.  We need to be very careful that animals do not build up a tolerance to antibiotics through overtreatment, if we want antibiotics to be effective for both animals and humans.  The only way to do this is though effective regulation of the products that contain antimicrobials, such as medicated feed.

 

“A lot of debate occurred during the negotiating stage on existing conditions in a herd before use is authorised, this concluded with the banning of what is known as prophylaxis, treating groups of animals as a preventative measure, when no symptoms are detected.  Farmers will continue to be allowed to treat groups of animals when the spread of infection is high, due to an animal in the group being infected.

 

“In all cases, only a veterinarian will issue prescriptions for medicated feed containing antibiotics and only after a proper physical examination and diagnosis.  The rules will also extend to top dressing prepared by farmers and medicated water.

 

“Throughout these discussions I have been mindful how delicate this balance must be, the regulation must provide very technical rules to deal with issues such as cross contamination, but we do not wish for such technically to become a barrier to farmers taking immediate steps to treat infected animals.

 

“Irish farmers will have a genuine concern that animals being imported into the EU will be subject to the same rules as here.  The is particularity relevant given the EU continues to seek a free trade deal with Mercosur countries which includes Brazil, a country where long term preventative use in animals has been reported to be commonplace.

 

“The agreement negotiated between EU institutions confirms that non-EU farmers will respect conditions relating to antimicrobial resistance if the animals are to be exported to the EU.  This is, of course, a welcome development.

 

“This regulation will now be voted on at a full plenary session of the European Parliament in the Autumn.  It is likely to secure the requisite  endorsement of MEPs and in turn provide the clarity necessary for farmers and vets and also assist in the battle to deal with increased resistance to antibiotics which could potentially cost millions of human lives worldwide”.

ENDS

 

Matt Carthy MEP seeks explanations on Castleblayney Mart Closure

Matt Carthy MEP seeks explanations on Castleblayney Mart Closure

Matt Carthy MEP meeting Monaghan IFA
Matt Carthy MEP meeting with regional representatives of the IFA

Local MEP Matt Carthy is seeking answers from the Minister for Justice regarding details of events leading to the closure of Castleblayney Mart.  Carthy who met with regional representatives of the IFA recently said he was concerned by reports that Castleblayney Mart was operating without a PSRA licence since March 2017 but this was unknown to patrons until after its closure of  in April this year.  It now appears that dozens of farmers have been directly affected in a time of already heightened uncertainty with issues like Brexit, Fodder shortages and unpredictable weather making life  difficult for those making a living through agriculture.

It is believed that some farmers are owed as much as €200,000, whilst over €300,000 is allegedly owed to to people who have paid deposits, including on agricultural land.

Speaking on Friday, MEP Carthy confirmed that he was written to the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, seeking answers.  He has also called on Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, to intervene on behalf of those farmers owed monies.

 

Matt Carthy stated:

 

“Castleblayney Mart has been a staple of the farming community here in Co. Monaghan and further afield for many years, established in 1963, the mart has held thousands of livestock auctions over the years.  Alongside the popular livestock mart a real estate sales, letting and valuation business was also in operation with plant and machinery auctions held.

 

“Unfortunately Castleblayney Mart began to experience difficulties, and their PSRA licence was removed in March 2017. Unknown to their customers the mart continued to operate without a licence until eventually going into liquidation.  The closure has had severe consequences for the customers who continued to trade in Castleblayney Mart unsuspectingly putting their faith in the PSRA whose main function is to control and regulate Property Services Providers including Auctioneers/Estate Agents, Letting Agents and management Agents.

 

“I have worryingly been informed by the IFA locally that farmers who sold livestock in Castleblayney Mart are owed as much as €200,000, with amounts owed varying from around €300 to as high as €8,500.  The IFA have also indicated that in excess of €300,000 is owed to people who placed deposits on property with the auctioneering company.

 

“The Minister must explain how and why the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) licence was removed from Castleblayney Mart and, more importantly, why patrons were not informed of this fact.

 

“This is clearly a worrying time for all involved; it goes without saying that Castleblayney Mart’s customers feel extremely let down by the PSRA and feel that more could and should have been done swiftly in order to protect them.

 

“It is therefore vital that the answers are provided and that the government intervenes to find mechanisms by which the farmers affected can receive a return of their monies.  There is an obvious need also for the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to personally intervene on behalf of the farmers affected.  I will be continuing to monitor this issue and to work on behalf of those who have unwittingly found themselves embroiled in this debacle”.

ENDS

Matt Carthy welcomes reported collapse of EU-Mercosur trade deal

Matt Carthy welcomes reported collapse of EU-Mercosur trade deal

 

The Sinn Fein MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed reports that the EU Mercosur trade deal has collapsed.  Carthy called on the Irish government to immediately examine its position on other trade deals which will damage Irish agriculture and the wider economy.

 

Matt Carthy MEP said:

 

“It seems that an EU trade deal with Mercosur countries is off the table at least for now; this will come as a great relief especially to Irish farmers who were on the cusp of being sold out by European negotiators at the behest of sectors such as the German car manufacturing industry.

 

“It comes as no surprise that transparency and food standards have being among the issues cited as leading to collapse in negotiations. It is mind boggling to think that the European Commission was prepared to offer Mercosur countries a 99,000T quota on beef in the weeks after several Brazilian factories were delisted due to sanitary concerns.

 

“However, nobody will be under no illusion that this latest development marks a change of tact on the part of EU trade Commissioner Malmstrom or her negotiators.  They have never had the interests of farmers or rural communities at heart.  The lucrativeness of the South American markets for the German automotive industry left agricultural access for south American produce a mere bargaining chip in these negotiations.

 

“Likewise it has been clear that Commissioner Phil Hogan and the Irish government continuously fail to protect Irish agriculture interests across a plethora of trade deal talks.

 

“While the news of the Mercosur talks collapsing will be welcomed in many quarters it is definitely a case of a battle won in an incomplete war.  The collapse, if confirmed, will simply prove the success of mobilised opposition to a dangerous trade deal.  Farming organisations, trade unions, small business organisations and citizens across the board must learn the lessons and campaign against other trade deals that serve only the interests of massive corporate multinationals.

 

“This week, for example, we have seen much fanfare on a EU Japan trade deal, the contents of which have been open to almost zero public debate.  That is not good enough.  The Irish government should carry out a comprehensive analysis of what the aggressive EU trade agenda will mean for our economy and specifically vulnerable sectors such as Irish agriculture”.

ENDS

Carthy Appointed EP Negotiator on Brexit Trade File

Carthy Appointed EP Negotiator on Brexit Trade File

 

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has been appointed as lead Rapporteur for a key Brexit file in the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

 

Following Brexit, the EU and Britain will have to agree on the division of concessions they have approved with third countries. In practical terms this will mean dividing up the amount of agri-produce third countries currently import to the EU. The divisions should reflect the usage share of Britain for each product.

 

Speaking following his appointment, Matt Carthy said:

 

“The EU currently has an agreement to accept almost 230,000 tonnes of sheep meat from New Zealand at a fixed tariff.  Although the agreement to accept this meat is between the EU and New Zealand, the vast majority of this fixed annual tonnage currently goes to British markets.

 

“Now that Britain has decided to leave the European Union, this, and hundreds of other Tariff Rate Quotas will have to be divided between them and remaining EU Member States.

 

“Getting the mix right here is crucial. If this, and other, Tarrif Rate Quotas (TRQs) are not divided up based on the actual amount being taken by Britain versus other EU Member States, then there will be a huge displacement of domestic products.  In a worst-case scenario, domestic markets would be flooded with products that normally would have gone to Britain.

 

“As the lead Rapporteur for AGRI on this file, I will be working with MEPs from the International Trade and Fisheries Committees to ensure that this worst case scenario is avoided.

 

“It is no secret that the British Government is seeking to entice future trading partners to ensure they don’t lose access to key markets from the moment they exit the EU. The re-apportioning of TRQs should not be exploited by the British for this purpose.

 

“It is vital that negotiating parties continue to respect the current Brexit negotiating order of priorities. This means first dealing with citizens’ rights and finding a solution to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

 

“Given the fast looming date for withdrawal and the fact that we are now just one year from the European elections, we are dealing with a much more contracted period to negotiate these TRQs than we would have thought.  However, I am committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for Irish farmers across the island of Ireland”.

ENDS  

It’s time to rein in the Big Four – Matt Carthy MEP

It’s time to rein in the Big Four – Matt Carthy MEP
 
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has commented on a new report published by the Corporate Europe Observatory today, Tuesday. Carthy is a member of the European Parliament’s special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (TAX3).
 
Writing in an op-ed in the EU Observer today, Carthy said: “The unchecked power of the Big Four accountancy firms is causing increasing unease among policymakers worldwide. The focus of much of this concern has been the role played by Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG in the global tax avoidance industry. But at the same time as they advise their corporate clients on how to shift profits offshore, the Big Four are involved in auditing the books of these same corporations – and all the while they are consulting for governments and public institutions on important policy issues.
  
“These four firms are crucial regulators of the global economic system – with the unique role of both regulating multinationals through their auditing role and simultaneously advising these same companies on how to abuse the legal system in order to avoid paying taxes – yet they are subject to minimal public scrutiny and regulation.
 
“A new report released today by the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) examines the Big Four’s channels of influence exerted through public procurement contracts, lobby vehicles, advisory groups, and their shared culture and personnel.
 
 This new research goes beyond examining the services these four firms provide to their corporate clients to looking at their role in influencing public policy in the European Union – and the findings are alarming. The report reveals layers upon layers of conflicts of interest inherent in the Big Four’s activities.
 
“Most alarming from my perspective is the massive amount of public money provided to the Big Four through public procurement contracts awarded by the European Commission, not to mention national governments. In 2016 alone, these firms received €105 million in Commission contracts to carry out evaluations, impact assessments and consultancy services on EU legislation.
 
“Why do we allow these firms to dictate public policy when they clearly have a commercial interest in ensuring tax legislation lets multinational corporations off the hook, and ensuring governments privatise state-owned enterprises to the benefit of their clients? Why do we give them public money when we know they are facilitating tax avoidance by their corporate clients, which reduces the amount of funds made available to governments?
 
“It’s time to rein in the unchecked power of the Big Four and ensure they are regulated and scrutinised. This means, at the very least, splitting up their auditing and advisory services, and reviewing the public procurement practices of the Commission and national governments as well as the lobbying activities of these firms. I fully agree with CEO’s recommendation that we must ensure there is a firewall in place between the tax avoidance industry and EU policymakers on tax issues, following the example of the steps taken to rid public policy of the influence of the tobacco lobby.” ENDS
 
Note to editors:
 
Matt Carthy’s op-ed for the EU Observer is available here: https://euobserver.com/opinion/142319
The Corporate Europe Observatory report is available here: https://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2018/07/accounting-influence

Carthy negotiates strong AGRI response to EU trade deals

Carthy negotiates strong AGRI response to EU trade deals

 

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed the stronger than previously approach to Mercosur negotiations by the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) Committee.

 

Speaking following a crucial vote in the committee recently, Carthy said:

 

“As one of the negotiators of the final text, I am pleased to see a growing number of MEPs now acknowledging the dangers that Sinn Féin have been conveying in relation to EU free trade deals.

 

“The report, titled “Harnessing Globalisation: Trade Aspects” will now be transmitted to the European Commission for consideration.

 

“The text that was adopted by AGRI MEPs contains some of the strongest wording we have seen so far from this Committee.  This should serve as a warning sign to the European Commission that there is diminishing popular support for the Mercosur trade deal and others that will cause huge difficulties for Irish and EU agriculture.

 

“Any EU-Mercosur trade deal will eventually have to be approved by the European Parliament, so it is important that Commission negotiators pay attention to the concerns of MEPs representing the Agricultural sector now, or concede to the whole deal falling through later down the line.

 

“The text that I helped to negotiate recognises that European farmers should not be exposed to competition with products that do not have to comply with the same food safety, consumer protection, animal welfare and environmental standards.

 

“There are many sectors that are already sensitive in the sense that they have been crisis-hit or are exposed to extreme price volatility. These products should be excluded from the scope of negotiations.

 

“Specifically with regard to Mercosur, the Report adopted in the AGRI Committee this week warns that there will be a direct downward pressure on prices should this deal go ahead. The cumulative impact of this and other deals are setting the sector up for disaster, and it is time the Commission stopped pressing full-steam ahead on a potentially ruinous deal.

 

“The message we are now sending could not be stronger. Remove sensitive sectors from the negotiations or scrap the deal altogether.

 

“The time for these back room and secretive trade-offs between sectors must stop.

 

“While it is welcome that we have succeeded in convincing AGRI MEPs of the need to take a stronger position on EU trade deals it is deeply worrying that the Irish government remains among the commission’s chief cheerleaders on this aggressive and dangerous EU trade agenda.  It is time for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to support Irish farmers and the Irish economy by calling a halt to these trade negotiations, especially in advance of Brexit, considering the uncertainty that remains regarding the future relationship between the EU and our largest trading partner”.

ENDS

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