Carthy to host “A Future for Irish Farming?” Event at Ploughing Championships 2019

Carthy to host “A Future for Irish Farming?” Event at Ploughing Championships 2019

Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest Matt Carthy will host a public discussion at this year’s Ploughing Championships in Carlow. The event entitled  ”A Future for Irish Farming? Stop Mercosur, Support Family Farms & Rural Communities” will take place in the Sinn Féin tent (stall: 366 – block 4 – row 17) at 11am on Thursday the 19th of September.

Ahead of the event Carthy said “Over the past number of weeks the crisis in Irish agriculture has escalated. Without our family farms the towns and villages across Ireland will not survive.  That family farm model is under threat.

That is why I, and other Sinn Féin reps, have been standing with our farmers on the picket lines.  That is why we have organised a campaign to highlight the dangers of the Mercosur and other EU trade deals and that is why we believe that it is time to break the cartels and support our farmers.

Attempts to pit low-paid workers against low-paid farmers was a predicable, if disappointing, action.  Sinn Féin will continue to support all those who face the wrath of the beef barons, the banks and the other gombeen capitalists who have been ripping off the working people of Ireland for too long.”

Thursday’s event will also feature contributions from Brian Stanley TD – Sinn Féin Agriculture Food & Marine Spokesperson and representatives from Farming Organisations such as INHFA, IFA, ICSA, ISMSA and Beef Plan Movement.

A busy three days are planned for the Sinn Féin tent at this year’s Ploughing Championships. Among the topics being discussed at this year’s panels are Brexit & Challenges for Rural Ireland , A Fairer Economy: Investing in Rural Ireland & Tackling High Insurance Costs and A Future for Irish Farming? Stop Mercosur, Support Family Farms & Rural Communities.

Be sure to drop in to the Sinn Féin tent for this series of events,and a discussion with their all Ireland teams of TDs, MLAs, MPs, MEPs and Councillors.  ENDS

Government appeal on Apple state aid case to begin next week – Matt Carthy MEP

Government appeal on Apple state aid case to begin next week – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has criticised the government for proceeding with its wasteful appeal against the European Commission’s state aid ruling on the sweetheart deals provided to technology giant Apple.  The hearing of the joint case of Apple and the Irish government against the Commission will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday (September 17-18) in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

 

Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said:  “Fine Gael is spending millions of the Irish people’s euros in an attempt to avoid recouping the €13 billion in unpaid taxes from the wealthiest corporation in the world – at a time when our health service is falling to pieces, when there are thousands of homeless families across this state and when Brexit is set to cause massive economic disruption to our country.

 

“This appeal is an act of betrayal against Irish taxpayers, families and small businesses, who don’t have the privilege of not paying their taxes and who suffer the consequences of our crumbling public services.

 

“The government claims that its appeal aims to ‘protect Ireland’s international reputation’.  This is nonsensical.  The only way to defend our international reputation is to shut down the tax avoidance scams that Ireland has become notorious for.

 

“Not only is the government appealing against this legitimate decision; it has also actively helped Apple set up a new tax avoidance structure, using the capital allowances for intellectual property, ensuring that Ireland remains at the centre of the company’s tax-dodging strategy.

 

“Our reputation continues to take a battering each year that the government fails to act.  Just last week it was reported that pharmaceutical giant Allergan’s Irish subsidiary had paid 7 billion euros out in dividends, bringing its reportable profits down to under one billion euros. But the company didn’t even pay a cent on this reduced amount because it uses the Double Irish structure with Bermuda!

 

“Also last week, the IMF released a report that placed Ireland in a list of the top 10 tax havens in the world, alongside the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Switzerland.  These countries are responsible for the growth in ‘phantom’ investments – so-called FDI that in reality passes through empty corporate shells in order to avoid tax.  The report specifically singles out Ireland over the continuing use of the Double Irish, and reports that two-thirds of our FDI is made up of these ‘phantom’ investments.

 

“If the government truly wants to restore Ireland’s reputation on the international stage then it should drop its foolish and wasteful appeal against the Apple state aid ruling and accept the money owed by the company to taxpayers. It should act, finally, to end the tax avoidance techniques we have become notorious for, starting with the Double Irish and the capital allowance regime.”

ENDS

MEP Matt Carthy welcomes new beef talks but condemns meat re-importation as ‘provocative and inflammatory’.

MEP Matt Carthy welcomes new beef talks but condemns meat re-importation as ‘provocative and inflammatory’

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the news that crisis talks aimed at resolving the beef dispute are set to resume but said it was imperative that Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, brings real and meaningful proposals to the table which will improve the situation for beef farmers.

Matt Carthy said:

“I welcome news that crisis talks aimed at resolving the beef dispute are set to resume.

“However, for any talks to be successful, it is crucial that the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, brings real and meaningful proposals to the table which improves the dire situation faced by beef farmers.

“We have seen an ever-escalating situation in this dispute so far. The move by processors, aided and abetted by An Bord Bia, to re-import beef was a seriously unhelpful and provocative action which has served merely to inflame the situation. It has also allowed the added value on Irish beef to be taken out of the economy.

“It is time that Michael Creed stood up to the bullying behaviour of the corporate processors and defended Irish agriculture and farmers, and any re-importation of beef should be stopped.

“The key to the resolution of this dispute is to ensure the sustainability of livelihoods for Irish beef farmers and that means tackling and resolving the issue of the price they receive for their produce and the dominant position of the factories and retailers in the market chain.”

“United Ireland may be the only way to minimise Brexit threat to the island” – Carthy

“United Ireland may be the only way to minimise Brexit threat to the island”

Matt Carthy MEP addresses Liam Lynch commemoration in Co. Tipperary

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that if the British government’s approach to Brexit remains unchanged, a United Ireland may be the only way to minimise the political and economic devastation a crash out, no deal threatens to cause to Ireland.

 

The Midlands North West MEP was speaking at a commemoration for Civil War Leader Liam Lynch in the Knockmealdown Mountains in Co. Tipperary on Sunday.

 

Carthy urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheál Martin to  face up to their political responsibilities by accepting the inevitability of a referendum on a United Ireland and to begin planning how to move forward, while ensuring the maximum amount of stability and cohesion on the island.

 

Carthy said:

 

“For too long our government and some political parties, particularly Fianna Fáil, have dismissed calls to engage in a process of planning for reunification.

 

“The real prospect now of a no-deal Brexit will expose that stance as nothing short of reckless irresponsibility.

 

“It is past time that the likes of Leo Varadkar and Mícheál Martin faced up to their political responsibilities.

 

“It’s time they joined the rest of us in facing up to the inevitability of a referendum on a United Ireland and began planning how to move forward, while ensuring the maximum amount of stability and cohesion on the island.

 

“So, let me say very clearly here today – a United Ireland is a legitimate, eminently sensible political objective.

 

“It is fully in line with the Good Friday Agreement which explicitly provides for a referendum in the issue.

 

“If the stated direction of the British government remains unchanged it may be the only way that we can minimise the political and economic devastation which Brexit threatens to cause on our island.”

 

Read full text of Matt Carthy’s speech below:

 

A chairde.

 

It is an honour and a privilege for me to address you here today in the Knockmealdown Mountains, where Liam Lynch was shot and fatally injured 96 years ago.

 

A fearless and dedicated republican leader, Liam Lynch was, at the time of his death in the Civil War, the IRA’s Chief of Staff.

 

During the Tan War he had served as Commandant of IRA Cork No. 2 Brigade and Commander of the 1st Southern Division.

 

In 1923 Liam and a number of his comrades were attacked here at their secret headquarters by a large force of Free State soldiers.

 

Hit by rifle fire and badly injured, yet knowing the value of documents they held, Liam ordered the other Volunteers to leave him behind.

 

Captured and taken by a stretcher made from guns, to Nugent’s pub in Newcastle, at the foot of these mountains, Liam was then brought to hospital in Clonmel where died later that evening.

 

He was laid to rest two days later at Kilcrumper Cemetery, near Fermoy.

 

The Civil War was an extremely tragic and destructive period in the history of this country which saw Irish people fighting each other, rather than the British occupier.

 

This was the direct result of a Treaty with Britain, which did not achieve the aims for which so many people had sacrificed so much.

 

The Treaty was heavily backed by big business, the media of the day and the Church hierarchy.

Those who rejected the Treaty and sought to pursue the radical vision of Easter Week, of the Proclamation and of the First Dáil, by all means necessary, faced huge practical odds.

 

They were outgunned and lacked the financial and establishment backing available to the Treaty forces.

 

What they had was an enduring commitment to a fully independent, all-Ireland republic and the support of huge swathes of ordinary people across this country.

 

Two conservative states

 

We should never forget the endurance and the sacrifices of the soldiers of ‘22 and ‘23 – the legion of the rearguard – men like Liam Lynch who stood by the Republic declared in Easter Week and who struggled bravely and selflessly to realise that objective.

 

Following the military suppression of the IRA, many of its members and their families suffered greatly from discrimination, exclusion and persecution with a great number forced to emigrate as counter revolution took hold.

 

If the Civil War was a human, political and economic tragedy – it’s longer term consequences were equally negative.

 

Instead of the egalitarian Republic – for which the Volunteers had fought so bravely and which was endorsed by the people in 1918 – two states were established on the island and were run along very conservative lines, at a great cost to ordinary people, North and South.

 

The North became a one-party, Orange State where Irish nationalists were excluded from power and denied opportunity. That power and privilege was ultimately protected by British guns.

 

A resumption of conflict in the North was merely postponed to later generations, when those unwilling to endure the continued denial of their civil rights and national rights took to the streets.

 

With peaceful demonstrators brutally suppressed by the armed militia of the Orange state, the re-emergence of the IRA was an inevitable consequence.

 

The effects of counter revolution also had profound effects in the South where the new Free State was marked by poverty, the marginalisation of women, the poor, political progressives and radicals of any kind.

 

For 80-odd years now Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have dominated politics in this State.

Both parties not only turned their backs on the people of the North, but also subjected ordinary people in the South to inequality, economic failure and mass emigration.

 

Those parties still operate in the interests of a minority of our people – the wealthy and the privileged.

 

This part of the country continues to endure a socially destructive, right-wing Government policy agenda with deep and systematic scandals in the area of housing, health and the provision of public services.

 

Rural Ireland is under systematic attack with the closure of post offices, Garda stations and other vital services as well as the undermining of our family farmers to the factories, the beef barons and multi-national corporations.

 

A strong Sinn Féin party, organised across Ireland with mass support, is the most effective vehicle to build the genuine Republic for which Liam Lynch and so many Republicans sacrificed so much.

 

Unlike Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin has a vision, grounded in genuine republican values.

 

Our aim is a United Ireland and a new republic which cherishes all our people, in all their diversity, and puts the interests of citizens first.

 

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are currently in a de facto coalition. Leo Varadkar occupies the position of Taoiseach only as a result of Fianna Fáil support.

 

There is not one jot of difference between these parties in ideological terms and only cosmetic variance in policy.

 

Both are champions of cuts to the living standards of working people, the neglect of rural Ireland and the wastage of public money.

 

Central to Sinn Féin’s objectives is to unite this island and all our people.

A United Ireland

 

Brexit is creating an entirely new dynamic in the struggle for a United Ireland.

 

A conversation on a United Ireland has begun in earnest.

 

This conversation is set to intensify in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

 

Economics, demographics and natural progress has meant that many have already been discussing what a United Ireland might look like and how it can be brought about.

 

Those discussions will become live debates in the event of a British crash-out of the European Union.

 

In the North especially, a growing number of people will see Irish unity as the only vehicle to remain part of the EU.

 

There is an onus on all political parties to come together to map out how we can bring about a United Ireland and make it a success for everyone who shares this island.

 

For too long our government and some political parties, particularly Fianna Fáil, have dismissed calls to engage in a process of planning for reunification.

 

The real prospect now of a no-deal Brexit will expose that stance as nothing short of reckless irresponsibility.

 

It is past time that the likes of Leo Varadkar and Mícheál Martin faced up to their political responsibilities.

 

It’s time they joined the rest of us in facing up to the inevitability of a referendum on a United Ireland and began planning how to move forward, while ensuring the maximum amount of stability and cohesion on the island.

 

So, let me say very clearly here today – a United Ireland is a legitimate, eminently sensible political objective.

 

It is fully in line with the Good Friday Agreement which explicitly provides for a referendum in the issue.

 

If the stated direction of the British government remains unchanged it may be the only way that we can minimise the political and economic devastation which Brexit threatens to cause on our island.

 

As we remember Liam Lynch today, let us be clear – a united Ireland and a real republic is the only fitting monument to his sacrifice.

 

And let me be equally clear that the Sinn Féin leadership of 2019 and all of us gathered at this historic location are as determined to achieve those objectives as was Liam Lynch win 1923.

 

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

“Irish Government can block Mercosur Trade Deal” – Carthy & Tully call for campaign to stop ‘disastrous’ trade deal

“Irish Government can block Mercosur Trade Deal” – Carthy & Tully call for campaign to stop ‘disastrous’ trade deal

 

“The Irish government has the power to stop Mercosur and we intend to force them to do just that”.

 

With these words Cavan Sinn Féin representative Pauline Tully opened a public meeting in the Hotel Errigal in Cootehill last Wednesday evening.  The meeting, packed to capacity, which was co-hosted by Tully and her Sinn Féin colleague Matt Carthy MEP, heard representatives of the major farm organisations outline the crisis with which Irish farming has found itself, a crisis that will exacerbate if the Mercosur trade deal is ratified.

 

In his opening remarks Carthy said that the future of the Irish family farm as we know it is under threat.  “Considering that agriculture is our most important indigenous sector that means that most towns and villages across this state are also under threat.  We have a responsibility to support our family farmers because they are the lifeblood of our local economy” he said.  He said that the threat of Brexit coupled with the price pressures that farmers are already under and the fact the European Commission is proposing a 15% cut in the CAP budget means that family farming is under unprecedented pressure.  To put the prospect of the Mercosur trade deal into the mix presents a disastrous vista, he stated.

 

Throughout the meeting reference was made to the recent series of protests organised by beef farmers.  Pauline Tully, who has regularly attended the Ballyjamesduff protests, reiterated Sinn Féin’s support and solidarity with the protesting farmers and called on the government to intervene to avoid an escalation.

 

During his comments Matt Carthy said that farmers would not be protesting, especially during the busy Summer months, unless their backs were genuinely to the wall.  “The fact that farmers have remained at factory gates for so long is evidence enough that they are at wits end” he remarked.

 

“How then, at this time of crisis for our farming communities, are we faced with the prospect of an additional 100,000 tonnes of beef from South America entering the EU market?” he asked.

 

He suggested that the answer is simple.  “Because this deal was negotiated at the behest of the German government in the interests of their car manufacturing sector.  Irish governments should have done what the Germans did, ie put their country’s interests first!”  Carthy pointed out that a Fianna Fáil government gave the mandate to the European Commission to negotiate this deal back in 1999 and even then they knew that the outcome could only be bad for Irish agriculture.  Several governments since could have withdrawn Ireland’s support for the talks and brought them to a halt but none did.  “But”, he contended, “there is one last chance!”

 

The Sinn Féin MEP explained that the European Commissioner responsible for trade Cecilia Malmstrom has confirmed that the deal is a ‘mixed agreement’.  That means that it needs to be ratified by every government and national parliament.  In effect, Ireland has a veto.  “Considering that the Dáil has already voted in favour of a Sinn Féin motion calling for the rejection of Mercosur the government has an obligation to inform the commission that it will veto”.

 

Carthy said:  “This deal will devastate the Irish beef sector.  It will be disastrous for the poultry sector, so important to Cavan Monaghan.  It will be bad for the pigmeat sector and brings no benefits to any indigenous industries, including Dairy despite what has been suggested.  It is designed to benefit the German car industry and multinational corporations.  There is nothing in this deal for Ireland.

 

“Mercosur exposes the hypocrisy of political leaders on climate change.  To suggest that farmers in Ireland, who are among the most sustainable in the world, should curtail production while then supporting the importation of Hundreds of Thousands of tonnes of meat from the far end of the world – where rain forests are being literally burnt to the ground to allow for expansion – is ludicrous and deeply insulting to the intelligence of the people of Europe”.

 

“The Irish government must reject Mercosur and they must do it now” he insisted.

 

Farm Organisations

 

The strength of feeling on the Mercosur deal was evident in the fact that all farm organisations present; the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), the Irish Cattle & Sheep farmers Association (ICSA) and the Beef Plan Movement were united in echoing the Sinn Féin call for the agreement to be rejected by the Irish government.

 

Nigel Renaghan, the Ulster/ North Leinster Regional chair of the IFA stated that his organisation intend to campaign against the deal because Europe is already 102% self-sufficient in beef and there can be no argument for agreeing to supplant this with lower quality beef from Latin America.  He also pointed out that although the biggest threat contained in the deal is the risk it poses to the beef sector, it also contains 180,000 tonnes of poultry. As a poultry farmer, he is very aware of the destabilising impact this could have.

 

Eamon Corley, representing the Beef Plan Movement spoke about the journey the organisation has underwent over the last 12 months which culminated in the statewide factory protests over the Summer months.

 

Corley said that farmers feel this is a last stand, the price they are being offered of €3.45 per kg is far below the cost of production and he has been taking calls from farmers who are facing a real prospect of having to stop farming as it has become completely unsustainable.  He described the frustration of the outcome of discussions with Meat Industry Ireland and the Minister, both failing to recognise that farmers are at breaking point and a new, fairer pricing system must be found.

 

Edmund Graham, National Beef Chairperson of the ICSA recounted his outrage at the discussions when Meat Industry Ireland made its offer.  He asked the pertinent question “Where is the rest of it?!” when they wrote their offer on a white board.  He said that every farmer needs a better price for their product and that the offer made by the industry was insulting.  He agreed that Mercosur, if adopted, could be the final straw for the beef sector in Ireland.

 

Mr. Graham’s colleague and ISCA Beef Vice-chairman, John Cleary, endorsed this position and also spoke about his dissatisfaction with the talks.  He mentioned farmers have an ageing profile, with the average age now 69.  Urgent action was required if the Irish Family Farm model was to survive, he said.

 

Lively Discussion

 

In a lively, and often heated, debate, members of the audience repeatedly expressed their frustration with what was descried by one contributor as “the sell-out of farmers by this government”.

 

Many were surprised by the contention by Matt Carthy that the government can put a stop to the Mercosur deal – “For Gods sake, why haven’t they done it so?” asked one person passionately.  The response was stark, the government will reject the deal if the political pressure is strong enough.  Carthy urged all farmers to exert maximum pressure on all elected representatives “but especially Fine Gael and the Fianna Fáil reps who are keeping them in power”.

 

A number of those present had attended protests (some had to leave the meeting early to return to the Ballyjamesduff picket.  One asked Nigel Renaghan whether the IFA would support any farmer who ends up in court over the current protests. Reneghan confirmed that the IFA was already in court with a barrister and solicitor ready to defend farmers being threatened with injunctions by the meat factories.  All other farm reps confirmed that they would stand with and support any farmers who face legal proceedings.

 

They were also several proposals from the floor to rebalance the scales in favour of the farmers.  Suggestions were made for beef farmers to examine the possibility of establishing a co-op factory and many voiced support for the Sinn Féin proposal to ban below cost selling by retailers.

 

Much ire was directed towards Ireland’s commissioner, Phil Hogan, with one farmer suggesting that the government’s decision to reappoint him just a week after the announcement of the Mercosur deal was a deeply cynical and insulting move.  He claimed that Phil Hogan had betrayed Irish farmers in the interest of self-promotion, his advocacy for the Mercosur deal may well have endeared him to many in the hierarchy of the European Commission but lost him any remaining support from Irish farmers.

 

Matt Carthy closed the meeting by committing, in conjunction with the farm organisations, to apply pressure to the Irish Government to reject Mercosur.  In articulating Sinn Féin’s proposals to address the holistic challenges facing Irish farmers he outlined what he called were the 3Fs required: A Fair price for product, Fair play for farmers when dealing with the Department, and a Fair CAP which distributes direct payments towards the farmers that need it most.  He confirmed that he, Pauline Tully and the Sinn Féin team including Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin would continue to work for this radical action on behalf of the family farmers of Ireland.

 

Matt Carthy’s campaign against the Mercosur trade deal and in favour of a new dispensation for farmers and rural communities also saw packed crowds at public meetings he co-hosted in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal and Maam Cross, Co. galway.

 

This campaign, clearly, is only going to intensify.

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“EU must ensure safety of Irish peacekeepers under fire from Israel” – Matt Carthy

EU must ensure safety of Irish peacekeepers under fire from Israel” – Matt Carthy

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has slammed the Israeli government for putting the lives of hundreds of Irish peacekeepers at risk over the weekend by launching bomb attacks in southern Lebanon, and demanded the EU take action to ensure the safety of its citizens.

 

Carthy, MEP for the Midlands North West, said: “In recent weeks, the Israel Defence Force has launched unprovoked air strikes against positions in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

 

“On September 1, an Irish battalion of 450 peacekeeping troops came under Israeli mortar fire for several hours when the IDF fired around 100 bombs on sites near the Lebanese town of Maroun al-Ras. The battalion is part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission, authorised by the UN Security Council, and includes 10 peacekeepers from Malta.

 

“The hundreds of Irish peacekeepers come from across 29 counties, including many deployed from Finner Camp in Donegal.

 

“The Israeli government has not only launched illegal airstrikes against three sovereign states, but has directly endangered the lives of hundreds of EU peacekeepers operating under the auspices of the UN.

 

“I have written to the European Commission demanding an appropriate response to Israel for putting the lives of EU citizens at serious risk by its illegal aggression.

 

“The Commission must act swiftly to ensure safety of peacekeeping troops from EU member states from Israeli fire in Lebanon. The EU should suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement until it complies with all relevant international laws, including the international laws of war that provide protections for civilians and UN peacekeeping forces. Israeli membership of the Euromed agreement should also be suspended on this basis.” ENDS

 

Post-Brexit, EU must change direction – Matt Carthy MEP

 Post-Brexit, EU must change direction – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the European Parliament needs to be radically reformed if it is to earn the trust of citizens across Europe.  Carthy was speaking at a debate entitled “Is the social Heart of Europe still beating?” during the Roger Casement Summer School in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday.

 

The Midlands North West representative told the gathering that “The European Union was an economic project from the start and one that was led by a European elite as opposed to the people of Europe.  The people of the European member states while permitting this to happen had little input into how it developed.  While in many cases the European Union has had positive impacts on the lives of the people of Europe, the social agenda was never at the heart of the European project. It was first and foremost an economic project serving the economic interest of the large European states”.

 

He said that Brexit has shown that there are two extremes in Europe:

 

“One of them is the xenophobic, racist, isolationist right wing elements – they want to bring the house-of-cards down, to scupper any semblance of solidarity.  But the other extreme is often that self described ‘centre’ because what they want to do is what they always intended only to do it faster and with even less democratic oversight than was originally intended.  Their answer to every question is more Europe, more federalisation, less national democracy, less accountability.  Peoples across Europe have repeatedly let it be known that this is not the type of EU they want or support and in many respects it is the unrelentless drive of this agenda that has facilitated the growth in the far right.

 

“On the other hand, it has been progressive left parties like Sinn Féin who have articulated an alternative way, a better way, a more democratic way.  Sometimes it has been difficult to have this alternative vision heard primarily because any criticism of the EU is brushed aside as being ‘anti-European’.

 

“Our role in campaigning for a remain vote in the north during the Brexit referendum and in subsequently advocating for that majority vote in the six counties to be respected, I think, has allowed people to see that Sinn Féin’s vision is indeed one of Ireland’s place being in Europe but continuing to seek the radical reform that the EU desperately needs”.

 

“It’s my view that a social Europe is possible – it’s my ambition that Irish political representatives will work together to achieve it”.

 

Full text of Matt Carthy’s opening remarks to the debate:

“Is the Social heart of Europe still beating?”

 

Thanks to Roger Cole and to the other organisers for inviting me to be here today at this Summer School which remembers the legacy of Roger Casement – an Irish republican who played a crucial role in the struggle for Irish freedom and a social campaigner who stood up for the indigenous people the Congo and the Amazon appallingly exploited by European colonisers.

 

Brussels, to which I travel most weeks, as part of my role as an MEP was once at the heart of the scandal which Roger Casement was crucial in exposing. It is sobering to realise that the part of the wealth and grandeur of that city was built on the brutal exploitation exposed by Casement.

 

But when Casement travelled to the Congo and helped expose the unparalleled brutality of King Leopold’s forces in the ‘Belgian’ Congo, Leopold was being lauded by anti-slavery groups and other philanthropists who believed his claims about the benevolent role of his forces in the Congo.

 

Things are not always as they seem.

 

The question “Is the social heart of Europe still beating” starts with an assumption that the social agenda has in the past been central to the European Union project.

The European Union was an economic project from the start and one that was led by a European elite as opposed to the people of Europe.  The people of the European member states while permitting this to happen had little input into how it developed.  While in many cases the European Union has had positive impacts on the lives of the people of Europe, the social agenda was never at the heart of the European project. It was first and foremost an economic project serving the economic interest of the large European states.

 

In 1973 Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC), what was ostensibly a free trade organisation.   Today we are part of a political union where many of those in key positions of power aspire to create a federal state with not only a common currency but also tax raising powers and an EU army.   Among these is the incoming president of the EU Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen.

 

The EU has become characterised by arrogance and bureaucracy.  Lobbying and the influence of corporate interests have been corrosive for the social agenda in the EU.  The effect of corporate lobbyists in watering down progressive social and environmental legislation is well documented.  The EU institutions are subject to a level of corporate lobbying that would make a Washington insider blush. There are 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels alone with lobbyists estimated to impact on over seventy per cent of all EU legislation.

 

I, and Sinn Féin, believe in the concept of a European Union.  We believe that it is possible and commendable to create a Europe of equal member states working together in their common interests and in the best interests of their citizens as opposed to corporations or elite special interest groups.  In order to deliver that we need to be honest about the failings of the current institutions.

 

While the EU is keen to hold itself up as a project of peace and defender of human rights, there are serious questions to answer regarding the treatment of refugees fleeing war, the situation of political prisoners particularly in Catalonia, and the EU’s complicity in the perpetration of abuses elsewhere through its economic and political ties.  Its response to Viktor Orban’s dismantling of democracy in Hungary has been pathetic – we have to ask why the Christian Democrats of which Fine Gael is a member have not kicked Orban’s party out of the group?  But then again Ursula Von Der Leyen would not have been elected as President of the EU Commission without the support of Orban’s Fidez party or the Polish Law and Justice party.

 

And then look at the EU’s willingness to negotiate the Mersecor Trade deal with the Fascist Bolsanaro government in Brazil despite his war on the Amazon and its people that echoes the exploitation of the Amazonian people exposed by Roger Casement.

 

The eurocrisis was a severe blow to the idea of solidarity between member states and between the peoples of Europe.  And to the idea of the EU as a benevolent actor, acting in the best interests of member states.  Protecting ordinary citizens, workers, social protections or public services was not the priority.  The social heart did not beat for the people of Greece, Ireland or other peripheral states coping with austerity imposed upon them by European institutions.  In fact weaker, smaller and peripheral member states took a kicking from the EU and its institutions.

 

Let’s be clear: EU-imposed austerity had devastating consequences – patients were dying in Greece as the public health system disintegrated under the unbearable burden of EU-imposed austerity.  In Ireland a generation of young people left while we continue to carry a disproportionate burden of the European banking crisis.

 

Sinn Féin’s criticisms of the European Union are consistent and constructive.  We want a European Union that listens to the concerns of the people of Europe who are increasingly alienated from a project that is not delivering for them.

 

I would argue that the people of Europe want a different kind of European Union – they want a social Europe.  One built on real solidarity that delivers social and economic improvements for all.  That plays a positive and leading role in the wider world, particularly on issues such as tackling climate breakdown.

 

We have a lot of work to do if we are to put the social agenda at the heart of the EU project.   It means challenging the ideologically foundations of much of the EU project- the social heart of the EU will not beat while neoliberalism remains a dominant ideology underlying institutions and laws, including fiscal rules, of the European union.

 

The policies that result from this ideology have created widespread hardship as austerity, deregulation and privatisation have undermined the social function of states and the rights of workers.  It has created winners and losers, precarious employment, wealth inequality (including inequality between core and peripheral states), debt dependent growth and privatised public services.

 

As we enter, potentially, a post-Brexit scenario, there are two visions for the future of the European Union.

 

One is for an increasingly integrated and federal European Union empowering corporations and disempowering citizens, characterised by bureaucracy and red tape, increased military spending and a growing alienation from the people of Europe.

 

The other vision is for a social Europe that puts people first.   But this requires a complete change of direction.

Powers will have to be returned to states.

Brussels will have to be cleaned up and democratised.

 

We cannot have winners and losers.  The failed economic model must change.  The privatisation agenda must end.

 

The federalists will have to be reined back in and made to listen to what the people of the member states actually want.

The European Union must be radically reformed to become a cooperative union of nation states committed to working together for progressive social and economic change. We should be working together on common issues such as taking ambitious action on climate change, advancing social and employment rights across Europe, building a system of fair trade and using our common strengths to improve the lives of citizens.

 

In the period since Brexit became part of our everyday vocabulary there has been a lot of talk about the ‘extremes’.  The self described ‘centre’ often try to pit the extremes as the Hard-Right, including the Brexiteers, and progressive left forces.

 

There are extremes in European politics and one of them is the xenophobic, racist, isolationist right wing elements – they want to bring the house-of-cards down, to scupper any semblance of solidarity.  But the other extreme is often that self described ‘centre’ because what they want to do is what they always intended only to do it faster and with even less democratic oversight than was originally intended.  Their answer to every question is more Europe, more federalisation, less national democracy, less accountability.  Peoples across Europe have repeatedly let it be known that this is not the type of EU they want or support and in many respects it is the unrelentless drive of this agenda that has facilitated the growth in the far right.

 

On the other hand, it has been progressive left parties like Sinn Féin who have articulated an alternative way, a better way, a more democratic way.  Sometimes it has been difficult to have this alternative vision heard primarily because any criticism of the EU is brushed aside as being ‘anti-European’.

 

Our role in campaigning for a remain vote in the north during the Brexit referendum and in subsequently advocating for that majority vote in the six counties to be respected, I think, has allowed people to see that Sinn Féin’s vision is indeed one of Ireland’s place being in Europe but continuing to seek the radical reform that the EU desperately needs.

 

It’s my view that a social Europe is possible – it’s my ambition that Irish political representatives will work together to achieve it.

ENDS

LacPatrick Job Losses “a huge blow to Monaghan” – Matt Carthy MEP

LacPatrick Job Losses “a huge blow to Monaghan” – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Co. Monaghan based MEP, Matt Carthy, has described the announced job losses at LacPatrick Dairies as a huge blow to the region.  He called on government Ministers and agencies to intervene in a bid to save jobs if possible.

 

Matt Carthy said:

 

“The announcement of 68 job losses at LacPatrick Dairies in Monaghan is a huge blow to the workers involved and their families.  It is also a significant blow to the Co. Monaghan economy that depends so heavily on indigenous employers due to the failure of state agencies to promote this county to outside investors.

 

“The decision is particularly galling as many of us, as elected representatives, cautiously supported the recent merger between LacPatrick and Lakeland Dairies on the basis that these jobs could be saved.

 

“We now need all state agencies, and the Minister with responsibility local TD Heather Humphreys, to outline any advance detail of these losses before this announcement and of any actions they intend to take to save any of the jobs affected now.

 

“We also need the government to instruct all state agencies, including the IDA who have by-in-large ignored Co. Monaghan for years, to prioritise this county for outside investment.

 

“For now, our thoughts are with the workers affected and their families. It is imperative that they are provided with all necessary supports and we will be watching closely to see the packages provided in any redundancy terms”.

ENDS

Minister must demand that Meat industry stop court actions – Matt Carthy MEP

Minister must demand that Meat industry stop court actions – Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called on the meat industry to stop wasting time and money in the courts and to instead engage with farmers and address their concerns.

Carthy also called on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to intervene to ensure meaningful talks begins as soon as possible and that he demand that the industry halt their unhelpful legal actions.

Speaking as meat companies continue to seek enforcement orders for injunctions against farmers who are picketing their factories Mr Carthy said;

“The meat industry needs to back off the farmers who are simply trying to protect their livelihoods.  The prospect of farmers being jailed for protesting for better conditions is akin to imprisoning other workers for going on strike – those days should be over.

“Instead of wasting time and money in the courts the meat companies should instead engage with farmers and address their concerns in a meaningful manner.

“Minister Creed should intervene immediately and ensure that meaningful talks, that address the core issue of the price paid to farmers for their cattle, begin as soon as possible.  By all accounts the previous talks process was farcical – we need a process that addresses the lack of transparency, the un-competitive practices and the arbitrary rules of the factories.  The end result must be a better price system for our primary producers.”

ENDS

Campaign against Mercosur trade deal intensifies as Carthy announces Cavan, Donegal and Galway public meeting details

Campaign against Mercosur trade deal intensifies as Carthy announces Cavan, Donegal and Galway public meeting details

 

The campaign against the controversial EU-Mercosur trade deal is due to intensify as Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has announced that he will be hosting a series of public information meetings on the subject this week and next week in the Midlands Northwest constituency.

 

The Midlands Northwest MEP along with local Sinn Fein representatives from each county will host the events in Cootehill, Co. Cavan on Wednesday the 28th of August, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal on Thursday the 29th of August and Maam Cross, Co. Galway on Monday September 2nd.

 

Speaking ahead of the events, MEP Carthy said “We are reaching a critical juncture in the fight against the Mercosur trade deal. The EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom has now confirmed that the deal will require the unanimous support of all member states.”

 

Sinn Fein recently tabled a Dáil motion that the EU-Mercosur trade deal be rejected because of the devastating impact it will have on the environment, the Irish economy and on crucial indigenous sectors, especially agriculture. This motion was adopted and it is imperative that political pressure is exerted to ensure that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil adhere to it and reject this deal at EU level.

 

“We know the pressures that Irish family farmers are already under, pressures that forced them onto the picket lines at factory gates in recent weeks. With so many operating at a loss, and with the threats of Brexit looming large it is nonsensical that the EU is contemplating the importation of 100,000 tonnes of additional beef.”

 

Carthy continued “Rural Ireland has been under sustained attack for decades. The Mercosur trade deal must mark the juncture when rural communities fight back.  It’s time for us to take a stand and send a clear message that we will not allow our communities to be decimated by corporate greed. I have been working at an EU level in opposition to the EU-Mercosur deal, and it is vitally important we tackle the issue at a local level too. I hope the people of Midlands Northwest come out in force at these public meetings to show that the political opposition to this deal will only intensify.”

 

The “Stop Mercosur!” public meetings will feature contributions from many Farm organisation Representatives. All are welcome. Full details below:

 

Stop Mercosur! Public Meetings

 

Wedneday – August 28th – 8.30pm

Errigal Hotel, Cootehill, Co. Cavan

 

Thursday – August 29th – 8.30pm

Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

 

Monday – September 2nd – 8.30pm

Peacocke Hotel, Maam Cross, Co. Galway

 

ENDS

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