Fianna Fáil Attack smacks of Pathetic Desperation

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has described attacks on him by Fianna Fáil EU candidate Brendan Smith as pathetic and said they smack of desperation.

Matt Carthy said:

Brendan Smith has issued a pathetic attack on me that smacks of desperation due to the fact that his own campaign thus far has been such a flop.  

“I am proud to be standing in this election on the basis of my record.  This is in stark contrast to Brendan who has been eager to avoid any mention of his record of failure in that Fianna Fáil government that crashed the economy and where, as Minister for Agriculture, Brendan proved disastrous for family farmers especially through his ending of the important REPS scheme and his cuts to ANC payments.

“Sinn Féin’s record of fighting for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations is clear.  Border communities know our record and they know we can be trusted to put Irish interests first at all times.

“We will never play political games with Brexit, as Fianna Fáil are now doing, because we recognise the need for all-party cooperation on this issue – Brendan needs to recognise the importance of putting aside narrow party political interests on this crucial matter if he wishes to portray himself as a prospective MEP.

“I want to be re-elected to continue important work at European level on behalf of the people of the Midlands North West.  I cannot predict the future but my focus if re-elected will be on continuing to fight for Ireland and delivering as an MEP on key issues such as curbing the free rein that Fianna Fáil gave the banks and vulture funds and ensuring that EU funding is directed to the communities in Ireland that need it and not wasted on the creation of an EU army which is supported by Fianna Fáil’s group in the European Parliament.” 

ENDS

Sinn Féin has led defence of Ireland against Brexit

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has outlined his party’s record of delivering for Ireland in Europe with respect to the challenges presented by Brexit since 2016.

The Midlands North West representative said:

“Sinn Féin MEPs have played a crucial role of providing political leadership in response to Brexit since 2016.

“We advocated a Remain vote in the referendum while others, some who are now EU candidates, recklessly promoted the Tory Brexit agenda.

“It was the Sinn Féin team in Brussels that brought Irish concerns, particular concerns regarding the border, and the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement, to the heart of Brexit deliberations.

“While others accused us of being naïve when we first raised the notion of special status for the north, our efforts ensured that that became, essentially, the position of the Irish government and subsequently the EU.

“Sinn Féin MEPs have also played a constructive role in helping shape the Withdrawal Agreement, which includes the backstop.

“There can be no dilution of that provision; it represents the least worst option for our country. Anything less is a major threat to the Good Friday Agreement, to our rights and to our economy.

“We cannot tolerate the North being excluded from the customs union or single market. We cannot return to borders of the past.

“We have been advocating since 2016 for a Brexit relief fund for Ireland, including an automatic mechanism that can easily be triggered in the event of tariffs being instated, significant currency fluctuations or other Brexit-related shocks.

“We have called on the EU to establish such a fund, and to suspend state aid rules that would prevent the Irish government from providing support to crucial sectors that will be negatively impacted by Brexit.

“Returning a strong Sinn Féin team to the European Parliament means that we can continue to fight to ensure there is no dilution of the backstop, and to ensure that people in the North continue to have representation in Brussels and enjoy their full rights as EU citizens.

“We will continue our work of calling on EU leaders to adopt a position in favour of the reunification of Ireland under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Fianna Fáil complicit in squandering billions in Broadband Debacle

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has slammed the government for squandering of billions on euro on the National Broadband Plan, and labelled Fianna Fáil as being “complicit” in the debacle.

Carthy, EU candidate for Midlands North West, said:

“This government’s mismanagement of the provision of a vital infrastructure for rural Ireland once again exposes Fine Gael’s utter disregard for people living in rural areas.

“The revelation in recent days that taxpayers will pay up to €3 billion, while private equity fund Granahan McCourt will invest just €200 million and at the end of the project will own the infrastructure, is absolutely scandalous.

“The result is that billions of euros of taxpayer funded infrastructure will be handed over to a private bidder – and that this company could walk at any moment with little to lose. The risks involved in this plan were pointed out to the government in by its own senior officials.

“That the Taoiseach has dismissed Sinn Féin’s cost-effective alternative proposal – a Dáil motion that calls for the appointment of ESB to deliver high-speed broadband to every home, farm and business in rural Ireland – adds insult to injury.

“This situation could have been easily avoided if the government delivered the service through a state-funded scheme. Despite its criticism of the National Broadband Plan, Fianna Fáil is complicit in this farce by continuing to prop up this government.

“Sinn Féin’s alternative plan would ensure the infrastructure paid for by the public stays in public hands. It would deliver value for money and, crucially, it would deliver high quality broadband for the half a million households in rural communities who are still without it – after years of neglect.

“We need to intervene now to stop this mess from getting worse. Fianna Fáil needs to support Sinn Féin’s motion to appoint the ESB to deliver broadband to rural communities. Anything else would be pure hypocrisy, and a betrayal of rural Ireland.”

A vote for Fine Gael is a vote for Vulture Funds

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that a vote for Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil in the European elections is a vote for vulture funds which will worsen the current housing crisis.

The Midlands North West candidate said that stopping an EU directive on non-performing loans which promotes vulture funds, exacerbating the current housing crisis, will be top of Sinn Féin’s agenda in the next European Parliament. The directive is being supported by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s EU political groups.

Speaking Monday at the launch of Sinn Féin’s manifesto for the European elections, Matt Carthy said:

“In March, the United Nations wrote a scathing letter to the Irish Government, pointing out that homelessness has increased exponentially in the Irish state between 2015 and 2018.

“The UN authors single out the specific policies that have caused the crisis, including the sale by the state-controlled banks of mortgages to US vulture funds.

“We are now in the situation where international investors are buying up new housing units and hoarding land – deliberately restricting supply in order to inflate rent and prices.

“The new property bubble, caused by government policy, has priced an entire generation out of buying a house.

“Unfortunately, the role of the EU institutions, particularly the ECB, has been one of undermining the rights of homeowners and borrowers, to the benefit of the banks and vulture funds.

“Now, we are dealing with a major new proposal from the European Commission aimed at ‘developing a secondary market’ for bad loans.

“The proposed directive, which promotes vulture funds will be voted on by the incoming European Parliament. It is being supported by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s political groups.

“I have been sounding the alarm for several months now about this proposed EU Directive which is designed to promote the use of vulture funds in order to move bad debt off the banks’ balance sheets and into the secretive and unregulated shadow banking sector.

“The proposal is nothing less than a second bailout for the banks. Its main goal is to ensure the banks can return to making massive profits again.

“It will lead to more evictions, more harassment of homeowners by debt collectors, and more housing stress and homelessness.  It will also pose major new risks to financial stability.

“I succeeded in preventing this proposal from being rammed through the European Parliament in April, as had been attempted. But it should not just be postponed – it should be binned.

“Those campaigning here in Ireland for better protections for homeowners and farmers against evictions and vultures are calling on the Irish Government to reject this proposal at the Council level.

“However, by voting for Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil in these elections, people will be voting for the promotion of vulture funds. It’s that simple.

“Fine Gael has actively promoted the financialisation of housing by inviting in the foreign funds, and granting them a light-touch regulatory framework and special tax treatment.

“All parties and independents claiming to support action to end the housing crisis need to put their money where their mouth is and support Pearse Doherty’s ‘No Consent, No Sale’ bill in the Dáil.

“Across the Midlands North West constituency, communities are demanding a fundamental step-change in the government’s approach to the banks and vultures – and for emergency measures to be implemented that will tackle the housing and homelessness crisis immediately and effectively.

“Sinn Féin is standing with these communities and campaigning for policies that will benefit the people and not the banks and vultures at the local, state and EU level.

“This makes the return of the strongest team of Sinn Féin MEPs to the European Parliament all the more important for the Irish people.”

Carthy: All of Ireland should be free of fracking

Carthy: All of Ireland should be free of fracking

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for an all-Ireland ban on fracking in response to the announcement by Australian energy firm Tamboran that it has applied once again for an exploration license that could lead to fracking in Fermanagh, despite failing to succeed in its previous application due to community opposition.

 

Carthy, EU candidate for the Midlands North West, said: “The people of Fermanagh have already made their views on fracking clear – they firmly rejected Tamboran’s previous application to frack shale gas near Belcoo in 2014.  Their views are shared by communities on both sides of the border.

 

“The dangers of fracking don’t stop at the border. The company’s claim that fracking can be carried out in a safe and environmentally friendly way is an outright lie. Around the world there is a major anti-fracking movement, due to the dangers it poses to public health, land and water – as well, of course, as contributing to climate change.

 

“This time two years ago the Dáil passed legislation banning onshore fracking, a move that came about due to the campaigning work of communities supported by Sinn Féin and others. This meant the southern state became one of the first to take the lead in banning fracking. This ban needs to be extended across the entire island. Multinational companies cannot be allowed to take advantage of Brexit to try to procure fracking licenses in the North.”

Leitrim Sinn Féin councillor Pádraig Fallon added: “Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into a gas well at high pressure in order to increase the permeability of the shale or coal bed, improving the ability to pump gas or oil. Topping the list of fracking risks are water contamination, subsidence of the ground surface, seismic activity (earthquakes), fugitive emissions and leaking of toxic wastewater.

“In the US, where fracking for shale oil and gas is most developed, has been proven to have caused earthquakes in Ohio, and to have contaminated the water supply of communities in Pennsylvania.

“This proposed exploration license does not only threaten the health, water and land of the people of Fermanagh but those of the neighbouring counties too, especially Leitrim and the border counties. Contamination of the water table obviously does not stop at the border. The Irish government needs to insist that fracking cannot take place anywhere on this island.” ENDS

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy demands urgent action on childcare costs

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy demands urgent action on childcare costs

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has urged the government to urgently increase its subsidisation of childcare, noting that prohibitive costs are preventing women from entering or remaining in the workforce, and contributing to the high rate of poverty across the state.

Carthy, EU candidate for the Midlands North West, said: “One of the biggest issues I have come across canvassing my constituency is the exorbitant cost of childcare, now the highest in the EU. A report from Pobal found last year that the average childcare costs €697 per month, but this rises to more than €1,000 per month in Dublin.

“With enormous childcare costs like these, it is little wonder that we have one of the worst rates for workplace participation for women in the EU, with an inactivity rate due to caring responsibilities at around 15 per cent – second only to Malta.

“Lowering the cost of childcare is not just a demand of anti-poverty and women’s rights organisations; it is a central demand of business associations who want to see more women enter the workforce.”

“There is a close relationship between the astronomical cost of childcare and child poverty and lone-parent family poverty,” Carthy continued.

“According to the CSO almost one in five children in this state are living under the poverty line. The situation is particularly tough for single-parent families – which we have the highest rate of in the EU, and 86 per cent of which are headed by women.

“Last month a report by St Vincent de Paul found that the employment rate of lone parents in Ireland was the lowest in 15 EU countries, at 58%, and high childcare costs were a major reason for this. The living standards of lone parents in Ireland were ‘among the worst in Europe’ and these families are not being protected from the adverse effects of poverty, and that 30 per cent of lone parents in Ireland were having great difficulties making ends meet, compared to an EU average of 19 per cent.

“On top of this, there is a 25 per cent turnover rate of workers in the childcare sector, who are completely under-appreciated and underpaid.

“These conditions are intolerable. Government policy is condemning women and men who may want to work to stay at home, or to work in casual, precarious jobs. It is condemning a generation of children and lone-parent families to biting poverty.

“The failure by the government to address this issue, and the chronic underinvestment in childcare services over many years, show that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil don’t care about women, children or families.

“In our most recent budget proposal, Sinn Féin pledged – as a starting point – to have the cost of childcare immediately by increasing the subsidy for the Affordable Childcare Scheme from 50 cents to €2.50 per hour. This would cost only €42 million – a drop in the ocean when you consider government mis-spending fiascos on broadband and the National Children’s Hospital.

“Wherever we are active – in the institutions and in communities – Sinn Féin will fight for better, affordable childcare provision; for quality jobs and housing; and for an end to the shame of child poverty.” ENDS

Government can’t hide behind ECB on bill to rein in vultures – Carthy

Government can’t hide behind ECB on bill to rein in vultures – Carthy

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the government can’t hide behind the European Central Bank (ECB) on its opposition to Pearse Doherty’s ‘No Consent, No Sale’ bill. The Department of Finance is ‘urgently’ requesting an ECB ‘opinion’ on the bill, which is opposed by Fine Gael and the banks.

 

“Fine Gael’s opposition to this bill lays bare the central contradiction in its position – on the one hand, it claims mortgage holders are no worse off under vulture funds, but on the other it fears the proposed mechanism of written consent for the sale of a mortgage would be widely used by customers in order to prevent the sale of their mortgage to a vulture. Why would this be the case if vultures are so harmless?

 

“The reality is that there is no clear provision for any regulatory or statutory obligation on vulture funds to honour previous debt restructuring arrangements, and even if it was interpreted that there was such an obligation, this could be questioned in the courts, as FLAC has pointed out.

 

“The government is now seeking an ‘urgent’ opinion from the ECB on the bill. This will be around the 20th time since the crisis that the ECB has been ‘consulted’ on a bill relating to mortgage debt since 2013. Each time the ECB puts the profitability of banks before consumer interests.

 

“It is little wonder when we consider the decision-making process within the ECB. A Corporate Europe Observatory report on regulatory capture within the ECB found that of the 517 representatives operating in the ECB’s 22 advisory groups, a full 98 per cent of them came from the private financial sector (508 out of 517).

 

“The ECB is determined to offload non-performing loans onto the shadow banking sector. Irish legislators have the right to resist this agenda and to put in place strong safeguards for consumers.

 

“The Central Bank of Ireland has now apparently abandoned all pretence at being ‘independent’ and is actively campaigning against a proposed bill that aims to fill the hole left by the Bank’s own failure to protect consumers against vulture funds. We have now reached the ridiculous point where the Central Bank has scrapped its own Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears – on which the No consent, No Sale bill is based – in order to undermine the bill.

 

“Where was the Central Bank in the lead-up to the crisis, during the Tracker Mortgage scandal and the countless other scandals involving our banks over the past years?  I hope the change of leadership at the Central Bank also results in a changed attitude on this issue.

 

“The central argument against the bill by the Central Bank, the ECB, the Department of Finance and the banks is that it will lead to an increase in interest rates. This would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. These are the exact same bodies who have failed to take any action against Irish banks who have operated in a cartel-like rate-fixing system for years. Even Mario Draghi has pointed this out.

 

“Properly regulated banks would not be able to collude to raise interest rates, which are already artificially inflated and the highest in Europe. Consumer protections for mortgage-holders has been left to legislators as it is clear the supposedly independent regulators in the Central Bank and ECB have abdicated from this role. The ECB and Central Bank should back off and end their politicised campaign against effective consumer protection against vulture funds.” ENDS

Fianna Fáil policies will sustain the health and housing crisis – Matt Carthy MEP

Responding to the publication of Fianna Fáil’s EU Election manifesto Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said today;

“Fianna Fáil’s call to change the fiscal rules is like a bad joke being played on the public given that they fully accepted the fiscal rules during the austerity era. Their change of tune is welcome but about a decade too late.

“In fact their Rainy Day Fund proposal means they don’t even want to spend what is available to the State under the rules.

“The ALDE group, which Fianna Fáil is affiliated to, want ‘better control mechanisms and more automatic sanctions on countries when the stability and growth pact is broken’. This can simply be translated to less sovereignty and stricter rules for Member States. A vote for Fianna Fail policies is a vote for an on-going crisis in health and housing for forever and a day.

“This is why we need to elect Sinn Féin MEPs in the upcoming election.  We need MEPs who will stand for a social Europe over a right wing Europe, MEPs who will stand up for Ireland’s neutrality and against the militarisation fantasies both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

“On Brexit Fianna Fáil have copied and pasted many of Sinn Féin’s proposals from 2017 to ease State Aid rules, target funding and use the Globalisation Adjustment Fund to mitigate the impact of Brexit as well as ensuring continued access to EU Funding for the north.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would rather spend billions on an EU Army while Ireland is in the midst of a housing crisis, while farm payments are decreasing and while our many of our own defence forces are struggling to put food on the table.”

ENDS

EU ruling on Secret Investment Courts makes European election results crucial – Matt Carthy MEP

EU ruling on Secret Investment Courts makes European election results crucial – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed his disappointment with the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) released on Tuesday that finds the Commission’s proposed Investment Court System in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with EU law.  The ruling doesn’t change the likelihood, he said, that the proposed corporate courts breech the Irish constitution and therefore will require a referendum in this state before it can proceed.

 

The Midlands North West representative said that the ruling made it clear that the next European Parliament will play a decisive role in determining whether it becomes standard practise for corporations to sue national governments and therefore it is imperative that progressive parties such as Sinn Féin are returned with strong mandates.

 

Matt Carthy said: “The Investment Court System will allow foreign corporations to sue national governments for enacting laws that impinge on their profits.  This will happen in secret hearings with no role for the national judicial systems.

 

“The opinion of the Court of Justice therefore is deeply disappointing.  Once again the court has held that corporate profits are more important than the democratic and fundamental rights of EU citizens.

 

“In response to mass public anger at the idea of secrets investment courts being included in EU free trade agreements, the Commission has tried to re-package, spin and sell the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in CETA as being more like a permanent, normal court with safeguard mechanisms in place.

 

“It is nothing of the sort.

 

“These type of ‘Investor Courts’ which are only open to foreign companies, therefore giving them an advantage over Irish firms, have always led to a so-called ‘regulatory chill’, where governments shy away from enacting laws in the public interest that they fear may be challenged by investors.  How is that democratic?

 

“Because CETA and other free trade agreements that propose to include an ISDS mechanism, such as the agreement with Singapore, are ‘mixed agreements’, they require ratification at both the EU and member state level. That means a single ‘no’ vote against the ratification of CETA in any EU member state parliament will be enough to scupper these plans for secret investment courts.

 

“The Irish state is one of the few states around the world that has never included an ISDS mechanism in any of its bilateral investment treaties to date.  Ratification of these agreements will mean that this, and any future Irish government, will have to take into consideration the potential impact of all new legislation on foreign corporations.  Any new law that may impact on an investor’s profits can be challenged in one of the above-described tribunals, and damages awarded or the legislation scrapped.

 

“The legal opinion that I have previously commissioned states that such a mechanism would breech the Irish constitution.  Therefore the government should either withdraw their support for these trade deals or put the proposed corporate court system to referendum for the people to decide.

 

“The challenge now is for civil society, progressive parties, environmentalists and the trade union movement to demand a vote against ISDS in the Dáil on the CETA and Singapore agreements.  And, of course, the immediate message that can be sent will be when voters cast their votes in the European elections.  I urge people to support progressive parties such as Sinn Féin who will fight against this archaic system being imposed upon us.”

ENDS

Climate emergency requires government-led response – Carthy

Climate emergency requires government-led response – Carthy

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the climate change emergency we face must be met with an emergency response – and that governments must show leadership.  Carthy was speaking following an Environmental Pillar hustings in Leitrim on Friday to which all European election candidates were invited.  Despite the large turnout at the event, not a single Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael candidate turned up highlighting those parties position on this critical issue.

 

The Sinn Féin MEP said: “Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation. The IPCC’s report from October was the starkest warning yet of the impending climate catastrophe. The scientific consensus is that we have until 2030 to act to make ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented’ transitions in all areas of our economies if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. That’s just 11 years away.

 

“The depth and breadth of change we require to decarbonise our economies and societies is such that it can only be dealt with by an emergency plan, led by governments, and coordinated at the international level.

 

“Leaving this challenge up to ‘market forces’ is a recipe for disaster.  Proposals such as Carbon tax hikes not only punish the poorest, they are ineffective at reducing emissions.  The international evidence in conclusive on this fact; market measures do not work, and emissions have continued to rise.  Last year saw an EU record high in emissions.  Leaving this issue to private interests to resolve merely provide the illusion of doing something.

 

“What we need more than anything at the EU and Irish level is a coordinated and unprecedented government-led roll-out of a major capital investment programme that massively expands public transport, retrofits homes and public buildings, invests directly in renewable energy, builds bike lanes and local gardens, and much more.  At the same time we need a binding phase-out date for fossil fuels.  This is the scale of work required.  This is the scale of ambition we need, which is being demanded of us by the young students marching for their future each week around the world.

 

“The free-market fundamentalists in the Irish government will say, ‘let the market do its job –  it’ll be grand’.  The EU will say, ‘Don’t even think about breaching our arbitrary debt and deficit rules’. Our response to both of them has to be clear – that this is an emergency, and it requires an emergency response. The EU’s Fiscal Compact should be binned in favour of a coordinated EU-wide Green New Deal.

 

“We have seen the failure of the Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael approach.  They have adopted a Forestry policy that actually damages the environment; they have a renewable energy policy that has antagonised communities; they have supported trade deals that will destroy our farming communities and rain-forests on the other side of the world.  Leaving the issue of climate to private corporations clearly doesn’t work!  The very fact that neither of these parties was represented at a debate on climate change during the course of this election campaign speaks volumes.

 

“The vast majority of people, and particularly young people, will be behind Sinn Féin when we demand real action that gives us a realistic chance of mitigating the worst aspects of this crisis – before it’s too late.”

ENDS

 

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