Sinn Féin will seek changes to Climate Bill to protect rural communities and the vulnerable

Sinn Féin will seek changes to Climate Bill to protect rural communities and the vulnerable – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD has said that his party will propose amendments to the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2021 in order to ensure that protections are in place for rural communities and vulnerable workers and families.

 

He was speaking as the Bill moved from Second to Committee Stage in Dáil.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“The climate crisis is real and a legal framework to address it is absolutely needed.

 

“Meeting these objectives will require buy-in from all sectors of society.  Climate action must mean more than increased taxes & charges and job losses in real terms for real people.

 

“The approach of government to-date has left the burden of Climate action on rural communities, ordinary workers, families and farmers.  There is a need to re-shift the focus onto the corporate polluters that caused the climate crisis.

 

“Sinn Féin will bring forward amendments aimed at ensuring that all carbon budgets are accompanied by social, economic, and rural impact assessments and an obligation on government to take action to mitigate any negative consequences.

 

“In order to protect farmers, we will seek agreement that will ensure that no future measure adopted at a domestic level actually results in a net increase in global emissions.   There is no point in reducing production of sustainable Irish food if the alternative leads to the importation of less sustainable product.

 

“There is a serious lack of trust that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or the Green Party will deliver for either the environment or rural communities.

 

“We need to move beyond the rhetoric of a Just Transition to spelling out what that means in real terms.  That will be the objective of Sinn Féin amendments to this bill.  I hope that government and other parties will engage with us constructively in this regard”.

ENDS

Public will reject any attempt to reintroduce water charges or other stealth taxes

Public will reject any attempt to reintroduce water charges or other stealth taxes

– Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has warned that any attempts by government to introduce water charges or similarly regressive taxation measures will be roundly rejected once again by Irish communities.

 

Carthy was speaking in response to the publication of an OECD report on Ireland that made recommendations varying from re-visiting water charges and introducing congestion charges, to removing VAT exemptions on farming products.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“Attempts to equate climate action with stealth taxes on ordinary workers and families are becoming all too common.

 

“We know that the instinct of government parties in wholly in line with the proposals in this OECD report.  But any attempt on their part to penalise households with stealth taxes or water charges will again meet huge resistance from communities across the country.

 

“Many people will be concerned by this report precisely because the approach to climate action has, in all too many cases, simply meant additional charges on families that are already struggling.  Just over a week ago the latest increase in carbon tax took affect – further penalising families, businesses, farmers and motorists who have no alternatives.

 

“The OECD report also proposes increases in the costs of farming products which would ensure that farms that are already stretched to the limit will be forced of the land and ensuring that sustainable Irish product is replaced by intensive produce from the other side of the globe.

 

“None of this will deliver for the environment.  For too long Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, the Labour party and others have believed they can tax their way out of the climate crisis.  They can’t.  The Irish people are at their limits.

 

“It’s time for real climate action that tackles corporate polluters; not tokenistic measures that punish ordinary families, workers, businesses and farmers”.

ENDS

Carthy discusses role of farmers in tackling Climate Change with An Taisce

Carthy discusses role of farmers in tackling Climate Change with An Taisce

 

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Matt Carthy, engaged with the Environmental organisation An Taisce in the Oireachtas last week on the role of farming in tackling Climate Change on a global level.

 

During a meeting of the Oireachtas Agriculture committee, Deputy Carthy told the An Taisce representatives that no country that had higher agricultural standards than Ireland.

 

An Taisce were before the Committee to discuss the development of the Climate Action Plan.  The Sinn Féin Deputy has repeatedly said that the proposition of reducing Irish product for less sustainable imports is non-sensical and hypocritical.

 

The exchange went as follows:

 

Deputy Matt Carthy:

“Can Mr. Lumley name the countries that enforce higher agricultural standards than Ireland?”

 

Mr. Ian Lumley:

“Yes. I can refer to the report of the European Court of Auditors published in May 2020 which took an overview of Europe.  It was not good news.  It shows a number of countries, including Poland, Germany and Ireland—–”

 

Matt Carthy:

“We take it that the standards Irish farmers are expected to adhere to are set at EU level.  What countries have higher agricultural standards for their farmers than Ireland?”

 

Ian Lumley:

“When we look at standards, we need to look at outcomes.  Overall, Europe is really not doing well on outcomes.  One must look at different outcomes in different countries. Some countries will be doing better on climate and others on biodiversity.”

 

Matt Carthy:

“Can Mr. Lumley name countries that have higher standards in terms of environmental obligations for their farmers than Ireland?”

 

Ian Lumley:

“Europe has standards. The difficulty is that Europe has set an ammonia emissions ceiling threshold but that has been breached in Ireland since 2016.”

 

Matt Carthy:

“Can Mr. Lumley name the countries that have higher agricultural standards for their farmers than Ireland?”

 

Ian Lumley:

“Could I ask my colleague to come in on this?”

 

Mr. Ruaidhrí O’Boyle:

“Hopefully, I will be able to give some sort of answer.  A few years ago, the Dutch Government insisted that there would be a reduction in its bovine number because of the fact it was exceeding its emissions targets at that point.”

 

Matt Carthy:

“I am sorry for interrupting.  There may be different levels of production.  However, the question I am asking is about the standards to which farmers are expected to adhere.  In what countries are those standards higher than in Ireland?”

 

Ruaidhrí O’Boyle:

“I do not understand. What does the Deputy mean by standards?”

 

Matt Carthy:

“The rules under which they are obliged to farm.”

 

Ruaidhrí O’Boyle:

“We are all obliged under European law because we have the same targets. The difference in Ireland is that we have not insisted that those targets be met.”

 

Matt Carthy:

“That point is a debatable. I take it that the highest standards in place anywhere internationally for farmers to adhere to are in Ireland. The enforcement of those standards may be a separate point.

 

“I want to go back to the point on carbon leakage. Earlier, it was argued that if we reduce beef and dairy production in Ireland, it would be met somewhere else. An Taisce said that this is being rebuffed by the Farm to Fork strategy, which states that we cannot make a change unless we take the rest of the world with us. In its response to the climate Bill, An Taisce stated that references to carbon leakage should be removed entirely because such leakage would need to be resolved at EU level.

 

“Am I to take it that An Taisce’s argument is that we need to reduce our suckler herd because we are going to take the rest of the world with us when it comes to environmental standards but we cannot address carbon leakage because that would require action at EU level?”

 

Ruaidhrí O’Boyle:

“Taking the world with us is us taking a lead and setting an example for the world. In terms of carbon leakage, the principle is that we should not cut our agricultural emissions because to do so would cause increased emissions somewhere else.  If that is an accepted idea, it will be for the Oireachtas to decide what other sectors should increase their emissions reductions this decade in order to meet the targets in the climate Bill.  Polluting Irish waterways on the basis that someone else might do it if we do not do it is not a road we should go down.”

 

Matt Carthy:

“This committee is agreed that we should protect our waterways and go to significant lengths in order to do so.

 

“Many in the beef sector will have been concerned by what happened with the horticultural peat sector.  From Mr. Lumley’s stated position, is it the case that An Taisce thinks it is okay to import horticultural peat in order to facilitate the likes of the mushroom sector and others?

 

“Is An Taisce suggesting that those sectors should essentially be wound up and that we should just lose the mushroom sector because we cannot produce horticultural peat?”

 

Ian Lumley:

“Ten years ago, the EPA published an important report, Bogland, on the need to ensure that the continued loss of biodiversity and carbon from the peatlands through power generation, domestic burning and horticulture needed an exit strategy.  Bord na Móna adopted one for 2030 that was subject to legal actions.  Now Bord na Móna has adopted a more immediate exit strategy which is supported under the just transition initiative. The horticultural peat industry, over the past decade, has deliberately resisted regulation and legal enforcement of—–”

 

Matt Carthy:

“I want to bring our guests back to the original question.  What is the solution, in the here and now, for the mushroom sector, for example?  As I see it, if we cannot extract horticultural peat in Ireland, the two options that are available to us are to import peat or export the mushroom sector.  Which one of these options should we choose?”

 

Ian Lumley:

“The Deputy will be pleased to hear about what is happening today.  The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has set up a working group, which is mainly composed of industry representatives, including representatives of the mushroom industry and the IFA.  The working group has a chair with a background in public research. As we speak, it is preparing a report to the Minister on dealing with the immediate issue, as recognised, that we need to protect Irish horticulture.”

 

Matt Carthy:

“I asked for An Taisce’s position. I take from Mr. Lumley’s answer that he will not set out its position. I have one final question and I will be as brief as possible.”

 

Ian Lumley:

“We have endorsed that document. We need to take action.”

 

Matt Carthy:

“An Taisce’s opening statement is comprehensive.  I note that the concept of a just transition is mentioned just once, on the second last page.  I have seen a number of An Taisce’s other submissions in which just transition is not mentioned at all.

 

“For An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, where does the maintenance and development of rural communities fit into its objectives?  Where should they feature in the objectives of this committee as we prepare a response to the climate action Bill?  In its submissions to various Departments, what documents has An Taisce produced aimed at promoting development and enhancing rural communities as they exist in Ireland?”

 

Ian Lumley:

“I am pleased to say that this is something on which we are at one with Deputy Carthy and other rural public representatives.  That is a major part of the consensus document produced by 72 coalition organisations that was published last week and circulated to the committee.  That document, in its second half in particular, sets out constructive recommendations on public health, sustainable contribution, meaningful food and nutrition security, and the need for a dialogue and participation structure. We have a good precedent with the Citizens’ Assembly and the major input that had to advancing consideration of climate action in Ireland. We welcome the potential for similar dialogue.

 

“If Deputy Carthy closely reads a number of sections of this document, which we have endorsed and circulated to the committee, he will see constructive recommendations for the future of rural Ireland, including recommendations that are applicable to his area. We had a much more complex and diversified food and land use system in the past. Across the Border, we produced apples in Armagh and there was a great flax growing area in Ulster, as well as around Dublin. We produced grain and more fruit and vegetables than we do now. We have an opportunity to diversify and that has the potential to be of enormous benefit to rural communities. The farm to fork strategy, the European biodiversity targets and consumer trends such as the increasing interest in organic goods offer enormous potential for areas such as the Border countries. We are already actively involved, through the landholding which we have been bequeathed, in advancing high-nature value farming with local communities. Outside of this committee, I would welcome the opportunity to engage with the Deputy on issues to do with his local area.”

ENDS

“Housing crisis is not an accident”

“Housing crisis is not an accident” – Matt Carthy TD

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy described the ongoing housing crisis as the result of government policy pursued by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.  Deputy Carthy was speaking during a debate on a Sinn Féin Private Members Motion tabled to address issues facing renters.

 

The Motion proposed to implement a three-year ban on rent increases, return a months rent through a refundable tax credit and address sub-standard accommodation.

 

Deputy Carthy told the Dáil:

 

“The housing market in this State is dysfunctional.  That is not an accident.

 

“The outworking of this dysfunction is that the majority of renters do not want to be renters. Most want to purchase their own home and others need the security and fair rent that a council house brings.

 

“The motion that Sinn brought before the Dáil calls for a break for those who are renting, a three-year ban on rent increases, the cost of a month’s rent to be returned to renters, and for adequate standards for rental properties to be enforced.

 

“Let the record show that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party TDs intend to vote against these proposals.

 

“Their response to the housing crisis is to offer more of the same with new fancy packaging. They have offered a shared equity scheme that everybody who has examined it objectively says will increase the cost of homes.  They propose an affordable housing scheme that includes as ‘affordable’ properties that cost €450,000.

 

“There is a continued expenditure of billions of euro on subsidies to private landlords and ongoing scandalous tax avoidance measures for vulture funds and other parasites of the financial services industry.

 

“None of that is an accident.

 

“It is Government policy, led by an ideology that believes speculators and bankers should not just be allowed, but encouraged, to dominate the housing market.

 

“Meanwhile, young workers can expect a future in which home ownership will never be more than an aspiration.  Rents are too high to save a deposit and investment funds are ready to buy up the limited supply that makes it onto the market.  Mortgage rates are far too high for those who manage to buy a house and the vulture funds are ready again to pounce as soon as they get into difficulty.

 

“There is an ongoing faith on the part of the Government that the private sector will resolve the problem that was created by housing policy being handed over to the private sector in the first place.  It is a system where even public land is handed over to private developers and where, no matter what, the obvious and proven long-term solution of building public homes on public lands is avoided at all costs, other than in the most limited and tokenistic way conceivable.

 

“The housing crisis is not an accident.

 

“It is Government policy and only a Government with the correct policies can resolve it.  Only a Government with determination, commitment and principles can turn the tide.

 

“This motion sets out Sinn Féin’s first steps to support renters.  That too is not an accident.

 

“It is a signal that better policies are coming.”

END

Department must carry out comprehensive analysis of Feedlot Figures

Department must carry out comprehensive analysis of Feedlot Figures– Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, has said that the dramatic increase in factory feedlots in recent years ‘is a certain factor’ in the poor beef prices farmers receive.  He has written to the Minister, Charlie McConalogue, requesting that the department carry out a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of Factory owned feedlots in the market, including their impact on prices and the effect on the environment.

 

In response to a parliamentary question it was revealed to Deputy Carthy that the number of slaughtered cattle at Controlled Finishing Units (CFUs), which the department used as a proxy for factory feedlots, had increased by over 34% between 2015 and 2020.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“The intervention of factory feedlot cattle is a certain significant factor in the stagnating beef prices received by farmers.  Figures from a recent Parliamentary Question response I received confirm that, but also raise questions as to validity of the departments metrics.

 

“The Department has reported 295,000 cattle slaughtered from CFUs in 2018, however contemporary reporting compiled independently but based upon departmental data placed this figure in excess of 315,000.  This discrepancy needs to be explained.

 

“But, regardless, what the Departments own figures do indicate is an increase of over 33% since 2017.

 

“The meat industry has been telling farmers since the onset of Covid-19 that demand in the hospitality sector has been ‘decimated’ with retail increases not sufficient to offset the effect.

 

“They should also explain why, in that case, feedlot slaughter figures for the first two months of 2021 were comparable to 2020.

 

“Unfortunately, the government have never carried out a comprehensive analysis of the element in meat production, including its impact on prices and its environmental affects.  Statutory agencies such as Competition and Consumer Protection Commission have appeared as at best disinterested in farmers questions as to whether this level of market presence presents the ability to control price.

 

“The continued growth of factory feedlots presents an existential threat to the Irish beef product.  Consumers all over the world purchase Irish beef on the back of the image of the farmer in the field alongside their cows and calves.  But, if the proportion of beef being produced in this country coming from factory feedlots continues to grow then so too will that image.

 

“By its very nature, beef produced through this style of more industrialised agriculture is less environmentally sustainable.

 

“I have written to Minister Charlie McConalogue requesting that his department carry out a comprehensive analysis of Factory Feedlot production to include its impact on prices, effect on the environment and its potential to undermine the marketing of Irish beef into the future.”

ENDS

 

For Written Answer on : 31/03/2021
Question Number(s): 1288 Question Reference(s): 17329/21
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: Matt Carthy T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the number of cattle slaughtered that originated in feedlots in each of the years 2015 to 2020, inclusive; the proportion this represented of the total State-wide kill in each respective year in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

There is no legal definition of a feedlot herd. The Department defines certain herds as Controlled Finishing Units (CFUs) in the context of the Bovine TB Eradication Programme.  This definition is unique to that programme and does not necessarily mirror the use of the term “feedlot” by the public and/or other institutions. CFUs are subject to enhanced biosecurity measures as part of the TB Programme and can only sell direct to slaughter. Please see below two tables as follows:

Kill numbers (rounded) at EU approved slaughter plants originating in Controlled Finishing Units and percentage of total state kill for years 2015 to 2020.

Year Animals slaughtered in EU approved plants, originating from TB restricted CFUs Percentage of Total State Kill
2015 198,000 11.89%
2016 238,000 13.64%
2017 263,000 14.20%
2018 295,000 15.56%
2019 288,500 15.57%
*2020 299,000 15.91%

* The figures provided in respect of 2020 are provisional and may be subject to minor modification.

The above figures are published on a monthly basis here in respect of Controlled Finishing Units

https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/f55f2-bovine-birth-and-movements-monthly-reports/#kill-numbers-at-eu-approved-slaughter-plants-originating-in-controlled-finishing-units

 

Carthy calls on government to address waiting lists for Children’s Autism services and other supports

Carthy calls on government to address waiting lists for Children’s Autism services and other supports

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has called on the government to address the lengthening waiting lists for children’s in need of Autism services and other supports.

 

Speaking in a Dáil exchange with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Carthy said that as the Covid emergency retreats it is imperative that government deliver the much needed supports that children deserve.

 

Deputy Carthy told the Tánaiste:

 

“This week, we learned from RTÉ that a seven-year-old girl with autism has been informed that she will have to wait until 2026 for an appointment with school-age support services. Such a timeframe is, unfortunately, not unique, although it is atypical for the HSE to be so blunt.

 

“I am aware of dozens of families in my constituency whose children are waiting years for assessments of need, autism services, child development supports, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and psychology services.

 

“In most cases, the only information that their families can get is that there are extensive waiting lists.

 

What will the Government do to ensure that, as we emerge from the pandemic, autism services and other services for our children do not just return to where they were, which was clearly not good enough, but become worthy services that can deliver the much-needed supports these children deserve?”

 

In his response the Tánaiste said:

 

“As the Deputy will be aware, the Government is developing our first autism-specific strategy. It will be an important step forward. Work on that is under way. I am sorry to hear about the individual cases that the Deputy raised, but the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, who has responsibility for disability services, is taking a real interest in this matter and will do her best to improve matters over the coming years.”

 

Following the exchange, Deputy Carthy commented:

 

“Children in need of autism and other support services were already waiting unacceptable periods prior to the onset of the pandemic.

 

“Now we’re a further year behind, the waiting lists have grown, and we have a government that is talking about cutbacks in health expenditure.

 

“The government urgently need to provide an action plan which not only reduces this backlog in the coming months, but delivers these services on a permanent footing and in a timely manner into the future.”

ENDS

Carthy challenges RTÉ contracts for high-earners at Public Accounts Committee

Carthy challenges RTÉ contracts for high-earners at Public Accounts Committee

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last week challenged RTÉ at the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee on the high wages of a number of its presenters, and the arrangements whereby many high-earners are appointed as contractors rather than direct employees.

 

RTÉ representatives, including Director General Dee Forbes, were appearing before the Committee, in part, to discuss their implementation of the Eversheds Sutherland report which examines the situation whereby contractors at the station were deemed to have ‘attributes akin to employment.’

 

The Committee has held a series of engagements investigating the practice, which results in a reduced yield of PRSI to the state.  At one recent Committee, a campaigner against the practice told the Committee:

 

“The failure to collect PRSI is what now has us in a pensions crisis. It is my opinion there is no pensions crisis. There is a failure to collect employers’ PRSI crisis…”

 

In RTÉ many household names are retained as contractors rather than direct employees.  This practice can facilitate tax avoidance and several questions have been raised as to the purpose of such policies.

 

The engagement went as follows:

 

Deputy Matt Carthy:  “A lot of people will still be surprised to learn that some of the familiar faces they see on their television screens are not direct employees of RTÉ and are, in fact, contractors. Seven of the ten top earners in RTÉ, according to its 2019 reports, were contractors.  Will Ms Forbes explain why somebody who essentially works full time for RTÉ would have become a contractor in the first place and the historical basis for it?”

 

Ms Dee Forbes:  “I will say a couple of things on that.  It is important to say first of all that those seven contractors Deputy Carthy speaks about are brands in their own right and they also have the ability to earn money outside of RTÉ.  They are contracted by RTÉ to provide a particular service for a particular programme on a particular day.  They are not full-time employees of RTÉ, and as a result, they are contractors as opposed to being employees.  That is how it was deemed. Perhaps Ms Cusack might want to elaborate a bit more.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “Before Ms Cusack comes in, perhaps she could explain whether there is something preventing direct employees of RTÉ having alternative sources of income from promotional activity, working in the local chip shop or whatever else. Is there a differential in that regard?”

 

Dee Forbes:  “The area of additional income that does happen for RTÉ employees is typically book publishing, for example.  If a member of staff wants to publish a book, again provided that it is agreed with his or her manager, the person can do that, but it is probably the only area I am aware of where we have done that.  Ms Cusack might correct me.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “To clarify, is Ms Forbes saying that those who are directly employed by RTÉ are not allowed to have an alternative source of income other than writing a book?”

 

Dee Forbes:  “What I am saying is that as far as I am aware, they are employed by RTÉ and some of those people have, for example, written a book about their profession or whatever.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “To clarify, is Ms Forbes saying they are not entitled to do any other work outside of RTÉ?  What I am trying to do is differentiate between somebody who is employed under a contract and those who are directly employed.  Ms Forbes says the latter cannot earn any other money.”

 

Ms Eimear Cusack:  “I will come in there. They would have to seek permission. People cannot just unilaterally have other stuff going on.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “Are contractors given carte blanche to do whatever else they want?”

 

Eimear Cusack:  “They have more freedom to act, but they have a commercial value to RTÉ as well as a commercial value outside of RTÉ.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “We will just deal with the seven top earners in RTÉ who are on contracts. Apart from avoiding some taxes, what is the benefit to them of being on a contract?  Considering the implications with pension rights and whatever the case may be, what other benefits do they have that they would not have if they were directly employed?”

 

Eimear Cusack:  “I do not understand. I do not know.  I do not know what benefits they have.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “I am trying to get a sense of who wants the contracts. Is it the personalities themselves or is it RTÉ?  Who benefits most from a contractual arrangement?”

 

Dee Forbes:  “I think both parties do, because these people are working for us on a particular show and they can also do other things.  It also means we can bring in other people if we need or other members of staff can do other things.  As Deputy Carthy knows, presenting is demanding and it is not everyone’s cup of tea, so we need to be able to have new voices and new faces when necessary as well.  It probably works for both sides.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “When RTÉ is negotiating with presenters, does it deal with them directly or with their representatives or agents?”

 

Dee Forbes:  “It is a mixture.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “How many of the top seven earners would be dealing with the same agent?”

 

Dee Forbes:  “Some of them have the same agent.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “How many?”

 

Dee Forbes:  “I will have to look through the details. I can see two at the moment have the same agent. I think it is two or three.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “We might get clarification on that.”

 

Following the debate, Deputy Carthy said:

 

“It is apparent that there has been a systemic cultural issue at RTÉ when it comes to employment status.

 

“At one end of the spectrum, we have had individuals who are denied their entitled benefits and job security of employment, while we have the highest earners choosing to place themselves in that very same category for what seems to be a mystery to the management of RTÉ”.

 

Later in the debate, it was also revealed that RTÉ has made an initial payment to the Revenue Commissioners as a result of an ongoing audit, with Deputy Carthy commenting:

 

“I find it a farcical position that RTÉ would come before the Committee in the full knowledge that they will reveal they have made a payment to the Revenue Commissioners, and not have the details of that payment hand.

 

“RTÉ are quite able to come before the Oireachtas seeking increased funds through license fees; therefore the public should expect full transparency when they run afoul of the Revenue Commissioners”.

ENDS

Direct Provision system is ‘a source of shame to us all’

Direct Provision system is ‘a source of shame to us all’ – Matt Carthy TD

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Fein T.D., Matt Carthy, has told the Dáil that the system of Direct Provision is “a source of shame to us all”.

 

He was speaking during statements to the Dáil on the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision; he said the system has failed those seeking asylum as well as host communities while enriching vested interests to the tune of €1.6Billion.

 

The Cavan Monaghan TD said:

 

“Direct provision has been a scandal and every Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Green Party, Labour, Progressive Democrat or other Minister in a Government that has overseen it should be ashamed of themselves.

 

“There are stories of an uncaring system where human beings are treated, essentially as less by officialdom and administrators, and there is fear underlying every consideration as to whether a complaint should be made about mistreatment.  So many of the stories have reminded me of the recollections we have heard from Magdalene laundries.

 

“Instead of a policy underpinned by integration, the approach by Government agencies, including very senior officials, has been marked by secrecy and hostility.

 

“Communities with virtually no investment and which have seen services such as schools, Garda stations and GPs being removed find one day, without any consultation, that their local hotel is being turned into a direct provision centre.

 

“It is little wonder that racist and far-right groups see opportunity in this.

 

“This utterly failed system has cost €1.6 billion over 20 years and therein lies one of the challenges faced by the Minister.  There are the vested interests who have made millions of euro from this inhumane regime.

 

“This White Paper is welcome, but the Minister and his Government will be judged on actions and results rather than rhetoric. I sincerely hope that within this term, we will be able to say collectively the shame of direct provision can be put behind us.”

 

Following the debate, Carthy commented:

 

“The white paper charts a course to finally end direct provision, but I would urge the Minister not only to seek an accelerated timeline for its implementation, but to also to address the known and ongoing problems facing residents in direct provision centres in the interim. Matters that are constantly raised such as food quality and access to medical care are to such examples that residents that must be resolved immediately.”

ENDS

 

 

Taoiseach’s comments on N-S Interconnector review confirm community ‘concerns’

Taoiseach’s comments on N-S Interconnector review confirm community ‘concerns’ – Matt Carthy TD

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that the response by the Taoiseach to his question regarding his announced ‘review’ into the North South Interconnector will have confirmed the concerns within the communities affected that the government have little intention of changing course.

 

In an interaction with An Taoiseach, Mícheál Martin, in the Dáil last week Deputy Carthy said that the Interconnector will only be developed on the basis that it is undergrounded.  He referred to remarks by the Minister responsible, Eamon Ryan, at an Oireachtas committee, that the review will simply be a technical, paper exercise; and asked an Taoiseach if he would deliver on Fianna Fáil’s pre-election promise to carry out a comprehensive feasibility assessment of undergrounding the interconnector.

 

Speaking after the exchange Deputy Carthy challenged local Fianna Fáil representatives to make a stand.  “Fianna Fáil TDs, Senators and Councillors were kick to take credit for the Taoiseach’s announcement of a review into the project” he said.

 

“But, increasingly that review is being exposed as a sham.  They need to be equally forceful in demanding that their own pre-election commitments are delivered.  The communities affected deserve no less, and will not settle for less.”

 

Dáil Exchange

 

Deputy Matt Carthy:  “Can the Taoiseach inform us whether the Cabinet committee that deals with infrastructure has discussed the issue of the North-South interconnector?

 

“The decision by EirGrid to underground the Kildare and Meath high voltage power lines means that the North-South interconnector is the only project in EirGrid’s GRID25 plans that it intends to pursue using overhead, pylon supported power lines.

 

“The Taoiseach knows, because I am sure his representatives have told him, that there is huge community anger and frustration with the lack of engagement from and the arrogance of EirGrid.  We are told that the Taoiseach committed to a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting that there would be a review into that decision, something that I cautiously welcomed.

 

“Yet, the Minister responsible has indicated that this review will just be a review of previous reviews and that it is full steam ahead as far as this project is concerned.

 

“Will the Taoiseach commit to adhering to his pre-election commitment to carry out a full feasibility analysis to underground this project, in recognition that it is only through the undergrounding of the North-South interconnector that the project will be delivered at all?

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin:  “In regard to the North-South interconnector, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications has spoken about the review that is under way.

 

“The Deputies’ know the position of EirGrid.  It believes it cannot be undergrounded.  I have pointed to areas around the country where certain initiatives have been undergrounded.

 

“The context is the all-island single energy market and so on. There is a review”.

ENDS

Teagasc comments expose government ‘hypocrisy’ on horticultural peat

Teagasc comments expose government ‘hypocrisy’ on horticultural peat – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has said that witness testimony from Teagasc representatives at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee last weeks confirms the hypocrisy at the heart of government policy regarding horticultural peat harvesting.

 

Representatives of Teagasc were appearing before the Committee to discuss the Climate Action Plan, and stated ‘at the moment, the only feasible alternative is to look at importation’ in response to a question from Deputy Carthy on the matter.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“Over the past several months the government have been informed of the existential threat posed to the horticulture sector in Ireland by a ban on harvesting of horticultural peat.

 

“Peat is an absolute pre-requisite for the horticultural sector in Ireland – a sector that contributes significantly to jobs and local economies in rural Ireland.  It includes the mushroom industry, a pivotal player in the economy of my Cavan Monaghan constituency.

 

“In discussing these matters, Green Party Ministers have repeatedly referred to peat alternatives despite receiving continued explanations that such alternatives do not exist.

 

“Now it has been irrefutably confirmed that the only alternative that will be to actually immediately commence the importation of peat from other countries.

 

“This is an illogical position that will accrue no benefit to the environment.  It exposes as absolute farce commitments by government to a Just Transition.

 

“In fact, the Just Transition Commission itself went to great lengths to highlight that harvesting of horticultural peat is entirely different to the practice harvesting peat as a fossil fuel.  This is just yet another example of the outworking of Green Party policies which apparently aim to raise standards at home while exporting the climate crisis to other parts of the world.

 

“How can anyone, let alone multiple Green Party Ministers advocate that it is more environmentally sustainable to import a raw material from abroad, than harvest it at home?

 

“The fear of course is that rather than leading to the importation of peat, that this will actually lead to the exportation of the horticultural industry, and associated jobs, abroad.

 

“I, and I believe those involved in the horticulture industry and the communities that depend on it, will absolutely welcome any research into alternatives and research in this area should be prioritised.

 

“In the mean-time, however, we have to cease the hypocrisy.  We cannot allow thousands of jobs in rural Irish communities to be put at risk at the whim of Green Party tokenism.  Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael representatives must call this hypocrisy out before it’s too late to save this industry”.

ENDS

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