Matt Carthy calls on TDs to support Sinn Féin Dáil motion on rural post offices

Matt Carthy calls on TDs to support Sinn Féin Dáil motion on rural post offices


Sinn Féin’s local MEP Matt Carthy has called on TDs from across the political spectrum to support his party’s upcoming Dáil motion aimed at saving 159 rural post offices which have been earmarked for closure.  The proposed closures include 9 in counties Cavan and Monaghan.


Matt Carthy said:


“Under Fianna Fáil governments 755 post offices were shut down between 1999 and 2011.  Now, under Fine Gael we are facing the impending closure of 159 post offices.


“Experience tells us that if these closures are not stopped others will follow and that further services will be removed from rural communities who are already devastated by the lack of government support or investment.


“The motion put forward by Sinn Féin deputies now provides the opportunity to TDs from all political backgrounds to speak as one and stop these closures.


“Local post office branches are a vital element in the sustainability of many small towns, villages and communities across Ireland.  But our rural post office network has been under sustained attack in recent years.


“Sinn Féin is committed to the campaign to retain these vital local services across Ireland.  As a first step additional financial and statutory services should be delivered through the post office.  But, we also require a fundamental policy change and a rethink about how services are delivered to and for rural Ireland.


“Through this Dáil motion Sinn Féin TD’s, including Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, are calling time on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s attack on rural Ireland.  I commend them for that and urge the other Cavan/ Monaghan TDs to support the motion.


“The truth is that the proposed post office closures must be resisted if Rural Ireland is to have a future.”


The text of the Sinn Féin motion that will come before the Dáil reads:


“That Dáil Éireann:

recognises that:

the recent announced closure of 159 post offices across the State will have a devastating effect on many rural communities;

post offices form a vital part of communities, and have suffered long-term neglect by successive Governments, with hundreds of closures since 2000;

successive Governments have allowed the post office network to decline and have not allowed alternative services to be established and expanded;

postmasters and postmistresses are entitled to accept retirement packages, however, the criteria used by An Post in such instances, to retain post offices and advertise a new contract, is flawed; and

the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to protecting the postal network; and

calls on the Government to:

prevent the closure of 159 post offices across the State by advertising new contracts, offering alternative services and allowing the potential for co-location of post offices;

reinvigorate the network of post offices by extending the services which post offices provide, and by retaining existing services such as social welfare payments;

implement proposals contained in the Final Report Of The Post Office Network Business Development Group (Kerr Report) from 2016 which included post offices providing alternative services such as financial services and Government services before closing post offices; and

commit to a new model of community banking through the post office network.”


— Brian Stanley, Gerry Adams, John Brady, Pat Buckley, Seán Crowe, David Cullinane, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin J. Ferris, Kathleen Funchion, Martin Kenny, Mary Lou McDonald, Denise Mitchell, Imelda Munster, Jonathan O’Brien, Eoin Ó Broin, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Louise O’Reilly, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Maurice Quinlivan, Peadar Tóibín.


Matt Carthy MEP calls on government to release details of the Eel-fishing fund

The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest, Matt Carthy, has conveyed the frustration of eel fishermen and women at the failure by government and Minister responsible, Seán Kyne, TD to release the details of a promised hardship scheme.


Matt Carthy said:


“For a decade fishermen and their families have been campaigning for support following the unprecedented ban on Eel fishing introduced in 2009.


“For most of the period since the government refused to countenance a compensation scheme to provide supports to those families and businesses hit by the ban.  Following my intervention with the European Commission, who confirmed that there was no legal rationale preventing the introduction of such a scheme, Minister Seán Kyne agreed to develop a hardship scheme.


“But, the Minister and his Department are continuing to mess people about.


“The prospect of a scheme has been widely welcomed by those who feel that they will be eligible.  However since May they have been waiting for further details as the Minister has failed to announce plans for the roll-out and eligibility criteria for the scheme.


“Minister Kyne had repeatedly stated that the hardship scheme would be in place before the summer recess but that deadline passed without comment from the department.


“Reports now suggest that of the €3.6 million set aside for the scheme, some €600,000 could be used for administration; this of course would be unacceptable.  With almost 200 people likely to make applications that is a substantial potential cut to the funds.  The Minister must clarify that the funds allotted go where they need to – to the families whose livelihoods were impacted by the Eel fishing ban.


“It is past time now for the government to stop dragging their heels on this issue.  They must announce the details of the scheme and a time frame for applications as a matter of urgency.”

Matt Carthy urges public to get behind Liadh Ní Riada Presidential bid

The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called on the public to listen to the message of Liadh Ní Riada and to get behind her bid to be the next president of Ireland.  Carthy, who has worked closely with Ms. Ní Riada since they were both elected to the European Parliament in 2014 said that his colleague had the personality, the temperament and more importantly, the politics, required in the office of Uachtarán na h-Eireann at this time.

Matt Carthy, who was in Dublin on Sunday, for the official declaration that Liadh Ní Riada would receive the Sinn Féin nomination for the presidency, said:

“I am excited at the prospect of a President Ní Riada.  Having worked very closely with Liadh since we were both elected to the European Parliament in 2014 I know that she has the personality, temperament and more importantly, the politics, required in the office of Uachtarán na h-Eireann.


“Liadh is a hard worker.  She is a committed advocate on behalf of the Irish people, our culture, our language and our interests.  Her own life story is one of tragedy and determination to overcome it.  The qualities she has acquired mean that she is equipped to take on any challenge, including that of adopting the role as Ireland’s first citizen.


“We need a new president for a new Ireland.  In the aftermath of Brexit and in light of the significant changes we have witnessed over the past number of years Liadh will be well positioned to use the office of president to advocate and work for a United Ireland that embraces all our people.


“I look forward to campaigning on her behalf and I urge all those who want to see a better,

fairer, United Ireland to get behind her bid over the coming weeks”.


“A New President For A New Ireland”


Speaking following her nomination by Sinn Féin to contest the Presidential Election, MEP Liadh Ní Riada told of her personal background has given her a deep appreciation of Ireland’s unique identity and culture, its place in the wider world and a strong commitment to a United Ireland.


She said:


“I grew up in west Cork, an area with a proud republican history. I was raised in the Gaeltacht in an Irish speaking family and as the daughter of Seán O Riada, naturally, I was surrounded by his musical legacy.


“As someone who lost both parents at a young age, I have faced personal challenges and hardship. Myself and my siblings raised each other. This has given me a strong sense of independence and an empathy for those who are struggling.

“I want to be a new President for a New Ireland. Ireland has radically changed since the last Presidential election. We’ve become a more caring and inclusive society. A global inspiration when it comes to progressive social change.


“But we are only at the beginning of this new chapter. It’s time for all of us – particularly our younger generation – to write our own story, to shape a new and United Ireland.


“Ireland needs an energetic President to support and encourage this journey.


“I am proud to have served as MEP for Ireland South. I have fought hard for the interests of the Irish people in the European Parliament whether on Brexit, rural Ireland, climate change, neutrality, or economic and social justice.

“I am now be asking the people to allow me to bring to the office of President, the enthusiasm, energy and commitment I have already shown.


“As well as being custodian of our Constitution, I will be courageous in the defence of democracy, the national interest and Ireland’s sovereignty and neutrality.


“I will be a voice for a caring Ireland. A fair Ireland. An Ireland where every child has a home. An Ireland that leaves no one behind.


“I will honour the contribution of our carers and those working in our public services. I will launch a Presidential initiative to recognise employers paying fair wages.


“When abroad, I will put the interests of the Irish people first, as I always have, and lead a drive to bring home a generation forced to leave since the economic crash.

“I will give leadership on the values that should underpin a New Ireland – such as the economy serving the needs of our people and not the other way around.


“Anxiety and insecurity are contributing to a growing mental health crisis. I will focus on the causes of this crisis –  on how we can organise society so that we support each other rather than allow our quality of life be undermined by inequality and extreme individualism.


“I will use the opportunities of the office, including the ability to address the Oireachtas, to remind legislators of the values that matter – sharing prosperity, caring for all citizens and showing solidarity with others.


“My vision for a New Ireland is a pluralist and inclusive one – a United Ireland that respects the identities and traditions of all.


“I will be a positive voice for Irish Unity, leading by example and demonstrating the outreach and inclusivity needed to bring the people of this island together. If I am president, Áras an Uachtaráin will be a welcoming house for all.

“Ireland today is in transition. Brexit will have a major impact on our political and constitutional future.


“Increasingly the prospect, shape and nature of a United Ireland will be a feature of public discussion and political decision making.


“As President, I will initiate an inclusive citizens’ conversation on a future united Ireland.

“The past seven years have witnessed the disappearance of a lot of Ireland’s of old certainties. Partition too will be overcome. The tide of history is with those seeking to build a new, progressive and inclusive future.


“A process of national reconciliation is central to uniting the people of Ireland. If elected, reconciliation will be a theme of my Presidency.

“The future of this great country will be built on our glorious diversity – an equal society for women and men, citizens of all abilities and disabilities, settled and Traveller, LGBT and straight, young and old, black and white, Orange and Green.


“I am asking you to take that journey with me as I stand here before you today, as one of us, a proud Republican woman, asking you to help me become a president for all of us.


“Together we can win. Together we can make history. Together we can ensure that we have a New President for a New Ireland.”

10 years after Lehman Brothers, major risks remain – Matt Carthy MEP

10 years after Lehman Brothers, major risks remain – Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has commented on continuing risks to financial stability on the tenth anniversary of the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers.


Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said: “This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the US.  The subprime mortgage crisis led to a collapse in the US housing market – but it was the decade of gambling on these mortgages by ‘securitising’ them into complex investment vehicles that caused the most damage.


“As financial institutions began to realise they couldn’t put a value on hedge funds that were ‘contaminated’ with securitised mortgages, the entire value of several banks and associated private equity funds was wiped out. The interconnected nature of the global financial system prompted a chain reaction. Millions of people around the world lost their homes, their jobs, their savings and their retirement funds. But governments soon stepped in to bail out the banks that were deemed ‘too big to fail’.


“So what’s changed in the past 10 years? Unfortunately the biggest changes we can observe is the rapid rise of the far right in the US and the EU, and a massive increase in inequality around the world. In Ireland we are facing unprecedented crises in housing and health, while the banks we bailed out are not even paying a cent in corporation tax.


“We are seeing the results of two failures – the reckless financial deregulation that caused the crash, and the even more reckless political esponse to it, which imposed harsh austerity on ordinary people who had played no role in the crisis.


“The main tool that has been used to lift the economy out of recession has been monetary policies of the ECB and other central banks – record-low interest rates and quantitative easing. But instead of providing new money to households or the fight against climate change, the ECB has been pumping in around €60 billion each month into corporate sector assets and government bonds since 2015.


“This has fuelled volatile new asset bubbles, including in property. It’s hard to make a profit when interest rates are so low, so investors and hedge funds have turned to property. As a result, the property market in one in three EU countries is now overheating – meaning it is overvalued and heading for a price crash. And despite a decade of easy money, inflation remains stubbornly low. This means when the next crisis or downturn hits, there will be few remaining tools central banks can use to turn it around.


“We are facing several significant risks to financial stability today, including new asset bubbles, the emerging market debt crisis, and historic levels of private debt. But in the EU we are already seeing the rolling back of post-crisis regulations, and the ECB and the Commission are actively promoting the revival of securititsation.


“The Banking Union aimed at ending the too-big-to-fail problem stumbled at its very first hurdle in Italy last year, where a massive loophole in the new law allowed taxpayer-funded bailouts to take place again. The Bank Structural Reform proposal – aimed at separating the commercial and investment activities of the banks – was withdrawn last year after fierce lobbying by the banks.


“If we’re serious about avoiding a new financial crisis, we need major reform of the sector. This means, for a start, turning away from securitisation, regulating the shadow banking sector, closing the loopholes in the Banking Union legislation and implementing the Bank Structural Reform proposal.  Unfortunately it seems clear that those political parties, such as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, who endorsed the policies that caused the crash, and burdened the costs of that crash on ordinary families, are intent on pursuing similar policies once again.  That is why real economic change can only be brought about by real, and progressive, political change.” ENDS


Progress needed to tackle Unfair Trading Practices in food supply chain – Matt Carthy MEP

Progress needed to tackle Unfair Trading Practices in food supply chain – Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, this week reported that he continues to be engaged in negotiations to bring much needed rebalancing in the relationship between farmers and commercial buyers of produce, such as supermarkets and processors.


Carthy, as member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee, has been appointed to work on amending the initial proposals on Unfair Trading Practices from the European Commission.


Carthy commented:


“The proposals from Commissioner Phil Hogan on Unfair Trading Practices, while welcome as a first step, are insufficient to deliver the necessary improvement in the bargaining power of farmers when dealing with massive retail chains.


“I have proposed 24 amendments to strengthen the proposal, and we have now reached the stage of negotiating compromises between the political groups in the European Parliament. This is a critical time as I fear that the supermarket lobbies have been working hard to convince some political groups to stick as close to the Commission’s unambitious proposals as possible.


“They are determined to ensure that their profit margins are not touched by this legislation and that the final report does not affect their ability to demand prejudicial terms against the farmer.


“I am committed to ensuring the agreed position of the parliament protects farmers and allows them to receive a fair price for the product. At a minimum, supermarkets must be legally prevented from paying farmers less than the cost of production for their goods.


“Under current circumstances farmers are often forced to sell their products for less than it costs them to produce, small wonder then that direct payments can make up 100% of some Irish farmers’ incomes.  The proposed cuts to the CAP budget increases the urgency to mitigate the weakness of our primary producers in the food chain.


“Sinn Féin firmly believes that the Irish family farm model must be protected and supported.  Others say the same, they have an opportunity to prove this by strengthening the UTP legislation at this time.


“I hope Irish farmers are paying close attention to the actions of their MEPs, and their respective political groups, when progressive amendments aimed at strengthening the position of farmers come before the AGRI committee and plenary in the European Parliament”.


Juncker’s speech should ring alarm bells – Matt Carthy MEP

Juncker’s speech should ring alarm bells – Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has described comments in European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the European Union address as deeply worrying for Irish sovereignty particularly in the areas of taxation and defence.


Speaking from Strasbourg after Mr Juncker addressed the European Parliament, the Sinn Féin MEP said: “Once again we have the President of the European commission calling for an end to the process of decision-making by unanimity in the Council on crucial issues such as taxation powers and foreign policy, including military missions.


“Despite the fact that Member States including Ireland have consistently rejected the proposal for qualified majority voting on the Council in some of these areas, the fact that Juncker has put it front and centre in today’s speech signals the Commission’s determination to move towards such a system, and should ring alarm bells for the Irish people.


Many will also be aghast at Juncker’s repugnant proposals to deploy 10,000 border guards to the EU’s frontiers.


“Just yesterday, representatives from the Commission and the European Parliament lined up to condemn the racism, xenophobia, misogyny and anti-refugee cruelty of the Orbán regime in Hungary.


“But today we have Juncker adopting the rhetoric of a strongman fighting the supposed threat posed by desperate people fleeing their homes in search of safety. The militarisation of the EU’s borders and the push towards forcible returns of migrants is disgraceful. It’s a simply a half-step removed from the policies of Orbán and Trump, but framed in the language of legality and solidarity.


“Juncker spoke constantly of the need for strength to face the threats of migration and terrorism, but dedicated just three lines in a 12 page speech to speaking vaguely of Europe’s ‘social dimension’.


“This speech indicates that Mr Juncker is either oblivious to the huge political and economic problems in the EU, that have to a large degree been directly caused by the Commission’s neoliberal policies, or he doesn’t care. These policies have contributed directly to the Brexit referendum result and the rise of far-right parties across the EU.


“His prescription is a recipe for increased political instability. He fails to recognise the deep political crisis at the heart of the EU project, and the hardship millions continue to suffer a decade after the financial crisis.


“I and my colleagues in Sinn Féin will continue to work with others across Europe for a democratic, social Europe where all member states work together as equals and where the real interests of citizens are at the heart of EU policy making.” ENDS


Carthy calls on EU Commission to commit to Brexit Relief Fund

Carthy calls on EU Commission to commit to Brexit Relief Fund


The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called on the Commission to commit to providing for a Brexit Relief Fund as a matter of urgency.


Speaking following receiving communication from Commissioner Hogan on Sinn Féin’s proposal, Carthy said:


“Britain’s exit from the European Union will have implications for Ireland and key sectors within our economy no matter what the final arrangement looks like.  While we in Sinn Féin are confident that the north can and must secure special status within the EU and are working for a favourable trading relationship with Britain in a post-Brexit scenario we also recognise that there will be damaging consequences in almst every scenario.


“There are multiple reports and studies all pointing to a disastrous impact on the agricultural sector yet we still have no indication of what specific support will be put in place to help farmers withstand any shocks.  The same is true for other sectors.


“Sinn Féin has been calling on the Commission to provide for a Brexit Relief fund to be established to provide assistance to those sectors most at risk to an adverse Brexit outcome. Discourse of a no-deal Brexit has been rife of late and farmers and small businesses cannot be left without the necessary tools to deal with those eventualities.


“Before the summer I submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission asking it to consider the possibility of creating a relief fund to be used by farmers affected by market disturbances as a result of Brexit – for example currency fluctuations, the imposition of checks and controls, potential tariff-rate quotas, disruptions to supply chains, and trade diversion.


“It is my view that a Brexit-specific fund does need to be created since there is a danger that existing emergency relief programmes and funds will be unsuitable and insufficient to deal with this scenario. Take for example the early victims of Brexit related currency fluctuations such as the mushroom sector, for whom the Irish Government sought no EU emergency relief.


“Brexit is a new challenge. Never before has a country deicded to leave the European Union. Therefore we need new solutions to the pressures it brings on remaining countries.


“Commissioner Hogan’s response that it is “impossible to predict the potential implications of Brexit” is short-sighted and disappointing.  Now is the time to be preapring for shocks, not a year after they’ve already inflicted the worst.


“Sinn Féin will not be deterred from this unimaginative approach from the Irish Commissioner supposedly looking our for the interests of farmers’.  We will be presenting our own proposals on this issue to the European Union’s 2019 Budget.


“We are entering a crucial period in Brexit talks.  Our priority must be to ensure that the north remains part of the EU, especially the Customs Union and Single Market.  But we must also protect businesses, farms and citizens across the EU who stand to lose most from Brexit – a sizeable number of those reside in Ireland.  Therefore I am calling on the Irish government to get behind our demand for a Brexit Relief Fund”.


EIB targeting Irish regions for unsustainable corporate forestry policy – Matt Carthy MEP

EIB targeting Irish regions for unsustainable corporate forestry policy – Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has received confirmation from the European Investment Bank (EIB) that multimillion loan scheme for foreign corporate investors in forestry is targeting the North West and South West regions of Ireland.


Last year the EIB announced a new initiative with the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) to provide €112m worth of low-cost loans to investors looking to plant forests in Ireland. The scheme is not open to farmers, and is being run by a Finnish capital investment firm, Dasos, primarily to the advantage of foreign investors such as pension firms.


Speaking following receipt of new information this week, Carthy said:


“The EIB has this week confirmed to me that while their own policies dictate that their funds (€28.5m) may not be used to help foreign capital investors purchase local lands, the partnership they have created with the ISIF (€55m) and Dasos has created a legal vehicle to do just that.


“The letter also confirms that the focus of this investment fund is the North West and South West of the country, where there is already a very high concentration of forestry. The forestry industry is already more than profitable on its own without the need for a state funded loan scheme. There have been no accompanying plans to create jobs from this new industry, nor any accompanying commitments from the EIB/ISIF/Dasos partnership to plant native species or encourage continuous cover.


“As I have argued before, the EIB need to provide more transparency about what is going on with this loan scheme.  They have again refused to provide me with information about the profile of investors, how much money has already been released, the size of the envelopes, and the specific areas that the loans are being sought in respect of.


“West of Ireland communities such as those in Co. Leitrim have witnessed a gradual spread of tall, dark and impenetrable Sitka Spruce across the region over the past few years. The latest National Forestry Inventory now puts Leitrim with the highest percentage of overall forest cover at 18.9%, with a vast majority of non-native species.


“The withdrawal of public services and under-investment in jobs and infrastructure, coupled with this policy of unbridled forestry expansion has left many communities in these regions despairing for their future.


“It is imperative that local communities know what to expect from this fund. Does the Government really expect them to sit back and watch while land all around turns over into the hands of foreign multinationals through a policy that delivers minimal in terms of environmental benefit?


“For my part I will work alongside my Sinn Féin colleagues and the communities affected to deliver a sustainable forestry policy which ensures that partnerships of this kind are held accountable”.


Related documentation:

Conor O’Kelly re Forestry Fund
Letter to Minister for Agriculture re Forestry


Andrew McDowell Letter 23 August part 1


Andrew McDowell Letter 23 August part 2

Impending fodder crises escalation demands greater action by Irish government – Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has criticised the Government’s response to the deepening fodder crises as inadequate. Carthy, member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee, commented this week:


“We are in a unique situation in Ireland whereby we are now witnessing a fodder crisis that has lasted a full year.  As early as last September, I implored Minister Creed to adopt measures to avert such a crisis but the Minister continually insisted that no such crises existed.  Had measures been put in place at that point we would not have the challenges currently presenting.  In fact it took Minister Creed several months to acknowledge that a fodder shortage was a reality on many farms and a further number of months before he implemented the shambolic fodder transport scheme.


“As we approach another winter, farmers across the country are still awaiting any tangible evidence of government action.  I welcome the introduction of the import supply measures, but this alone cannot make up the huge shortages we are seeing in many parts of the country, especially as the availably of forage on the continent is severely reduced due to the adverse weather conditions.


“I understand the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture will reconvene on September 4 to discuss fodder and drought issues.  We need to see a clear plan of action resulting from this meeting and agreement from the Minister to implement it.  Throughout the summer months animals have been fed on meal and silage, as grass growth rates have been dismal.


“Generally, farmers can feed grown grass for a third of what it costs to feed meal and half of what it costs to feed silage. By now, farmers rainy days funds are almost exhausted, and with a long winter ahead they need decisive intervention.


“Low cost credit can be part of the solution if properly funded by the department.  Last year, the agri-cashflow support loan scheme was heavily oversubscribed and all of the capacity was fully accounted for within weeks of launch, leaving a large number of farmers without recourse to it.   


“We need to support famers in severe financial hardship, who have near exhausted reserves, as a matter of urgency.  This should be done through a specific targeted fund.  Meal vouchers must be made available to all farmers as Sinn Féin first advocated almost a year ago.


 “The decline of farm incomes, in a number of sectors, makes this a perfect storm for the sector.  At an EU level I am currently working to oppose the proposed cuts to the CAP budget and to put a stop to the unfair trading practices that drive down farmers’ margins.


“Sinn Féin believes farmers are entitled to a sustainable future, and to support by an Irish Government that understand the risks they take both physically and financially to provide quality food for our island.  The failure of Michael Creed to address the escalation of the Fodder crisis is a worrying indication of this government’s ability to deliver these goals”.