Sinn Féin MEPs to vote against Right-Wing nominee for EU Commission President

Sinn Féin MEPs to vote against Right-Wing nominee for EU Commission President


Speaking this evening, Monday, Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, confirmed that he and his party colleague Martina Anderson, will be voting against the candidature of Ursula Von der Leyen during her ratification process in the European Parliament on Tuesday.


Matt Carthy said:


“We will vote to reject the council nomination of Ursula der Leyen because we believe that her leadership of the Commission would represent more of the same and that her political disposition means that she will be unable to address the fundamental reform that we consider vital for the future of the EU.


“Ms. Von der Leyen’s record is one of championing austerity in Germany and across Europe, she supported imposing billions of Euros of private banking debt on the peoples of Ireland, Greece and other bail-out countries that resulted in extreme hardship in these states.

“She wants to further centralise economic policies and further reduce the margin of manoeuvre for governments while at the same time she opposes taking effective action on corporate tax avoidance and evasion.

“Throughout her political career Ursula Von der Leyen has been weak on social justice and human rights.  Her strong support for EU militarisation, including the advancement of an EU army has been well documented she has been content to see arms sold to the repressive regime of Saudi Arabia.

“It’s no wonder that Leo Varadkar is her Director of Elections.  He would agree with her on almost everything.


“But, for Sinn Féin, we strongly believe that Ursula Von der Leyen is not the type of Commission president that the people of Ireland support or the EU needs at this critical juncture.

“Of course, we welcome Ms. Von der Leyen’s stated position on Brexit in supporting the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop which is in line with the expressed views of all other mooted candidates for the role of commission president.

“Sinn Fein has played an important role in ensuring widespread support for special arrangements for the north of Ireland in any withdrawal agreement even during a period when the Irish government’s position was weaker than what was required.  Thanks to our efforts, and the campaigning work of communities particularly in the border region, the position of the Irish government and the EU has since been rock solid in support of the withdrawal agreement.  Our party will continue to work with all players in the negotiations, including whoever is elected as Commission president, to ensure that Irish interests are protected throughout the Brexit process.

“By acting as the spokesperson for the most right-wing EPP prime ministers in the European Council, Leo Varadkar has done more damage to the position of Ireland than our vote on Commission President ever could.  He has made unnecessary enemies in the Council and in the Parliament.

“By opposing her nomination, Sinn Féin will ensure that all political groups in parliament can understand that the backstop is not just the property of Leo Varadkar and the EPP, but a pivotal position that requires support from all quarters”.


Hogan appointment a victory for cronyism over competence – Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands North-West Matt Carthy has described the government decision to reappoint Phil Hogan as Ireland’s commissioner as “a missed opportunity”.

Mr Carthy said that Phil Hogan had failed as a Minister and subsequently as a European Commissioner.

Matt Carthy said:

“Phil Hogan’s periods as a Government Minister were marked by failure – most notably in his handling of water charges and the establishment of Irish Water.

“Likewise, during his period as European Commissioner, he has failed to address the inequalities in European agriculture or to stand up for Irish farmers when required.

“His recent defence of the disastrous trade agreement with the Mercosur bloc shows that he was always more concerned about placating EU power-brokers than protecting agriculture interests or the economies of countries such as Ireland.

“This was just the latest of a long line of disappointments in his period as Commissioner including his failure to address unfair trading practices effectively and his support for an EU budget that proposes a 15% cut in CAP while funnelling billions into the European arms industry.

“Phil Hogan’s big political achievements amount to being a wily operator within Fine Gael and playing big roles for the winning candidates during party leadership contests.

“These are the factors that cabinet has rewarded by this appointment.  This is clearly a victory for cronyism over competence. This is a missed opportunity.

“At a time when Brexit looms large and when a major debate on the future of the European Union demands an Irish commissioner with a proven track-record, the government should and could have nominated a person with that record that would have the confidence of the majority of Irish people.

“This nomination clearly fails that test.”

“Dáil rejection of Mercusor deal an sends an important message that must not be ignored” – Matt Carthy MEP

“Dáil rejection of Mercusor deal an sends an important message that must not be ignored” – Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the passing of a Sinn Féin Dáil private members motion rejecting the disastrous Mercosur trade deal.

The Dáil is the first parliament in Europe to reject the deal which would have a huge negative impact on the Irish beef sector, rural communities, the environment and the wider Irish economy.

Matt Carthy said:

“The Dáil’s rejection of Mercosur is hugely significant and gives clear direction to the Government that it must do all in its power to stop this deal.

“I hope that other parliaments across Europe follow suit and that the European Commission accepts that this type of trade deal is not acceptable.

“Sinn Féin is disappointed with the Government’s approach so far, they have shown no commitment to fight Mercosur, despite the devastating implications for Irish farmers and the economy of rural Ireland.

“This was underlined by the Taoiseach’s nomination of Phil Hogan, who failed to defend Ireland’s interests in the Mercosur negations, as Ireland’s next European Commissioner.

“There is agreement among all of the main farming organisations, and among Dáil opposition parties, and it seems among several members of the Cabinet, that this is a bad deal for farmers, for the Irish economy and it is a dreadful deal for climate change.

“Today’s Dáil motion clearly directs the government to vote against the deal at European Council and to use all legal and political means available to ensure that this deal is rejected.

“I commend the Sinn Féin Dáil team for securing support for this motion. An important message has been delivered that cannot be ignored by our government or the European Commission. The battle against Mercosur made significant progress today.”


Matt Carthy MEP: “Brussels suspension of funding for Irish fishing communities an attack on Irish sovereignty”

Matt Carthy MEP: “Brussels suspension of funding for Irish fishing communities an attack on Irish sovereignty”


Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has criticised the European Commission for a suspension of €6 million of EU funding for the Irish fishing sector in the wake of the Irish penalty point system for fishermen being overhauled after the Irish courts in 2016 previously found the original statutory instrument to be unconstitutional.


“Whilst I have no issue with a penalty point system per se, what had been in place and was again proposed by Minister Creed in2018 violated the rights of individual fishermen and vessel owners throughout the country.


“Fishermen still had penalty points implemented on their fishing vessel even if a sanction was appealed and challenged effectively in a higher court.


“This was thankfully rejected by the Dáil, and now a new penalty point system is being proposed again by Minister Creed.  However, unless the system is fair and proportionate it’s difficult to see how fishermen will be in a position to accept it.


“To make matters worse, the European Commission, pending any new implementation of a reformed penalty point system, have decided to sanction funding earmarked for Irish fishing communities.


“This is another example of the European Commission interfering in domestic matters concerning our fishing communities and punishing them.”



New EU laws on shotguns -“Unworkable without dialogue with gun-owners & farmers” – Matt Carthy MEP

New EU laws on shotguns -“Unworkable without dialogue with gun-owners & farmers”

– Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has voiced his concerns with proposed new EU legislation that would force Irish farmers, hunters and gun-owners to pay millions of euro to replace their shotguns.


The Midlands North West MEP was speaking after he attended the 5th ICTSF World English Sporting Championship hosted by the Irish Clay Target Shooting Association at Dowth, Co Meath, last Saturday where he was accompanied by Sligo/Leitrim TD Martin Kenny and local Sinn Féin Councillor Johnny Guirke.  During his visit Carthy met with representatives of the Clay Target Shooting Association to discuss the proposals.  He was it was disappointing that the government have failed, thus far, to engage in talks with gun-owners about the proposals.


Matt Carthy said:


“EU and Irish Government officials are seeking to ban the use of lead in shooting and fishing, making over 100,000 guns in Ireland completely obsolete.  Consultation with game clubs has been almost non-existent.


“We are looking at a situation where 70% to 80% of shotguns in Ireland will be rendered unusable and the cost of replacing these guns could amount to over €150m.


“Farmers account for more than half of gun users in Ireland.  With the cost of replacing a gun ranging between €750 to €1,000, this is imposing a major financial burden on many hard-pressed individuals.


“If owners seek to have their guns modified to comply with the new legislation which bans lead shot in favour of steel, they cannot do so in this country as the facilities for doing so simply don’t exist here.


“The only option open to gun owners is to send their gun to Britain to be modified at a cost of anything up to €300 per gun.


“That this Fine Gael government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has agreed to enact this EU proposal without engaging with those affected has caused huge frustration and further alienation in rural communities who see this latest move merely as the latest in a long line of attacks on their way of life.  The EU proposals, as they currently stand, are unworkable and costly and are essentially tokenistic because they will result in the withdrawal from conservation measures a key constituency in the delivery of them, namely farmers and game clubs.


“Sinn Féin strongly supports the sustainable pursuit of traditional rural occupations including hunting and fishing, which are vital to the life and economy of rural Ireland.


“I have been engaging with both the Commissioner and European Ombudsman on this issue and will continue to work closely with game councils and conservation organisations to ensure that there is a full and robust dialogue process before the enaction of this legislation is further contemplated.”



Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, joined his party colleagues Martin Kenny TD & Cllr. Johnny Guirke at Dowth, Co Meath where they met with representatives of the Irish Clay Target Shooting Association to discuss proposed new EU laws on shotguns.

“Government has reneged on HSE support staff promises” Matt Carthy MEP expresses solidarity with Striking Workers

“Government has reneged on HSE support staff promises”

Matt Carthy MEP expresses solidarity with Striking Workers


Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform must honour existing agreements made between the HSE support staff and the Department of health.


Carthy was speaking as he expressed solidarity with up to 10,000 HSE support staff from 38 hospitals who were taking part in Strike action across the state on Wednesday following a deadlock in negotiations between SIPTU and Health Servive Management over pay and conditions.


The Midlands Northwest MEP said:


“I want to extend my full solidarity to those engaged in this Strike. These staff do not want to be on picket lines but are merely seeking pay justice. Promises were made and they haven’t been kept. The government must act now to prevent future strike action.


“The comments of Leo Varadkar in threatening staff on Strike with penalties is unhelpful and irresponsible.  The Taoiseach once again exposes himself as out of touch.


“Two years ago the Department of Health & the HSE agreed a job evaluation scheme with these workers to avert strike action.  This agreement was facilitated by the oversight body of the Lansdowne Road public service agreement.


“The scheme highlighted that workers such as Hospital porters, healthcare assistants, technicians and chefs are being underpaid for the roles they carry out.  The fractional pay increases and reduction of worker entitlements that have been offered are insulting to the workers concerned and shows bad faith on the Government’s behalf.  Minister Donohoe must act responsibly and initiate emergency talks now so all parties can come to a reasonable resolution and further disruption to our health services can be avoided.”


Community anger over leniency of sentence for Graham Tobin’s killer

Community anger over leniency of sentence for Graham Tobin’s killer

Local MEP calls for clarity on sentencing determinants


Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has reported widespread community anger and disappointment with the sentence of eight years imprisonment for the killer of Graham Tobin handed down last week.


The Co Monaghan based representative confirmed that he has been in regular contact with members of Graham’s family who were shocked by what they consider to be the excessively lenient sentence delivered in the case.  Carthy called for greater clarity on the determinants used by judges to mitigate sentences citing for example the position where a defendant has a sentence reduced for pleading guilty despite the fact that the guilt is never in doubt.


The MEP acknowledged that judges were acting within their remit but that the case of Graham Tobin’s killing, following as it does an even shorter sentence for the killer of Seamus Bell, have led to many calls from across Co Monaghan for stricter penalties for those convicted of violent actions which cause the death of innocent people.


Matt Carthy said: “Those of us who knew Graham Tobin remain in shock with what happened to him.  Graham was a gentleman in every sense of the word, he was liked by everyone who met him and he was a person who avoided conflict at every turn.  It is unthinkable that his life was ended in such a callous manner.


“The grief that his family are going through remains unbearable, they will never get over their loss.  He was a much-loved father, husband, son and brother.  I have to say it is sickening to think that Graham’s eldest child may be still in school when his killer is released.  Graham’s four boys have lost their Daddy and, of course, no sentence would compensate them for that.


“But, speaking to people in Carrickmacross in recent days, there is widespread anger and frustration and a belief that the sentences for crimes such as this do not sufficiently act as a deterrent.  In this case there were two distinct crimes – the unprovoked attack on Graham which led to his injuries and the subsequent refusal to seek medical intervention for him as he lay unconscious and critically injured for four hours.


“Sentencing guidelines need to reflect the second crime as much as the first.  There is also need for clarity regarding the mitigation applied by judges in cases like this.  It appears that a ‘Guilty’ plea will always lead to a reduced sentence even though in this case it is clear that guilt was never in doubt.  Also, the notion that a defendant can receive mitigation for writing a letter of apology, regardless of whether that apology is accepted or even if it is actually sincere needs to be addressed in my view.


“The defendant is this case was already serving a suspended sentence, therefore having broken the terms of the suspension he should have been returned to prison – the notion that the period he has spent on remand during this trial should be now taken off his time for Graham’s killing does not make sense.  It is also galling for Graham’s family that his killer’s sentence was further mitigated because of the so-called ‘good behaviour’ of the defendant while he was on remand.


“Unfortunately, incidents such as this are too prevalent.  Previously in South Monaghan, Seamus Bell was also killed by an unprovoked attacked.  In both instances the killers had previous convictions, in both incidents the prevailing opinion is that the sentences handed down did not reflect the grievous nature of the crime.


“I will be writing to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan requesting that he prioritise the judicial council bill which, due to Sinn Féin input, has provision for sentencing guidelines for the first time in legislation.  If the Minister prioritises this bill it can be passed before the summer recess.  In that event the process of drafting guidelines can begin quickly which should lead to a situation whereby appropriate and more consistent sentences are handed down and excessively lenient sentences, such as in this instance, are eliminated.”


Carthy demands Varadkar withdraw Ireland’s support for Mercosur deal

Carthy demands Varadkar withdraw Ireland’s support for Mercosur deal


“Position of FF & FG to EU trade agenda threatens Irish family farms” – SF MEP


Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called on the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to unequivocally remove Irish support for the EU mandate to negotiate the Mercosur trade deal.  He was speaking in response to the letter by Mr. Varadkar to Jean Claude Junker raising ‘concerns’ about the deal.  Carthy described this measure as “tokenism” and accused both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of threatening the future of the Irish family farm model due to their deferential approach to EU trade deals.


Carthy said:


“The time for writing letters of concern on Mercosur is long past.  I have repeatedly called on the government to withdraw in full its support for the European Commission mandate to negotiate this trade deal recognising the impact it will have on Irish agriculture; they have repeatedly refused to do so.  In the absence of them taking that move, anything less is tokenism.


“We already know that the European Commission is willing to offer a tariff free quota of 99,000 tonnes of Brazilian beef per year into the EU.  We know that other sectors are at risk too, including poultry.  We know that there is nothing positive for Ireland in this deal, that it is being pursued in the interests of German car manufactures – why then is our government playing with words rather than stopping this deal?


“Coupled with other EU trade deals such as the CETA agreement with Canada (which includes provision for 50,000 tonnes of tariff free beef imports), Mercosur could become as big a threat to Irish agriculture as Brexit.  However, the approach adopted by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to what is an aggressive EU trade agenda is extremely worrying.  Not only have they ignored the concerns associated with most EU trade agreements, they have attacked Sinn Féin when we raised those concerns!  Their deferential approach threatens the Irish family farm model.


“It is in this context that farmers should view letters from the government to the commission expressing ‘concern’.  It is time that farmers mobilised, not just against the European Commission but against the government parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil who have given the commission free reign to trade away their future in agriculture.


“Considering the looming threat of Brexit and the inherent contradiction and hypocrisy in supporting a deal that would see the importation of huge quantities of beef from the far side of the world when Irish farmers are being told to reduce production – it is time for the government to withdraw it’s mandate from any trade deal that risks our agriculture sector and the rural economies that depend on them, including Mercosur.


“For our part we in Sinn Féin will continue to adopt a vigilant position on EU trade deals and we will refuse to join Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in rubber-stamping deals which could collectively threaten Irish farming as we know it.”


“Campaign by Tara workers’ against Revenue plans to remove allowances will have Sinn Féin’s full support” – Matt Carthy MEP

“Campaign by Tara workers’ against Revenue plans to remove allowances will have Sinn Féin’s full support” – Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has met with workers’ representatives in the Tara Mines in county Meath to discuss the impact of a proposal from Revenue to abolish existing tax allowances.  Carthy, who met with the Tara workers alongside Navan Councillor Sinéad Burke, heard how revenue is carrying out a review of the flat rate expense allowances.


He said: “Revenue is carrying out a review of flat rate expense allowances that cover the cost of equipment needed for work, including things like tools, uniforms and stationery.  The review is expected to be completed by the end of this year and it is proposed that many of the allowances will be abolished.  This will have the immediate impact of significantly reducing the pay of the workers affected.


“Workers in Tara Mines are organising against the current Revenue proposal to phase out the uniform allowance, other workers will undoubtedly be following suit.


“This suggestion from Revenue is simply a mechanism to take more money out of the pocket of hard-pressed workers and it should be rejected.  Revenue should listen to the voice of the Tara Mines employees on this issue and provide assurances that it does not intend to get rid of this uniform allowance which is clearly necessary for these workers.


“Along with Pearse Doherty in the Dáil, who I have been already liaising with, and our local Navan representatives, Sinéad Burke and Eddie Fennessy, Sinn Féin will be leading the opposition to this suggestion from Revenue at political level.  The Minister for Finance should immediately intervene to put a halt to this proposal and we will be demanding that he does so.”



Fianna Fáil want more economic powers transferred to Brussels – Matt Carthy MEP

Fianna Fáil want more economic powers transferred to Brussels – Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has criticised the proposal from Fianna Fáil European election candidates to transfer even more economic decision-making powers from Dublin to Brussels.

Carthy, representative for Midlands North West, said: “It beggars belief that after the experience we went through with Troika-imposed austerity that any Irish party would be calling for a further transfer of our economic decision-making powers to Brussels.

“Fianna Fáil is clueless when it comes to the EU’s economic governance framework. In the party’s election manifesto they call for a Eurozone budget and joint bond issues as a step towards a full fiscal and transfer union in the EU. In practice, this means they are supporting the call by their EU political group (ALDE) and Fine Gael’s group (EPP) for the creation of an EU Finance Minister to control the budgets and spending of the member states.

“There is a persistent drive by the political groups of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to make any and all EU spending conditional and dependent on Member States implementing so-called structural reforms. These structural reforms are invariably bad for working people and the environment and usually involve privatisation, cuts to public spending and frontline services, and attacks on workers’ rights.

“Proposals for an EU Finance Minister and an increased EU Budget are part of the this drive for the Commission technocrats to be able to exert even more power than they already have when it comes to the surveillance and control of the spending decisions of democratically elected governments.

“Fianna Fail’s ALDE group’s election manifesto cals calls for cohesion policy to be ‘linked’ to the European Semester and the implementation of structural reforms. This means they want to see EU funds for the most disadvantaged and underdeveloped regions to be dependent on those areas selling off their publicly owned utilities and services and scrapping laws that aim to counter the exploitation of workers.

“Fianna Fáil, ALDE and the EPP group are also supporting the transformation of the existing intergovernmental bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, into a European Monetary Fund. This would potentially leave the Irish government without a vote in the fund’s decision-making process.

“The call in Fianna Fáil’s manifesto for a review of the fiscal rules, after urging Irish voters to support the Fiscal Compact being inserted into our Constitution, is hypocrisy of the highest order.

“Their candidates should have the decency to admit to Irish voters that they have got it wrong, time and again, when it comes to the EU’s economic governance system.” ENDS

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