Government set to ‘dodge’ previous Carbon Tax commitment to Farm Contractors

Government set to ‘dodge’ previous Carbon Tax commitment to Farm Contractors – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has labelled the Minister for Finance’s response to a question on increases to taxes on green diesel as an attempt to ‘dodge’ his previous commitment.

 

The increased Carbon Tax introduced by government in Budget 2021 contained a deferred increase on Green Diesel, due to take effect on May 1st this year.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“The implementation of this carbon tax increase on Green Diesel was deferred until May.

 

“In light of the ongoing pandemic and outworking’s of Brexit that are only now becoming apparent, Teachta Pearse Doherty and I asked the Minister for Finance if he would further delay the implementation of this tax increase.

 

“Farmers, and the agricultural sector in general, are currently facing great uncertainty – it does not make sense to take more money out of their pockets at this time.

 

“More broadly, the Carbon Tax itself is self-defeating.  The idea of increasing tax on fuel while public transport remains an unviable option in much of rural Ireland is an affront to those communities.  Clearly, farmers and farm contractors have no options to change their machines at this stage.

 

“The Minister was pressed specifically on the situation farm contractors find themselves in, and they have made clear that due to unfair tax rules they will have no choice but to pass this tax increase directly on to farmers.

 

“Minister Donohoe has acknowledged his previous commitment to address the concerns of Farm Contractors but has yet to indicate if he will abide by it.

 

“There is also a role for the Minister for Agriculture in addressing this situation.  In addressing what is effectively an agricultural tax, farm contractors need action and support from government.

 

“In the coming weeks before this tax increase comes into effect, I intend to engage the Ministers for Finance and Agriculture to ensure that the commitment to review this situation with farm contractors is delivered”.

 

Transcript of Dáil Debate

 

Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Finance if he will extend the exemption of green diesel from the increase to the carbon tax introduced as part of budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

 

Deputy Pearse Doherty: The question is a6bout whether 6the Minister will extend the exemption on green diesel from the increase in carbon tax introduced in budget 2021. There is an extension whereby it will not come into effect until 1 May of this year, as a result of the dual issues of Brexit and the pandemic. These issues have not been resolved but there are also serious issues in terms of the fairness of the tax. We want to hear the views of the Minister on it.

 

Minister Paschal DonohoeIreland’s excise duty treatment of fuel used for motor and heating purposes is based on European Union law as set out in Directive 2003/96/EC on the taxation of energy products and electricity, commonly known as the energy tax directive.

 

Mineral oil tax is an excise duty comprised of carbon and non-carbon components. The carbon component is often referred to as carbon tax, but it is only one part of the overall tax that applies to mineral oils and other fuels used for motor and heating purposes. Mineral oil tax as applied in Ireland is subject to the requirements of the energy tax directive.

 

The main agriculture exposure to excise duty comes from the fuel inputs primarily through the use of marked gas oil, which is also commonly referred to as green diesel, farm diesel or agricultural diesel. Marked gas oil is currently subject to a rate of mineral oil tax of 11.8 cent per litre. This compares to the current full rate of mineral oil tax for auto diesel used as a propellant of 51.5 cent per litre.

 

Farmers and agricultural contractors who incur expenses in relation to farm diesel in the course of their trade of agricultural contracting may claim an income tax or corporation tax deduction for these expenses, including any carbon tax charged in respect of the diesel.

 

Section 26 of the Finance Act 2020 increased the rate of carbon tax to €33.50 per tonne. This applied to transport fuels from midnight on budget night but in line with the policy approach applied in this area in recent years, I delayed its implementation on all other fuels, including marked gas oil, until 1 May, after the winter heating season. This was not an exemption of marked gas oil from the budget 2021 increase. It was a repeat of what we did in previous years. I remain committed to the plans I outlined in the Finance Bill.

 

Pearse DohertyThe Minister will appreciate that the agricultural sector is going through very challenging times as a result of Brexit and, like many other sectors, the pandemic. He is also aware that as he introduced the budget, despite the fact this issue was postponed until 1 May there was quite a backlash from the agricultural sector with regard to this increase. These are people who care for the land very much but have seen this increase as a way of picking their pockets. Many people, particularly in communities such as mine in Donegal and along the west coast, are struggling to survive on the small farm holdings they have. The introduction of this has been postponed until 1 May. The question is whether the Minister is open to deferring it further. In particular, will he address the inequalities that exist between farm contractors and farmers with regard to being able to claim back the relief under section 664A?

 

Paschal Donohoe:  I am very much aware of the issues Deputy Doherty has referred to and the hardship many people in our agricultural community are facing due to the issues of the pandemic and the consequences of Brexit. However, this measure has been introduced on a phased basis over many years. The ongoing challenges that members of the agricultural community face regarding the costs and impact of carbon taxation on their living standards and the bills they need to pay are reflected in the taxation treatment provided for with respect to carbon tax. This is how we are recognising the issues Deputy Doherty is referring to. It is my understanding that not only farmers but also agricultural contractors who incur expenses on farm diesel in the course of their trade are able to claim this back as a business expense against either their income tax or their corporate tax bill.

 

Pearse DohertyThe Minister is aware that farm contractors are not able to claim back the double income tax reliefs that farmers do. He is aware of this because he previously stated he would consider looking into it. Has he considered this matter? Is he aware that, for example, the association of farm contractors has made it clear that the costs involved are in the region of €13,455 per annum per contractor? They state they will have no option but to pass this on to the individual farmers for whom they work. This is why the issue is important. Is the Minister open, as he has indicated previously, to considering the matter? Has it now been concluded? Where does he stand on the issue that while farmers are able to avail of the double income tax relief under section 664A farm contractors are not?

 

Paschal DonohoeI remain committed to the implementation of the carbon tax changes that were included in the Finance Bill. These include the increase in carbon pricing and a number of other fuels from 1 May. I am aware of the issue Deputy Doherty referred to regarding independent agricultural contractors. I remember with the Finance Bill before last referring to difficulties I faced regarding the definition of these contractors and the work they do. I will get an update for the Deputy on where work on this issue stands. With regard to the core issue as to whether the change is going ahead, I need to inform the Dáil that it will be, and while I acknowledge the many challenges it poses for some, it is an essential part of how we can respond to the challenge of climate change.

ENDS

Government actions ‘contributing to energy price hikes and increasing fuel poverty’

Government actions ‘contributing to energy price hikes and increasing fuel poverty’ – Matt Carthy TD

 

Local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy has warned that government policy is not only failing to tackle poverty but is actively contributing to increased fuel costs for families and workers.

 

The Cavan-Monaghan TD was speaking in response to increased electricity price increases that came into effect last week.

 

Carthy said:

 

“The government absolutely must do more to assist those who are struggling to pay their bills in response to recent energy price spikes and coming further increases as a result of the Carbon Tax.

 

“Experts agree that the key reasons people end up in energy poverty is unaffordable energy and homes that are energy inefficient are the key reasons that people end up in fuel poverty.

 

“Ireland has Europe’s fourth highest electricity costs.

 

“According to Minister Ryan himself, the Department’s focus is no longer on lowering energy prices, but rather on improving retrofitting supports.

 

“While supports for retrofitting are to be welcomed, it seems a ridiculous position that the government would simply accept our out-of-control energy costs.

 

“Research has attributed some 2,800 excess deaths a year across this island to energy poverty.  The government seems to have no strategy whatsoever for address for addressing energy poverty.  Instead it seems committed to further bans on more affordable fuel types, which will no doubt see the rate of energy poverty increase.

 

“We all accept the need to make changes to secure and improve the environment, but it seems, at every turn, the policy of this government is to increase the cost on ordinary people, particularly in rural communities, without providing the comparable level of supports to those who need them”.

ENDS

EirGrid determination to proceed with Overground Interconnector ‘Egotistical & Costly’

EirGrid determination to proceed with Overground Interconnector ‘Egotistical & Costly’ – Matt Carthy TD

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has described as ‘egotistical & costly’ the continued determination of EirGrid to proceed with their proposals to develop the North South Interconnector via overhead pylon-supported high voltage powerlines.  He said that EirGrid have continually shown ‘complete disdain’ towards communities along the route of the Interconnector.

 

Carthy was speaking following an announcement that the Kildare-Meath 400kv line will now be undergrounded, making the North-South Interconnector the only element of EirGrid’s Grid 25 strategy which is intended to be completed using overhead technology.

 

Deputy Carthy said:

 

“The dogged determination of EirGrid to proceed with their plans to overground the North South Interconnector is egotistical and costly.  Their position is causing immense undue stress and release in the local communities affected.

 

“The Interconnector will face continuing and expensive delays if they proceed with their current intent.  The affected communities across Monaghan, Cavan, Armagh, Tyrone and Meath have clearly demonstrated that they will not accept the imposition of high voltage pylon-supported powerlines, particularly because there is a credible alternative.

 

“Undergrounding the interconnector is feasible and practical.  This is in evidence once again as EirGrid have announced their Kildare-Meath 400kv line is set to be undergrounded.  It is obvious that EirGrid have learned from their experience with communities along the route of the North South Interconnector, albeit not yet on that actual project.

 

“That EirGrid have expressed such determination to press ahead with overhead pylons and lines in respect of the North-South Interconnector shows their ongoing disdain for the people of our region.  It appears that their position is driven by ego and arrogance.

 

“In my view, this project will only ever be completed if the interconnector is undergrounded.

 

“If EirGrid refuse to adhere to the principals of public acceptance, deliverability and socio-economic impacts then the government must intervene.

 

“Recently, the Taoiseach reportedly informed a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting that this project will be reviewed.  But, the Ceann Comhairle disallowed parliamentary questions I submitted in this regard to Minister Eamon Ryan on the basis that they didn’t relate to Government policy.

 

“Urgent clarification is therefore required from government as to the form, timeframe and terms of reference of this review.  As the Dáil returns next week I intend to use every possible opportunity to seek assurances that the communities on the route of the North South Interconnector will finally be listened to”.

ENDS

Carthy demands that those behind Health dossiers are held accountable

Carthy demands that those behind Health dossiers are held accountable

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, participated in the Dáil on revelations that the Department of Health has been collecting dossiers on the families of children with autism.

 

He a hard-hitting contribution Deputy Carthy demanded that those who signed off on the practice be held accountable.

 

He said:

 

“The practise of the Department of Health in compiling dossiers and information about children with disabilities was vile and obscene.

 

The Junior Minister, Anne Rabbitte, said that she was not aware of this practice.  I would like clarification as to whether the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, was made aware of this practice or if any previous Minister for Health was been made aware of it.

 

“If it is the case that all respond that they were not aware of it, there are fundamental questions that need to be answered in regard to how this could happen.  How could a practice that crosses so many elements of government carry on without Ministers not being aware of it?

 

“This goes to the heart of what I will call “the State” and how it operates.  We know that if a Minister signed off on this and it was proven that he or she had given the go-ahead to officials to fulfil this practice, there would be a motion of no confidence before the Dáil and it is quite likely that before that motion reached the House, such a Minister would be asked to fall on his or her sword for political expediency.

 

“It would be quite proper for that to happen.

 

“It is fair to say that the one thing we can know for sure about this issue is that, by the end of the process, there will not be a single civil servant made accountable for his or her actions in regard to these despicable events.  We must ask why that is the case.

 

“The HSE was set up by the then Minister for Health, now Taoiseach, in part to allow political responsibility to be avoided.  It allows the Government to say that a particular issue is nothing to do with it and is a matter for the HSE.  In this instance, we are told it is nothing to do with the Government; it was done by civil servants in the Department of Health.  Why is that being allowed to happen?

 

“Will the government now ensure that somebody is at least named and shamed, and made accountable for his or her actions?

 

“There is a great deal of talk about working out when we can engage with the families.  Will the government ensure that, from today, all of the families that are affected are contacted and are told, at the very least, that their information was part of this and they will be contacted again with further details?  It is not something that should take a long time to do.

 

“I would hazard a guess that the information is in the Department right now and I ask that the government release it to the families concerned.  It is the very least they should expect.”

ENDS

Need for clarity on N-S Interconnector Review as Ceann Comhairle deems it is not government policy

Need for clarity on N-S Interconnector Review as Ceann Comhairle deems it is not government policy – Carthy

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that there is need for the Taoiseach to immediately clarify the status of the review of the proposed North-South Interconnector.

 

This follows the decision of the Ceann Comhairle to disallow Parliamentary Questions from Deputy Carthy on the matter, submitted to Environment Minister Eamon Ryan, because the matter is not based on government policy.

 

Deputy Carthy said that the disallowance of the Parliamentary Questions will create deep unease among communities who have already been sceptical of the announcement, attributed to Taoiseach Mícheál Martin at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

 

The Sinn Féin representative had submitted questions to Minister Ryan inquiring of 1) the plans to conduct the review, 2) whether Minister Ryan would be responsible for the review and if he would consult with the Co Monaghan Anti Pylon committee and North East Pylon Pressure groups, and 3) if he would request that EirGrid cease procurement of materials for the Interconnector pending such a review.

 

He described as ‘deeply worrying’ that these questions were disallowed.

 

Deputy Carthy said:

 

“Fianna Fáil representatives have been making much noise of the announcement of An Taoiseach that there will be a review of the North South Interconnector.  It appears that they have forgot to inform their government partners as the Ceann Comhairle has disallowed questions on this matter as they do not relate to ‘government policy’.

 

“This is a deeply worrying development.  What is the status of the review? What will its terms of reference be? Will a panel be appointed and who will be part of it?  Will there be adequate public consultation? Will EirGrid cease work on the interconnector pending the review?  Is the review actually going to happen at all?

 

“These are all genuine questions that arise following from reports of Mícheál Martin’s announcement.

 

“But, it seems, that they cannot even be asked.

 

“I have previously cautiously welcomed the reports that the Taoiseach has committed to a review of the project.  But, I said, the devil will be in the detail.  At this point we cannot even get a glimpse of the detail.

 

“It is imperative that the Taoiseach, and those Fianna Fáil representatives that have been lauding his remarks, provide urgent clarity on this matter.  This is an issue of critical public importance.  It is not good enough for the leader of government to make a statement at a Fianna Fáil meeting and then fail to provide the salient detail to the communities affected by it.

 

“I will be monitoring this and continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that the North South Interconnector is undergrounded in line with the wishes of the communities across the five counties”.

ENDS

Sheep farmers need financial package following collapse of wool prices

Sheep farmers need financial package following collapse of wool prices – Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has urged the government to put in place a direct support mechanism for sheep farmers following collapse in the price of wool over the last year.

The call follows a £1.27 million package being agreed in the north to support the sector there in the face of the continuing crisis.

Teachta Carthy said:

“Sheep farmers need urgent financial support following a collapse in wool prices that shows no sign of abating.  The department have been too slow to respond.

“While securing flexibility in the reference year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme brings some level of reprieve, this does not go nearly far enough in providing the level of support farmers require.  I have heard stories from farmers of being offered €20 euro for a dozen bags of wool.

“The scope of this problem cannot be exaggerated – farmers are being told by buyers that they there are fortunate to not be charged for disposal, let alone receive payment.

“Having been concerned about this issue for some time, Sinn Féin proposed to double the Sheep Welfare Payment to €20 per ewe this year – a costed proposal rejected by the Minister.

“The fact that in the north £1.27million has been allocated as an emergency package is evidence of the seriousness of the situation.  A similar measure is required in this state.

“The very least of actions that the Minister can take would be to amend the Sheep Welfare Scheme to include the cost of clipping.  In of itself, this would not cover the losses sheep farmers are facing, but it would help stem the tide and minimise any further losses.

“In the medium term there is a requirement for a comprehensive strategy aimed at revitalising the Irish wool industry.  The recent commissioning of a feasibility study into the sector is welcome but it must be followed by plan that will ensure that the prime product of Irish wool is marketed and promoted at national and international levels so as to deliver a fair and sustainable price for our sheep farmers.”

ENDS

Carthy tackles Meat Industry’s use of Bogus Self-Employment at Public Accounts Committee

Carthy tackles Meat Industry’s use of Bogus Self-Employment at Public Accounts Committee

 

Local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last week discussed the issue of ‘bogus self-employment’ in the meat processing industry at a hearing in the Public Accounts Committee.

 

Bogus self-employment is the process whereby workers who would normally be considered employees are regarded as self-employed, or employed by intermediary companies, thereby negating the need for employers to pay employer PRSI and depriving workers of social protection entitlements.

 

He was speaking with Mr Martin McMahon, a campaigner against the practice who has appeared as a witness before multiple Oireachtas meetings on the subject.

 

The exchange went as follows:

 

Deputy Matt Carthy:  “I welcome Mr. McMahon and thank him for his diligent pursuit of this issue. Regardless of what the Department of Social Protection and Revenue might outline about the cases, which is not to disparage their specific responses, the issue of bogus self-employment is real. Anybody who has been out in the real world knows that there are people who are classified as self-employed who, under any basic rationale, clearly are not. They are working for one employer on a full-time basis for a prolonged period.

 

“I refer to one case that I am aware of. I have a report here from a person who won a case.  This person was working for a meat processing plant in Cork.  The report states that the person is a line worker for a specific employer so he regards himself as an employee of an agency. He works for eight to ten hours a day. He was subject to control and direction. He is not free to take up similar work at the same time.

 

“It goes further to highlight how this individual was clearly an employee.  However, his employment situation was that he technically worked for a company registered in his name in Poland, despite that he had never been to Poland.  It took six months for this person to get his Scope decision and a further six months to have his decision regularised. Even then, his PRSI payments were apparently not backdated.

 

“The Department of Social Protection referred to its method, which it is confident in, of catching bogus self-employment through inspections.  In the case I have outlined, there were not any follow-up inspections of that person’s colleagues, who one would have to imagine are in the exact same position.

 

“Representatives of Meat Industry Ireland attended the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response. They spoke of the use of agency workers and they indicated that the use of agency workers in that sector was actually declining at the moment.

 

Does Mr. McMahon get a sense that the number of workers who are entrapped into this type of employment situation across all sectors is declining or increasing?

 

“How many people are involved?  Is the emergence of new types of companies, such as Deliveroo, and workers associated with such companies contributing to an increase in such employment or is it a type of employment practice that is in decline, as stated by Meat Industry Ireland?”

 

Mr. Martin McMahon:  “I thank the Deputy for his questions. I will take it from the start, and again the question here is cui bono? Who benefits from this situation?

 

“It is not the State and not the workers.  It is the employers who are using this practice of bogus self-employment to save themselves circa 30% on labour costs.  That is who benefits.  If the Revenue is saying that bogus self-employment is not an issue, it should prove it.  If it is saying it is an issue, it should quantify it. Otherwise, it is not at this game at all.

 

“On meat processing, what the Deputy is referring to with the agency are intermediary-type set-ups.  Those are what we call the workplace with no employees.  They are moving or being moved to intermediary-type set-ups, as would be used by the likes of Ryanair.  A company with six directors, all of whom are pilots, supplies services to Ryanair exclusively.  As the pilots association will confirm, as far as it is concerned, the pilots concerned are employees.

 

“The practice of setting up an intermediary company to disguise the reality that people are employees is on the rise. The chairman of the Revenue Commissioners has said there are many thousands of these companies out there. Some of these companies have even received awards from the State for what they are doing. It is ridiculous.

 

“On inspections, this is very interesting.  Figures from the Revenue Commissioners on inspections show the number is in the low thousands.  Back in 1998, the Comptroller and Auditor General sent officials from the Revenue out to inspect 60,000 employment situations within the construction industry and they found 12,000 of them to be misclassified.

 

“Two years later, the Committee of Public Accounts, under the chairmanship of the late Deputy Jim Mitchell, did the same thing.  Some 60,000 employment roles were examined and 12,000 were found to be misclassified as self-employed.  That is a huge number.  It was 18% or 19% back in 1999 and 2000.

 

“Now, Revenue is doing at most a couple of thousand inspections per year and is saying it is capturing all the bogus self-employment. How could it?

 

“What changed was the employment status group. A decision was made that the status quo must remain and those wide-scale investigations stopped completely.  They have never been repeated in any sector.  The level of bogus self-employment within the construction sector according to ICTU is now 23% so it has not decreased over the 20 years since this last came up in this committee. It has increased.”

 

Matt Carthy:  “There have been several reports of what is known as blacklisting, where workers are either threatened with losing or do lose their jobs for even attempting to raise the issue of their employment status.

 

“I referred to the meat processing sector because it is often the case that employees or self-employed people in that area happen to be independently working through an agency for a factory, for example, while also renting their accommodation from the same source.  It is not just that these workers’ jobs are at risk but also their homes.  Does Mr. McMahon have any evidence or reportage regarding the type of means by which blacklisting occurs?

 

“It occurs to me that the solution should be fairly simple in one sense because there is a legislative route we could explore.  I say that because I understand how there could be an element of self-employment in the construction sector.  In many cases, we are talking about small, independent contractors which might need carpenters or labourers for a defined time. It would not make sense for either party to be involved in an employment contract per se.

 

“However, if we were to set out in legislation conditions to clarify when an obligation falls on an employer to consider someone an employee, for example, a defined period of time, number of hours or number of contracts in an employment, that could provide a means to easily resolve a large proportion of these cases. Does Mr. McMahon have a sense of what those definitions should be regarding periods of time, lengths of contracts and numbers of hours worked?

 

Mr. Martin McMahon:  “On blacklisting in meat processing and construction, fear is the big word. It is not just me saying this because the Department acknowledges it and ICTU have stated this in the committee. Fear of being blacklisted is the major concern. It has happened in construction and in the case of the 16 workers I represented in the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2016.

 

“I take the Deputy’s point on whether some indicator could trigger employment status.  Really and truly, as the Revenue Commissioners have stated, it does not matter whether people want to be self-employed.  The only question is whether the legal criteria apply.  Nothing else matters.

 

“People cannot choose not to pay tax just because they do not want to. The State is entitled to its cut.  Everybody who gets paid has a contract.  The payer has a contract and it is the State that is entitled, as part of the social contract, to deduct taxes and PRSI.  Just because people do not want to pay tax and PRSI, they cannot use self-employment or bogus self-employment as the out. It is not as simple as a tick-box exercise, even if Revenue, the Department of Social Protection and the Social Welfare Appeals Office are using a tick-box exercise.”

 

Following the meeting, Deputy Carthy said:

 

“It is apparent that bogus self-employment is a systemic cross-sectoral issue, but particularly prevalent in some sectors such as the meat processing sector.

 

“It should be a national scandal that neither the Department of Social Protection nor the Revenue Commissioners seem interested in tackling this issue.

 

“What makes it even more egregious is that at the same time the government is telling us they wish for us to hold off on retirement until 67, due a supposed pensions crisis.

 

“Mr McMahon told the Public Accounts Committee that ICTU has calculated the amount of uncollected PRSI as a result of bogus self-employment to be as much as €1 billion per year.

 

“Minister Heather Humphries has set up a commission to consider options with regards to the pension age.  Prior to any suggestion that workers should be forced to labour on for another two years, the Minister should outline what action she intends to take to tackle these uncollected PRSI contributions.”

ENDS

Easter Rising Commemoration goes online for second year

Easter Rising Commemoration goes online for second year

 

“Celebrate those who fought for our freedom yesterday by working towards it today” So concluded Cavan Monaghan TD, Matt Carthy, in his Easter Rising commemoration address last weekend.

 

For the second year running, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, it was not possible to hold the annual Easter gatherings to remember those who fought for Irish Freedom.  Instead, once again, Co. Monaghan Sinn Féin organised an online commemoration featuring recitations of the Proclamation of the Republic and the Monaghan Republican Roll of Honour, music and private wreath laying ceremonies across the county.  Almost 4,000 people have currently viewed the online event which is still available to view on the County Monaghan Sinn Féin Facebook page and on YouTube.

 

Separate online commemorations were held across the country and abroad with the National Sinn Féin event being watched by over 40,000 viewers.  It included a keynote address from Sinn Féin president, Marylou McDonald, in which she called on political leadership to show an ambition that matches the hope of a generation rising up with tenacity to lay claim to our destiny – by preparing for Irish Unity.

 

Introduction by Cllr. Cathy Bennett

 

North Monaghan Councillor, Cathy Bennett, opened the Co. Monaghan online commemoration, recounting the disappointment of many that “we are unable to gather together at the graves of our fallen patriots to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising”.

 

She said, regardless, that the online event was an important opportunity to reflect and remember.  She said: “At Easter we recall the words of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic – the republic we still pursue, and that we are closer than ever to bringing to reality.

 

“Here, we will remember especially those from County Monaghan who are listed on the Republican Roll of Honour, including Seamus McElwain whose 35th anniversary falls this year.  We remember Seamus and all those who fought and died for Ireland with pride” she stated.

 

Cllr. Bennett thanked all those who worked on this commemoration, particularly David Marron who produced the online video tribute.

 

Proclamation, Roll of Honour & Wreath layings

 

During the online event the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was recited by Ógra Shinn Féin members from across County Monaghan, with the cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council, Colm Carthy reading the opening lines and concluding with the listing of the signatories.  Ógra SF members who contributed included:  Eleanor Murphy, Oisín McConnon, Pete Donaghy, Kathleen Connolly, Paudi Meehan, Leanne Mulligan, Paul Traynor, Ruth Dooley Duffy, Stephen Murray, Tara Reilly, and Therese Donaghy.

 

In a poignant moment the County Monaghan Republican Roll of Honour was read aloud by the nephew of one of those whose name appears on that list.  James McElwain, nephew of Seamus McElwain who was assassinated by the British SAS in 1986, recalled each of those IRA volunteers who died as a result of Active Service from 1916 to the most recent phase of the conflict.

 

This was followed by footage of wreath laying ceremonies that were held across County Monaghan in the days leading up to Easter in line with public health guidelines.

 

The wreath at the Fearghal Ó hAnnluian monument in Monaghan Town, the traditional start point of the Monaghan Easter commemoration was laid by former Dáil Deputy, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

 

Other wreath layings included:  Cllr. Colm Carthy at Carrickmacross, Cllr. Pat Treanor at Clones, Ownie Kirk at Donaghmoyne, Cllr. Cathy Bennett at Scotstown & Knockatallon, Cllr. Seán Conlon at Tyholland, Paul Gibbons at Castleblayney, Catriona Moen at Clontibret, Vincent Hanratty & Eileen Hanratty Gomez at Corduff, Jackie Crowe at Castleblayney, Josephine O’Hagan at Clara, Veronica Connolly at Carrickroe, Rosie Smyth O’Harte at Ballybay and Cllr. Noel Keelan at Inniskeen.

 

Tribute to Margaret Skinnader

 

The Co. Monaghan online Easter Commemoration included a special tribute to a daughter of County Monaghan – Margaret Skinnader.

 

Margaret, like James Connolly, was born in Scotland to Monaghan parents and participated in the 1916 Easter Rising.

 

During the centenary celebrations of the Rising in 2016 Seán Ó Roideáin penned a ballad in her memory.  He made a recording of the song for use in this commemoration which became one of the more popular aspects of the event.

 

Address by Matt Carthy TD

 

In a speech delivered at the 1916 memorial at Market Square, Carrickmacross, local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy provided the main oration for the online commemoration.

 

He said:

 

“Easter is special time of the year.

 

“It is a time of reflection, regeneration, prayer and remembrance.

 

“For Irish Republicans it is a time of commemoration.

 

“Unfortunately, for the second year running, we are unable to gather together in the usual way and instead are remembering our fallen patriots in our own homes or through online events.

 

“It was on Easter Monday in 1916 that Padraig Pearse stood outside the GPO in Dublin and read aloud the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, an act which set in train a series of events that led to the downfall of the British empire and inspired millions of freedom-loving people all over the world.  The words of the proclamation continue to guide Irish Republicans to this day.

 

“We remember proudly all those who have given their lives in the pursuit of Irish Freedom.

 

“In County Monaghan we remember those on the Republican Roll of Honour associated with our own great county.

 

“People like James Connolly, a son of Monaghan parents, born in Glasgow he returned to Ireland and founded the Irish Citizen Army and became a leader in the Easter Rising – his writings continue to guide socialists and republicans the world over.

 

“People like Fearghal O hAnnluain, a young man from Monaghan Town who saw the failures and injustice that the partition of our country had created and committed himself to undoing it.  He was killed on active service on New Years Day in 1957.

 

“On this 40th anniversary year of the 1981 Hunger Strike, we in Monaghan remember the ten brave men that lost their lives in Long Kesh gaol in order to defeat the attempts of the British government to criminalise the Irish freedom struggle.

 

“In County Monaghan we recall very especially, Kieran Doherty, a Belfast man who never set foot in Cavan Monaghan, but, who, nevertheless was elected as a TD for this constituency before he died on Hunger Strike.  His election remains a source of real pride to republicans in these counties.

 

Seamus McElwain

 

“This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the death of Volunteer Seamus McElwain, a true Co. Monaghan hero.  Seamus was assassinated by the British SAS while on active service.  Like James Connolly, Ferghal O hAnnluain and Kieran Doherty – Seamus McElwain was an Irish patriot who faced colonial injustice without fear.

 

“This Easter, we remember proudly all of those, across all generations who fought and died for the Irish Republic.

 

“This generation are in a fortunate position compared to those who came before us.  We do not have to lay our lives on the line in pursuit of Irish freedom and unity – we just have to work for it.

 

Reaching our full potential

 

“Ireland is a great country and the Irish people are a great people.  But, we have yet to realise our full potential.

 

“We cannot do us until we can house and shelter all of our people, until we can provide healthcare to everyone regardless of how much money is in their bank accounts or which part of the country they live in.

 

“We cannot do it until the burden of paying for public services is shared by the wealthy as well as ordinary workers and families.

 

“We cannot possibly reach our full potential until our country is reunited and we can build the Republic proclaimed in 1916.

 

“There is much work to do, we have yet to persuade everyone.  But, the arguments in favour of a better, fairer and United Ireland are strengthening by the day – This can be seen in the growing support for Sinn Féin.

 

“We will get through this difficult period, just as the Irish people have persevered through even tougher times in the past.

 

“And, when we do, the movement towards an Ireland that is united, free and in which equality and prosperity for all becomes the catch cry of every political decision that is made, must continue.

 

“We can build a republic that cherishes all of our children; that puts the interests of workers and families ahead of the profits of the vultures and bankers and speculators.

 

“Be part of that endeavour.

 

“Celebrate those who fought for our freedom yesterday by working towards it today.

 

“Happy Easter.

 

“Beirgi Bua” he concluded.

 

The online County Monaghan Easter Rising commemoration then drew to a close with a beautiful rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann sang by Patricia Cosgrove.

 

“Now is the time for Irish Unity” – Mary Lou McDonald TD

 

In her Easter message, delivered separately on the National Sinn Féin social media sites, Mary Lou McDonald called on political leadership to show an ambition that matches the hope of a generation rising up with tenacity to lay claim to our destiny – by preparing for Irish Unity.

 

The Sinn Féin president said that a United Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different and something better than anything that has gone before.

 

Teachta McDonald added that the grand vision of Pearse and Connolly has been renewed and that, much like the rebels of 1916, our generation too is impatient for change.

 

Teachta McDonald’s address read:

 

“The rebels of 1916 set out to liberate our country from British rule and to shape a nation that would thrive and prosper.

 

“They stepped into the role of change-makers because they believed in the new Ireland, the independent republic so poetically expressed in the proclamation.

 

“As a generation impatient for change, they knew their time had come. They seized the day. The legacy of the 1916 rebels bears witness in the Ireland of today.

 

“The people of this island – in the turbulence of a pandemic – again find ourselves at a crossroads.  In a time of lives lost and lives disrupted, the failed ways of the old Ireland have been exposed like never before.

 

“And as we look forward together – as we seek change – Irish Unity comes into focus.

 

“A United Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different, something better than anything that has gone before.

 

“A century on from partition, people wake up every morning and know that the divided Ireland of 2021 doesn’t work for them or their families.  We see the broken politics of partition every day.

 

“People’s entire lives defined by the search for a home they can afford, by the struggle to access treatments when they are sick, working long hours and still not making ends meet, younger people starved of opportunity, and rural towns and villages left behind.

 

“The lack of fairness and inequality is frightening. People want better. They are fed-up with politics from a bygone age that holds them back and stifles their potential.

 

“The politics that gave us the Magdalene Laundries, industrial schools, mass emigration, fostered by a political class that desperately clings to past and to power.

 

“We recognise that partition is at the root of these failures and we are fired-up with ambition for the future.

 

“We see clearly that the task of bringing about real change for workers and families is linked inextricably to the goal of reunifying our country.

 

“The politics of a new Ireland has come of age. The grand vision of Pearse and Connolly is renewed.

 

“Irish Unity means positive change for us all. Not only is it achievable, it is necessary.

 

An idea whose time has come

 

“The practical challenges posed by Covid-19 and Brexit make this apparent.  These crises have reshaped and energised the conversation on a United Ireland.  Unity is being talked about in every corner of our island. This is because Irish Unity makes sense. It’s the very best idea for the future of Ireland.

 

“A United Ireland is an idea whose time has come. Much like the rebels of 1916, our generation too is impatient for change.

 

We refuse to accept the limitations of the past. We know that better is possible and we look with fresh eyes and fresh hearts at the prospect of Irish Unity.

 

We are excited and enthusiastic about the new beginning that unity offers our people.

 

Éire nua inar féidir lenár dteanga, ár gcultúr agus ár n-oidhreacht bláthú.

 

No longer will we be constrained by the unambitious dogma of official Ireland that so badly failed our parents and their parents before them.

 

No longer will we be told  – this far and no further. A new generation is rising up with the hope and tenacity to lay claim to our destiny and to the future of our island.

 

Those in political leadership must show an ambition that matches this hope.  Nowhere is that more important than in the office of An Taoiseach.  We will not be constrained by old, jaded thinking. Or by those who wish to cast the debate on Irish Unity as an exhausted collision between green and orange or as a friction point between Britishness and Irishness.

 

“This gets us nowhere. Irish Unity is not the politics of shame or loss. It’s the politics of progress.  The politics of a nation that transcends all the hurt, division and conflict of the past by forging a new future together, for all us.

 

“A people moving forward in the inclusive belief that no matter our backgrounds, no matter our identities, no matter the journey we have travelled to this point – that we can reconcile, that we can heal divisions, that we can lift each other up.

 

“The things we have in common – the things that bring us together – are far greater than those which divide us.

 

“In Ireland of 2021, the grave mistake and injustice of partition has come full circle.

 

“Partition has failed and unity is the answer. The winds of change blow all around us.

 

“It would be unforgivable, to emerge from this pandemic and not seize the opportunity to prepare for unity, for our new Ireland.

 

“We must prepare for a referendum on Irish Unity, for the people to have their say.  Both governments must prepare for unity. The people must prepare too.

 

“Caithfimid labhairt faoin todhchaí. Caithfimid ullmhú don todhchaí, le chéile.

 

“When it comes to the future of our country, treading water is not good enough. It never has been.  Now is the time for real ambition.

 

“Friends, today, we gather online to honour those who gave their lives for Irish freedom and we send solidarity to the families of our patriot dead.

 

“In so doing, we look firmly to the future. The last twelve months have been incredibly difficult for our people.  However, through the chaos, hardship and pain, we have an exciting opportunity to build something new, something better – a United Ireland.

 

“We can do this. We can be the generation that unites Ireland. We – the people of Ireland – are up to this task.

 

“During this pandemic, you have responded with togetherness, kindness and compassion.  This is who we are. These are the values of unity. The rebels of 1916 were the change-makers of their day.

 

“Today, the role of change-maker falls to us. This is our time.

 

“The past was for those who seek to divide. The future is for those of us who seek to unite.

 

“Those who seek to hold back the tide of change can have yesterday. But tomorrow is ours.  A new and united Ireland is on the horizon. Let’s seize this moment, together.

 

“Ar aghaidh linn le chéile. An Phoblacht Abú!”

ENDS

Second-Hand Cars in Ireland ‘the most expensive in Europe’

Second-Hand Cars in Ireland ‘the most expensive in Europe’ – Carthy

SF TD calls for government action as Brexit increases costs

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has expressed frustration at what he described as Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s ‘disinterest’ in addressing soaring second-hand car costs that have increased even further post Brexit.

 

Deputy Carthy raised the matter with An Taoiseach during an interaction on Promised Legislation last week.  He expressed frustration that Micheál Martin showed no appetite to resolve the fallout from Brexit that has resulted in additional costs on second-hand car sales which are already the most expensive in Europe.  The situation is hitting consumers hard and threatening the viability of thousands of car dealerships across the state.

 

Deputy Matt Carthy told the Taoiseach:

 

“One of the more bizarre and unfortunate consequences of Brexit has been the impact of Revenue’s interpretation of third country rules on second-hand car sales.

 

“Due to the size of that market and because we share a right-hand drive system, Britain has been the source of a large proportion of our second-hand vehicles.

 

“The new situation means that, bizarrely, a car produced in Britain can enter the Irish market at no extra cost while a car produced in the EU before being traded in Britain incurs a further 10% customs levy on entering the Irish market – on top of VAT at 21% – and on top of VRT charges.

 

“This makes second-hand cars in this State the most expensive in Europe.

 

“Will the Taoiseach commit to engaging with Revenue, the Department of Finance and our EU counterparts to see if this situation can be resolved in the interest of consumers and the businesses involved?”

 

In his response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:

 

“This issue was not caused by Revenue but by Brexit.

 

“This is how the trade agreement has been interpreted, and not only by the EU.

 

“We are engaging with the European Union with regard to a number of goods which have been similarly affected by third country status when traded from Europe into the UK before returning to the EU through Ireland. That is the position.

 

“It is not bizarre but one of the real foreseeable, predictable consequences of Brexit.

 

“That is why I always felt Brexit was a very bad idea.  I believe many companies in Britain do not yet realise how bad an idea it is for many British jobs, companies and businesses. This is the unfortunate reality of Brexit.

 

“We will engage with the EU on these issues, but it is the reality of Brexit.”

 

Following the debate Deputy Carthy said:

 

“The Taoiseach seems to take the approach that this a result of Brexit and people will have to live it. That won’t provide much comfort to those looking to purchase second-hand cars today and paying well over what anyone would find reasonable.  It will provide little comfort to those car dealerships concerned about their viability.

 

“I made a straightforward request to the Taoiseach to ask him to speak to government departments and agencies as well as the EU deliver solutions to this problem.  I am disappointed with the Taoiseach’s response but I intend to pursue this matter over the coming weeks.”

ENDS

Carthy welcomes passage of Sinn Féin Bill to preserve 1916 battleground site

Carthy welcomes passage of Sinn Féin Bill to preserve 1916 battleground site

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has welcomed the fact that the government has supported the passage through the Dáil of a Sinn Féin Bill aimed at preserving the Moore Street area of Dublin, regarded as a key cultural site in light of its connections to the Easter Rising.

 

Speaking during the Dáil debate on the legislation, tabled by his Sinn Féin colleague, Deputy Carthy lamented that successive governments had allowed this historically important site from entering into the ownership of British speculators and developers.

 

Deputy Carthy said:

 

“The Moore Street district is incredibly important to our revolutionary history, culture and heritage as a nation.  It is a place that holds much pride for many across the thirty-two Counties of and many Irish across the globe.  Moore Street is where five of the great leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising met for the last time.

 

“The district should long have been a national monument. That it was not is in many ways symbolic of the attitude of successive Governments to the ideals of Easter week and the legacy of the great leaders of that period.

 

“That it was even possible for a property consortium to acquire large tracts of land and buildings in the area with the intention of large-scale demolition and commercial construction is telling.  That the developers enjoyed the connivance of Governments and city councils is shameful.

 

“To add insult to injury, when large parts of the property ended up in State ownership via the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, the State failed to recognise its previous failures and the sites were fire sold to another large British commercial shopping mall chain. The intention is for a large shopping centre to be built on this historic location.

 

“Thankfully, due to the diligent efforts of the relatives of the Rising’s leaders as well as other campaigners, this obscenity has not yet come to pass.

 

“Thanks to Deputy Ó Snodaigh’s legislation, which I commend him for, the House can preserve and revitalise the historic 1916 Moore Street quarter and ensure that the State no longer allows this important part of our heritage to be dispensed for corporate greed.

 

“As such, this is an important opportunity that we should all grasp.

 

“We should always remember with pride those who fought and died for Irish freedom and independence”.

 

Speaking after the debate Deputy Carthy welcomed the fact that the government had supported the passage of the legislation through to the next stage.  “It is incumbent” he said “that there are no barriers placed in the way of this legislation progressing through all order stages and being made law.”

 

Easter Commemoration goes online

 

Meanwhile, Matt Carthy confirmed this week that, in line with public health restrictions, the annual Co. Monaghan Sinn Féin Easter Rising Commemoration will take place online.

 

Deputy Carthy said:  “Unfortunately, for the second year running, the annual Easter Rising commemoration cannot take place in the traditional format.

 

“Instead, once again the commemoration will take place virtually and will be broadcast on Facebook and Youtube.  Regardless of the restrictions it is always important that we remember our fallen patriots and the ideals for which they fought and died.

 

“I am delighted that County Monaghan Sinn Féin will host a fitting tribute and I encourage people of all ages to watch and share online this weekend”.

ENDS

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