Small victory against the Vultures as Carthy welcomes cancellation of vote on EU Directive on non-performing loans

Small victory against the Vultures as Carthy welcomes cancellation of vote on EU Directive on non-performing loans

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the announcement that the proposal for a Directive on non-performing loans, which would increase the sale of home loans to vulture funds, will not be voted on by the European Parliament during this mandate.  Votes scheduled for the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee this week and the Parliament’s plenary session next week were cancelled today, Tuesday.

 

Speaking from Brussels, Carthy said: “I am resolutely opposed to this proposal, which will give free rein to vulture funds and debt collectors across the EU.  So I welcome the cancellation of the vote on the Directive that was scheduled to take place this week.  The cancellation of the vote means that the Parliament cannot adopt a position on this proposal until the next mandate.

 

“It is my firm view that this proposed Directive needs to be withdrawn.  It was proposed on the basis of an impact assessment that took absolutely no regard of the rights of EU citizens such as the right to housing assistance under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

 

“It will lead to more evictions, more harassment of homeowners by debt collectors, and more housing stress and homelessness.  It is grossly unfair because it puts the blame and the punishment for the 2008 crisis on the shoulders of ordinary families and homeowners instead of the financial institutions that caused the crisis.

 

“In an Irish context, we have made only limited progress to date in terms of regulating vulture funds and protecting consumers and mortgage-holders – usually in spite of Fine Gael opposition.  Yet even this modest progress made in the Dáil, such as on ensuring direct Central Bank regulation of the vulture funds instead of only the middlemen, will now be under threat by this EU Directive.

 

“The process by which this package – the Regulation and Directive – have been dealt with in the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee has been extremely disappointing, with the two largest groups, the EPP and S&D, colluding to prevent the smaller groups from having a meaningful say in shaping the reports.  On the Regulation, they prevented us from even voting on the amendments of the smaller groups at committee level.

 

“The proposed timeframe for the more substantial Directive was unacceptably short, and was deliberately designed by the two large groups to exclude the rest of the Parliament from having meaningful input into the Directive. This is an appalling and anti-democratic approach to such a crucial proposal – another reason why I welcome the cancellation of the vote.

 

“Now that the Parliament cannot adopt its position on this file until the incoming mandate, I will continue to work with consumer protection groups and housing campaigners in the coming months to call for the total withdrawal of this extremely damaging proposal.

 

“Sinn Féin have been leading the battle against the vulture funds at an Irish and EU level – it is therefore imperative that we have MEPs elected in May so that we can continue to fight for ordinary families in their battles against banks and vultures.”

ENDS

 

Matt Carthy MEP to host “Stop the Vultures!” public meeting in Navan this Friday

Matt Carthy MEP to host “Stop the Vultures!” public meeting in Navan this Friday

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy will host a “Stop the Vultures! Time to Protect Homes” public meeting in the Newgrange Hotel in Navan, Co Meath, this Friday 12th April at 8pm.

 

The Midlands Northwest MEP has been central to the campaign against the EU directive on non-performing loans which he says will strengthen the free rein giving to the banks and vulture funds and will force more families out of their homes. Ahead of the Navan event he spoke of the government’s lack of action on Ireland’s housing crisis.

 

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

 

“In Brussels we are fighting tooth and nail against a new proposal on mortgage loans, which would allow the banks to throw their customers to the wolves and give further free rein to the debt vultures across the EU.

 

“Even the UN special rapporteur on housing has recognised that the housing policies pursued by the Irish government have directly caused the extreme rise in homelessness we have witnessed.

 

“The unprecedented housing crisis in this state has been caused by a series of public policy failures – a failure to cap rents, a failure to build social housing, and a failure to implement an effective vacant homes strategy.

 

“At the same time the housing and homelessness crisis has been worsened by the government’s policies of inviting in the US vulture funds, and creating a virtually tax-free environment for both the banks and the vultures.

 

“Instead of regulating international speculators, the government has welcomed in the hedge funds with open arms, which has driven up housing and rental costs and priced an entire generation out of ever owning their own home.

 

“At every stage in this unfolding disaster, the government has been supported by Fianna Fáil.

 

“Fine Gael, supported by Fianna Fáil, are actively encouraging this crisis to escalate and we must fight back. We in Sinn Féin are here to stand with the people to protect their homes.

 

“I encourage the people of County Meath to join us this Friday to hear our analysis on how we can resolve this issues and also to share their own views as to how we can deliver a change in housing policy at an EU and national level.”

 

Local Sinn Féin Councillors Sinead Burke and Eddie Fennessy will also address the meeting.

 

ENDS

Emergency Brexit measures need to be outlined urgently – Matt Carthy MEP

Emergency Brexit measures need to be outlined urgently – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West has said it is incredible that neither the Irish government or the European Commission have outlined what contingency supports will be in place for vulnerable sectors such as Irish agriculture in the event of a no-deal scenario. Speaking following receipt of a communication from Commissioner Hogan regarding the Irish Government’s application for emergency aid, Carthy said:

 

“In January I wrote to the Commission asking whether they had already launched preliminary studies on the adverse impact of Brexit on the Irish agricultural sector.  It is vital that provision is made so that we can utilise the best tools for mitigating potential loss of markets, trade diversion and the withdrawal of the UK from Free Trade Agreements.

 

“It is incredible that we are now days away from a potential ‘no-deal’ Brexit and Commissioner Hogan is still saying it is too soon to make a call on what market support measures will be at Ireland’s disposal.

 

“It is true that there are already some structures in place, but from experience there are also impediments to the triggering of many of these options.  Many crisis management tools require disruption across EU markets, not just in one, and we know from experience of the Dairy crisis from 2014-2016 that many of these tools take months to activate, and longer even after that to actually arrive in farmers’ pockets.  By the time potential support is received, severe damage has already happened at farm level.

 

“The British government has already announced that it is planning on putting in place completely ruinous tariffs on Irish agriculture in the event they crash out of the European Union. We also know that there will be immediate shocks arisen from sharp currency fluctuations and other unforeseen consequences arising from a hard British exit from the EU.  Vulnerable sectors such as our farming community will need support – and they’ll need it fast!

 

“It is unfathomable and inexcusable that the Commission has not yet decided what tools will be available under its Brexit Contingency Plan.

 

“The Irish Government needs to up its game; they need to spell out to the commission that a ‘wait and see’ approach is not good enough.  They need to force the Commission to come forward with genuine options in the nightmare scenario of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit”.

ENDS

 

Text of communication between Matt Carthy MEP & Commissioner Phil Hogan:

 

Question for written answer P-000126/2019

to the Commission

Rule 130

Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Emergency aid in light of Brexit

On 3 January the Irish Government announced that it would be seeking emergency aid to cope with the adverse impact of Brexit on trade, specifically for the beef, dairy and fishing sectors.

Can the Commission confirm that it has received a formal request and provide the details of that request?

Given the fast-approaching date of exit, can the Commission state whether it has already considered this request and launched preliminary studies on the amount of funding necessary to avoid crisis in these sectors?

 

 

Written Answer

 

EN

P-000126/2019

E-000414/2019

Answer given by Mr Hogan

on behalf of the European Commission

 

 

 

The Commission is in close contact with the EU27 Member States, including Ireland, concerning Brexit and the potential impacts on trade in such sectors as agriculture and fishing.  In this respect, the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has met the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and presented him with the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agri-food sector.

 

On 13 November 2018, the Commission adopted a Communication on contingency planning in case of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, in order to mitigate the most disruptive consequences for EU27 in case of a withdrawal without an agreement in place. The Communication confirms the Commission’s commitment to protecting the interests of EU Member States and of those sectors most at risk from Brexit and acknowledges that “the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU will impact all Member States to varying degrees, but none more so than Ireland.” This reflects the fact that Ireland is especially exposed to disruption due to its strong trade links and shared land border with the United Kingdom.

 

The Communication also confirms that the Commission stands ready to support Ireland to find solutions addressing the particular challenges. This includes preparations for a no-deal withdrawal scenario. The Commission has already adopted a series of contingency measures including for EU fisheries. Information on the website includes a series of relevant preparedness notices as well as details of various legislative initiatives and other legal acts. While a disorderly Brexit would present additional challenges, not least to the agri-food sector, the Commission has tools at its disposal to address these challenges, notably the various market support measures.

 

It is still too soon to say what specific form any EU assistance could take, not least as the circumstances in which the United Kingdom will leave the EU are not yet known nor what the exact economic consequences of the departure will be.

 

Government completely out of touch on carbon tax – Carthy

Government completely out of touch on carbon tax – Carthy

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the agreement between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Green Party to impose a carbon tax hike shows how out of touch the parties are with ordinary families struggling with the cost of living.

 

The Midlands Northwest MEP said: “Families are struggling across the state with the rising cost of living and already very high energy costs. There are 15 per cent of people on incomes below the poverty line and these are the people who will be hit hardest by a hike in the carbon tax.

 

“This is a regressive consumption tax that will disproportionately harm those on lower incomes. While Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, and the Green Party may believe that ordinary working people and families shoulder the burden while industry polluters continue to pump millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere, Sinn Féin hold that a fair, green alternative is possible.

 

“The carbon tax is not only unfair; it is also going to fail because unless you put in place measures to give families the alternatives such as major new investment in public transport, for example, a carbon tax will not change behaviour and is just a punitive tax. It should absolutely be opposed.

 

“Carbon taxes are ineffective at reducing emissions, and the international evidence in conclusive on this fact. Emissions have continued to rise. Last year saw an EU record high in emissions. It merely provides the illusion of doing something.

 

“We need to discuss the idea of a wealth tax for wealthy individuals and corporations. A wealth tax along this line could then be ringfenced to invest in real climate action measures, such as a major expansion of public transport, the retrofitting of houses, and developing green infrastructure across our Island.

 

“We want to make it very clear we will not support such a tax. The way to fight climate change is not by penalising ordinary families and working people.” ENDS

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy continues to raise Irish Brexit concerns in Brussels

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy continues to raise Irish Brexit concerns in Brussels

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the British political system has made a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario a live prospect.  This has created huge concerns in Ireland and required a detailed response from the EU and Irish government as to how vulnerable sectors and regions would be supported in such a scenario.  Discussions are now also needed, he said, as to the mitigation options to avoid any hardening of the border in Ireland.  All avenues to avoid such a catastrophe, including the hastening of a poll on Irish Unity, must form part of those discussions, he stated.

 

Carthy was speaking this week after he hosted a delegation of the Sinn Féin leadership, including party president Mary Lou McDonald and vice president Michelle O’Neill, to Brussels where they held a series of high-level meetings.  The meetings included a dialogue with EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier, who has warned that the inability of Westminster to agree on a withdrawal strategy makes a no-deal Brexit more likely on April 12, when the new deadline expires.

 

The Midlands Northwest MEP said: “The British parliament’s refusal to acknowledge the reality of Brexit and the need for the Withdrawal Agreement and backstop leaves only uncertainty and confusion. Their actions increase the likelihood of a no-deal crash-out Brexit.

 

“Ireland did not vote for Brexit. We do not consent to a hard border. We believe that the ‘backstop’ contained within the Withdrawal Agreement is a vital insurance policy to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and must be upheld.

 

“Throughout the Brexit process Sinn Féin has regularly met with EU negotiators, officials and leaders.  We have placed Irish concerns at the heart of the Brexit process.  This week we raised with Mr Barnier the need to continue to protect Irish interests, our economy, our agreements and the rights of citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

 

“The British parliament refuses to endorse the Withdrawal Agreement as negotiated by its government so we must plan for the default position of a crash-out Brexit.

 

“That means that the EU and the Irish government need to spell out how vulnerable regions and sectors will be protected and supported in a ‘no-deal’ scenario.  The positive words we have heard from Brussels must be followed by firm commitments, including financial support.  There must also be a clear statement that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, there can be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, and there can be no undermining of citizens’ rights.

 

“The EU recognises that the Good Friday Agreement provides for constitutional change and in the event of a unity vote all of Ireland would retain EU membership.

 

“The route back to the EU is clear – it means the ending of partition and the avoidance of a hard border in Ireland.

 

“The Irish government needs to intensify planning for a no-deal crash with an imperative to ensure no return to a hard border, and that our agreements the rights of citizens are safeguarded.

 

“This strategy must be an all-Ireland one and, most importantly, it must include the option of a poll on Irish Unity.” ENDS

 

ATM robberies require cross-border co-operation – Matt Carthy MEP

ATM robberies require cross-border co-operation – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the recent spate of attacks on ATMs across the north and border region is wholly unacceptable, not least for the huge cost implications for small, local businesses and the disruption it causes communities.

 

Carthy said that cross-border policing efforts, supported by local communities and the construction industry, must be focussed on stamping out this gang or gangs

 

Speaking after the latest such attack, which occurred in Castleblayney, the Midlands North-West MEP said:

 

“It has become an almost daily news report in recent weeks that an ATM has been attacked and removed in the region.  Local shop owners are now living in constant dread that their premises may be next.  There are also fears among local communities that an innocent person could get caught up in one of these attacks and be injured or killed in the fallout.

 

“The criminals involved in these attacks are clearly operating on a cross-border basis.  The response therefore must also involve a cross-border policing effort, supported by local communities and the construction industry, in order to stamp out these callous opportunists.  As an immediate step, policing resources and personnel must be increased in these areas.

 

“There is a real concern among communities that these events will lead to the removal of ATM facilities from rural towns and villages, areas that have already had other services withdrawn. Such a move would have a detrimental effect on how people live and do business in these rural communities.  Assurances must be provided by government and the banks that everything possible will be done to avoid such a scenario.”

ENDS

MEP asks Minister to provide assurances on Proposed Croagh Wind Farm, Co Leitrim

MEP asks Minister to provide assurances on Proposed Croagh Wind Farm, Co Leitrim

 

Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has confirmed that he has written to the Minister for Planning, Eoghan Murphy, asking him to provide assurances to communities in the vicinity of a proposed wind farm at Croagh, Co Leitrim that their concerns will be listened to.

 

Carthy contacted the Minister following a meeting he held with local residents recently where they raised concerns regarding the manner in which Coillte is proposing to develop a commercial scale wind farm located on the northeastern slopes of Carrane Hill, Garvagh, Killavoggy.

 

Speaking this week Carthy said:

 

“Everyone accepts that there is a need to develop renewal energy.  But, the manner in which Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have pursued this objective has been sloppy and haphazard.  They have allowed the agenda to be dictated by private corporations while sometimes state companies have been used to facilitate these multinationals.  All the while local communities have been ignored and the model which works best internationally, of public and community ownership of the process, has been disregarded in place of a process where local communities are essentially side-lined from the entire process.

 

“When I joined Martin Kenny TD and Cllr. Padraig Fallon to meet with residents concerned with the Croagh proposal I was surprised to learn that the planned wind turbines are significantly larger than the conventional types, many of which are already in place in this area.  Specifically, concerns have been raised with us regarding the close proximity to heritage bog land areas, and the threats posed to species such as the Hen Harrier and Corncrake, which attract bird watchers from Ireland and beyond and which are endangered species.

 

“The residents we met with are also frustrated with what they consider the lack of genuine consultation embarked by Coillte which is, of course, a state-owned company.

 

“Considering the genuine fears that have been expressed regarding the general well-being of the community and the potential impact of this development on homes, wildlife, habitats, bogs and waterways I have written to Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government requesting that he provide assurances that the concerns of local communities will be taken into consideration before any planning is granted as to the proposal for the Croagh Wind Farm.

 

“Neither the Minister, nor the local Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs who keep him in power, can continue to hide behind the planning process while communities feel that they have no voice.  If renewable energy targets are to be met then communities must have ownership of the process, they will not tolerate being ignored”.

ENDS

Carthy welcomes CAP vote but cautions that further progress needed to deliver equality for farmers

Carthy welcomes CAP vote but cautions that further progress needed to deliver equality for farmers

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has welcomed the support for hastened moves towards equality on farm payments per hectare in key vote on the Common Agricultural Policy. Speaking in Brussels, following a vote on the CAP post-2020 in the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Carthy said:

“Inequalities in farm payments has long been a controversial issue in Ireland as some farm enterprises receive significantly more per hectare than many farm families based on the system of historical entitlements.

“Under the current CAP, no farms in Ireland should have been receiving more than €700 per hectare in EU subsidies by 2019.  However, there are still many farmers receiving less than €100 per hectare.  Such a disparity is unfair and unsustainable.  Today’s vote calls for full convergence on payments per hectare by 2026 – a massive win for those on lower incomes.

“For the majority of farmers in my Midlands North West constituency this vote will be significant.  Farmers, especially in the western and border counties receive some of the lowest payments in the country and redistribution could be the difference between staying on the land or being forced out of agriculture.

“However there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality in farming.

“Sinn Féin has supported an upper limit of €60,000 for basic payments, with farmers having the option of topping up their payments through participation in environmental schemes.  This would allow for front loaded payments that would offer additional support proportionally for smaller and medium sized farms.  In today’s vote, Fine Gael’s political group significantly weakened this ambition so that direct payments will be capped at €100,000 with loopholes that will allow payments even above this limit.  Even this adoption of the redistributive payment will allow the Irish Government to supplement small to medium farmers with an increased front-loaded payment.

“I am also disappointed by the lack of progress for Young Farmers.  Amendments I put forward calling for 3% of Pillar 1 to be dedicated to Young Farmers did not receive the necessary support during the negotiation stage, so this figure will remain at 2%.

“In some respects there are still a lot of unknowns about the new CAP.  National Governments are set to gain additional control over environmental schemes, as well as the setting of targets. As farmers are well aware based on their experience with Greening, these schemes have the potential to frustrate and ultimately prove worthless in terms of impact if the approach is not right.

“The vote today comes close to the end of this Parliamentary term, so while it makes an important statement on the importance to deliver equality, the final outcome of the 2020-2027 programming period will likely not be finalised until the next mandate of parliament.  Therefore it is imperative that Ireland is represented by progressive MEPs that will demand fairness for our family farmers and that is one of the reasons why it is imperative that farmers support Sinn Féin in the European elections in May.

“In the meantime the Irish government’s position in the European Council will be crucial.  Any attempt to dilute the Parliament’s position on convergence must be resisted and the government must be clear and upfront on its position to deliver maximum equality in farm payments”.

ENDS

‘Irish government appears to have blocked EU funding for Western Rail Corridor!’ – Matt Carthy MEP

‘Irish government appears to have blocked EU funding for Western Rail Corridor!’ – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Matt Carthy MEP has said that it appears that the Irish government has blocked the potential for EU funding to develop the Western Rail Corridor.  The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds listed transport projects across the EU.  But, it has emerged Council representatives (acting on behalf of EU governments) have resisted the inclusion of the Western Rail Corridor on the CEF list in secret negotiations with European Parliament and Commission representatives.

 

Speaking following the outcome of negotiations, Carthy said:

 

‘Last December, the European Parliament supported my amendments to recognise the Western Rail Corridor as a priority link within the CEF fund.  MEPs from across a range of EU Member States could see the clear need for a rail network in the West of Ireland.

 

‘Following this vote in the European Parliament, the report entered into trilogue negotiations; secret negotiations where only a limited number of officials can attend.  It became clear from our sources that the Council, the representative body of Member State governments, did not support the funding, and in fact, vehemently opposed the proposal.  It is implausible that the Council would adopt such a position without the say-so of the Irish government.

 

‘The Irish government has delayed for years the opportunity for this project to receive vital EU transport funding.  Sinn Féin submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of Transport, Shane Ross, on whether the Irish government was supporting the amendments at EU negotiations.  Unsurprisingly, the Minster declined to comment on the position of the Irish government in the closed negotiations.

 

‘Instead, the Minister claims that he will submit to the European Commission an application to review Ireland’s TEN-T map within the next six weeks.  However, communities across the west of Ireland will not be confident.  In 2016, the Programme for Partnership Government stated that an application to review the Irish TEN-T map would occur within three months of government formation.  I revealed last year that they hadn’t even asked the European Commission for a review.  It is now 2019.  How long does it take the Irish government to write a letter?

 

‘It is now beyond question that there is an inbuilt bias in this Fine Gael government, supported by Fianna Fáil, against infrastructural development for regions such as the west.  People will recall that it was Leo Varadkar, while Transport Minister, who forced the removal of transport projects in the West and North West, including the Western Rail Corridor, from the TEN-T map.  Now it appears that is government has blocked progress that we made in the European Parliament to begin to address a glaring omission in our public transport network.

 

“Any TD in the west, whether they be Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Independent that continues to support this government while they refuse to change course on this matters will, in effect, be operating against the economic best interests of their own constituents.

 

“For our part, Sinn Féin MEPs will continue to support the Western Rail Corridor as a vital infrastructure project and we will continue to hold those to account who are failing to deliver for the west of Ireland.”

ENDS

Matt Carthy MEP to host “Stop the Vultures!” public meeting in Drogheda this Friday

Matt Carthy MEP to host “Stop the Vultures!” public meeting in Drogheda this Friday

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy will host a “Stop the Vultures! Time to Protect Homes” public meeting in the Westcourt Hotel in Drogheda, Co Louth, this Friday 5 April at 8pm.

 

The Midlands Northwest MEP has been central to the campaign against the EU directive on non-performing loans which he says will strengthen the free rein giving to the banks and vulture funds and will force more families out of their homes. Ahead of the Drogheda event he spoke of the government’s lack of action on Ireland’s housing crisis.

 

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

 

“In Brussels we are fighting tooth and nail against a new proposal on mortgage loans, which would allow the banks to throw their customers to the wolves and give further free rein to the debt vultures across the EU.

 

“Last week the UN special rapporteur on housing issued an absolutely scathing letter reprimanding the Irish government for its policies that have actively encouraged the financialisation of the real estate sector – and which have directly caused the extreme rise in homelessness we have witnessed.

 

“The unprecedented housing crisis in this state has been caused by a series of public policy failures – a failure to cap rents, a failure to build social housing, and a failure to implement an effective vacant homes strategy.

 

“At the same time the housing and homelessness crisis has been worsened by the government’s policies of inviting in the US vulture funds, and creating a virtually tax-free environment for both the banks and the vultures.

 

“Instead of regulating international speculators, the government has welcomed in the hedge funds with open arms, which has driven up housing and rental costs and priced an entire generation out of ever owning their own home.

 

“At every stage in this unfolding disaster, the government has been supported by Fianna Fáil.

 

“Fine Gael, supported by Fianna Fáil, are actively encouraging this crisis to escalate and we must fight back. We in Sinn Féin are here to stand with the people to protect their homes.

 

“I encourage the people of county Louth to stand with us on April 5. Come and have your voice heard.”

 

Note to editors:

Speakers on the evening will include Imelda Munster TD and Cllr Joanna Byrne. The event, which takes place in Westcourt Hotel in Drogheda, starts at 8pm on Friday 5 April.

ENDS

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