Government can’t hide behind ECB on bill to rein in vultures – Carthy

Government can’t hide behind ECB on bill to rein in vultures – Carthy

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the government can’t hide behind the European Central Bank (ECB) on its opposition to Pearse Doherty’s ‘No Consent, No Sale’ bill. The Department of Finance is ‘urgently’ requesting an ECB ‘opinion’ on the bill, which is opposed by Fine Gael and the banks.

 

“Fine Gael’s opposition to this bill lays bare the central contradiction in its position – on the one hand, it claims mortgage holders are no worse off under vulture funds, but on the other it fears the proposed mechanism of written consent for the sale of a mortgage would be widely used by customers in order to prevent the sale of their mortgage to a vulture. Why would this be the case if vultures are so harmless?

 

“The reality is that there is no clear provision for any regulatory or statutory obligation on vulture funds to honour previous debt restructuring arrangements, and even if it was interpreted that there was such an obligation, this could be questioned in the courts, as FLAC has pointed out.

 

“The government is now seeking an ‘urgent’ opinion from the ECB on the bill. This will be around the 20th time since the crisis that the ECB has been ‘consulted’ on a bill relating to mortgage debt since 2013. Each time the ECB puts the profitability of banks before consumer interests.

 

“It is little wonder when we consider the decision-making process within the ECB. A Corporate Europe Observatory report on regulatory capture within the ECB found that of the 517 representatives operating in the ECB’s 22 advisory groups, a full 98 per cent of them came from the private financial sector (508 out of 517).

 

“The ECB is determined to offload non-performing loans onto the shadow banking sector. Irish legislators have the right to resist this agenda and to put in place strong safeguards for consumers.

 

“The Central Bank of Ireland has now apparently abandoned all pretence at being ‘independent’ and is actively campaigning against a proposed bill that aims to fill the hole left by the Bank’s own failure to protect consumers against vulture funds. We have now reached the ridiculous point where the Central Bank has scrapped its own Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears – on which the No consent, No Sale bill is based – in order to undermine the bill.

 

“Where was the Central Bank in the lead-up to the crisis, during the Tracker Mortgage scandal and the countless other scandals involving our banks over the past years?  I hope the change of leadership at the Central Bank also results in a changed attitude on this issue.

 

“The central argument against the bill by the Central Bank, the ECB, the Department of Finance and the banks is that it will lead to an increase in interest rates. This would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. These are the exact same bodies who have failed to take any action against Irish banks who have operated in a cartel-like rate-fixing system for years. Even Mario Draghi has pointed this out.

 

“Properly regulated banks would not be able to collude to raise interest rates, which are already artificially inflated and the highest in Europe. Consumer protections for mortgage-holders has been left to legislators as it is clear the supposedly independent regulators in the Central Bank and ECB have abdicated from this role. The ECB and Central Bank should back off and end their politicised campaign against effective consumer protection against vulture funds.” ENDS

Fianna Fáil policies will sustain the health and housing crisis – Matt Carthy MEP

Responding to the publication of Fianna Fáil’s EU Election manifesto Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said today;

“Fianna Fáil’s call to change the fiscal rules is like a bad joke being played on the public given that they fully accepted the fiscal rules during the austerity era. Their change of tune is welcome but about a decade too late.

“In fact their Rainy Day Fund proposal means they don’t even want to spend what is available to the State under the rules.

“The ALDE group, which Fianna Fáil is affiliated to, want ‘better control mechanisms and more automatic sanctions on countries when the stability and growth pact is broken’. This can simply be translated to less sovereignty and stricter rules for Member States. A vote for Fianna Fail policies is a vote for an on-going crisis in health and housing for forever and a day.

“This is why we need to elect Sinn Féin MEPs in the upcoming election.  We need MEPs who will stand for a social Europe over a right wing Europe, MEPs who will stand up for Ireland’s neutrality and against the militarisation fantasies both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

“On Brexit Fianna Fáil have copied and pasted many of Sinn Féin’s proposals from 2017 to ease State Aid rules, target funding and use the Globalisation Adjustment Fund to mitigate the impact of Brexit as well as ensuring continued access to EU Funding for the north.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would rather spend billions on an EU Army while Ireland is in the midst of a housing crisis, while farm payments are decreasing and while our many of our own defence forces are struggling to put food on the table.”

ENDS

EU ruling on Secret Investment Courts makes European election results crucial – Matt Carthy MEP

EU ruling on Secret Investment Courts makes European election results crucial – Matt Carthy MEP

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed his disappointment with the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) released on Tuesday that finds the Commission’s proposed Investment Court System in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with EU law.  The ruling doesn’t change the likelihood, he said, that the proposed corporate courts breech the Irish constitution and therefore will require a referendum in this state before it can proceed.

 

The Midlands North West representative said that the ruling made it clear that the next European Parliament will play a decisive role in determining whether it becomes standard practise for corporations to sue national governments and therefore it is imperative that progressive parties such as Sinn Féin are returned with strong mandates.

 

Matt Carthy said: “The Investment Court System will allow foreign corporations to sue national governments for enacting laws that impinge on their profits.  This will happen in secret hearings with no role for the national judicial systems.

 

“The opinion of the Court of Justice therefore is deeply disappointing.  Once again the court has held that corporate profits are more important than the democratic and fundamental rights of EU citizens.

 

“In response to mass public anger at the idea of secrets investment courts being included in EU free trade agreements, the Commission has tried to re-package, spin and sell the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in CETA as being more like a permanent, normal court with safeguard mechanisms in place.

 

“It is nothing of the sort.

 

“These type of ‘Investor Courts’ which are only open to foreign companies, therefore giving them an advantage over Irish firms, have always led to a so-called ‘regulatory chill’, where governments shy away from enacting laws in the public interest that they fear may be challenged by investors.  How is that democratic?

 

“Because CETA and other free trade agreements that propose to include an ISDS mechanism, such as the agreement with Singapore, are ‘mixed agreements’, they require ratification at both the EU and member state level. That means a single ‘no’ vote against the ratification of CETA in any EU member state parliament will be enough to scupper these plans for secret investment courts.

 

“The Irish state is one of the few states around the world that has never included an ISDS mechanism in any of its bilateral investment treaties to date.  Ratification of these agreements will mean that this, and any future Irish government, will have to take into consideration the potential impact of all new legislation on foreign corporations.  Any new law that may impact on an investor’s profits can be challenged in one of the above-described tribunals, and damages awarded or the legislation scrapped.

 

“The legal opinion that I have previously commissioned states that such a mechanism would breech the Irish constitution.  Therefore the government should either withdraw their support for these trade deals or put the proposed corporate court system to referendum for the people to decide.

 

“The challenge now is for civil society, progressive parties, environmentalists and the trade union movement to demand a vote against ISDS in the Dáil on the CETA and Singapore agreements.  And, of course, the immediate message that can be sent will be when voters cast their votes in the European elections.  I urge people to support progressive parties such as Sinn Féin who will fight against this archaic system being imposed upon us.”

ENDS

Climate emergency requires government-led response – Carthy

Climate emergency requires government-led response – Carthy

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the climate change emergency we face must be met with an emergency response – and that governments must show leadership.  Carthy was speaking following an Environmental Pillar hustings in Leitrim on Friday to which all European election candidates were invited.  Despite the large turnout at the event, not a single Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael candidate turned up highlighting those parties position on this critical issue.

 

The Sinn Féin MEP said: “Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation. The IPCC’s report from October was the starkest warning yet of the impending climate catastrophe. The scientific consensus is that we have until 2030 to act to make ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented’ transitions in all areas of our economies if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. That’s just 11 years away.

 

“The depth and breadth of change we require to decarbonise our economies and societies is such that it can only be dealt with by an emergency plan, led by governments, and coordinated at the international level.

 

“Leaving this challenge up to ‘market forces’ is a recipe for disaster.  Proposals such as Carbon tax hikes not only punish the poorest, they are ineffective at reducing emissions.  The international evidence in conclusive on this fact; market measures do not work, and emissions have continued to rise.  Last year saw an EU record high in emissions.  Leaving this issue to private interests to resolve merely provide the illusion of doing something.

 

“What we need more than anything at the EU and Irish level is a coordinated and unprecedented government-led roll-out of a major capital investment programme that massively expands public transport, retrofits homes and public buildings, invests directly in renewable energy, builds bike lanes and local gardens, and much more.  At the same time we need a binding phase-out date for fossil fuels.  This is the scale of work required.  This is the scale of ambition we need, which is being demanded of us by the young students marching for their future each week around the world.

 

“The free-market fundamentalists in the Irish government will say, ‘let the market do its job –  it’ll be grand’.  The EU will say, ‘Don’t even think about breaching our arbitrary debt and deficit rules’. Our response to both of them has to be clear – that this is an emergency, and it requires an emergency response. The EU’s Fiscal Compact should be binned in favour of a coordinated EU-wide Green New Deal.

 

“We have seen the failure of the Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael approach.  They have adopted a Forestry policy that actually damages the environment; they have a renewable energy policy that has antagonised communities; they have supported trade deals that will destroy our farming communities and rain-forests on the other side of the world.  Leaving the issue of climate to private corporations clearly doesn’t work!  The very fact that neither of these parties was represented at a debate on climate change during the course of this election campaign speaks volumes.

 

“The vast majority of people, and particularly young people, will be behind Sinn Féin when we demand real action that gives us a realistic chance of mitigating the worst aspects of this crisis – before it’s too late.”

ENDS

 

“Support for Sinn Féin in EU elections will send powerful message to Government and EU elites” – Matt Carthy at Election Launch

Support for Sinn Féin in EU elections will send powerful message to Government and EU elites” – Matt Carthy at Election Launch

 

Sinn Féin Midlands North West MEP Matt Carthy has asked the people of County Monaghan to help return him to the European Parliament saying that strong support for his party in the elections will send a powerful message to the Government and Brussels that change must happen and also that ordinary families and working people cannot not be ignored.

Carthy was speaking as he officially launched his re-election campaign in Dundalk last Saturday.  He was joined by Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou MacDonald TD, former party leader Gerry Adams TD and party Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD as well as party activists from across his constituency, including County Monaghan.

Matt Carthy MEP said:

“The Irish people need MEPs who will fight for Ireland, who will take on the EU bureaucrats, who will take on the powerful corporations and the insiders who have far too much influence over political decisions at EU level.

“Neither Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil will do this. They never have. Independents, no matter how colourful or entertaining present no threat to these powerful interests. So they won’t do it either.

“Only Sinn Féin can and will bring the fight for a fairer Ireland and a fairer Europe to those in positions of power.

“Strong support for Sinn Féin in the European elections, will send a powerful message to the Government and to Brussels that change must happen and that ordinary, working people cannot not be ignored any more.”

“We have delivered on all the issues that matter, including Brexit. I am going before the electorate on my record of work and on the Sinn Féin policy platform.

“Sinn Féin has a vision for a fairer united Ireland in a radically reformed EU. I am asking voters across this vast constituency to endorse that vision.

“While this election is a major challenge, I have regularly visited every corner of the Midlands North West constituency since my election in 2014.

“I look forward to campaigning across the constituency between now and May 24th.  But, I know my success in 2014 owed a lot to the support I received from my home county of Monaghan.  I need that support once again.

“It is our strong intention to retain a Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West who will continue to fight for Ireland and for the interests of ordinary working.”

ENDS

Matt Carthy: “Fine Gael failing to fight farmers’ corner on European funding”

Matt Carthy: “Fine Gael failing to fight farmers’ corner on European funding”

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, candidate for the Midlands North West, has said the Irish government is failing to fight the corner of Irish farmers when it comes to the EU budget.

 

Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee said: “The most significant upcoming battle for farmers will be the allocation to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) within the EU budget.

 

“While the distribution of the CAP will be an important conversation it will count for little if we have not first secured sufficient funds to distribute.  Since joining the European Union in 1973, almost 80 per cent of the funds that have come to Ireland through EU programmes have been to support agriculture.

 

“In the first round of these discussions, the Irish government has displayed its inability to fight the farmers’ corner when it counts.  While raising no objection to the €13 billion proposed for the European Defence fund, Leo Varadkar went to Brussels and offered to increase Ireland’s contributions to the budget, before receiving any assurance that the areas that matter to us, such as CAP and cohesion funds, were protected from cuts.

 

“This blank check has farmers starting down the barrel of a 15% cut to CAP in real terms, including a 27% cut to rural development.

 

“This is just systematic of Fine Gael’s deplorable record when it comes to rural Ireland. Unfortunately the legacy of Fine Gael, and of Fianna Fáil before them, will be felt for years to come.  They have removed money from the pockets of struggling families, including farming families, to bail out AIB, then had proceed to welcome in the vultures to come and take what was left of the people of rural Ireland’s livelihood.

 

“For Sinn Féin I can categorically state that we will not support an EU budget that doesn’t include a real increase in CAP funding.  Every vote cast for Sinn Féin will be a vote for a farming communities.”

ENDS

 

Carthy to kick off campaign at major event in Dundalk this Saturday

Carthy to kick off campaign at major event in Dundalk this Saturday

 

Matt Carthy MEP will officially launch his re-election campaign this Saturday the 27th at a special event in Dundalk, Co Louth.

 

The campaign Launch will take place in An Táin Arts Centre at 2pm on Saturday. Sinn Féin Party Leader Mary Lou MacDonald, former party leader Gerry Adams and TD Pearse Doherty will be in attendance.

 

Ahead of the event Carthy said “I am extremely proud of my record as a representative in the European Parliament, as part of a team of Sinn Féin MEPs, over the past five years.  We have delivered on all the issues that matter, including Brexit.  I look forward to going before the electorate on the basis of our record of work and on the Sinn Féin policy platform.  We have a vision for a better, fairer united Ireland in a radically reformed EU.  I am asking voters across this vast constituency to endorse that vision.

 

“Saturday’s launch is a public event!  I have already been to every corner of my constituency on a regular basis since my election in 2014.  I look forward to returning to every town, village and parish between now and May 24th.  This election will be a tough one but we’re up for it.  I hope to see a large turnout at our launch so that we can set out our intention to maintain a Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West who will continue to fight for Ireland.”

 

ENDS

 

Reports of deceased lying on hospital trolleys ‘is distressing and unacceptable’ – Carthy

Reports of deceased lying on hospital trolleys ‘is distressing and unacceptable’ – Carthy

 

Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands North West Matt Carthy has expressed true shock at the news today that dead bodies were lying and decomposing on hospital trolleys in corridors in Waterford.

 

Carthy said: “Every week there is some new scandal outlining the total crisis and chaos in our healthcare service across the country.  People are becoming more and more concerned about the deterioration we are seeing in the level of healthcare provision, including scandals, inequality, scarcity and long waiting lists.

 

“But bodies decomposing on trolleys in corridors, leaking bodily fluids and making closed-coffin burials necessary? The pathologists’ letter puts it best when they write: ‘The trauma imposed on the bereaved is almost unspeakable.’

 

“The HSE was informed in 2004 that this mortuary was unfit for purpose, and the letter outlines deep concerns by practitioners about the poor and antiquated state of mortuary and post-mortem services at UHW. But nothing was done. How is that possible? How is it possible that a full 15 years after this issue was raised, cadavers are decomposing on trolleys, possibly in front of their loved ones and other patients?

 

“This is a desperately sad situation for the bereaved family members, and for the staff who have been forced to work in these shocking conditions. Health Minister Simon Harris needs to apologise for these devastating events; make a commitment to investigate the causes behind the situation; and implement a swift and effective plan to ensure the situation is resolved immediately. This includes ensuring that if similar problems are raised in other facilities across the state, they must be swiftly resolved also.

 

“The Irish people are losing confidence each week in our health service. The massive public support for the nurses’ strike in recent months was a public acknowledgement that the system is broken and cannot go on as it is. The nurses were fighting for all of us to access healthcare with basic dignity.

 

“We have had more than a decade of ‘crisis’ headlines and scandals in our health system. Despite this, the fact that the health service has deteriorated even further in recent years is a true indictment of Fine Gael and its useless appendage, Fianna Fáil.

 

“Our health system has been in a level of crisis for many years due to cuts, chronic underinvestment and deliberate outsourcing and privatisation by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil-led governments. Well, a scorched-earth approach leaves you with a dysfunctional disaster.

 

“Sinn Féin is committed to ending this two-tier system and ensuring all people have ready and affordable access to the best-quality, dignified care –  instead of this chaos and abominable treatment of human beings.”

ENDS

 

Matt Carthy speech at Drumboe Easter Commemoration

Matt Carthy speech at Drumboe Easter Commemoration

 

Sinn Féin Midlands North West MEP Matt Carthy has extended condolences to the family of Lyra McKee at today’s Easter Commemoration at Drumboe, County Donegal.

In a speech delivered at the Drumboe Easter Commemoration this afternoon Carthy addressed the issues of Brexit, Irish reunification and the housing crisis.

Full speech follows:

1916 Easter Rising Commemoration, Drumboe, Co. Donegal – Easter Sunday 2019, Matt Carthy

I want to begin today by paying tribute to the life of the talented young writer Lyra McKee, shot dead in Derry this week.  We extend our deepest condolences to her grieving partner, family and friends.

The large vigils that have taken place across Ireland to honour Lyra were an outpouring of grief – for the pointless loss of this bright young woman’s life. But they were also a demonstration of our fierce and united determination to never return to the dark days of the tragic conflict that has scarred our island and its people.

That is the true spirit of republicanism: one built on the foundations of unity, solidarity, community, equality, inclusiveness – and fearlessness.

Ireland – a country that fought an empire

A chairde, this weekend Republicans across Ireland and around the world are gathering as we do each Easter to remember those who gave their lives in pursuit of Irish freedom in the 1916 Rising and at other periods of our history.

Here today we remember especially the Drumboe Martyrs: Charlie Daly, Seán Larkin, Tim O’Sullivan and Dan Enright; Irish freedom fighters who were executed by freestate forces on 14th March 1923 during the tragic civil war which marked a pivotal point in the counter-revolution that followed the tan war.

In 1916, Ireland was the little country that fought the most powerful empire in the world.  On that Easter Monday, just 1200 men and women set out to bring an end to British rule in Ireland – in their words, to “strike a blow for freedom”.  The leaders, including the seven signatories to the Proclamation, were all executed by the British in the weeks that followed.

We remember the ultimate sacrifice they made just as we remember the ultimate sacrifice paid by republicans since.

Of course, we do not just remember the individuals who led the Easter Rising, but also their vision and the ideals they died for. These ideals were best articulated by James Connolly, Pádaric Pearse and the other signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic – of national sovereignty, equality, social justice, and democratic rights for all.

A decade of centenaries 

Over the past few years we have been marking a of a decade of centenaries of pivotal events in Ireland’s struggle for independence.

In 2013 we marked the Centenary of the Great Lockout when the bosses of Dublin declared war on the workers and their families.

The choice presented to the workers was stark. They could obey the bosses, resign from their union and go back to their tenement slums and their poverty with their heads down. Or they could resist. Thousands chose resistance.

Through the summer and autumn and winter of 1913 and 1914 they faced police brutality, press vilification, Church condemnation and starvation. They seemed defeated, but out of their struggle arose a revived trade union movement and a proud working class.

Again and again, in the decades since the Lockout, those whom Wolfe Tone called the people of no property were offered that same choice – resign or resist.

They were told to resign themselves to their fate when Ireland was partitioned and a sectarian Orange state established in the Six Counties. But the followers of Tone and Connolly again resisted, and stood by the Proclamation of the Republic.

Half a century after the Proclamation, the Civil Rights movement stepped forward and was met with the same choice – resign yourselves to the reality of the one-party sectarian state or resist.

They chose resistance. RUC brutality was resisted. Internment was resisted. The British Army was resisted. Criminalisation in the H-Blocks and Armagh was resisted. Collusion and censorship and the demonisation of whole communities were resisted.

The massive Irish and international commemoration of the centenary of the Rising in 2016 showed the clarion call of the Proclamation has echoed down for a full century – and continues to enthuse and motivate us today in our struggle for the unfinished freedom of our country, and for the unfinished equality of our people.

In 2018, we marked the centenary of the General Election, which saw republicans win 73 of the 105 Irish seats available – a resounding roar from the Irish people that they chose a united, independent, egalitarian republic.

That year the vote was extended to men above 21 without restriction; women had won limited franchise and could vote if they were over 30 and owned some level of property. The extension of the vote to large sections of the working class was decisive in returning the republican TDs.

As they had committed to, and were given a resounding mandate to do, the TDs abstained from the British Parliament and established an all-Ireland parliament – An Chéad Dáil Éireann.

Democratic Programme

During the first session of that Dáil, 100 years ago, TDs adopted the Democratic Programme – a document less well known than the Proclamation but even more significant in terms of it visionary content of the social and economic transformation Ireland required a century ago, and continues to require today.

One short paragraph from the Democratic Programme read:

“It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as Citizens of a Free and Gaelic Ireland.”

Compare those words to the brutal, cold reality of Ireland today.

Reality of housing crisis

Last month the United Nations wrote a scathingletter to the Irish government, pointing out that homelessness has increased exponentially in the Irish state between 2015 and 2018 – increasing by nearly 96% among adults and by 228% among children over the same period.

They called the denial of the right to a home an ‘egregious and damaging violation’, which is known to be devastating to the lives and wellbeing of children in particular,including to their physical and mental development.

The UN report does not limit its critique to the government’s failure to provide shelter for those experiencing homelessness. It outlines exactly how this crisis has developed and identifies the precise government policies that have caused it.

It points to cuts to the public housing budget, and land hoarding by speculators who deliberately restrict supply in order to inflate rent and prices, and most importantly, the policies that have caused the financialisation of housing in Ireland.

The First Dáil couldn’t deliver on its promises because it was immediately driven underground and  the Irish people were subjected to the terror of the Black and Tans, Civil War, counter revolution and Partition.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have failed

But in this state, we’ve now had a century of two-party rule by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and the state they have created is simply a paradise for the bankers, the American vulture funds, international finance and domestic gombeens.

Ireland is now the favourite spot for the Silicon Valley billionaires to shelter their profits from tax, but we leave our own population homeless on the streets at record levels while families, even those with two incomes, struggle to meet crippling rents and have almost no hope of ever owning their own home.

While Ireland has one of the largest and most dangerous shadow banking sectors in the world we are also home to a health service in chaos where the service one receives depends on how much money is in your bank account and in which part of the country you happen to live.  It is a place where those on the frontline such as our nurses have to take to the streets to fight for better healthcare for us all while private corporations make a killing on the back of our two-tier system.

This is the price for a century of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in power.

So, it is time that we choose resistance again – united, determined and fearless – and stand together to fight for a future where people’s lives and the environment are considered more important than corporate profits.

Local elections campaign

We need to do this through every means we available to us – at the local elections, at the European elections, in trade union struggles, and in progressive community campaigns.

This May, Sinn Féin will be running in election campaigns in local councils across the North and South promoting our message of radical republicanism.

Sinn Féin councillors are delivering real change for communities across Ireland.  They are working hard for the people and the communities we represent, delivering social and affordable housing, community infrastructure and facilities. They are making cities, towns and village better places to live.

Today I want to especially commend the mighty team of Sinn Féin members on Donegal County Council – Gary Doherty, Liam Doherty, Marie Therese Gallagher, Gerry McMonagle, Albert Doherty, Noel Jordon, Jack Murray, John Seamais Ó Fearraigh & Aidy Glacin and to wish them and our new candidates Maria Doherty, Brian Carr, Terry Crossan and Michael McMahon all the best on 24thMay.

With every additional Sinn Féin councillor elected, the stronger is our ability to create progressive change.  It’s hard work but we can take pride in the fact that we literally improve people’s lives and our local communities every single day.

EU elections 

I said earlier that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have failed us for a century – but this is nowhere made more clear than in the EU.  Some voters may think the EU elections are not important.  But the alarming fact is that these parties are consistently selling us short in Europe.

I have been fighting hard for Ireland as an MEP on issues such as getting the best possible deal for farmers in rural Ireland under the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy.

We have been fighting the EU tooth and nail on a new proposal that aims to give even more free rein to vulture funds and debt collectors while there hasn’t been a whimper from the other parties.

Just last week, through my work in the European Parliament, we exposed that the ECB had made profits –yes, profits! – of €73 billion from the so-called aid programmes they granted during the economic crisis.  Not a single Irish media outlet has reported this huge story.

Sinn Féin MEPs are working hard, all day every day, to fight for a radical change in the economic governance of the EU’s economic structures; for social and labour rights for workers; for rights for women and the LGBT community.  We are fighting for real action on climate change, such as forcing the ECB to divest the billions it hands over to the biggest polluters– instead of imposing punitive carbon taxes on the people who have done the least to cause the climate crisis.

We will resist the efforts of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to impose additional charges on working families in the guise of carbon tax hikes.

This EU election will be an all-Ireland election. It’s another opportunity to return an all-Ireland Sinn Féin team to Brussels to fight for Ireland’s interests, to oppose any hard border in Ireland, to oppose the neoliberal agenda, federalisation and the creation of an EU army.

Sinn Féin has extreme problems with the nature and direction of the EU – but having one part of our country dragged out of the EU against the expressed wishes of the people is a recipe for disaster.

Fighting for Ireland

A lot has been said about Brexit in the past two years.

And, Ireland has been, of course, central to the Brexit story.  There’s a reason for that.

Actually, it’s four reasons.  It was the Sinn Féin team in Brussels that brought the Irish concerns, particular concerns regarding the border and the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement, to the heart of Brexit deliberations.  While others accused us of being naïve when we first raised the notion of special status for the north, our efforts ensured that that became, essentially, the position of the Irish government and subsequently the EU.

Our work is not done, so let me make this promise,every day Sinn Féin has representation in Brussels will be a day spent working to ensure that Irish interests, the rights of Irish citizens, and particularly the border regions, are protected.

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.  It is the absolute bare minimum that is required.

Brexit is clearly causing people to question the constitutional future of the North and encouraging support for an all-island economic, political and social framework.

The debate on Irish Unity is now mainstream.

Opinion polls must always be taken with a pinch of salt but the overwhelming trend of those carried out in the past two years is clear. The results reflect three important trends. First, there has been a consistent rise in the proportion of people who say they would vote for a united Ireland.

Second, this trend is most pronounced among young people.

And thirdly, these trends reflect the continuing major influence of the Brexit debacle on shaping attitudes on this issue in the North.

Now is the time for all of us who believe a united Ireland will provide a better future – parties, community groups, trade unions, businesses and individuals – to work together to seize this historic opportunity.

We need to build popular support for the demand for a referendum while also working patiently to convince those who disagree that their voices will be heard and respected.

The British and Irish governments need to acknowledge theses changing attitudes and agree to hold a poll so the people can have their say.

We have the right to a referendum on reunification under the Good Friday Agreement and we will not be denied that right.

Our message to those other political parties that sometimes espouse support for Irish unity?  The work must begin now!

So, to Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the SDLP and others we say – join us now in framing the conversation; let us take the conversation to the next level, let’s include all stakeholders and communities and let us map out how we can secure a referendum on unity, win it and make a united Ireland a success for all the people of our country.

We’re up for it.  We’re up for working together to achieve the goal of Connolly and Pearse and the Drumboe Martyrs – it’s time for others to let it be known who is with us.

A chairde, as we leave this spot today be assured that we’re on the road towards a united Ireland.  It will take a lot of work but it is going to happen sooner, I suspect, than many people realise.  So concurrently we need to work to ensure that the united Ireland we deliver is one that allows us to reach our full potential as a nation, that it becomes a Republic worthy of it’s name, one that delivers on the promise of Proclamation and the Democratic Programme.

That will be the most fitting commemoration we can give to all those we honour here today.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile. ENDS

Carthy: Fine Gael complicity for EU army is a betrayal of Irish people that will cost us millions

Carthy: Fine Gael complicity for EU army is a betrayal of Irish people that will cost us millions

 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has slammed the Irish government for its continued complicity in the relentless EU drive to create an EU army.  The Midlands North West MEP was speaking following the final voting session of this parliamentary mandate, in which MEPs voted to establish a European Defence Fund and finance it with €13billion of taxpayers’ money.  One Fine Gael MEP voted in favour and while others abstained on this dangerous proposal.

 

Carthy said: “We often hear that the European Union’s greatest achievement is that it has been a successful ‘project of peace’.  Peace projects don’t need armies!

 

“It is astonishing that EU elected representatives would sign up to providing €13billion to set up a new European Defence Fund, a key staging post in the development of an EU army.  That they would do so while simultaneously reducing funding to key funding programmes such as CAP and the Cohesion programme and at a time when public services are at breaking point is mind-boggling.

 

“All the while Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are complicit in this aggressive militarisation drive.

 

“Despite Sinn Féin MEPs warning for years of the dangers of this agenda, and the threat it poses to Irish military neutrality, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have remained, at best silent, and often openly complicit.  The fact the Fine Gael MEPs have either voted for or abstained on this latest proposal is truly a disgrace and a betrayal of the Irish people and our constitution.

 

“Europe is still exporting weapons of war on a mass scale to Saudi Arabia, responsible for the ongoing starvation of the people of Yemen. Britain and France top the export list among EU states but many other EU member states, including Ireland, are also selling weapons or dual-use items to arm Saudi Arabia – despite the European Parliament’s repeated demands for an EU arms embargo on this pariah state.

 

“Sinn Féin’s group in the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, tabled a minority report completely rejecting the proposal – on the grounds that it advocates the rapid further militarisation of the EU and Member States; promotes an arms race; and subsidises investments in defence and military research and development, in spite of the social crisis and environmental impact of these activities.

 

“I have raised the illegality of the EDF directly with the Commission, as it breaches Article 41(2) of the Treaty, which clearly prohibits defence-related funding measures being taken from the general budget of the EU. I based these questions on an important legal study carried out by the University of Bremen, which concluded that EU funding of such an instrument breaches EU law.

 

“In the Orwellian double-speak of the Commission, it responded to me by claiming ‘the EDF would foster the competitiveness and innovativeness of the Union’s defence technological and industrial base by supporting defence-oriented research and development activities, without providing any funding to operations having military or defence implications’.

 

“This is pure nonsense. The establishment of the EDF, and its funding by the general EU budget is illegal.  Full stop.

 

“The election of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil MEPs next month will accelerate the drive to an EU army, with all of the costs, risks and dangers that this entails for the Irish people.

 

“Sinn Féin representatives are needed at European level to demand that our country does not contribute increased sums to an EU budget that prioritises military expansion ahead of delivering public services, creating sustainable jobs and securing EU funding where it is needed most.”

ENDS

 

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