Sinn Féin’s Midlands Northwest MEP Matt Carthy today addressed the Magill Summer school on the question of “The European Union: Reform or decline?”. During the debate Carty called for reform of the EU institutions and for powers to be returned to members states. He again urged the government to withdraw Phil Hogan’s nomination for the position of Ireland’s next EU Commissioner.
“The European Union is at a cross roads. The public in Ireland and elsewhere are clearly uncomfortable with the direction of the EU.
“The election results were a call to action; they should have signalled a clear change in direction on the part of European leaders. Many of us were watching the first meeting of the European Council to see if the message had been received.
“Rather than announce a single change in policy or direction the council concentrated on a secret carve up of the top jobs within the institutions.
“The first big decision that our own government has had to take since the election has been the announcement of our next commissioner. If Fine Gael and Labour had heeded the message from voters they would have nominated someone who represented a break from the old boys club; a break from the usual Fianna Fáil type crony back-slapping move of using positions like this to reward party loyalty rather than to put someone who would be a credit to our country.
“What did they do? They nominated the epitome of cronyism. Phil Hogan has been nominated as commissioner because he was loyal to Enda Kenny during the leadership heave. Despite the fact that he has failed as a Minister; that questions will undoubtedly be raised at European level about his record it appears that Labour are content to support the nomination. I want to again call on the government to withdraw this nomination and put forward someone who we can all support.
“There are those who want the EU to become a federal state which in effect means taking an increasing amount of decision making powers further away from the people. I do not believe most of the Irish people, or indeed the majority population of the EU as a whole, wants to see this happen and that this is part of the reason for the growing chasm between EU institutions and the people of Europe.
“I believe most people, in Ireland and across Europe, agree with my starting point that decisions that affect them should be taken as close to them as possible. For this reason Sinn Féin is seeking support for a new EU convention with an explicit mandate to identify competencies to be returned to member states.
“It is time for a new direction, in Ireland and in the EU institutions. It is time to stand up for Ireland and the interests of the Irish people. I believe that if the EU is to have a future we need to end the Brussels power grab, to reign in the Commission and return powers to the member states.”