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EU Election Manifesto 2014

Putting Ireland First - Éire Chun Cinn

Sinn Féin's bilingual election manifesto for the 2014 EU election was launched on Monday 12 May. Download Sinn Féin's EU Manifesto 2014 here.


EU Election News

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the introduction of lower EU roaming charges for phone users but said that the charges could and should have been abolished by now.

The lower charges – which apply also to Irish citizens crossing into the North – are coming into force ahead of the planned abolition of roaming fees across the EU next year.  An earlier position of the European Parliament would have seen the charges abolished last December but this was extended by national governments on the Council of Ministers with the support of Fine Gael and Labour. 

Matt Carthy said:

"Roaming charges have been a severe nuisance and injustice to thousands of people living in the border region who daily commute to work daily across the border, resulting in increased phone bills.

“It is also places a barrier for business start-ups and cross border co-operation as well as those who travel across Europe on holidays.

"Sinn Féin has campaigned strongly at EU level for the abolition of roaming charges and while I welcome the latest development, it is regrettable that charges will continue for another year.

"We will continue to work towards the earliest possible abolition of phone roaming charges and to end discrimination particularly against border residents."

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed a decision by the EU Commission to legally challenge the British Government on its introduction two years ago of a road toll for trucks because it discriminates against "non-UK hauliers".

Matt Carthy said:

"The decision by the EU Commission to challenge the legality of Britain’s HGV levy charge is very welcome.

"This development comes following similar concerns of a proposed German levy which is believed to contravene EU rules.

"Both of these levies discriminate against so-called foreign or non-domestic drivers. The levy introduced by the British government presents a particular threat in Ireland where haulage and transport firms naturally operate on a cross-border basis.

"Sinn Fein MEPs had raised this issue with the EU Commission, while our TDs and MLAs had raised it in the Dáil and the Assembly on numerous occasions.

"As a representative for an Irish border region I know the importance of developing the all-Ireland economy, this levy is a real obstacle to its delivery.

"There must be a united voice from across the political spectrum in Ireland calling on the British government to abandon the levy immediately rather than protracting a legal process with the commission."

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for the introduction of robust hate crime legislation following publication today of a report by the Fundamental Rights Agency.

Speaking from Brussels, Martina Anderson MEP said;

"Today's report published by the Fundamental Rights Agency focused on the impact of hate crime on victims and its perception in wider society.

"It is alarming to see a number of the recommendations or short fallings have specific relevance to Ireland such as that the failure to accurately define hate crimes increases the risk of authorities overlooking bias motives. The report states that criminal law should reflect the difference between offences that also violate an individual's right not to be discriminated against.

"It is in this context that Ireland's lack of legislation requiring the criminal justice system to take bias motivation into account becomes indefensible.

A member of the European Parliament's committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Martina Anderson continued;

"I, along with my Sinn Féin colleague Lynn Boylan MEP, recently submitted a written question to the European Commission. We asked if they believed Ireland needed to introduce legislation which specifically defines hate crimes based on race as distinct offences in order to comply with the Council Framework Decision on combatting forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia.

I believe the findings of the Fundamental Rights Agency may have answered that question.

"Sinn Féin remains fully committed to equality for all. We oppose any form of racism, sectarianism or discrimination. Our record in local government, the Assembly, the Executive, Leinster House and Europe proves our commitment to equality. We will continue to promote human rights and equality in everything we do. It is in this vain that we call on whichever Irish government is formed to immediately address this abhorrent short falling in hate crime legislation.

“We also call for harmonisation of all hate crime legislation north and south.”

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Following his previous release of commissioned legal advice on the EU trade deal with the US (TTIP) and the denial today of one of Belgian's regional Parliaments to allow the national parliament to sign off on the proposed investment court, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, has this week confirmed that independent legal advice on the re-worked Investment Chapter for the EU-Canada Trade Agreement, otherwise known as CETA confirms that it too breaches the Irish Constitution.  

Mr. Carthy called on the new government to adopt a new position on the EU trade agenda in advance of a vote of a ratification of CETA.

The Midlands North West MEP said

“Following an announcement from the European Commission on 29th February that it had "legally reviewed" its Investment Chapter, in light of the moves to replace traditional Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS) in TTIP, with a Permanent Investment Court, I sought my own legal advice.

“The very assertive legal advice I received from an eminent senior counsel revealed that the establishment of such a court would be contrary to the Irish Constitution.

“Since then we have seen a “re-worked” chapter in the CETA deal with Canada which also intends to work towards the establishment of an International Investment Court, to which only large corporations will have access to challenge the democratic decisions of sovereign governments.

“The chapter explicitly states that the parties "with other trading partners [shall pursue] the establishment of a multilateral investment tribunal and appellate mechanism"; and all of this without the consultation of the people.

“The very clear updated legal advice I have received is that should the government agree to ratify the Canadian trade deal when it comes before the European Council this summer, it would be doing so in direct contravention of the Irish Constitution by giving away the powers of the Irish Courts to dispense justice and the sole power of the Oireachtas to make law.

The development today in one of Belgium's Regional Parliaments further solidifies the claim that this Investment Court is completely legally unfounded.

“CETA is a bad deal for Ireland and raises serious questions for democratic institutions.  Based on this and on the legal advice which I have sent to the Minister it is clear that the incoming Irish government must vote against its ratification or otherwise hold a referendum on the proposed Investment Court before it signs Ireland up to a flawed agreement.

“I have written repeatedly to the outgoing Minister, Richard Bruton, requesting a meeting on these issues but he has consistently refused to engage.  The European Commission have confirmed to me that they are thoroughly examining the content of the legal opinion I received yet the Irish government, who have a responsibility to uphold our constitution have so far failed to do the same.

“These trade agreements are potentially very dangerous.  The incoming government must protect Irish interests.  The first step in this regard is to inform the commission that they will not ratify CETA when it comes before Council.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, a member of theEU Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee has welcomed the adoption of a report calling on the EU to recognise the employment and social rights of domestic workers and carers.  

Ms Boylan said:

“The adoption of this report is an important step forward in recognising and protecting the rights of domestic workers and carers.

“According to the International Labour Organisation, 85% of domestic workers and carers are women and this report aims to ensure that there are no more second-class, low-paid, undeclared female workers in the EU.

It also aims to promote the professionalisation of domestic workers and carers, while seeking to eliminate numerous forms of discrimination that domestic workers and carers suffer.

Ms Boylan continued,

“Carers and domestic workers deserve a minimum wage, paid leave, pension, health and safety at work and should not continue to be taken for granted.

In Ireland migrant women are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

A report last summer by the Fundamental Rights Agency indicated that working in domestic households was identified as the major area for severe labour exploitation in Ireland.

At the time it kickstarted a debate around the employment status of au pairs in this country.

Young, migrant women working as au-pairs are still vulnerable to exploitation as there is no official recognition of au pairs in Ireland.

 I would use the publication of this latest report to renew calls to review the status of au pairs working here.”