Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that the increasing use of unregulated and unaccountable private security firms by the banks to enforce court orders is extremely serious, and demands Government action and legislative change.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;
"We have seen recently in Dublin how masked men were assisted by Gardaí in evicting housing activists from a property in the city. This cannot be allowed to continue.
"The scenes from the eviction in Roscommon were an outright disgrace, with private security being given apparent free reign to do as they wish to the people being evicted. It brought to mind scenes from our past of people being thrown out on to the side of the road.
"Those who are undertaking repossessions are not covered by the Private Security Services Act. The PSA have themselves confirmed this to me. After the incident in Frederick St, we called upon the Government to amend the Act to ensure that they would be covered. The Government has not acted, and we will be publishing shortly legislation which will cover this.
"Pressure also needs to be brought on the banks who are using these masked men to turf people out of their homes. KBC Bank cannot simply shrug its shoulders and pass this off as an issue for the Gardaí.
"The reality is that this incident has arose as a result of the housing crisis which is getting worse under this government.
"The government refuses to bring forward workable solutions to the housing crisis and votes against measures brought forward by the opposition such as the Focus Ireland amendment and the anti-eviction legislation which passed second stage recently despite government opposition.
"The government must re-look at its position on the anti-eviction legislation and ensure that it progresses through all stages in the Oireachtas as quickly as possible."
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson called for the release of Catalan political leaders currently on hunger strike in Spanish prisons.
Martina Anderson said:
"A number of Catalan political prisoners, including former government ministers and the former leader of the National Assembly are currently on hunger strike in Spanish prisons.
"I am becoming increasingly concerned about their health and welfare as Jordi Turull, a former Catalan National Assembly leader has been moved to the prison hospital.
"I have met a number of the prisoners currently on hunger strike and I've also met with their families and they are very concerned about their continued detention.
"These leaders and others are being held on trumped up charges arising from the Catalan independence referendum and standing up for up for democracy.
"They should be released immediately and all charges against them dropped.
"The international community, and the EU in particular, should be standing up for those who stand up for democracy and call on the Spanish authorities to release all Catalan political prisoners."
Louth Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed the decision taken by councillors at Louth County Council’s December meeting to formally dispose of lands in Dundalk to the Louth County Board of the GAA.
Cllr Ó Murchú said:
“This is a very positive development for the GAA in Louth and I am delighted that this land on the outskirts of Dundalk will be developed for the use of Louth GAA.
“When fully developed, this county ground will see an investment in the region of €8 million in Dundalk and I hope it will lead to further development in that area.
“This means that Louth county teams will no longer have to cede home advantage due to lack of grounds.
“Cumann Lúthchleas Gael contributes immeasurably to our communities; indeed, in many rural communities, it is the sole driver of community activities.
“I am proud that Louth County Council has supported this project and in doing so has supported every GAA volunteer, player and enthusiast.”
Major UN Climate Conference, COP24 continues in Katowice, Poland, with constant postponements of an announcement of agreement on the rules in place behind the Paris Agreement.
Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan is attending as part of the European Union delegation. During the week, the European Parliament delegation, while not directly part of the negotiations, has pushed in bilateral meetings for stronger ambition and a strong rulebook on implementing the Paris Agreement.
Speaking from Poland, Ms Boylan said;
"An announcement on the final COP24 agreement was expected on Friday night but is now delayed and could possibly roll over into Sunday morning.
"COP24 is about putting meat on the bones of the aspirations of the Paris Agreement. It is vital that a strong framework is put in place to implement the objectives of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius but preferably below 1.5.
"It is unfortunate to hear that one of the key sticking points is Brazil's insistence on allowing carbon emission reductions to be counted twice, first in the country reducing the emissions and second in the country buying the carbon credits.
"This is deeply worrying because the accurate accounting of carbon reduction is critical if we are to take the necessary measures to tackle climate change, as set out in the IPCC 2019 Report. Carbon Emission Counting is not like an elaborate tax scheme. You cannot simply cook the books on science.
"The rumour circulating at the conference is that the issue is causing such a blockage on a final agreement, that it may get pushed back to next years COP25. This is completely unacceptable, we cannot afford to lose another year.
"The IPCC Report has clearly said we have 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change.
"The public are clearly ahead of the politicians on this matter. We need our leaders to lead when it comes to climate change. We don't have time to waste."
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the number of assaults on nurses in hospitals across the country is unacceptable, and that hospitals must take greater steps to ensure the safety of their staff.
The Dublin Fingal TD made the comments as it was revealed that nurses were victim to 70% of total assaults on hospital staff over the past 10 years.
Teachta O’Reilly said;
“The figures provided to me by the HSE make for stark reading. Between 2008 and the end of November this year, 10,744 staff reported assaults ranging from actual harm to 'near misses’.
“This year alone, 61% of total assaults reported were from Nurses.
“Nurses play a key role in the delivery of our public health services, and for them to face such high levels of assault is completely unacceptable.
"The recruitment and retention crisis in our health service is leading to uderstaffing and this must be making a contribution to the rising level of assaults.
“The HSE, and the Minister for Health, need to increase measures to reduce the number of assaults our nurses face.
“I urge the HSE to employ more security staff in emergency departments to ensure hospital employees are protected.
“These people are on the front line of our health service and deserve the right to be able to do their jobs without fear of facing assault."
Creating European Defence Fund would breach EU Treaty & further undermine Irish Neutrality - Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has condemned the vote of the European Parliament this week in favour of establishing a European Defence Fund (EDF), while welcoming the publication of a legal opinion which finds that the creation of an EDF would be in breach of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. MEPs voted to support the EDF proposal, with 337 votes in favour, 178 against, and 109 abstentions.
Carthy said: “It is disgraceful that we have not heard a peep out of the Irish government in relation to this proposal, while Fine Gael MEPs abstained on this vote.
“Once approved by Council, the EDF will receive €13 billion of public money in the next multi-annual framework, the EU's long-term budget covering the period 2021-2027. These funds will go towards research and development into new weapons systems including collaborative projects between member states, directly funding arms programmes. It is a public handout to the arms industry in the EU, an industry that profits from war, misery and death.
“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.
“To coincide with the vote on the EDF in the European Parliament, Sinn Féin’s group in the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, published a legal opinion that demonstrates beyond doubt that this move is illegal and contrary to several articles of the Treaty.
“The author of the legal opinion, Professor Andreas Fischer-Lescano from the University of Bremen, points out that the Treaty prohibits the financing of military or defence projects from the EU's common budget – regardless of whether the main aim of the fund is to promote defence capabilities or the EU’s ‘strategic defence autonomy’ (which is the description of the aim in the text on establishing the EDF).
“The findings of this study are clear: Article 41 (2) of the Treaty prohibits the financing of defence and military and therefore forbids the funding of arms programmes. Thus, the creation of the EDF using the EU's common budget is illegal.
“We will work with our colleagues in GUE/NGL to develop an EU-wide progressive response that aims to halt this programme in its tracks.
“The Irish government must oppose the creation of the EDF in Council on the grounds that it violates Ireland’s military neutrality, and that it breaches the EU Treaty.” ENDS
Note to editors:
The study referred to is called 'Legal Issues Relating to the Establishment of a European Defence Fund (EDF): Expert Report for the GUE/NGL Parliamentary Group in the EP' and was written by Prof. Dr. Andreas Fischer-Lescano, Law Department, University of Bremen. Link to document below:
Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has described the 42 month delay for children accessing speech and language supports from a school in Dublin 24 as appalling and said that the concept of early intervention has been shredded.
Speech and language therapy is delivered through Chambers House in Tallaght and a disability team are responsible for multi-disciplinary interventions and individual interventions depending on the needs of the child. The Sinn Féin TD has been informed through a Parliamentary Question that the current waiting time for intake is now 42 months.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“It is absolutely appalling that children with profound and complex needs in Dublin South West now have to wait 42 months to get their needs assessed and then hopefully addressed.
“There are currently 297 on the waiting list in Dublin South West, with a further 80 awaiting screening. Therefore 377 children are awaiting multi-disciplinary services from the HSE in the Dublin South West School Age Team.
“Clearly, additional resources are required to address the backlog as the teams in Dublin South West are unable to meet the current and growing demand for help. The latest census would suggest that the growing population and the increasing prevalence of disability means that demand will increase in the time ahead.
“I raised this issue with the previous Minister for Education and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about 6 months ago, but the waiting list is getting bigger and the delays are getting longer and longer.
“Families and parents are at their wits end, with some having to meet the shortfall through private and often costly alternatives. This is not an option for the majority of people whose children are on this long list.
“The policy of early intervention is rubbished if children have to wait 42 months to get access to a team for an assessment and supports.
“The Government is clearly not delivering basic educational supports for the some of the most vulnerable children in our community.
“The Government and its collection of Ministers in Education, Health, Disability, and Children need to get involved in this issue. It is absolutely appalling that any child with complex needs and without the ability to talk should be left years without an intervention. They should hold their collective heads in shame.”
Left group forces plenary vote on non-performing loan report – Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy helped to force a plenary vote in the European Parliament on a report on part of the non-performing loan package of proposals. Carthy, who is the GUE/NGL negotiator on the file, made a formal request together with the Greens that the plenary of the European Parliament vote on whether to accept the mandate of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Forcing the report to come to plenary resulted in a trilogue negotiation between the Council, Commission and Parliament scheduled for yesterday to be cancelled.
Speaking from Strasbourg following the vote, Carthy said: “I am in favour of ensuring that banks should be required to put aside their own capital to cover the losses they incur when the loans on their balance sheets turn non-performing. This would incentivise banks to adopt more prudent lending standards. It would increase financial stability and lessen the likelihood of future public bailouts being necessary.
“But this proposal for a Regulation cannot be viewed in isolation. It is part of a package that aims to encourage banks to offload their loans – which can include performing loans – onto the so-called secondary market, meaning the unregulated shadow banking sector, vulture funds and debt collectors. I am extremely concerned by the proposed Directive accompanying this Regulation, which aims to enable banks to seize the property of the customers as collateral without going through the courts.
“My view is that banks should be required to keep their non-performing loans on their books and to work through them with their customers by writing down, restructuring or forgiving the debt, particularly in cases of residential loans.
“I proposed several amendments to the report aiming to insert consumer protection provisions in the Regulation, particularly with regard to the forbearance measures chosen by banks to apply to their customers. I proposed measures to disincentivise the sale of NPLs by the originating banks, as well as amendments to ensure that actors on the secondary market do not receive a competitive advantage in comparison to the regulated banking sector. We also need to ensure the strict monitoring and regulation of the secondary market in order to prevent new systemic risks to financial stability from emerging.
“Unfortunately the two largest groups, EPP and S&D, who co-authored the Parliament’s report, refused to take on board the need for strong consumer protection measures to be included in this Regulation. All of the smaller groups are appalled at the overall process of the negotiation of this file. Several groups jointly requested that the Regulation and Directive be dealt with at the same time as one informs our position on the other, which was ignored.
“The co-rapporteurs presented the draft report as a fait accompli, and refused to allow meaningful input from the other groups. They used procedural means to refuse to allow the ECON committee to vote on the amendments proposed by smaller groups.
“In response, we worked together with the Greens in order to force the mandate adopted at committee level to be voted on today in the full plenary of the Parliament, which caused the trilogue scheduled for Wednesday to be cancelled. I sincerely hope that the two largest groups do not adopt a similar steamroller approach when negotiations begin on the proposed Directive in this package. I will be campaigning for the Directive to be withdrawn." ENDS
Speaking after the conclusion of the Seanad consideration of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson, Louise O’Reilly TD said;
“We welcome the passage of this important piece of legislation and we thank all those who worked hard to get this through the Dáil and Seanad. The passing of this legislation is an important step in healthcare for women and it is a vindication of the overwhelming Yes vote in May’s referendum.
“The focus must now move to the provision of services. Now that the legislation is in place the Minister must move quickly to publish the clinical guidelines and ensure that information on accessing services is made freely available for those women who need it. We also want to see discussions commence on free access for women from the North of Ireland as we have discussed with the Minister previously.”
Senator Paul Gavin said;
“Both houses of the Oireachtas have now done their job and we in Sinn Féin tried to make this legislation as progressive as possible. Unfortunately we did not get enough support for progressive amendments. We thank all the stakeholders for their continuing engagement and hard work on this issue. It’s now up to the Minister to make sure the services are delivered.”
Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis has said cuts to the Curriculum Sports Programme are a direct result of sustained Tory/DUP austerity.
The party’s Culture, Arts and Sport spokesperson was commenting after the Ulster GAA Council confirmed its involvement in the scheme would end tomorrow.
Sinead Ennis MLA said:
“Sinn Féin have always rigorously opposed any proposed cuts to the Curriculum Sports Programme.
“This cut will have a detrimental impact on sporting projects within our local schools and directly affect the the tens of thousands of children who practically benefit from this funding.
“This programme teaches children the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle while also increasing their confidence and social interaction skills.
“Coupled with the financial crisis in our school, this cut is a direct result of over eight years of relentless Tory austerity budgets.
“Our school children should not be paying the price for the toxic Tory/DUP pact who are hell bent on decimating our front line public services having slashed over £1 billion from our block grant since 2010.
“I have written to department officials seeking clarification on this and reinstating Sinn Féin’s position that it must be reversed immediately.”
Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Transport, Imelda Munster TD, has described Minister Shane Ross’s handling of the airport noise regulator matter as “shambolic”, and has called on him to reconsider the decision he has taken to appoint Fingal County Council as the noise regulator for Dublin airport, given concerns about a conflict of interest, as Fingal collects rates from the DAA to the tune of 8% of its total funding.
Speaking during a second stage debate on the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill, Deputy Munster stressed the importance of ensuring that the regulator is appointed in order to allow construction of the second runway at the airport, whilst ensuring that the concerns around noise and night-time flights of local residents was taken on board.
Deputy Munster said:
“The Minister has assumed that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) would assume this role, but they failed independence tests as required by EU law. Fingal is stepping into the gap now because we have missed the deadline to appoint a regulator and the department is in a panic.
“This is not how the Minister should be doing business. He has tried to hammer this legislation through in a couple of weeks, though fortunately my colleagues and I at the transport committee put a stop to that.
“Fingal has been selected as the noise regulator because it will be able to assume the role fastest. This is not a very convincing reason to appoint Fingal to the position. The chief rate-payer to the council is the DAA, which in my opinion is a clear conflict of interest. This has been foisted upon Fingal and it is unfair to put the council in this position.
“This also raises the issue of future planning conditions. The noise regulator should not be involved in collecting rates or making planning decisions for the entity that it regulates. The noise regulator must be independent. It is completely understandable that local residents would have concerns about the independence of the noise regulator, and about future planning decisions.
“I am calling on the Minister to rethink this decision. The Commission for Aviation Regulation has passed EU independence tests, has an existing regulatory function, and is expected to assume civil aviation regulatory functions in the future. I think it should be considered as a more appropriate noise regulator.
“I intend to submit amendments to the bill in the New Year to this effect, and I hope that the Minister will take my suggestions on board.”
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, on the Bill to control moneylenders, introduced by his party colleague, Pearse Doherty TD, Deputy Martin Kenny said that it is women who are more likely to fall prey to moneylenders and urged the government to withdraw its amendment to the Bill, which seeks to control loan interest rates.
The Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim said:
“Women borrow to the car breaks down or a child is going to college or they need to get a deposit for a house.
“The moneylender steps in to cover those expenses.
“We have been commemorating suffrage and the fact women got their rights one hundred years ago. Economic independence for women is something Countess Markievicz and those people at that time wanted to establish. That is what missing in all of this.
“What we are talking about here is a debt trap, but really it is a poverty trap. It is people in poverty who end up in these situations. They may not think they are in poverty. They are people who have decent jobs but cannot make ends meet because of the high cost of living in our society.
“We should not have to be dealing with it because these moneylenders should have no market for the product they sell. That is the reality.
“If we had a society that was functioning properly, there would be no market for this.
“The credit unions are part of the answer and we know that but the problem here is the problem of poverty. While we know we will always have a certain level of that, unfortunately, we have far too much of it.
“The rest of the people who sit around the Cabinet table who deal with issues of income disparity, the housing crisis, the hospital crisis, the healthcare crisis and all such matters feed into all of this for the people who are struggling the most. It is all a reflection of all of that.”
Sinn Féin TD and member of the Public Accounts Committee David Cullinane has welcomed a comprehensive report into the spend of the Office of the President.
Deputy Cullinane said the report should be scrutinised by the PAC in the appropriate way.
Speaking today Deputy Cullinane said:
“I welcome the publication of this report. It is important that the Public Accounts Committee does its job and scrutinises this report in an appropriate way.
“I also believe that all allowances and expenses incurred by the Office of the President should be fully vouched and Independently audited. It is important for public confidence that all spend of taxpayers money is fairly scrutinised and properly audited.”
The economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit are so catastrophic that the only logical response to that eventuality would be to give the people an alternative choice through a referendum on Irish reunification, Sinn Féin Deputy leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
The Sinn Féin Vice President was speaking ahead of attending a Féile debate on Irish Unity tonight which will feature leading economist David McWilliams.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“I very much welcome that people like David McWilliams and other leading economists are entering the debate about Irish Unity.
“Clearly, Brexit has injected a new dynamic into the debate and more and more people are looking at a future where our economy and our interests are not jeopardised by chaos and civil war in Westminster.
“A no deal situation would be catastrophic for our economy and society. It would see us
crashing out of the EU with no terms of departure, over an economic cliff-edge with supply shortages and many businesses unable to trade, job losses, possible recession, no access to the EU single market and a physical hard border being put in place in Ireland.
“In such a context, a referendum on Irish reunification, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, is the sensible, logical and entirely rational response which, if passed, would see the North readmitted to the European Union.
“Not only would it alleviate the impact of Brexit, reunification would also unlock huge economic benefits. A leading international report recently concluded that reunification would provide an economic windfall of €23.5 billion by 2025 whereas a no-deal Brexit which would lead to a slump of over €10 billion.”
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said a no-deal Brexit would have a catastrophic impact on rural communities and cross border cooperation and reiterated the absolute necessity for the backstop be protected.
The West Tyrone MLA was speaking after attending a seminar in the Dáil hosted by the Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development on the importance of cross border co operation.
Declan McAleer said:
“Farming and rural communities will suffer the catastrophic effects of Brexit with a staggering 93 per cent of the income generated by farmers and agri-food producers comes from the EU.
“The seminar heard very clear concerns from local government and the community and voluntary sector on the need for cross border initiatives and for rural communities to be protected from the dark cloud of Brexit.
“I subsequently attended Taoiseach’s Question Time where Deputy Kenny raised these issues directly with the Taoiseach and got a positive response.
“Sinn Féin will continue to keep the pressure on the British and Irish governments and the EU to ensure that the interests of border communities are protected from the worst fallout of Brexit.
“Key to this is the absolute necessity that the backstop, as included with the withdrawal agreement, is protected as the bottom line to prevent a hard border.” CRÍOCH/ENDS
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has welcomed the Dáil’s support for his legislation to place a cap of 36% on the rate moneylenders can charge. The Dáil rejected a government amendment seeking to delay the Bill for twelve months.
Teachta Doherty said;
“Regulated moneylenders and are charging as much as 187% on loans or even higher if collection charges are counted in. The borrowers caught in this trap are our neighbours, family and friends.
“These rates are despicable, they have no place in the year 2018 and they had no place in 2012 when we first introduced this legislation.
“Moneylenders charging these rates simply take the money off poorer families and make them poorer.
“The Government amendment to this Bill, which sought a delay of twelve months, was not about protecting the vulnerable, it was about protecting the moneylenders. I am delighted it was defeated.
"This is a straight forward piece of legislation that would help 330,000 people who borrow from moneylenders, or 7% of the entire population of the State.
“The poorest families in the State waited long enough for us as legislators to act on this issue.
“I look forward to seeing the bill progress through the next stages and into law. It is my firm hope that this will be the last Christmas when such rip-off rates are levied on the poorest in our country.”
Below are the remarks of Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking during statements on the 100th anniversary of the 1918 General Election in the Dáil this afternoon.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“The 1918 General Election remains a seminal moment in our country’s history; a defining point when poets, visionaries and soldiers came together, with the mass of our nation, to build a Republic.
“They voted for equality and independence.
“They voted to break the link with Britain.
“They voted to make good on the promises of the 1916 Proclamation and they voted for Sinn Féin.
“The Sinn Féin manifesto of 1918 stated unequivocally, that Sinn Féin would achieve its aims by: ‘Withdrawing Irish representation from the British Parliament, and by denying the right, and opposing the will, of the British government or any other foreign government to legislate for Ireland’.
“Yet, there are those in this Dáil today that espouse otherwise. Some of them may well be very comfortable on the benches of the House of Commons, or even the House of Lords.
“The might cross their fingers to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown in exchange for privilege and the pretence of power.
“That is not new and it achieves nothing.
“That might be their way, but it is not ours.
“We stand by the people who vote for Sinn Féin MPs in the modern era, on the basis of that same mandate, who look to Dublin, and not London, for leadership.
“Yet, those same people who say MPs elected in Ireland should go to Westminster come here today and laud the achievements of those - who in 1918 - refused to take their seats in the British Parliament on the basis of a mandate from the people.
“Absolute nonsense and hypocrisy of the highest order.
“Should Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil wish to stand in the north - let them - and let the people decide.
“Until then, we in Sinn Féin will represent the people on the basis of our mandate and their instruction.
“The 1918 general election was unique in being the first election held on this island in which women could vote - albeit that was restricted to women over the age of thirty - and it was also the first election in which all men over the age twenty-one could vote.
“That was defining, because for the first time in history a woman MP was elected; Constance Markievicz - the most unmanageable of revolutionaries.
“As an Irish woman and the President of Sinn Féin, I want to pay a particular tribute to her today.
“She was a disruptor and rebel of her time, a woman who stood on picket lines with workers, stood with tenants against landlords and stood on battle lines against the British.
“She was the scourge of the establishment and she remains an inspiration for all of those who hold the principles of freedom and unity dear to this day.
“One hundred years on, we in Sinn Féin are still about transforming Ireland and uniting our country.
“We are about building, shaping and leading the Republic.
“Our task, like the Sinn Féin MPs elected in 1918, is to realise the Republic of the 1916 Proclamation, and today should not simply be about commemorating or remembering.
“It is not good enough to bow our heads to history.
“We must be about lifting our faces to the future, delivering on the sacrifices of the past and building a Republic worthy of the name.
“Today is an opportunity to reflect on the need to end the division of our country, definitively, and to bring about a united Ireland.
“We in Sinn Féin hold that as our central task.
“Our fundamental objective, as Irish Republicans of today, just like the Republicans of 1918, remains the same - the pursuit of an independent and free Ireland.
“But unlike those of 1918, Irish Republicans today have at our disposal peaceful and democratic means of bringing our struggle to its conclusion.
“Republicans one hundred years ago would have envied such a situation.
“Unfortunately, there are people in this place who take that for granted and who - every time Irish unity is raised - bow the head and say ‘not now’, ‘now is not the time’.
“Well, I say otherwise.
“Now is the time to build a new and united Ireland.
“Let us plan for that and win a referendum on Irish unity.
“Let us give the people of this island their say, north and south, in accordance with provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Let us not just look back in awe of the great men and women of 1918, but let us look forward and let us finish their work.
“That is the only fitting way to honour their legacy.”
Carthy secures European Parliament support for Western Rail Corridor
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed support from MEPs for his amendments inserting the Western Rail Corridor to a list of prioritised transport networks in the EU.
The European Parliament this week voted on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme, which grants EU funding for transport and energy projects. MEPs had the opportunity to define the areas that lie on the ‘core network’ and are eligible for transport funding.
Speaking following the vote, Carthy said:
‘I welcome that the report includes my amendments to add the Western Rail Corridor as a priority transport link. This is a critical opportunity to rectify decades of bias against the western region of Ireland.
“Historically Ireland’s core network has only included Dublin, Belfast and Cork. Yet, the support for my amendment places the onus on the Irish government to make transport infrastructure a reality in the West of Ireland. It demonstrates the failures of the Irish government to prioritise the region’s development.
“The amendments call specifically for a rail network connecting Derry, Sligo & Galway and for the inclusion of the Western Arc along the main North-Sea-Mediterranean Corridor.
“It is ironic that representatives from outside of Ireland can clearly see the damage caused by complete lack of rail infrastructure in the west of Ireland. Meanwhile, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments have failed to act to deliver these projects.
“Their failure to advance the Western Rail Corridor is impeding the task of delivering balanced economic development across our regions. It is an essential part of addressing years of neglect of the West.
“Following the inclusion of Western Rail Corridor in the CEF report, it will require Irish government action and investment to bring it to fruition. Sinn Féin will continue supporting local communities in campaigning for the necessary funding.”
EP Military agenda ‘regrettable’
Carthy said that he regretted that the Connecting Europe Facility report also promoted the use of EU transport funding for military purposes.
Speaking on this absurdity, Carthy said:
“EU transport and energy funding should be directed at the needs of citizens and communities. Regrettably, as with so many other areas of EU policy, the European Parliament has moved to centralise their aggressive military agenda into the transport programme. It is unacceptable that transport and energy projects would be used to address military requirements and to subsidise the mass weapons industry in Europe.
“I voted against the overall report, due to the threats posed to Ireland’s neutrality. This is a clear example of Sinn Féin’s critical engagement approach to the European Parliament - we work to ensure that Ireland’s interests are progressed, in this case via the inclusion of the Western Rail Corridor, but oppose attempts to undermine Irish neutrality.
“This, I believe, is the approach supported by the vast majority of Irish citizens.”
Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has called for victims suffering from domestic abuse or violence to speak out and seek help.
The West Tyrone MLA was commenting after the PSNI recorded its highest ever figure for incidents of domestic violence in the 12 months leading up to September 2018.
Michaela Boyle said: "Men and women continue to suffer horrendous forms of violence and abuse every single day.
"Domestic violence and abuse has a devastating effect on the lives of its victims and their families.
“It is not easy for victims to speak out as many live in fear every single day. My message to victims is that you don’t have to suffer alone.
“No-one should suffer in silence. Whether the abuse is physical or emotional, there are organisations, including the PSNI, Women’s Aid, Men’s Aid etc. who are just a phone call away and ready to help.”
Carthy: ECB dismissal of Ombudsman's G30 report must have consequences
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for action t be taken against ECB President Mario Draghi for flouting the recommendation made by EU Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly that he resign his membership of the G30 bankers' lobby group.
In July, the Ombudsman released her final report on the matter, confirming her finding that Mr Draghi's G30membership amounted to ECB maladministration. Mr Draghi continues to be a full member of the G30, and other ECB members, including a member of its supervisory board, are associated with the G30.
Addressing MEPs and Ms O'Reilly in the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, Carthy sad: "I want to address the elephant in the room, which is the ease with which EU institutions have ignored or dismissed the recommendations made by the Ombudsman.
"I commend the Ombudsman for insisting that ECB President Mario Draghi must resign his membership of the secretive bankers club, the G30.
"Yet the outcome of the process of investigating and reporting is that nothing has changed. Less than two weeks ago, Mr Draghi took part in a G30 meeting in New York.
"The ECB is charged with directly supervising many of the financial institutions that are represented in the G30, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and many more.
"There is no system in place to ensure an ethically appropriate level of distance between the ECB decision-making and supervisory processes and their friends in the G30 bankers’ club. There is no way to ensure that the private bankers and finance CEOs of the G30 do not influence ECB policy.
"Mr Draghi’s membership of the G30 is beyond inappropriate. The ECB appears to believe it is beyond the basic norms of public scrutiny, accountability and transparency. But it faces no consequences for its outright rejection of the Ombudsman’s report.
"The Parliament needs to address this situation as a matter of utmost urgency. The EU needs to impose real consequences for institutions that dismiss the Ombudsman’s recommendations." ENDS