Sinn Féin - On Your Side

McDonald - Keeping Ireland at the heart of Europe

25 May, 2009

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald speaking at the launch of the party’s EU manifesto this morning said Sinn Féin’s priority is keeping Ireland at the heart of Europe.

Ms. McDonald said:

“Ireland’s place in the EU is secure.  Our membership of the EU is as valued as France, the Netherlands and all other member states.  Keeping Ireland at the heart of Europe is our priority.  Sinn Féin wants to see Ireland play a central role in shaping the future direction of the European Union in the interests and all other member states.  Since myself and Bairbre de Brún were elected to the European Parliament in 2004  we have had five key political priorities:–

-    protecting Ireland’s interests in the EU,

-    advancing the peace process, Irish language and the case for Irish unity,

-    promoting  workers’ rights’, regional development and the needs of Ireland’s rural economy,

-    climate change,

-    neutrality and global social justice.

“We have promoted these issues in our work in Europe and in Ireland.  We have secured widespread support in the European Parliament for key Sinn Féin initiatives around workers’ rights, homelessness and peace funding. We have worked extensively with a wide range of groups both in Ireland and Europe and have actively facilitated the engagement of trade unionists, farmers, community groups, collusion victims and others with EU institutions.  We also led the way in publishing our own expenses, one of the few parties on this island to do so.   And we were the only party to stand up for Ireland’s interests in the EU and oppose the Lisbon Treaty.  

“The work of the EU Parliament over the next five years will be very challenging and it is vital that Ireland is represented by people who are not afraid to stand up for what is right.  There is no value is sending back the same yes men who are so out of touch that they were willing to support the erosion of Ireland’s power in the EU by the Lisbon Treaty.  

“The scale of the economic challenge facing people in Europe and Ireland demands a new approach. The centralised, old agenda pursued in the Lisbon Treaty, the Maastrict Treaty and many other treaties before it, is completely out of step with the new realities which we face.   This agenda is about deregulation, privatisation, undermining workers’ rights. It is the type of philosophy which allowed corrupt bankers in this state to almost collapse the economy.

“We need a new approach. We need a new political culture in Ireland and Europe.  Those in charge need to be directly answerable to the people. We need to ensure that Irish taxpayers and taxpayers across the EU get value for money. In the lifetime of the next Parliament (2013) Ireland will become net contributors to the EU.

“We need to move away from the drive towards a European superstate to what the EU is meant to be about – the coming together of member states in equal partnership.

“Today Sinn Féin is setting out our priorities for the EU.  We are seeking a mandate to stand up for Ireland’s interests, to continue our work on workers’s rights, the economy, Irish unity, climate change, neutrality and global social justice.”ENDS  

Sinn Féin’s record in the European Parliament

-    Secured overwhelming backing for the de Brún report on the PEACE programme

-    Worked with Irish language groups to secure the status of official adn working language of the European Union for Irish.

-    Initiated and secured overwhelming support for a Declaration calling for action by the EU and member states to end street homelessness by 2015.

-    Secured a visit to the North West of the influential Regional Development Committee to promote fair regional development.

-    Secured overwhelming support for the McDonald Report and subsequent resolution on the ILO Maritime Labour Convention on workers’ rights in the maritime sector.

-    Campaigned for workers’ rights and secured recognition of the issue of corporate manslaughter in a report on Corporate Social Responsibility.

-    Actively promoted progressive solutions to climate change through Bairbre de Brún’s membership of the Temporary Committee on Climate change and amended EU legislation to promote recycling.

-    Secured further support for farmers in meeting the requirements of the Nitrate Directive and pushed for reduced bureaucracy.

-    Helped secure one million signatures acros the EU calling for improved rights for people with disabilities.

-    Brought the case for a United Ireland to MEPs and other decision-makers from all over Europe.

-    Led by way by publishing our MEP expenses.

Sinn Féin priorities for the coming five years

-    Build support in the EU for Irish reunification.

-    Support negotiation of a new treaty for a new time and oppose any Lisbon Treaty re-run.

-    Promote a real agenda for greater EU democracy including strengthening the role of regional and national parliaments, reducing the power of the unelected and unaccountable Commission and reform of MEP parliamentary allowance system to ensure that all expenses claimed are vouched and full details are published.

-    Be the strongest advocates of Irish economic sovereignty and all-Ireland tax harmonisation.

-    Oppose the liberalisation and privatisation of key public services and campaign to ensure that such services remain the exclusive responsibility of Member States.

-    Fight against the relocation of businesses and jobs to lower wage economies and ensure that companies cannot relocate to other jurisdictions, within the EU, on that basis.

-    Continue the campaign for a “Social Progress Clause” in any future EU Treaty which would guarantee that pay and employment conditions cannot be undermined by rulings of the European Court of Justice.

-    Support reforms of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) that make Irish farming and the rural economy more sustainable and prosperous.

-    Support the highest level of environmental standards in EU legislation in Strasbourg, and hold authorities at home to these standards.

-    Resist attempts to reduce targets for emissions cuts set by Brussels.

-    Oppose the drive to integrate foreign and defence policy among EU Member States and to subordinate this policy to NATO, and campaign for the restoration of an independent Irish foreign policy.

-    Continue to use the European Parliament as a forum to voice opposition to the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by Israel and to call for the suspension of EU preferential trade with Israel until such time as that state fully complies with international law.

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