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Irish EU Presidency supports the infringement of civil liberties - Mary Lou McDonald

20 April, 2004

Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald, has today said the 'Irish EU Presidency supports the infringement of civil liberties.' Ms McDonald's comments came after a heated debate in Brussels between the EU Parliament and the EU Commission yesterday (19.04.04) over a controversial motion to supply the United States with the personal data of air passengers flying into the US. The Irish EU Presidency has urged MEP's to approve the agreement.

Speaking today, Ms McDonald said:

"The European Parliament will vote on the 'EU-US passenger data transfer agreement' on Wednesday 21st April. Many MEP's are furious that the EU Commission has proposed this, and are pushing for its implementation. The proposal would allow the US to retrieve 34 categories of personal data including names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card details. The data could then be stored for a period of up to 3 years.

"This proposal is a gross invasion of the privacy rights of air travellers, and I welcome the strong stand taken on this issue by a majority of MEPs. It is not acceptable that the Irish EU Presidency has urged these MEPs to accept this proposal, especially when a number of fundamental questions on data protection and privacy rights remain unanswered. We still don't know who will have access to this information and how that information will be used.

"Sinn Féin has repeatedly warned of the dangers of a knee-jerk reaction in the name of the so-called "War on Terror". As even the new EU Anti-Terrorism Chief has acknowledged, any EU response must have the protection of individual and collective rights at its core. The data transfer deal does not meet this standard and I urge the Irish Presidency to reconsider its position and stop pressuring MEPs who are doing the responsible thing." ENDS

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