Europe offers great potential but needs to focus on people, not corporations – Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Speaking to staff, pupils and parents at Killocrim National School today Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada said that the European project has had advantages and disadvantages for Ireland, and that there is a shared responsibility to ensure Europe focuses on people rather than corporations. Ní Riada was visiting the school as part of the Blue Star programme, which seeks to teach kids about the European Union. She was accompanied by local Kerry County Councillor Dianne Nolan.
Speaking after the visit Liadh said:
“I was so impressed by the hard work and enthusiasm of the 5th and 6th class. They researched and learned so much about Ireland and Europe, and really celebrated the diversity and wealth of culture that lives and grows across the continent.
“The original aims of European project were to stop conflict between neighbours, and foster a culture of cooperation and sharing between the peoples of Europe. Europe has been good to Ireland in some respects, but in others we have lost out. Our fishing industry has been decimated over the decades. While a large portion of the blame for this lies with our own Governments down the years, we cannot escape the fact that although we provide 16% of Europe's waters, we only get to catch around 4% of the fish. I am happy that we managed to get some movement on the discards ban, and I'm hopeful that I can use my position on the fisheries committee to fight the battles that need fighting is we are to save our fishing industry and rejuvenate our coastal communities.
“Similarly we stand to lose out with the proposed TTIP agreement between the EU and the United States. I am very worried about the implications of this deal, which will see the introduction of a so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which will allow corporations sue national governments for loss of earnings due to laws and regulations. Similar mechanisms in North America and Australia have seen the Canadian and Australian governments sued by fracking and tobacco companies over environmental and public health laws.
“TTIP will also see a weakening of working conditions and workers rights across the continent, and the flooding of our market with low-quality and cheap agrifood produce. Given the conduct of our Government and its wealthy backers in recent weeks it should come as no surprise that Fine Gael are backing the deal. Seán Kelly even recently backed calls for an international ISDS court, which he argued, should be located in Ireland.
“We must recapture the positive potential of the EU, which puts the needs of the people ahead of the interests of financiers and multinational corporations. It is encouraging to see so many young people become interested in Europe and the world around them. For their sake we must ensure Europe puts people first.”
Councillor Dianne Nolan congratulated the children on their projects, and commended them for taking an interest in the art, culture and history of Europe.
“Cooperation on arts and culture, learning from history, and sharing experience and expertise as what Europe should be about, and it's fantastic to see these positive aspects of the European project highlighted in Killocrim National School. Its heartening too to know that we have public representatives like Liadh who are determine to emphasis these positive aspects of European cooperation, whilst at the same time standing up for Ireland in the face of the negative aspects.Well done to the 5th and 6th class pupils of Killocrim National School and to their teacher Niamh O’Sullivan.