Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Mary Lou McDonald to raise Irish Ferries dispute with EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy

24 October, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP has today said that she is committed to helping resolve the ongoing Irish Ferries dispute and said that it was an issue which she believed 'could be resolved speedily'. Ms McDonald made her comments before a scheduled meeting with the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market Charlie Mc Creevy tomorrow (Tuesday 25.10.05).

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Tomorrow's meeting with Commissioner Mc Creevy is particularly important. I will be raising the issue of both the EU Services Directive and also the Irish Ferries dispute. As an Irish Commissioner, Mr Mc Creevy should be well aware of the issue.

"I will be calling upon Commissioner Mc Creevy as an Irish Commissioner, to lend his support to the reintroduction of a European Ferries Directive. We are calling for a directive which would deal with ships operating in European waters under flags of convenience and for minimum labour standards to be set. I also want to ascertain how culpable the Irish government was in allowing the previous Ferries Directive to lapse last year. It is my view that had the Ferries Directive been in place moves by Irish Ferries to replace 543 directly employed labourers by cheap labour from Eastern Europe could have been prevented.

"At Irish governmental level, Sinn Féin is calling for the introduction of legislation for ferries operating in Irish ports. We believe that each Motor Ferry vessel in excess of 1,000 Gross tonnage, irrespective of where registered, that operates into an Irish Port should be required to have an annual and renewable certificate/licence, issued by the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources. Such a scheme should be introduced as a matter of urgency

"Behind all of this, is a concern regarding workers rights and conditions. It is entirely unacceptable that staff onboard some of these ferries are working for far less than the minimum wage, and are working 12 hours per day, 7 days a week. Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that this issue is highlighted at both a national and European level. As well as tomorrow's meeting with Mr McCreevy, we have formally raised the issue with the European Commission, who will respond in the European Parliament tomorrow. This follows a meeting last week between a Sinn Féin delegation and SIPTU and meetings I previously held with Seaman's Union of Ireland representatives." ENDS

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