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Mary Lou McDonald challenges Fianna Fáil on jobs claim regarding EU chemical legislation

15 November, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today challenged Fianna Fail MEP Liam Aylward to stand over his claim that up to 40,000 Irish jobs could be put at risk by the EU REACH proposals.

Ms McDonald made her comments on the day the proposed European 'Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals' legislation (REACH) is to be debated by the EU Parliament. The legislation aims to increase the level of knowledge about chemical substances placed on the market and to ensure substances are used safely at all stages in their lifecycle.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin wants to see a strong regulation come into force which would protect workers and the general public from the effects of chemical substances, many of which find their way into household products such as fragrances, pesticides and food packaging.

"I would take this opportunity to encourage Liam Aylward to stand over his claims that the proposals will lead to the loss of up to 40,000 Irish jobs. Indeed, the European Trade Union Federation (ETUC) is saying that these proposals will encourage innovation and will lead to the development of solutions from industry which will improve and enhance environmental and public safety. Such innovation can only lead to economic growth and the creation of further employment opportunities.

"Furthermore, a study commissioned by the University of Sheffield asserted that REACH would help avoid 50,000 cases of occupational respiratory diseases and 40,000 cases of occupational skin diseases from exposure to dangerous chemicals in the EU each year. That would amount to average savings on sick leave of approximately 3.5 billion euros over 10 years.

"The focus of today's debate in the European Parliament should be on ensuring the maximum protections for the health and safety of workers, the general public and the environment and not disingenuous and unsubstantiated scare stories. ENDS

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