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Protection of maritime workers must be a priority for Government - Mary Lou McDonald

5 December, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that the Irish Government has a 'moral responsibility to press for an EU Ferries Directive'.

Ms McDonald made her comments as the EU Maritime Transport Council met to discuss a directive for the protection of maritime workers today. The Irish Government has previously opposed such a directive in the past.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Today's meeting of the EU Maritime Transport Council was crucially important for the future protection of the employment rights of maritime workers throughout the European Union.

"I am pleased that the Government has finally decided to press European officials for action on a European Ferries Directive. This welcome change of direction by the government contrasts sharply with their previous position of actively opposing the Manning Directive of last year.

"Sinn Féin has been consistently calling for a European Ferries Directive which would deal with ships operating in European waters under flags of convenience and for minimum labour standards to be set. It is my view that had the Ferries Directive been already in place, moves by Irish Ferries to replace 543 directly employed labourers by cheap labour from Eastern Europe could have been prevented.

"This Government must not merely pay lip service to calls for an Irish Ferries Directive, but must actively lobby all member states for its introduction. The Irish Ferries saga provides the irrefutable evidence that workers' require protection." ENDS

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