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de Brún Calls for Equality for Bulgaria and Romania

15 January, 2007


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed MEPs from new member states Romania and Bulgaria to their first plenary sitting of the European
Parliament. The Six County MEP also expressed her concerns regarding the
attitudes of other Member State to the free movement of migrant workers from
the new members.

Ms de Brún said that a two tier system was in operation where 'some
countries have given free access to migrant workers while others had firmly
closed the doors shut'.

To date both the British and Irish Governments have announced restrictions
on workers coming to Ireland and Britain from both Bulgaria and Romania.

Speaking today from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"I would like to extend a warm Irish welcome to MEPs from Bulgaria and
Romania here today at the opening of the first parliamentary session of
2007.

"Sinn Féin is in favour of the free movement of people across the European
Union. We recognised that Ireland was amongst just three states to open up
their labour markets to workers from the new member states in 2004 - and we
welcomed that, whilst the other 12 states decided to apply certain
restrictions to the recently joined countries.

"However, a two tier system is now firmly in operation where some countries
have given free access to migrant workers while others have firmly slammed
the doors shut. The European Union has to decide whether or not it is an
area of free movement for migrant workers or not. We cannot have an EU where
some new states are admitted on the basis of a second class membership.

"Those who continue to place restrictions on the free movement of workers,
make it extremely difficult for those countries that have not placed similar
restrictions on workers, to sustain their present policy - and this is
regrettable. What is required is for the European Union to collectively
demonstrate its support for migrant workers, work to end exploitation and
free movement across borders.

"Sinn Féin would vigorously oppose any attempts by the government to treat
Bulgarian and Romanian workers in a similar manner to non EU workers where
they would be tied to specific employers through a permit system. Instances
of abuse by unscrupulous employers, who can effectively hold employees to
ransom, are not a new phenomenon.

"I want to take this opportunity to call upon the Government to continue to
advocate the free movement of people at European level, whilst at the same
time protecting the rights and conditions of Irish workers." ENDS

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