MacManus MEP calls for immediate release of Carles Puigdemont

Chris and Carles Puigdemont in European Parliament

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called for the immediate release of Carles Puigdemont from custody. Puigdemont, former President of Catalonia and currently an MEP, was detained last night upon arriving in Sardinia. He was visiting a Catalan folklore festival, as part of his role as an MEP. MacManus commented:
 
“The detention of MEP Puigdemont, while conducting parliamentary activities, should raise alarm bells for democrats across the EU. “
 
“In recent months, the situation in Catalonia has developed with the Spanish Government pardoning nine Catalan independence leaders. This is a recognition that the situation in Catalonia will only be resolved through dialogue, making last night’s arrest a major setback.”
 
“MEP Puigdemont solicitor has stated that the European arrest warrant used in the detention was issued in 2019 and has since been suspended. Questions must therefore be asked whether Italian authorities knew this and chose to act regardless, as a political statement, or under different instructions from the Spanish State.”
 
“I understand MEP Puigdemont will be soon brought before a court, where a decision will be made to extradite or release him. If he is not released immediately, I would urge the Spanish Government to continue with progress made, by dropping all outstanding charges against Catalan leaders, including MEP Puigdemont, and committing to resolving the dispute with Catalonia through purely political means.”
 
MacManus concluded, “The solution to Catalonia is self-determination, and the continued criminalisation of those calling for the recognition of this reality is deplorable.”
 
“The right of a people to decide their own future must always be unalienable.”

Brexit Fund must be targeted at border areas: Chris MacManus MEP

Chris MacManus MEP & David Winton – Director of the Northern Western Regional Assembly

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has welcomed the approval of the €5bn Brexit Adjustment Reserve this week by the European Parliament.  The Midlands Northwest MEP said Ireland’s share of approximately €1bn must be focused ‘on where Brexit has had and will have the biggest impact, specifically the border region’.
 
MacManus was speaking following a meeting with the Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Mr. David Minton. 
 
MacManus said:
 
“This week the European Parliament agreed to the deal established with the Member States on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, known as the Brexit Fund. Although the deal is not as good for Ireland as the original proposal it still represents an important act of solidarity.”
 
“I will be working to ensure that the State’s share of the fund is spent in the border regions where Brexit has hit hardest. The lion’s share must be directed to helping workers and business decimated by Brexit along the border and agencies such as the Northern and Western Regional Assembly need to have a central role in this regard. I have long argued that this fund along with PEACE, structural funds, the EU’s Pandemic Recovery Fund of almost €1bn to Ireland alongside regional aid changes could form an important investment package for the border and Northwest region.”
 
The Sinn Féin MEP highlighted the long term effects of Brexit and the border. “My message to the EU is that while this act of solidarity is appreciated Brexit is not a short-term problem and the structural issues it has created and exposed must also be tackled and that includes partition. The EU needs to begin a conversation on the potential social and economic impact of Irish Unity in the future.”
 
MacManus concluded by highlighting the increased hardship that Brexit has brought on coastal and fishing communities:
 
“Irish coastal and fishing communities are another example of communities that have been hit hard by Brexit. The outcome of this Brexit trade deal amounts to another cut to quota and income to our Irish fishing fleet that was already struggling to survive. The response from the Dublin government has been pathetic. Not only should the Dublin government be fighting for greater financial supports, but more importantly, they should also be actively campaigning for burden sharing when it comes to quota cuts.” 

“A worker is a worker – Technology cannot change hard won rights” – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP insists Financial Technology workers must enjoy same rights as other workers
 
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has said that new technologies and innovations which have created digital platform workers and the increasing use of FinTech [financial technology] cannot be allowed as a basis to diminish workers’ rights. MacManus today addressed a major workshop on workers’ rights in the finance sector organised by the Euro-wide Trade Union UNI Europa-Finance. He took the opportunity to welcome a rejection by the European Parliament of a move to create a new third category of worker in between employment and self-employment.
 
Speaking at the conference MacManus said:
 
“It is a coincidence but a fortunate one that today the European Parliament rejected calls by the right inspired by tech and FinTech companies to create a third category of worker, neither employed nor self-employed. This blurring of the lines would have served only to weaken fundamental worker’s rights in the name of innovation and disruption. Such buzz-words cannot be used as an excuse for regression when it comes to workers’ rights.
 
MacManus went on to outline why it was so important this attempt was defeated:
 
“There is a danger that the EU Commission, Member States, the ECB and others see the sector as one where workers are somehow different. There is a sense that workers in FinTech and digital platforms are not regarded in the same way as workers are in other industries.
 
“I see the role of the Parliament as countering that feeling, of not letting big tech away with it. That is what I will strive to do. There can be no carve-out of rights in any particular industry. Those employed by banks, FinTech companies or digital platforms are workers who deserve the full protections of progressive workers’ rights legislation. No different from everything else the Parliament would demand for workers in factories, in construction or in retail. Fundamentally finance and digital platforms must be a workspace like others with rights and protections.”

Government’s failure to support FOI motion is a major disappointment – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called on the government to end the crisis in the state’s Freedom of Information (FOI) regime and has expressed disappointment that they didn’t support Sinn Fein’s motion this week in the Dáil on FOI reform.

Following on from recent events around the Zappone appointment controversy, Sinn Féin brought forward the motion to allow those who fail in their FOI duties to be investigated by the Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPO), amongst several other measures to further strengthen the FOI regime.

Sinn Féin will also introduce legislation in the coming weeks to address this issue.

Teachta Munster said,

“It’s clear to everyone that our FOI regime is in crisis.  This bill is timely, given the recent fallout from the Zappone appointment controversy.”

“We’ve seen a Minister deleting official government correspondence in the form of text messages. Departments are claiming information sought under FOI doesn’t exist only for us to find out later that it does. Refusals and redactions of requests are frequently given based on reasons that were later shown to be spurious or incorrect. Journalists and transparency campaigners and organizations have been pointing this out for a long time now.”

”We’ve now even had the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and other government Ministers accept that there are big problems. However Minister McGrath, the one with responsibility for FOI has been remarkably silent. He previously told us the FOI regime was ‘robust and working well’, only for these revelations to emerge a few weeks later. It was a case of famous last words.”

Teachta Munster concluded:

“This state has always had a poor track record when it comes to transparency and accountability. A well-functioning FOI regime is central to holding those in power to account. It’s not a left versus right issue. It’s a democratic issue.”

“It’s an issue of whether we believe those in power should be accountable to their citizens, or whether there should be a separate set of rules for them entirely. I would appeal to those members of the government who do consider themselves supporters of democracy, to change their stance on this, and to support our legislation as it moves through the Dáil in the coming weeks.”

Northern Cross Route must be included in National Development Plan: Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has repeated her call for government action on the Port Access Northern Cross Route (PANCR), asking the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, to ensure that the project is included in the government’s planned ten year National Development Plan (NDP) which is due to be published later this month.

Deputy Munster said:

“I’ve written to Minister McGrath asking him to ensure that this vital project is included in the National Development plan. I re-emphasised the importance of this road project to Drogheda, both in terms of traffic management but also in terms of the wider development of the Drogheda area.

“The route is critical to the development of housing in Drogheda under the Northern Environs Plan. The road will also re-route a significant amount of traffic, including HGVs, out of Drogheda town centre which currently has extremely high levels of traffic congestion.

“Drogheda has been designated as a Regional Growth Area and the PANCR project is a vital part of the planned development and growth of the town. It is of the utmost importance that this road is finally prioritised and funded by government under the NDP.

“I have raised this matter on many occasions with the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD, as his department has turned down several funding applications from Louth County Council, despite his 2019 electioneering promise that the road must be funded and built.

“People in Drogheda are sick to the back teeth of delays. It’s been fifteen years and it’s beyond farcical that we still don’t have funding for the project.

“Inclusion in the National Development Plan is central to the future prospects of the road, and Minister McGrath must prioritise it.”