|Sinn Féin MEP and Member of the EU Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Chris MacManus has said the decision by the government to sign off on €750bn of borrowing by the EU Commission should have only been taken after a full public and Dáil debate given the importance of the decision, which is known as the ‘Own Resources Decision’.|
The Midlands Northwest MEP said:
“On the 12th May, without any public notice or announcement, the government signed off on facilitating the EU Commission borrowing €750bn to finance the EU Recovery Fund. This decision was notified to the EU Council by the Irish government offices in Brussels. This is an unprecedented commitment for the EU Commission to take on.”
“The fact that the decision was taken without the slightest effort at debate or scrutiny is a cause for concern and raises serious long-term questions for this State. “
“Sinn Féin support a stimulus plan to aid the EU Recovery but this rubber-stamping of an unprecedented borrowing facility for the EU Commission should not have passed without any debate or Dáil scrutiny. €750bn can now be borrowed by Brussels but there is no clear indication how it will be repaid.”
“Will new EU taxes – which many in the EU want – like corporate tax contributions, environmental taxes and other taxes like a Digital Levy flowing directly into Brussels be used to repay the loans or will Member States have to repay with net contributors like Ireland paying more? These questions should have been answered before the government signed off on this decision.”
MacManus said such a major decision should be subject to thorough domestic debate. “Twenty Member States’ parliaments have to approve such a decision, with only seven states including Ireland seemingly allowing a government to rubber-stamp with no debate or scrutiny. The minimum scrutiny should have been a full Dáil debate and vote. In Finland a passionate national debate over the issue occurred. For decades to come the State might be paying for this decision or alternatively face EU taxes which the government says it is opposed to.”
The Sinn Féin MEP concluded, “Taking this decision on the quiet serves the Irish people poorly. This is no way to build public confidence in the EU recovery fund or to encourage solidarity.”
Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the call by the EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly for the European Commission to publish the confidential study conducted by the British government and the European Commission in 2017 and which listed 142 cross-border activities on the island of Ireland that would be negatively impacted by a hard Brexit.
The Louth TD submitted a PQ on this issue in October and received a response from the Minister for Foreign Affairs last week in which the Minister placed the onus for publication on the British government and the EU.
Mr. Adams called on the Irish government to publicly press the EU to publish the report. The Louth TD said:
“The 8 December 2017 Joint Report between the British Government and the EU Commission referenced the report of a mapping exercise which shows that “North-South cooperation relies to a significant extent on a common European Union legal and policy framework”. The report warned that the British “departure from the European Union gives rise to substantial challenges to the maintenance and development of North-South cooperation.”
The mapping exercise was a detailed examination of all those areas of North-South co-operation, as provided for by the Good Friday Agreement, which were underpinned by the EU membership of the British and Irish states.
The Good Friday Agreement established six North-South Implementation Bodies and “six areas for cooperation and implementation“. These covered a wide range of issues including, the environment, health, agriculture, transport, education/higher education, tourism, energy, telecommunications, broadcasting, inland fisheries, justice and security, and sport.
It is known that the report identified 142 areas of co-operation between the North and South. Some of these are very detailed. For example, the area of health. It requires equality of patient rights, but also things like single standards for medical devices, the approval of medicines at EU level, mutual recognition of medical qualifications, mutual acceptance of cross border ambulance activity. Cross border health co-operation also includes heart surgery in Dublin for children from the North, as well as cancer treatment in Derry for people from the South.
There are also joint initiatives on shared waterways and agreement to treat the entire island as one epidemiological entity for the purpose of animal diseases.
I am calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to urgently press the EU Commission to publish this confidential report. In the context of the Withdrawal Agreement reached last week between the British government and the EU it is imperative that citizens on this island understand fully the consequences of Brexit and especially of a bad Brexit on matters that affect their daily lives.
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham attended European meetings during the week as part of a fisheries delegation made up of Irish councillors and Senators. The meeting was hosted by Liadh Ní Riada MEP who is on the Fisheries Committee in Europe.
Cllr Cunningham criticised the use of Supertrawlers which has practically decimated the fishing industry around Clogherhead and other small fishing towns around the country.
Cllr Cunningham said “more must be done to protect the small fishermen and the smaller fleets as they are in crisis and it seems that no-one is listening.
“If you can imagine huge Supertrawlers casting nets about the same size as the whole of Croke Park imagine what is being lifted and caught in those nets. They then just pick and choose which part of their huge catch is most profitable to them and the rest is thrown back. This has to be addressed. They are sucking life out of the ocean while smaller fleets and small independent fishermen look on helplessly.”
Cllr Cunningham then explained that “they aren’t even processing all this fish in Ireland, only about 5% is actually processed here so they are hoovering up our fish and taking it away. If fish are caught in Irish waters, they should be made to process them here.”
Tom Cunningham, during one of the meetings on the ‘Inequality in fisheries – Supertrawlers and industrial fishing and their impact on small-scale and local fisheries’ said there should be heavy penalties for the supertrawlers who don’t abide by the rules.
“These Supertrawlers are owned by big wealthy companies so a fine of perhaps €20,000 means absolutely nothing to them. I suggested they should lose their quotas altogether. It was also suggested that two observers could be present on the Supertrawlers monitoring their activities and to prevent bribes or intimidation from the owners, they should be fitted with body cameras. This would stop the ‘blind eye’ being turned at the minute by local authorities while the smaller fishermen faces the full weight of the law for the slightest infraction.”
Louth Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called for sanctions to be imposed on Brazilian beef being imported into the EU following a report last week of three processing plants in Brazil being forced to close. There is believed to be thirty companies under investigation under ‘Operation Weak Flesh’ including Brazil’s largest beef exporter JBS.
Cllr Watters visited Europe recently with a delegation of Young Farmers from the Cooley area. “I got to see at first hand the issues they are facing and it’s tough. Being a farmer is not an easy option for anyone and with Brexit looming God only knows how the farmers are going to be affected but we know it won’t be for the better.”
“Brazil would be Ireland’s main competitor in the EU beef market. The quality of Irish beef produced from grass-fed, free-roaming cattle, bred on family farms like those on the Cooley peninsula is of the highest standard. We should not have to compete with produce from countries where standards are shoddy or at times non-existent.”
Cllr Watters supported calls on the Irish Government to intervene and halt the importation of Brazilian beef into the EU as it was reported, there were ‘dangerous additives being used to bulk up poultry and salmonella-contaminated meat being exported to Europe’. It all seems to be about money with allegations of officials being bribed in order to get the required certification.”
Cllr Watters advised customers “this whole situation serves as a warning, cheaper is not better. When you buy local, you know you are getting the unique excellence of Irish beef. Our farmers should not have to compete with these ‘shoddy practices’.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has today said that the Irish government must commit to working meaningfully with all political parties and all stakeholders in the aftermath of the triggering of Article 50 and the formal beginning of the Brexit process today.
He said that ‘Brexit presents a very dangerous situation for Ireland, north and south, but that threat can be minimised and a special designated status for the north within the European Union can be secured, if all of us work together in pursuit of that goal’.
Today the British government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process which will formalise their exit from the European Union.
Sinn Féin has called for special designated status for the north of Ireland to remain in the European Union. We have done so because it is in the interests of the Irish people; for farmers, for students, for small businesses, and Irish society; for human rights protections, environmental standards, for peace and reconciliation and for infrastructure.
56% of people in the north voted to Remain in the EU – that has to be respected.
Tomorrow, on Thursday March 30th, MEPs from across Europe will join with Martina Anderson MEP and Matt Carthy MEP at a public meeting to discuss the way forward. Louth Sinn Féin TD and Party President Gerry Adams will also address this meeting.
The meeting will take place on Thursday 30th March, in the Carrickdale Hotel, County Louth, at 7:30pm.
It will be an opportunity for you to voice your concerns to people who will have an influence on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. You, and representatives of your organisation are most welcome.
No Border, No Barriers, No Brexit
Thursday March 30th
Carrickdale Hotel, Co. Louth