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.
“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.”
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.”
Within hours of being at the launch of the Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB) new poster at Killeen, Louth councillor Ruairi O Murchu was joined by members of the award-winning campaign group in Brussels where a number of events marking the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement were held.
Cllr. O Murchu, who represents Dundalk South, was among a number of guest invited to the European Parliament earlier this week by the GUE/NGL grouping, of which Sinn Fein is
Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú with the 4 SF MEPs
MEP Martina Anderson launched a photographic exhibition at the parliament in Brussels to mark the anniversary and a number of groups from Ireland, including the BCAB, members of the LGBT community, representatives of the Irish Language and victims’ groups.
On the second day of his visit, Cllr. O Murchu joined the discussion with GUE/NGL parliamentarians and other invited guests, including former Ulster Unionist John McCallister, where the positives of the Good Friday Agreement and the challenges it faces were discussed.
Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú with Matt Carthy MEP
The Dundalk councillor spoke at the event about living in a border area and the many threats posed by Brexit. He said: ‘It has been very clear that the EU as a whole recognises and supports the Good Friday Agreement and its vital importance to Ireland in the future.
‘No matter what happens when Britain leaves the EU, it is imperative that the agreement is protected and so far, the EU negotiators have made that clear to their British counterparts.
‘The threat of a hard border in the not-too-distant future looms large and it is vital that regulatory alignment exists North and South in a post-Brexit context’.
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
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the publication of the Oireachtas report by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on ‘The Likely Economic Impact of Brexit with Particular Emphasis on Jobs and Enterprise’.
Teachta Adams said: “The Committee’s endorsement of a designated special status for the North within the EU is a very important addition to the growing political and public support for this.”
In its report the Oireachtas Committee acknowledges that it is ‘essential to argue the case for designated special status within the EU’.
It also supports:
- ‘protection of the peace process and protection and full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements;
- access to the EU Single Market;
- maintain access to all EU funding streams;
- remain part of the Common Travel Area;
- maintain access to the EU institutions including the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and EU sectoral agreements;
- protect access to EU rights pertaining to employment, social security and healthcare;
- protect the right of northern Irish citizens as Irish, and therefore, EU citizens, and all rights pertaining thereto.’
All of these are vital measures to protect jobs, defend communities, protect rights and uphold the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement.
The report identifies agriculture as a sector under serious risk. It cites the example of flour mills as illustrative of the difficulties Brexit will create. There are three flour mills on the island of Ireland, two of them in Belfast. The Belfast Mills export 60% of their output to the South. If World Trade Organisation tariffs are introduced post Brexit this could present huge additional costs as these are very high at €178 per tonne, representing a tariff of 50%.
Milk production is another sector that will face significant difficulties as a result of two different regulatory and trading regimes. Some 600 million litres of milk flows across the border every year from the North to the South where it is processed in the South into milk powder, infant formula and other products.
This is about 25pc of the North’s total milk output. In the event of Brexit WTO tariffs would impose an aggregate tariff of 45pc. This would undermine milk production, make it very uncompetitive and pose a grave rick to the future of many dairy farmers in the North.
And then there is the imposition of customs posts and delays along the border as checks have to be carried out.
This report is the result of many months of work and engagement with individuals and organisations that have outlined the potential effects on jobs Brexit will have. There was unanimity from these stakeholders that Brexit will have negative consequences on the Irish economy.
I would urge anyone concerned about the impact of Brexit to read the report which is available on the Oireachtas website.”