Adams calls for confidential EU/British Report to be published

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. 

Brexit: Support growing for special status designation for North Gerry Adams TD

DSC_3254_6510Sinn 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.”

Adams welcomes increased numbers of northern students for DkIT

Ard Fheis 8Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed news that Dundalk Institute of Technology has seen a “significant increase in the number of students from the north taking up courses.”

Teachta Adams said: “I have met the senior staff from DKIT several times in recent years and our discussions have always included how DKIT and the education system in this state can make it more attractive for students from the north to apply for places.

“Overall the number of students from the six counties who apply to enroll in third level education institutions in the south is small. It has averaged around only 0.5% of the student population. More needs to be done to improve this situation.

“One specific issue that has long needed to be addressed is the admissions criteria which is a matter for the individual institutions. The points system in this state means that most successful A Level students in the north who normally complete three A Levels – which are sufficient to secure university entrance within that education system – cannot reach the number of points needed for universities and institutes of technology in the south.

“I welcome the decision by DKIT to award additional points for A Level and BTEC exams and to allow students from the north taking a combination of A Levels, applied A Levels and BTEC exams to combine these for scoring purposes.

I also support the decision by the seven universities in the south to introduce new admissions criteria from September.

“The initiative taken by DKIT has seen a doubling of applications to it from the north. However there is enormous potential for greater growth.

More students travelling to third level education institutions on either side of the border is good for the students, for the education system and for society.”

Adams – Effective Action Needed To End Fuel Laundering

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has condemned the criminal gangs involved in the fuel laundering scam and has said that “the only effective means of closing down this illegal activity is to end the differential between agricultural and non-agricultural diesel. The government needs to introduce in its place a system where farmers can reclaim a rebate on their fuel costs based on vouched expenditure”.

Teachta Adams has accused the gangs involved in diesel laundering of “causing serious environmental and health problems, putting at risk legitimate business and jobs, as well as imposing significant financial costs on local councils and the tax payer”.

The Louth TD was commenting after he received written responses from the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan and from the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to a series of Dáil Questions he submitted on this issue.

Mr. Adams said: “The responses from Minister Hogan and Noonan make bleak reading and confirm the adverse impact fuel laundering is having, especially in border counties.

· 900 incidents of diesel laundering and waste dumping

· 490 in Louth

· 406 in Monaghan

· €4,959,005 spent since 2008 on the clean-up of fuel laundering sites

· €4,093,979 of this spent in Louth

· 33 oil laundry plants detected and closed since 2010

· 10 oil laundry plants detected and closed in Louth in this period.

· 87 filling stations closed for selling illegal fuel between 2012-13

“While I welcome the increasing cross border co-operation on this issue and while I accept that the new marker being introduced both in Britain and across Ireland should greatly assist the process of identifying and prosecuting those involved in this activity, the danger is that the fuel launderers will find a way to remove this marker also.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that the only guaranteed means of ending this lucrative trade is to have a single tariff for diesel. A common approach could then be adopted to rebate to farmers the additional costs incurred in fuel purchases.

“The Irish Petroleum Industry Association has estimated that there may be as many as 120 illegal sites in operation (south of the border) and that these are costing the exchequer as much as €155 million per annum in lost fuel duty.

“Until an effective and sustainable solution is agreed and implemented, penalties against these criminal gangs and those who distribute the illegal fuel need to be increased. More resources should be provided to the Garda and PSNI and the Irish government and Executive should urgently review how they can maximise co-operation between policing, customs, justice and environmental agencies.”