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1 December 2015 Edition

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Another Europe is possible – Treo eile don Eoraip

Funded by the European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Aontas Clé na hEorpa/Na Glasaigh Chlé Nordacha Crúpa Paliminta – Parlaimimt na h Eorpa

Long past time that our fishing industry was given attention it deserves 

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• Liadh Ní Riada MEP addresses a packed fisheries conference and (below) with Councillors John Brady and Johnny Mythen

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SPEAKING at the international conference on fisheries that she hosted in Waterford, MEP Liadh Ní Riada emphasised the necessity for a specific focus on developing and investing in the Irish fishing industry and uniting fishermen.

“Our fishing industry is only a shadow of its potential,” she said in an opening address to an audience from fishing families and the industry. “This is primarily because governments have ceded any semblance of real sovereignty over our own waters, combined with a lack of investment, a lack of vision and the urban-focused approach the Government has taken with regards to economic development and diversification.

“Hundreds of family businesses who have been in fishing for generations have disappeared and so many of our young people are reluctant to pursue a career in fishing,” she said.

“The EU and the Irish Government justifies these facts by declaring that the Common Fisheries Policy’s main aim is to protect all of Europe’s seafood industry and the environment – but what about protecting Ireland’s fishermen?”

Liadh said that Sinn Féin believe that, with the political will, a solid vision, and co-operation throughout the sector, “together with a truly unified and organised Irish fishing industry”, the Irish fishing industry can be a source of economic growth nationally that can effectively lobby the government and the EU.

“Irish fisheries, despite its significant growth potential, is among the most underdeveloped of our natural industries, especially compared to agriculture. 

• • •

New budget needed for SME and youth jobs

A NEW EU BUDGET is needed, particularly in terms of youth unemployment, support for SMEs and the creation of quality employment, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said.

The Irish MEP said that member states and the European Commission must assume their responsibilities.

“We need solidarity to support the creation of sustainable, decent and quality employment, and to back our SMEs.”

For the past two years the member states committed to boost the support for the creation of employment, in particular for youth, she said. 

“€6billion was agreed in the Youth Employment Initiative for 2014-2015 but €3billion was already being drained from the European Social Fund. 

“Here we are coming to the end of 2015. Unemployment, in particular amongst young people, is far from being over, with incredible youth unemployment in Ireland.

“However, the EU Council is now saying that there are more urgent priorities so they decided to freeze any and all future allocation of new resources for further action in tackling youth unemployment during 2016.

“We do not need more empty promises and declarations. The EU and national governments must assume duly, timely and fully their responsibilities.”

International progress made on legal highs in China talks

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• Martina Anderson MEP with Chen Xufu and Shan Yehua of China's Narcotics Control Foundation

POSITIVE PROGRESS in international co-operation in the regulation of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) – known as “legal highs” – has been reported by MEP Martina Anderson during her recent visit to China.

The Irish MEP took part in a four-day visit to China as part of a delegation by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

On her return she said:

“As part of the delegation’s trip to China, we met with the Narcotics Control Bureau of China’s Ministry of Public Security. Together with other European representatives, I raised the concern that an increasing number of so-called legal highs are being manufactured in China and then distributed in Europe.

“When referring to Europe, it is easy for some to switch off and to forget that Ireland is included in that. However, families trying to cope with the loss of a loved one due to these substances will not forget. The families and communities trying to deal with the scourge of legal-highs will not forget.

“All over Ireland, people are struggling with drug dealing, use and addiction and the problem is only getting worse. It’s dreadful to think that 22% of young people in Ireland aged between 15 and 24 have sampled these fatal so-called legal highs.”

The MEP for the North of Ireland said that the delegation had had a “positive meeting” with the leadership of the national Narcotics Control Bureau. 

“They informed us that a breakthrough was made in the fight to combat the manufacture of NPS last month when a new regulation called the ‘Administrative Measures on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Scheduled without Medical Use’ took effect. 

“We have a lot more to do in Ireland, in Europe and internationally to achieve this, but important progress is being made.”

• • •

Brexit implications on Westminster agenda

MEETINGS with representatives from the British Government, the Opposition and the Scottish National Party were part of a two-day visit to London by Martina Anderson as part of a delegation from the European Parliament to discuss a possible British withdrawal from the EU (“Brexit”).

The 11 MEPs in London were from the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

“A potential Brexit raises several issues pertinent to Ireland, North and South,” Martina pointed out.

“Issues including the Peace Process, human rights protections, agriculture, jobs, infrastructure and energy, cross-Border trade and travel would be directly affected by a Brexit. 

“I raised these issues during the meetings in London and Sinn Féin will continue to ensure that the Irish dimension is considered during the Brexit debate.”

Draghi refusal to accept ECB failures ‘frustrating’

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• Matt Carthy MEP with Irish Farmers' Association representatives from Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Roscommon, Monaghan, Louth and the IFA representative in Brussels

MATT CARTHY MEP recently questioned European Central Bank President Mario Draghi at the Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on its role in the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry in Ireland.

Speaking after the exchange, Matt Carthy said:

“It was extremely frustrating that issues raised with Mr Draghi regarding the ECB’s interference in the Irish democratic decision-making process were either dismissed or went unanswered.

“Unsurprisingly, my request to Mr Draghi to apologise for the destructive and illegal actions of the ECB and for the contempt that the ECB has shown to the democratically-appointed Oireachtas Banking Inquiry and to the Irish people was unheeded.”

“The dialogue in its entirety was a farcical substitute for ECB’s refusal to formally engage with Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.”

Matt Carthy complained that Mario Draghi didn’t adequately respond to any substantive question put by Irish MEPs. 

“He refused to accept any responsibility on the part of the ECB for the banking crisis or the failure to burn bondholders.

“This isn’t accountability and it is not good enough for the Irish people who represent 1% of the EU population but who have been saddled with 42% of the costs of a European banking crisis.”

• • •

All-Ireland food label

A DELEGATION to the European Parliament on the theme of establishing an all-Ireland food label has been hosted by  Midlands North West MEP Matt Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Thirty-five delegates travelled from all across Ireland to Brussels to discuss the implications and effects of new EU country-of-origin labelling requirements on the Irish agriculture industry. 

Matt Carthy said the group included representatives from the Irish Farmers’ Association, Irish Sheep & Cattle Association, Ulster Farmers’ Union, Irish Natural & Hill Farmers’ Association, Belfast Hill Farmers, and the North’s Agricultural Producers’ Association.

“Everyone took full advantage of the opportunity to relay their concerns to policy makers to ensure that the voices of the Irish agricultural industry are heard and laying out some positive ideas for a way forward,” Matt said. 

Ibrahim Halawa case is not a political football 

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• The Halawa family with Lynn Boylan MEP and South Dublin Mayor Sarah Holland

A PUBLIC HEARING at the European Parliament hosted by Lynn Boylan MEP on the case of Ibrahim Halawa, the Dublin teenager jailed without trial in Egypt for more than two years by the military government that seized power in a 2013 coup d’état, has heard calls yet again for more determined  action from the Irish Government and European institutions.

Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan said the Irish Government does not need to be reminded of who Ibrahim is, or how inhumane his case is. The purpose of the hearing, she said, was to bring around the table voices of experience and to hear from those who have successfully secured freedom for their relatives or clients. 

“I am appealing to the Irish Government to take on board their advice and to reconsider their approach to Ibrahim’s case,” Lynn said.

Mohamed Soltan, who went on hunger strike following his arrest by Egyptian security forces, described the horrific experiences he endured and spoke of not only the physical implications but the mental implications that he is left with, from having impromptu surgery carried out on his arm with bathroom scalpels to having a corpse in his cell for 24 hours. (See Mark Moloney’s interview)

“This is not a political football – this is literally a matter of Ibrahim’s life. 

“Mohamed Soltan is living proof that intervention from government has positive results and I will continue to pursue this case until we get Ibrahim home.”

• • •

‘Poverty – A Gender Perspective’

‘Poverty – A Gender Perspective’ is a European Parliament report being authored by Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan in the coming months. 

She will present the opinion to the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on 22 December.

She said:

“Since the global financial crisis hit, the gender poverty gap in the EU has widened. Women are bearing the brunt of austerity measures such as cuts to health and education services, as well as specific services for women such as domestic violence shelters.”

In addition to looking at the impact of cuts to public services and will examine the reasons why women are at a higher risk of poverty. These factors include the gender pay and pension gaps, the large proportion of women in precarious work, and the fact that women are often forced to leave the workforce due to the high cost of childcare. 

“Most importantly,” Lynn Boylan said, “I will put forward policy solutions that can meaningfully address the higher rate of poverty among women.”

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