Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has raised concerns about the British government’s attempts to delay vital EU funding for community organisations.
Speaking after voting against delays in cohesion policy programmes for 2014-2020, Ms Anderson said;
“Cohesion policy funding represents the main EU-wide investment policy and there are many groups and organisations in the North and throughout Ireland which depend on this funding.
“There has already been a significant delay in the implementation of the current funding period with the likelihood of programmes not starting until mid-2015.
“The implementation of the new operation programmes must not be delayed further.
“As well as the delay in implementing the 2014-2020 programming period there is also a backlog in payments amounting to approximately EUR 23 billion for the 2007-2013 period.
“All of this is creating huge uncertainty among community and voluntary groups and SMEs which depend on this funding.
“That is why I and a majority of MEPs voted against the British Government’s attempt to delay this EU payment.
“The impact of the backlog of payments and the ongoing delays are adversely affecting the implementation of the new Operational Programmes for the many groups relying on EU Funds.”
EU should recognise state of Palestine – Anderson
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Union to recognise the state of Palestine.
Speaking in a debate in Strasbourg, Ms Anderson, the chair of the EU’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said;
“135 countries have already recognised Palestinian statehood which represents approximately 80% of the world’s population.
“This includes eight EU Member States, most recently Sweden.
“There have been resolutions passed in Ireland and Britain calling for recognition of Palestinian statehood.
“Similar debates are set to take place right across Europe.
“The Israeli onslaught on Gaza this summer has shown that the status quo is not acceptable to the millions we represent.
“It shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone who wants a peaceful and just resolution
“The international community needs to influence change by action. The worrying situation emerging in East Jerusalem and the preposterous Jewish State Bill demonstrates clearly that Israel is not prepared to be a partner for peace.
“Recognising the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders will send a clear message that the international community is opposed to occupation and committed to a two-state solution involving two fully recognised states – Israel and Palestine.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed Pope Francis’ visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Speaking after the Pope addressed MEPs in the parliament, Ms Anderson said;
“Pope Francis is head of the Catholic Church and head of state of the Vatican and is one of the few personalities that has such a broad appeal that reaches policy makers.
“He has publicly challenged poverty and deprivation and promoted social justice.
“It is important he addressed the European Parliament at a time when EU policies have resulted in such misery, poverty and deprivations.
“Pope Francis’ challenge to international capitalism with his remarks that human beings are reduced to cogs in a machine and disposed of when no longer needed are to be welcomed.
“While the EU is a secular project and none of its institutions are connected to any religion and are in place to serve all equally, the ethical dimension is an important part of the EU’s work.
“Our values on protecting the poor and tackling inequality are laid down in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
Anderson gets Irish diplomatic passport
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said her newly acquired Irish diplomatic passport helps her represent the community at the European Parliament.
Speaking after becoming the first MEP from the North to hold an Irish diplomatic passport, Ms Anderson said;
“As an Irish republican I am proud to hold an Irish passport and as a public representative I applied for a diplomatic passport to assist me in my work as an MEP.
“In my role as a Sinn Féin MEP I have to travel on a regular basis to represent all of my constituents at the European Parliament.
“That involves travelling to the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg as well as travelling to other locations on parliament business.
“In particular, as chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, I have to travel to Palestine and Israel.
“Having an Irish diplomatic passport will make that travelling process easier by cutting down the length of time I spend going through airport security checks on a weekly basis.
“This will give me more time to devote to the job I have been elected to do, representing each and every person in the North and at the European Parliament.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has reiterated her call on the European Parliament to recognise Palestine.
Speaking ahead of a resolution calling for the recognition of Palestine, Ms Anderson, chair of the Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said;
“The international community and the European Union in particular have a responsibility to support the Palestinian people.
“There is now another opportunity for the European Parliament to take a bold step and recognise the state of Palestine.
“Several European national parliaments have already taken this step and have recognised Palestine and that is welcome. It would be hugely important if the European Parliament did the same.
“I believe the European Parliament has a duty to the Palestinian people to recognise the state.
“The Parliament can do this under international law while ensuring the security of Israel.
“There is an urgent and crucial need for a peaceful solution in the region and it is key that the European Union is accepted as a partner in the peace process.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the EU must take immediate action to calm tensions in East Jerusalem.
Ms Anderson, the chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council said;
“This morning’s attack at the Har Nof synagogue was wrong and must be condemned.
“Everyone in Jerusalem must be free to attend their chosen place or worship without fear of attack of intimidation.
“This incident, and the ongoing tensions in the area of the al-Haram al-Sharif mosque, highlights the need for the European Union to take action to help progress peace in the region.
“I am appealing for all sides to pull back amid the rising tensions in East Jerusalem.
“Mere condemnation is not enough. It must be backed with action.
“The European Union must take action against human rights violations carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people.
“The illegal actions of Israel in expanding settlements in East Jerusalem also need to be challenged.
“A resolution passed today states the EU is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to take action to protect the viability of the two-state solution and now it must live up to that and match those words with action.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the European Union’s support for the peace process is valued by all communities in the North.
Speaking ahead of a European Parliament resolution backing the peace process, Ms Anderson said;
“The peace and political processes have received great support from the European Union over the last 20 years.
“I welcome the fact that is continuing with the resolution supporting the process, which is before the European Parliament.
“European support is vital and it is encouraging to see that all parties in the North are in agreement about the value of the support for the peace process from Europe.
“I welcome the fact Peter Robinson has said today he appreciates the support from Europe and that is to be welcomed.
“Hopefully it will signal a change in the attitude of the leadership of political unionism towards the political process.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has encouraged people to attend a meeting in Strabane on Friday on the possible impact on Ireland of Britain leaving the EU.
Speaking ahead of the event, which will be hosted by Pat Doherty MP in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane, on Friday from 2-4pm, Ms Anderson said;
“The North of Ireland has benefitted hugely from membership of the European Union over many years.
“We see those benefits on a daily basis both in the North and on a north-south basis right across the island.
“Now we have a situation where the British government has committed to holding a referendum on membership of the EU. No-one knows exactly what a British government withdrawal from Europe would mean.
“For us in the north of Ireland, and particularly those who live and work in the border counties north and south, any change in our membership of the EU would have drastic consequences. These have the potential to stifle the progress and development of this region.
“This is a hugely important issue. That is why Pat Doherty MP is hosting a public meeting on the impact Britain’s referendum on EU membership would have on Ireland.
“I will be addressing the meeting alongside Ruth Tallion from the Centre for Cross Border Studies.
“The meeting will be held in the Fir Tress Hotel, Strabane, on Friday November 14 from 2-4pm.”