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Anderson to show solidarity with people of Greece in Athens

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will travel to Athens tomorrow to stand in solidarity with the Greek people in their battle against austerity.

Ms Anderson said;

“As a proud Irish republican and dedicated internationalist, I will be in Athens on Sunday with my party colleague Pearse Doherty to stand in solidarity with the people of Greece.

“The Greek people have an opportunity to send a clear message to the right wing elites of Europe that austerity is wrong and will not be tolerated.

“This referendum is democracy in action and stands in contrast to the anti-democratic actions of the ECB, IMF, and the European Commission in attempting to force further austerity on Greece.

“I wish the Greek people well in the referendum and encourage them to stand firm in the face of the relentless austerity regime imposed on them.

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Syriza and the people of Greece in opposing austerity.”

Deadline to end roaming charges must be enforced – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Council to enforce a new deadline for the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges.

Ms Anderson said;

“Last year the European Commission agreed to scrap roaming charges by December this year, however the European Council then halted that decision and pushed the date back to December 2018.

“That delay was unacceptable to us and would have led to people living and working in border areas being hit with unfair roaming charges for another three years.

“Matt Carthy and I met with senior officials from the European Council last week to call for a complete end to roaming charges as soon as possible.

“Today’s decision by the European Council to bring forward the date for abolition of roaming charges is welcome but unfortunately they will still be in place until June 2017.

“The onus is now on the European Council to ensure this deadline is adhered to so that customers, particularly those in border areas, are not penalised by unfair charges beyond that date.”

EU Cooperation needed to tackle scourge of legal highs – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said partnership working across Europe is key to tackling the problem of so-called legal highs.

Speaking after meeting with the Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, Ms Anderson said;

“The scourge of psychoactive substances or so-called legal highs does not recognise borders and has caused misery right across Europe.

“As part of a co-ordinated approach to dealing with these toxic substances, I met with the SNP’s Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs to discuss the best approach to dealing with legal highs.

“These substances have destroyed lives and devastated communities in both Ireland and Scotland, as they have across Europe.

“We agreed to share information and examples of best practice on the work being done to combat legal highs in the Scottish parliament, by the Assembly and local councils in the North and in the European Parliament.

“We identified areas of further co-operation and agreed to work together in the future to tackle this menace.”

Anderson condemns illegal Israeli boarding of Swedish vessel

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has condemned Israel for attempting to block a vessel taking part in the Freedom Flotilla to bring humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

Speaking after Israel boarded a Swedish registered ship in international waters, Ms Anderson said;

“The Freedom Flotilla is currently en route to Gaza to deliver essential supplies which have been denied to the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli blockade.

“In the early hours of Monday morning, Israel boarded and took control of the Swedish vessel, Marianne, in international waters.

“This vessel is part of the Freedom Flotilla which is bringing essential supplies to the people of Gaza.

“Those essential supplies include medicines and solar panels to repair the infrastructure during the Israeli onslaught.

“Among the volunteers on board the Marianne were the former president of Tunisia, Dr Moncef Marzouki, Israeli Knesset member Bassel Ghattas, and former MEP Ana Miranda.

“More than 100 parliamentarians from across Europe have given their support to the Freedom Flotilla and signed an open letter calling for it to be allowed to bring this essential aid to Gaza unhindered.

“I have now written to Fedrica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, to object to Israel’s action in boarding this vessel and to call for an end to the unfair blockade on Gaza.”

Aid ships must be allowed to proceed to Gaza – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said a flotilla of aid ships must be allowed to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

Speaking in Brussels at the launch of the latest freedom flotilla to Gaza, Ms Anderson said;

“Gaza has suffered under the Israeli blockade for the last eight years. The restrictions this has placed on the freedom of movement, access to outside markets and the import of vital products has brought massive hardship on the people.

“This blockade has been compounded by three major military onslaughts on Gaza by Israel over the last eight years which has destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure and damaged 18,000 houses.

“The ongoing blockade is illegal and is a denial of the human rights of the Palestinian people. Under international law the people of Gaza have the right to an adequate standard of living and they are currently being denied this.

“The freedom flotilla is a grass-roots, non-violent movement carrying materials such as medicine and essential aid for the people of Gaza.

“It has the support of millions of people around the world as it delivers essential humanitarian aid.

“It must be allowed to enter Gaza uninterrupted to deliver its important cargo to the people of Palestine.”

EU derogation on Irish language must be lifted – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the remaining barriers to the full recognition of the Irish language in the European Parliament must be lifted.
Speaking after meeting officials from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Brussels, Ms Anderson said;
“The Irish language has had full official and working language status since 2007 but there has been a derogation in place since then meaning that the European institutions do not have to translate documents into Irish.
“It also means there are no Irish language interpreters available during meetings of the European Parliament.
“Not only is it a fundamental right that we should have these services available in Irish but it would also create 188 jobs.
“The Irish government have a responsibility to formally ask the EU Council of Ministers to lift this derogation and they must do so before the before the end of this year. If they don’t another opportunity will not arise until 2020.
“As MEPs, we will be working with colleagues from across Europe, particularly through the intergroup on Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages, to push for language rights for all.
“All of us need to work collectively and put pressure on the Irish government to remove this barrier to full recognition of the Irish language at the European Parliament.”

Anderson commends life-saving work of LÉ Eithne

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has commended the efforts of the crew of Irish naval vessel LÉ Eithne for saving the lives of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean.

Ms Anderson said;
“Every week hundreds of migrants from north Africa and the Middle East attempt to make the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean in the hope of finding a better life in Europe.
“In order to escape conflict, poverty and persecution they take huge personal risks and are often exploited at the hands of unscrupulous people smugglers and pirates.
“Tragically, many die in the process. Others are saved in rescue operations and brought to ‘reception centres’ like those I saw when I visited the Sicilian island of Lampedusa as part of a European Parliament delegation.
“Among those taking part in those rescue operations is the Irish naval vessel the LÉ Eithne, which has rescued more than 2,000 people from the sea.
“On Monday the crew of the LÉ Eithne rescued a further 519 migrants from the sea.
“I pay tribute to the crew of the LÉ Eithne for their dedication and professionalism in saving thousands of lives since being deployed to the Mediterranean in May.
“The scale of their life-saving efforts highlights the need for further humanitarian efforts in the Mediterranean to save lives and put an end to the Mediterranean migrant crisis.”

Anderson urges MEPs to sign EU declaration on collusion

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson as called on MEPs to sign a European Parliament declaration urging Britain to face up to its human rights responsibilities over its involvement in collusion.

Ms Anderson said;

“The reality of collusion between the British government, its agents and loyalist death squads in the murder of people they were legally supposed to protect cannot be denied.

“The mounting weight of evidence points to the fact that collusion not only existed but was was British government policy. It was systematic, planned and directed and was authorised right from the highest levels of Whitehall.

“Alongside collusion with loyalist death squads, the British government also operated a shoot-to-kill policy and used lethal force, including plastic bullets, as a response to civil disorder.

“These policies were criticised by the European Court of Human Rights in six cases over its breaches of Article 2 – the right to life.

“While the British government has claimed to have put a package of measures in place to deal with its Article 2 obligations, these have clearly failed.

“I have now written to MEPs asking them to sign this declaration calling on the British government to honour its responsibilities under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

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