Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will meet European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, tomorrow to raise concerns from farming communities across Ireland.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ms Anderson said;
“Farming communities and those involved in the agriculture industry right across Ireland have serious concerns about key issues facing their futures.
“One of the main issues of concern and one that I come across time and time again when dealing with farmers is the need to simplify the Rural Development Programme in the North. Farmers in the 26 counties are also awaiting progress on the outstanding issues of the Rural Development Programme in the South.
“It is waiting approval in Europe and was supposed to be completed this month and now we have been told it has been put back to June. I will be pressing Phil Hogan to ensure there is no further delay.
“Many people in agricultural communities are also concerned about the Young Farmers Scheme and have called for flexibilities to be built into the outworking of the scheme. I will be raising this with the commissioner to see if any is any room for manoeuvre.
“Farmers have been campaigning for fairer prices for their produce at supermarkets. They have called on the Commissioner to adopt the principles of the groceries code adjudicator, which he agreed to when he took office, so I will be seeking an update on the progress of that initiative.
“Sinn Féin is committed to standing up for farmers and rural communities across Ireland and will continue to campaign to ensure they get a fair deal.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel over its refusal to live up to its obligations to the peace process over the last 20 years.
Ms Anderson, the chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said;
“Twenty years has passed from the historic handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on the White House Law.
“It has also been 20 years since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the formal start of the Palestinian/Israeli peace process.
“It is also clear, however, that this year marks 20 years of shattered hopes and unfulfilled obligations in that process as a result of the obstructive behaviour of the Israelis.
“I witnessed this at first hand during my three visits to Palestine in the last year when I was refused entry to Gaza on each occasion.
“It was also highlighted in the run-up to the recent Israeli election when Benjamin Netanyahu exposed the 20-year pretence that Israel is a genuine partner for peace when he stated there would never be a Palestinian state.
“The international community have a responsibility to challenge Israel on its repeated failures to progress the peace process.
“The EU in particular can send a clear message to Israel and the wider international community by imposing sanctions against Israel.
“Jerusalem is more divided today than at any time since the Israeli occupation began in 1967 and the international community have a duty to act.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for the immediate release of Basque political prisoners to assist the country’s peace process.
Speaking after chairing a meeting in support of Basque political prisoners at the European Parliament, Ms Anderson said;
“I chaired a session of a conference organised by the Basque Friendship Group at the European Parliament today to mark the fifth anniversary of an international declaration calling for the release of Arnaldo Otegi.
“Five years on, despite the support of a range of international figures, including Gerry Adams and Harold Good, the issue of Basque political prisoners has still not been dealt with.
“One of the issues facing Basque political prisoners today is the detention of prisoners far from their homes. At today’s conference I recounted my own experiences as an Irish republican political prisoner in English jails.
“The continued imprisonment of Basque prisoners is an unnecessary obstacle to the Basque peace process and the remaining prisoners should be released immediately.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the DUP need to explain its position on the North’s place within the European Union.
Ms Anderson said;
“Now that the DUP and UKIP appear to be getting into bed together the DUP need to get explain exactly what their attitude to Europe is.
“On one hand we have DUP ministers on trade missions to the US selling the North to businesses as a gateway to Europe.
“On the other hand they are presenting themselves as champions of the EU membership referendum debate and their MEP has gone as far to say that they would definitely pull out of Europe.
“They have not, however, explained what the impact of leaving the EU would be for people here.
“The reality is the North benefits greatly from EU membership and those benefits would be lost if we were to leave the EU.
“For example, the loss of the Common Agricultural Policy would have a hugely detrimental impact on our farming community, particularly large farmers, but also small farmers who depend on the Single Farm Payment.
“The European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund would also be lost to the hundreds of groups across the north who have benefited from this funding.
“This is the scenario the DUP wants for a range of groups across the North. Not content with supporting cuts to the block grant they now want to pull out of the EU and cut all those funding opportunities.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed European Parliament moves to strengthen animal health regulations.
Ms Anderson said;
“At a meeting of the European Parliament’s AGRI committee this week members received an update on plans to strengthen animal health regulations across Europe.
“The proposed regulations will help improve animal health measures across the European Union, which is an issue that has been of concern to farming and agricultural communities.
“Improved regulations, agreed in co-operation with farming communities will assist farmers.
“The committee held that the proposed regulations will be flexible and will focus on outcomes rather than the process and will be based on risk and on evidence.
“This is an opportunity to simplify and strengthen animal health regulations and should be seized.”