Tobacco companies can’t be allowed to overrule legislation
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said tobacco companies cannot be allowed to overrule anti-smoking legislation in individual countries.
Ms Anderson said;
“Countries across the world have introduced legislation to protect citizens from the risks of smoking and to promote healthy lifestyles.
“This has included plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products to cut down the number of young people who take up the deadly habit.
“Tobacco companies have tried to block such moves from becoming law. Now they are attempting to go even further with Philip Morris suing the government of Uruguay over anti-smoking legislation.
“This has been made possible because of the International State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. This is why I and other Sinn Féin MEPs have opposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which contains ISDS.
“We cannot have the situation where Big Tobacco companies can ride roughshod over the legislation of individual countries because they don’t like specific laws.
“The health of citizens is more important than the wealth of tobacco companies.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said huge opportunities exist in Europe to help small businesses develop and grow.
Speaking at a Gateway to Funding event in Fermanagh organised by Sinn Féin and attended by the four Sinn Féin MEPs, Ms Anderson said;
“Small businesses are at the heart of our economy across the island of Ireland and Sinn Féin is committed to supporting them to develop and grow.
“Huge opportunities exist in Europe in terms of funding and support for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly in terms of growing the all-Ireland economy.
“I, along with Michelle Gildernew, Phil Flanagan and my Sinn Féin colleagues in the European Parliament, Lynn Boylan, Liadh Ní Riada and Matt Carthy, organised this event in Fermanagh to highlight the possibilities and opportunities Europe presents for SMES, sporting and community groups.
“As the largest Irish delegation in the European Parliament, Sinn Féin MEPs work day and daily to support the regeneration of our economy across the island.
“Representatives of more than 30 groups from a range of sectors including business, leisure and tourism from both sides of the border will benefit from today’s engagement.
“Businesses and community organisations in Belcoo in Fermanagh are facing the same challenges as those just down the road in Blacklion in Cavan, but those challenges are compounded by the border.
“Accessing European funding is vital to overcoming those challenges and with the support of Sinn Féin, businesses across Ireland, but particularly in border areas, can avail of that funding and the opportunities it brings.
“Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring our SME sector benefits from our membership of the European Union, both in terms of funding opportunities and access to new markets.
“Our team of MEPs will continue to provide support and encouragement to help deliver fair economic growth.”
Sinn Féin Martina Anderson has welcomed the beginning of Palestine’s official membership of the International Criminal Court.
Speaking as Palestine became a full member today, Ms Anderson, chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said;
“Palestine’s membership of the International Criminal Court, which officially began today is a welcome development.
“It means the International Criminal Court, which is based at the Hague, will now have jurisdiction over any and all war crimes committed by anyone on Palestinian territory, without a referral from the UN Security Council.
“In practical terms, this means that Israeli citizens could be tried for actions carried out on Palestinian land.
“The fact that Palestine now have full membership of the International Criminal Court, despite the objections and obstacles from Israel, is an indication of the international community’s attitude towards Palestine.
“This must now be followed by action so that the Palestinian people can avail of the protection of the International Criminal Court.
“Hopefully this development is a further step towards full international recognition of Palestinian statehood.”
Sinn Féin MEP has said the ending of milk quotas will have a significant impact on the dairy industry in the North.
Ms Anderson said;
“The ending of the milk quotas regime is a significant development for the local dairy industry.
“It will bring in a new era of increased milk production for local dairy farmers.
“The decision to end quotas was made in 2003 by the EU Council of Ministers so farmers have had time to plan and prepare for this change to their working arrangements as the industry becomes more market-driven.
“Dairy farmers will have to adapt to this new challenge and I know agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill will be working closely with the industry to support them during this change.
“The EU must also move to support Irish dairy farmers by reviewing the current intervention price to ensure producers get a fair deal as we move into the new era.”
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.”