Category: Press releases

Press releases by Martina Anderson MEP.

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Speaking from the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, Martina Anderson welcomed the adoption of a climate report but expressed disappointment at the level of ambition.

Martina Anderson said:

“I am pleased that my fellow MEPs have chosen to vote in favour of this report which sets out the Parliament’s position on the steps for European climate action which will need to be taken by 2030 including three targets for: greenhouse gas emissions reductions, renewables and energy efficiency.

“Although the ambition levels were considerably watered-down from what I would have preferred and believe feasible, it is ultimately encouraging that the Parliament has voted in favour of making the three cornerstone targets legally binding. I hope that it sends out a strong signal to the European Commission and the Member States that a single target for emissions reductions is not sufficient action against the very real threat of climate change.

“We should not consider so-called ‘false options’ such as nuclear and shale gas as viable players in our energy mix and it is essential therefore that we have a binding renewables target to provide for sustainable decarbonisation of our economies which will also create jobs in the renewable energy sector. A binding energy efficiency target will reinforce this transition whilst saving valuable resources.

“Although I felt the European Parliament could have been stronger today and voted in favour of urging local and regional authorities not to authorise shale gas operations I am nevertheless pleased that the report also calls for a mandatory environmental impact assessment for both the exploration and extraction of shale gas in any future legislation and that any use of chemicals in the fracking process should be transparent.”

Refuting claims by DUP representatives that the Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill did not consult on Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 transfer Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said:
 
“Sinn Féin has taken the DARD Ministry for two consecutive Assembly terms which demonstrates clearly our dedication to Farmers and the Rural Community. There is no doubt of our determination to guarantee a thriving, sustainable rural economy. We know that Farmers and Rural Communities are among our greatest assets.
 
“I want to take this opportunity to clear up some mischievous commentary by DUP representatives.
 
“The DARD Minister Michelle O Neill did in fact consult with her Ministerial colleagues in July 2013 about the potential transfer of funds between Pillar 1 and Pillar 2. Only five Ministers replied and only the DOE Minster made specific reference to the Pillar transfers.
 
“During the last funding round 2007-2013 there was a 6% transfer from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 amounting to £118 million, so the decision to transfer is not a departure from previous ministerial decisions.
 
“Among the beneficiaries of the last transfer were those involved in the creation of new farm diversification businesses like Harrison’s Farm shop and restaurant in Greyabbey, which created almost a dozen jobs, and Todd’s Leap in Ballygawley, creating up to 30 jobs. Such Job Creation opportunities were only achievable through the transfer of modulated funds from Pillar 1 and are a clear demonstration of its potential as an economic multiplier.
 
“The proposed 7% transfer from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 amounted to £137million and this would have funded schemes for farmers, linked to the agri-food strategy, such as capital grant schemes for new sheds, fencing etc, or loan schemes that would help expand their businesses as well as Less Favoured Area payments.
 
“Without transfer from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2, potential funding will be reduced for agri-food competitiveness, the environment and rural development. This is bad news for rural communities, the environment and the agri-food industry.
 
“The bulk of funding from Pillar 2 goes directly to farmers so with a zero transfer, some farmers, particularly those with a small Single Farm Payment, could experience a reduction in total amounts received under the CAP as a whole.
 
“The rural development programme is an important mechanism in developing and investing in our agri-food industry and the economic and social development of our rural areas and in addressing key environmental challenges.
 
“These Politicians who are so keen to be “seen” as defenders of farmers need to explain to the Rural community how voting for cuts to the EU budget in Westminster and Brussels and blocking fair distribution of funds at Assembly level helps farmers and the Rural environment.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson renewed her call on Assembly Health Minister, Edwin Poots to bring the North into line with Britain and the South of Ireland by urgently introducing the necessary enabling legislation introducing plain package for Tobacco Products or to spell out where the hold-up is.

Martina Anderson commented:

“As Shadow Rapporteur working on putting the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) through the legislative process in Europe, I have been driving the fight against Big Tobacco interests and indeed, it has been one of my key priorities since taking office, knowing, as we do the devastating impact tobacco use has on the wellbeing of citizens. I therefore welcome the call from Gerry McElwee, head of cancer prevention for the Cancer Focus NI charity, for Minister Poots to bring forward enabling legislation as a matter of urgency.

 “The British government has announced its intention to introduce legislation bringing in plain packaging for tobacco products before the next Westminster election. This is a major reversal for the tobacco industry lobbying machine. With the Health Minister in Dublin already well advanced in his preparations to legislate on this issue it is imperative that Assembly Health Minister, Edwin Poots bring forward similar legislation so that there will be uniform regulations throughout these islands.

“I first called on the Assembly Minister to introduce this legislation back in November last year and I am disappointed in his lack of action in the interim. Since Sinn Féin is clear in its support for this legislation the question needs to be asked – where is the hold-up coming from?

 “The packet is one of the last marketing devices in Europe left for the tobacco industry to exploit the opportunity to attract new young smokers to its products. With 94% of smokers taking up the deadly habit before the age of 25, it is essential that governments across the world ensure that this ‘silent sales aide’ is restricted as much as possible.

“2300 people – mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces – will die in the next twelve months in the North of Ireland and over 7000 across the island because of smoking related illnesses. There is not just a demand on legislators to do everything possible to eradicate this threat to public health, it is a responsibility.

 “All EU members are signatories to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control which obliges governments to ensure that public health policies are protected from undue influence from tobacco industry lobbying. Edwin Poots must act without delay to ensure the North is compliant with both the spirit and letter of this obligation. The Minister needs to recognise that Tobacco is the only product that if used as advertised will kill 50% of users. Any other product resulting in this death rate would be banned without hesitation. ”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the passing of the Food Fraud Report at the EU Parliament for which she was Shadow Rapporteur.

Commenting on the importance of the Report Martina Anderson said:

“I voted in favour of this Report dealing with the issue of food fraud. After the shocking case of the horsemeat scandal last year it has become clear that with rising food prices and a lack of resources for food safety inspectors it has become all too temptingly profitable for fraudsters to exploit the weaknesses in the inspection processes.

“Action needs to be taken so that this criminal minority do not tarnish the excellent reputations of the majority of food producers. I look forward to the proposals in this Report becoming compulsory.

“Whilst the level of sanctions and penalties is the competency of Member States, I was glad the Parliament supported the view that they should be at least double that of the cost of the profits. I am also glad that the Parliament supported mandatory labeling of ingredients in frozen food such as Lasagna. We also stated that there needed to be more food inspection and they should be unannounced which would require more resources for Food & Veterinary Offices.   

“Traceability is key – every stage of the food chain from producers to point of purchase should be able to stand over the provenance and quality of food. The focus on a race to the bottom on prices must be avoided in the interest of food safety. Consumers should be able to trust what it says on the labels.

“And in line with the Good Friday Agreement, producers in the North of Ireland should be allowed to continue to label their produce as Irish if they so wish.”

 

 

 

Praising the stirling work on the ground by North Belfast community activists on her latest visit to the constituency, Sinn Fein MEP

Martina Anderson said:

 

“It’s inspiring to be back in North Belfast again meeting community activists who are working day and daily on the crucial issues of

suicide prevention, family support, child care and peace building.

 

“Inner city areas like North Belfast have so much in common with my own community in Derry dealing with all the same problems

including a housing crisis, deprivation and particularly the extremely high levels of suicide amongst our young people.

 

“The Stirling work being done by the activists I met today demonstrates that not only is there real hope, but also significant practical

steps being made to address the legacy of discrimination and poverty in these communities.

 

“I was struck by the wonderful work being done by PIPS (Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide)  and Lighthouse on suicide

prevention offering support to families, advice to those at risk and developing services for the North Belfast community.

 

“There’s no doubt that in the face of extreme adversity the people I met today have come to the fore using their own experiences and

skills to help others.

 

“Of course my visit today which is the latest in a series of engagements across North Belfast to gather information and provide any

assistance I can as a member of the European Parliament in the objective of putting Ireland first in Europe.

 

“I have hosted many people from North Belfast in the European Parliament on a range of issues and I intend to continue with that

work.

 

“I look forward to seeing some of the people I met today in Brussels and bringing their experience to bear on decision makers.”

Speaking about the recent Haass Talks in Strasbourg last night (Monday 13th January) Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson told MEP’s:

“Europe has consistently supported the Irish Peace Process. To advance it, Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness invited American Diplomats Richard Haass and Megan O’Sullivan to chair an All Party group to deal with Flags, Parades and the Past.”

“Following six months of intensive work, involving political parties and Civic Society, they produced final proposals. Sinn Féin, despite some reservations endorsed the recommendations as an honourable compromise, – however Unionism rejected them – Unionism says No- AGAIN.”

“Irish Republicans have stretched ourselves and we are up for the challenge that the Haass proposals contain. However, Unionist leaders are failing our people and ignoring the clear desire for a compromise agreement.”

“The Irish and British Governments must now make clear statements in support of the Haass/ O’Sullivan proposals and their implementation. They must dedicate financial resources and agree information disclosure necessary for full implementation of all the proposals.”

Speaking from Strasbourg Martina Anderson commented that one issue concluded during the Lithuanian Presidency was the Irish exit from the Bailout Programme. However, it may have exited the bailout programme but the Irish government has incorporated the programmes and mind-set of austerity into its own strategy for years to come, so there was no need for the Troika to remain.

 

 Martina Anderson said:

 

“Sinn Féin has long advocated saying goodbye to the Troika, and we would encourage all other member states who are suffering from the deep social and economic wounds being inflicted by it to resist the imposition of unjust austerity on the most disadvantaged in your society and show them the door as soon as possible.”

 

“Although the Troika has left Dublin the government has adopted its austerity policies and incorporated them into domestic strategy. And in case the government should think of stepping outside of that policy, the state will remain under supervision by the EU for everal decades to come.

 

“Exiting the bailout will change little for middle and low income families, for the unemployed, for the sick and elderly or for the hundreds of thousands who have been forced to emigrate.”

 

“It will do nothing to stop the decimation of public services and the deterioration of living standards for the vast majority of people. Irish people will be paying for the greed of speculators, developers, bankers and political failure for generations to come.”

 

“But a very positive story to come out of this Lithuanian Presidency and one in which I was privileged to play a part, was the agreement reached on the Tobacco Products Directive.”

 

“As a Shadow Rapporteur on this file, I witnessed the resolve and hard work put in by the Lithuanian Presidency to agree on legislation which will have tangible effects for the health of future generations and I congratulate them for this.”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the decision by the Netherlands’ largest pension fund management company to withdraw all its investments from Israel’s five largest banks because they have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements.

Martina Anderson said:

“I welcome the courageous decision by the Netherland’s largest pension fund PGGM who has withdrawn all its investments from Israeli Banks on the basis that settlement construction in the West Bank poses a problem from the standpoint of international law.

“The five largest Israeli banks have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements. The decision is liable to lead other business concerns in Europe to follow suit.

“This laudable decision by PGGM which came into effect on January 1st is line with opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 2004, stating that settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are illegal and violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. That article states that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

“In accordance with PGGM policy of “social responsibility” it concluded that it would be impossible to create a firewall between its investments in Israeli banks and the banks’ activities in the territories therefore it has decided to withdraw its investments in Israel’s Banks .

“This is the latest decision by Dutch Companies in taking determined action against Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Over recent weeks, Dutch firms have engaged in a wave of boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israeli firms. Last month, the Dutch water company Vitens announced that it was suspending cooperation with Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, given the latter’s operations in West Bank settlements. A few weeks earlier, another Dutch company cancelled a contract to build a sewage treatment plant that it had signed with Jerusalem’s water company, Hagihon, because the plant was to be located over the Green Line.

“I urge other EU investors to show the same “social responsibility” as PGGM and other Dutch companies  in order to pressurise Israel to adhere to international law and the terms of dozens of UN resolutions which it has consistently ignored with impunity.”