Category: Press releases

Press releases by Martina Anderson MEP.

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Speaking from Strasbourg today following the European Parliament’s adoption of two resolutions to simplify legal procedures for international couples in the event of divorce or death Martina Anderson MEP, Sinn Féin said:

“I welcome the Parliament’s adoption of these resolutions as once implemented they will simplify procedures for division of property across the EU.”

“The texts include provisions for equal treatment between spouses and registered partners.

Last year the European Commission proposed two new EU regulations to simplify sharing and dividing couples’ property, including real estate and financial assets, when they move between EU Member States.

Under the Commission’s proposals, spouses would have been allowed to choose which national law applies when dividing their property, whilst registered partners would have been forced to use the law under which they registered.

The Fundamental Rights Agency had said in an opinion the discrepancy was discriminatory and unfounded.

In two resolutions adopted today with an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament suggested changes to make sure the same choices were available in both situations.

Under these changes, registered partners would be allowed to choose their applicable law, as long as registered partnerships existed under that law. The texts also reassure Member States that national marriage and family laws won’t be affected.”

“I endorse Alexandra Thein MEP, Rapporteur for the two resolutions and member of the LGBT Intergroup, comment that;  ‘This sends a very important signal: married couples and registered partners, regardless of their gender, must be able to enjoy the same freedom of movement across the European Union.’”

Under the consultation procedure, today’s resolutions are the Parliament’s opinion. Member States are now responsible for adopting the binding legislation in the Council of the European Union.

 

 

Speaking during a debate on an EU Youth Strategy in Brussels this afternoon, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said:

“As Rapporteur for the Regional Development Committee opinion on implementing an EU Youth Strategy, I identified the fight against youth unemployment as a priority given its devastating effects on communities through mass emigration and hopelessness leading to risk of suicide particularly among young people.

“The International Labour Organisation (ILO) states that for a European Youth Guarantee to be effective it needs €21Billion. Therefore, the current allocation of €8Billion is obviously inadequate.

“The concept of providing access to employment for young people through a Youth Guarantee Investment, is laudable and necessary but runs contrary to the austerity agenda being implemented by many governments across Europe which, rather than provide employment, ultimately results – to quote the President of Ireland in “stripping away of security of employment”.

“If we want sustainable jobs for young people then the Youth Guarantee needs to be adequately funded, needs to tackle youth unemployment and needs to be part of a broader economic strategy of investment in growth not subjected to austerity measures.”

Urging maximum participation in the consultation process launched by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) around the draft European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme for the period 2014-2020 Martina Anderson MEP said:

“The consultation process is an opportunity for individuals, organisations, SME’s, University R&D departments and others who wish to avail of EU funding to have their say on what activities these programmes should target. The results of the consultation will influence the priorities for the programmes. It is imperative therefore, that interested bodies should participate to insure their interests are represented. This is how the shaping of such programmes work.

“Although the total funding to support the Programme has still to be agreed, it is likely to be in the region of £400million. It is anticipated that this will include £240million from the ERDF and a further £160million from a variety of matching sources.

“Projects proposed for inclusion in the Programme will help develop the North’s economy by focusing on areas including research, technical development and innovation; actions to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs; and activities that support the move towards a low-carbon economy.

“The DETI 16 week consultation period for the ERDF Programme will run until the 21 October 2013

“In the north we have a poor record of drawing down potential EU funds. We compare poorly not only to other Irish constituencies in the south but also many across the EU. It is important that we start to engage meaningfully in EU funding processes, such as this consultation, in order to maximise the potential of such funds.

“The consultation on the ERDF Programme forms part of a wider consultation exercise on three draft EU Programmes for 2014-2020 which also includes proposals for the European Social Fund (ESF) Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme, and the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Rural Development Fund.”

The consultation paper and accompanying documentation are available to download from the DETI website http://www.detini.gov.uk

Since becoming MEP over a year ago I have taken the opportunity to attend Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) AGM. I found it to be very informative and afterwards availed of a briefing on our fishing industry, and subsequently visited two of AFBI sites – Hillsborough and Loughgall.

These encounters were extremely useful, especially now that I have taken on the role of Shadow Rapporteur for a legislative proposal set to harmonise rules intended to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the level of health risk in the industry, to humans and animals. It also covers any plans which may affect the Agri-food chain.

For many years the EU had separate regulations for plant health, plant reproductive material and animal by-products, but the proposed legislation intends to establish a unique set of rules applicable to official controls in all of these sectors.

During my visit to Hillsborough being briefed on the process involved in the anaerobic digester with its main fuel being manure provided by the farm animals on the site, I did not realise how valuable that information  would be to me in my role of Shadow Rapporteur in the European Parliament Committee.

I envisage that in the months ahead I will find myself working closer with AFBI Scientists tapping into their expertise and ensuring that the work that I do in Committee will be complimentary to what they and others do back home.

When I visited the Loughgall site I learned a lot about how significant horticulture is to our local economy and how crops like Willow are used in environmental processes such as clearing up waste water.

The horticultural industry makes a very significant contribution to our economy through direct employment and sales of its products and services, but also contributes immeasurably to increasingly important areas of public health and social wellbeing.

It is significant to note that this industry contributes to a farm gate output production of approximately £71.7m. The industry as a whole provides employment for over 6500 people in around 1500 businesses plus a further 1000 people working in local authority / public sector organisations. It also contributes up to £80m to the local economy per year through earnings by those in the Landscape and Amenity Services sector. Highly Significant!

The main horticultural crop in the North is mushrooms with a current annual value of approximately £30 million with 43 producers and 2 major producers’ organisations producing annually an estimated 22,000 tonnes of mushrooms.

AFBI provide a great service with its Central Laboratories Services Unit offering a rapid specialist analytical and diagnostic service to the horticultural industry which is most important given that the speed of response is critical to highly perishable crops such as mushrooms.

 

Given that AFBI has already established partners across Europe in places like Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Finland and Spain the organisation has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of EU Competitiveness Programmes which should assist them to tap into Horizon 2020 funding.

Research work at AFBI has resulted in securing funding from the R&D FP7 programme for solutions to the emerging disease threats from Trichoderma and Virus X in the mushroom industry and for Agroforestry systems. These are complex systems but provide high economic returns to producers while also providing important ecosystem services – attractive landscapes for recreational activity, water and soil and biodiversity conservation.

In addition AFBI also works with partners in Donegal, Monaghan and Sligo institute as well as NI Water on an Answer project – looking at environmentally sustainable solutions for dealing with organic waste and has thus secured INTERREG Funding.

The above is only a fraction of the valuable work AFBI do as its research is applied research and they have a number of world firsts – for instance in diagnosing the flu Pandemic in Pigs and the vaccine produced is the best seller in the world of animal vaccines.

I undertook to profile AFBI in Europe and to give the Representatives the necessary insight into the information needed for forthcoming funding programmes. That is ongoing and Commissioner Maire Geoghan Quinn was not only impressed by the scale of the work that the institute does but also acknowledged that it has as much to give Europe as it has to gain from the opportunities that AFBI can maximise in the EU

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson and Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA have co-hosted an Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) delegation visiting the European Parliament in Brussels.

Martina Anderson said:

“The programme of meetings with various officials from the Parliament and EU Commission was part of my commitment to “bringing the EU to the people and bringing people to EU”. The focus of the visit was particularly concerned with potential funding streams in the upcoming funding period of 2014-2020. Particularly relevant to the work AFBI are doing at home is the Horizon 2020 programme which is the funding mechanism for innovation.

“The six members of the AFBI delegation group met with officials from Director General (DG) Agriculture, DG for Maritime affairs, DG for Environment as well as with Ireland’s Commissioner for Research and Innovation Máire Geoghegan Quinn.

“Those from the different departments that met with the AFBI group were impressed with the breadth of work the institute is doing around issues concerning Agriculture, plant and animal health, marine research, sea and inland fisheries, amongst others. They identified a number of funding objectives within the Horizon 2020 Programme that relate directly to AFBI’s work in research into sustainable agriculture, food security and bio-energy and recognised the potential for future funding that its work presents.

“The main objectives of AFBI’s visit were to raise awareness of the AFB Institute and their work, in the EU, and to learn more about upcoming EU funding for research and innovation. I think the visit certainly achieved these objectives. Having a discussion with the Commissioner for Research and Innovation Máire Geoghegan Quinn was especially useful for understanding the potential funding and support that exists in Europe.”

Speaking at the Washington Ireland Programme (WIP) on Friday evening in Derry’s Magee University Great Hall on the issue of Ethnic Minorities in Ireland Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said:

“Given that People from ethnic Minorities enrich our society, intellectually, culturally and economically it is important that we welcome them and appreciate the positive contribution that this diversity brings to our society.

“It is also important that we are aware of the difficulties that some encounter in settling into a new society. Unable to establish themselves in the new country, some immigrants become isolated and despondent at times with serious consequences. In extreme cases this sense of isolation and desolation can have fatal outcomes. A case in point and one it would be remiss of me not to mention in the context of this contribution, is that of homeless Polish man, Henryk Piotrowski who was killed in Dublin last week as a result of sleeping in a rubbish skip which was emptied as he slept. It is a sad reflection on our society that any human being should die in this manner.

“When I heard the news I also thought of the Polish Community living in the North and how 28 families had been attacked in Antrim in racist incidents and the 70 Roma families forced to flee South Belfast in recent years because of racist attacks.

“As Junior Minister during my time in the Assembly, I launched an excellent booklet in Omagh for Ethnic Minority Groups called ‘Awakening the Silent Voices’ and I was also able to give continuing support through the Ethnic Minority Development Fund.

“Without doubt prejudice is prevalent in some sections of our society and needs to be challenged to change views of “the other” which manifests itself in sectarian and racist attacks.In this City (Derry) we have a young man, Paul McAuley who was left in a vegetated state after a violent sectarian attack inflicted by bigots as he enjoyed a celebratory BBQ with a group of cross community and ethnic minority friends prior to one of them emmigrating

“By adopting a zero tolerance to sectarianism/racism we will bring about attitudinal change that will help us build a society of equals.

“I would recommend WIP support the demand for a Bill of Rights for the North of Ireland so that no group – ethnic minorities, women, LGB&T or those from any religious denomination etc., experience violation of social and economic rights.”

Speaking at the Launch of the ‘Life Size Invisible Lives’ event organised by Destined – a self-help group for people with learning disabilities in An Culturalann, Derry today Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson said:

“The Personal Statements we heard here shows the impact that Destined has had on your lives.

“As an organisation, Destined, has empowered you, some of the most vulnerable in our society, with the means to tell your stories to thousands throughout the city and beyond.   Your message is simple, and it is that you are not just people with a disability but rather people who have a contribution to make to all of our personal developments.

“The City of Culture has enabled this city to grow, to share and to care about others – and the Fleadh taking place during this City of Culture year topped it for me.  Well that was until today, this event has gone further.

“In 2009 Destined published a book called ‘Invisible Lives’which gave an opportunity to people with learning disabilities to tell about their life – your life experiences.  What you had to say then gave this city an insight into the lives of a, once isolated, group of individuals who live among us.

“There is no doubt that this project has continued to unlock the creative talent within each of you. 

“Four years on our insight and understanding continues to grow as 40 of you, represented by life size cut-outs, have each made a personal statement challenging popular perceptions of people with learning disabilities.

“You have not only succeeded in challenging us in this room today – but you have and will continue to challenge thousands throughout this city in the weeks and months ahead.  

“The 40 life-size representations which will be on display at different locations and which will be movable so that at times they may be individually at a location or in a crowd at a different venue, will ensure you are in the key places at the right times.

“This Initiative connects in a significant way those with learning disabilities to the rest of society those, which should result in improved interaction and integration.

“Your personal statements heard here today allow for purposeful inquiry – as they give us an insight into the issues affecting your lives. 

“Because without doubt, people with disabilities do not have the same opportunities: you face barriers – when studying, when looking for a job, when travelling, when purchasing goods and services or simply when accessing information, that most of us do not have to face.

“The EU disability Intergroup, of which I am a member, and I am a member because of the way you have enriched my life, – is working to pressure EU Institutions to deliver on the Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which notably includes accessibility and participation of disabled people as priority areas.

“This campaign at an EU level aims to give disabled/vulnerable people the space and opportunity to pursue their own “personal aspirations, likes and ambitions” without being discriminated on the basis of their disability.

“Your project clearly demonstrates how creativity can be unlocked, how stereotypes can be challenged and how connections can be made all of which are testament to the role that you all have to play in shaping a new society. For sure Derry has a New Story to tell – and today I think one of the most important chapters has been written.”

Martina Anderson MEP speaking at the EU funding conference which she hosted in the Mellon Country Hotel, Omagh said:

“Since being selected as an MEP over a year ago, I have dedicated a lot of my constituency time to engaging with groups and organisations in different areas across the north as well as border counties.

“During these encounters I was surprised at the insufficient flow of information on the EU Funding available to business and Research and Development groups, resulting in minimal draw-down of funding.

“I’ve therefore prioritised this area of work because research shows we in the north are not fully availing of funding opportunities in Europe. In order to address the knowledge deficit on how to access funding I decided to take a number of delegations to Europe. Most recently I hosted the Chambers of Commerce and representatives from the Independent Retail Trade sector from across the North and Border Counties in Brussels.

“There are nine EU programmes coming on stream, the major one Horizon 2020, will have a massive budget of €70billion for distribution. After my last engagement in Omagh, we committed to returning to discuss these opportunities in more detail alongside OFMDFM officials from The European Centre for Delivering Social Change, as well as Richard Osterhus from Derry City Council’s funding unit and the Head of the European Commission Office in Belfast, Colette Fitzgerald, all of whom have a wealth of experience between them and are available to assist and advise local business and Universities etc on how to maximise funding opportunities.

“The conference in Omagh was an excellent opportunity for those attending to receive information first hand from the experts. It was gratifying to see such a large turnout and if the feed-back is a gauge of satisfaction then it was a great success.”