Speaking following a series of votes in the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson accused DUP MEP Diane Dodds of delivering a double whammy to youth and ignoring the plight of and temptations for young people when she voted against an increase in funding for a Youth Employment Initiative while voting to maintain subsidies for tobacco products.

Martina Anderson said:

“I find it hard to understand how Diane Dodds can rationalise voting against extra funding to tackle youth unemployment and at the same time justify voting in favour of maintaining subsidies for tobacco products that kill tens of thousands of citizens every year and put untold pressure on delivery of public health services.

“With youth unemployment running at over 50% in many areas and tobacco use and its resultant damage to health and well-being more prevalent in deprived communities  (areas of high unemployment) it beggars belief that any public representative from the North of Ireland could vote in such an uncaring manner.

“It is a well documented fact that not only are we losing many of our brightest young people to emigration because of their inability to find work here, but statistics show that 100,000 young people a day world-wide begin smoking a tobacco product that will result in the deaths of 50% of them.

“It is also widely acknowledged that life expectancy in the most deprived areas – which also have the highest incidence of tobacco use – is a lot shorter than that in the more affluent section of society. But given the DUP identification with the austerity measures of a multi-millionaire dominated Tory Cabinet at Westminster I suppose that explains the mind-set behind these votes.”