Speaking in the EU Parliament this morning, on the review of the Irish Presidency of the EU, Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson, said that it could not be described as a success but rather a missed opportunity to show leadership in Europe.
Martina Anderson said:
“The one area where I would commend its leadership is on the issue of Tobacco Products Directive in becoming the first EU Member state to bring forward proposals for introduction of100% standardised packaging.
“Unfortunately, this is in contrast to its lack of leadership in other areas. For instance the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s misleading behaviour in the Multi Financial Framework (MFF) negotiations was an embarrassment.
“The substance of the final proposed MFF agreement is equally disappointing. It represents continued austerity. Its immediate impact will be a 6% cut to the EU budget for 2014 – the first time the EU budget has been cut in 56 years and it occurred under the Irish Presidency.
“Austerity most certainly isn’t working for Ireland and it won’t work for the rest of Europe.
“The Irish presidency also failed to achieve extending the Syrian Arms embargo and failed to have the issue of domestic violence put on the agenda. While an Taoiseach challenged my assertion that they haven’t put domestic violence on the agenda, the fact remains that after six months of his presidency they have still not signed, never mind ratified, the European Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
“The Duff report on practical arrangements for the holding of the European elections in 2014 is another example of the Irish government’s lack of leadership when it failed to defend its allocation of EU seats. The refusal to fight to retain the present number of seats in the 26 county State was a disgrace and showed contempt for the Irish peoples’ right to maximum representation in Europe.
“A major difficulty which the Duff Report creates is the need to redraw constituency boundaries. This gives incumbents an unfair advantage, which of course suits the parties of government, who want to do everything to minimise their inevitable losses next year. It makes it problematic for other political parties like mine to choose candidates without knowing the geographical nature of the constituencies.
“In a further display of disdain for Irish citizens, Fine Gael MEP, Mairead McGuinness – a senior member of an Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s party- remarked while I was speaking today – ‘you may be wearing green today but its only on the outside’. This was a clear inference that she did not recognise my Irish birthright. This was a disgraceful smear not just on my Irishness, but shows an arrogant contempt for Irish citizens with whom she has a political disagreement.
“This is all the more contemptible given that an Taoiseach – her Party Leader – didn’t lift a finger to defend the Irish allocation of MEPs while holding the EU Council Presidency. If subjected to the same level of assessment as those young people doing the leaving cert, I’m afraid the Irish Presidency (and the Irish government) fails the leadership test”