Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the selection of Monaghan Councillor Matt Carthy as the Sinn Féin Candidate to contest the 2014 EU Election in the Northern Constituency of the 26 Counties.

Martina Anderson said:

“I congratulate Matt on his selection to fight the EU Election on behalf of Sinn Féin in the Northern Constituency. The fact that Matt win through against the strong competition from three other excellent candidates, Senator Kathryn Reilly and Councillors Rose Conway Walsh and Martin Kenny shows the strength of talent available to the Sinn Féin organisation.

“I have been honoured to serve as a Sinn Féin representative in Europe since replacing Bairbre de Brún and am looking forward to fighting the 2014 elections alongside Matt and the other Sinn Féin candidates who will be selected in the other constituencies in the coming weeks. I know that I will not be returning to the EU Parliament following the elections as the sole Sinn Féin representative.

Tá mé ag tnúth le do chuideachta san Eoraip. Comhghairdeas mo chara.”

Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson a member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted today in favour of a proposal on indirect land use change (ILUC) to biofuel production and the promotion of using energy from renewable sources.

Martina Anderson said:

“In spite of strong opposition from some industrial lobby groups, including many former government ministers from EU member states , MEPs have backed this positive environmentally friendly proposal.

“In the case of existing biofuels, EU production levels will continue to be capped at 5.5% of the final transport consumption rate in 2020. The share of energy from advanced biofuels will not be less than 2.5% of the final transport consumption of energy in 2020. Energy use from renewable sources will be encouraged and receive priority attention.

“It is very important that social and employment standards are maintained and the rights of citizens and local communities are protected and given priority consideration in land use change for the purposes of producing raw materials to be used in the production of biofuels and bio-liquids.

“The Commission has a duty to protect these rights by ensuring they are secured and recognised in transparent agreements. This is a clear and strong statement respecting developing countries’ rights that we take great satisfaction in having this proposal accepted by the ENVI committee.

“I find it distasteful however, to have high powered lobbyists , including former government Ministers from member states, disregarding the rights of indigenous people, local communities and national environmental concerns in order to satisfy the greed of multi-national conglomerates.

“It gives me no pleasure to acknowledge that former Irish government Ministers, particularly Former FF, Environment Minister, Dick Roche is heavily involved in this activity without due regard for the social and environmental damage that many of these multi-nationals leave in their trails.

“Of course Charlie McCreevy, another former Fianna Fáil Minister and Pat Cox, former Progressive Democrat MEP are also prominent among the hordes of highly paid corporate Lobbyists now operating in Europe in the interests of international corporations.

“But given Dick Roche’s environmental record in Ireland this is not surprising. Along with McCreevy and Cox they are now bringing the FF/PD ethos of greed to the corridors of Europe. Not satisfied with their exhorbitant pensions they are leading the revolving door brigade of former elected representatives using their status and insider knowledge and contacts to lobby on corporate matters for hefty rewards.”

Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson, welcomed acceptance by the Environment Committee of an amendment requiring inclusion of the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels under the Environmental Impact Assessments Directive.

Martina Anderson commented:

“I am delighted that the Environment Committee, on which I sit, accepted the amendment requiring inclusion of the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

“Currently, only projects which produce at least 500,000 cubic metres (m3) of gas daily have to undergo Environmental Impact Assessments. Although unconventional gas project emissions such as Fracking may produce less gas they nevertheless can have as serious an environmental impact as conventional gas extraction. This amendment when accepted by a vote in the full plenary of all the MEPs will ensure that the impact on the environment and public health is considered and fully compliant with EIA before any extraction project is approved. Although having to pass this final stage, the fact that it has been accepted by the ENVI committee would suggest that it will be adopted.

“It is crucial that we continue to close the regulatory gaps which exist for Fracking operations within the EU.”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the strong message sent to the tobacco companies today when the EU Environment Committee voted to adopt a proposal that Health warnings should cover 75% (combined picture and text) of packaging.

Martina Anderson said:

“The purpose of the Environment Committee deliberations was to identify measures that would discourage young people from taking up this unhealthy habit.

“Although I would have preferred stronger action I am happy that the Committee agreed a higher percentage coverage than the 60% tobacco lobbyists were seeking.

“I also welcome the recommendation that e-cigarettes should come under medical regulations.

“Of course these proposals will have to be adopted by the EU Parliament before it becomes the official position.

“The Committee recommendation of 75% combined health warning coverage is a major defeat for the tobacco industry who lobbied hard to prevent it.
“These deliberations undertook a revision of the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive to update it in line with new market and scientific developments. The focus was on preventing young people from beginning to smoke. Given that 94% of smokers begin smoking before the age of 25 and many starting well below that age it is imperative that we take strong preventative measures. Today’s proposals are just a beginning.
“The tobacco industry, unsurprisingly has mounted an extensive and well-funded lobbying effort against the introduction of these measures. After all when you’re selling a product which ultimately kills one in two of your customers, recruiting new addicts becomes a priority.

 

“The World Health Organisation’s framework convention on tobacco control which came into force in 2005 and has been signed and ratified by 168 countries including the EU and its member states and lays down obligations for parties to the convention in the rules on interacting with the tobacco industry.

“I commend the Irish Health Minister on his initiative in being the first Minister in Europe to introduce proposals for this type of package warnings. It is therefore confusing that an Taoiseach – in contrast and in breech of article 5.3 which explicitly states that any interaction with the tobacco industry should only take place when strictly necessary and in as transparent a manner as possible – met privately with industry representatives recently.”

A 6% reduction to the EU budget for 2014 – represents the first time the EU budget has been cut in 56 years. The main instigator of the push for the Budget to be cut was the British government.  I find it extremely disappointing, considering the serious impact this will have on large sections of the population of the North that the Unionist parties, both at Westminster and in the European Parliament, supported the British demand for budgetary cuts.
The direct effect of this will see the Cohesion Funds cut next year from €55billion to €47.6billion and agriculture and fisheries budgets slashed by a Billion Euro. The draft figures for next year show that the British government has agreed a huge reduction of 22% in real terms in the field of rural development – the biggest reduction any member state will experience. The motivating factor in the British government’s demand for cuts would seem to be its aversion to contribute 25% match funding. While the British see a 25% contribution as a cost, the Irish government view it as a mechanism to have 75% of a programme funded by Europe.  This ill-conceived determination by the British government to achieve cuts in the EU Budget at all costs will have a devastating impact for rural areas which rely on Rural Development Funding to modernize and plan for the future.
As a result of this action, funding for the PEACE Programmes will also be reduced from €225million to €150million which will undermine a lot of the good work which has been done through previous PEACE funding.
The Joint First Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness succeeded in mitigating this reduction by negotiating as part of the recent Economic package with the British Prime Minister, a £50million contribution towards PEACE programmes. But this still leaves these projects £25million short of what was provided in the last seven years with no allowance for inflation.
Unfortunately the Unionist MPs at Westminster and their MEPs are enthusiastic cheerleaders for the British government push for cuts to the EU budget as part of its general austerity agenda.  Unless the EU Budgetary framework is revised following the next European Parliament elections the cuts will bite deeper as the years roll by.
Under this formula in the current round of funding the 26 Counties will receive Pillar 2 monies of just under €2 billion for a population of 4.6 million representing € 423 per capita.
In comparison, the UK allocation of Pillar 2 monies will be €2.3 billion for a population of 64.7 million which pro rata will deliver a mere €35 per capita to residents of the six counties. By accepting a 22% real term allocation reduction in line with its austerity agenda the British government has reduced access to EU funding to less than 10% of that available to their counterparts in the South of Ireland for those in the North entitled to this funding.
In the CAP reform negotiations in particular, the Sinn Féin focus at all times was to secure 3 key elements – well funded programmes, flexibility and simplification. The CAP Budget is approximately 40% of the EU expenditure – and the pressure to reduce it came from Tories in London and unfortunately, supported by the unionist Parties in Westminster and their two MEPs.
The Single Farm Payments (SFP) equals approximately £270m per year and the Rural Development Programme (RDP) £500m. If Whitehall uses the same formula in allocating available funding to the Assembly, then our entitlements will be severely reduced to £244m SFP and £340m RDP proportionate to EU cuts respectively, possibly resulting in our Farmers struggling to remain in farming under this Single Farm Payment regime.
Unfortunately the British government’s negotiators were more focussed on securing budget cuts rather than acquiring the best possible outcome for the people.
There will be a further challenge ahead as Scotland has signalled its intention to pursue a larger portion of the allocation from Whitehall. If it is successful it could result in a further reduction in our allowance. But in a blatant manipulation of available funding and attempts to protect their sitting MEPs, EU governments will frontload budget allocations so that the cuts will not impact until after the 2014 European elections.
Those MEPs and governing parties who supported the cut to the EU budget must explain the rational of their actions to the farmers and rural areas that will bear the brunt of these cuts on top of all the other austerity measures that they are already struggling under.

Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has pledged her support for anti-Fracking campaigners in Ireland.

Martina Anderson commented:

“The Environment Committee, on which I sit, voted today on an update to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive. One of the key amendments to which I gave my support sought to introduce the inclusion of the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels under this directive.

“Currently, only projects which produce at least 500,000 cubic metres (m3) of gas daily have to undergo Environmental Impact Assessments. Given that unconventional gas projects emissions tend to be highly variable and produce less gas (between 115,000 and 250,000 m3 of gas) and yet may have as serious an environmental impact as conventional gas extraction, it is critical that we ensure that the impact on the environment is fully considered and fully compliant with EIA before any extraction project is approved.

“There are various health and environmental risks related to the extraction of shale gas including; contamination of ground water, high water use, high use of toxic chemicals, air and noise pollution, emissions of pollutants and even earthquakes amongst others. It is therefore crucial that we close the regulatory gaps which exist for Fracking operations within the EU.

“We only have to look to America to see the potential dangers of not closely regulating shale gas operations. The voices of the local communities who live near these potential drilling sites and who are therefore more at risk of the negative consequences must be listened to.”

Lambert in cuts to most vulnerable.

Speaking on the Duff report on Ireland loosing EU seat and the Irish govenerment did not fight for it.