A Vote for FG / FF is a vote against your best interests
The European elections are this Friday on May 24th and there are good reasons to consider your vote very carefully because it does make a difference because practically every bit of law passed in the EU has to be adopted by Ireland at some point. It is a great way for politicans here to say the "EU forced us to..."
They said that one about the attempt to privatise water during that campaign.
It can be safely assumed that most people are for internet freedom, protection of the environment and in particular to live in places with unpolluted water, clean air and safe from exposure to toxic chemicals. These are all no brainers. In the area of military we have seen how years of bringing democracy to the Middle East by bombing them has resulted in devastation and huge waves of human refugees and immigration and time and time again the nefarious activities of the intellegence agencies of the big powers like USA, UK, France and NATO show them to be heavily linked to the various terrorist groups, via training, funding and weapons supply through third party countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar in order to disrupt and overthrown regimes they don't like. So do people really want Ireland to drop it's neutrality and get aboard these very costly military adventures and volunteer it's soldiers for basically ordained mass murder? At a guess, the answer is probably no.
So what have the present MEPs done in their last term in the European Parliament?
Well for one the Fine Gael MEPs are consistently backed the corporate, pro-military, anti environment and internet censorship agenda whilst all the Left leaning and Sinn Fein MEPs have consistently been against corporate control, anti-military, pro-environment and for internet freedom. The only FF MEP managed to be absent for most of the votes mentioned here and it would seem, has been playing the line of being non-committal until the party gains more strength and can then openly go back to supporting the status quo. And least anyone is in doubt, the status quo is anti democractic and pro corporate domination of society. The sections below will give some examples but it should be clear that it by voting for FG you are voting against your own interests. The only reason anyone has ever voted for them or will is because the election marketing machine is so effective and marketing works extremely well. Just think of all the junk people constantly buy that they do not actually need.
Box 1: Euro election 2019 basicsThere were 11 MEPs seats last time around, but with UK leaving, this will increase to 13. The extra two MEPs will then take their seats if and when Brexit goes through.
The country is divided into three regions and the break down of seats is:
Year Dublin South Midlands-North-West> Total Seats 2014 3 4 4 11 2019 4 5 4 13
Current MEPs Party Affliated Political Grouping Lynn Boylan Sinn Fein Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left Matt Carthy Sinn Fein Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left Liadh Ni Riada Sinn Fein Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left Luke Ming Flanagan Ind Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left Nessa Childers Ind Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Marian Harkin Ind Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Mairead McGuinness FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) Deirdre Clune FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) Brian Hayes FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) Seán Kelly FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) Brian Crowley FF European Conservatives and Reformists Group
For the political groupings see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_groups_of_the_European_Parliament
Current MEP Candidates for all 3 regions
Ireland Dublin candidates (19)
Clare Daly (Independents for Change)
Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin)*
Gillen Brien (Solidarity-People Before Profit)
Rita Harrold (Solidarity-People Before Profit)
Eilis Ryan (The Workers Party)
Gary Gannon (Social Democrats)
Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party)
Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil)
Mark Durkan (Fine Gael)
Frances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael)
Ben Gilroy (Independent)
Alice Mary Higgins (Independent)
Hermann Kelly (Independent, but part of the Irexit movement)
Tony Bosco Lowth (Independent)
Aisling McNiffe (Independent)
Mark Mullan (Independent)
Eamonn Murphy (Independent)
Gemma O’Doherty (Independent)
Alex White (Labour)
Ireland South candidates (23)
Sinn Féin: Liadh Ní Riada, Co Chorcaí, MEP
Independents 4 Change: Mick Wallace, Co Wexford, TD
Green Party: Grace O’Sullivan, Co Waterford, Senator
Solidarity - People Before Profit: Adrienne Wallace,Co Carlow, Office Administrator
Fianna Fáil: Billy Kelleher, Co Cork, TD
Fianna Fáil: Malcolm Byrne, Co Wexford, Head of Communications, HEA
Fine Gael: Deirdre Clune, Cork, MEP
Fine Gael: Seán Kelly,Co Kerry, MEP
Fine Gael: Andrew Doyle, Co Wicklow, TD
Labour: Sheila Nunan, Kilternan, Dublin 18, Teacher
Direct Democracy Ireland: Jan Van De Ven, Co Wexford, Entrepreneur
Non Party: Diarmuid Patrick O’Flynn, Co Cork, European Parliament Accredited Parliamentary Assistant
Non Party: Paddy Fitzgerald, Co Tipperary, Retired Farmer
Non Party: Walter Ryan-Purcell, Co Kerry, Tour Operator
Identity Ireland: Peter O’Loughlin, Cork,Teacher
Non Party: Liam Minehan, Co Tipperary, Farmer
Non Party: Theresa Heaney, Co Cork, Homemaker
Non Party: Dolores J Cahill, Co Tipperary, Professor
Non Party: Maurice Joseph Sexton, Cork City, Scientist
Non Party: Breda Patricia Gardner, Co Kilkenny, Complementary Health Therapist
Non Party: Allan J Brennan, Co Wicklow, Project Manager
Non Party: Colleen Worthington, Cork, Homemaker
Non Party: Peter Madden, Co Tipperary, Environmental Educator
Midlands North-West Candidates (17)
Cyril Brennan (Solidarity-People Before Profit)
Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin)*
Luke “Ming” Flanagan (Independent)*
Saoirse McHugh (Green Party)
Patrick Greene (Direct Democracy Ireland)
Dominic Hannigan (Labour)
Peter Casey (Independent)
Fidelma Healy Eames (Independent)
Dilip Mahapatra (Independent)
James Miller (Independent)
Diarmaid Mulcahy (Independent)
Olive O’Connor (Independent)
Michael O’Dowd (Renua)
Anne Rabbitte (Fianna Fáil)
Brendan Smith (Fianna Fáil)
Mairéad McGuinness (Fine Gael)*
Maria Walsh (Fine Gael)
While this is article is about MEPs, whereas the Dail voted us in, behind the scenes both were working together towards this goal.
In Dec 2017 during a Dail debate, Simon Coveney said PESCO has nothing to do with an EU army. It does!
One should take note that the FG MEPs, in particular Brian Hayes voted for "Establishing the European Defence Fund" on 12th Dec 2018 and then recently in April for the European Defense Fund with a planned budget of €13 billion.
In addition under PESCO and FG strongly support it, Ireland's defence spending would have to increase from €946m (2018) to € 3,000 milliion by 2020. That is over €2 billion increase! It is more money than collected by the Property Tax and the Water Tax if the latter had succeeded. Where is that money going to come from. Why of course from health and social services. And we will be told that under PESCO the EU made us do it. But make no mistake FG/FF are fully aware of this. And remember both FG and FF voted for PESCO.BTW, this is what Jean Claude Juncker had to say about PESCO
‘I want us to dedicate further efforts to defence matters. A new European Defence Fund is in the offing, as is a Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence. By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union. We need it. And NATO wants it.’ Jean Claude Juncker, September 2017
And here is what the German Defence (or Offence??) Minister had to say:
‘[With PESCO] We made a huge step forward because for the very first time since the European Union has existed we have a legal frame around the European Defence Union. The beginning of the European Defence Union is here.’ - German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, February 2018
According to the analysis by People's News: "Ireland can get out of PESCO by simply informing the Commission of its desire to do so – under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. And that is our demand!" For more on PESCO, People's News has produced a fine booklet and a pdf copy can be downloaded here. https://www.people.ie/peace/pesco.pdf
And if you want to keep track of it see: https://www.pesco.ie/ireland
The research community itself recognises as always happens when you fund defence research it actually takes money away from real useful civilian research. See for example the report: 1,000 researchers called on EU Parliament to vote against the European Defence Fund
So which way did Irish MEPs vote for the European Defence Fund on 18th Apr 2019For:
But here is the real chilling effect. The dead hand of the military working their effective ways in the shadows and it is as People's News reported: Ominously, MEPs surrendered parliamentary scrutiny over the fund. Effectively, after the vote MEPs will have no veto right over projects funded by the EDF.
But just so one thinks FF has no role in this, they do. Again People's News:
Fianna Fail is fighting the 2019 EU Parliament elections as a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). This means that FF is in favour of the introduction of decision – making by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in military and foreign affairs matters in the EU. Whereas Ireland currently has a veto, with 0.8% of voting power in Council, FF (and FG ) would effectively hand over decision – making to the larger belligerent countries.
Adherence to NATO/PESCO finally sees the Republican Party sign off on any pretence to support neutrality.
The decision of the FG / Independent Government supported by FF to actively support the integration of the Irish Army into the emerging EU Army via PESCO is a clear decision to restore the values of John Redmond. Except this time the Irish will be expected to kill and die for the Army of the European Union instead of the Army of the British Union. It will also mean massive cuts in expenditure in health, housing and social welfare as our military expenditure increases from €946 million to something like €3 billion. If you have not joined PANA by now, it is time you did.
The most repressive parts are in Article 13 (renamed to Article 17) apparently and require all websites to automatically have "upload" filters that check everything loaded (pictures, video, text, audio) to have no copyright material in them. Fair use is gone. And it requires license arrangements to be put in place between all parties to allow it along with payment. So who has the resources to do this? Virtually no one. So goodbye to forums, alternative news sites and probably most of those sites you have read over the last 10+ years that actually informed you of anything and didn't just distract you.Here is what one of the Internet's Found farthers has said of it:
Article 13 means the “transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.” That’s a feature, not a bug. Keeping out small platforms that could challenge the monopolies that have shown they’re willing to work with governments certainly makes life easier for those governments. The internet once held the promise to liberate humanity. The European Parliament believes that’s too big a risk to take.
So how did Irish MEPS vote for this repressive Directive that basically handed back control of the Internet to large corporates. Why it was FG !
Irish MEPs on the Final Vote (Apr 2019)
Marian Harkin (Ind)
Brian Hayes (FG)
Sean Kelly (FG)
Mairead McGuinness (FG)
Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind)
Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein)
Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein)
Nessa Childers (Ind)
Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein)
Brian Crowley (FF)
Deirdre Clune (FG)
There is some coverage of the Directive at: Stop the European Parliament from Destroying the Internet - The #SaveYourInternet fight against Article 13 continues
And on the previous vote in July 2018 that helped get the Directive along the process the votes were:
For: Brian Hayes (FG), Deirdre Clune (FG), Sean Kelly (FG)
Against: Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind), Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein), Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein), Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein), Nessa Childers (Ind), Marian Harkin (Ind)
Absent: Brian Crowley (FF), Mairead McGuinness (FG)
ISDS allows multinational companies access to an obscure, parallel justice system closed to the rest of us. Calling it a court system for the 1% would be generous. It is really a court system for the 0.01%.
ISDS has allowed corporate interests to trump those of the public time and time again. Countries have been threatened for passing pollution regulations, approving health and safety measures and for halting or banning fracking. It has been used to defend land grabs, environmental destruction and lock in privatisation of key public services.
Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms – like the investment court system in CETA (the so-called free trade agreement between the Canada and the EU) – enable big corporations to sideline domestic and EU courts and directly sue governments whose environmental or social policies may affect their investment.
So in Canada where ISDS is already in effect and causing havoc, the corporate world has argued because it is part of the CETA agreement it should apply in the EU and they went to the European court where clearly they had pulled the right strings in advance because -
In a very disappointing judgement, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has ruled that the investment court system in the Canadian EU trade agreement (CETA) is compatible with EU law. Unfortunately for campaigners fighting hard against the corporate stitch-up that is CETA, the court decided that the ISDS part of the deal was in fact compatible with EU law.
The opinion is a surprising turn of events as only last year’s Achmea ruling wiped out investment arbitration between EU countries because it undermines the EU judicial system.
Again how does this relate to our MEPs. Well back on Feb 15th 2017 there was the concluding vote to a motion put before the European Parliament (a few months earlier in Nov 2016) with several objections to the then recent (Oct 2016) signing of CETA because the more democratic MEPs realized it was a trojan horse for ISDS and this is a sense of it:
Motion of Resolution was: Conclusion of the EU-Canada CETA-Motions for resolutionsSo what way did the pro-corporate FG vote. Why they voted against the resolution as expected. Surprisenly Childers did too as it was a bit out of character for her. The vote is shown below and speaks for itself. It demonstrates quite clearly why they should not be trusted.
Part of the Motion was:
Full details of the motion and voting on it at https://www.votewatch.eu/en/term8-conclusion-of-the-eu-canada-ceta-motions-for-resolutions-motion-for-resolution-vote-resolution.html
- whereas the forced implementation of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) procedures remains a serious problem as it gives rise to a system of parallel justice, allowing powerful enterprises to attack one of the fundamental pillars of Member States’ sovereignty: the rule of law;
- Strongly emphasises the need for public debate prior to the opening of any further trade negotiations, together with a clear definition of undisputable standards, of which the precautionary principle is but one example;
- Considers NOT to give its consent to CETA;
- Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the parliament and government of Canada.
Brian Hayes (FG)
Sean Kelly (FG)
Mairead McGuinness (FG)
Deirdre Clune (FG)
Nessa Childers (Ind)
Marian Harkin (Ind)
Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind)
Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein)
Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein)
Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein)
Absent: Brian Crowley (FF)
Firstly we hear the constant line in the mainstream media that GM foods are harmless and are going to feed the planet. Both parts of that statement are untrue. They are harmful, indeed can be very harmful and the little testing that has been done, has been carried out by the companies themselves with generally revolving there swapping of officials in the relevant supposed over-sight agencies. The second point is that companies making, promoting and selling GM crops and foods are doing it for no other reason to save the world and prevent us all from starving. If they were so concerned then they would advise us to cut back on meat, because to grow each kilo of animal requires at least 10 kilos of plants -thus eating vegetarian even one or two days a week would reduce the amount of plant material diverted to farm animals and therefore greatly ease any shortages.
The key point to note though about GM crops is that they are genetically modified so that they can apply more weed-killier, pesticides and herbicides in general and the reason is simple. If you douse plants in these chemicals they are so overburden with trying to process them that it reduces their yield. By inserting a particular genetic modification, it can make the plants much more tolerant and so maintain the yield. This means you can apply more chemicals and farmers do and are encouraged to do so. Now these companies tell you this is safe. It isn't. Both common sense and the pre-cautionary principle would strongly suggest you should be using less not more weed-killers and herbicides.
And then there is the vested interest. One of the biggest companies in the world selling GM seeds is Monsanto and they are also one of the biggest companies selling weed-killer in particular their RoundUp Ready which is the highest selling one in the world.
Fine Gael and their fellow travellers and suprisently Maried McGuinness (FG) has consistently backed the GM lobby. The GM companes have fought long and hard to get GM crops into Europe and FG is behind them all the day. The other MEPs from Sinn Fein, and Luke MIng Flanagan and some independents have opposed this.
GM crops are a sinsiter monopoly, dangerous and highly polluting technology. The have resulted in ruin for many farmers around the world, they have resulted in much higher amounts of chemicals used, more pollution, water contamination, damage to wildlife and especially insects which play a vital role in the eco-system, and have given immense power to corporations.
What is really sinsiter is that GM crops are licensed and so the farmer is forced to license them every year. For the past 7,000+ years farming was a shared thing when seeds were freely exchanged and farmers could re-use, save and replant from them. Now they have been fined and brought to court for not paying licenses on their own seeds because the likes of Monsanto and other similar corporations own the patents on them.
In the so called free trade talks called TIPP between US and USA and that Trump subsequently cancelled, thankfully, EU officials have already caved into what is called GM 2.0 -this simply stated that if TIPP had gone through there would be no more testing of any GM plant, animal, bacteria or virus that these companies came up with and they would be allowed in Europe. And the reason is because their scientists had said GM technology is safe, even future stuff not yet carried out and NO further testing would be carried out. These are the sort of 'free trade' agreements which FG and FF are for because during the TIPP negoations FG were constantly promoting it as a good thing.
Box 2: Stopping ISDSSo if you are interested in doing something about ISDS then go to https://stopisds.org/
Here is their stated objectives from the website:
ISDS – short for ‘Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement’ is an obscure parallel justice system only accessible to the super-rich.
Multinational companies have used this system to threaten governments that dare to stand up to them with claims of up to billions of euros.
Government policies that have been challenged using ISDS include:
- Regulating pollution levels on a coal power station
- Introducing health warnings on cigarettes
- Declaring a moratorium on fracking
- Halting a mine that would have destroyed whole communities
- Raising the minimum wage
- Freezing water tariffs to help the poor
- Stopping health insurers from making huge profit
And they don’t always have to win a case to get their way. For many countries, the mere threat of a huge claim can be enough to persuade them to back down and let the corporate fatcats win.
When millions of people across Europe rejected the EU-US trade agreement TTIP, many people learned about ISDS (which was part of the deal) and were very angry.
Now there are plans to scale-up ISDS by creating a permanent global court where corporations can sue states. The EU and member state governments want to do this by inserting it into new trade agreements. Their support for such an unfair toxic system must be challenged.
In order to stop ISDS we need to oppose these new deals and get rid of existing ones. Corporations and the super-rich do not need a separate system to protect their rights.
Human beings need more rights, corporations do not.
End Corporate Impunity
They destroy the planet. They ruin lives. They can even get away with murder.
But instead of punishment, they get more power and impunity. Over the past decades, the extent of corporate power has become overwhelming.
If you were to steal so much as a loaf of bread, you could be held accountable in a court of law. But corporations hide behind complicated and opaque ownership structures to avoid legal responsibility. This means that they regularly get away with perpetrating serious human rights and environmental abuses including:
- Land grabs
- Ecocide and mass pollution
- Climate change
- Forced labour
This is why campaigners and social movements from across the world have united to push for a global system that punishes multinationals for human rights abuses.
A new system for holding corporations to account could be a real game changer in fighting the global power of corporations. It could mean:
- Local communities from the global south winning the right to take corporations to court in places like France, Germany and the UK.
- A UN Binding Treaty on multinational corporations and human rights. This will give people an international guarantee that corporations will be held to account.
- More national and EU-level laws like the French Duty of Vigilance legislation. This forces corporations to take responsibility for ensuring that human rights are not being violated anywhere in their global supply chains.
But there is a big problem. Rich countries – like the US, and most European governments – are fighting tooth and nail to stop it. The very same governments who think that global corporations need special rights and a separate ISDS court system, don’t want to give ordinary people the right to hold multinationals to account.
This is why we need to fight hard to make sure our politicians wake up. They need to recognise: Rights are for people. What corporations need are rules.