Today, the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament voted in favour of a free trade agreement between the European Union and Colombia despite continuing concerns of trade unions and human rights organisations.
Colombia remains the most dangerous place for trade unionists in the world. By mid August this year, 17 trade unionists were murdered and the Colombian trade union federation CUT (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Colombia) recorded 146 threats to the life of workers this year.
Impunity prevails in Colombia and could potentially become worse. The constitutional reform on transitional justice includes the possibility of amnesty for human rights violations committed by the armed actors in the conflict that has dominated the lives of millions of indigenous people, trade unionists and small farmers. This illustrates the fact that the situation has not improved under President Santos, successor to President Uribe in whose government he served as Defence Minister. President Uribe was internationally renowned for his notorious record on human rights violations.
In its resolution from June 2012, The European Parliament had called for the establishment of a transparent and binding road map on human, environmental and labour rights, which should be aimed essentially at safeguarding human rights, enhancing and improving trade unionists‘rights and protecting the environment.
This so called road map or Action Plan is a farce. This roadmap acts as a fig leaf for Parliamentarians who can now tick the box and pretend they have dealt with the issues of workers and indigenous peoples rights. We share the concerns of the International Office of Human Rights who rightly point to the limitations of the road map and the lack of progress on the ground”
It is a disgrace that the group of the Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament, with its traditional links to the workers’ movement in Europe and internationally has voted in favour of this agreement. It is just another proof that those parties do no longer represent the interests of workers and trade unionists.
We call on the Irish trade unions and trade unionists who have waged a vigorous campaign against this agreement so far to continue that and to campaign against the ratification of this agreement by the Dail.”
To view the video of my speech to oppose this agreement please see here.
An International Day of Action to demand legal abortion in Ireland took place across the yesterday. Dozens of protests were organised at Irish embassies or in city centres across the world, ranging from many protests across Ireland, to the EU, Brussels, many cities across England Scotland and Wales, Germany, Sweden, America, Hong Kong, Italy and India.
Below is photos and reports from some of the protests:
In Edinburgh, over 20 people protested outside the Irish consulate:
In New York, a protest was held and a letter given to the Irish vice-consul:
In Belfast over 60 people attended a protest:
In Hong Kong, 10 people took part in a protest and presented a letter at the Irish embassy:
In Stockholm over 50 people took part in a protest, and handed in a letter of protest signed by protesters and five councillors:
In Brussels over 100 people took part in a noisy protest at the Irish embassy:
Today, up to 30 MEPs from four political groups and many different countries held a protest in front of the European Parliament to demand abortion legislation in Ireland. The protest is one of many which will be taking place around the world today, along with one at the Dail at 6pm.
Speaking after the protest Paul Murphy MEP commented:
“This protest in front of the Parliament is but one of tens of protests happening around the world today. MEPs have added their voice, with this protest and the protest letter, to that of tens of thousands of Irish people demanding immediate action now to introduce abortion legislation in Ireland. Protests at embassies in New York, Seoul, Hong Kong, London, Brussels and many others will take place tonight, together with a demonstration at the Dail at 6pm.”
“The government should heed this call and stop prevaricating. Legislation is needed now to go as far as is possible under the terms of the eighth amendment and the X case. This should be a step towards the establishment of the right to access abortion through the public health service for all women who require it. An independent and public inquiry should be commenced immediately to investigate the circumstances of Savita’s death.”
Since the news broke of Savita’s death, protests have already been held across Ireland, with 20,000 people demonstrating in Dublin last Saturday. This must be the beginning of a broad campaign which will mobilise on the streets to force the government to introduce abortion legislation in Ireland.
Photos from protest in European Parliament:
Socialist Party/ United Left Alliance MEP Paul Murphy, along with Mikael Gustafsson, chair of the women’s Rights and Equality committee, initiated a letter calling for abortion legislation to be introduced in Ireland. The letter was signed by 53 MEPs and sent to the office of the Taoiseach.
An Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny TD
Department of An Taoiseach
Upper Merrion Street
18 November 2012
Re: Case of Savita Halappanavar
We were shocked to hear of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar following the decision by consultants at Galway University Hospital in Ireland not to proceed with the termination of an unviable foetus. She developed septicaemia from E Coli after she was refused a timely termination of an unviable miscarrying 17 week-old foetus. She was denied a termination because there remained a foetal heart beat and according to her husband she was told that we “live in a Catholic country.” We express our deep sympathy to her family and friends.
This tragedy highlights the need for immediate action to introduce legislation for abortion in Ireland. Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court in Ireland in the ‘X case’ that abortion should be permitted in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, successive governments have failed to legislate for this. In the A, B and C v Ireland case, the European Court of Human Rights found that Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualifies for a legal abortion under current Irish law.
In order to give support and legal clarity for health care professionals we call on the Irish authority responsible for the health service, the Health Service Executive (HSE), to immediately issue a directive allowing for immediate terminations of unviable foetuses to save women from severe pain and protect their health and life.
Ms. Halappanavar is now the victim of this inaction. We feel that the Irish government should immediately bring forth legislation to permit abortion in cases where the mother’s life or health is endangered as a first step towards the establishment of women’s right to choose in Ireland.
Paul Murphy MEP (GUE/NGL, Ireland)
Mikael Gustafsson MEP, Chair of the women’s Rights and Equality committee (GUE/NGL, Sweden)
Sonia Alfano MEP (ALDE, Italy)
Eric Andrieu MEP (S&D, France)
Catherine Bearder MEP (ALDE, UK)
Franziska Brantner MEP (Green/EFA, Germany)
Michael Cashman MEP (S&D, UK)
Nikolaos Chountis MEP (GUE/NGL, Greece)
Minodora Cliveti MEP (S&D, Romania)
Leonidas Donskis MEP (ALDE, Lithuania)
Cornelia Ernst MEP (GUE/NGL, Germany)
João Ferreira MEP (GUE/NGL, Portugal)
Sylvie Guillaume MEP (S&D, France)
Anna Hedh MEP (S&D, Sweden)
Jacky Hénin MEP (GUE/NGL, France)
Mary Honeyball MEP (S&D, UK)
Nicole Kiil-Nielsen MEP (Green/EFA, France)
Jürgen Klute MEP (GUE/NGL, Germany)
Jean Lambert MEP (Green/EFA, UK)
Patrick Le Hyaric MEP (GUE/NGL, France)
Kartika Tamara Liotard MEP (GUE/NGL, Netherlands)
Sabine Lösing MEP (GUE/NGL, Germany)
Sarah Ludford MEP (ALDE, UK)
David Martin MEP (S&D, UK)
Marisa Matias MEP (GUE/NGL, Portugal)
Linda McAvan MEP (S&D, UK)
Arlene McCarthy MEP (S&D, UK)
Jean-Luc Mélenchon MEP (GUE/NGL, France)
Willy Meyer MEP (GUE/NGL, Spain)
Ana Miranda MEP (Green/EFA, Spain)
Claude Moraes MEP (S&D, UK)
Antigoni Papadopoulou MEP (S&D, Cyprus)
Niccolò Rinaldi MEP (ALDE, Italy)
Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP (Green/EFA, Spain)
Helmut Scholz MEP (GUE/NGL, Germany)
Brian Simpson MEP (S&D, UK)
Alda Sousa MEP (GUE/NGL, Portugal)
Bart Staes MEP (Green/EFA, Belgium)
Catherine Stihler MEP (S&D, UK)
Claudiu Ciprian Tanasescu MEP (S&D, Romania)
Marc Tarabella MEP (S&D, Belgium)
Keith Taylor MEP (Green/EFA, UK)
Rebecca Taylor MEP (ALDE, UK)
Isabelle Thomas MEP (S&D, France)
Britta Thomsen MEP (S&D, Denmark)
Catherine Trautmann MEP (S&D, France)
Kyriacos Triantaphyllides MEP (GUE/NGL, Cyprus)
Derek Vaughan MEP (S&D, UK)
Marie-Christine Vergiat MEP (GUE/NGL, France)
Cecilia Wikström MEP (ALDE, Sweden)
Sabine Wils MEP (GUE/NGL, Germany)
Gabi Zimmer MEP (GUE/NGL, Germany)
Inês Zuber MEP (GUE/NGL, Portugal)
The CAA Protocol with Israel was passed today by 379 votes to 240 votes with 4 MEPs abstaining. This clearly exposes how the E.U speaks out of both sides of its mouth in regards to the oppression of Palestinians. Shamefully the Irish government played a disgraceful role pushing for a Yes vote.
The passing of this Protocol is yet another stain on the EU’s supposed commitment to human rights. A green light has been given by a majority in this Parliament for the Israeli state to continue to engage in its illegal blockade of Gaza and its demolition of Palestinian homes and expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem. It will correctly re-enforce the impression of the EU as a body that is well able to cry crocodile tears about the Palestinians and verbally pronounce in favour of a Palestinian state, but fundamentally supports the oppression of the Palestinian people.
This Protocol will mean the de facto entry of Israel into the single market. Those who claimed that this was a purely technical agreement are being extremely disingenuous. Of course it is political. It is a political endorsement of the policies of the right-wing Israeli government. Others claimed to be in favour because of the access to pharmaceutical goods that it may provide to European citizens. What about the rights of the people of Gaza to even basic medicines?
The Irish government has played a shameful role in this disgraceful decision. The distribution of a briefing to Irish MEPs calling for a Yes vote and describing the agreement as purely technical was an act carried out in the interests of the right-wing government in Israel. Anyone who thought that with a Labour Party Minister for Foreign Affairs that Ireland would develop a more progressive foreign affairs stance will have to think again. Those inside the Labour Party who consider themselves in favour of Palestinian rights should think again about the actions of their party in government.