Dubliners should have their say on a directly elected Mayor – Hayes
Government should support FF Proposal for Dublin Vote
Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Sunday) said that that Government should support proposals by Fianna Fail to hold a Plebiscite on directly electing a Mayor of Dublin. The Fine Gael MEP said that after three false starts on this issue since 2001 – it is now well beyond time for the people of Dublin to decide.
“The idea of a directly elected Mayor for Dublin makes sense. Of the 28 EU Capitals, 23 have directly elected Mayors. There is a growing trend in cities for directly electing Mayors – including Manchester who will choose their Mayor next year.”
“I welcome proposals by Fianna Fail to introduce legislation to provide for a Plebiscite to be held on the issue. Dubliners have been denied their say on the issue for too long. The question needs to be put to Dublin citizens to decide.”
“Dublin has four individual Local Authorities. Each Local Authority establishes their own policies despite some attempt to work together in some key areas. However, it is inevitable that priorities change between each Local Authority. Some have additional responsibilities – for example, Dublin City Council manages the fire service for all four authorities. While each Council collaborates on various issues, there is no effective political leadership.”
“A directly elected Mayor would provide this leadership. It would be a means by which an issue affecting all of Dublin could be dealt with. Responsibility for traffic and community policing, fire services, tourism, housing, parks, transport, planning as well as art and culture should all be under the remit of the Mayor.”
“A directly elected Mayor must have real powers and not just be a ceremonial role. The Mayor must have the capability and executive powers to make decisions for Dublin as a region. This means central Government transferring powers to the Office of Dublin Mayor and a specific Dublin Regional budget provided.”
“Political Parties have all previously committed to holding a vote on the issue. Now is the time to act. A directly elected Mayor would increase the speed of decision-making, ensure accountability, improve services for the citizens of Dublin and it would raise the profile of Dublin – both nationally and internationally. Given the challenges of Brexit and the need for Dublin to step up to that challenge and win – establishing a clear line of authority for Dublin is also crucial for the country,” concluded MEP Hayes.
CETA Trade Deal good for Ireland – Hayes
Trade currently between Ireland and Canada €2.7 billion – this will grow as a consequence of CETA
Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Thursday) welcomed the agreement reached between the Belgian Regional and Federal Governments on CETA, which will now allow the European Parliament vote on the trade deal in December.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEP Hayes said:
“I welcome today’s breakthrough in the CETA talks. It is important that this deal has finally come through after 7 long years. Canada is Europe’s 12th most important trading partner with over €225 billion invested by the EU in the country. For every €1 billion of extra trade with Canada the EU creates 14,000 new jobs.”
“Trade deals are very important, especially for countries like Ireland. Ireland is the 5th largest recipient of Canadian outward investment. More than 80 Canadian companies are active in Ireland. In turn, there are 54 Irish companies operating in Ireland. In the last 10 years, we have doubled our exports to Canada. We have a trade surplus with Canada and this deal will help that surplus to grow even further in the years to come.”
“CETA will now give small Irish businesses the opportunity to compete in a procurement market worth €30 billion. It means the end of custom taxes and red tape for businesses.”
“The CETA agreement will become even more important for Ireland in a post Brexit world. With so much uncertainty on the UK trading position, it is important that Ireland has access to other markets such as Canada. I believe CETA is a win win situation for Ireland,” Concluded MEP Hayes.
Ireland has second fewest public holidays in the EU, third lowest in world – MEP Hayes
Discussion of new public holidays should be part of pay restoration talks
Ahead of the bank holiday weekend Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes highlighted the low number of public holidays available to workers in Ireland. The MEP for Dublin pointed out that Ireland had the second lowest number of public holidays (9) with only Hungary, Netherlands and the UK having fewer in the EU (8). Globally only Mexico has fewer public holidays (7). The MEP said that, as part of the on-going pay restoration talks additional public holidays should be granted to acknowledge the sacrifices made during the economic crash.
“As a recovery country with pay restoration dominating national debate it’s time to look at our public holidays. The European average is 11 and we lie second last with 9 public holidays a year. Finland (15), Malta and Spain (14) have a full week more public holidays than Irish workers.
“Additional structured bank holidays can generate economic activity and jobs. The October bank holiday is the perfect example. Following its introduction by the late Michael O’Leary we saw the growth and development of the Jazz festival in Cork and the Dublin City Marathon. The introduction of the May bank holiday, by Ruairi Quinn in 1994, increased short breaks and signalling the start of the summer season.”
“Structured public holidays, rather than increasing minimum annual leave entitlements, will create more tourism, festival activity and boost the economy.”
“There has been a lot of talk about the sacrifices made during the crash. Increasing the number of public holidays would be a real way to honour that sacrifice. While pay is dominating the headlines, in our own lives pay and holidays are the main part of our working conditions. This is why I want to see additional public holidays back on the agenda as a country coming out of an economic crash,” concluded MEP Hayes
Irish Banks are still dragging their heels on variable mortgage rates – Hayes
Banks have only reduced variable rates by less than half a percent in one year
Brian Hayes MEP today commented on recent figures from the Irish Central Bank which shows that Irish variable mortgage rates are still well above the Eurozone average.
“Irish consumers are still paying over the odds and getting less on deposits than consumers in the rest of Eurozone. The Central Bank released figures on Friday 14th October showing that for all new variable mortgages (excluding renegotiations), the average interest rate is 3.47%. The equivalent rate in the Eurozone is 1.87%. However, it is very welcome to see that today KBC is making reductions to its variable and fixed rate products with some rates as low as 2.9%. This is a welcome sign of healthy competition coming into the market. If they can move in this direction, then others can too.
“In September 2015, the Central Bank showed that the average variable rate in Ireland was 3.96%. This reveals that in the space of a year, Irish banks have only reduced their variable rates by 0.49%. This is particularly frustrating given that in March 2016 the ECB reduced its main interest rate to zero. This effectively shows that Irish banks are still dragging their heels on the variable mortgage crisis and this is having a hugely negative impact on mortgage holders.
“Moreover, it’s not only mortgages where consumers are getting ripped off – Irish banks are offering much poorer returns on deposits than their Eurozone counterparts. The average deposit interest rate in Ireland now is 0.15% while in the Eurozone it is 0.53%.
“There is the problem that tracker mortgages remain a drag on the profitability of Irish banks but this should not be a justification to give variable mortgage rate customers such a bad deal.
“Based on the Central Bank’s recent figures, Irish variable mortgage rates have on average remained between 3% and 4% since 2011. During this five year period, the main ECB interest rates has come down by 1.5%. The average rate for a variable mortgage in the Eurozone has come down by around 1.5% since 2011 which shows that other Eurozone banks are clearly linking their mortgages rates closely to the ECB interest rate. It is quite scandalous that Irish banks are not doing the same.
“I have regularly brought this issue up at a European level and I am glad to see the European Commission examining the possibilities of a cross-border market for mortgages. The European Commission recently conducted a consultation on ways to improve retail financial products in the single. The results of this consultation have recently been published and they show that half of banks and industry associations in the EU believe the more can be done to develop a cross-border market for mortgages in the EU.
“This means that an EU market for cross-border mortgages is becoming more and more likely. I am confident that new Commissioner for Financial Services Valdis Dombrobskis will examine possible ways in which obstacles to obtaining a cross-border mortgage in the EU can be removed.
“One way in which cross-border mortgages could become a reality is by using the French surety model where mortgage default risk is outsourced to insurance companies. This would help to get past the problem of insolvency risk which is seen as the main barrier to banks providing cross-border mortgages.”
HARPIN’ ON RUGBY: A Rugby World Cup in Ireland can deliver €1billion for tourism industry
Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Sunday) said that it would be a mistake to reallocate the 73 British seats of the European Parliament to the remaining 27 member states following Brexit. Once the UK leaves the EU, the Lisbon Treaty makes it possible for the reallocation to take place after the conclusion of the negotiation.
“UK Prime Minister, Theresa May has said she will trigger the formal process of leaving the EU by the end of March next year. From the moment that Article 50 is triggered, the exit process should last no longer than 2 years, however it is possible to extend this through a unanimous decision of all EU Member States.
“The next European Parliament elections will take place in May 2019. Given the decision of the British people it would not make sense that British representation after 2019 should continue.”
“Under the Lisbon Treaty the number of MEPs cannot exceed 751, which is the current number of MEPs – including the UK’s 73 seats. There is no article in the Treaty that says we must have a minimum number of MEPs. The rules only stipulate the maximum and minimum number a Member State can have. Germany has the maximum amount of 96 while Malta has the minimum of 6.”
“If the reallocation of seats occurs ahead of the European Elections in May 2019, it has been reported that Ireland could gain one extra MEP seat. Having one extra Irish MEP, in a circumstance where larger member states gain significantly more MEPs, would not extend Ireland’s influence in Parliament. In fact having a smaller parliament may help to give us more influence.”
“The British seats should instead be reserved for future EU enlargement. I also believe there is a need to keep the number of seats consistent. Because of EU enlargement, the number of Irish MEPS has decreased over recent years. In 2004 Ireland elected 15 MEPs, in 2009 12 MEPs and in 2014 11 MEPs.
“Rather than increasing the number once again and then potentially decreasing it after the next phase of enlargement, it would be better to keep the number at 11 seats,” concluded MEP Hayes.
Hayes welcome Scottish Courts ruling on minimum unit pricing of alcohol
Fine Gael Dublin MEP Brian Hayes has today (Friday) welcomed the Scottish Courts judgement upholding Scottish plans to introduce minimum unit pricing of alcohol. The drinks industry had previously challenged through the Scottish Courts plans to establish a minimum price per unit of alcohol.
“Today’s judgement is very much welcome. EU Member States must be allowed to enact legislation in the interests of public health. The judgement now paves the way for Ireland to introduce it’s minimum unit pricing of alcohol legislation.”
“Minimum pricing will set a floor price for alcohol. It targets the products that are currently very cheap but have a high alcohol content. Minimum pricing has successfully been introduced in a number of provinces in Canada and has had a positive impact.” Concluded MEP Hayes.