October 9, 2023
“Time to protect ‘Right to Cash’ through legislation in Ireland and the EU” – Chris MacManus MEP

“Time to protect ‘Right to Cash’ through legislation in Ireland and the EU” – Chris MacManus MEP

Availability of cash and a right to its widespread use must be protected in Irish and EU law according to Sinn Féin MEP

“The right to cash is a basic right in modern society” according to MacManus. “Physical cash is legal tender and must be protected in its widespread usage commercially and in its availability to citizens. Cash offers a personal security, freedom, privacy and confidence that digital and electronic alternatives cannot replace.”

The Midlands Northwest MEP is one of seven MEP’s tasked to begin the EU’s legislative process that will include measures on the right to cash, highlighted by recent public anger:

“One only need look at the reaction of people to the attempts to go cashless at NCT centres or at GAA matches this year or indeed the recent Ploughing Championships. Similar stories of people attempting to pay at shops with cash but being rejected are becoming increasingly prevalent. This must stop. Passengers at Dublin Airport have reportedly gone hungry because they have been unable to purchase food with cash in the departure lounge restaurants. In theory this is a place that should be accepting cash currencies of all nationalities, but to turn down our own euro notes is simply not acceptable. Peoples’ rights are being infringed.”

“These cashless entities are, in their actions excluding large swathes of our society. Recently representatives of many age action groups, traveller rights associations and refugee assistance organisations have rightly called out the inequality of cashless commerce. Many people do not have access or cannot get access to a bank account, many who do have a bank account do not have the knowhow to use a credit or debit card or online banking or simply choose not to, which is their right. There is an anger amongst many citizens that they are being forced into a cashless society. We must do all in our power to protect the rights of these people to use the legal tender that is physical cash.”

“Not everyone can use internet banking or tap with a card or a phone to make a payment. Often that is not down to ability or willingness. Much of Ireland still exists in an internet blackout zone with completely unreliable service if indeed with any service at all. Using cash is the only reality. It is also vital we protect peoples’ access to cash. That means guaranteeing people an accessible, functioning ATM facility, in their community.”

MacManus also reflected on the wider consequences of cashless trends. “A lack of cash in our pockets has had many knock-on effects on our society. Ask any charity volunteer with a collection bucket and they’ll tell you how much lighter takings have been in recent years. A similar story exists for many homeless people who depend on a coin in a cup for their next meal or hot drink. The march towards a cashless society is also threatening jobs in Ireland. Be that a reduction in people operating tills in shops or fewer clerks at counters in Banks and Post Offices, cashless attitudes are resulting in unemployment.”

MacManus plans to address the issue head on. “It’s time for action. This issue is very much two-fold. Firstly, People’s access to physical cash must be protected and enhanced. Secondly, their ability to spend physical cash when and where they desire must be protected. Both of these measures must be addressed, and I am committed to making it happen.”

“In recent months I have successfully shown through my questions to the Commission and ECB that the Dublin government is already on thin ice in its interpretation that a shop putting up a sign saying “No Cash” is acting legally. I find this unethical and will be challenging it. I will be commencing a “right to cash” campaign by firstly presenting a motion at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis to seek unequivocal support for the “right to use cash as an option in daily life”. Following the motion I will be launching an in-depth research phase that will include a public survey to ascertain the breadth of the issue amongst our citizens so we can prepare measures to address the problem. The concluding phase will be actively participating in legislative mechanisms at both a national and European level to enshrine peoples’ right to access and use physical cash as legal tender.” ENDS

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