Sinn Féin spokesperson on the issue of Collusion Conor Murphy has called on the British government to publish without delay the recommendations of Judge Cory.
Mr. Murphy said:
"We are told by British government sources that the Cory Report has to be vetted by the securocrats before it will be considered for publication. Even if you accept this argument, which we do not, there should be no excuse for failing to publish the recommendations of Judge Cory immediately.
"The Cory Report itself should not even have been necessary. The British government should have moved two years ago after the Weston Park discussions to establish independent international inquiries into these matters.
"Sinn Féin have consistently supported the demands of individual families who believe that their loved ones were killed as a result of British state manipulation, control and direction of unionist paramilitary gangs. We will continue to do this until they are satisfied that the truth has been established." ENDS
Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams will be in Cork on Wednesday 8th October for a number of engagements.
Gerry Adams will be briefed by the Sinn Féin local election team, including the candidates for next years City Council elections. Sinn Féin will be contesting all six wards in the city.
Speaking in advance of tomorrows resumed inquest into the deaths of ten people killed in Tyrone by the British State or its agencies, including the case of Roseanne Mallon, Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew said that tomorrows hearing 'would go a long way to establishing the intentions of the British government and the PSNI regarding these families right to the truth'.
Ms Gildernew said:
"For over ten years the British government have actively attempted to subvert due process and deny these families the right to truth and justice. At every turn they have frustrated the inquest system and attempts by the Coroner to gain the necessary documents have been met with resistance.
"At the last hearing the Coroner gave the PSNI and the British Military 21 days to bring forward the necessary documentation. Tomorrow will be the test of this. Will the PSNI finally come clean and furnish the court with the documents it has been ordered to surrender, or will Hugh Orde continue to obstruct these families in their search for the truth.
"Much has been made by the supporters of the PSNI about its supposed transparency and accountability. These people have been silent about the behaviour of the force at these inquests. We have heard nothing from the Policing Board or from the SDLP, usually so vociferous on Policing matters. I can only assume from their silence that they are satisfied with the approach being taken by the PSNI regarding this matter. Either that or they know they are powerless to instruct the Chief Constable to adopt another course of action." ENDS
The Inquest will resume at 10.30am at Dungannon Courthouse.
Sinn Féin education Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has challenged direct rule Education Minster Jane Kennedy to come clean on the end date for the 11+ transfer test after fresh concerns that delays will affect the decision to end the 11+ by 2005.
Ms Gildernew said:
"Jane Kennedy must come clean and tell us if there has been a decision to overturn the decision of Martin McGuinness to end the 11+ transfer test by 2005.
"The equivocation of Jane Kennedy has thrown doubt her ability to deliver an alternative by 2005. This uncertainty is not good for young people ritually forced to sit the 11+ and it is not good for the development of the primary and post primary education sectors.
"It looks as if the working group set up by Jane Kennedy is going nowhere fast and that the timetable for developing the alternative will not be meet.
"While being deeply concerned that Jane Kennedy is attempting a U-turn this also sets a dangerous precedent in terms of direct rule ministers overturning plans and decisions made and developed by locally elected representatives. In that way this situation is not dissimilar to the mess that Des Browne made of the acute hospitals review." ENDS
Sinn Féin Children and Young People's Spokesperson, West Belfast representative Cllr Sue Ramsey and Equality Spokesperson, Upper Bann representative Dr Dara O'Hagan meet with the new Commissioner for Children and Young People Nigel Williams today in Belfast.
Commenting on the meeting Cllr Ramsey said:
"Nigel Williams has made a big impact. Now it is important that we see change on the ground, particularly in the way the services for children and young people are provided.
"Sinn Féin have also voiced concerns that the remit of the commissioner does not allow him to deal properly with the issue of juvenile justice.
"If we are to effectively champion the rights of children and young people then the commissioner must also be a position to impact directly on decisions that will effect the lives of children. This must include the ability to impact on cross-departmental decisions. For example in any new housing development announced by the Department of Social Development the commissioner should be able to impact on decisions around traffic calming, recreational facilities, public transport etc.
Dr O'Hagan added:
"It is also vital that the commissioner has a role in tackling child poverty. Only last week the report in Low Income Families highlighted the fact that 37% of children are now at risk from low income and poverty and this will have consequential implications on their future." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh described as "alarming" and "shameful" the latest figures from the UN that states that 1 billion people across the world are living in slums and that the figure is expected to more than double in the next 30 years. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"Today's UN report on slums highlights in a very dramatic and shameful way the negative impact of globalisation. Rather than 'lifting all boats' economically as the captain's of industry and promoters of the so-called 'free market' would have us believe it is clear that globalisation is having a very corrosive effect on the worlds population. Over 30% of the worlds urban population or almost one billion people are currently living in slums and extreme poverty. This figure is expected to more than double in the next 30 years. That will represent more than half the world's urban population. That is an extraordinary and alarming figure.
"It is no coincidence that the massive growth in slum dwelling happened during the 1990s as the free marketeers gained complete control of and influence over the economic strategies and policies of all the major economies of the world.
"This report shows that there is no such thing as the free market. A price will always be paid somewhere. The developing world is increasingly being made pay a massive price for the unfettered consumerism and commercialism of the West.
"The Irish Government in taking over the EU Presidency shortly will have an opportunity to play a central role in addressing the imbalance that exists and which this report dramatically highlights between the so-called developed and developing countries. Last week in Dáil I called on the Government to adopt a global social justice agenda for its Programme for the EU Presidency in 2004.
"I urged the Government to use the Irish Presidency of the EU as an opportunity to put fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals at the top of the EU and international agenda as the most effective means of ensuring human and global security.
"As part of a global social justice agenda and in light of this UN report I would again urge the Government to commit the Irish EU Presidency to the following:
·To bring the EU partners on board to match Ireland's stated commitment to developing country debt cancellation.
·To prioritise Trade Justice by committing to support creation of a multilateral binding code of conduct for EU participation in trade negotiations, and by pressing for a conclusion on the 3 outstanding Doha Development Round areas acceptable to the developing world.
·To show leadership in the EU on Official Development Assistance (ODA) by returning to multi-annual ODA budgeting; publishing a plan for incremental growth in Irish ODA between 2004-2007 as recommended by Development Cooperation Ireland and Dóchas - starting with a guaranteed increase from 0.41% to 0.48% GNP for Budget 2004; ensuring policy coherence on poverty eradication as the guiding principle for EU external action; and proposing the establishment of permanent EU monitoring group to review members' implementation of Monterey and Barcelona Commitments (aid increases, aid harmonisation, untying of aid).
·To show global leadership by committing to introduce legislation establishing a Tobin Tax in this state (as France has already done), and by campaigning to establish the EU as a Tobin Tax Zone.
·To spearhead a campaign to mobilise the EU behind UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's appeal for support for radical UN reform in the aftermath of the tragedy at the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
"If the Government emphasises these points in the Irish EU Presidential Programme, the broadest section of the Irish people will support it wholeheartedly and moreover regard it as a source of pride. If they fail to do so, however, the Irish EU Presidency will join the Irish tenure on the UN Security Council as another opportunity wasted." ENDS
North Belfast Sinn Féin Representative Gerry Kelly has added his name to those, including the O'Hara family, who are calling for an inquiry into claims that 19 year old Gerard O'Hara was murdered in 1992 by the UFF on the basis of information given to them by the RUC.
Mr Kelly said:
"The O'Hara family have always believed that their son was murdered as a result of collusion between British State agencies and the unionist paramilitary gang responsible.
"Fresh claims are now being made that the killing was carried out as a result of information passed to the UFF by a member of the RUC. These claims must now be investigated fully including whether or not this individual is now a member of the PSNI."
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin responding to remarks made by the SDLP Deputy Leader Brid Rodgers blaming republicans for the crisis in the process said that 'it was disappointing that the SDLP had now moved onto the ground of justifying the cancellation of the elections in line with the position taken by their sister party the British Labour party and the unionists'.
Mr McLaughlin said:
"I read Brid Rodger's comments blaming republicans for the crisis in the peace process. She claims that republicans have not moved. Where exactly has Brid Rodgers been over the past ten years and over the past year in particular?
"Last May Tony Blair posed three questions. Gerry Adams answered them. The British then demanded that Gerry Adams say 'will' instead of 'should'. He did this and that was not enough either, they went ahead and cancelled the Assembly elections.
"It is disappointing that the SDLP and Brid Rodger's have now moved onto the ground of justifying the cancellation of the elections in line with the position taken by their sister party the British Labour party and the unionists. It is a position which is completely out of line with nationalist and republican opinion on the island." ENDS
Speaking on the day that Judge Cory will deliver his report on collusion to the British government, Sinn Féin Representative on the issue Conor Murphy has called on the report to be published and it recommendations acted upon.
Mr Murphy said:
"In the past reports into collusion by Stalker, Sampson and Stevens have been suppressed by the very British securocrats whose activities they were supposed to be investigating. This cannot be allowed to happen to Judge Cory's report.
"Already there is overwhelming evidence in a number of the cases that Judge Cory has investigated that the British State were directly involved in the murder of citizens through the manipulation, control and direction of unionist death squads. In line with the wishes of these families independent inquiries should now take place without any further delay." ENDS
South Antrim Sinn Féin Representative Martin Meehan has accused unionist paramilitaries of attacking the home of a catholic family in the Parkhall estate in Antrim last night. The family have now left their home.
Cllr. Meehan said:
"Last night a number of masked and it is believed armed men attempted to gain entry to a catholic home in the Parkhall estate in Antrim. When the householder saw the masked men he bolted the door and prevented them entering his home. After failing to gain entry to the house the men then attacked the family car and smashed nine windows in the house before fleeing.
"The family have now left their home and they are in temporary accommodation determined not to return to their home. This is the latest blatantly sectarian attack on a catholic family in Antrim. It is part of a sustained campaign by unionists to intimidate Catholics from mixed estates in the town. Many nationalists will be watching closely the response of the various unionist political leaderships in the town in the face of this latest attack." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has described as "alarming" the announcement by An Post Chief Executive Donal Curtin that he plans to cut almost 1500 jobs in the next two years. Deputy Ó Caoláin said Communications Minister Dermot Ahern should not give the plan the go-ahead. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"It is alarming to find that at a time when the postal service has actually got worse for many customers An Post is proposing to cut 1500 jobs. This is purely a cost-cutting measure. If recent changes are anything to go by it is being done without any consideration of its impact on the service to the public, especially to people in rural Ireland.
"For example, in my own constituency the sorting office at Monaghan has been closed and mail is being routed through Athlone, causing considerably delays to delivery times. This is yet another blow to the already meagre infrastructure provided by Government outside the larger urban centres.
"I urge Minister Ahern not to rubber-stamp this proposal but to ensure that existing services are not only maintained but improved." ENDS
"There is enormous resentment among republicans and nationalists at the behaviour of the British government, and the constant, singular and unwarranted focus by it on blaming republicans, as evidenced by Paul Murphy's comments at the British Labour Party conference." ENDS
The Sinn Féin leadership has been in conversation with both governments ahead of tomorrow's meeting between the Taoiseach and British Prime Minster.
Speaking after the Sinn Féin Officer Board met today in Omagh, Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness played down the likelihood of a breakthrough before elections.
Mr McGuinness said:
"Our discussions with the two governments and the UUP have focused on the need to secure firm commitments - guarantees - on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the sustainability of the institutions.
"The rejection by the two governments of substantive initiatives earlier this year from the IRA, and then by the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, and the decision of the British Prime Minster Tony Blair to twice cancel elections, inflicted enormous damage.
"On top of this the negative effect of the establishment of the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission in breach of the Good Friday Agreement cannot be over estimated.
"There is enormous resentment among republicans and nationalists at the behaviour of the British government, and the constant, singular and unwarranted focus by it on blaming republicans, as evidenced by Paul Murphy's comments at the British Labour Party conference." ENDS
Speaking after receiving a response from the Minister for Justice that it costs €2.9 million per year to provide cars and drivers to Cabinet Ministers Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe said:
"Obviously I recognise the need for Cabinet Ministers to have access to drivers and cars so that they can properly get on with doing their jobs but I find the figure of €2.9 million to provide such a service for fifteen or so people each year as staggering and impossible to justify.
"It's an utter disgrace when we have all the problems we have with public transport and the debacle that is LUAS that we have Ministers being ferried around this country, often for very frivolous and party political matters, at a cost of €170,000 per Minister per year. There is no justification for this whatsoever.
"That figure is properly placed in prospective when compared to the Governments recent decision to cut Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) childcare funding for people trying to get back to education and work. For a fraction of that €2.9 million almost 1,400 parents were left without proper funding for childcare facilities as they arranged to go back to full time education this September, forcing many of them off VTOS programmes.
"Ministers speeding around the country in the high-powered Mercs need to take a reality check." ENDS
Question and Answer below
Question No. 1122
To the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Question: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost to the State on an annual basis of providing each Cabinet Minister with a car. - Seán Crowe.
For written answer on Tuesday, 30th September, 2003.
Answer: I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the annual cost of providing cars for Cabinet Ministers is €2.9 million. This is an annual cost of approximately €170,000 per Minister.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP is in Omagh today conducting a series of internal party meetings. Speaking from Omagh Mr. Adams called for a reception to be held in Stormont for the victorious Tyrone All-Ireland winning team.
"Last Sunday's historic Tyrone victory in the first all-Ulster final should be marked by an official reception at Stormont for the victorious team, mentors and family." ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Minister for Justice to oppose a proposed EU asylum law that will be discussed at the meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels today and tomorrow. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"There has been no public debate about Ireland's position on this proposal which has attracted major criticism from human rights groups. According to the UNHCR the creation of a so-called 'white list' of safe countries could compromise the protection of refugees and interfere with the fulfillment of Ireland's - and indeed the EU's - international obligations. They have warned that this measure could lead to people being returned to a dangerous situation in their home country, contrary to international law.
"Given the life and death stakes involved, this measure should have been publicly debated and given proper consideration. At the very least, in the interests of accountability and transparency the Minister should have made his position known in advance. Given his relentless assault on refugees since he assumed office in 2002, and his expressed disdain for the opinions of human rights experts, I have deep misgivings that he will rubber stamp this measure through. Even at this late stage I urge him to do the right thing and oppose the EU proposal on white lists in the name of international justice." ENDS
Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has condemned the sectarian attack on a family living in Coleraine and drawn a link between the words of unionist politicians attacking the GAA and the All Ireland football final and sectarian attacks such as this.
Ms Gildernew said:
"Unionism must accept responsibility for the sectarian attacks coming from within their own community directed at nationalists. Particularly in light of comments from a number of unionists about the GAA and the All Ireland final and this latest attack on a Coleraine family for merely displaying football flag. Taken in conjunction with some of the inflammatory comments made by unionists around the sectarian intimidation of Catholics attending a Cemetery Sunday mass in Carnmoney it is clear that there is a link between the sectarian rhetoric of unionist politicians and the sectarian attacks of unionist paramilitaries.
"Now it appears that there will be legislation dealing with sectarianism, racism and homophobia there be specific measures to tackle incitement to sectarian, racist or homophobic hatred. The right to 'freedom from sectarian harassment' must be given legislative muscle and must include legislation specifically dealing with the problem of incitement to sectarian hatred.
"On a daily basis there is growing evidence of the pain and damage to the peace process resulting from the sectarian campaign of intimidation and attack of the unionist paramilitaries. While there is a focus, particularly of Unionist politicians, on alleged republican activity the reality is that overwhelmingly, violence today is coming form the unionist community and is directed at nationalists.
"The issue of equality and of freedom from sectarian harassment are key components of the Good Friday Agreement and the failure to implement commitments in these areas is acknowledged in the Joint Declaration from the two governments. There is a commitment to give legislative effect through the Bill of Rights, the Single Equality Bill and through legislation to tackle racism and sectarianism.
"A key component of any legislation on sectarianism, racism or homophobia must be to target incitement to hatred. There must also be similar moves to outlaw incitement to racist hatred. There must be legislative muscle to stamp out the poison of sectarianism. In particular such legislation must be effective in challenging the attitudes and responses of unionist politicians to the sectarianism emanating form their community." ENDS
A Sinn Féin delegation led by the party's Equality and Human Rights spokesperson Bairbre de Brún will be meeting with NIO minister John Spellar today to raise concerns surrounding the Human Rights Commission and the case of Peter McBride.
Ms de Brún said:
"The meeting is part of a series of private and public meetings we have held with both the British and Irish governments around serious difficulties regarding the Human Rights Commission.
"What is required is an independent, effective Human Rights Commission to promote and protect the human rights of all. To achieve this we have supported the Human Rights Commission on many issues, including consistently raising the need for additional powers and resources for the Commission including during the current political discussions.
"However over a period of time it is with regret that we have concluded that due to ongoing internal and external impediments, the Human Rights Commission has not measured up to the task it was set by the Good Friday Agreement. It has consequently lost credibility and public confidence.
"We sought today's meeting to discuss with the British government our concerns and the way ahead. We need to look at a restructuring that will include the composition and appointments, the powers and resources of the Commission.
"The composition of the Commission is a central part of this. An Independent Selection Panel should be established to oversee that process and further appointments to the Commission should be made after this has happened.
"We approach all these issues on the basis of wanting the best possible Human Rights Commission in place to drive forward the human rights aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.
"The delegation will also raise the issue of the Peter McBride case and urge the British government to dismiss the two British Army soldiers responsible for his murder." ENDS.
Note to Editors
The Sinn Féin delegation will consist of Bairbre de Brún, Cathy Staunton, North Belfast Sinn Féin and Belfast City Councillor, Chrissie McAuley. The meeting will be held in Castle Buildings at 2pm
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has described Michael McDowell's efforts to distance himself from the debacle surrounding the deal on child abuse reached between the Government and the religious as "lacking all credibility."
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"Michael McDowell's hand-wringing exercise yesterday in relation to the deal struck between the Government and the Religious Orders on child abuse compensation lacks credibility. The deal was approved by the Cabinet, including the Tánaiste, Minister McDowell's PD party leader. As the chief legal adviser to the Government at the time, with full access to Government and cabinet decisions, Minister McDowell has to accept his share of responsibility for the collective decisions of that Government. He cannot have it both ways. While we are being led to believe that he may have had some concerns about the deal he doesn't seem to have made any serious efforts to have the deal scrapped. On the contrary it is obvious now that he had no real problems with supporting the Government's collective decision to give the deal the thumbs up.
"Minister McDowell's position suggests that the PDs are now cynically attempting to distance themselves from what was a disgraceful decision for both those abused and the Irish taxpayer." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Natural Resources, Martin Ferris TD, has slammed the latest concessions made to multi-national exploration companies operating in the Celtic Sea. The new terms include reduced rental fees which, combined with existing taxation and royalties concessions to companies operating in frontier zones, make the terms on offer from Ireland among the most attractive in the world.
Deputy Ferris said: "Sinn Fein and others have long pointed to the scandalous nature of the terms available to the multi-national oil and gas corporations operating in our waters. What they amount to in effect is that these companies are handed control over vast areas of potential and actual deposits with no guarantee of any return to the state or benefit to the people of this country.
"I reject completely the contention by Minister Browne that the reduced rental fees are necessary to encourage renewed activity by the exploration companies. All of the deposits and areas of potential in our waters have already been auctioned off at bargain basement prices to the multi-nationals. The fact that most are not active has to do with their own strategic planning rather than any economic barriers to drilling and extraction.
"Indeed I would call on the Irish authorities to investigate the extent to which these companies are concealing the true extent of what they are sitting on, and to explain why they are not carrying out operations at the present time. I have also placed a question to Minister Dermot Ahern regarding the latest information on the find made earlier this year at Dooish off the Donegal coast. It is vital that if this, along with the rest of the oil and gas off our coast is to benefit the Irish people that we have full knowledge of what is there and that the state on behalf of the people has a real stake and accrues the type of revenue which other countries have used to fuel economic and social progress." ENDS
Sinn Féin's Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald has described as 'disgraceful' the coalition government's refusal to reveal their positions on key issues or to hold a full parliamentary debate in advance of this weekend's Inter-Governmental Conference negotiations on the draft EU Constitutional Treaty. She was speaking prior the launch of the Forum on Europe's 'Summary of the Draft Constitutional Treaty for the European Union.'
Ms McDonald said:
"Sinn Féin has been demanding a full public parliamentary debate in advance of the negotiations since the draft was published early in the summer. While we were previously told there would be a Dáil debate in Government time, it now seems that this request has been refused.
"It's like the invasion of Iraq all over again - the Government is waiting to schedule the debate until it is essentially a useless PR exercise. This is not acceptable. This document under negotiation isd and concerned about inequality and exploitation not just here but internationally we have grave concerns about the implications of ratifying the next treaty if it is based on the EU Constitutional document as drafted." ENDS
Summary of Sinn Féin concerns on Draft EU Constitution and recommendations for treaty negotiation outcomes
The Draft Constitution has been portrayed merely as a necessary consolidation and simplification of existing Treaties. But it is much more than that.
The Draft Constitution makes fundamental changes in the structures of the EU. It gives those structures more powers. It gives the EU a single legal personality for the first time. It shifts the balance of power yet further from sovereign national parliaments and towards the EU, taking the single biggest step so far in the creation of an EU superstate.
While there are elements of the Draft Constitution we support, Sinn Féin has grave concerns about others. We have therefore made a series of constructive recommendations to the coalition Government for consideration in shaping their negotiation demands.
Sinn Féin believes the Government should be demanding the following changes:
Respect for National Sovereignty
Article I-5(1) states that the Union shall respect 'national identities' and 'regional and local self government', but makes no reference to national sovereignty or national self-government. This Article should be amended to include respect for national sovereignty and self-government.
Article I-10 states that the Constitution and law adopted by the EU institutions 'shall have primacy over the law of the Member States' in exercising competences conferred on the EU. This would firmly establish EU law as superior to national law. This provision entails the diminution of basic democratic rights. The Irish IGC negotiators should therefore s the costs of re-unifying Germany but not for Ireland where the arguments for funding all-island infrastructure in energy, transport, telecommunications, health and education are compelling. Will the Irish negotiators advocate national interests on an all-island basis?
Respect for Economic Sovereignty
Article I-5(1) of the Draft Constitution should be amended to explicitly recognise that ensuring the social and economic well-being of its people is among essential State functions. Such an amendment would properly emphasise the right of states to control their own economies, a right currently undermined by the EU.
Independence in Foreign Policy and Respect for Military Neutrality
The new EU Constitution will require Ireland to cede most or all of our remaining independence in foreign policy to the EU. Article I-11 (4) establishes EU competence in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), giving it primacy in "all areas of foreign policy and questions relating to the Union's security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence". Irish IGC negotiators must protect and strengthen Irish exercise of sovereign independence in international affairs by securing an explicit statement that EU competence in foreign policy is a shared competence. They must also ensure the retention and strengthening of the unanimity requirement in both spheres of CFSP, which is undermined by proposals in the draft Constitution.
Article I-6 confers a separate 'legal personality' on the EU, which would empower it to negotiate and conclude international agreements on behalf of its members, and to represent its members in international fora. Article I-27 establishes an EU Foreign Minister. Both of these features are the accoutrements of states, and are indicators of superstate ambitions and the Irish negotiators should therefore oppose them.
Sinn Féin rejects on principle Article I-40 on an EU Common Defence as its provisions threaten military neutrality, and as we oppose the creation of an EU Army. If the Common Defence provisions are not removed, the Irish negotiators must take other concrete measures to protect the traditional Irish policies of military neutrality and UN primacy by securing a specific Article explicitly recognising the rights and duties of neutral states within the Union and explicitly recognising the right of those states requiring a UN mandate for military operations. The rights of the EU neutrals must be given the same weight of recognition as that accorded to the obligations of EU NATO states.
Independence in Justice and Home Affairs
The pace at which the EU has developed a competence in criminal law over the past decade is staggering. Our concern with the emerging European criminal justice system is that it will not be a synthesis of the best procedures and protections that currently exist among the member states but will be a new system with increased powers transferred to policing and prosecuting authorities at the expense of human rights and civil liberties. At minimum, we call on the Irish negotiators to ensure the retention of unanimity in the area of Justice and Home Affairs.
The Partnership of Equal States Model
Article I-21(1) proposes the new post of permanent President of the European Council. This sets aside the partnership model of the rotating presidency, and puts in place another key characteristic of a single state - a Head of State in all but name. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the presidential proposals are designed to suit the aspirations of large countries and to marginalize the influence of smaller countries such as Ireland. The Irish negotiators should reject the proposal of a permanent president.
Equal Representation on the Commission
Article I-25(3) entails the loss of right of each State to appoint a voting Commissioner. The IGC negotiators should defend the current arrangements whereby all states have the right to nominate a voting Commissioner.
Real Power for the National Parliaments
Sinn Féin welcomes proposals for improved information flow from the EU to the national parliaments. However, whether parliaments can use that information to protect their national interests if necessary remains ambiguous. The Irish IGC negotiators must therefore ensure that national parliaments are given clear and meaningful sanctions in relation to Commission proposals.
Sinn Féin supports the principle of subsidiarity and believes that it should be further extended to sub-national levels. We are of the firm view that decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level and with the greatest amount of decentralised democratic control. We call on the Irish negotiators to ensure that it is clearly stated that the principle of subsidiarity includes decision-making powers at regional and local levels as well as national level.
An Enforceable Charter of Fundamental Rights
The production of a Charter of Fundamental Rights is, in principle, a welcome development, as is any measure that maximises available and enforceable human rights. However, we are concerned that its potential force may be diminished as it has not been included in the body of the Draft Constitution, and call on the Irish negotiators to ensure that this doesn't happen.
We are also concerned about Article II-16, which establishes the freedom to conduct a business. This Article should be clarified. While we accept the right of a person to conduct a business, this Article could allow a scenario where the rights of corporations supercede not just the rights of the individual but national ones also. We therefore call on the Irish IGC negotiators to ensure that the economic and social rights of the citizen are paramount.
A Strengthened Social Market
There is some confusion as to what sort of economic market is being advocated in the Draft Constitution. Article I-3(2) envisages „a single market where competition is free and undistorted‰. This contradicts Article I-3(3), which calls for a social market economy. An unhindered capitalist market-driven society can neither be described as a social market, nor can it be something desirable to anyone with an interest in equality. We oppose the idea of competition being completely free and unhindered and believe that states should be allowed to exercise democratic control over their economies. We are concerned that the free market model will emerge dominant from this contradiction, and that economic priorities will continue to outrank social ones. We therefore call on the Irish IGC negotiators to ensure a strengthening of the pre-eminent status of the Social Market.
Enhanced State Aid Provisions
Existing EU provisions on state aid to industries are hampering the Irish economy by restricting state funding and the development of much needed infrastructure in ICT, transport, energy, environmental waste management and and health services. Articles III-56 to 58 in relation to state aid to industries are no better, and need to be expanded substantially. Irish IGC negotiators should demand the broadening out of conditions for state aid. They should also seek special provisions supporting an all-Ireland economy, along the lines of the special provisions for subsidising the reunification of Germany (in Article III-56.2.c).
Stop the Militarisation of the EU
Article I-40(3) directs that member states contribute forces to a Common Defence and improve their military capabilities. It also establishes a European Armaments Agency, the basis for a European arms industry. This is contrary to our belief that universal disarmament - and universal nuclear disarmament in particular ˆ should be a central goal of both Ireland and the EU. As responsible global citizens, we believe that the Irish negotiators should mount the strongest possible arguments against these provisions.
And the Government must go public on the hard questions:
The Draft Treaty in its current form also has unresolved tensions between its objectives and principles, between the powers of states and the role of the EU Commission, between the desire for subsidiarity and the increased use of qualified majority voting.
We still don‚t know where Fianna Fail or the Progressive Democrats stand on the following important questions (and others):
(1) Does the government honestly believe that the EU can facilitate a fully transnational market economy and still be a social economy with full employment as its core objective? Both of these apparently conflicting goals are in the treaty.
(2) The Draft Constitution rightly commits itself to the eradication of poverty outside its borders but contains no such objective for the citizens inside. Will the inclusion of an internal anti-poverty objective be a priority for Cowen and Ahern?
(3) Does the government agree that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights needs more teeth than it has in the present draft?
(4) Does the coalition accept the new formula for Qualified Majority Voting?
(5) Will they look for more details in the definition and division of competences between nation states and the EU?
(6) Do they support the extension of Qualified Majority Voting to the remaining areas of EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Defence?
(7) Do they support the Article 40 Common Defence provisions and particularly enhanced cooperation on defence matters?
(8) In terms of partition, the Draft Treaty allows for special provisions for state aid and spending for the costs of re-unifying Germany but not for Ireland where the arguments for funding all-island infrastructure in energy, transport, telecommunications, health and education are compelling. Will the Irish negotiators advocate national interests on an all-island basis?