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Opt In -Opt Out in best interest of the Irish People - McDonald

15 October, 2007

In advance of this weeks EU Inter Governmental Conference (IGC) in Lisbon where the first draft of the Reform Treaty will be presented, Sinn Fein Dublin MEP and National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald has called for cool heads and sensible debate on Ireland’s possible opt-in opt-out approach to the Treaty’s police and judicial provisions.


The Dublin MEP said:


“Sinn Fein recognises the fundamental importance of international co-operation between law enforcement authorities in the interests of justice for victims and to the prevention of crime. 


“However, we know it is essential that the government seek and achieve an opt-in opt-out from the police and judicial provisions of the new EU Reform Treaty. 


“In the event that the Treaty is ratified an Irish opt-out will allow future governments the freedom to opt-into progressive measures and opt-out of regressive ones as mandated by the Irish people.


“In our experience EU legally-binding measures in the area of Justice and Home Affairs have not achieved the correct balance between the fight against crime and the protection of fundamental human rights.  This is particularly the case post September 11th 2001. 


“In addition, Britain and Ireland operate a different legal system to the rest of the EU and there is also huge variance across the member states in terms of the human rights safeguards in operation. 


“We have seen this week a number of the opposition parties use this important debate as a political stick to beat government with. As the National Chairperson of an opposition party I am all for critiquing government policy however in this instance the debate has been disingenuous and not in the interest of the Irish people.


“Ireland’s current wave of serious drug and gun crime will not be addressed by the EU Reform Treaty. A government commitment to pull up its sleeves and get on with the job at hand is what is needed. A programme of civilianisation as proposed by Sinn Féin and mirrored in the latest report by the Garda Inspectorate could free up thousands of Gardaí for the fight against crime, for example.


“Therefore we continue to call on the government to negotiate for an Irish opt-out on matters relating to police and judicial co-operation just as the British have already achieved for themselves.” CRÍOCH


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