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Sinn Féin calls for specific EU Constitution Article to protect Irish neutrality

23 October, 2003

Addressing the issue of the Inter-Government Conference negotiations on the next EU Treaty at the Forum on Europe in Dublin today, Sinn Féin EU Candidate for Dublin Marylou McDonald said the Common Defence provisions in the draft Constitution confirm the party's prediction that the EU is becoming progressively militarised. She called on the Taoiseach and the Government negotiators to protect Irish neutrality and independence in defence policy by securing a specific article which recognises the rights and duties of neutral states within the Union.

Ms McDonald said: "Sinn Féin has long warned that the EU is becoming progressively militarised, and that Ireland is being drawn into a nascent EU Army. Some continue to dismiss this as exaggeration. But the Common Defence provisions at Article I-40 in the draft Constitution confirm our prediction. So does the recent agreement on enhanced military cooperation between France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg who last April decided to establish a military planning headquarters in Brussels, the recent decision to create an EU Armaments Agency, the deadline on European military harmonisation agreed earlier this month, and last week's IGC decision that forces Ireland to participate in planning and directing an EU Common Defence.

"While Sinn Fein opposes Article I-40 in total, we are especially concerned with the provisions of Article I-40(2). Article I-40(2) states that EU defence policies shall not prejudice NATO states ? and further, shall be compatible with NATO. However, the special rights and responsibilities of the militarily neutral member states are not explicitly acknowledged, and these states are not specifically exempt from Common Defence requirements. Sinn Féin believes that it is the duty of Irish IGC negotiators to protect Irish independence in defence policy, and specifically the traditional policies of military neutrality and UN primacy, by at minimum 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."

Ms. McDonald called on the negotiators to "oppose Article I-40(2) as drafted and insist that the rights and duties of neutral states be given the same weight of recognition as that accorded to the obligations of NATO states."ENDS

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