Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin address ICA on Lisbon Treaty

22 April, 2008

Addressing the Irish Country Women's Association this afternoon Sinn Féin Donegal Senator Pearse Doherty outlined the serious implications for rural Ireland if the Lisbon Treaty is passed.
Senator Doherty said:
"Like the vast majority of people on this island I believe that Ireland's place is in Europe. Co-operation with our European partners is essential if we are to meet the challenges facing us in the time ahead. The question facing the Irish people is - is the Lisbon Treaty a good deal for Ireland, is it a good deal for the rest of Europe? The answer, I believe is a resounding no.

"Proponents of the Treaty tell you that Ireland's position in Europe will be diminished if we reject this Treaty. It is worth reminding ourselves that France and Holland did not loose influence or standing in the EU on rejecting the EU Constitution, and the fact is nor would Ireland.

"When you pair it all back the biggest reason to vote no to this Treaty is that it gives the EU too much power - we are giving up far too much and getting little in return. This is particularly relevant to the farming and small business communities.
"It is not an over statement to say that rural Ireland is suffering death by a thousand cuts and while the key responsibility for this lies with the Irish government, the decisions of unelected EU leaders are also having a major impact.
"Just look at what has happened in recent years. EU policy has led to the closure of the Sugar Beet Industry. The EU is also actively undermining the provision of vital services to rural communities including post offices. EU policy has become synonymous with red tape and bureaucracy and rural Ireland is suffering as a result of that.
"Passing the Lisbon Treaty will strengthen EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's hand. It will allow the Commission to negotiate the future of the Irish beef and dairy industries with no recourse for Irish farmers.
"Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty gives the European Commission 'exclusive competence' over international trade agreements. Article 10 of the Treaty makes 'the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade' a key aim of the EU. Article 188 states that decisions on international trade will, in all but very limited circumstances, be taken by qualified majority vote.
"Attempts by the government and other opposition parties to tell us that the loss of a permanent commissioner won't make any difference do not wash. Can you imagine the outcry if the government said to the people of Donegal - sorry but you will no TDs for the next five years but don't worry the other counties in the region will look after you. Quite rightly it would not be acceptable. And it is no more acceptable here.
"Government claims that it is not practical or efficient to have 27 Commissioners is nonsense. In the Dáil there are 15 Ministers and 20 Junior Ministers for a population of less than 5 million people. It seems more than credible and necessary to have 27 Commissioners to represent more than 500million people.
"And of course the government don't want people to know that in addition Ireland's voting strength on the Council of Minister's will be reduced by over 50%. In comparison Germany, France, Britain and Italy will each nearly double their own voting strength.
"This loss of power has very obvious implications for the farming community and the situation for the Irish business community is just as serious.
"The European Commission has made no secret of its desire to control matters in relation to corporation tax. The EU Parliament, Commission and Council of Ministers support such a proposal. As we know from last weeks leaked email of a Department of Foreign Affairs senior official the EU institutions have simply put off progressing these plans until after the referendum in Ireland.
"Ministers claim that Ireland's veto will block measures from the EU to control our corporation tax policy but as it stands Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty will permit the European Council to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in key areas including company taxation. This means that the Irish people will be reliant on every future Taoiseach to say NO. Given the political timidity that they have demonstrated, the government is not convincing when they claim that they will defend Ireland interests on this matter irrespective of the political wishes of our EU partners.
"It is worth noting that the Irish government wanted to keep a permanent Irish commissioner during the talks on the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, but they gave in. Is there any reason for thinking they would not do the same on the key matter of company taxes once these powers had been passed to the European Council by ratifying the Lisbon Treaty.
"It is my firm belief that the system of taxation is properly a matter for this state to decide. The government ought to have secured an opt on any article that could be used for taxation related matters. They failed to do this. If the Lisbon Treaty is rejected it is an issue which would require urgent action from the Irish government.
"I believe that the Treaty should be rejected and Irish negotiators sent back to do a better deal for Ireland and the EU. There are huge challenges ahead but we will face these challenges as full members of the EU." CRÍOCH

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