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Fine Gael misleading on Lisbon Treaty - Doherty

1 May, 2008

Speaking on the Lisbon Treaty in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty criticised Fine Gael for calling on the Government to veto the WTO proposals but failing to tell the people that if the Lisbon Treaty is passed that this will be the last time Ireland will have a veto.

Senator Doherty said, "Like the vast majority of people on this island I believe that Ireland's place is in Europe. Many benefits have come as a result of our membership of the EU and continued co-operation with our European partners is essential if we are to meet the challenges facing us in the time ahead. And one thing is certain regardless of the outcome of the referendum Ireland's place in the EU will be secure.

"However, the Lisbon Treaty is not a good deal for Ireland and Irish negotiators should be sent back to negotiate a better deal on behalf of the Irish people. This can only be done if we vote no on June 12th.

"Last week Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny speaking at the National Forum on Europe called on the Irish government to use its veto at the Council if the current outcome of the WTO trade talks is bad for Irish farming. What Enda Kenny didn't tell farmers is that if the Lisbon Treaty is passed, that veto will be gone and in future rounds of WTO talks farmers will be asking why Fine Gael urged them to support a Treaty which was so clearly no in their interests. This is highly misleading of Enda Kenny and the Fine Gael party.

"And to make matters worse under the terms of the Treaty Ireland will not have a Commissioner for five out of every fifteen years. This means when critical matters are being discussed, such as international trade agreements or reform of the Common Agricultural Policy Ireland may not even have a voice at the Commission table.

"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.

"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." ENDS

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