Sinn Féin - On Your Side

SDLP and Labour must explain their support for the Lisbon Treaty‏

27 May, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd speaking in response to comments from the Irish Labour Party and SDLP on the Lisbon Treaty has said that 'the SDLP and Labour must explain their support for Lisbon Treaty'.

John O'Dowd said:

"The Lisbon referendum in the 26 counties next month not only disenfranchises voters in the North but is also a bad deal for Ireland

"On 12th June the Irish people will go to the polls and whatever happens on that day Ireland's place in Europe is secure. However, today the Labour Party and the SDLP have cynically tried to play on people's fears in an effort to avoid real debate on the contents of the treaty. Because the fact is that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland.

"It will reduce Ireland's political strength, further undermine neutrality and is bad for the economy and workers rights.

"The Lisbon Treaty will significantly reduce the influence of smaller states within the EU. There are three key areas where this will happen:

  • the loss of a permanent Commissioner and 50% reduction in our voting strength at Council;
  • additional powers for EU institutions including the removal of more than 60 vetos for member states; and
  • Article 48's new procedure which will allow the European Council to amend existing treaties without recourse to referenda.

"Combined, these changes mean that Ireland will have less influence in the design of future proposals, less votes in key decisions, and a reduced ability to block decisions that are not in Ireland's interests.

"The SDLP and Labour are advocating is the reduction of the Irish government's influence and an anti-farmer and anti-third world approach to international trade.

"Why is the SDLP advocating strengthening EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's hand as he plays havoc with the future of the Irish beef industry with no recourse for Irish farmers, and does so not for the sake of the third world but for his international trade power plays? When critical agricultural matters are being discussed Ireland will not even have a voice at the Commission because of the loss of a permanent Irish Commissioner. This loss of power has very serious implications for the farming community north and south, alongside this Ireland's influence in the Council of Ministers will be cut in half.

"The Lisbon Treaty is bad for Irish farmers and bad for rural communities and will show no progress for Irish fishing communities.

"The SDLP need to explain why they are supporting this treaty and engage in real debate not scaremongering. It is possible to be in support of the EU and not support the Lisbon treaty which is bad for rural Ireland." ENDS

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