Government has a clear and strong mandate to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty
Speaking from Dublin Castle following the announcement of a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald said:
"The people have spoken. They share our concerns about the Lisbon Treaty and believe that a better deal is possible. They also share our view that Ireland's place in Europe is secure. The government now has a clear and strong mandate to renegotiate this Treaty. They need to use the opportunity to get back around the table with our EU partners and secure a better deal.
"Throughout this referendum campaign three key issues came up over and over again - Ireland's loss of power in Europe, neutrality and the lack of information. People were also concerned at the race to the bottom in wages and conditions and the opening of key public services to competition.
"There is now a huge responsibility on the government, and particularly on the Taoiseach to listen to the people, and commit himself to the task of securing a better deal. These are very practical and reasonable demands, which can be delivered.
"Such a deal needs to include:
· The retention of a permanent Commissioner
· The retention of existing voting strength at Council
· Retention and strengthening of key strategic vetoes on tax, public services and international trade
· Maintenance of the absolute right of Irish citizens to have the final say in any significant say in changes to the EU treaties
· Specific article protecting our neutrality
· Specific protocol explicitly exempting vital public services from rules of competition and state aid
· Opt outs from expenditure on nuclear power and military capabilities.
· Inclusion of social progress clause and greater protections for workers rights
· Active promotion of free trade over fair trade
· Strengthening of the role of member state parliaments and of citizens
"Brian Cowen will be attending his first European Council meeting, as Taoiseach, next Friday. He needs to set out his stall for the renegotiation of the Lisbon Treaty.
"There is also a responsibility on all of us who believe that a better deal is possible, to support and assist the government in their task. Sinn Féin wants to be constructive. We will be seeking a meeting with the Taoiseach in the coming days to discuss with him over views of the contents of any new treaty.
"We will also be engaging with the trade union movement, farmers, business and civic society to encourage them to use their influence to ensure that the government secured the best deal possible.
"This was a David and Goliath contest. Sinn Féin activists took the debate to local communities across the country and with sound and reasoned arguments convinced a majority of the electorate that a better deal was possible. I want to thank all those, particularly within my own party, for the huge efforts that they put in during the campaign and to thank all those who came out and voted. ENDS