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Sinn Féin to seek a meeting with An Taoiseach

14 June, 2008

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald speaking following the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty referendum said that the party is to seek a meeting with the Taoiseach Brian Cowen. This follows his comments that he is to consult widely at home and abroad.
Ms. McDonald said:

"Yesterday the Irish people gave the government a clear and strong mandate to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty. At his first European Council meeting, as Taoiseach, next week Brian Cowen should set out in clear and unambiguous terms the concerns raised by the Irish people and the need for these concerns to be properly addressed.

"Throughout this referendum campaign a number of specific issues came up over and over again - Ireland's loss of power in Europe including the loss of a permanent Commissioner, neutrality, the race to the bottom in wages and conditions and the opening of key public services to competition.

"Many of these same concerns were raised by the people of France and the Netherlands when they rejected an almost identical package in 2005. And they have been raised by many political voices across the EU over the last twelve months.
"Now is the time for calm voices. Ireland's place in the EU is secure. Suggestions from a small number of EU leaders that they can blindly continue on with the Lisbon Treaty are not just undemocratic but also untrue. The Lisbon Treaty needs the support of all member states to come into effect.

"The people have been asked on three occasions their views on the content of this Treaty and on three occasions it has been rejected. European leaders now have an opportunity to listen and to address these genuine concerns.

"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 the issues, which we believe can be addressed in a renegotiated Treaty. Among the very practical and reasonable issues, which we believe can be delivered are:-

· 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 fair trade over free trade
· Strengthening of the role of member state parliaments and of citizens

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