Sinn Féin preparing detailed proposals for government
Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald speaking at a press conference in Dublin
this morning said: "The Irish government has a strong hand to play. For any
Treaty to proceed it requires the support of all 27 member states including
Ireland. Brian Cowen has been presented with a real opportunity to get a
better deal for Ireland. He now needs to use it." Sinn Féin is preparing
detailed written proposals to give to the Irish government. Ms. McDonald
"Brian Cowen will be attending his first European Council meeting, as Taoiseach, later this week. He will be going there with a strong mandate from a member state with a long history of playing a positive role in the EU. He will go there in the knowledge that last Thursday's referendum vote in Ireland means that the Lisbon Treaty cannot now come into effect. For now, the EU will continue to function under existing treaties.
"The question now is how the Taoiseach will use this mandate. There are concerns about what the government will do given their opposition to how the people voted last Thursday. Already there are contradictory messages. Yesterday the Taoiseach said that this is unchartered territory. Today the Minister for Foreign Affairs said this is not a new scenario. It is little wonder that some EU leaders have said that the Lisbon Treaty process must continue. The Irish government needs to tell them directly that the ratification process should stop.
"The leaders of all 27-member states need to listen to what the people have said and bring forward a new Treaty, which deals with their concerns. They will only do this if the Irish government speaks with a clear voice. The government needs to act in accordance with the wishes of the electorate.
"Sinn Féin is seeking to meet with the Taoiseach at the earliest opportunity to discuss these issues. In order to be constructive we are preparing detailed written proposals, which we will give to the government in advance of the meeting of the European Council. Brian Cowen also needs to consult widely with as broad a range of Irish public opinion as possible.
"The Irish government has a strong hand to play. For any Treaty to proceed it requires the support of all 27 member states including Ireland. Brian Cowen has been presented with a real opportunity to get a better deal for Ireland. He now needs to use it.
"From the outset the Irish government needs to make it clear that they are not looking for clarification or minor alterations. They need to make it clear that the genuine concerns raised by the Irish people need to be addressed. The government also needs to make it clear that there is no legitimacy to calls from a small number of EU politicians for a two-speed approach.
"Over the weekend some have tried to suggest that there is no clarity about what Irish voters are concerned about. This is not the case. Very specific issues around the loss of power, neutrality, workers rights and public services were raised repeatedly not just by those campaigning for a no vote but on canvasses and in opinion polls published throughout the campaign.
"Sinn Féin believes that these issues need to be addressed, at a minimum, in any future Treaty.
Democracy - there are some issues which involve maintaining the current position - retaining a permanent commissioner, our current voting strength at the European Council and key strategic vetoes such as on the outcome of international trade talks - and some issues which need to be strengthened such as the powers for parliaments in member states and for citizens. We also need to see the removal of the controversial self-amending articles.
Neutrality - A specific protocol in the Treaty protecting neutrality is required and opt outs from other aspects of an emerging EU common foreign and security policy such as an end to taxpayers money being diverted to the European Defence Agency or being used for any EU military purposes. We also need a protocol to opt out from the European Atomic Energy Treaty.
Workers rights and public services - explicit amendments are required to ensure greater protection of workers rights and to stop the opening up of vital public services to competition. We also need measures to strengthen the social content of the EU project in order to balance the need for economic competitiveness with social cohesion and sustainable development."ENDS