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Government linking of Lisbon to Economy Low Brow Tactic

16 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has described government efforts to link the rejection of Lisbon to the downturn in the economy as a “low brow tactic that seeks simply to bully the Irish people into submission rather than actually engage with them on the issues.”


The Dublin MEP said:


“Yesterday’s effort by both the Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin to present the peoples rejection of the Lisbon Treaty as a factor in the current economic downturn clearly illustrates the terms on which the government intends to re run the Lisbon Treaty.


“It is clear at this early stage that the government intends to re shape the public debate on Lisbon. Having failed to secure a yes vote on the content of the Treaty they will now resort to reducing a second referendum proposition to ‘is Ireland in or out of Europe’.


“Following the Irish peoples rejection of the Lisbon Treaty we remain as we have always been at the heart of Europe. Sinn Féin has consistently argued that Ireland’s place is within Europe. But we have a responsibility to use this wisely and we must remain ambitious for we can achieve as an active and committed member state.  


“Brian Cowen and Micheál Martin’s statement to the Irish people that we are now left on the margins of Europe is a shameful and indeed deeply dishonest response to the genuine challenge for Ireland and Europe following the Irish people’s rejection of the Treaty. We can be now be very clear on what basis Fianna Fáil intend to tackle the public Lisbon debate over the coming months in advance of December’s Council of Ministers meeting. What will be interesting to see unfold is whether Fine Gael and Labour support the government in their bullying approach to securing a yes vote in any re run of the Lisbon Treaty.


“It also cannot go unmentioned that this government seems ready to blame anyone and everyone for the country’s current economic woes bar their own failure to manage the public purse and indeed grow the domestic market during the boom years. Brian Cowen has blamed global circumstances, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has blamed the collapse of the building sector and now the government is blaming the Irish people’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.


“Whilst there is no doubt the global fuel, food and finance crises are factors in the challenges our economy now faces what sets us apart from our European partners is this government’s failed economic policies.


“They failed to take on the board warnings that the public purse was and continues to be over dependent on revenue generated from construction and consumption.


“By failing to recognise the implications of the likely contraction in the construction sector and also the widely forecasted rise in unemployment the government based Budget 2008 on unrealistic figures. It has also sat back over the last seven years and allowed economic growth be driven by domestic consumption rather than by exports.


“There are simple truths in all of this. Ireland is not at the margins of Europe. Lisbon has nothing to do with Ireland’s current economic challenges. Renegotiating a better deal for Ireland and the EU is a positive for the union’s future and Ireland’s place within it. Government’s attempts to reshape the debate over the coming months must be challenged by all political parties who respect and wish to uphold social democracy.” ENDS

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