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Government undermining of universal suffrage must not be tolerated

24 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has warned that any effort by the Fianna Fáil and Green Party government coalition to re run the Lisbon Treaty or reshape the proposition debate in any future referendum will fundamentally undermine the process of universal suffrage.


Speaking from the National Ploughing Championships the MEP said:


“A recent effort by the Taoiseach to link the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty to the downturn in Ireland’s economy gives us some indication of the tactics this government is prepared to stoop to in its efforts to overrule the decision of the Irish people.


“Any effort by the Fianna Fáil and Green Party coalition government to undermine the process of universal suffrage is nothing less than an appalling attack on one of the most fundamental principles of democracy.  The people have spoken and must be listened to. The Yes camp throughout the Lisbon Campaign regularly pontificated about the hard won values of social democracy post world war two. Yet these very same Deputy’s and Ministers appear prepared to forfeit the hardest won principle of all. Universal suffrage means nothing if the people are ignored after casting their vote.


“It is clear 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 recent claims that the Irish people are now 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 and the Greens 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.


“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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