Sinn Féin - On Your Side

EU sub committee must discuss how a better deal can be secured for Ireland in Europe

2 October, 2008


Sinn Féin Dáil Group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said “Sinn Féin intends to take up its place on the EU sub committee and we do so for positive reasons but we won’t be part of any choreography to set aside the democratic wishes of the Irish electorate.  We will not participate in any exercise aimed at clearing the ground for a re-run of the Lisbon referendum. And, as we made clear in our submission to the government after the Lisbon referendum, far reaching reform is required if the European Union is to be put on the right course. And it is not just republicans who need to be satisfied.  The Irish people need to have confidence that this process is a genuine attempt to address the concerns raised during the referendum.”

  

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

 

“Sinn Fein believes that Ireland’s place is in Europe. We want to see Ireland play a central part in shaping the future of the EU in the interests of all citizens, not only of this member state, but for Europeans as a whole. Of course for us this means changing the present course of the European Union. We want to move it away from the centralising, privatising, and militarising direction it is currently on, in favour of a more democratic, social and peaceful one, promoting prosperity and equality for all.

 

“Over the last number of weeks Sinn Féin has had a robust engagement with Minister Micheál Martin about the government’s proposal to establish a sub-committee to deal with this unfolding situation. In particular we discussed the make-up of the group and its terms of reference. We were and continue to be concerned that the government is merely preparing the ground for a second referendum.  The terms of reference make it clear that the government are attempting to frame a bogus debate on Ireland’s membership of the European Union when what we need to be discussing is the direction of the European Union and Ireland’s place in it.  Amendments which we suggested to the terms of reference to reflect this reality were rejected.

 

“Our contention was and is that a better deal is possible for Ireland in Europe and the sub committee should be discussing how such a better deal can be delivered.  Sinn Féin intend to take up its place on this committee and we do so for positive reasons but let me tell you that we won’t be part of any choreography to set aside the democratic wishes of the Irish electorate.  We are not willing to participate in a narrowly defined stock taking exercise. We will not participate in any exercise aimed at clearing the ground for a re-run of the Lisbon referendum. Opt outs and declarations will not change the substantive problems with this treaty. And, as we made clear in our submission to the government after the referendum, far reaching reform is required if the European Union is to be put on the right course.

 

“And it is not just republicans who need to be satisfied.  The Irish people need to have confidence that this process is a genuine attempt to address the concerns raised during the referendum.

 

“If the government and opposition parties are serious about engaging in an honest debate in the sub-committee and beyond it is to be welcomed. We want to be constructive and positive. We want to play our part in ensuring that Ireland remains at the heart of Europe and that the European Union develops in a manner consistent with the needs and aspirations of the people.”ENDS

 

Deputy Ó Caoláin’s Speech

It is now almost six months since the Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty and opinion surveys by the European Commission office in Dublin, various newspapers and most recently the Irish government confirmed what we already knew. The Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty because it reduced Ireland’s political strength in Europe; eroded neutrality and undermined workers rights and public services.  People were also concerned at the impact on tax sovereignty and of international trade agreements on Irish farming.

  

Since the Irish rejection of Lisbon Sinn Féin has consistently argued that the Irish government and EU leaders must respect the Irish vote. We published detailed proposals setting out how these issues could be dealt with and called on the Taoiseach to represent the national interest and use the mandate he had been given. We called on him to tell his EU partners that the Lisbon Treaty ratification process must end and that a new round of negotiations must begin. And critically to state that there can be no re-run of the referendum.

  

Unfortunately the government has to date shown little respect for the outcome of the referendum, and so far has refused to raise in any serious way the clear concerns of the electorate.

 

Sinn Fein believes that Ireland’s place is in Europe. We want to see Ireland play a central part in shaping the future of the EU in the interests of all citizens, not only of this member state, but for Europeans as a whole. Of course for us this means changing the present course of the European Union. We want to move it away from the centralising, privatising, and militarising direction it is currently on, in favour of a more democratic, social and peaceful one, promoting prosperity and equality for all.

 

Over the last number of weeks Sinn Féin has had a robust engagement with Minister Micheal Martin about the government’s proposal to establish a sub-committee to deal with this unfolding situation. In particular we discussed the make-up of the group and it’s terms of reference. We were and continue to be concerned that the government is merely preparing the ground for a second referendum.  The terms of reference make it clear that the government are attempting to frame a bogus debate on Ireland’s membership of the European Union when what we need to be discussing is the direction of the European Union and Ireland’s place in it.  Amendments which we suggested to the terms of reference to reflect this reality were rejected.

 

Our contention was and is that a better deal is possible for Ireland in Europe and the sub committee should be discussing how such a better deal can be delivered.  Sinn Féin intend to take up its place on this committee and we do so for positive reasons but let me tell you that we won’t be part of any choreography to set aside the democratic wishes of the Irish electorate.  We are not willing to participate in a narrowly defined stock taking exercise. We will not participate in any exercise aimed at clearing the ground for a re-run of the Lisbon referendum. Opt outs and declarations will not change the substantive problems with this treaty. And, as we made clear in our submission to the government after the referendum, far reaching reform is required if the European Union is to be put on the right course.

 

And it is not just republicans who need to be satisfied.  The Irish people need to have confidence that this process is a genuine attempt to address the concerns raised during the referendum.

 

If the government and opposition parties are serious about engaging in an honest debate in the sub-committee and beyond it is to be welcomed. We want to be constructive and positive. We want to play our part in ensuring that Ireland remains at the heart of Europe and that the European Union develops in a manner consistent with the needs and aspirations of the people.

  

It is also crucial that the debate encompasses all sections of public opinion, the majority of whom were and continue to be opposed to the Lisbon Treaty.

 

In two weeks time Taoiseach Brian Cowen will travel to Brussels to attend an EU Summit to discuss the fallout from the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish electorate and what he intends to do next. The choice facing the government is clear. Either the decision of the people is respected, the Lisbon Treaty is set aside and a new treaty negotiated or the Irish Government, at the behest of the EU elite, re-runs the referendum. For Sinn Féin the choice is obvious – there can be no re-run of the Lisbon Treaty.  The opportunity that still exists to deliver a better deal should be grasped.”

Connect with Sinn Féin