Sinn Féin - On Your Side

EU Sub Committee must agree better deal for Ireland in Europe

8 October, 2008


Speaking during today's inaugural meeting of the Oireachtas sub committee tasked with tackling the rejection of Lisbon Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has warned against the government's attempt to reshape the public debate on Lisbon away from the Treaty itself to one of Ireland's membership of the EU. Senator Doherty also emphasised "that the debate must be led by the general public and not politicians who clearly from the referendum result are out of sync with ordinary people. Critically we must use the outcome of this debate to inform and change government policy on the EU that reflects the Irish people's views on its future."

The Donegal Senator said:

"Sinn Fein intends to take a constructive and positive role in the work of this Committee. It is not just the responsibility of those who supported the Lisbon Treaty to address the aftermath of its rejection; those of us who campaigned against it must also play our part in pursuing a better deal for Ireland and the EU.

"However Sinn Féin won't be part of any choreography to set aside the democratic wishes of the Irish electorate. We continue to be deeply concerned that it is the government's intention, with the support of Labour and Fine Gael, to use this committee simply as a space to prepare the groundwork for a re run of Lisbon. It is clear from the committee's terms of reference that the government is endeavouring to reshape the public debate on Lisbon away from the Treaty itself to one of Ireland's membership of the EU. This is a deeply dishonest move and one that my party sought to address by changes we proposed to the terms of reference which were not accepted by Foreign Minister Micheál Martin.

"Sinn Féin is not willing to facilitate a narrowly defined stock taking exercise. Nor are we willing to participate in any exercise aimed at clearing the ground for a re-run of Lisbon. Opt outs and declarations will not change the substantive problems with this Treaty. We need a robust public debate on the future of the European Union. We need to agree a schedule of work that engages with the community and voluntary sector, development agencies and trade unions. The debate must be brought into schools and universities. It must be led by the general public and not politicians who clearly from the referendum result are out of sync with ordinary people. Critically we must use the outcome of this debate to inform and change government policy on the EU.

"The founding principles of EU were and must continue to be peace and prosperity. It is in this context that I want to re-emphasize to the committee that Sinn Féin believes Ireland's place is in Europe. We want to see Ireland continue to play a central role in shaping the future of the EU in the interests of all citizens. We are ambitious for what we as a small member state can achieve in the interest of all the unions people.

"For Sinn Féin 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 road, promoting prosperity and equality for all." ENDS

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