Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sharkey makes written submission to Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Ireland's Future in Europe

6 November, 2008

Sinn Féin Louth County Councillor and European election candidate for the Ireland East Constituency, Tomás Sharkey, has made a written submission to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Ireland's Future in the European Union.


Councillor Sharkey says:


“The Sub-Committee was established following the result of the Lisbon Treaty Referendum. I campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty and represented Sinn Féin at various public meetings and events and was heartened when it was rejected by the people. I have made the submission below because my experience on that campaign was that the Irish people had legitimate concerns surrounding the Lisbon Treaty and that there is a lack of genuine representation of the Irish peoples'  views in Europe.


“The Ireland East constituency has no European representative willing to stand by them in their opposition to Lisbon.  Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael MEPs are actively promoting the Lisbon Treaty agenda and actively opposed workers rights within the EU.” ENDS


*Text of written submission to Sub-committee on Ireland's Future in the European Union:


Is mise Tomás Ó Searcaigh. Tá cónaí orm i mBaile Alaird, Droichead an Chnoic, Dún Dealgan. Is múinteoir Gaeilge mé agus is ball mé de Chomhairle Chondae Lú.


I campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty and represented my party Sinn Féin at various public meetings in relation to the Lisbon Treaty. I wish to make a brief submission to The Sub-Committee on Ireland's Future in the European Union. I will confine my observations to the sub headings detailed in the media recently.


Analyse the challenges facing Ireland in the EU following the Lisbon Treaty Referendum result;

I do not believe that the Referendum result creates a challenge for Ireland. The Irish people gave their considered democratic verdict on the Treaty. We rejected the Treaty and it cannot progress in europe without being adopted by all member states. The Irish people have given our political leadership a mandate on Lisbon. I believe it is the responsibility of the government of this state to support and represent the people. I do believe that the only challenge created since the Referendum result is the reluctance of many politicians to represent the people's verdict on the Treaty. The challenge is An Taoiseach's.


Consider Ireland's future in the EU including in relation to economic and financial matters, social policy, defence and foreign policy and our influence within the European Institutions;

Ireland has a firm place in Europe and I believe our place in Europe is secure. In relation to economic and financial matters, we should be active in promoting education and skills. The T.E.G (Teastas Eorpach sa Ghaeilge) is a positive step and should be affirmed and promoted. This model of language certification offers potential for our education system. We should adopt the modular basis as a way to incentivise and promote language learning across Europe and specifically in Irish schools.

In relation to social policy, I believe that Ireland should be pushing for a Social Progress Clause. This should be included in any future Treaties put to member states. The template for this is included in the Andersson Report. The report has been prepared by the European Parliament Employment and Social Affairs Committee in response to recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings on the Laval, Viking and Ruffert cases. Unfortunately I believe that Irish M.E.Ps recently rejected this proposal. I condemn those politicians from Ireland who chose to turn down an oppurtunity to use the EU for social progress. This sends a message to the Irish people that we are getting a bad deal from some of our representatives in Europe.

In relation to defence and foreign policy, I believe that the Irish people cherish our neutrality. Many lobbyists and political groupings actively promote the notion of a European Army, bulk buying of arms and cohesion of materials used by the armies of all independent states. This places the arms industry at the heart of their policies. I am also appalled at the suggestion from the EPP grouping that the European space project should have a military context. I believe that it is the role of all Irish representatives to defend neutrality and not to erode it.


To enhance the role of the Houses of the Oireachtas in EU affairs;

An alarming aspect of the Lisbon Referendum debate was the ignorance of many Leinster House delegates to the detail and consequences of the Treaty. Senators and TDs alike admitted they had not read the Treaty. Indeed many were exposed for not understanding the detail. This is an indictment on the political classes in ireland. Credibility is lost when the proposers of constitutional amendments are not aware of detail. Oireachtas members must be fully trained on EU institutions and functions. Oireachtas staff must also be trained on these issues. MEPs should be obliged to publish documentation on their activities in Europe and must be available to attend and listen to concerns at Leinster House and amongst the population.


Measures to improve public understanding of the EU and its fundamental importance for Ireland's future;

I am concerned that the subtext to this heading is to insinuate that we must vote Yes to a rerun of the Lisbon Referendum and that this alone can safeguard Ireland's future. I reject attempts to rerun the Referendum. Sinn Féin has published a document called A Better Deal for Ireland and the EU and I commend it the the committee members.

The EU is important to Ireland but we must consider that this is a two way relationship. The EU would not exist but for there are independent states willing to work together. The EU should be about equality and progress for all in our lives.

In order for the public to understand the EU and it's importance to Ireland, the EU structures must demonstrate that they respect the Irish people and our democratis voice. It is unacceptable that members of the European Parliament would vote to ignore the Irish rejection of Lisbon. There were many incidences in the approach to Referendum Day where European politicians and officials demonstrated an arrogance towards the irish people.

In summary, the EU cannot demand respect and bowed loyalty and acceptance from the Irish people or even declare it's fundamental importance for our future. These things must be earned.

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