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Ó Caoláin - Political establishment more concerned with creating United States of Europe than United Ireland

20 January, 2004


Speaking during the Dáil statements on the Irish EU Presidency, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that many in the political establishment are "more concerned with creating a United States of Europe than about achieving a United Ireland".

Deputy Ó Caoláin also said that, "The Government programme has disappointed Irish hopes for a distinctive and progressive Presidency that could be a source of pride for our people. This failure reflects the Government's characteristic lack of both vision and political will when it comes to Europe. Sinn Féin, on the other hand, believes that another Europe, a socially just and socially responsible Europe of Equals is possible."

He went on to say that the Government, in agreeing the defence clauses of the draft Constitutional Treaty had "failed to pursue a policy of positive neutrality in action"

The Sinn Féin Dáil leader called on the Irish Government during its presidency to ensure that the Irish language becomes an official working language of the EU. Welcoming the accession of nine new working languages from 1 May, Deputy Ó Caoláin said that Irish should be among them and urged the Government to formally process this through the Council of Ministers and the European Commission. The Sinn Fein TDs have tabled a Dáil motion to this effect.

Full text of statement by Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin during statements on the EU Presidency, 20th January 2004

Eighty-five years ago tomorrow on 21 January 1919 the First Dáil Éireann met and declared the independence of the Irish Republic. In its Message to the Free Nations of the World the Dáil stated that "the permanent peace of Europe can never be secured by perpetuating military dominion for the profit of empire but only by establishing control of government in every land upon the basis of the free will of a free people".

Eighty-five years later it is a sad reality that many in the political establishment here are more concerned with creating a United States of Europe than they are about completing the work of the First Dáil and achieving a United Ireland. In the Irish Presidency programme the Government speaks of the historic ending of the post-war division of Europe. What about ending the division of Ireland?

The Government programme has disappointed Irish hopes for a distinctive and progressive Presidency that could be a source of pride for our people. This failure reflects the Government's characteristic lack of both vision and political will when it comes to Europe.

Sinn Féin, on the other hand, believes that another Europe, a socially just and socially responsible Europe of Equals IS possible, but remains to be built. In keeping with the Sinn Féin vision we have set out proposals for a positive Presidency and I urge the Government to adopt them and act upon them.

We believe that the Presidency should initiate a Global Social Justice Agenda, equivalent to the Lisbon and Tampere Agendas, and whose priorities would include UN reform and fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals . The Irish Presidency should also initiate a process for human rights-proofing of all EU legislation and policies, focusing not only on aid and trade, but also in relation to the so-called EU Anti-Terrorism Roadmap measures and the Common Migration and Asylum Policies that this Presidency will be responsible for progressing. Sinn Féin commends to the Government the Trócaire recommendations on how the Presidency could be used for the greater good, the proposal from Dóchas to make HUMAN Security the priority for this Presidency, and the recently launched Amnesty International EU Presidency Campaign "Human Rights Begins at Home". There is no valid reason why these recommendations should not be accepted by the Government.

On the issue of the Tampere Agenda measures which the Government is responsible for progressing, the human rights concerns raised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles and Amnesty International, not to mention our own Human Rights Commission and Refugee Council, MUST guide the development of any Common Migration and Asylum Policy.

Such a policy will not be acceptable to Sinn Féin unless the human rights sector is satisfied that it is fully compliant with our international obligations and maximises protection of the rights of refugees and migrants, rather than effecting a downwards harmonisation as is the current trend. We demand a full Dáil debate on this critical issue.

We recommend two key environmental initiatives and they are to campaign to make the EU a GM-Free Zone and to initiate a programme for the targeted reduction of carbon emissions on an EU-wide basis.

To enhance social protection the Presidency should oppose the privatisation agenda in the Lisbon Agenda and defend public services. It should push for the EU-wide upwards harmonisation of workers' rights and for further EU equal rights instruments including a specific Gender Equality Directive and a Disability Directive.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an naoi teanga a mbeidh aitheantas acu mar theangacha oifigiúla oibre san Aontas Eorpach ar Lá Bealtaine 2004. Ba chóir go mbeadh an stadas céanna ag an Ghaeilge agus tá rún maidir le sin curtha os comhair na Dála inniu ag Teachtaí Sinn Féin. Deireann an rún:

Iarrann an Dáil

Go gcuirfeadh Rialtas na hÉireann in iúl do Chomhairle na nAirí gur mian leis an Rialtas go mbeidh an Ghaeilge ina teanga oifigiúil oibre den

Aontas Eorpach, agus, Go n-iarrfadh an Rialtas ar Choimisiún na hEorpa an leasú cuí ar Rialachán 1, 1958, a dhréachtadh agus a chur faoi bhráid Chomhairle na nAirí.

We note that there will be great pressure on the Irish Government to conclude the fundamentally flawed Constitutional Treaty, the text of which has now been fully agreed save for the text on the vote-weighting formula. We urge the Government to stand up for the right of states not to be bullied into accepting the formula that the most powerful states will insist on.

By agreeing to the common defence text of the draft Constitutional Treaty the Government has not only acquiesced to the EU militarists but has also failed to pursue a policy of Positive Neutrality in Action as recommended by Sinn Féin.

Finally, we note with alarm that the Chair of the EU Military Committee General Hagglund has suggested that the agreements on Common Defence need not wait for the Treaty conclusion but instead should be progressed by the European Council. I cannot stress strongly enough that this would mean depriving the Irish and other populations of their right to a referendum on this issue, and cannot be allowed to happen under this Presidency or any other.

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