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Sinn Féin response to Oireachtas Committee recommendation to scrap Coughlan Judgment

2 April, 2009


Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald MEP has this afternoon described the Oireachtas Constitution Committee recommendation that the Coughlan Judgment be reversed as 'a travesty for democracy and yet another example as if one was needed of the governments arrogance and detachment from the very people it is suppose to serve.'

Ms McDonald added:

"It is interesting to note that Fine Gael and Labour in their work on the Constitution Committee are supporting the government in its efforts to thwart the legal obligation on broadcasters to ensure a 50/50 balance during a referendum debate.

"It is a nonsense to suggest that the stopwatch approach gives either side an unfair advantage and it is imperative that both sides of any debate get equal airing. It is worth remembering that if Sinn Féin were not in the Oireachtas there would have been no debate on Lisbon within the Irish parliament, despite the far reaching consequences of the Treaty in a multitude of policy areas.

"Debate may be thought of as cumbersome or even an inconvenience by our current opinion formers and decision makers however for the rest of us it is a cornerstone of democracy. Sinn Féin has argued for some time now that the Lisbon Treaty embodies the failed polices and decision making that has led Ireland and much of Europe into the current economic recession. We need a new Treaty for a new time, and clearly we also need new leadership for this new time.

"If the government is now seeking, with the support of Fine Gael and Labour to reverse the Coughlan judgment on foot of their collective failure to persuade the Irish people of the benefits of the flawed Lisbon Treaty then we have to ask ourselves what is next? The referendum process itself?

"Sinn Féin in its submission to the Oireachtas Constitution Committee on its review of the constitutional referendum process noted that ‘It is a danger to democracy to allow a Government to change the rules under which it operates, without oversight by the people directly. Representative democracy cannot supplant the role of the people. Change effected by popular vote in a referendum has a greater legitimacy than change effected by other means." ENDS

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