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Sinn Féin EU East Candidate speaks at International Peace Conference in Strasbourg

5 April, 2009


Sinn Féins Candidate in the Ireland East European Constituency Tómas Sharkey addressed the International Peace Conference in Strasbourg today. The event was organised as an alternative to the NATO summit in the city.

The Louth Councillor said:

"We are here today at the 60th anniversary of NATO not to celebrate, but to call on all aligned NATO states to understand that the people of Europe and all across the world want lasting peace.

“Peace does not just mean the absence of war. It means eliminating the root causes of conflict. Peace building means strengthening democracy, equality and justice. These are all the values that ordinary citizens across the world want to nurture.

“Our experience in Ireland has been of constantly trying to address the causes of conflict. Our history is of passive resistance, civil unrest, uprisings, setbacks, mass movements, political agitation and parliamentary engagement. The ANC and Nelson Mandela helped our party work on a peace strategy at a time when we were censored. We worked against the odds.

“Sinn Féin is to the forefront of addressing the root causes of conflict. As an All-Island party we seek out not to take power but to share it. This strengthens democracy. We push the agenda for equality and justice.

"Thousands of people have gathered this weekend Strasbourg to have their voices heard. World leaders are failing to listen to the people. The Irish people struck a blow for neutrality, anti militarisation and peace when they rejected the Lisbon Treaty. That simple act of democracy is being attacked. The European Commission and Parliament, political leaders throughout the EU and even our own government have rejected the voice of the Irish people.

"This growing gulf between the people and our governments is worrying. At a time when schools are not being built, hospitals struggle to care for the sick and poverty is growing governments are committing taxpayers’ money money to buying more and more weapons. Cluster bombs will not provide safe water. Bullets will not cure malaria.

"Continuing efforts by the EU to embed the Union into NATO must be resisted. The Parliament adopted the Vatanen Report in February, which seeks to strengthen that relationship. Neutrality is being eroded. The people are being asked to pay for more militarisation.

"Sinn Féin published a full set of proposals to amend the Lisbon Treaty. We presented them to the Irish government. Our government has not accepted the proposals and are intent on passing the Treaty as it was last year; Protocols and guarantees will not amend the articles that commit Europe to a military structure.

"The message we need to take from today’s conference is that hard work, outreach and alliance building can change things. Most importantly, we want the governments in Europe to accept the principle of democracy and accept that the Lisbon Treaty is dead. Ireland and Europe need a new treaty for a new time." ENDS

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