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Ó Snodaigh exposes new threat to Irish neutrality

19 March, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh today accused the new EU Foreign Policy Chief of excluding Ireland from policy formulation. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said a meeting of seven EU Foreign Ministers took place in Finland to develop the EU’s approach to Palestine and other Foreign policy issues to which Ireland was not invited.

Speaking at a Peace and Neutrality Alliance press conference in Dublin today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “Developments that are happening right now at a European level risk scuppering our neutrality forever.

“The government said vote Yes to Lisbon and we will be at the heart of Europe, influencing policy. Sinn Féin disagreed and unfortunately recent developments are proving us right. In the post-Lisbon context a new foreign policy chief has been put in place – Baroness Catherine Ashton and the mammoth External Action Service is also in the process of being established.

“This is the woman who publicly dismissed our Foreign Affairs Minister Mícheál Martin’s report and recommendations on Gaza. In what was classed as a major snub by observers it was clear she has concluded that Irish opinions are worthless when it comes to EU foreign policy.

“Only last weekend the Baroness had an exclusive meeting in Finland with seven other Foreign Ministers to discuss the EU’s approach to Palestine and other foreign policy issues. The views of France, Spain and Italy are worth listening to it seems but Ireland’s opinion not so. Far from being at the heart of Europe, we are sitting out in the cold.

“I’ve checked with our Minister’s office and though they were aware of the meeting. We were not invited. Our government may well attempt to downplay the significance of that meeting but the Finnish government’s press release issued on Monday speaks for itself. ‘A new approach to building the EU common foreign policy was taken over the weekend’ it reads. ‘We have progressed to the stage where discussions are already focusing on content and policy making’, Ashton is quoted as saying. And ‘a continuation to the informal small group meetings was planned straight away’. So be in no doubt there will be more of the same.

“I am calling on our government to spell it out to the Baroness, and to the rest of them who are currently vying for the highly lucrative External Action Service posts, that we are a neutral and independent nation. That we will not be bound by foreign policies formulated behind our backs or indeed by policies with which the Irish people disagree.” ENDS

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