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Sinn Féin backs Referendum on Future EU Constitution

20 April, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on EU affairs Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the decision to hold a referendum on the EU constitution, but expressed concerns at the timeframe.

Ms de Brún said:

'If the EU has a constitution for the first time ever, this will play a huge role in the shaping of Ireland over the coming decades. The current draft constitution in our view will only serve to speed up the development of the EU as an economic and military superpower. Such a superpower will undermine national sovereignty and increase the democratic deficit, which already exists within the EU.

'There is clearly a need to simplify and consolidate existing EU treaties. While the draft constitution is being presented as such an exercise it is clearly much more than this. This process is being used to undermine national sovereignty and increase the power of EU institutions. For example, the current draft constitution makes fundamental changes in the structures of the EU, gives those structures more powers and gives the EU a single legal personality for the first time.

'The effect of these changes will see a shift in the balance of power yet further away from national parliaments and in doing so will take the single biggest step so far in the creation of an EU superstate.

'Such a fundamental legal and constitutional change in the relationship between member states and the EU must be decided by referendum. Sinn Féin have consistently said that a referendum is required in order that people have their say. To introduce such a fundamental change without a popular mandate would be undemocratic.

'While nationalists in the north would naturally prefer to cast their vote in a referendum called by the Irish government, the fact is that in the past we have had no say at all. I welcome the fact that those living here will be able to cast their vote on this important issue. ENDS

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