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Sinn Fein dissents from Committee report on Lisbon Agenda

22 April, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has dissented from the report of the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs on the Lisbon (EU economic) Strategy published today because it focuses almost exclusively on competitiveness and fails to address social inclusion, the third plank of the strategy.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The positive and progressive social inclusion aspects of the Lisbon Agenda are being eclipsed by corporate concerns and the privatisation agenda. I am disappointed that the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs report follows that trend, and for this reason I cannot in good conscience attach my name to this document.

"The reality is that in an enlarged EU, 68 million people will still face poverty and social exlcusion. To me, the fact that 55 million people in the present EU-15 are still poor decades later is a scathing indictment of EU economic policy to date. To ignore the parts of the Lisbon Agenda aimed at tackling poverty and inequality is to ignore this economic failure of the EU. It is also to ignore the unacceptable fact that despite Ireland's new wealth, we still have the highest rate of poverty in the EU-25, with levels of social spending well below the EU average. This Committee report will unfortunately reinforce the notion that profit should continue to take precedence over the welfare of people. I can't accept it.

"I support the European Anti Poverty Network's call on the Oireachtas Committee not to stop here, but to undertake a follow up report that deals specifically with the social inclusion plank of the Lisbon Agenda and its implications for policy in Ireland. I would also reiterate my own call for the Committee to include a proper process of broad consultation on the Lisbon Agenda with civil society interests such as the trade unions and anti-poverty sector. No credible report on the Lisbon Agenda can be complete without these two elements." ENDS

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