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Doherty attacks Government double-speak on neutrality

20 May, 2004

Sinn Féin North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty has accused Fianna Fáil Minister for Defence Michael Smith of "double-speak" on the issue of neutrality. He made his comments in the wake of a statement from Fianna Fáil this morning, which criticised Fine Gael for its "dubious views on neutrality".

Mr. Doherty said:

"I nearly fell off my seat when I read the statement from Michael Smith criticising Fine Gael for its 'Beyond Neutrality' policy. Is he for real? The Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat Government has done more to erode neutrality in this state than any government in our history.

"100,000 people took to the streets of Dublin to protest against the War in Iraq last February, and to call on the Government to have no part in it. Did the Government listen? No. It continued to allow hundreds of thousands of US soldiers to stop-over at Shannon on their way to invade a country without a United Nations resolution. Mr Smith claims the Irish Government has a long tradition of supporting the UN. Where was that support last year?

"Because of this Government, we are now part of the EU Rapid Reaction Force, and NATO's 'Partnership for Peace'. We are involved in the arms trade, as an Amnesty International report recently showed. Since 1997, the 26-Counties has exported €240 million of military goods and €23.7 billion of dual-use goods (which have both military and civilian applications), including technology used by the French and US nuclear programmes.

"Michael Smith cannot pretend to be in support of neutrality when he is in a government that is actively trying to write it out of existence. Only last year Sinn Féin proposed a bill calling for neutrality to be enshrined in the constitution, and Michael Smith and his government voted against it. He gets one thing right in his statement -- Fine Gael's policy on neutrality is at odds with what the Irish people want. Unfortunately, so is the Government's.

"Instead of engaging in pre-election double-speak, the Minister might be better served by reading the Sinn Féin document "Positive Neutrality in Action" which will be launched next week." ENDS.

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