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Government underestimates electorate commitment to building Ireland of Equals

21 May, 2004

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin's EU election candidate for Dublin in closing the press conference to launch the party's citizenship referendum campaign said, "The Government is quite "prepared to risk massive social damage for their own perceived short-term electoral advantage". She encouraged people to reject the referendum saying, "The Government underestimates you, the people. They underestimate your commitment to building an Ireland of Equals. Now that the referendum is being forced on us, we have the opportunity to send McDowell and the Government a very clear and powerful message by rejecting their racist, ill-conceived and cynical proposal."

Ms. McDonald said, "It is quite clear from the evidence of a growth in hate crimes on both sides of the border which have resulted in injury and deaths, and an increase in racist incidents including the targeting of pregnant non-national women since the referendum was proposed that this Government is prepared to risk massive social damage for their own perceived short-term electoral advantage.

"They obviously believe that they can distract attention away from the real concerns of people with exaggerated and false scaremongering. They are doing this in the vain hope that the Irish electorate won't see through this cynical and callous ploy. Sinn Féin believes that this Government are underestimating the Irish electorate. We have witnessed a growing demand for and a commitment to the building of an Ireland of Equals ? we have seen demands for equality of access to healthcare and housing, for recognition of the rights of people with disabilities, a more equitable tax system and a fair immigration system.

"In calling for a NO vote on June 11th we want the electorate to send a clear and unequivocal message to the bombastic and dictatorial Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, that we will not be brow-beaten into changing the Constitution to serve his cynical agenda."ENDS

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