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Secret ballots will do nothing to enhance public confidence in European Parliament

16 December, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning said that the European Parliament must review its procedures if it is to ensure a level of 'public confidence in its workings'. She also said Sinn Féin was committed to 'transparency and accountability within the EU'.

Ms de Brún was speaking after a row erupted in the European Parliament during the vote on the opening of talks with Turkey, when 147 MEPs forced a secret ballot on the issue.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"It is an absolute disgrace that the vote on opening up of accession talks with Turkey was held in secret. Sinn Féin is opposed to secret ballots or votes in the European Parliament, or any other forum to which we are elected. We will not accept 'an old boys club' or a secret culture of nods and winks. EU citizens are entitled to know how their MEPs are voting on such crucial issue.

"The citizens of the European Union demand institutions which are transparent and accountable. Once again the debate on EU transparency comes into sharp focus. Only last month the EU Ombudsman's report made clear that a number of EU institutions (including the European Commission) had not adhered to recommendations and regulations on the access to public documents.

"Sinn Féin has consistently said that there is a democratic deficit within the European Union and its institutions. How can the European Commission and Council sell the European Constitution to the Irish people with a straight face if they are prepared to hold secret meetings and secret votes away from the gaze of the people?

"I am calling for a complete overhaul of the European institutions and their relationship to the people of the EU. Secret ballot and secret meetings will do nothing to enhance public confidence in the EU. Sinn Féin will accept nothing less than a truly democratic and accountable EU." ENDS

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