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Sinn Fein MEP calls for real debate on EU Constitution

11 January, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today called for a real debate on the proposed EU Constitution. The call was made during a debate in the European Parliament today, on the Corbett/Mendez de Vigo report on the Constitution. The report recommends that the European Parliament take a formal position on the Constitution prior to member states holding a referendum on the issue.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

'The proposed EU Constitution is one of the most significant social, political, economic and constitutional issues facing Ireland and the other EU member states today. Sinn Féin wants to see a full and frank debate on the EU Constitution in each member state leading up their respective referenda. The European Parliament and Commission have a role to play in this process by providing information to citizens in member states. Awareness raising of any kind makes a positive contribution to debate so long as the information provided is balanced and impartial.

"However the European Parliament and Commission must not interfere with the democratic process in each member state. Citizens must be entitled to assess the Constitution on an open and fair basis, listen to all sides of the argument, and decide for themselves.

"The Corbett/ Mendez de Vigo report is unfortunately such an interference. Calling for the wholehearted endorsement of the European Constitution and urging member states to achieve ratification by mid-2006 makes the European Parliament as an institution, a partisan player within each referendum. MEPs should not support any such call, and Sinn Féin will therefore vote against this report.

"Sinn Féin is currently discussing the detail of the European Constitution within the party and will formally take our decision at this years Ard Fheis in early March. We have already expressed serious concerns with the content of the proposed EU Constitution. Issues of democratic accountability, national sovereignty, neutrality and militarisation, the centralisation of powers within the EU, and the neo-liberal agenda are all key areas of concern.

"The EU Constitution is not a charter for an EU of Equals. Sinn Féin made clear that unless significant changes were made along the lines that we recommended to the Irish Government nearly a year ago, Sinn Féin would be unable to support the proposed constitution, and would once again have to campaign on the NO side in the referenda north and south." ENDS

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