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Fine Gael approach to EU Constitution is contradictory - Mary Lou McDonald

16 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell's support for the EU Constitution is based on a false reading of the document.

Ms McDonald was responding to comments made by Gay Mitchell MEP yesterday when he said that the EU Constitution provides for a common defence entity based on adherence to the principles of the UN, the pursuit of nuclear and biological disarmament, a commitment to mutual defence, and provision for an individual member state opt out.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin is absolutely opposed to the ending of neutrality in this state, as proposed by Fine Gael. The concept of neutrality is of fundamental importance to very many Irish people who regard it as a principled position in a time of increased military spending throughout the world.

"Gay Mitchell's comments are either ill-advised or disingenuous. The EU Constitution is quite explicit that any future foreign, defence or security policy must be compatible with the common security and defence policy of NATO. It obliges member states to 'actively and unreservedly support the Unions common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty‚. There is no requirement for a UN mandate for any future military interventions'

"Equally troubling is the inclusion of Euratom Treaty protocols in the Constitution. This will mean the continued promotion of nuclear power as the preferred source of energy in the EU.

"The EU Constitution contains a 'European Defence Agency' paid for by member states; an obligation on member states to 'progressively increase military expenditure'; and no guarantee or protection of the neutrality of member states such as the 26 Counties.

"While member states retain the right not to send troops to any given EU military mission, Irish taxpayers will none the less have to foot the bill while the government is constrained by the 'loyalty' clause irrespective of the views of the electorate.

"Gay Mitchel is right when he says that we need an honest and informed debate about the detail of the EU Constitution. It is unfortunate that his own comments clearly misrepresent the content of the Constitution."ENDS

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