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The silly season has come early - Willie O'Dea accuses Fine Gael of hypocrisy on neutrality

25 March, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald, has said Minister Willie O'Dea's has some brass neck accusing anyone of hypocrisy. 'His party in government have done more to erode neutrality than any other party in the history of the state'.

Ms McDonald made her comments after a row broke out between Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea TD and Fine Gael, when clashed on the issue of neutrality. Minister O'Dea quizzed Fine Gael on whether or not they viewed the principle of neutrality as 'negotiable'.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"We all know where Fine Gael stands in regard to neutrality. They are quite happy for this state to be tied up in the military development of the EU. However Fianna Fail's approach to the issue is both contradictory and hypocritical. At least we know where we stand with Fine Gael.

"Minister Willie O'Dea's party are single handedly responsible for the erosion of the principle of neutrality in this state. I want to take this opportunity to challenge Minister O'Dea on Fianna Fail's record on Irish neutrality.

"Bertie Ahern and his merry band of Ministers have presided over a policy which has facilitated the use of our airspace and Shannon Airport by those actively involved in occupying Iraq. Recent reports have suggested that far from troop through flow decreasing, it has in effect increased dramatically in the last year. This is in direct contradiction to the principle of neutrality.

"Moreover, this government whole-heartedly supports the EU Constitution which 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. 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.

"Someone should point out to Willie O'Dea that we are still a few days away from April Fool's Day. People will not be deceived by his views on neutrality." ENDS

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