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Another Europe is possible -- McDonald addresses Seanad on EU Constitution

18 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald commended the Leader and the Seanad, Mary O'Rourke for holding a debate on the EU Constitution to which she had invited the MEPs from the 26 Counties to participate. However, Ms McDonald said, "On the next occasion that we meet, I hope each of the 16 MEPs elected in Ireland will have the opportunity to participate in this debate.

She went on to point out that Referenda on the constitutional treaty will take place North and South, which meant that for the first time, all voters in Ireland will be asked to give their verdict on European matters. In light of that, she said, "It is important that the debate and consideration is all-Ireland in nature."

Speaking to the main issue of the EU Constitution Ms McDonald said, "The debate is not about whether we are pro-European or anti-European it is about the nature of the EU as a political project. It is a project that must be closely attached and in line with popular wishes and demands. The constitution brings us to a fork in the road. I believe another Europe is possible.

"A desire exists among sections of the political elite to establish a de facto federal Europe. I do not express the countervailing view with the intention of being awkward or irritating Members of this Chamber but because I do not believe that such a European Union would be in the best interests of people in Ireland or other jurisdictions.

"Earlier this week, Sinn Féin outlined its position and expressed its determination to campaign for a "No" vote in this referendum. The reasons for this relate to democracy, the militarisation of the EU and matters of economic policy.

"The Laeken declaration told us that the Convention would consider how to address the democratic deficit. It is accepted that a democratic malaise lies at the heart of the European Union. The Convention was to solve this problem but has failed to do so.

"The Commission is not bound to withdraw or amend a proposal should national parliaments exercise a yellow card. The constitution has chosen to overlook solutions to the democratic deficit. If it is passed, it will do nothing to remedy the democratic malaise at the heart of the European Union.

"I have been criticised for scaremongering on the issue of militarisation but have done nothing of the sort. The constitution includes a special place for NATO. A UN mandate is not required for European operations. A provision exists for a European armaments agency. A requirement is placed on member states to increase military capabilities. This, to my logic, suggests an increase in military spending.

"I reject the suggestion that the economic dogma which is currently at the heart of the EU project should be set in a constitutional text. I think this is unprecedented and inappropriate."

Ms McDonald concluded by calling on "the Government to bring forward, as speedily as possible, the referendum Bill and ask for the early announcement of a date for the referendum." ENDS

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