Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ó Snodaigh calls for full public debate on draft EU Constitutional Treaty

11 September, 2003

Sinn Féin Delegate to the Forum on Europe Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has again called on the Government to publish a White Paper and facilitate a full public debate in civic participatory fora and in the legislature on the draft EU Constitutional Treaty prior to the opening of the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) negotiations on October 4. Speaking after a Forum meeting on the subject in Dublin Castle, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The draft Constitution has been portrayed as a necessary consolidation and simplification of existing Treaties, but it is much more than that. It makes fundamental changes in the structures of the EU, gives those structures more powers, and gives the EU a single legal personality for the first time. The net effect is to shift the balance of power yet further from sovereign national parliaments and towards the EU, and to take the single biggest step so far in the creation of an EU superstate.

"Sinn Féin agrees that the simplification and consolidation of existing EU Treaties is necessary. But we are opposed to such a process being used to diminish national sovereignty and increase the power of the EU as the draft Constitution does. We have very serious reservations about a number of aspects of the draft document, and unlike Fine Gael and Labour, do NOT accept that the IGC should adopt the document as it stands.

"I am also concerned that while the Ministers have stated that they do not find every provision acceptable, they have so far refused to be specific about what they will be proposing to change. Given that even the British Government has now published a White Paper outlining their positions on the draft, it is just not acceptable that, for example, the Government has still not informed the Irish people of their position on the more contentious Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Defence provisions published in June.

"We believe that it is the responsibility of the Government to be open and transparent with the Irish people about its position particularly on the controversial aspects of the draft, and further, to seek in negotiations to remedy those aspects that are not acceptable, particularly those that undermine the fundamental principles of good global citizenship.

"Although Sinn Féin was excluded from the Convention, we have made constructive written submissions to the Government with respect to the IGC negotiating position on these and other issues. We have made our position clear and we want the Government to do the same.

"Time is running out. We need clarity, we deserve openness from this Government, and we need proper public debate - both in civic participatory forums and in the legislature - PRIOR to the opening of negotiations on October 4. We need this Government to listen to the people‚s reactions and take their concerns on board. We don‚t want to see the same situation we saw with their approach to Nice and the WTO talks, where they keep the public in the dark about their real position about how Ireland will be represented in international fora on issues of great importance about which Irish people care deeply. This is not acceptable.

"Despite Government assurances that their European Scrutiny Act and the National Forum on Europe have fixed the democratic deficit, it unfortunately still exists." ENDS

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