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McLaughlin - EU constitution represents serious challenge for Irish society

15 July, 2003

Speaking at today's press conference to launch Sinn Féin's initial response to the draft EU constitution the Party's chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin said: "This new EU draft constitution represents a serious challenge for Irish society. It is a test for the Irish government in that it is they who will have to negotiate through the Inter-Governmental-Conference (IGC) not just on behalf of the 26-Country citizens but ideally on behalf of all the citizens on the island.

"Our reading of the constitution leads us to believe that the ongoing process of a developing economic and military superpower emerging will be sped up by ratifying an EU constitution. However, we also recognise that there are some positive aspects to this treaty that must be revisited in the coming negotiations process and fleshed out into better proposals.

"Sinn Fein wants to be in the forefront of the debate on what type of Europe is best for us all. We believe that democracy is built upon the sovereignty of the people expressed in the form of the democratic nation-state. Democracy is best exercised at local and national level. We have a policy of critical engagement with the EU.

"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 sovereignty and increase the power of the EU as the Draft Constitution does. We are opposed to the development of the European Union into a state therefore we do not accept the argument that the EU must have a Constitution.

"Notwithstanding our scepticism about the whole notion of a European Constitution, Sinn Féin believes that it is our responsibility to influence the debate and to ensure that the 26 county Government uses its negotiating position to ensure that those anti-democratic elements currently contained in the Draft Constitution are excised."ENDS

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