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Cowen refuses to clarify WTO Trade Veto

22 May, 2008

Speaking after today's National Forum on Europe debate in Dublin Castle, Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald accused An Taoiseach Brian Cowen of "refusing to clarify whether Ireland would lose its veto on international trade agreements if the Lisbon Treaty were ratified."

During the question and answer session at today's Forum debate, Brian Cowen was asked to clarify the issue of the veto by Enda Kenny TD, Joe Costello TD, Mary Lou McDonald MEP, as well as representatives of the Irish Farmers Association and Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association.

Mary Lou McDonald said:

"Irish Farmers and rural communities are deeply worried with the current round of World Trade Negotiations. The Irish Farmers Association and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association have called on the government to veto the deal if it is bad for Ireland. Sinn Fein supports this call.

"However our assessment of the Lisbon Treaty is that it will make this dangerous situation even worse. The veto which could be used to block the WTO deal will be gone if the treaty is ratified. Article 188C and 188N make this change crystal clear.

"During today's debate a large number of members of the National Forum on Europe called on An Taoiseach to clarify this matter. However in his answers Brian Cowen side-stepped the issue. Obviously if An Taoiseach believes the veto will be retained he would have made that clear today.

"This is just one of the 68 vetoes which the Lisbon Treaty removes, which along with the loss of a permanent Commissioner and the halving of our voting strength at the Council of Ministers represents a significant loss of power and influence for Ireland at the EU.

"Sinn Fein wants Ireland to remain at the heart of the European Union, and believes the best way of achieving this is to vote No on June 12th." ENDS

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