[Sinn Fein]

3rd July 2000

Fianna Fáil must say clearly if it wants EU military alliance

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has challenged the Irish Government to state ``without any ambiguity'' if it is moving towards joining an EU military alliance.

Mr Adams said that comments reported today (Monday) from Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen advocating participation in EU defence policy will set alarm bells ringing amongst those opposed to the creation of a European Superstate with a military arm. ``The issue of Irish neutrality is not just a 26-County matter but is an issue of the utmost importance for all of the people of this island.'' The Sinn Fein leader said:

``Brian Cowen's promise that `our traditional foreign policy' will not be compromised by participation in an EU defence policy rings very hollow when you consider that for many years now the process of European Union integration has been steadily eroding our sovereignty and our neutrality.

``Brian Cowen assures us that `the EU is not a mutual defence organisation and will never be', But Fianna Fáil also promised us that they would hold a referendum on joining NATO's Partnership for Peace and they never did. They went back on that promise.

``Sinn Fein believes there is no role for the European Union in military and defence matters. International peace-keeping should be under the auspices of the United Nations. But this does not mean that we are isolationist. On the contrary, we are internationalists who support a pro-active foreign policy.

``We want to see positive neutrality in action, using the goodwill and respect enjoyed by the Irish nation throughout the world to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts, disarmament, protection of the environment and the fair distribution of the world's resources. We cannot do this if we acquiesce in the creation of a European Superstate with a military arm.

``The Irish people have a very special role to play in international affairs. As a people who have been fighting against colonialism for centuries we are unique in the European Union, most of whose members are former colonial powers.

``Our responsibility therefore should be to work with other nations to develop a bridge within Europe. We need a bridge between those emerging nations in eastern and southern Europe which are disadvantaged through years of repression and poverty, and between Europe and the peoples of what is called `the South' - the poorer nations of the world representing the majority of humanity, who are crippled by a foreign debt which keeps them permanently impoverished.

``Ireland should be pro-actively promoting the campaign which is demanding that this debt is scrapped. This is the type of foreign policy initiative that Sinn Fein supports.

``It is clear that the issue of neutrality is surrounded by myths and misconceptions. We are told it is isolationist. We are told that it is anti-European. We are told it is backward-looking.

``Neutrality is not isolationist. It is not anti-European but seeks a more enlightened definition of Europe. It is forward looking. And it is much more than a tradition. It is a principle and a policy essential for our survival and development as a peaceful and democratic country.

``Sinn Fein wants to halt the erosion of neutrality and we want to establish it more centrally in the way we want to run our country and our foreign policy in the 21st Century.''ENDS

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