[Sinn Fein]

9 January 2001

Government must `come clean on neutrality' and hold a referendum

Sinn Fein has described Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's comments in Malta that the EU never interfered on neutrality as ``incredible''.  Calling for a referendum on neutrality, Sinn Fein's spokesperson on Neutrality & European Affairs, Councillor Seán Crowe said:

``For the Taoiseach to say that Ireland had `never any difficulty whatever from Europe' on matters relating to neutrality is incredible.  For years the EU has been pursuing a `common defence policy' which has slowly but steadily eroded our neutrality.  That this is happening with the support of Establishment parties, without any proper public consultation process, makes this situation all the worse.

``In 1998, the Amsterdam Treaty itself committed the European Union to `common foreign and security policy [and] the progressive framing of a common defence policy'.  Despite assurances from the Government that this had no implications for our neutrality we are now witnessing the creation of  a European army of 60,000 supported by an ancillary force of 150,000 which can intervene outside the EU's borders, including making war with or without a UN mandate.  There are also proposals being considered that the EU should formally merge the Western European Union with EU.

``It is time that the Government came clean and held a referendum on the issue of Irish neutrality.''

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