[Sinn Fein]

10 May 2001

Cowen misrepresents SF arguments

Sinn Fein Mayor of Sligo Sean MacManus has accused Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen of misrepresenting the Sinn Fein position on the Treaty of Nice. Alderman MacManus said:

``Nowhere and at no time has Sinn Fein said that 7 applicant states are not worthy of membership of the EU. What we have said clearly and repeatedly is that the Treaty of Nice is not about enlargement. The changes proposed in Nice will come about whether or not any new State joins. Those changes move the EU from a partnership of states, each with an equal voice, towards a single state dominated by the larger countries.

``Sinn Fein is not opposed to new states joining the EU. That is a decision for the people of applicant states. We are opposed to the further centralisation and militarisation of the EU, either now or in the future, if and when there is enlargement. The argument is the same if no state, 7 states or 27 states join.

``There is nothing extraordinary about our view of the impact of the EU on agriculture.   The Common Agricultural Policy had three core aims, to maintain the largest amount of farmers on the land, to ensure a fair standard of living for farmers and fair prices for consumers. It has clearly failed in all of these areas. The Department of Agriculture's own strategy report 2010 predicts that by the end of the decade there might only be 20,000 commercial farms left in the 26 Counties. Does the government think that this is a success?

``In 1998, the EU Court of Auditors report showed that in 1997 10% of 26-County farmers got over 1 billion in CAP funding, over 66% of total CAP funds that year. Was this a fair allocation of funding?  These are the realities of the CAP. It has been good for the business of farming, but has been bad for farmers and rural communities. Mr Cowen says Ireland has received 24 billion in CAP funding. What we are asking is who got this money and who benefited? Was it all farmers equally or just an elite group?

``The Minister is attempting to portray opponents of the Treaty of Nice as opposing enlargement and opposing our continued membership of the EU. This misrepresents our position. The real question in this debate is ``What kind of EU do we want?'' and Sinn Fein wants a democratic EU.''

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