[Sinn Fein]

11 June 2001

Will of the people must be respected

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that the will of the people who voted against the Nice Treaty must be respected by the Irish government and other EU governments. Commenting on the statement of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind that there would be no renegotiation of the Treaty, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``Many attempts have been made since the Nice poll to explain away or dismiss the result. Now we have the Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind telling us that the Nice Treaty will remain despite the democratic decision of the Irish electorate to reject it. This is totally unacceptable. It is clear that all member states must ratify for any EU treaty to be valid. That cannot now happen and the Nice Treaty is a dead letter.

``The will of the people must be respected. The government and their allies on the Yes side took the electorate for granted. They must now listen to the voice of the people and implement the decision they made on 7 June. The government must not attempt to defy or overturn the decision of the electorate. That would be a travesty of democracy.

``A number of steps should be taken immediately. The government should withdraw its troops from NATO's Partnership for Peace and the Rapid Reaction Force which were major issues in the referendum and which motivated many people to Vote NO. They did so in the knowledge that Fianna Fáil had reneged on its promise to hold a referendum on PfP. The government should also facilitate a comprehensive debate on the way forward now for Ireland and the EU. They can no longer treat the people as a rubber stamp for a project of EU integration and centralisation which has no democratic basis.''

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