[Sinn Fein]

28 April 2001

Government must allow debate on Treaty of Nice

Mayor of Sligo Alderman Seán MacManus addressing a party conference on the Treaty of Nice this morning has called on the government ``to bring an end to their increasingly negative and abusive statements and instead participate in a much needed debate on the issues central to the referendum - sovereignty and neutrality'' Alderman MacManus said:

``In recent days and weeks we have seen the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, along with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Brian Cowen insulting the electorate with outlandish claims of Tory Eurosceptic financing of the No campaign and blatant attempts to sow confusion into the debate.

``Their allegations that people campaigning for a No vote are anti-European and do not understand the Treaty do not stand up.  As a party to the No campaign Sinn Fein's analysis of the Treaty is very clear.

``We believe that if ratified the Nice Treaty will transform the EU beyond all recognition.  It will create a super-state to serve the interests of multi-national business instead of the community's 370 million citizens.

``For the record - Sinn Fein are not anti-Europe. We are opposed to an EU whose institutions are unelected and, for the most part, unaccountable. We are opposed to the gradual erosion of our economic and political sovereignty.

``Sinn Fein activists, through information campaigns, public meetings and door to door canvassing will be ensuring that the arguments against the Treaty of Nice are heard in every corner of Ireland.

``We will not allow people to be hoodwinked by a government determined to railroad us into a European super-state which will serve the interests of their friends in big business.

``These are not just cliches. We are losing control of the right to set tax rates, borrow money and pay wage increases. These are all crucial aspects of managing a national economy.

Speaking in relation to the Rapid Reaction Force the Mayor of Sligo said:

``Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and Mary Harney may insist that it's not a European Army but EU Commission President Romano Prodi has told us that he thinks differently.  He said:

``When I was talking about a European Army, I was not joking. If you don't want to call it a European army, don't call it a European Army. You can call it `Margaret'; you can call it `Mary-Anne'; you can find any name, but it is a joint effort for peace-keeping missions - the first time you have a joint, not bilateral, effort at European level.''

``The reality is that in evolving the EU in to a single super-state there is also a move to establish a Single European Army which will be dominated by NATO member states.  This is not in the best interests of Europe and it is certainly not in the best interests of Ireland or the Irish people''

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