[Sinn Fein]

9th July 2002

IDA intervention in referendum ``crass'' and ``outrageous''

Sinn Fein representative to the Forum on Europe and spokesperson on European Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has slammed the IDA for what he described as a ``crass intervention'' in the Nice referendum campaign. He went on to accuse the agency of ``going far beyond its remit and acting as a mouthpiece for the Government campaign''. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``The Chief Executive of the IDA in his speech at the launch of the agency's annual report today has made a crass if somewhat revealing intervention in the Nice Treaty referendum campaign. His assertion that we will be marginalized in the EU if we vote no says a lot about democracy in the Union and the respect it is suppose to have for small nations. As a member of the EU it is our democratic right, which must be respected by the other member states to reject this treaty. If we do so then the treaty must be renegotiated.

``To suggest as the IDA does that Ireland will be seen as ``withdrawing from European consensus'', ``turning our backs on the future of Europe'' and ``unwilling to accept the challenges now posed by a larger EU'' is absolutely outrageous and is a complete distortion of our democratic rights as member states of the EU. These comments are totally unjustified and are, an attempt to spread alarm at the prospect of a second No vote. There is no basis for their assertion that such a result would adversely affect the Irish economy.

``We are not demanding anything special here. All that is being asked in relation to the treaty is that all nations to the Union, including the applicant states are operating on a level playing field, that there is democratic accountability throughout the EU and that the Union primarily serves the interests of its citizens.

``The IDA has a job to do. It is tasked with attracting inward investment and developing employment opportunities at home. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum it will still be tasked with these responsibilities. It is there to serve the interests of the people of this state. The people of this state already rejected the Treaty of Nice. This should have been respected. The IDA as a powerful and influential agency should be mindful of its responsibilities. It has gone far beyond its remit and should stop acting as a mouthpiece for the Government in this campaign.'' ENDS

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