[Sinn Fein]

14th October 2002

Sinn Fein brief Diplomatic Corps on Nice Treaty

A No vote will be good for Ireland and for the applicant states

Sinn Fein TD for Dublin South Central Aengus Ó Snodaigh and the head of the party's International Department Joan O'Connor today briefed members of the Diplomatic Corps on the party's position on the Nice Treaty and the issue of EU enlargement in particular. Sinn Fein Dáil Group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin will be raising the issue of enlargement and seeking support for the party's motion declaring support for enlargement of the EU when he questions the Taoiseach in the Dáil at 4.15pm tomorrow. Speaking this afternoon Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``Over the last three weeks there has been a lot of misinformation on the issue of enlargement so we felt that it was important that we talk directly to the representatives of other European countries to outline clearly Sinn Fein's position on the Nice Treaty.

``When we vote on the Treaty of Nice on 19 October we will not be voting on the issue of enlargement. A `No' vote in this State cannot and will not stop the process of enlargement and it is acknowledged - albeit reluctantly - by the `Yes' side that ratification of Nice is not necessary for enlargement to proceed. We used this mornings meeting with representatives from over 20 embassies, including three applicant states to deliver this message directly.

``There have already been many attempts at moral blackmail in this campaign by those who quite falsely claim that a second rejection of the Treaty of Nice would plunge the enlargement process into chaos and deny the applicant states their chance to come in on an equal basis.

``Our vote in this referendum is about the governance of the EU as it stands before enlargement. We have a say in the matter - the applicant countries do not. That need not be the case. It is possible to enlarge under existing EU treaties. Each applicant will have to conclude an accession treaty whether Nice is ratified or not. Accession without Nice would allow the new members to join in the negotiations about EU governance after they have come in. Surely that is the best way to promote the rights and interests of the applicant states.

``Naturally the applicants see it from a totally different point of view. As applicants for membership they are in no position to say to the EU that it is unfair to change the rules before you let us join the club. They fear that that would jeopardize their chances of the speediest accession possible.

``The Irish people rejected Nice last year. If the Irish Government had done its constitutional duty and formally notified the other EU Member States that this State had declined to ratify the Treaty of Nice then that Treaty would have fallen and arrangements for accession of applicants could have proceeded without waiting unnecessarily for Nice. They could have been well advanced at this stage if the Irish government had not embarked on this equally unnecessary referendum in order to overturn the decision of the people.

``The Treaty of Nice brings to an end the EU as a partnership of equal sovereign states, proceeding together on the basis of agreement. For Ireland and for the applicant states this is probably the most serious objection to Nice. A rejection of Nice will be good for democracy in Ireland and in the EU and that can only be in the best interests of the applicant states as well.''

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