[Sinn Fein]

19th September 2002

`Referendum campaign is battle for democracy' - Ó Caoláin

``A battle for democracy'' is how Sinn Fein's Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described the Nice referendum campaign following today's announcement that the poll will be held on 19 October. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``We welcome the fact that the date has been set at last and that it is a Saturday. We have long argued for Saturday polling to facilitate students and workers and we look forward to an increased turnout of NO voters.

``This campaign will be a battle for democracy. The government refused to implement the people's decision in the first referendum. They openly defied that decision by urging the other EU states to go ahead and ratify Nice. For that reason alone many people will be voting NO this time.

``It will also be a battle between the political and big business elite in this State and the ordinary citizens. The larger parties have joined with the employers' organisations in a campaign of scare-mongering, threatening an end to EU membership and the virtual collapse of the Irish economy if the people vote NO. To their shame the leadership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have joined this unholy coalition, thereby misrepresenting their members who voted NO last time.

``For the sake of democracy both in Ireland and the EU, Sinn Fein will be urging people to vote No for a second time. At home we want a state where the political elite can be called to account and must respect the will of the people. We want a rejection of the Nice Treaty which will end the EU as a partnership of equals and create a two-tier Europe.

``Sinn Fein has already begun our referendum campaign. We will be canvassing extensively and bringing our message throughout the length and breadth of the 26 Counties. We are confident that the decision of the people last year will be re-confirmed at the polls on 19 October.''

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