[Sinn Fein]

21 January 2002

Irish people's rejection of the Treaty of Nice must be respected

Government cannot change the rules because they lost the game

Speaking at a debate hosted by the Friends of Europe in Brussels this evening titled `What does the Irish Referendum No mean to the Convention'  Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Sinn Fein's representative to the National Forum on Europe said that ``the Irish government cannot change the rules because they lost the game. They must respect the Irish people's decision on the Treaty of Nice and call for the process of ratification to end. '' Also on the platform are Fine Gael's John Bruton, Fianna Fáil Brian Crowley and the Green's Patricia McKenna.   Mr. Ó Snodaigh said:

``The question most frequently asked by the Yes campaign following the rejection of the Treaty of Nice is why did the Irish electorate turn its back on Europe. The answer is we didn't.

``Despite the treaty being presented as a treaty for enlargement the Irish electorate clearly understood it wasn't solely about that. By voting No, people were calling for a halt to the headlong rush towards the further centralising of the EU, we were voting no to a two-tier Europe, voting no to undermining sovereignty and voting no to bringing us closer into a European Army and NATO.

``The Irish people did not reject enlargement, we in fact agreed to it under the Amsterdam Treaty.  But what we want to see is all applicant countries being dealt with on a basis of equality with current members.

``There is growing anger however at the refusal of the government to respect the democratic wishes of the Irish people. The ratification of the Nice Treaty required the support of all EU member states. The Irish people voted no, therefore the Nice Treaty no longer exists. It is time that the government faced up to the reality that the people have rejected the Nice Treaty and therefore this State cannot ratify it. It is our view that the reaction to the referendum result reinforces what we have said about the undemocratic nature of the drive to deepen EU integration.

``It is also deeply concerning that there is such a fear of consulting with the people of Europe regarding the future of the EU. While this process may take time it would mean that the people of Europe would have a say and feel greater ownership of the future development of the EU.

``I want to take this opportunity to once again call on the Irish government, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council of Ministers to respect the Irish people's rejection of the Nice Treaty and to stop the process of ratification of the Treaty.

``Sinn Fein want a Europe of equals and we will continue to lobby and demand a better Europe for all rather than a second best one for some.'' ENDS

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