21st March 2002
McLaughlin attends National Forum on Europe
Government proposal on neutrality will have no basis in law
Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, party delegate to the National Forum on Europe said: ``the government's proposal regarding a declaration on Irish neutrality from EU leaders would have no standing in law and would not change the Nice Treaty one iota. The government must respect the decision of the electorate on the Nice Treaty.'' Mr. McLaughlin said:
``One of the core issues facing voters particularly following the Nice referendum is what kind of Europe we want and how best this can be achieved. But we must be able to move forward on the basis of democracy and respect.
``Last June, the electorate in this state rejected the Treaty of Nice. When that democratic decision was made, the government was under a clear obligation to implement it. But the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste have not implemented the decision of the people and have not respected their democratically expressed will. This issue is crucial. Because either the government believes that the democratic decision of the electorate means nothing or their failure to defend the decision of the people reinforces exactly what we have said about the undemocratic nature of the drive to deepen EU integration.
``I note the government's proposal regarding a declaration on Irish neutrality from EU leaders in advance of a re-run of the referendum. However this proposed declaration would have no standing in law and would not change the Nice Treaty one iota. The Irish people would still be expected to ratify exactly the same document. If the government is genuine about this issue they should begin by respecting the result in the Nice Treaty and end their attempts to re-run the referendum. They should also support Sinn Fein's proposal to enshrine Irish neutrality in Irish law and support a return to peacekeeping as the sole responsibility of the United Nations
``Sinn Fein wants to see the EU remaining as a partnership of equal states, co-operating economically and politically, with the wealthier regions and nations assisting the poorer. The ongoing centralisation of economic and political power is a process independent of EU enlargement. We welcome the enlargement of the EU to include new member states if that is the wish of their peoples. But we do not want to see further powers taken away from democratically elected parliaments in the member states and handed over to un-elected bureaucrats. We want to be able to relate to the rest of the world on our own terms and not as part of a giant EU state.''
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