[Sinn Fein]

22 August 2002

Government deliberately narrowing Nice debate and engaging in a direct assault on the Irish peoples democratic rights

Sinn Fein spokesperson on European Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, today accused the Minister of State for Europe, Dick Roche, of ``deliberately trying to narrow the debate'' on the Treaty of Nice to immigration and of playing into the hands of those who promised to make it an issue during the campaign. He went on to say that he believed the Minister was doing this to ``avoid debating the very many real issues that caused people to vote No'' the last time.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``Dick Roche's almost exclusive focus on immigration shows that he is deliberately trying to narrow the debate and is playing directly into the hands of those who have sought to run their campaigns solely on this issue.

``It is obvious that the Minister feels more comfortable rebutting the more disingenuous arguments being put forward against Nice than engaging on the real issues that caused people to vote No the last time around.

``The Minister has so far been unable to explain why we the Irish people's democratic vote of just one year ago has been totally ignored and why he and his government have not sought to address the many issues of concern surrounding Nice that have not changed since that vote.

``It is clear that the democratic deficit, which so concerns many people in relation to the development of the European Union is being administered here at home by Dick Roche and his colleagues. The campaign being waged by the government is a direct assault on the Irish people's democratic rights. Sinn Fein is calling on the people to serve notice on this government's unparalleled arrogance towards the electorate, reflected in their introduction of massive cuts in public services contrary to their election manifesto pledges, and to reject the Nice Treaty a second time.''

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