[Sinn Fein]

25th January 2002

Ó Caoláin calls on government to implement decision on Nice Treaty

Sinn Fein TD for Cavan Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin speaking at a meeting of the Forum on Europe which is meeting in the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan this evening called on the government to implement the democratic decision of the people on the Nice Treaty. He also called on the government to ensure that the No side in the Nice referendum campaign is represented at upcoming EU convention discussions. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``Last June the electorate in the 26 Counties rejected the Nice Treaty. When that democratic decision was made the government was under a clear obligation to implement it. But the government has not implemented the decision of the people and has not respected their democratically expressed will. The government has not requested the other EU states to halt the process of ratification of the Nice Treaty. EU Treaties legally require the approval of all member states and if one member state rejects then the Treaty falls. Yet the Irish government has made no such request and the other EU states are proceeding with ratification regardless of the decision of the Irish electorate - the only citizens in the EU who have actually voted on the Nice Treaty.

``There is no way the population of Germany or France or Britain would be ignored in this way. If Nice had been rejected by referendum in any of those states then it would be declared dead and they would have to return to the negotiating table to work out a new treaty. Therefore the conduct of the Irish government, the EU Commission and the governments of the other EU member states proves the point made by those of us who opposed the Nice Treaty - that it is undemocratic and that, if Nice were adopted, the EU would no longer be a partnership of equals. The smaller states would be second-class members of the EU, dominated by the states with the larger populations. It appears that that is already the case where Ireland is concerned.

``In a democracy the elected representatives of the people make laws and decide policies. If the people think they are doing a bad job they can turf them out at the next election. The problem with the way the European Union is run is that there is no such democratic process. Laws are made by the unelected EU Commission and the Council of Ministers from each of the member states. The Nice Treaty actually makes the EU even less democratic.

``Instead of making the EU institutions more accountable to the citizens in each of the member states the Nice Treaty increases the power of these bodies. The power of individual member states, and of smaller member states in particular, is reduced, while more laws and policies can be imposed upon us by the EU without a vote in our own parliament.''

In his concluding comments Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``An EU Convention made up of representatives from all the member states is now being established to consider the next EU Treaty and the constitutional future of the EU. It is due to begin work on 1 March and this State has to nominate two members from the Dáil and two alternates before next Friday, 1st February. I call on the government to ensure that the No side in the Nice referendum campaign is represented. It would be a mockery of the democratic process if the Irish delegation at the Convention consisted only of representatives of the parties who supported the Nice Treaty and lost the referendum. It would assist the Convention if the Irish delegation was representative of the views of the people as expressed in the referendum and in this Forum on Europe.''ENDS

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