[Sinn Fein]

28th August 2002

Wexford Nice Treaty Spokesperson says Democracy is the Key Issue in Referendum Replay.

Wexford Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Nice Treaty, David Forde, has described the Governments intention to hold a second referendum on the Nice Treaty as: ``defying the democratically expressed will of the people'' and has called for real and honest debate on the type of European Union that may develop in the future.

Mr. Forde said: ``In June of last year, the people of this country voted in a free and fair, properly constituted referendum on the Nice Treaty, the result of that vote was a rejection of this Treaty and the Government were then constitutionally obliged to accept and implement the expressed decision of the people.''

``The Government had no lawful choice in the matter, they were bound by the decision of the people as the highest authority in the land. However, they have instead openly defied the properly expressed decision of the people at the ballot box and have demonstrated outright disrespect for any vote that was cast unless it was a vote that was cast in accordance with their own desired outcome.''

``This creates a highly undesirable precedent for future referenda in this country. When is a No not a No? When is a Yes not a Yes? When does the voice of the people matter and under what circumstances can it be disregarded?''

``As part of their strategy for this replay, the Government has created a brand new Ministerial post, in appointing Dick Roche as Minister for European Affairs at the Dept of the Taoiseach. Minister Roche's main responsibility is to get the Nice Treaty past the electorate. This appointment is clearly breaking the spirit, if not the very letter, of the Supreme Court judgment in the McKenna case. The Supreme Court ruled that the Government is not entitled to use state funds to influence the outcome of any referendum. However, this Government seem to be ignoring the Supreme court, as well as the people, by using taxpayers money to create and staff a new Cabinet position dedicated to just this very issue.''

``In our rejection of the Treaty last year the people expressed a clear preference for military neutrality. However, the reality of what is happening to Irish neutrality was shown at the beginning of this month when the Government granted permission to the United States Air Force, operating from Shannon Airport, to carry out military exercises in our airspace. Two Hercules C130 military planes were allowed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to engage in training flights low in the skies over the south west of Ireland. This took place over a four-day period. It followed the opening of Shannon to the US military last year. The US Air Force presence there has now become routine. What we are seeing is the transformation of Shannon into an important European base for the US Air Force in total violation of the government's supposed commitment to neutrality as expressed in the Seville declarations and elsewhere.''

``The Government has so far refused to put neutrality in the Constitution. Sinn Fein urges them to do so and have tabled such a Bill - the 25th Amendment to the Constitution Bill.

``We will be told during the campaign that this treaty is necessary for EU enlargement. This is clearly not the case however as Romano Prodi has already duly acknowledged. Enlargement can go ahead with or without the Nice Treaty on the same basis that we ourselves joined and on the same basis as Spain, Portugal and Greece in their turn joined too, via individual accession treaties.''

``Many of the smaller East European states will be watching carefully the result of this coming referendum, not because they want to see us accept this treaty but perhaps for quite the opposite reason. They already know that they can be admitted to the EU regardless of the outcome. These nations have only gained their own independence in recent years from a larger superpower where their voice in that union was of little consequence. By rejecting this Treaty, we will be demonstrating to those smaller East European states that a small nation can have a voice in shaping the future of Europe and can make a real difference.''

``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.''

``We want to see a European Union defending our democratic rights not eroding them.''

Sinn Fein are opposed to the ratification of the Treaty of Nice and look forward once again to seeing democracy triumph as the people reject this undemocratic Treaty.

Sinn Fein Loch gCarman
E-mail: wexfordsf@eircom.net   ·   Website: http://www.wexfordsinnfein.com

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