[Sinn Fein]

17th February 2003

Sinn Fein to introduce Neutrality Bill

Ó Caoláin gives Government second chance

Sinn Fein Dáil group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD today published a Bill that seeks to enshrine neutrality into the Irish Constitution and to make the Government accountable to the Dáil in relation to facilitating or participating in any war or other armed conflict. The Bill, entitled the Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2003, will be put before the Dáil on Tuesday February 18th during Private Members Time. Deputy Ó Caoláin is calling on the Government and opposition parties to allow a free vote on the issue.

Speaking on the day the Bill was published the Cavan/Monaghan TD said:

``During the Nice Treaty the Government told the people they would be voting for neutrality if they voted OEYes . We all now know that this was deliberately misleading and part of the Government s con trick to get Nice passed. Irish neutrality has clearly been rendered meaningless with the Government allowing Shannon Airport to be used in the US war effort.

``Sinn Fein is now offering the Government a second chance. We are giving them the opportunity to accede to the will of the 100,000 people who marched in Dublin on Saturday. We are also calling on them to allow their members a free vote on the issue as it is clear that many in the senior Coalition party are uneasy at the stance being taken by the Government.''

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