[Sinn Fein]

14th January 1999

Taoiseach `U-Turn' on NATO slammed

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as a `complete u-turn' the Taoiseach's statement reported today that there was no fundamental reason of principle why the state should not be prepared to participate in NATO's `Partnership for Peace'. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The Taoiseach is signalling for the first time as head of Government that they intend to end our neutrality by entering NATO's so-called Partnership for Peace. This would be fundamentally wrong in principle and the reasons were stated clearly in the 1997 Fianna Fáil General election manifesto as follows:

`Fianna Fáil are committed to nuclear disarmament. We will oppose any moves to edge Ireland closer to membership of an alliance still committed to the deployment of nuclear weapons. We oppose Irish participation in NATO itself, in NATO led organisations such as the Partnership for Peace, or in the Western European Union beyond observer status.'

``If the Government enters NATO's Partnership for Peace they will be in breach of their promise to the electorate and of the mandate by which Fianna Fáil gained power. That mandate is for positive neutrality with the State playing a full part in the diplomatic and peace-keeping role of the United Nations and outside any military alliance.''

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