[Sinn Fein]

9th February 1999

Adams calls for referendum on neutrality

Speaking in Kerry this morning Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP called on the government to live up to their promise to the Irish people and hold a referendum on neutrality. Mr. Adams is in Kerry this week for the launch of Martin Ferris as the party's candidate in the forthcoming EU elections. While in the county Mr. Adams met with local farming groups, addressed a packed public meeting in the Brandon Hotel last night and is this morning attending a civic reception in his honour by Tralee UDC.

Mr. Adams said:

``In recent weeks and months people throughout the island have been very concerned at statements emanating from government spokespersons in support of participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace, something which would involve a complete u-turn of previous Fianna Fáil policy.

``Sinn Fein is committed to the maintenance of positive neutrality and an independent foreign policy, not just in a 26 county context but in a future 32 county state. This does not mean that we are anti-Europe. We believe that the Irish government should promote European and International security through a policy of disarmament and demilitarisation. Military neutrality would also allow Ireland to maintain closer relationships with people of the third world and to work with them for a more equal distribution of the worlds resources.

``Sinn Fein therefore opposes the militarisation of the EU and the participation by Ireland in NATO, the Western European Union and the Partnership for Peace. We are calling for the holding of a constitutional referendum safeguarding neutrality, something which has been promised by successive governments.''

Commenting on the forthcoming EU elections Mr. Adams said:

``Sinn Fein, and Martin Ferris as our party candidate for Munster, are standing in the EU elections on a positive platform highlighting the type of Europe in which we believe Irish people want to be involved. We want to see a high turnout in these elections as it is only by electing strong hard working representative candidates, who will stand up for Ireland, that real positive change will be achieved in reforming and restructuring the European Union.

``Sinn Fein wants to see a Europe that is representative of its people and not one that is dominated by the larger states and transnational companies in whose interests it acts now. Sinn Fein want to see an EU where the aim of its policy and the goal of its institutions will be about improving quality of life in terms of access to housing, health services, education and employment.

``We want to see a Europe which defends our democratic rights not erodes them. We want a Europe that will act collectively to promote equality across the EU in terms of the rights of women, children, disadvantaged communities, the aged etc. We want to see a Europe that will tackle racism and act decisively to protect and enhance our environment on an EU level. We want to be part of a Europe run democratically from the bottom to the top and not the reverse as it currently the case. It is in favour of such an EU that we will be campaigning in the coming months.''

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