[Sinn Fein]

19th March 1999

Sinn Fein call for Referendum

Sinn Fein's European candidate for Dublin, Seán Crowe commenting on the U-turn by Fianna Fáil on the issue of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) and Bertie Ahern's intention to take Ireland into it described the prospect as ``dealing a fatal blow against Irish Neutrality.''

Mr. Crowe:

``The PfP is a front organisation, managed and controlled by NATO. Its intrinsically linked to NATO's policy of enlarging their organisation's military capability. NATO maintains a huge nuclear arsenal and has a policy of `first nuclear strike' in any possible conflict situation. Since the Cold War it has been driven solely by its motivation to dominate International Affairs and to provide lucrative profits for the armaments industries with which it is inextricably linked.

`` No organisation linked with NATO can have any credibility in the area of peace-keeping. This country is already a member of a real partnership for peace- it is called the United Nations. We have enjoyed a unique position on the international stage as a neutral state within Europe which, in common with most countries outside Europe, had to fight for its partial independence against a colonial power.

``The Taoiseach has basically said that the Government intends to effectively end our neutrality by entering NATO's PfP. The Irish people are entitled to a referendum and the opportunity vote on this vital issue.''

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