[Sinn Fein]

22nd March 1999

Call for Neutrality Referendum

Sinn Fein's European Candidate for Munster, Martin Ferris has called for a referendum before any decision is made to join NATO's Partnership for Peace.

Mr Ferris said:

``lreland's role in the United Nations as a peace keeper is unparalleled in Europe yet we are being told again and again that we are not pulling our weight internationally and should participate in the NATO's Partnership for Peace Organisation.

``In their 1997 election manifesto Fianna Fail stated that they were ``committed to nuclear disarmament'' and that they would ``oppose any moves to edge Ireland closer to membership of an alliance still committed to the deployment of nuclear weapons''. They also said that ``We oppose Irish participation in NATO itself and in NATO led organisation such as the Partnership for Peace or in the Western European Union beyond observer status''.

``Now the FF/PD coalition proposes to enter the 26 Counties into NATO's PfP later this year. Sinn Fein opposes membership of this organisation and believes that the government must move on the promise to finally hold a referendum on this issue.

`` In the past Dublin Governments have been guilty of pushing yes votes on European issues ( regardless of the consequences) while denying funding to those of an opposite view. It is imperative that this referendum is conducted fairly and that full funding and access to the media is given to all sides.''

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