[Sinn Fein]

26 May 1997

Positive neutrality should be maintained

Sinn Fein Candidate for Cork North Central Don O'Leary today said that ``Sinn Fein are totally committed to a position of neutrality and non-alignment, both in the context of the 26 Counties and in a future 32 County state.''

Mr. O'Leary said:

``Neutrality is as valid today as it has been in the past, as this generation of Irish people have invested it with new meaning, relevant to the challenging international situation that we all face. Being in favour of neutrality does not mean being anti-Europe. Ireland should aim to promote European and International Security through a policy of disarmament and demilitarisation. Sinn Fein therefore opposes the militarisation of the EU and the participation by Ireland in NATO, the Western European Union or the Partnership for Peace.

``Membership of the Partnership For Peace would mean developing even closer military links with NATO, regardless of whether or not we would be committed to defending other members of a military alliance. This is something which the majority of Irish people would clearly not support. It is imperative that any such question regarding our neutrality be submitted to the people in a referendum.

``Neutrality is not and should not be about either opting out or pragmatism, a positive and emphatic assertion of our neutrality could assist us in drawing up political alliances far removed from traditional cold war politics.''

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