31st May 1999
Sinn Fein launch EU manifesto
Address by Sinn Fein's EU Candidate for Leinster, Arthur Morgan, at the launch of the party's manifesto for the European Union elections.
We are fighting this election campaign at a watershed moment for the peace process and for the future of this state in Europe. The peace process remains in crisis because David Trimble refuses to lead his party into a new dispensation where power sharing replaces the politics of dominance. This is also a moment in history when the pressure is on for this state to join NATO's Partnership for Peace, which Fianna Fáil, despite earlier promises, would have us enter without so much as a referendum on the issue. Fine Gael, meanwhile, have their sights set on Irish participation in a new European Union army. The Labour Party leadership, with some exceptions, is obviously in favour of a military alliance but does not want to come out and say so.
Given these watershed events, it is vital that people throughout this island come out and vote in these elections. In the Six Counties, nationalists have the opportunity to further bolster the peace process by electing Mitchel McLaughlin to the European Parliament.. In the 26 Counties, Martin Ferris, Seán Crowe, Seán MacManus and myself are making the case for a policy of constructive Irish neutrality. This involves Ireland being a nation associated with international conflict resolution, not with any Superpower's grand military alliance.
The European Union also dominates policy and service provision on this island. Sinn Fein has very real concerns about loss of sovereignty, over centralisation, and the lack of democracy and accountability in Europe. Membership of the European Union has actively worked to the detriment of some of the most disadvantaged sectors of our population. It has almost destroyed our fishing industry and driven thousands of small farmers from the land.
However, given the Europen Union's degree of influence on our country, in order to represent our voters, we must provide them with effective representation at every level, including the European level. That is why we describe our attitude towards Europe as one of critical engagement.
We are keenly aware of the dangers for Ireland but we are working to see a European Union which is representative of its people and which advances national democracy and economic and social justice We want to see political institutions in the European Union which are open, transparent and accountable. We oppose the militarisation of the EU and the participation by Ireland in military alliances such as Partnership for Peace. We are calling for the real reform of CAP in order to keep the greatest number of farmers on the land and the reversal of policies which have almost destroyed our fishing industry. We support a pro-active environmental agenda including a ban on sale and production of GM foods and the closure of Sellafield.
As the only party standing in all five constituencies on the island Sinn Fein is committed to promoting an all-Ireland political and economic identity within Europe.
These European elections will see a significant increase in our vote and will provide another shot across the bows of the establishment parties that Sinn Fein, the party with the youngest average membership, with the most progressive policies and the most committed members is gaining ground and will only become stronger.
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