[Sinn Fein]

5th October 1999

Government's position on NATO's PfP ``undermines democracy''

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as ``disgraceful'' the government's determination to go ahead with membership of NATO's `Partnership for Peace'. The Cavan/Monaghan TD said today:

``The government is to ask the Dáil to approve membership of the `Partnership for Peace' in flagrant violation of the pre-election manifesto promise of Fianna Fáil in 1997. They pledged opposition to membership of >PfP during that election and secured a mandate on that basis. Bertie Ahern in opposition also stated that to join the PfP without a referendum would be `fundamentally undemocratic'.

``This governments decision undermines democracy. The people are being denied a voice on a change to a core principle of Irish foreign policy. The largest party which they elected to the Dáil has done a complete u-turn on a key pre-election commitment. And the main so-called Opposition party, Fine Gael, will fully back the government, thus negating any possible dissent from the few in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party with a conscience on this issue.

``With the moving of the writ in the Dublin South Central by-election today we in Sinn Fein will be making the duplicity of Fianna Fáil on Irish neutrality a central issue in the campaign.''

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