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26 June 2008 Edition

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Cowen fails to heed message of the people on Lisbon Treaty

Speaking about the recent Lisbon Treaty referendum at last week’s European Council of Ministers meeting Taoiseach Brian Cowen stated – “the will of the people is sovereign. They have spoken at the ballot box, the ultimate democratic forum, and the Government accepts their verdict.”
As Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh told the Dáil this week: “The Taoiseach has talked the talk of democracy but has failed to walk the walk.”
Brian Cowen has not accepted the Irish people’s verdict on Lisbon, nor have his counterparts in the European Council of Ministers.
If the Irish Government had in fact heard the people its message to the Council would have been clear. The Lisbon Treaty is finished and ratification of it must end. It is untrue to suggest that to continue the ratification process is to uphold consensus. The very opposite is the case.
The Council of Ministers meeting was as dishonest as the Lisbon Treaty process itself. Following the French and Dutch rejections of the Constitution in 2005 EU leaders and faceless bureaucrats began a deeply dishonest process of stripping out all Constitutional references within the text whilst keeping the substance and maligned objectives of the Constitution intact. The purpose of this exercise was to avoid referendums in other EU member states.
By the time the Lisbon Treaty was signed off on by European leaders at the end of last year the substance of the EU Constitution remained intact. Democracy and consensus did not.
Thankfully voters in the 26 Counties have a voice, a voice denied to all other member state electorates.
Last Thursday’s Council meeting hailed the loudest contradiction by European leaders when they stated that the Treaty must go on. Reassurances that the Irish vote would be respected were qualified with threats of Irish isolation, a two-speed Europe and legal manoeuvres to allow the Treaty to be implemented without Irish consent. Such threats are nonsense and if pursued would unravel the very fabric of the EU which is bound by consensus.
Sinn Féin’s campaign against the Treaty focussed on four central areas of concern – democracy, neutrality, workers’ rights and public services. Sinn Féin’s concerns are shared by the voters. Sinn Féin outlined its concern with respect to issues of trade, the developing world and the European Atomic Energy Treaty.
Last Wednesday Sinn Féin presented the Taoiseach’s office with a detailed submission of what a new Treaty should contain. It represents short-term strategic reforms, which are reasonable, practical and deliverable in the context of any upcoming new deal negotiation. They are the minimum required in any new Treaty.

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