24 June 2004 Edition

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Europe tops Ard Chomhairle agenda

Sinn Féin General Secretary Robbie Smyth said the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle, which met in Dublin on Saturday, engaged in extensive discussions relating to the role of the party's new MEPs both in the European Parliament and in Ireland.

Smyth said that the party's national executive had discussed "our future engagement within the EU Parliament, including the party's options in terms of the various Parliamentary groupings".

The Head of the party's International Department, Joan O'Connor, and National Chair Mitchel McLaughlin travelled to Brussels this week to engage with various Parliamentary groupings. They will report back to the Ard Chomhairle in the coming weeks.

"A decision will be taken before the Parliament first meets," said Smyth.

"Of course, there are many key challenges facing us in terms of the EU. Of particular concern for Sinn Féin is the proposed EU Constitution and the consequent referenda to be held, the protection of Irish neutrality and opposition to EU militarisation, the safeguarding and promotion of the Irish language, deepening the equality agenda and advancing the Social Agenda, Rural Regeneration and Fisheries policy and issues relating to Irish territorial reintegration, including the crucial All-Ireland agenda.

"Sinn Féin's MEPs will bring a strong all-Ireland voice to the EU institutions, they will make the institutions more real for people and will have a very visible presence in local communities and the political institutions North and South. They will at all times work to protect and enhance the rights and interests of the people of Ireland."

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