19 June 2008 Edition

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Mála Poist

Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected]. No attachments please


Lisbon: Readers write on

SINN FÉIN played a crucial role in defeating the Lisbon Treaty. This is not said to gloat but merely to state a fact. The party’s public representatives and members of its leadership were excellent in fronting the campaign. Equally important was the tireless work of thousands of party members and supporters throughout the state.
The hysterical, arrogant and contemptuous comments of some pro-Lisbon politicians, bureaucrats and commentators in Ireland and throughout Europe in the immediate aftermath of the result further convinced many that they had been right to vote ‘No’. The notion that it is solely incumbent on Sinn Féin and others who opposed the treaty to come up with a solution to the difficulties for the EU caused by its rejection by the Irish people is complete nonsense.  Rather, it is those who put before the Irish people a deeply flawed treaty and who uncritically support the current direction of the EU that need to reflect seriously on their position. Such reflection should not be primarily concerned with how to circumvent and undermine the peoples’ decision about how to bring the policies, workings and general direction of the EU into line with the needs and aspirations of the European peoples.
Sinn Féin needs to be consistent in clearly putting forward the position that there can be no question of simply submitting once again the Lisbon treaty (or a slightly amended version of it) to the Irish people in another referendum.  It should be ready to co-operate with other progressive and democratic forces in building a mass campaign to defend the peoples’ decision in the face of any such machinations on the part of the Irish and EU establishments.
More thoughtful politicians and commentators on both sides of the Lisbon argument have recognised that the referendum result opens up serious questions about the nature of the European Union as it currently stands that can no longer be ignored by the ruling elites of Europe. This creates an opportunity for a long overdue and wide-ranging debate on the future direction of the European integration project and how it relates to ordinary people in Ireland, across the continent and throughout the world. Irish republicans need to be active participants in that debate.

WHY is it a ‘crisis’ when the people make a democratic choice?

WHY did 862,415 brave Irish people reject the Lisbon Treaty in a dramatic referendum result? I believe the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, summed  up what most Irish voters where concerned about: his fascist attitude by insisting, after the voting was declared, that the treaty was still ‘alive’ and urged all countries to continue the ratification process. Hardly very democratic. 
Ireland still remains free.
Dublin 6W

AS a citizen of the city of Belfast and as an Irish citizen, why can I not vote in Irish elections or referendums?
As someone who holds an Irish passport I should have that right. By not having the right to vote, my rights and democracy are being denied to me.
Well done to everyone who voted ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty.
Belfast 9


Sexual violence as a weapon of war

THE United Nations Security Council should effectively address sexual violence in conflict as a weapon of war and its destabilising impact on communities.
During wartime, it’s often more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier.  As the guardian of international peace and security, it’s the Security Council’s job to deal effectively with the persistent problem of sexual violence in armed conflict.
Thousands of women and girls have been victims of sexual violence in conflicts around the world. Even UN peacekeepers have been implicated in committing rape.                                                                        UN peacekeepers are charged with the protection of civilians but are not always told explicitly that this means stopping sexual violence. Demands on peacekeeping troops are so great that they may ignore anything they are not asked explicitly to do. The Council should provide clear mandates on this key issue.                  
Over the past decade, UN peacekeepers have been implicated in committing sexual violence against the very populations they were charged with protecting. The UN has admitted to some abuses and has announced a zero-tolerance policy regarding such sexual exploitation and abuse but has yet to put into place a system to effectively prevent the violence. This has raised concerns among human rights and women’s rights groups about the UN’s ability to prevent sexual violence committed by others. 
Women’s groups from conflict zones have long promoted a stronger participation of women in peace-building and reconciliation efforts as a way to ensure that violence directed at women during and after a conflict is adequately dealt with.  In January 2008, numerous women’s organisations from the Democratic Republic of Congo put together a short list of recommendations in this regard. Their focus was justice, health services, democratic participation, and accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence. 
Solutions work best when developed in consultation with those most affected. The Security Council should consult closely with the women’s groups working on the frontlines in seeking solutions to deal more systematically with sexual violence in wartime.
County Mayo

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1