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9 July 2009 Edition

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Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for a better Europe

ON WEDNESDAY, Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced that polling on a second referendum to the Lisbon Treaty will take place on 2 October.
Most people who voted against the Lisbon Treaty last year did so because they believe a better Europe is possible – one that is democratic and accountable; that promotes workers’ rights, protects public services and seeks to play a positive, progressive role in the world.
In June 2008 when almost 1,000,000 people rejected the Lisbon Treaty Brian Cowen’s government was given a strong hand to play at the Council of Ministers to reopen Treaty negotiations and secure a better deal for Ireland.
But like their disastrous mismanagement of the economy Fianna Fáil and the Greens squandered an opportunity to secure a better Treaty.
On 24 June, following the European Council meeting, the Taoiseach said EU leaders had agreed a ‘package of legally-binding guarantees that respond comprehensively to the concerns of the Irish people.’ But the reality is that Brian Cowen and his government failed to secure a single change to the text of the Lisbon Treaty.
In October people we will be voting on exactly the same Treaty as was rejected in June 2008.
A major question mark hangs over the government’s claim that if the Treaty comes into force each state will keep its Commissioner. There is a suspicion that the government merely secured a five-year deal after which the Treaty formulae of a smaller Commission will come into force.
The so-called ‘legally binding guarantees’ are nothing more than clarifications which in no way alter the Treaty’s content. They are an attempt to provide the sufficient cover to re-run the referendum.
There are also a large number of issues that the EU leaders studiously chose to ignore. No mention of the reduced influence of smaller member states as a consequence of the new voting arrangements at Council. No mention of the 60 or so member state vetoes that will end. No mention of controversial changes to international trade negotiations opposed by farmers and trade justice groups. No mention of the opening up of vital public services such as health and education to the vagaries of the market.
Ireland’s place is at the heart of Europe. We have a responsibility both to ourselves and our European partners to build an EU that meets the needs of its peoples. This member state is one of the few where the citizens are being asked their opinion. We have already expressed that opinion loud and clear.
Until such time as we have a new Treaty that responds to the deeply held concerns, not only of the citizens of this member state, but the millions of people across the EU for a better Europe, Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for a better deal, for Ireland and the EU as a whole.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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