Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

16 April 1998 Edition

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A period of debate

The republican struggle is now into a period of debate. The more thorough, intensive, creative and comradely it is, the stronger our struggle will emerge.

And a point that must be emphasised - and which is already being distorted in the media - is that Sinn Féin has not signed up to the Agreement. Sinn Féin is now consulting its membership and its base. It is a task which takes time but which is absolutely necessary. Throughout this process Sinn Féin has taken great care and paid close attention to detail when debating its strategy. Now, more than ever, that must be repeated. This is a complex political situation which will have to be navigated with great skill and unity if our struggle is to emerge stronger and closer to our objectives. The delegates gathering for the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis well understand that. We wish them luck in their deliberations in the weeks ahead.

Postpone Amsterdam Referendum

The proposal that 22 May be a referendum day for not one but two complex referenda is to be regretted. The Amsterdam Treaty referendum was originally planned for 22 May. Now the referenda on Articles 2, 3 and 29 are to be held on the same day.

Both these referenda involve significant changes to the political structures and environment of the 26 Counties. In the case of the Amsterdam referendum voters are being asked to decide on a Treaty that needs a 176 page White Paper to outline the proposals and declarations in it.

The 26-County state will be commiting itself to substantial changes in the military role of the EU. They will be giving more powers to unelected EU officials such as the EU Commission president and individual member states could lose their right to appoint commissioners.

These are all serious issues that need careful consideration. As it is 26-County voters have little information on the Amsterdam Treaty. There is almost no public debate on its controversial provisions. This is not an acceptable environment in which to conduct such an environment.

There is one obvious option for the Dublin Government. Postpone the Amsterdam referendum and put in place structures to ensure that all voters are properly informed as to not only the provisions of the treaty but all shades of opinion for and against the Treaty. Anything less is a dillution of our democratic rights.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1