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24 May 2001 Edition

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Stop deflecting, start debating

As has become characteristic of Irish referenda on European Treaties, mistruths, misiformation, slander and generally negative campaigning have been the hallmarks of the pro-Nice Treaty campaign.

Those who support the Nice Treaty have not dealt with the main issues at the heart of the referendum. Instead they have tried to deflect attention from those issues, by engaging in negative campaigning. It has been an easy option for the Dublin government, the Labour party and Fine Gael to use misleading statements about `inclusivity' and `enlargement' to support their `Yes' campaign, while branding all those who oppose the treaty as `Eurosceptics' and `Tories'.

However, this is no substitute for actual, honest political debate.

Given the revelations, in a survey last week, that only 11 per cent of the 26-County electorate have any knowledge of the detail of the Treaty of Nice and over 30 per cent indicated that they were not going to vote at all, it is crucial that a full and open debate takes place, even at this late stage.

The treaty will undermine Irish sovereignty, relegate Ireland to the second division of a two-tier EU and bring the 26-County state in a NATO-backed European Army.

Gerry Adams visited a protest outside Clancy Barracks in Dublin on Tuesday, 22 May, to highlight what he termed ``the very real impact'' the Treaty of Nice is already having on Irish neutrality.

Clancy Barracks has, along with numerous other military installations across the 26 Counties, been earmarked for sale to the highest bidder. This is being done so that the 26-County defence forces can raise the necessary funds to purchase and upgrade military hardware - to make them compatible with other members of the Rapid Reaction Force.

Instead of investing in such a project, such funds could be used to tackle the crises in housing and health that are crippling the 26 Counties. However, it seems that the Dublin government is intent on scrambling to become part of the `big boys club', scrapping neutrality and Irish sovereignty in the process. In effect Ireland, long the victim of British plundering, may now be becoming part of an imperialist force itself.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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