31 May 2001 Edition
SDLP post-nationalist twaddle
During this election campaign, there has been much hype about Sinn Féin's strong ``machine'' in West Tyrone and other constituencies. Since no one has yet invented a canvassing robot, this simply means that Sinn Féin has large numbers of workers on the ground. One UUP candidate was quoted in a Sunday paper as complaining: ``They're everywhere - like ants!''
By contrast, in West Tyrone the SDLP seem to have little confidence in their local Assembly members when they had to bring in a candidate from Upper Bann in a desperate attempt to halt the progress of Sinn Féin and, in so doing, again risk handing the seat to an anti-Agreement unionist. From the results of the last election, when Sinn Féin was well ahead of the other parties in West Tyrone, it is clear that the best option for defeating the anti-Agreement wreckers is to vote for Pat Doherty.
The SDLP, with its talk of post-nationalism, seems to be becoming more and more partitionist. For example, while campaigning for the SDLP, Ruairi Quinn said that northern elected representatives could never take seats in the Dublin parliament. Thus, not only would a vote for Doherty help strengthen the Good Friday Agreement, but it would build on it towards most nationalists' objective of a United Ireland.
Dupes of history
What does it mean if Ireland rejects the Nice Treaty? It means that Minister Cowen must go back and renegotiate terms which would be more acceptable to the Irish people.
The people in a part of a little island within the EU, namely us, are in the extraordinarily privileged position whereby we can hold up ratification of the Treaty of Nice until we get a treaty we find acceptable. Until such time as the Irish people agree its terms, the Nice Treaty cannot be ratified.
Voting No to Nice and NATO does not mean withdrawal of the state from the EU. It means that the Irish people exercise their democratic right to insist that we do not act alongside nuclear-powered `peace enforcers', 4,000 kilometres from EU borders, without a UN mandate.
There was no UN mandate for `peace making' in Kosova or Macedonia. The EU Rapid Reaction Force is precisely designed to fill the gap which meant that the EU needed NATO and US assistance for this `intervention'. The EU aspires to doing `peace enforcement' on its own, without NATO (and the US).
4,000 kilometres from EU borders takes us most of the way across those very lands over which Western European nation states, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and England, over the past century fought vicious imperialist wars. Remember Chad, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia, Libya, Suez Canal, Cyprus, not to mention Israel, and no less than all, Eastern Europe.
Voting No to Nice means that we as a people do not wish to abrogate our democratic right to determine our own government and its fiscal, monetary, social, cultural, environmental policies.
Voting No to this treaty means we do not agree to be part of a military, political and economic `Union' that does not respect our ideals of equality and democracy, peace and neutrality. It means that we don't want to cede these powers to an EU central government which could, God forbid, be in the hands of such political interests as those represented by Haider, Berlusconi, Le Pen or for that matter, albeit unlikely, Mr Haig.
Three votes out of 345 on the EU Council, and 12 votes out of 732 in the EU Parliament, (which has little or no power) is not a sufficient guarantee of our democratic rights.
No, Minister Cowen, you didn't negotiate the treaty well with respect to our interests. Go back and negotiate in protocols that make it acceptable to us, and make, rather than make us the dupe of, history.
Why not bilingual election material?
I have just received, via An Post, information regarding the three referenda being held on 7 June. This short publication is published by The Referendum Commission and has been delivered, in English only, to every home in the country. The inside front cover includes the statement `This publication is available in Irish upon request'.
Why should Gaeltacht residents not have the Irish version made available to them automatically and have the English version available `by request'? Why not make it simpler and just print the document bilingually?
The use of the Internet makes bilingualism so much easier, yet when one refers to www.refcom.ie and request the Irish version, all one gets is an icon stating `Ag Teacht'!
Who decided that people, who prefer to use Irish in their everyday lives, should receive this important document in their second language only? The referendum commission is comprised of people of national standing such as Mr. Justice Tom Finlay, the Clerk of the Dáil and Seanad, the Ombudsman and the Comptroller and Auditor General. These are individuals who should be aware, more than anyone, of the issue of linguistic rights and it is extraordinary that they should disregard Bunreacht na hÉireann and the status of the Irish language enshrined therein.
I eagerly await the passing of the Language Bill when this type of discrimination becomes a relic of our colonial past.
Liam Ó Cuinneagáin,
Stiúrthóir OIDEAS GAEL,
Gleann Cholm Cille,
Co Dhún na nGall
Nice Treaty not for workers
So this is democracy. A Treaty is created not from the desires of a majority of the citizens of Europe but from the demands of undemocratic organisations such as the World Trade Organisation and the European Round Table of Industrialists (which represents multinationals including Nestle, Unilever, BP Amoco and arms manufacturers).
The Nice Treaty is not about a democratic `open Europe' for workers (as Germany and Austria have demanded a seven-year delay before citizens of new member states are allowed work in other EU countries) but a Europe open for the unrestricted flow of multinational capital.
The Treaty transfers more power to the unelected EU Commission to discuss with the WTO how together they can achieve `uniformity in measures of liberalisation' (Article 133 of the Treaty). This will involve the privatisation of all services such as education, health, energy and transport.
Globalise Resistance a group involving environmental activists, socialists, trade unionists, anti-capitalists and human rights campaigners opposes this corporate takeover of our planet. A victory for the Nice Treaty will mean another blow to democratic participation, workers' rights, further cutbacks in public services and it will do nothing for the 57 million currently living below the poverty line in Europe.