8 August 2002 Edition
Democracy the issue in Nice referendum - ó Snodaigh
Speaking at the Patrick MacGill Summer School in Donegal at the weekend, Sinn Féin European Affairs spokesperson Aengus ó Snodaigh said the government is attempting to bully the electorate into reversing their decision on the Treaty of Nice. He said democracy was the primary issue in the Nice 2 referendum.
"Many more people are beginning to see that we have ceded too much control of our affairs to EU institutions which are not accountable to the Irish people," said ó Snodaigh.
"Democracy is now the issue. The very holding of this referendum itself is a denial of the democratic decision made by the people last year. The message it sends is that the people of the smaller states do not have the right to say No.
"Does anyone here believe if Nice had been rejected by the German people or the French people that those governments would tell the rest of the EU to go ahead with ratification and they would get their people to change their minds? Of course not. Yet that's what has happened in this State in an EU that is supposedly still a partnership of equals where every State must agree or none agree.
"If the government and its allies succeed in bullying the electorate into voting 'Yes' this time it will be a huge setback for democracy in Ireland, in the EU and for the applicant countries. No to Nice means Yes to democracy."
Nice II watch
BY ROBBIE MacGABHANN
Sinn Féin censored
Its summer school time and plenty of coverage for the Yes side of the Nice campaign. If you are in Sinn Féin, don't hold your breath waiting for coverage as you make the No argument, especially when it comes to explaining the republican position and refuting the bogus claims that have been thrown up in the campaign coverage so far.
KENNY and CUSHNAHAN
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny's lobby for a Yes vote came with a call for an EU charter to "kill red tape". The EU must "stop hiding behind a wall of bureaucracy". Speaking at the MacGill summer school in Donegal, Kenny said he wanted to overcome the "mythical bogeyman" figure that the EU is becoming. Fine Gael is to hold 16 public information meetings on Nice but how that will help end EU bureaucracy just isn't clear.
Former Alliance Party leader and Fine Gael MEP John Cushnahan was also speaking at the MacGill school. Arguing that the 26 Counties is neither politically or militarily neutral, Cushnahan also asked are we "cheque book Europeans". We have to subscribe to full integration and that means an EU defence policy, said Cushnahan. This is interesting, as Fianna Fáil have been at pains to convince us that neutrality is not an issue in this campaign.
U-turn of the campaign so far must go to Fianna Fáil's Eamon ó Cuív, who admitted to voting No first time around. ó Cuív's concerns have now been addressed. His Yes now is based on the belief that enlargement will stop the EU becoming a superstate. He has conveniently overlooked the enhanced cooperation elements of Nice, which will allow the larger states dictate terms to the smaller ones and the fact that after Nice, the powers that smaller states have through power of veto is to be seriously diluted.
€1 million and a PR campaign is employers' group IBEC's contribution to the referendum. According to media reports, IBEC's billboard campaign will focus on fears of job losses from a No vote. An Phoblacht asked IBEC about the campaign. Their spokesperson said that that they had no figure yet for how much funds they could raise from members. This was "unique" and they had "never done anything like this before".
IBEC director of strategy and EU affairs Maria Cronin told the MacGill school that if there was another No vote, "the EU may degenerate into inactivity, inefficiency and ultimately disintegration".
Sinn Féin TD Aengus ó Snodaigh also spoke at the MacGill summer school, but not according to the Irish Times, which ignored his presence. Despite weeks of reporting every Yes speaker, it seems there no room in the 'paper of record' for reporting on the No side.
It is vital that Sinn Féin's position on Nice be accurately reflected especially in the context of some of the groups campaigning for a No vote raising the spurious issue of immigration in the referendum.
With enlargement of the EU likely for January 2004, the 26 Counties, along with Sweden and Denmark, have agreed that all new EU citizens will be free to seek work in these states. Unfortunately, most other EU states have not been as fair minded and are diluting the European ideal by setting delays on movement of workers.
It goes to show how the EU now is already becoming a two-tier union. On a purely republican position of equal rights, all the existing EU states should be ready to allow freedom of movement for all new EU citizens from their first day of EU entry.
Sinn Féin has written to the Irish Times seeking to clarify their position on this issue but the Times have yet to set the record straight.
We need a Europe of equals, wherever you live, and not dictated by when you joined the EU.
What message does it send when a vibrant debate on Nice, the future of the EU and what type of Europe we all want to live in is being blighted by silliness on one hand and censorship from media organisations on the other.