Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Nice Treaty erodes democracy and neutrality

Irish sovereignty and Irish neutrality have been damaged by the Treaty of Nice, which should be rejected in a referendum, says Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. He was speaking at a press conference organised by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) last week in the wake of the latest EU treaty signed in Nice, France, by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.


I support the call for a No vote in a referendum on the Nice Treaty. I support also the call for non-membership of military alliances to be written into the 1937 Constitution by referendum

Among those on the panel at the press conference was Green MEP Patricia McKenna, who also strongly criticised the Treaty. Andy Storey spoke on behalf of Third World solidarity group AfrI and Joe Higgins TD represented the Socialist Party. The press conference on Thursday, 14 December, was chaired by PANA's Roger Cole.

The previous day, a mere 70-minute debate on Nice had been held in the Dáil and Joe Higgins was expelled for objecting to this. He was supported by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and the Greens.

Speaking on behalf of Sinn Féin at the press conference Ó Caoláin said:

``We are told we live in a democracy. But what kind of democracy is it where a government barters sovereignty without reference to its parliament? What kind of democracy is it where our future social, economic, foreign and defence policies are to be decided by a Council of governments where the large, powerful states, have a weighted majority?

``What kind of democracy is it where new powers are given to the EU bureaucracy to govern many aspects of our lives and to determine what was hitherto the business of government in this state?

``It is a very poor kind of democracy where the parliament only discusses this massive development after the event, for a mere 70 minutes, with no vote and with no voice, as of right, for those critical of the process which is being imposed upon us. That was the farce played out in the Dáil yesterday.

``The Nice Summit was the most decisive step yet in the transformation of the European Union from a community of sovereign states into One State.

``Already this emerging Single State has a common currency.

``Since last month it has the nucleus of a Single Army.

``The Treaty of Nice sets in train the process of creating an EU Constitution - the so-called Charter of Fundamental Rights. This Charter sounds like something nobody could oppose but in reality the rights it is supposed to protect are already protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and by member-state constitutions. The real purpose is to build the Single State. In the words of German Chancellor Schröder: ``There is good reason to accept this text as the basis for an eventual EU Constitution.''

Military alliance

``Under the present Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats government, the 26-County state has become involved with the NATO military alliance through NATO's so-called Partnership for Peace. Last month, they signed up for the EU's Rapid Reaction Force. By the admission of the EU Commission President, Romano Prodi, this force is paving the way for a full-blown EU Army.

``It is ironic that while British securocrats are fighting a rearguard action to retain their military bases in the North of Ireland, the 26-County government is facilitating the plans of military bureaucrats and careerist generals, both in this state and throughout the EU, who want to develop yet another military alliance.

``Media coverage of the Nice Summit has focused exclusively on the issue of the Irish Commissioner. While this is important it is totally eclipsed in importance by the capitulation of the Irish government in allowing weighted majority voting on the Council of Ministers. This represents a definitive move away from a community of sovereign governments co-operating and voting as delegated by their parliaments, to a quasi-EU Cabinet where the representatives of the bigger powers hold the key positions by virtue of their population size.

``There must now be a referendum on the Treaty of Nice. It is vital that the government does not repeat what it did in 1998 when it held the referendum on the Amsterdam Treaty on the same day as the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. If the government also decides to have a referendum on the abortion issue, it must not be on the same day as the Nice Treaty referendum. Clearly, in the unacceptable event of the abortion and Nice referenda being held on the same day, the former will inevitably eclipse the latter.

``I support the call for a No vote in a referendum on the Nice Treaty. I support also the call for non-membership of military alliances to be written into the 1937 Constitution by referendum. I am happy to have sponsored a draft Bill to this effect and I call here on all members of the Dáil and Seanad, who claim to value Irish neutrality, to put their name to this Bill.''

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