Monday, May 24, 2010

Government and main opposition parties sold the Irish people a pup

Last week we witnessed another attempt by the EU to move us closer towards a federal Europe. Proposals from the European Commission that would see draft national budgets submitted to Brussels for scrutiny and peer review by other member states means that the future sovereignty of national budgetary and fiscal decisions now hang in the balance. This is no surprise. We in Sinn Féin argued that this is precisely what would happen if the Lisbon treaty was passed. We are merely witnessing the implementation of the treaty itself.

What is interesting is Fine Gael’s response. They argued for the treaty. They sold the Irish people a pup. They falsely told us that Lisbon was good for Ireland, that it was good for smaller states and that it was good for democracy. The Labour Party even told us that it strengthened democracy within Europe. Both Fine Gael and Labour also connived with the Government by turning a debate on a complex and important treaty into one on jobs and investment. Remember the slogan – A vote for Lisbon is a vote for jobs and investment. So where are the jobs and where is the investment?

We in Sinn Féin argued differently. Locally I argued that if Lisbon was passed it would give greater powers to unelected EU bureaucracies to interfere in our affairs and that the EU was eyeing up greater control over the economies of member states. The ultimate prise is complete economic federalism with a harmonised taxation system across the EU. In my criticisms I am not projecting the EU as some sort of evil empire or monster. It is quite legitimate to politically argue for a federal Europe.

What is illegitimate is to persuade people to vote for a treaty which gives the EU more powers and complain about it afterwards. This is the cynical and hypocritical position adopted by Fine Gael. We in Sinn Féin are consistent in our analysis. We are not in favour of an EU superstate or surrendering what remains of our economic sovereignty to an unelected EU elite.

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