Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says his party will campaign for a ‘No’ vote in the EU Fiscal Treaty Referendum in order to stop austerity policies, which he says are stripping rural communities of essential services.
The TD for Louth called for the rejection of the treaty while in Castlebar last Friday, March 2, when he launched the party’s ‘Love Rural Ireland’ campaign. The campaign involves a process of consultation with rural groups and communities to produce a plan for the ‘regeneration and growth of rural communities’.
Deputy Adams said the policy of austerity has not worked for rural Ireland, and that it is threatening rural-dwellers’ quality of life. He said austerity levels will worson under the new Treaty if it is passed in the upcoming referendum, and that Ireland’s economic interests will be dictated by the European superpowers.
“We are for a European Union of equals, where every state is treated on that basis. We now have a two-tier Europe, where some of the bigger states, most famously Germany and France, dictate the pace. What we have across the EU is a huge amount of unemployment, austerity and cuts.
“We have a Taoiseach who says he wants to bring our economic sovereignty back by 2016, yet he signed the treaty which [takes what] remains of our fiscal autonomy and gives it to totally unaccountable bureaucrats.
“Mr Kenny wants to hand significant new powers over to the European Court of Justice and the European Commission. He is allowing these institutions to impose economic policies on democratically elected governments and to impose heavy fines where they believe these policies have not been adhered to.
“And as part of this, the Government plans to cut a further €8.6 billion from the economy in the next three years to meet the Troika deficit target of three per cent. Enda Kenny and Eamonn Gilmore’s austerity treaty demands that this deficit be reduced to a 0.5 per cent target.
“This means that up to a further €6 billion in cuts and new taxes will be imposed.
“But thankfully the Irish people will have their say. The Irish people cannot afford this Treaty. Sinn Féin will campaign for a ‘No’ vote. That is the democratic option,” he said.
The EU Fiscal Treaty referendum will be the fifth EU referendum in eleven years, but despite two previous treaty rejections, opinion polls released over the weekend showed that this treaty is expected to be passed.
According to the Red C poll, published in the Sunday Business Post, 44 per cent of the 1,000 people questioned said they would vote in favour of the treaty, with 29 per cent opposed. However, a quarter of voters say they are undecided.
The role of the EU policies in rural areas were criticised by some Sinn Féin activists at the launch where they claimed that they were causing difficulty for people wishing to live in rural areas. Both Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Belmullet-based councillor Rose Conway-Walsh said the designation of land to Special Areas of Conservation needed to be re-examined.
“I am very concerned about EU designations and I want to know if it is possible to bring a constitutional challenge in terms of property ownership. There are many people in rural Ireland who own their property but can do absolutely nothing with it. What does ownership and the rights of ownership mean?” she asked.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh said that everyone in rural communities wants to protect the environment where they live, but said the designation of SACs was based on ‘questionable’ scientific evidence’.
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