Saturday 14 December 2019

Northern Irish ministers should be on Council of Ministers, say Sinn Fein

Michael McHugh

Ministers from Northern Ireland should participate in one of Europe's key decision-making bodies, Sinn Fein has said.

The Council of Ministers includes the governments of EU member states. Its exact membership depends on the topic, with those responsible for the relevant policy area within national administrations eligible to sit on it.

Sinn Fein launched its elections manifesto in Belfast and said the EU had a role to play in peace building and supporting the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

The party said: "This Agreement provides for a border poll to determine the continued partition or reunification of Ireland.

"The EU should continue to play a role in supporting the peace process, promoting cross-border working and ultimately respecting and supporting any vote for reunification."

Key republican commitments included:

:: Securing greater investment from the European Investment Bank to create jobs in Ireland north and south.

:: Defending workers' pay and conditions and promoting a "basic threshold of decency" for all workers.

:: Ensuring "fairer" distribution of Common Agricultural Policy payments.

:: Promoting urgent action on climate change.

:: Returning powers to member states and increasing the influence of state parliaments in the EU legislative process.

:: Reducing the power of the European Commission and increasing that of smaller states at the Council of Ministers through reform of the voting procedure.

:: Promoting Irish unity and EU support for a border poll.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the recession had led to a social crisis north and south of the border.

"The response of the EU institutions, actively supported by governments in the member states, has been to socialise the cost of the crisis," he said.

"The needs of the banks have been put before the needs of people.

"Austerity, imposing the costs of the economic crisis on those least able to pay, has become the dogma of politicians in Dublin, London and Brussels."

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