Monday, June 09, 2008

Reasons to be Positive-Why Vote Yes on Thursday

Just my own story to start off with. In 1986 as Deputy President of the Union of Students in Ireland,I opposed the Single European Act, the first EU refendum in which I had a vote. I was convinced by the neutrality argument in particular, believing the stuff about a European army being created any day now!- See how much the message has changed?
Two things happened after that. Firstly I moved back to rural South Kerry in 1991 and began to see the reality of EU funding. As a community activist I saw the transformation for local communities brought about by funding through initiatives like the LEADER programme, which my wife managed in the area. The insistence by the EU on genuine community consultation and empowerment was totally different from National Government approaches. The EU really believes in 'bottom-up' development and the principle of subsidiarity or the making of decisions at local level,a message the people of disadvantaged communities were starving to hear.

Also at around the same time I watched along with the world as the people of Bosnia and Kosovo were slaughtered in one of the worst genocides of the 20th century, while we stood by along with the west, crippled by our so-called neutrality. I believed then and do now that our neutrality should be a force for good, not a Pontius Pilate reason for sitting on our hands while innocent people die, and yes if that means that we as Europeans should have a peace-keeping or even intervention force to prevent genocide, that's ok by me. Try reading Samantha Power's wonderful yet disturbing book on genocide if you need convincing.

Since Maastricht then I've been enthusiastically in favour of deepening European unity and will continue to fight for the world's most successful peace process in history.

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