Tuesday, 20 January 2004
European Presidency: Statements.
Ruairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
I extend my best wishes to the Taoiseach, his Ministers and their civil servants who will be extremely busy over the next six months. All prospects of annual leave for them will have to take second place to the exigencies of the Presidency. We should all be aware of that.
I welcome the presence in the Chamber of the European Union flag which is also being flown from a number of Government buildings in Dublin city. I respectfully suggest to the Taoiseach that the House could afford a second flagpole on the roof to proclaim the fact that Ireland holds the Presidency of the European Union. We should consider displaying permanently this symbol of dual identity that is at the heart of Irish sovereignty. We are both Irish and European and are proud to make such a contribution to the European Union.
In the short time I have to add to the comments of the Labour Party leader, I wish to concentrate on two issues, namely, the Intergovernmental Conference and the Stability and Growth Pact. There is a frightening lack of ambition in public about the position of the Taoiseach and the Government on saving the constitutional treaty that was so tantalisingly close to agreement before the breakdown of the Intergovernmental Conference. The Taoiseach is well-known in negotiating circles for intervening only when he knows a positive outcome is possible. He must do more than that, however, and knows exactly to what I refer.