Minister for Foreign Affairs welcomes the publication of Interim Report by the National Forum on Europe
I warmly welcome the publication today of an interim report by the National Forum on Europe.
I am particularly pleased that the Report makes clear beyond all doubt the broad national consensus in favour of the enlargement of the European Union. I also welcome the strong awareness evident in the report of the continuing immense practical benefits for Ireland of European Union membership. It is the Government's strong view that from both perspectives it is essential that Ireland ratify the Treaty of Nice.
As all those parties, organisations and individuals taking part in it are aware, the Forum is amply fulfilling its mandate of providing a platform for wide-ranging and broad-based debate on the European Union and Ireland's place in it. I congratulate the Chairman, Senator Maurice Hayes, on his balanced and open approach. The ‘mini-fora' in particular were a great success in helping to bring the debate closer to people throughout the country, and there has been a succession of very interesting and authoritative presentations by leading figures from Ireland and elsewhere in the Union.
The Report also identifies a number of concerns that need to be addressed. The Government is conscious of these issues and is determined to address them effectively and comprehensively, including through initiatives such as an enhanced system of Oireachtas scrutiny and through our involvement in the Convention on the Future of Europe, which starts on Thursday. As we proceed, the Forum will continue to play a vital role and I look forward to its ongoing work.