The date has been set. October 2 will see the second Lisbon Treaty referendum in Ireland. The “No” campaign is steaming ahead. The “Yes” campaign, unfortunately led by the government, will begin in earnest sometime around September.
The Pleasure of Your Company (aka Wedding Daze) full movie Lisbon Part I was rejected by the Irish people. Whether this was due to a lash out against the government, a successful misinformation campaign, Celtic Tiger apathy or a genuine rejection of the terms of the treaty, is open to debate.
I do not agree with the notion that the treaty was genuinely rejected. Who could read it all? It is a 232-page legal document in bureaucratese. It induces boredom, especially the beginning which makes minor modifications to the language:
Article 1 shall be amended as follows:
(a) the following words shall be inserted at the end of the first paragraph:
‘on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in
So why was the Treaty really rejected? We must consider ire at the government and the misinformation campaign. The misinformation surrounding the Treaty in the lead up to the referendum was skillfully orchestrated and well funded. It consisted of Declan Ganley, dodgy US-centric millionaire; Sinn Féin, remaking themselves as lefties; the People Before Profit Alliance; the Socialist Party; and a ragtag of fundamentalists. These are strange bedfellows indeed, as the leader of the Socialist Party called Declan Ganley a “puppet of the US military”.
After losing the MEP seat in the Ireland North West constituency, Ganley has withdrawn from politics which includes, one hopes, campaigning against the Treaty.
The “No” campaign declares its defence of sovereignty, neutrality and democracy, none of which are under threat by the Treaty. To expand a little on those three issues, these tireless campaginers believe that abortion will be forced on the country; there will be excessive bureaucracy; smaller states will lose influence; Brussels will have the power to change our tax system; and that we will lose our commissioner.
The issue of the commissioner is a red herring as far as I am concerned, given that commissioners are elected to represent the EU, not their home countries. To vote no, on the issue of the commissioner is to acknowledge that you are willing to bypass the system and have a word in somebody’s ear to get what you want. This is also known as corruption.
The inclusion of abortion in the debate is interesting. Anti-abortion groups such as Cóir claim that an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights would force abortion in Ireland if the Treaty were passed. What these people do not understand is that Irish citizens can already appeal to the ECHR, where they can get justice after the Irish system has failed. The Treaty does not change that right. We already have the right of appeal.
As for the rest, it is misinformation. The EU does not care about our taxation laws and the Treaty is designed to cut through the red tape, rather than increase it.
The government has sent a leaflet to every house in the country with the following clarifications, which they claim have been guaranteed by the Commission.
– Ireland, and all other Member States, will keep a Commissioner
– Ireland will remain in control of its own tax rates
– Irish neutrality will not be affected – no conscription, no defence alliances
– Ireland retains control of sensitive ethical issues such as abortion
– Workers’ rights and public services are valued and protected in Ireland and across the EU
Naturally, they have been guaranteed because they were already part of the Treaty. It’s enough to make one want to tear one’s hair out.
The government was accused of supporting only one side of the debate by sending the postcard. I suppose that is because not a single member of the “No” coalition is arguing on the terms of the Treaty, because they cannot. There is no threat to our sovereignty, neutrality or democracy.
The EU has supported Ireland since 1973, when we joined the European Economic Community, with billions of euro in structural grants, farm subsides and opportunity to trade in an enlarged market.
What amazes me is that, EU civil servants can get together and hammer out a piece of legislation that is coherent and of benefit to member states and the implementation of the Treaty is held up by an apathetic government and a fringe group of whining lefties who do not understand that the revolution has passed them by.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a leftie too. I am all in favour of the welfare state and the governmental support of those in need. I despise the big business lobbyists that corrupt politicians. However, the Lisbon Treaty, although it will align us more closely with our European colleagues, is not a prelude to the Evil Empire.
The only consideration left is the intense anger that the citizens of Ireland have towards the government. It is commonly agreed that the government artificially inflated the property bubble and therefore are to blame for the recession. However, I think they would have been forgiven that if they had not put the interests of their rich supporters above the well-being of the country as a whole.
The truth is that the Treaty is seen as the government’s responsibility and there is little the people of Ireland like better than to vote against the government to show their anger, even if it may harm their own self-interest.
There is everything left to play for in this game.