Lisbon Watch »

  • Campaign groups yet to exploit the power of virals

    September 17, 2009 @ 12:45 pm | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    It’s a wonder that so few Lisbon campaigners have sought to use a slick viral ad campaign to sell their message to the electorate.

    Notwithstanding Michael O’Leary’s five-minute rant on YouTube, most groups appear to see the poster arena as the main canvassing battleground.

    One imagines a well-executed viral campaign could have a significant impact on a modern audience, who have become fatigued with the same dreary, inane circuit of slogans and faces adorning their lampposts.

    A recent British study suggested virtual advertising – from Facebook messages to e-mails, texts and mobile applications – was fast becoming the most important medium for advertising, surpassing even television.

    A good example of a locally-based campaign viral is the latest offering from Marriage Equality, which gets its point across in a persuasive and clever way.

    The re-worked Budweiser Wassup 2008 viral was watched by over four million people in its first two weeks on YouTube last year and was considered to a have made significant contribution to the US election.

    The ad reassembled the characters of the 1999 hit viral at the end of the Bush administration and urged people to vote for political change.

    European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland has just released its own video on YouTube, entitled “The Lisbon Treaty’s Social Side”, which aims to give a neutral overview of how Lisbon impacts on social issues and the direction of the European Union.

    While not a viral ad, the video, produced by Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology graduate Dan Flynn, illustrates just how effective and engaging the medium can be when utilised to highlight the issues.

    EAPN director Anna Visser said the agency is concerned that Lisbon campaign is once again being over-shadowed by political gamesmanship and personality contests.

    She said: “The video briefly and clearly explores important issues like the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Citizens Initiative and the Social Clause”.

    “We are a non-partisan organisation and we’re not asking to people to vote for or against, we’re simply asking people to go to the polls armed with the facts,” Visser said.

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  • Yes siders still getting most print media coverage

    September 16, 2009 @ 1:41 pm | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    Pro-treaty groups and campaigners are still commanding the lion’s share of Lisbon coverage in the print media, according to the latest TNS MediaMarket survey.

    With just over two weeks to the referendum, the survey found Yes groups garnered 44 per cent of column inches in the national and Sunday press media over the last week, a drop of 7 per cent on the previous week.

    The survey indicates No groups commanded 24 per cent of the coverage, the same percentage as the previous week.

    Researchers said the treaty appeared to be playing “a bit-part” in larger issues faced by the political parties promoting a Yes vote, behind National Asset Management Agency (Nama) and speculation on a general election.

    While Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour all dominated the Yes campaigners’ league, much of the references toward the treaty were “passing mentions”, the survey said.

    This is the most likely explanation for the 7 per cent drop in Yes coverage to neutral, rather than ground being gained by the No campaign, it said.

    However, the survey indicated the No side gained a strong boost at the end of the week with the re-emergence of Libertas leader Declan Ganley.

    The analysis suggested the print media coverage strongly reflected a concern by the Yes side about the damage a No vote could do to economic recovery.

    Another debating point this week related to concerns over the next Irish Commissioner.

    Tax and the treaty guarantees, secured by the Government, remained the subjects of several articles in the national and Sunday press, the survey said.

  • O’Leary labels No groups ‘unemployable headbangers’

    September 15, 2009 @ 11:21 am | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

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    Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has set out just why he thinks Ireland should vote Yes to Lisbon in an expletive-laden rant on YouTube.

    In his five-minute tirade, O’Leary describes those on the No side as “unemployable f****ing headbangers”, and claims if it weren’t for the European Union the country would be destroyed by an “incompetent public sector”, “inept politicians” and trade union bosses who were “milking the system” through social partnership.

    Never one to mix his words, O’Leary said “our incompetent political elite” had shattered the country’s competitiveness and created “an explosion of expensive, useless, self-sustaining quangos”.

    He said his foray into political campaigning was a one-off, and he intended to retire from the political scene immediately the referendum campaign.

    “Will I be running at some future date for the presidency? No! sadly, I am the wrong gender, and I couldn’t hack speaking in the normal platitudinous shite that you have to talk in to get elected,” he said.

    Mysteriously, he also felt called upon to dispel “the myth” that his airline’s cabin crew were “large Russian shot putters or Latvians that can’t speak any English”, saying most cabin crew were Irish or English girls.

  • Ganley derides pro-Lisbon stance of Intel and Microsoft

    September 14, 2009 @ 3:35 pm | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    Libertas leader Declan Ganley has criticised the public shows of support for the Lisbon Treaty by technology giants Intel and Microsoft, claiming they were motivated solely to keep the European Commission “sweet” and avoid further fines for anti-competitive practices.

    Speaking on the RTE’s Today with Pat Kenny show, Ganley claimed the Commission has become so powerful that businesses like Intel and Microsoft were now behaving like lowly “courtiers…looking for favours and begging for the scraps” so as not to be hit with another billion euro fine.

    Intel was stung with a record €1.06 billion anti-trust fine earlier this year by the EU executive, more than double the €497 million fine levied against Microsoft in 2004.

    In Intel’s case, Ganley said the company remained in “mitigation and litigation” with the Commission in an attempt to reduce its fine.

    “These companies need to build goodwill because they have figured out that they have to keep the Commission sweet…because the Commission has so much power and will be given so much greater power under this Treaty without ever having to face an electorate.”

    He said the companies should not be interfering in the constitutional processes of the country by entering the debate on Lisbon, and claimed they were dispensing poor economic advice.

    “I understand they need to curry favour with the Commission but their advice is very bad for the Irish economy.

    It is not in our interest to give away exclusive competence in commercial, industrial, foreign direct investment policy and to enshrine European law as supreme,” he said.

    Last week the managing director of Microsoft Ireland, Paul Rellis, warned Ireland would almost certainly lose investment to other EU countries if the Lisbon Treaty is not ratified.

    In August, Intel Ireland launched a pro-Lisbon campaign with general manager Jim O’Hara claiming a Yes vote would be “hugely important” for the future of foreign investment in Ireland.

  • Yes groups deny responsibility for anti-Cóir posters

    September 13, 2009 @ 7:29 pm | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    Nobody appears to know just who is behind a series of anti-Cóir posters which were erected along several of capital’s busiest thoroughfares last week.

    The posters displayed a monkey holding a placard emblazoned with the words “No to Nuts”, and contained the message “Are Cóir driving you nuts, Vote Yes to Lisbon.

    Several prominent Yes groups and campaigners contacted by The Irish Times denied responsibility and pleaded to be clueless as to who was behind the posters.

    Cóir’s Richard Greene claimed the posters, which have been taken down by the Dublin City Council, represented “a huge own goal for the Yes side”, as they were deeply offensive to people who suffered from psychiatric illness.

    Cóir is planning to blitz the capital and several other cities in the coming days with another controversial poster campaign warning of dire consequences if the Treaty is passed.

    The group has produced a series of four pink, heart-shaped posters, containing provocative slogans such as “the EU loves low wages” and “Kiss your freedom goodbye”.

    One of the posters contains the message “We love our Constitution, Vote No” while another claims “Politicians love the gravy train”.

    A fifth poster shows a picture of a giraffe with the message “Another vote? They’ve got some neck”.

    Greene told LisbonWatch: “We’ve got a huge response to our first series of posters and it is now accepted by all sides that we’re winning the poster campaign”.

  • Does Ganley sense a No vote or was his return planned all along?

    September 12, 2009 @ 8:38 pm | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    The return of Brussels nemesis Ganley may not be enough a stop a Yes vote if the latest Red C poll, published in the Sunday Business Post, proves an accurate barometer of public opinion.

    With just under three weeks to the referendum, the poll puts support for the Lisbon Treaty at 52 per cent, with the No side on 25 per cent and the undecided at 23 per cent.

    The figures contrast with the last Irish Times / TNS mrbi poll which suggested support for the Treaty had slumped 8 points to 46 per cent since May and that the No vote had risen 1 per cent to 29 per cent, with the Don’t Knows on 25 per cent.

    There’s little doubt Ganley’s return to the fray adds a new dynamic to the campaign.  But was his return planned all along or does he sense a No vote is there for the taking? There’s been a GanleyComeBack persona on Twitter since his European election defeat in June. One LisbonWatch reader suspects astroturfing.

    Nevertheless, Patricia McKenna suggests his return will allay concerns that those on the No side are anti-business. But Paddy Power remains unconvinced, shortening their odds on a Yes vote from 1/10 to 1/12.

    All the speculation this week surrounding Ganley almost overshadowed the entrance of Jim Corr, who launched his own crusade for a No vote, warning that Lisbon would lead to a European superstate run by Tony Blair (see below).

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  • Cóir website generating more traffic than pro-Lisbon sites

    September 11, 2009 @ 6:04 pm | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    No campaigners may not be commanding as many column inches  in the print media as pro-Lisbon groups but when it comes to generating internet traffic they’re more than a match.

    According to web traffic compilers Alexa and Statbrain, Coir’s website is receiving four times as many visitors as the pro-Lisbon group Ireland for Europe’s website or the Government’s own Lisbon campaign site.

    Statbrain estimates the average number of visits per day to www.coircampaign.org is now 1,327 while the equivalent for www.irelandforeurope.ie is only 327.

    Brian Hickey of Cóir claimed the figures showed that people wanted to know more about this Treaty, but they don’t trust the Government to tell them the full facts.

    “Our nationwide canvass is alerting people to the facts about the Treaty, and also bringing more traffic to the site,” he said.

  • Is Ganley to return?

    @ 11:12 am | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    Several blogs and a number of Twitter users are suggesting Libertas leader Declan Ganley is about make a dramatic and unexpected return to the campaign trail for Lisbon II.

    In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published yesterday, Ganley said it was “profoundly undemocratic” to hold a second vote on the treaty.

    The WSJ described him as the man the Brussels establishment blamed most for the last Lisbon No vote.

    The paper said:”He was one of the driving forces behind the No campaign the last time around, and he’s back to do it again”.

    Ganley was contacted by the Irish Times today but declined to confirm the reports, saying he was in a meeting and would be available to talk on Monday.

    But irishelection.ie says: “Declan Ganley is back 100 per cent” and the Libertas launch will happen between now and Monday.

    The possible re-emergence of Mr Ganley in the Lisbon debate comes after the latest Irish Times /TNS mrbi poll showed a dramatic drop in support for the Treaty.

    The Tuam-based businessman is described by the Wall Street Journal as the man the Brussels establishment blamed most for the last Lisbon No vote. “He was one of the driving forces behind the No campaign the last time around, and he’s back to do it again,” it said.

    In the interview, Mr Ganley said: “The Irish people had a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. They voted no. A higher percentage of the electorate voted no than voted for Barack Obama in the United States of America. No one’s suggesting he should run for re-election next month”.

    He also claimed Ireland was “almost literally being held hostage, with a gun pointed to our head, and being told, if you don’t sign this thing, unspecified bad things will happen. But what they’re asking us to do is to sell out the rest of the people of Europe.”

    When asked about Mr Ganley’s possible return to the Lisbon campaign trail today, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said: “Mr Ganley is free to campaign. I have no information about his intentions, that’s a matter for himself.”

    Following his defeat in the North West constituency in the June European Parliament elections, Mr Ganley said he would not be involved in a campaign against a second Lisbon Treaty referendum. “I will not be involved in the second Lisbon campaign, I’ve said that upfront,” he said.

  • Farage elicits colourful invective from Fianna Fáil ministers

    September 10, 2009 @ 2:13 pm | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    One of the surprise entrants on the No side this time round has been the UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage.

    He appears to be eliciting some unusually colourful invective from the Yes side, not least from Fianna Fáil ministers.

    At a Lisbon debate on Monday night in Dublin, European Affairs minister Dick Roche labelled him “a narrow, bigoted, jingoist, peddling an intolerant Little Englander’s view of the world”.

    Farage hit back (see video below), saying Roche’s comments were motivated by fear and malice. He appears to be inhabiting the space left by Declan Ganley.
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    Yesterday on RTE’s Today with Pat Kenny show, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said Farage represented a “fundamental agenda” that didn’t believe in climate change and wished to scrap the Belfast Agreement.

    Farage said: “Do not trust your politicians, they are careerists, they are the only ones that will benefit from this treaty, they’re the ones that will be secure in their careers, and you will lose your independence and your freedom. It’s not worth it, say No and let’s have a big debate across Europe about where we want to go.”

  • Yes campaign commands lion’s share of print media coverage

    @ 9:52 am | by Eoin Burke Kennedy

    TNS MediaMarket research on the media’s coverage of the Lisbon Treaty debate has found that Yes campaigners commanded 51 per cent of the national and Sunday press coverage on the topic during the first week of the campaign from August 31st to September 6th, compared to 24 per cent for the No campaigners.

    The analysis suggested the print media coverage strongly reflected a concern by the Yes side that voters would use the referendum as a protest vote against the Government.

    It found Taoiseach Brian Cowen drove much of the coverage, at least in terms of column inches, which allowed Fianna Fáil to be ranked as the most prominent Yes campaign group.

    Fine Gael and Labour, who also focused on trying to appeal to voters not to use their vote to bash the Government, were second and third respectively in the Yes campaigners league.

    The research found the top three non-political Yes contributors were “Ireland for Europe”, “We Belong” and Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary. It said: “Much of the focus of the Yes campaign remains on damning the No debate, with Michéal Martin and Dick Roche condemning the tactics of Cóir.”

    The research said Cóir managed to grab significant press coverage through its controversial poster campaign, particularly on its minimum wage posters, which were the subject of 24 articles last week.

    Sinn Féin and Patricia McKenna’s People’s Movement returned second and third place in the No campaigners league, though the analysis said Sinn Fein’s coverage was “somewhat off-subject”, concentrating more on its TNS MRBI poll results.

    Yes Campaigns (number of articles in brackets)

    1. Fianna Fáil (133)
    2. Fine Gael (62)
    3. Labour (51)
    4. Green Party (50)
    5. Ireland for Europe / We Belong / Ryanair (17 each)

    No Campaigns (number of articles in brackets)

    1. Cóir (45)
    2. Sinn Féin (26)
    3. People’s Movement (21)
    4. Youth Defence (16)
    5. Socialist Party (14)

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