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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 17, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

    Once more into the breach on the Lisbon Treaty

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Mamma mia, here we go again, another Lisbon referendum, if the heavy hints being dropped by Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin are anything to go by. He said on RTE last night a decision on the issue would be made in advance of the next EU summit in Brussels on 11 and 12 December.

    The conventional wisdom is that it won’t be held before the autumn although there have been suggestions in senior political circles of late that the coming spring might be a good time to “get it out of the way”.

    Many people will feel a certain weariness of spirit at the prospect of having to go through the debate again. The same tired old issues keep cropping up with the same arguments getting the same responses.

    The latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi, published today, shows that if we could retain ”our” member of the European Commission and if there were reassuring declarations on abortion, neutrality and taxation, the majority of respondents would vote Yes next time.

    The poll figures are 43 per cent Yes, 39 per cent No and 18 per cent with no opinion. When the “Don’t Knows” are excluded, this gives you 52.5 per cent Yes and 47.5 per cent No. There is a big class divide: among the AB social groups, it’s 57-27 for Yes but at the D and E levels it’s the other way round with only 29 per cent voting Yes and 47 per cent voting No.

    One suspects immigration is a factor here. The Nice Treaty opened the door to many central and east Europeans to come to Ireland to make their living. They have made a terrific contribution to our economy, culture and society but it hasn’t always gone down well with the less well-off among the indigenous population who see their livelihoods as being under threat.

    I don’t have statistical data to hand but my empirical impression is that many of our immigrants have left, now that the economy and the all-important building trade are in precipitate decline. Ironically that may help the passage of any future Lisbon referendum.

    While the Yes side will be encouraged by the poll findings, the actual campaign could change all that. Whether one agrees with them or not,  the No people have traditionally been more energetic and imaginative in EU referendums. The last Yes campaign, with some exceptions, was a tired and halfhearted affair. To rework an old saying, “The No side doesn’t win EU referendums, the Yes side loses them.”

    The present writer has probably tapped out more articles on his computer keyboard about EU matters than any other journalist based in Ireland and it’s an uphill struggle trying to spark people’s interest in the subject. There is very little interest in or commitment to the European ideal in this country for reasons one could well speculate about. Maybe it’s the fact that the South stayed out of the second World War and the people do not understand or appreciate the role of the EU in maintaining peace in Europe. Maybe it’s the education system. Even some of our senior politicians don’t seem to have a good grasp of how the EU works. Until we see people emerging on the Yes side who have the same zeal, commitment and singlemindedness as Declan Ganley and the Cóir activists – whatever one’s views of their politics –  the prospects for getting the Treaty passed will remain uncertain.

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    • Brian Boru says:

      An opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights in its entirety is a precondition for me even considering reversing my no vote. My problem with it is that it effectively, through enshrinement into EU law, greatly expands the jurisdiction of the ECJ to interfere (as I would see it) in domestic Irish affairs, particularly on immigration but also on issues like the right to strike, freedom of speech/press, scientific ethics and aspects of our justice system including legal aid. I don’t accept Ireland is isolated in Europe. It’s the politicians who are isolated in their desire to force this Treaty on the 27 member nations of the EU. I find it genuinely disturbing that the wishes of the French and Dutch peoples in 2005 are being trampled on and also that the politicians – including from those two countries – seem to think this is okay. Well it’s not okay. If the politicians get the impression from a yes vote that they can ignore referendum results that they don’t like, then what is to stop the EU acting in a similar way with respect to election results in the EU member states that they don’t like? It’s a slippery slope.

    • Betterworld Now says:

      It is very easy to engineer a yes result in an opinion poll – God knows we had enough of them in the run up to the first Lisbon vote. The bland assurances contained in the question that the three key ideas identified by the yes side as explanations for the ‘no’ vote simply cannot be translated into cast-iron guarantees.

      We will have a re-run of the unpicking process the treaty was subjected to by the various strands of the no camp, just that this time they will have three juicy new targets for their unpicking skills to work on. You don’t simplify the treaty decision by adding three new legally suspect and politically expedient appendages and then suggest that the appendages suddenly make the overall package attractive.

      No voters don’t fall into simplistic categories motivated by self interest and controlled by ignorance, as the yes side assume. The suggestion that conscription, for example, was an issue that had any impact on the vote was a FF invention with no basis in fact. The same is largely true of the compulsory abortion fantasy.

      The only thing that united all no voters was the belief that they were being sold a pup by underhanded methods. The course plotted by the French presidency contains many, many more opportunities for no voters to feel they are being tricked – not least the appearance of a “heavy squad” of EU commissioners addressing ‘public’ meetings in Ireland stacked with hand-picked audiences of the chattering class.

      The key demographic of no voters in Lisbon 1 may have felt themselves threatened by Polish and Lithuanian workers undercutting their wage rates on building sites and in factories all around the country. In Lisbon 2 that same demographic will be unemployed, claiming dole and facing repossession of their house by a nationalised bank – hardly conducive to doing what the government that got them into that fix wants them to do. They will be joined by a significant portion of the yes vote involved in the building and property industries – the AB demographic – who will also now unemployed and facing repossession of their house by a nationalised bank, but this group, being formerly self-employed, will be ineligible for dole.

      And then there are the true democrats who, regardless of their own vote, will be outraged by the failure of the EU to respect the original vote of the clear majority of Irish people.

      Since Lisbon 1 much has changed in the world. The other EU states who embraced (or were forced by their political masters to embrace) Lisbon don’t seem to have fared any better in the face of the international credit crisis than the semi-detached Irish, raising the very tricky question for the yes side to answer of “what is in it for me?”. Until they come up with a believable answer to this one, there will be no positive reason for a change of heart by a sufficient number of individuals to result in a reversal of the ‘no’ vote.

    • Ray D says:

      If Lisbon is voted on again, which is and always was a racing certainty, then for me the big essential problem with the Lisbon Treaty does not change. That problem is the enormous additional powers that it proposes to transfer to the centre.

      The 2 main bodies at the centre of the EU are the Commission and the ECJ. The Commission alone prepares, initiates and proposes all laws and then steers these draft proposals through the other decision-making bodies of the Union. Comitology gives the Commission the upper hand in all aspects of these “steering” negotiations and, in effect, the Commission cannot be stopped from getting through everything it proposes – even if sometimes it has to offer some textual concessions to ensure passage of its own proposals. The only effective curb on the Commission’s activities is in aspects where a Member State has a veto. In the main, Lisbon proposes to abolish virtually all such vetoes.

      In turn the laws that the Commission steers through (which remain in effect in perpetuity in practice), are interpreted by the ECJ alone and its perverseness in decision-making is not open to challenge in any way.

      The Commission is full of career bureaucrats and failed politicians and is an undemocratic institution whose powers cannot be curbed. The Court is full of third-rate lawyers. Neither of these very faulty core institutions has much knowledge of the administrations and legal systems of the various Member-States that they control and, in any event, they care less about such diversity and differences in carrying out their functions.

      Saying yes to Lisbon would add considerably to the untrammelled powers of these seriously-defective institutions, I believe that it would be the height of folly for European citizens to grant extra powers to these bodies as Lisbon proposes.

    • James says:

      I voted Yes to Lisbon. I was pleased. I defended what I called the Euro positives. I say the Prime Time program on Ganley. I have changed my mind in no small way. There is a sinister part of the Yes campaign which I said before didn’t exist. It showed itself in the attempt to disgrace Ganley on Prime Time.
      Sorry, Declan. You will get my vote next time round.
      By the way, I thought you were very wobbly on the show. I appreciate you were being attacked.
      Maybe you plan to have recourse to the law. I would welcome that. If it finds out who tried to destroy your name, it may also find out who fooled me in Lisbon I.

    • tore toivicco says:

      Message to irish people about Lisbon treaty:

      Lisbon treaty seems to be totally strange and deleting democracy or human rights?


      I’ve read an article which states that police gets rights to shoot people in some situations.

      These kind of things are totalitarian politics.

      It also probably stops right to go on strike.


      And all this in whole Europe …

      It is sad to notice that all other countries have accepted this treaty, but many governments have not even given people chance to vote about it.

      Irish government has given you this right,…anyway it is really strange that Ireland maybe votes again about this, and only after few months?(or 2009?)

      EU elite needs this YES, and they have ordered new voting?

      If this is true it shows how horrible secret elite rules EU, and what can we expect from the future?
      Lisbon treaty is basically giving ‘Gestapo’-laws to EU-government, if needed?

      And they seem to need those laws fast?

      Vote NO, and save the world?

      F.ex. in many european countries media and politicians has almost 100% ignored discussions about this subject, and people are not even aware about whole thing?

      It is also good to remember that USA has now similar ‘martial laws’ there, after 11th september 2001… ?

      EU security officials decide about all security matters of whole EU?

      Also there is some things which makes it very difficult for normal people to complain and get things corrected if there is wrongful handlings?

      I hope I am wrong, but this whole thing , and how it has been handled seems really wrong? And it is not a democratic way to handle politics.?



      I am harassed so much all the time that this writing may include errors.

      -Tore Toivicco

      Now also EU web-cencorship?


      Give us back our democracy!

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