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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 18, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

    Lisbon

    Harry McGee

    I thought that support for a Yes vote in the second Lisbon referendum later this year would be higher. But the 52 per cent revealed in today’s poll (see story here) indicates to me that it’s all over bar the shouting.

    Mary Lou McDonald said today that the poll was taken before the campaign has even started, or before the issues have been determined/thrashed out.

    There has been a slight reality check since last summer called a worldwide depression of gargantuan proportions.

    In my humble opinion, many people who voted No last year will vote YES before a ball is kicked in the campaign.Some of the issues are of substantial importance – military neutrality, sovereignty, and the democratic deficit – but they will be outflanked (and I’m not saying this is right; not at all) by the economic imperative.

    People will view a No vote with the same eyes that they now view holiday homes in Bulgaria, expensive spa centres and stretch Hummer limousines – as a luxury we can no longer afford.

    I also think that the Yes side will play on that. Vote No and you’ll cast us all into endless oblivion.

    • dealga says:

      You’re right, of course.

      However I now look forward to all the posts telling us why being asked to vote again is a disgrace etc.

      So, in anticipation, may I say there’s nothing wrong with being offered a chance to change your mind.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      I am in the rather odd situation of possibly voting no, having voted yes last time. And not because I have a problem with being asked a second time.

      I don’t want these new “clarifications” or “declarations” or whatever they’re called – and I fundamentally object to treaty-like legal guarantees being agreed by the EU on the basis of market research carried out by a private company on behalf of our government. The country and the EU should not be run as if we were launching a new brand of Coco Pops.

      I expect the guarantees, especially on neutrality and family etc., will come back to haunt us and though I am 100% pro-Lisbon might be forced to vote no depending on the content of these guarantees.

      Any thoughts? People tell me I should just vote yes because we’re screwed otherwise … That might be true but is there any room for principles in politics?

    • Tony S says:

      To An Fear Bolg – could you please unclench already? If the events of the last ten months haven’t convince you that membership of the EU was the only thing that saved from going completely down the toilet, then what will it take?

      Yes, I’m telling you that we should vote yes because we are screwed otherwise …

      Debate over, in god’s name ….

    • Brian Boru says:

      As a no voter I strongly disagree. The wording of the poll included references to legally-binding assurances that do not yet exist. In that context, the question is hypothetical. Even if the govt gets the assurances, there is the question of how legally-binding – if at all – they actually are. If the govt and its friends in Brussels, Paris and Berlin were serious about this, they would have taken the time since the Irish no vote to include them in the Treaty as legally-binding Protocols. Instead, we are being offered what I have called a “promise thrice-removed” i.e. a promise that in the future, promises will be inserted into an Icelandic/Croatian Accession Treaty, which will then come into force if one of those countries votes to join the EU. The question therefore arises as to the viability of the assurances if those countries reject EU membership, which polls show is a real possibility. Icelandic polls show that while over 60% favour applying for EU membership, support for actual membership is rejected 45-39 (February poll). Both pro and anti-EU parties in the country favour an application in order to settle the long-running debate on EU membership, but the final decision on joining will go to a separate referendum, and the terms of entry, especially with respect to fishing-rights, will be crucial in determining the final outcome. Croatia’s membership application is also in trouble, given a maritime-border dispute with Slovenia, which is threatening to hold a referendum on Croatian EU membership unless it is resolved. Polls in Slovenia indicate an overwhelming “no” vote if a referendum were held now. So the obvious question arises: what happens to the ‘guarantees’ if the relevant Accession Treaties into which they were to be inserted fall? Being another Fianna Fáil ‘promise’, methinks it will just fall by the wayside like so many they made in the recent past.

      In any case, the assurances do not address my reasons for voting no – primarily because of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. More specifically, I have concerns as to how the ECJ will interpret the Charter with respect to asylum and immigration and freedom of the press/speech. We do not need an umpteenth court of appeals for asylum-cases. The Judicial-Review procedure on average is putting back the conclusion of appeals by 21 months, and now we’re adding Article 18 of the Charter which effectively gives the ECJ jurisdiction in this area. I am also concerned that Article 15 (right to work) could force Ireland to remove the ban on employment for asylum-seekers, potentially leading to another Irish Ferries.

      Article 15

      1. Everyone has the right to engage in work and to pursue a freely chosen or accepted occupation.

      2. Every citizen of the Union has the freedom to seek employment, to work, to exercise the right of establishment and to provide services in any Member State.

      3. Nationals of third countries who are authorised to work in the territories of the Member States are entitled to working conditions equivalent to those of citizens of the Union.

      Article 18
      The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community.

    • Brian Boru says:

      Can I add that after Spain voted yes to Lisbon/EU Constitution in 2005, unemployment nearly doubled from 9% to 17%. So voting yes won’t revive the Irish economy.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      Tony S – come back to me when the SPUC have the Gardaí lock up a pregnant 14 year old (raped by her uncle) trying to board a plane to London – on the basis of some family protection guarantee obtained to pass the Lisbon Treaty.

    • Stephen says:

      Harry, you may well be right – but I have to say, I think it’s sad that this is the level of debate we’re being reduced to. The Lisbon Treaty may be complex, but not so complex that a reasonably intelligent person can’t at least make an effort to understand it. In my opinion there are valid, respectable reasons for voting either Yes or No and we should be able to discuss them rationally. Instead the government campaign looks like it’ll be reduced to a series of slogans: we have to be at the heart of Europe, you’re either in or out etc – which are all just another way of saying we have to go along with whatever Brussels comes up with, whatever the particularities of the treaty itself. Frankly, it doesn’t reflect well either on the political system – any chance that the media will force them to treat the electorate with a little more respect?

    • Ray D says:

      The Commission tried to stop us taking the action we did last September to save our banking system but found they had no powers to stop us. Lisbon will give that unelected and unaccountable massive and continuously growing bureaucracy untrammelled powers. God help us.

    • steve white says:

      Do you not see this poll as bogus because the guarantees haven’t been decided?

    • Sarah says:

      Lisbon’s commitments to free trade deregulation and the prioritisation of competition make a rerun of the referendum nothing but a joke. Since the financial crisis the stability and growth pact enshrined once again in Lisbon is a joke- 3% deficit anyone? State aid rules are being bent, broken and smashed all accross the region. Lisbon is an oudated nonsense devised over eight years ago with great participation by our government (who were at that time busy ignoring the Bacon reports and inflating our property bubble)-anyone debating it should accept this and stop using it as some sort of symbol for membership of an exclusive club that will protect us should get a grip and act in the interests of the people of the EU and reject it again.

    • Tony S says:

      “Lisbon will give that unelected and unaccountable massive and continuously growing bureaucracy untrammelled powers”

      Errm, I thought we had an ‘unaccountable massive and continuously growing bureaucracy’ here already – what with 800 quangos (at last count) and an administration in the HSE which is the equivalent of Britain’s NHS, for a population the size of Manchester.

    • Edward Devoy says:

      Political scandal to end all scandals

      Shock, Horror where will it end, a new scandal to end all scandals.
      Libertas EU have threatened to stop the troughing and sleaze in Europe.
      Libertas have threatened the whole of EU’s institutions, stating that they intend to bring Democracy, accountability and transparency to the EU.
      Is this the end of politics as we know it?
      Are their demands unreasonable?
      How will Europe cope with real democracy?
      Just how will the citizens of Europe react to a Europe that works for them.
      find answers at http://www.libertas.eu

    • Harry says:

      It is complex, yes, Stephen. Weeks of my life last year were spent cross-referencing bits of text to previous treaties. The Insititute of Europea Affairs produced an excellent text and the summary of the Forum on Europe was a zillion times better than the pitiable document produced by the Referendum Commission.
      If you look at the research conducted about attitutudes to voting, there was a significant cohort who cited a lack of understanding. Unfortunately, there is no easy way of explaining it. Even the very best summary – and the Forum On Europe one went close – requires work, some swotting, and a rudimenatry knowledge of how Europe works.
      And in every society, there are people who won’t take the trouble to do that.
      Hence, the phenomenon that leads to some (I’m not saying a majority) casting votes based on instincts, hunches, and a little information (which may be partial or untrue).
      Fear of being economic outcasts will be a factor during the campaign. I’m not saying it’s right (it’s reductionist and alarmist – of course it is!) but it’s going to be a reality.
      Many people, in my view, will dispense with the complexities and the niceties and the nuances and vote on the one big question: do we want our future to be in Europe or not?
      Sure, voting No will mean we remain in Europe. But it won’t be played that way.

    • Joo Diligence says:

      Am I the only one thinking that the first reasonable thing participants in the European debate could do is stop considering that the EU/Brussels is some remote monster far, far away, deciding on the fate of Ireland. The Irish authorities ARE represented at the Council and European Parliament, just like any other Member State. It is plain wrong – and simply delusional – to state that “Brussels is imposing this” or “the EU forces our hand”… Ireland IS part of the EU and participates directly in the decision-making process at EU level. Period.
      Do No voters sincerely believe that the other 26 EU countries are conspiring to hamper Ireland’s influence in Europe?
      I’m disappointed to see that the Lisbon debate is centred on everything about Irish sovereignty and interests, not on the bigger picture, i.e., the need for the EU to develop into a political entity …

    • dealga says:

      Well Joo, we do live in a country where people are sent to Dublin to run the nation on the basis of how many potholes they’ve had fixed.

    • Knut says:

      Whilst reading Brian Boru’s post it struck me; I agree with most of what he writes, though I will vote “yes” because I keep on thinking…

      “We’re broke…we’re bloody broke and the Germans are going to have to bail us out…I don’t want the IMF involved here, can we not just get Steinbruck to write us a cheque?But we’ll have to vote “yes”…right…a “yes” vote it is then”

      Simple, uncomplicated thinking. May not be morally or politically pure, but is probably going to happen.

      Oh, and Edward, Libertas are a joke, a well funded joke, but a joke nonetheless. Your intern contract must be up soon though, so can troll for UKIP or the BNP next.

    • Desmond says:

      Lisbon will be forced through by frightening grannies and women, two sections of society vulnerable to scare mongering.
      In my house, my mother (a granny) and my sisters have all changed their tune on Lisbon. They feel we would be in a financial meltdown comparable to Iceland which at a predicted 15% here is comparable I think and we are in the Union.
      According to reports by Ernst & Young, we are in a depression. Where was the EU when this happened? And how is the EU helping the likes of Spain with it’s rapidly expanding unemployment levels?? It’s not.
      On a personal level, I am against the EU and the Lisbon Treaty as I see it as an extension of the EU policies that has led to the flooding of this country with immigrants.

    • Brian Boru says:

      Spanish unemployment doubled after they voted yes, so the economic argument doesn’t exist. The Germans are helping keep our banks afloat not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they share a currency with us and have a common stake in preventing a capital-flight from eurozone banks which would otherwise lead to the euro collapsing. A weak currency means inflation – something the Germans associate with the 1930′s. So I’m not worried that they will stop assisting the banks if we vote no. They don’t have the luxury to not do so. If we go down, the euro goes down with us, and Germany returns to hyper inflation.

    • Ray D says:

      The Council and the Parliament have no real powers in Europe. The real powers are vested in the Commission and in the Courts. The Commission drafts and proposes legislation that suits the bureaucracy and guides this through the other bodies. The comitology that surrounds this means in effect that, where QMV applies – qualified majority voting – the Commission can force through all it wants. It is virtually impossible, under QMV, to get a blocking majority. The Commission are classic wheelers and dealers.

      Only where there is a veto does the Commission have to accept what individual Member States want and to make necessary concessions in texts to bring them all on board. The Lisbon Treaty (‘dead’ as Eamonn Gilmore termed it publicly on national radio and television) will dramatically abolish the veto across many areas giving the unelected Commission untrammelled powers in its established monopoly on Community legislation.

      The Court is the only body that interprets legisation. It has a record of interpreting some legislation in a peculiar and perverse way. The Court decides matters while ignoring the preambles in directives, and Council statements, etc. The latter is supposed to give guidance on the purpose and intention of legislation. Drafting in many EU regulatory implements is very poor and the Court has given judgments on interpretaions that fly in the face of the purpose of the instrument in question. The Commission, for its part, may then refuse to bring forward amendments to correct the original faulty instrument.

      The Council and the Parliament are toothless institutions.

      God help us when we vote yes. Whether we do so in a second, third, fourth etc. referendum we will eventually be forced to do so by our corrupt masters..

    • kynos says:

      Would we be offered a chance to change our minds if last summer the vote had been Yes, Dealga? I’m afraid your argument is as flimsy as all others I’ve seen you post. “You vill vote unz vote unz vote again until yoo getz itz rightz! Unz zen yoo vill never haf too vurry about voting for anything meaningful again!” Ah yes. Enabling Laws. Where have they gotten us before?


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