Proud to be a Nation of Serial Referendum-Holders
Deaglán de Bréadún
Personally, I am quite proud of the way we hold referendums on just about everything in this State. It underlines the sovereignty of the people in a very significant way.
Successive governments have no doubt gazed with envy on their counterparts in other EU states who just trot the latest Treaty through the legislature without the bother and expense of a plebiscite.
On the plus side, though, it means that the Irish electorate is probably the most aware and best-informed on European issues.
Our referendums are not, of course, confined to EU matters. A French colleague expressed surprise that we even had one on judges’ salaries. But judicial independence is critically-important and it was crucial that the people should have the final say.
The Oireachtas parliamentary inquiries issue also went to referendum. Personally, I thought on balance the amendment was a good idea and the difficulties could be ironed out in due course, but the majority of the people felt otherwise. Again an important issue of public interest was the subject of serious national debate.
So let’s not be ashamed of the fact that we are serial referendum-holders. Men and women died so we would exercise that right.
On the vote facing us this Thursday, the consensus among the pol corrs is that it will be a Yes vote but not necessarily by a sweeping majority.
I have a vague recollection of at least one previous vote where the polls were suggesting a gap of 55-45 in favour of the Yes side and the undecideds turned out to be sleeping giants who opted in large numbers for No.
The polls are generally more favourable to Yes on this occasion. Predictions around here as I write are varying from 62-38 to 60-40 to my own very hesitant and tentative 54-46. All predicting a Yes vicitory.
We should have a fair idea of the real result around midday on Friday.