Ireland's national sovereignty under threat

Tue, Sep 22, 2009, 01:00

OPINION:I AM astonished at how advocates for the Lisbon Treaty, rather than deal with real concerns about the treaty, frequently resort to slinging insults at their opponents. So far I have found myself on the receiving end of abuse such as “nitwit”, “mad ayatollah” and “unemployable f***ing head banger”, writes ROBERT BALLAGH

However, I must admit that the last thing I expected was that The Irish Timeswould publish an entire opinion piece labelling me a hypocrite.

Sarah Carey’s allegation seems to be based on the notion, commonly held by many on the Yes side, that if you are against the Lisbon Treaty then you must be against the European Union and all its works and pomps!

This is nonsense. Let me make my current position quite clear.

While I am vehemently opposed to the Lisbon Treaty, I am not, nor have I ever been, opposed to Ireland’s membership of the European Union and certainly I am not, nor have I ever been, opposed to Irish citizens vindicating their rights through European legislation. Simply put, I am against this treaty, not against the European Union.

In seeking to bolster her personal attack, Sarah Carey accuses me of opposing a succession of EU treaties. This is simply untrue!

The first EU treaty that I have ever campaigned against is the Lisbon Treaty, and my reason for taking this stand is that I believe that Lisbon is simply a step too far.

I am convinced that if Lisbon is ratified Irish democracy and Irish sovereignty will be irreparably damaged.

Interestingly enough, Sarah Carey agrees with me on this issue, but admits that she does not care.

Even the mildly curious must wonder what it is about the Lisbon Treaty that causes the European establishment to lose all sense of proportion in its frantic efforts to keep this unloved treaty alive.

I, for one, am unable to detect any adequate explanation in much of the old guff we heard during the last campaign about a “better Europe” or a “more efficient Europe”.

In truth, none of this stuff can account for their readiness to set aside all legal and democratic constraints in their ruthless defence of this treaty. No, I believe there must be an alternative explanation.

During the course of the last referendum campaign the phrase “an unprecedented grab for power” surfaced a few times as a description of the Lisbon Treaty, but, unfortunately, at the time, no one really developed this proposition.

Nonetheless, I believe that it provides us with a hint as to why the European elites are so determined to force through this treaty, come what may.

One argument frequently raised by some on the Yes side suggests that the Lisbon Treaty is “no big deal”, that it is simply a gathering together of previous treaties and, as a consequence, represents nothing more than a modest reform package.

I’m afraid nothing could be further from the truth.

Make no mistake about it, the Lisbon Treaty is a truly radical, even revolutionary, document.

To understand this one needs to appreciate that what we call the European Union today is not a state. It is not even a legal or corporate entity in its own right.

However, if Lisbon is ratified all this will change. In strictly legal terms, an entirely new European Union will be established. This will be a union in the constitutional form of a European federal state.

The current European Union will cease to exist and will be replaced by this legally new European Union which will be separate from and superior to its member states, just as the USA is separate from and superior to say, Kansas or Louisiana.

By transforming the legal character of the union, the Lisbon Treaty will transform the meaning of union citizenship.

Presently, each and every one of us is, first and foremost, a citizen of our own country, in our case Ireland, and in strictly legal terms, any individual relationship with the EU amounts to no more than having a purple cover on our passport.

However, if Lisbon is ratified, all this will change. Under the treaty regulations, every Irish person will become, firstly, a citizen of the European Union and secondly an Irish citizen.

This is new and represents a radical shift in the relationship between the individual citizen and the European Union.

For example, the duty of obedience to the union’s laws and loyalty to the union’s institutions attaching to this citizenship will be superior to those attaching to the citizenship of one’s own country, and even though member states will retain their own national constitutions, these will be subordinate to the new union treaty regulations.

As such they will no longer be constitutions of sovereign states in their own right, but instead, will resemble, the constitutions of various states in the USA, which, of course, are subordinate to the federal US constitution.

Make no mistake about it, if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, then, a sovereign independent Irish nation will cease to exist.

The dream of “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies” was what fuelled the centuries of struggle carried out by Theobold Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly.

The loss of national sovereignty implicit in the Lisbon Treaty will represent nothing less than a renunciation of those centuries of struggle.