Alliance of 136 councillors urges rejection of treaty

 

AN ALLIANCE of 136 councillors, including four Labour members, has called for a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum, stating that its ratification would be a bad deal for Ireland.

The alliance said ratifying Lisbon would undermine democracy, militarise the EU and pave the way for the privatisation of public services. The group includes Independent councillors and members of Sinn Féin, the People Before Profit Alliance, the Socialist Party and Labour, which has voiced its support for the treaty.

A Labour spokesman said the councillors involved in the alliance – Patrick Nulty (Dublin West), Dermot Looney (South Dublin) Collette Connolly (Galway) and Jane Dillon Byrne (Dún Laoghaire) – were expressing personal opinions that did not reflect the views of the party.

Ms Dillon Byrne, whose father was an army provost marshal, said that neutrality was the issue that brought her to the No side.

“Article 28A creates a mutual defence between the member states of the EU, similar to that which exists between member states of Nato. It legalises the battle groups and expands the tasks for which they can be used,” she said.

Mr Looney said he objected to the rerunning of the referendum and the liberalisation of public services. He said he respected Labour’s position on Lisbon and that he would not be campaigning against the treaty.

The alliance said the policies of local government management involving privatisation and outsourcing have “seriously undermined the quality of essential services and community development” and that ratifying the treaty would copperfasten this approach.

It said that under Lisbon, the role of local councillors would be “further eroded to that of powerless observers of private companies, national and international, profiteering from public services that should be available to their communities irrespective of income or ability to pay.”

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin yesterday, attended by five alliance members, Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance, said the argument for a No vote in the referendum was “even more conclusive” given the economic crisis that the European Union and pro-Lisbon leadership had created.

He said that “at best” European institutions had failed to address the economic crisis and “at worst they had actively facilitated it.”

“Competition laws and the liberalisation of financial services actively promoted by the EU are precisely what have led us to the catastrophe of the economic crisis we now face,” he said.

He said rerunning the vote at a time when the Government should be focused on economic recovery was “scandalous” and that the Referendum Commission was being “dishonest” by claiming Ireland’s neutrality would not be undermined.

Independent Cork city councillor Chris O’Leary, who resigned from the Green Party in January, said the Yes campaign’s claims that a vote for the Lisbon was a vote for Europe were untrue.

“This is a vote about democracy, the future and how we would like to see Europe,” he said.

Catherine Connolly, an Independent member of Galway City Council, said the Yes campaign was bullying people and using scare tactics to generate support, but rarely referred to treaty articles to back up their claims.

She said the treaty was deliberately difficult to understand and that, even as a practising barrister, she found it to be complex.