Anti-treaty Cóir may become political party, says spokesman


POLITICAL MOVE:THE ANTI-LISBON Treaty group Cóir may become a political party, targeting disaffected Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin supporters as members, according to its spokesman Brian Hickey.

Mr Hickey said he believed there was now room for a “patriotic, conservative and socially conscious party” to represent people who did not support existing political parties.

“We are certainly considering forming Cóir into a political party because there’s obviously a gap there in the Irish political spectrum,” he said.

Mr Hickey said all of the political parties, except for Sinn Féin and the Socialists, supported the Lisbon Treaty but more than 30 per cent of voters had voted No in the referendum.

People who joined Fianna Fáil when it was “a genuinely conservative and republican party” now felt “completely disillusioned”, Mr Hickey claimed.

“So I’d say quite a lot of disaffected members of Fianna Fáil [would be potential supporters]; perhaps members of Sinn Féin who feel uncomfortable with that party’s position on all sorts of social and moral issues would also be potential supporters.”

Asked to suggest potential election candidates, Mr Hickey said Cóir spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain would make “an ideal candidate in any kind of an election” because of her communication skills and energy levels.

Cóir operates out of the same building in Dublin city centre that accommodates the controversial anti-abortion group Youth Defence.

The Government will have to look at introducing some system of sanctions for groups and individuals who deliberately introduce misleading and false information into referendum campaigns, Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe said at the weekend.

Mr O’Keeffe said it was quite clear that some on the No campaign had made false claims on their posters to bolster their campaign and such tactics should not be allowed go unpunished in any future referendums.

“I suppose one of the things that comes out of the campaign is that if you are advertising a product and you give false information, you can be subjected to some strictures, but if you give false information in a referendum, there is no such stricture and that’s something we have to look for.

“I think it’s important that people would disseminate correct information. Whether it’s on the Yes side or the No side, people are entitled to have the truth on posters and people should not be allowed say whatever they want to say on a poster.

“It’s just utterly ridiculous to allow people put whatever they like on a poster during a campaign and have no responsibility relating to the truth – we are going to have to seriously look at addressing that issue,” he said.