Farage calls for No vote in referendum


The leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has today claimed that ratification of the Lisbon treaty will see Ireland lose its independence to a European super-state that will benefit career politicians and have unlimited powers over sensitive issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Speaking on radio, British MEP and UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "The Irish said No, they are being forced to vote again. What this is all about is power. They are desperate to get this treaty through because this treaty turns the European Union into a state in its own right with the powers in future to do whatever it likes.

"Right across Europe, we have had the emergence of a professional political class . . . people who would struggle in many cases to get a similar job in the private sector, and the European Union is the best thing that has ever happened for bureaucrats and professional politicians, they all support it, but increasingly the peoples of Europe don't want it."

Mr Farage, speaking on RTÉ's Today With Pat Kenny, said clarifications secured by Ireland since the last vote were not legally binding and "frankly, not worth the paper they are written on".

"This is an attempt just to con the Irish people into thinking there is some fundamental change . . . you are voting on an identical legal document.

"The point is I am representing a group in the European parliament that comes from nine different nationalities. I'm not representing UKIP, I am here as a representative of that group . . . to say you're not just voting in Ireland for yourselves, you're voting for democracies right across the European Union, and if you vote No, it will bring this bulldozer to a juddering halt, and it will give the rest of us a chance to have a referendum."

On the same programme, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said the Government had listened to the concerns of those who had voted No in the last referendum and had successfully renegotiated the retention of a commissioner, adding only a Yes vote will guarantee the retention.

The Minister said that in terms of ethical issues such as the right to life, the protection of the family, and education as provided in the Constitution: "We received absolute legal binding guarantees that the Lisbon Treaty will have no impact on those, with a 'comprehensive guarantee' also secured in relation to Ireland's military neutrality."

But Mr Farage said neither he nor the Minister could predict what effect the Treaty would have on social issues because "the whole point of this treaty is it makes the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg a higher body than your Supreme Court. We cannot tell how they will judge abortion, euthanasia or any of these issues, but they have the power.

The Minister responded that the EU had honoured all agreements with Ireland in relation to social issues since the State had joined in 1973. He said Mr Farage's "fundamental agenda" was to scrap the European Union, "just as you would like to scrap the Good Friday agreement.

"The types of policies you have would be unacceptable to the vast majority of Irish people - you don't believe in climate change, and the Irish people need to know the type of people who are urging them to go against Europe," he said.

The Fianna Fáil TD said the UKIP leader's agenda was to "undermine and destroy" the European Union and to use Ireland as a "battering ram" to do this. "Ireland has its own interests to look after. . . it is my passionate belief that the interests of Ireland and its future generations lie in a Yes vote, only in a Yes vote. What I object to significantly is the degree to which external interests . . . are seeking to use Ireland."

He said the European experience had been a "very beneficial" for the State and that only a Yes vote was good for Irish investment, jobs and the economy.

Concluding, Mr Farage said: "Do not trust your politicians, they are careerists, they are the only ones that will benefit from this treaty, they're the ones that will be secure in their careers, and you will lose your independence and your freedom. It's not worth it, say No and lets have a big debate across Europe about where we want to go."

UKIP intends to send a leaflet to every Irish home urging a No vote. The leaflet will claim a rejection of the treaty will close an “open door” to immigrants.

Elsewhere, a Church of Ireland theologian has expressed fear that racism was ecoming one of the factors in the referendum debate. Preaching in Co Wexford on Wednesday night, Canon Patrick Comerford said: “I am not going to dare suggest how anyone should vote in the Lisbon referendum. But I am already worried about the type of nationalism and exclusivism that has found voice in the referendum campaign.”

Preaching at a service to mark the 300th anniversary of the arrival of German-speaking Lutheran refugees, Canon Comerford said his worry was that as unemployment rose, "more and more of the blame for unemployment will be placed on the new immigrants and arrivals, on the stranger in our midst, rather than on our political and economic decision-makers who have created the mess we are in today”.