Ganley criticises unelected leaders in EU


TRINITY DEBATE:LIBERTAS FOUNDER Declan Ganley last night described the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as “democracy Brussels-style”.

The businessman was speaking at a debate in Trinity College Dublin organised by GenerationYes and Trinity College’s PolSoc.

The event was chaired by Minister for Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív. Among those on the Yes side were former taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald and Airtricity founder and former chief Eddie O’Connor, while Socialist MEP Joe Higgins was among the No speakers.

Mr Ganley said he had stood in TCD debating exactly the same thing with Dr FitzGerald 18 months ago.

The main concern he raised was the undemocratic nature of the EU.

Mr Ganley argued that the EU was not democratic because leaders would be speaking on behalf of the citizens of the EU on a global stage but “will never have to ask you for a vote”.

“It falls on all of us to ask ourselves the question, do we have the courage to demand that our European Union is something that is built on principles of democracy and accountability in the ballot box,” he said

Mr Ganley criticised arguments on the Yes side that were based on the economy and job creation and were trying to scare people into overturning the vote, he said.

Only one job would be saved by voting Yes, that of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, he said. But if people vote Yes, Ireland would lose foreign direct investment by handing competence in this area to the EU.

Businessman Eddie O’Connor said the success of Airtricity could not have happened without an EU directive and this was a microcosm of what the EU did for Ireland.

For the first time since the 1950s, the Lisbon Treaty would establish an EU policy on energy to ensure security of supply and interconnection to new markets, he said.

The treaty would also enable the EU to intervene in markets on behalf of the customer, Mr O’Connor said.

It would be easier for the EU to negotiate energy deals on behalf of 500 million people with Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin than Ireland trying to negotiate with world powers on its own, he added.

The Lisbon Treaty was the “latest event in the evolution of hope for Ireland and in it are the seeds for a great tomorrow,” he said.

He urged the more than 100 students at the meeting to vote for the Lisbon Treaty as a “vision of a finer Europe”.