Lobby group says Yes vote would jeopardise farm succession rights


A YES vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum would jeopardise farm succession rights and would also lead to a massive influx of Turkish farmers into the European Union, according to a farm lobby group which is campaigning against the treaty.

Chairman of Farmers for No and former chairman of the Irish Farmers Association in Longford, James Reynolds, also sharply criticised IFA president Pádraig Walshe for supporting the treaty.

An IFA spokesman later pointed out that the executive council of the organisation had unanimously backed a Yes vote. A group called Solicitors for Europe accused the new organisation of bringing an element of xenophobia to the debate.

Launching the Farmers for No group at a press conference in Buswells Hotel in Dublin, Mr Reynolds said: “Lisbon removes our World Trade Organisation veto in Article 188.

“Our voting-weight as a member-state diminishes from 2 per cent, as it currently is under the Nice Treaty rules, to 0.8 per cent,” he said.

“The Lisbon Treaty is a proxy vote on Turkish accession. It allows for a country of 75 million people to enter the EU, which would in fact double the number of farmers we have, while retaining the Common Agricultural Policy budget at existing levels.” Lisbon also promoted “the culture of hyper-regulation from Brussels”.

“European Commission proposals on inheritance law would prevent farmers passing on family farms as a single working unit; that’s unacceptable.”

Mr Reynolds claimed: “The secretary general of the commission, who is an Irishwoman, Catherine Day, was instrumental in concealing, or hiding from, the general public the intention of the European Commission to harmonise inheritance and succession law.

“In other words, if a farmer had decided to bequeath or will a family farm to a son or daughter, other family members, even those who have emigrated, can challenge that will under such a proposal by the EU Commission, and the danger is, if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, that will come into effect.”

Former independent MEP for Ireland South , Kathy Sinnott criticised Mr Walshe: “I can only say that he is the director, he is the commander-in-chief of the European farmers’ organisation [Copa], and is he speaking for Irish farming or is he speaking for European farming, when he asks us to vote for Lisbon?

A statement by Solicitors for Europe said: “The Lisbon Treaty does not promote Turkey’s application in any way . . . There is no place for racism in the debate on the Lisbon Treaty or in Irish politics.”