The Treaty of Nice is dead, long live Connolly's vision

 

The Irish people have spoken. The Treaty of Nice is dead. If the Irish political elite attempt to subvert the will of the Irish people expressed through a secret ballot, there will be a successful legal challenge to prevent them from doing so.

The rest of the political elite in the European Union also have no right to subvert the sovereign will of the Irish people. Unless all the member-states, all of which are legal equals, accept the treaty it automatically falls.

Their contempt for the Irish people clearly showed in their reaction to our vote against the treaty.

It showed on the face of the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, who seemed to express a virtually racist sense of superiority in her rejection of our decision. Every Irish person knows that she and the rest of the elite did not place the treaty for ratification before their own people.

The Peace And Neutrality Alliance (PANA) has friends and contacts in Sweden who assure us that, had there been a referendum on the Nice Treaty in that country, it would have been defeated. PANA would not have been surprised that, if there had been referendums in all the other states, many would have voted No.

In fact the entire project of the EU elite is to transform the EU from a Common Market which Ireland joined in the 1970s, without virtually any reference to the various peoples of the EU, into a super-state, a "world power" as the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, put it. They show, by refusing to have referendums in their own states, that their contempt is not restricted to the Irish people but extends to their own.

It is certain that a cheer of support for the Irish people was heard among the ordinary people in all the member-states. Even the people of the applicant states must welcome our decision.

If the European elite can treat the people of Ireland, a small democratic state, with such arrogance, applicant state populations can rest assured that they will suffer the same imperial attitude when they join the EU.

And join they should. The Peace And Neutrality Alliance wrote to the ambassadors of all the applicant states at the start of the Nice Treaty referendum campaign informing them that, providing the process of entry was done in a democratic manner, PANA had not only no problem with those countries joining, but would positively welcome them.

So, what kind of phoenix can rise from the ashes of the Treaty of Nice? As far as PANA is concerned, the new EU should be one without any military dimension. The new treaty to replace the dead one would have to contain - as an absolute minimum - a protocol, similar to that which the Danes already have, which would exclude Ireland from paying for, or involvement with, the European Rapid Reaction Force.

If the new treaty included such a protocol then, as chairman of PANA, I will recommend to the executive that we would not campaign against the new treaty. PANA campaigned against Nice purely on opposition to Irish involvement with the militarisation of the EU through the RRF, so there is a reasonable possibility the recommendation would be accepted.

However, there is a large number of groups affiliated to PANA which have a wider agenda, including the National Platform, the Green Party and Sinn Fein. These and other groups would clearly seek further changes.

It is clear that many people who voted No did not agree with Ireland losing its commissioner. They voted No because they did not agree with "enhanced co-operation". They did not agree with the gradual abolition of our veto. Thus the Government has to take into consideration objections to the treaty other than those raised by PANA.

The vote was not a flash in the pan. The number of people voting against the efforts to transform a Common Market into a European super-state, a European empire, has been increasing steadily in successive referendums.

We need to defend our independence. Our national independence was fought for by generations of political leaders who did not take brown paper envelopes. We owe it to them to continue to defend our democracy.

Finally, on a personal note, as a member of the Labour Party for many years, as we come up to the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the party by James Connolly, I deeply resent hearing my party president stating that Connolly is "irrelevant".

A party that forgets its history, is forgotten by history. I want to see a Labour-led government. A Labour-led government that will spend money on health, education, public transport and other social services, rather that give it to international arms dealers.

A Labour-led government still inspired by the slogan: Neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland.

Roger Cole is chairman of PANA