Sir, - Anthony Coughlan of the National Platform has now admitted that there are no grounds for opposition to the Nice Treaty on the basis of fears about neutrality or about alleged "militarisation" of the EU.

According to a report in your edition of July 24th, he told the "Rathmines No To Nice Campaign" (in a reference to the extra clause to be inserted into Next October's referendum): "The extra clause inserted by the Government to the effect that we must have a referendum if we wish to join an EU defence pact has nothing to do with the Nice Treaty.

"It is mean to to give the impression that it has somehow been changed, when it has not been. If the EU were ever to propose such a pact, a referendum would have to be held in Ireland anyway if we wished to join it."


This statement by Mr Coughlan is entirely true. It neatly and completely gives the lie to the slogan "No to Nice, No to NATO", which was a central part of the No campaign in last year's referendum.

Another piece of the anti-Nice platform has been sawn off. - Yours, etc.,


Tully West,


Sir, - Deaglán de Bréadún's report of the inaugural meeting of the Rathmines No to Nice Campaign (The Irish Times, July 24th) was somewhat sparse on detail.

Nice is not just about democracy and the accountability of the EU. The "uniformity in measures of liberalisation" which the treaty calls for signals the end of public services and the selling-off of our healthcare, education and water to multinational corporations.

Irish neutrality, admittedly already a misnomer with US bombers landing daily at Shannon, will be put to rest once and for all in the post-Nice Europe of "political and security committees" and offensive European armies which can operate up to 4,000 km from the continent.

As someone who campaigned against Nice 1, I went along to the Rathmines meeting with a sense of optimism, hoping to meet other like-minded people and to establish a broad-based, progressive No to Nice campaign. Sadly this was not the case.

The meeting was dominated by elderly men and Youth Defence activists who distributed literature scaremongering about immigrants and criticising attempts to sanction the far-right government in Austria. Suggestions that the anti-Nice campaign should be progressive and anti-racist were angrily dismissed as "splitting the No campaign".

I do not believe that Anthony Coughlan is a racist, but suggesting that Nice will lead to floods of migrants is at best playing into the Government's strategy of dismissing anti-Nice campaigners as xenophobic, whinging, selfish little-Irelanders. At worst, it is opening the ground to those who blame immigrants for all the inequalities of the Celtic Tiger which they either cannot or will not explain.

There is an alternative to Nice. This November, thousands of activists from very diverse backgrounds will meet in Florence at the European Social Forum. In a spirit diametrically opposed to that of Nice, citizens of Europe from Donegal to Gaza city will discuss how we can turn this corporate, militarised fortress into a People's Social Europe.

When the progressive anti-Nice campaigners launch their campaigns, I sincerely hope The Irish Times will cover the issues we raise. - Yours, etc.,


Emerald Terrace,

Dublin 8.