Lisbon Treaty referendum

 

Madam, – In your Editorial of September 18th you are moved to dispute a prediction from the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group that Turkish membership of the EU will lead to further mass migration into Ireland.

In that regard may I remind you that your newspaper’s track record on such predictions is less than impressive. For example in an Editorial (August 22nd, 2002) during the debate on the second Nice referendum you were happy to add your support to the following statement from Dick Roche, then, as now, Minister for European Affairs, when he declared . . . “existing surveys on migration patterns in Europe show that the claims [of mass migration] are false. Ireland barely registers as a location in these surveys.” Your leader-writer went on to dismiss those suggestions of large-scale immigration from Eastern Europe as “xenophobic propaganda”.

In a reference to the EFD referendum leaflet on the Lisbon Treaty you accuse that campaign group of “crude anti-Islamic illustrations”. One presumes you are referring to the juxtaposition of the Turkish and EU flags, although why such a montage should give offence to Muslims or indeed to anybody else is not easy to discern, particularly when one considers that Turkish EU membership negotiations have been in progress for almost four years.

Those membership talks are taking place against a background of vehement opposition from the people of Europe, the great majority of whom have stated time and again through the EU Commission’s own Eurobarometer polls that they do not wish to see Turkey admitted to membership. The Lisbon vote is likely to be our final opportunity to have our voices heard, both on our own behalf and on behalf of the people of Europe, on an issue that into the future has major social, cultural and demographic implications for western Europe. – Yours, etc,

CONOR O’BRIEN,

Mount Anville Park,

Mount Anville Road, Dublin 14.

Madam, – Mary Crotty (September 23rd), asked a simple question: in what circumstances, under the Lisbon Treaty, would an Irish government be obliged to hold another referendum on Europe? The answer is plainly stated in Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union. Indeed, Article 48.4 of the Treaty on European Union states very clearly that any Treaty changing the EU “shall enter into force after being ratified by all the member-states in accordance with their representative constitutional requirements” (my italics). This means that should Ireland decide on the basis of the Crotty judgment by our Supreme Court that we must have a referendum on a treaty (as we always do), then there is nothing the EU can do to stop an Irish government having a referendum.

Ms Crotty is labouring under the fear that Lisbon will create a superstate. This is patently false. Her fears of legal personality and supremacy of EU law are both aspects of the EU which have existed since Ireland joined in 1973. If the EU is not now a superstate, then Lisbon will do nothing to make it one. Ireland remains an independent and sovereign nation-state under Lisbon, the only changes being that the EU will be more effective and democratic. This will make the EU better for Ireland. This is why I am voting Yes. – Yours, etc,

COLM QUINN,

Gilford Drive,

Sandymount, Dublin 4.

Madam, – The forthcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is critical to Ireland’s economic recovery from the current global downturn. IDA Ireland has a unique insight into overseas investors’ requirements and is acutely aware, based on strong client feedback, that a Yes vote is fundamental to maintaining our base of foreign direct investment (FDI) companies and attracting further investment in the future.

Job creation through FDI depends on Ireland’s full commitment to maintain a central position in the European Union. This status has been instrumental in persuading almost 1,000 FDI companies to create over 150,000 jobs in Ireland. These 150,000 jobs underpin an additional 200,000 jobs in the wider economy.

As one of the most export-dependent countries in Europe, access to the single market is critical to Ireland’s economy. Indeed, more than 60 per cent of all exports from Ireland are from FDI companies, whose decision to invest here was based on continued free access to the Single Market from a country in the heart of the EU.

Ireland has long enjoyed the positive impact of EU membership and since it joined the EEC in 1973 has received in excess of €58 billion in funding. From an FDI perspective Ireland is viewed, especially by US companies who account for half of IDA clients and provide 100,000 jobs, as a solid base and a trusted gateway into Europe. Ireland’s position in the EU has proven to be vital in helping us secure a disproportionate amount of the overall investment coming into Europe, a significant achievement considering our status as a small island nation.

With emerging economies such as China and India now seeking European market penetration it will be further important that we appeal to them as a location for investment. We cannot do this unless we are seen to be one of the major advocates of the EU.

The outcome of the previous Lisbon Treaty referendum was met with disappointment by the wider Irish business community, yet I must express my concern that voters may not be fully aware of the consequences should a No vote prevail. IDA clients want Ireland to remain central in Europe and support a Yes vote. The perception of anything else creates uncertainty in the minds of investors and will have a detrimental effect on future foreign direct investment.

By voting Yes to Lisbon we are displaying to potential investors that we are fully committed to the European Union. Among the guarantees of the Lisbon Treaty is a further reinforcement that Ireland will remain in full control of its corporate tax rate. A beneficial tax rate is only of importance if we are at the core of Europe, thus enabling FDI companies to be profitable by accessing a market of close to 500 million people. If Yes does not get a resounding endorsement our commitment to maintaining our position in this market will be hugely diluted.

The decision on the treaty will affect how investors view Ireland. We are currently viewed as a progressive, open and confident country engaged at the heart of Europe. A negative decision by Ireland would damage our existing investments and lessen our prospects for further investments and jobs.

Ireland’s future economic success depends on our full commitment to a strong and confident Europe. We must reinforce our position at the heart of the world’s largest single market and avoid any marginalisation of Ireland or the loss of our strong voice by giving a resounding Yes to this referendum. – Yours, etc,

BARRY O’LEARY,

Chief Executive Officer,

IDA Ireland,

Wilton Place, Dublin 2.

Madam, – The Referendum Commission warns us “the Lisbon Treaty, if ratified, would give legal status to the Charter of Fundamental Rights” of the European Union. In Article 2.1 of the Charter, the authors say “Everyone has the right to life”. But what do they mean?

As we know, in almost all the member-states of the union, the people have been given the legal right to abortion. They are free to kill unborn children. So far, so bad.

In Article 53 of the same charter, the authors advise us “nothing in the charter shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised . . . by member states.” Clearly, this means that within the member-states of the Union, wherever abortion is legal, the killing can continue. So what the authors of Article 2 really mean is: not everyone has the right to life. But they couldn’t bring themselves to say that.

The European Union, has embraced the “Culture of Death”. Yet again, Europe has become a slaughterhouse. Millions of its own children have been exterminated. Defenceless human beings have been and are being denied the right to life.   A vote for the Lisbon Treaty is a vote for the culture of death. I would urge people to be a light to the nations, be a light for life, and vote No. – Yours, etc,

Rev ANTHONY SCULLY, CC,

Ballybough Road, Dublin 3.

Madam, – I welcome Vincent Browne’s contribution in relation to the European Defence Agency (Opinion, September 23rd). It is important that we realise the real significance of Ireland’s involvement, and of the entire EU military project, before voting.

Notwithstanding Ireland’s attempts to opt out of any unsavoury involvement in the agency through the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009, it is worth noting Minister for the Environment John Gormley’s words as reported in your paper on March 3rd of this year. He said “. . . the treaty itself says that member-states shall improve their military capability and that is not acceptable to the Green Party.” While he can now make feeble claims about taking back control of Ireland’s military spending, he seems unperturbed by the fact that the agency is in the business of promoting armaments and boosting the arms trade.

Ireland joined the European Defence Agency in July 2004 without any Dáil debate or vote. Its head Javier Solana has made it clear that there is an “absolute requirement for us to spend more, spend better and spend more together”. Ireland has done its part, making a financial contribution of over €300,000 in 2008. In addition, Ireland has been participating in the Joint Investment Programme on Force Protection since 2007 and is committing €700,000 to its budget.

We hear repeated denials of an Irish arms industry and our Government ministers speak of defending our military neutrality. But if the Lisbon Treaty is passed it will give formal approval to EU arms industries and we will be part of this immoral business. We will be helping the arms industry to develop and we will have more potential for bloodshed around the world, while we continue to struggle with our international commitments to spend 0.7 per cent of GNP on overseas development. – Yours, etc,

JOHN LANNON,

Raheen,

Ballyneety, Co Limerick.

Madam, – Any worker who was undecided on how to vote on the Lisbon Treaty must surely have had his/her mind made up by the sight of one of Ireland’s most notorious anti-union bosses linking up with one of the five founding members of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and jetting from airport to airport across the country in support of a Yes vote.

Michael O’Leary and European Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani may have thought that they would impress us all with their political stunt of flying a group of journalists from Dublin to Knock, Knock to Kerry and back to Dublin for the purpose of pointing at the big EU flag painted on the side of the aircraft.

However, the reaction of most workers will surely have been “If they’re for it, it can’t be in my interest”. Nobody will be impressed by O’Leary’s sudden concern for the “national interest”.

The massive amounts of money being spent by Ryanair, Intel and other multinational companies as well as by Ibec and the pro-business lobbies in this referendum should set off warning bells in the mind of every worker in Ireland and throughout Europe. The past couple of months have seen massive job losses and huge attacks on the wages and working conditions of workers.

O’Leary and the rest of the employer lobby are in favour of Lisbon because it endorses the race to the bottom and will facilitate even further such attacks.

If they’re for it, it cannot be in our interest. All workers should vote No to Lisbon and get organised to resist the attacks on our wages and working conditions. – Yours, etc,

GREGOR KERR,

Workers Solidarity Movement,

PO Box 1528, Dublin 8.

Madam, – Declan Ganley (Opinion, September 24th) is incorrect in his analysis of the Lisbon Treaty. Perhaps he should read the address by the former tánaiste and attorney general Michael McDowell to the Solicitors for Lisbon group. He might consider changing his opinion on the treaty.

Mr Ganley states that the Lisbon Treaty gives the union “legal personality”. But as Mr McDowell points out in his powerful analysis of the recent Czech and German Supreme Court judgments on the treaty, the fact that the Union may, like the United Nations, have legal personality does not constitute it as a state, let alone a sovereign state. Mr McDowell goes on to address the issue of European citizenship. He states that the German court was unequivocal in its view that the treaty does not constitute a people of the Union, which would be competent to exercise self determination as a legal entity giving itself a constitution.

Mr Ganley says the Lisbon Treaty will create a new system of European criminal justice. What Mr Ganley does not say, or perhaps understand, is that the treaty gives members-states the power to put a brake on any directive in this area which infringes fundamental aspects of the criminal justice system. He also fails to mention that Ireland has an opt-out on matters pertaining to criminal justice. – Yours, etc,

JOHN KENNY,

Monkstown Valley, Co Dublin.