Sir, - Due to an unfortunate ambiguity for which I alone am responsible, an inference could have been drawn from my letter about the Nice Treaty (May 20th) that I was including Prof Brigid Laffan in the "pro-everything-at-any-price" lobby in my parting shot. Nothing could have been further from my intention.

Whether one agrees with her or not, Prof Laffan is in my opinion the most eminent academic contributor on EU affairs in this country and has consistently engaged with the issues in the public domain.

My complaint is basically about the impoverished and complacent nature of the political debate.

I intend to vote Yes on this occasion, as it think that, on balance, the consequences of a No vote would be negative for Ireland and for the applicant states. Moreover, I think the alternative to Nice, flawed as it is, would be a Europe increasingly dominated by the larger member-states, with the attendant dangers of an increasing isolationism on our part - a position which seems to attract even some within the mainstream parties here. It is better to be inside the tent, doing what we can to challenge and influence developments in co-operation with those of similar views in the other member-states, than outside it.

However, I remain unhappy with the failure of the political establishment in Ireland to promote a meaningful, mature, informed debate on the issues and at their failure to convey to our EU partners the central importance of the referendum process in decision-making here.


- Yours, etc.,

Director, Irish Centre for

Migration Studies,

University College Cork.