by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:31:51 AM EST
Wow - so many good diaries to read and so little time. I'm off to Lanzarote for a week in the morning for a bit of sunshine (hopefully) just as the Irish winter gets to be at its most dreary and depressing. Please excuse this somewhat rushed diary. Owing to conflicting diary commitments my meeting with Dick Roche hasn't happened yet, but I did have a one hour phone conversation with him today which yielded some interesting nuggets of information.
Also the Greens, at their national conference today, failed to give the EU Reform treaty the two thirds majority it needed for it to become official party policy. However the 63% vote in favour does give Green Party Ministers a mandate to remain in office and campaign for the treaty, whilst allowing party members to campaign against the Treaty if they so wish. Former Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna can be expected to lead their NO campaign.
Promoted by DoDo
The discussion with Dick Roche covered the following points:
- The Referendum will probably take place in May/June but some are pushing for a later date. The Cabinet will have to make a decision soon.
- It will be held separately from the proposed referendum on children's rights because of the complexity of both issues. Turnout will be a major issue as a 20% anti-Government vote on any issue is almost assured.
- The Government will not be able to use public funds to campaign for the Treaty because a Supreme Court ruling forbids the use of public funds for campaigning purposes.
- The Government will be issuing purely factual leaflets to all members of the electorate explaining the content of the Treaty. Dick Roche especially commended a 7 page summary prepared by Andrew Duff, British Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England. (Hat tip, Migeru)
- There has been a huge level of factual disinformation about the Treaty already. The No campaign will undoubtedly try to tap into the huge level of public opposition to the Extraordinary Rendition flights through Shannon and portray the occurrence of such flights as somehow being due to Ireland having lost its independence and neutrality to the EU. Little matter that the EU Parliament opposed such flights more effectively than Dail Eireann, and that the Reform Treaty is largely intended to enable the EU to develop a more effective, coherent and independent foreign policy.
- (As an aside, Dick proposed, with Joschka Fischer, that the original European "Constitution" should have been called called "The People's Treaty", should not have contained the elements of statehood - such as the flag and anthem - and should have been signed, in sequence, in each Capital in Europe, rather like an Olympic Torch being passed around. Bitter personal rivalry between Chirac and Berlusconi prevented a less formal and "constitutional" approach being taken to its form and content).
- Dick Roche expects Le Pen, the UKIP, the Greek Ultra Left, PANA and a wide variety of fringe British and European anti-EU groups to come to Ireland to campaign against the Treaty.
- Opposition from within Ireland will come from Sinn Fein, The Socialist Party of former member of Parliament Joe Higgins, old style Nationalists like Anthony Coughlan (a former lecturer of mine) who has been painting apocalyptic visions of doom and gloom concerning Ireland's entry into the EU and every Treaty since, and shadowy "Think Tanks" like Libertas.
- Libertas is a very strange organisation with a well design website with almost no content but which appears to suggest that they are major players in the EU Energy Policy development space - including having acted as "advisors" to several Governments. It is run by three people, the principle one being Libertas President Declan Ganley who apparently has about 40 websites and a large number of companies and business interests in Russia, Albania, and Eastern Europe. He apparently set up the first emergency mobile phone mast in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck - thus making a significant contribution to the relief effort. David Cochrane, of Politics.ie is also said to be involved.
My attempts to contact Libertas staff have so far failed. However I am amazed at how such an apparently small group can achieve "Think Tank" status in the Irish media. I am thinking of setting up a Think Tank myself as it seems to be the best way of garnering quite a lot of free MSM publicity.
Libertas.org - Home
| Thursday, 10 January 2008|
Naoise Nunn Executive Director, holds a bin as Libertas President Declan Ganley disposes of the Green Party`s 2007 manifesto calling it a sham,while holding a Libertas leaflet,which will be printed for every home in the country and will outline arguments in favour of the treaty,with a point-by-point rebuttal to each of them.At the Photocall Mr Ganley said Libertas had taken the decision in reponse to Environment Minister John Gormley`s decision to limit the role of the referendum commission on the Lisbon Treaty - Photo:Leon Farrell Photocall Ireland
Libertas President Declan Ganley will this morning announce that the organisation will fund an information leaflet for every home in the country to replace the leaflet that would ordinarily have been circulated by the state-funded referendum commission.
Funding is clearly not a problem for Libertas. Quite why an organisation which claims to have acted as an adviser to European Governments should oppose the EU Reform Treaty is less than clear. Hopefully I will be able to find out more on my return. Perhaps other readers here may be able to contribute other pieces to this mysterious jig-saw.