by Frank Schnittger
Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 11:16:06 AM EST
Mark Warren (below the fold) articulates perfectly the outrage I have long felt at the arrogance of those elements in the NO to Lisbon campaign in Ireland who deign to lecture the rest of Europe on their democratic deficiencies.
Let us forget, for the moment, that the NO campaign is made up largely of groups with very dubious democratic credentials indeed: Sinn Fein - who have long denied the legitimacy of the Irish state and whose military wing has killed many of its citizens and servants; Libertas, apparently funded by a US Defence contractor and which has never garnered a vote in its life; and Coir, a shadowy group apparently including arch conservative Catholics who have in the past been known to defer to Canon rather than Civil law particularly when it comes to child sexual abuse.
The real object of my anger is that these same groups, without a shadow of a mandate from any other EU Member state - deign to lecture our fellow members in the EU on the deficiency in their own democratic methods and procedures.
To date some 24 Member states, all with democratically elected Governments, have proceeded to ratify Lisbon in accordance with their own constitutional arrangements. Some - such as President Sarkozy's Government, have been elected subsequent to an initial rejection of the original EU Constitutional Treaty - and have been elected on a campaign promise to ratify Lisbon. In addition, the democratically elected European Parliament overwhelmingly supports the Lisbon Treaty.
Next June all EU member states go to the polls to elect a new European Parliament. Let us see how many anti-Lisbon members are elected then. Should the vast majority of European Parliament members elected then continue to support Lisbon will we then finally hear an end to the cant that Ireland is somehow more democratic that all other EU member states? I won't be holding my breath.
It should be born in mind that other than Ireland, only Switzerland regularly holds referenda on specific proposals in addition to national and local elections. Britain has only in recent years adopted the practice of very occasionally holding referenda on some European and Devolution issues. Before that the UK Parliament at Westminster was always held to be the last word in Democracy.
The reality is that European countries have a long tradition of indirect and representative democracy. The Murdoch press inspired conflation of Democracy with Direct Democracy is in fact practised almost no where in the world.
It is up to each EU Member state to adopt whatever democratic processes they see fit and fringe Irish groups of dubious democratic credentials at home and none elsewhere have absolutely no claim to better represent the views of the peoples of Europe than their own democratically elected Governments.
Would it be too much to ask our friends in Europe to write Letters to Irish papers expressing their outrage that nefarious Irish groups claim to speak and act for them? We need lots of letters like the one from Mark Warren posted below.
Second referendum on Lisbon Treaty - The Irish Times - Mon, Dec 22, 2008
Madam, - AJ Cahill of Salthill, Co Galway writes (December 17th) of the importance of saying "No" once again to the Lisbon Treaty "so democracy can be kept alive long enough for the EU project to be rescued".
And this burden, he says, "the Irish people must accept willingly on behalf of the peoples of Europe". Well, as one of the "peoples" of Europe, I find this statement offensive and arrogant.
Ireland has received much of my tax money via the same undemocratic EU that he wishes to replace and "rescue". Mr Cahill's views are an insult to the many years of work and dedication contributed by mainly French and German politicians to make the EU the success that it is today.
The EU was born during the years of the Cold War, under the watchful and sometimes hostile gaze of the Americans, Russians and British. Many countries such as Ireland and the UK now reap the benefits of that hard work - conveniently not mentioned by the gentleman, or by the press and media in general. And as Lisbon II approaches, there will no doubt be many more ill-informed letters insulting Europeans and what Europe has achieved since 1945.
I have noticed a disturbing tendency among many writers to The Irish Times: they seem to assume that only the Irish have a God-given right to pontificate on democracy. Perhaps this is because, as the gentleman writes, "during the second World War we helped keep democracy alive as it was threatened in Europe". By fighting Hitler's Germany? I think not.
Do the Irish make up their own history? Only the Americans, British and Israelis can beat you at that, they are much better at it. But let's not quibble; Mr Cahill is in pretty good company.
If the people of Ireland do decide once more to say No to the Lisbon Treaty, it won't be Europe that will need rescuing. Libertas is a cultivated plant that can grow only on rarefied Irish soil; and in doing so, poison it. - Yours, etc,
Biebesheim am Rhein,
Perhaps I might also address the second shibboleth so beloved of NO campaigners: That it is somehow undemocratic to put similar proposals to the electorate on several occasions.
I have got news for NO campaigners: The Treaties of Rome, Amsterdam, Nice, and Lisbon, not to mention the original Constitutional Treaty agreed by a convention of all European members states have ALL got many elements in common. Each tries to build on the foundation of others as the EU develops, enlarges, and adapts to changed circumstances throughout the world.
Newsflash, Shock, horror! No doubt we will be asked to vote on yet another EU Treaty in a few years time which may be only marginally different than its predecessors, but which again attempts to more fully address the challenges of a post Wall Street Crash world. The processes of political development never end, and though it may seem tiresome to have to think about these issues again and again, the reality is that polities, no less than societies, must continue to adapt or die.
Those who now claim to oppose Lisbon because they prefer an EU based on the Nice Treaty also opposed the Nice treaty on the two occasions it was put to the Irish electorate. They have opposed everything to do with the EU since our accession itself. They have made NO contribution to the development of the EU whatsoever and now seek to demean and denigrate those that have.
So where is your outrage PEOPLE OF EUROPE? Do you want to be denigrated as undemocratic by proto-fascistic groups from Ireland (who between them command less than 10% of the electoral vote in Ireland) and who claim to be working on your behalf? Hell, even if you personally oppose Lisbon, you should be outraged by this slander.
So please sharpen your minds and your fingers and write to the editors of:
Irish Times firstname.lastname@example.org
Irish Independent email@example.com
Sunday Business Post firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday Tribune email@example.com