by Frank Schnittger
Thu Jul 9th, 2009 at 05:18:39 AM EST
Lisbon Treaty referendum to be held on October 2nd - The Irish Times - Wed, Jul 08, 2009
The second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is to be held on Friday, October 2nd, Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dáil today.
Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance said Irish people were being forced to vote again on exactly the same treaty they rejected last year. He accused the Government of rushing the legislation through the Dáil with no time given to debate the issue.
"The protocol proposed by the Fianna Fáil government changes absolutely nothing. Article 6.1 of the Irish Constitution states: All power of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the state and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good."
"Therefore it must be open to question the constitutionality of forcing the people to vote again on exactly the same treaty since they have already given their final decision," he said.
Mr Cole is calling for a No vote in the referendum.
Chairman of the People's Movement, an anti-Lisbon treaty group, and former MEP Patricia McKenna said the Lisbon treaty was "not about EU membership".
"Whether we voted yes or no last time the economic crisis in Ireland would be the same," she said.
She accused the Government of conspiring with other EU Leaders to get the treaty ratified without any changes.
"Apart from the right of each Member state to hold on to their Commissioner, agreed without altering the Lisbon Treaty, nothing has changed within the text of the Lisbon Treaty itself since the last vote. The Government should be honest with the voters and tell them the truth instead of using propaganda and scare tactics about being at the heart of Europe," she said.
Oh Dear. Surely the NO campaign can come up with better reasons for voting NO than the fact that we are being asked to vote on the same treaty twice. We kind of already know that. As for rushing the debate in the Dail, the issue of Lisbon has been debated ad nauseam for the past 15 months. And without Lisbon, there absolutely will be a reduction in the number of Commissioners (as required under Nice), so how is this not relevant?
However it is relevant to ask whether "the economic crisis in Ireland would be the same" regardless of the Lisbon vote. Would Lisbon have made a difference? The answer to this question is probably yes and no.
Promoted by afew
Yes because an awful lot of political energy has been expended at EU level on the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties, and the failure to make any progress on institutional reform has resulted in a collective loss of confidence and momentum, put a halt to enlargement, and generally distracted EU leaders from other issues. A large part of Ireland's sales pitch for foreign direct investment (a key part of past economic success) has been our claim to be at the heart of a dynamic European Project. The creation of a new post of President of the Council should in time lead to greater coherence and continuity in EU policy formulation and cooperation.
No, because the Lisbon Treaty is a long term project and really isn't about giving the EU a greater role in bank regulation, economic development, and the national fiscal and budget management process. Home grown property bubbles are still going to have to be tackled by national Governments.
But you can't have it both ways - claiming on the one hand that Lisbon is an unnecessary and intrusive restriction on national Sovereignty - and then complaining that it wouldn't have made any difference to the greatest economic crisis faced by Europe in 80 years. Lisbon is either a significant milestone in the development of the EU, or it is not, and it cannot be judged by what it might or might not have contributed over a few months had it been ratified last year.
Roger Cole's evocation of the reference to God in the Irish constitution is perhaps a clearer indication of what this is all about as far as he is concerned. Godless Europe is tightening its grip on the island of Saints and Scholars.
However the other major change in Ireland over the past year is the publications of the Ryan Report into institutionalised child abuse in church run institutions. The incorporation of the CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION into EU law certainly would help to secure children's rights (Article 24) going forward.
Narcissism and Xenophobia are a dangerous combination in any political culture. But rarely has there been a more ahistorical, unrealistic and inconsistent view of what Ireland outside the EU was really like.
But Ireland has also made major contributions to the development of international law, the UN, peace keeping and third world development. It's time we stopped looking inward to a past that never was and continued our tradition of making a contribution to the development of the EU as a whole. At least the requirement to receive a popular mandate for the Treaty has resulted in a better informed demos and a more concerted Government effort to inform the debate as demonstrated by the latest Government Lisbon Treaty website.