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An Informed And Reasoned Piece On Why To Vote A Big No To Lisbon

category national | politics / elections | opinion/analysis author Wednesday June 11, 2008 14:31author by Raymond Bhreatnach - NUJ Report this post to the editors

Lisbon Treaty



Europe is most definitely a great thing for all of the European nations. But we need to reject this Treaty and go back to the drawing board. A Treaty which incorporates social justice and policy needs to be drawn up. A Treaty which suits big businesses and the superpowers of Europe needs to be rejected.
A message needs to be sent out once and for all, that we are not going to be bullied into voting for a Treaty again and again until it is accepted. This Treaty was roundly defeated before, and it should not be subject to a referendum.
The silence of an informed political debate from the 'Yes' campaign is deafening. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s reasoned debate is to call all the 'No' campaign 'lula's'. An intellectual and rounded opinion don’t you think. We are used to seeing this rhetoric from dictators and bureaucrats.
Go my way or the highway. Scaremongering tactics with no political nous. Reminiscent of a teenage slanging match of who can say the harshest comment.
This Treaty has already been defeated twice in the Netherlands and France, and this is basically the same Treaty with the wording slightly changed. All the major parties in France were campaigning for a 'Yes' vote. So it is not necessarily the case that a 'Yes' vote is a given.
The wording of the Treaty is left open to interpretation. Nothing is set in stone and the Treaty is vulnerable in its concept and easy to manipulate. The 'Yes' campaign maintains the Treaty strengthens the role of national parliament. The European Union will only take action if it is more effective than local level. Who dictates this? The European Union. And what are the choices for local authorities if the EU decides to implement the policy anyway?
If we are to go by the record of the present incumbents in the Irish government, we will have little or no say on local issues. Their corruption on land regulations and planning permission issues over the years is well chronicled. They now want us to take the local decision making out of the hands of the local authorities, and put it into the hands of people who do not even know the first thing about a particular area. Be it Dublin 12, Drumshambo in Leitrim, or wherever it may be in any constituency in the European Union.
The ‘Yes’ vote maintain the Treaty will allow greater scope for business enterprises, and further business opportunities for companies in Ireland. This is a half truth. Instead of encouraging small businesses, the greater scope for larger companies will allow further monopolisation of the markets for corporate companies.
These companies are already earning billions. But feel the need to monopolise the market in order to stamp out any competition whatsoever. Thus making the market more beneficial to multinational companies and even more detrimental to smaller companies. These small/medium companies are more in need of help and financial assistance.
One of the favourite scaremongering tactics bandied around by the ‘Yes’ campaign is, Ireland will lose out on business if we vote no to the Treaty. This is a complete falsehood as the the EU will continue to operate under its present rules if the Treaty is defeated. And there is no indication whatsoever of existing or prospective companies pulling out, if we were to vote no on the Treaty.

The Treaty claims to prioritise energy and climate change. Again what does this mean? There are absolutely no details of how they will do this. The biggest and most challenging issue for the whole world over the next 50 years is climate change. And all we get from the Treaty speaking on behalf of all the members of Europe is a token gesture making it a priority. A meagre 6 words have been added to the existing recommendation. No policy, no initiatives and no sense. There is absolutely no indication of when these policies will be implemented and how.
Protocol 12 of the Treaty refers to EURATOM (European Atomic Energy Commission). This commission’s fundamental priority is to promote nuclear energy. So the pro–Treaty factions are proposing a European State which promotes more Chernobyl’s and Sellafield’s. Measured and practical approaches to resolving climate and environmental issue’s don’t you think?!
The so called party for the environment in Ireland has completely sold themselves out in this regard. Voting ‘Yes’ due to their involvement in government, the Green Party must answer to their electorate in the next election.
This has come on top of their complete u-turn on the Ringsend incinerator and their silence over the new motorway going through Tara Hill, on the Navan Road. One has to ask what is their function in government? A meaningless car emissions policy so far has been their policy output.
The Treaty reduces the power and influence of the smaller states (i.e. Ireland), and gives further voting rights to the ‘big boys’. And choices will be made in the name of economics and finance, rather than social and people needs.
Under the present criteria the major European powers (France, Germany, Italy, and UK) have 29 votes each. Ireland under present policy has 7 votes, as one of the smaller countries.
A qualified majority at present requires 74% of the vote. If the Treaty is ratified, from 2014, the following applies; only 55% of the member states must agree. 15 of the 27 member states must agree. This clearly gives even more power to the European superpowers. Particularly considering the voting power the larger nations secure under the Treaty.
The new ruling would copper fasten the superpowers hold on Europe. The developing and less powerful countries will have an even lesser say in how Europe is governed.
The Treaty intends to increase military power in Europe. Article 28c includes the following; ‘member states shall undertake to improve their military capabilities.’ Financial contributions to the EU for military purposes are also increased. This also further erodes Irish neutrality as we put more and more military initiatives into the hands of the EU.
The charter of fundamental rights in the Treaty refers to civil rights, equality and freedom for all European members. The rights for European members will remain the same regardless of a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote.
The government will always maintain we live in a wealthy and thriving nation for all. The reality is the majority of the nation is in debt. A nation where two incomes are needed to support a family. Crèches are highly overpriced, the health system is on its knees, and the price of living is at an all time high.
There is gross overpricing of consumer goods, and petrol prices are at an all time high. A society where the needy and people who really need assistance are randomly ignored. The question is do you trust this Government and it's cohorts to implement a Treaty which is fair to all Irish citizens?
A 'Yes' vote will ensure a continuation of the privatisation system implemented by the government. This will continue the taking away of our civil rights towards our state bodies, such as Aer Lingus and our health system (co-location, VHI, triple taxation health system). And continue the ever increasing trend towards a full capitalist society where all that matters is money. A society where people are a mere cog in the machine. Existing simply to provide the people with money with more of the same.
The Labour Party are pursuing a ‘Yes’ vote for the Treaty. This party was initially established to encourage and support equal rights, and to campaign for people's rights at the bottom of the ladder. It’s becoming fundamentally clear that the labour party are selling their principles into the ground for greater reward. Especially since taking up liaisons with Fine Gael.
Like their cohorts in Northern Ireland, The SDLP, and the UK Labour party, they are bowing to middle of the road conservatism. A form of politics which has never worked for the majority of Irish citizens and never will.
James Connolly, described by Eamonn Gilmore (Labour leader), as ‘the towering figure in the history of the Irish Labour movement’, must be turning in his grave at Labour's sell out stance on the Treaty.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that while Sinn Fein and the Workers Party continue to campaign for equal rights, the labour party are moving further and further away from their reason to be.
It has become clear that the EU is suppressing information from the electorate. Committees in the EU Parliament have been officially advised by the Head of the Constitution Affairs committee not to debate politically sensitive issues relating to the Lisbon Treaty, until after the referendum in Ireland.
To date there has been a lot of bluster from the yes side but little real information about the Treaty. The government has yet to set out in concrete terms why they believe the Lisbon Treaty is a good thing for Ireland.
There has been absolutely no attempt by the cohorts of the Lisbon Treaty to have an open debate. No clarity and a lack of understanding, which has left most voters not even knowing the importance of what they are voting on. We will have no say in future implementation of policy, as we are basically signing over our fundamental rights to the European commission.
It allows Europe and the Treaty to dictate Irish law and regulations (Trade, Economy, security, planning regulations) without input and consultation. Many regulations and legislation will be introduced which will not necessarily be in the interests of Irish policy and heritage. Money and greed will be the dominating policies, over the greater good and the upkeep of our traditions. Cultural and heritage decisions like the Tara Hill debacle will become the norm.
The Nice Treaty was defeated in 2001. They continually bring back the same policies to a referendum until they are successful. Even a wooden spoon team wins some times! This would be considered a form of autocracy in other independent sovereign nations.
The Irish electorate and Treaty voters really have to ask themselves the question; do they want more of the same regarding privatisation of hospitals, healthcare and all public sectors? Or do they wish for a more egalitarian system, which will allow for an equal system regardless of background?
The question posed regarding the road for EU and Irish health policies raises another more pertinent issue. Has any of these members of parliament who propose the treaty and implement the rules, actually ever had a family member, close friend who has been sat on a waiting list, or hospital trolley?
Do they have any idea whatsoever what the ordinary citizens of Ireland have to contend with, when it comes to a third class health system? I very much think not.
The acceptances of the Treaty will rubberstamp these failed health policies, and give them the leeway to do more of the same.
A perfect example of the government’s money hungry policies is the new report by FAS, indicating a potential freefall in the construction industry. A situation which has already begun.
This bad industrial climate could have been avoided with the implementation of careful planning. Ignoring the wishes of hungry property developers, and taking into account the needs of Irish citizens.
Proper organisation should have been adhered to in the surrounding areas where the developments are being built. In terms of proper traffic procedures, and adequate facilities for all constituent’s.
This government – particularly Fianna Fail and The PD’s – have a track record of distorting the truth and misleading the Irish public. On all the important issues, health, development planning and market prices, quality of living, and prices in every aspect of Irish business.
The Lisbon Treaty will only enhance their ability to further use their financial and political clout. For their own political purpose. The knock on effect would be a further decrease in democracy. Resulting in an evermore widening gap between the rich and the poor, leaving the way open for further bureaucracy from the bureaucrats.
The facts of the matter are there will be no repercussions for Ireland within Europe if it is a ‘No’ vote. This is just an attempt to scare the electorate into a ‘Yes’ vote. Any job losses or economic downturn will be a natural occurrence. A ‘No’ vote is not a vote against Europe, but merely a message being sent to our politicians to go back and draw up a proper and more appropriate Treaty. A Treaty which exists for the whole of Europe. Not just for the privileged and prosperous. Do yourselves a favour and send out the message that we will not be dictated to any more.

author by Aragonpublication date Thu Jun 12, 2008 16:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sceptic you have a facility for segueing facts and arguments that is truly a wonder to behold. Unfortunately it is about the only skill that you possess in your declamations about politics, life, the universe and everything. Actually, there is one more skill you possess: never arguing on the facts of anything (you can't because they never support the contentions you put forward).but doing so with admirable eloquence. Even so, the backside of your argumentation is never less than fully exposed. It's terrific fun watching you at this.

It's hilarious to see you speculating about how James Connolly might have adopted the sort of conscienceless, arrogant indifference you so much admire in yourself. That the Labour Party has followed Fine Gael into your arid and bitter world is not in doubt, but leave James Connolly out of it. He never did or said anything to deserve that posthumous insult.

author by Scepticpublication date Thu Jun 12, 2008 15:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Impressive as your research might be it does not guarantee your conclusions are in any way valid whatever or that they are free from bias or that your reading of the Treaty was correct.

The fact that Connolly signed the 1916 proclamation does not somehow make Connolly less of a Labour Party figure or more of a SWP or anarchist or whatever one. The two things are not somehow incompatible. Anyway Voltaire’s dictum applies – “history is a pack of tricks we play on the dead”. Every red diesel operator, mad cap IRA gunman/criminal, anti abortion loony, far lefties of various stripes seems to invoke Connolly. His name is abused by all of this. It is by no means obvious to most people that he would be “spinning in his grave” (the usual cliché) at the modern Labour Party. Indeed from his biography he was a person who could devolve and change in response to changed circumstances. The Labour Party has had to change its policies at various times since 1916 as on might expect. It cannot just be a shrine keeper for Connolly. Probably Connolly would have changed his views on certain things too had he lived. Have you ever changed your view on anything?

Fine Gael as an ultra conservative party? That’s your own subjective value judgement which is arguable to put it mildly. Many would say their economic policies are quite similar but that the Labour Party is more beholden to public sector unions and interest groups.

“I could not actually believe a party who were formed to sustain and encourage equal rights would propose such a treay” (sic). Firstly the Treaty is proposed by the Government and supported by Labour. But more importantly where based on the facts (as opposed to your beliefs) which as a journalist I assume you have some regard for is there any threat whatever to equal rights. If anything equal rights are enhanced by the Treaty.

author by Raymond Bhreatnach - NUJpublication date Thu Jun 12, 2008 14:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A cara,

Just need to need to take you up on a few things here. First of all my article was written after extensive research into the 'yes' vote, the 'no' vote and the referendum commission outlining all the details of the Treaty. I came to these conclusions that the Treaty was a complete sellout and the article was written on this basis. After extensive research and not after a one - sided partial view which you seem to be indicating.
On the subject of the Labour Party which seems to be your biggest issue here;
1. I could not actually believe a party who were formed to sustain and encourage equal rights would propose such a treay. This is why I made the comment which you refer about ' James Connolly turning in his grave'. I stand by this comment.
2. I think your comment on capitalist conspiracy is completely missing the point. All the points I make are my opinion, but are based on actual facts in the treaty.
3. It's not just the Treaty which led to my comments about Labour. I believe their alliance with Fine Gael can only do bad for the party. Their involvement with Fine Gael has, I believe, damaged their reputation. Fine Gael are an ultra conservative party and their philosophies are far removed from Labour. I believe this has led to Labours participation in a 'yes' vote.
4. Why should Sinn Fein or the SWP assume they are his heirs instead of the Labour Party ? On this comment you have made; No party has the right to own the rights to equal rights and a fair society. Be it Sinn Fein, Labour or Swp. It is my belief that James Connolly would completely disagree with the treaty. After all he did sign the 1916 Proclamation!



author by Scepticpublication date Wed Jun 11, 2008 21:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Raymond Bhreatnach – Connolly had a strongly international outlook – don’t be so sure that he would share your views. Moreover it was him that founded the Labour Party not you. Why do you assume that his political heirs like Gilmore and Michael D. Higgins are so wrong about him and you are right? Why should Sinn Fein or the SWP assume they are his heirs instead of the Labour Party - his own party. In fact if anything socialist parties in Europe are more pro Lisbon than those on the right which is not surprising given all the social legislation that comes from the community. This is a yarn you are retailing about it all being a capitalist conspiracy or anything to do with privatisation.

Hans Ceustermansthere there may be issues about concentration of media ownership in Italy but that is an Italian problem not a wider European one, let alone an EU one. The European media is well diversified. And this has NOTHING to do with the Lisbon Treaty and Ireland. What are you on about? Another Red Herring.

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