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A long Irish tradition favouring neutrality should encourage us to vote No to Lisbon II

category international | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Thursday August 13, 2009 16:41author by IT Reader Report this post to the editors

Roger Cole article in the Irish Times

Many people are worried about the militarism implicit in the text of the Lisbon Treaty. If passed, it will effectively makes arguments for disarmament and reduction in military capabilities illegal and redundant, as each will be constitutionally obliged to increase its weapons spending. In today's Irish Times, Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance argues that a vote in favour undermines the fight for Irish independence, democracy and neutrality.

FOR GENERATIONS some Irish people have fought for Irish independence, democracy and neutrality, while others have fought for imperialism. The second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is just another battle in this conflict and, whatever the outcome, the struggle will continue.

In 1790 in response to a potential war between the Spanish and British empires, Theobald Wolfe Tone wrote a pamphlet The Spanish War in which he advocated that Ireland should remain neutral. He stated:

“We should then look to our own internal resources, and scorn to sue for protection to any foreign state; we should spurn the idea of moving as a humble satellite round any power, however great, and claim at once, and enforce, our rank among the primary nations of the earth. Then should we have what under the present system we never shall see, a national flag and the spirit to maintain it.”

Tone went on to found the United Irishmen and sought to establish an independent Irish republic.

Other Irish people did not agree, supported imperialism and, with the help of the British union, crushed the United Irishmen. Then, in exchange for exceptionally large suitcases stuffed with cash, they voted to abolish the Irish parliament and support a common foreign security and defence policy within the union.

For decades the Irish political elite gave their total support to the imperialist tradition. Daniel O’Connell supported the Opium war on China, Isaac Butt supported the Crimean War and John Redmond backed the 1914-18 imperialist war to the hilt.

The Young Irelanders and the Fenians maintained the United Irish tradition. When one of the greatest of the Fenians, Michael Collins representing the Republic established 90 years ago, agreed to sign a treaty with the British union, he did so on the grounds that it was a stepping stone to that Republic, not a road back to a new empire. Eamon de Valera, in proposing the adoption of our own Irish Constitution ensured all power derives from the people, which is why we are having the referendum, continuing that tradition.

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Pana) in advocating that the EU should be a partnership of independent democratic states, legal equals without a military dimension, and opposing the Lisbon Treaty, are just maintaining the tradition of Tone, Connolly, Collins and de Valera.

But the imperialists defeated in November 1918 just waited in the long grass for their time to come again. With the British union in decline, they simply transferred their allegiance to the emerging EU superstate or “empire” as EU president José Barroso calls it. As we watched the Eurocorps (an EU/Nato military force) raise the EU flag at the opening of the European Parliament, the symbolism of an EU militarised superstate for the “European people” was overwhelmingly obvious.

This is the parliament that voted not to respect the sovereignty of the Irish people and is becoming more and more irrelevant to the peoples of the EU. Participation in elections to the parliament has fallen from 63 per cent in 1997 to 43 per cent in 2009. The peoples of the EU, the Irish, the French, the Dutch, the British and many of the other peoples of the EU just do not want Barroso’s empire.

The EU political elite, having had their EU constitution defeated by the French and the Dutch, just renamed it the Lisbon Treaty, made sure the other peoples of the EU could not vote, and simply expected the Irish people to roll over and die last year.

It was a big mistake. We voted with the French and Dutch. This referendum is not an Irish battle. It is a European battle fought on Irish soil, a battle between the peoples of Europe that support democracy and the elite of Europe that want an empire.

Undeterred by Irish democracy, the elite are simply forcing us to vote again on exactly the same treaty.

That’s their plan. But plans don’t always work. The Germans have come to the rescue. Their constitutional court has ruled that the German parliament should have the final say on EU law, that the German court should have the final say on the interpretation of EU law as it applies to Germany, and that the German army was the army of the German people and cannot be sent abroad without the agreement of the German parliament. The court was essentially making the case that the EU should be a partnership of democratic states, which is what Pana has campaigned for. We just also want it not to have a military dimension, or at the very least, that Ireland opts out of the militarisation process.

The EU political elite supports the treaty because it continues to transfer power away from the people and their own national democratic institutions to themselves and their institutions, the Council of Ministers, the European Court of Justice and the parliament. The German court decision has stopped the elite in their tracks and driven yet another stake through its heart. The second No vote in Ireland will complete the job.

What is needed then is a new treaty that would reflect the aspirations of the kind of Europe the people want via a new convention with representatives elected specifically for that purpose. Pana. as a founder member of the European Peace and Human Rights Network, is part of the European peace movement and would welcome such a process. We have continually advocated a social Europe, a green Europe, instead of a militarised neo-liberal superstate, values that are enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty.

A new convention could draw up a new treaty reflecting our values of a democratic, social and demilitarised Europe.

But will the Yes side, this alliance of born- again Redmondites and William Walker socialists, win? They have terminated Irish neutrality by turning Ireland into a US aircraft carrier. They have destroyed the Irish economy with their commitment to neo-liberalism. They have abolished the National Forum on Europe because they lost the democratic debates it organised. They have ignored the Irish Supreme Court McKenna judgment and seek to destroy the Irish Supreme Court Coughlan judgment. Their corporate media, especially the RTÉ talk shows since last year, have provided little more than a sustained diatribe against Irish national democracy. In such circumstances, it would not be surprising if they win.

But on our side we have democracy. We have the memory of generations of struggle for our national independence. We have the support of the peoples of Europe. If the rich and powerful win then all we will get is more of the same, more wars, and more neo-liberal economics. We need to win. We need to build a new Europe, a democratic Europe, a social Europe, a demilitarised Europe, and a partnership Europe. The only way we will get it is by voting No on October 2nd.

Roger Cole is chair of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance –

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author by Joanpublication date Sun Aug 16, 2009 22:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great pic with treaty text, perfect for a poster / leaflet Roger.

It should be multiplied and spread around and International Monitiors brought here because they will pull out all the stops, hook and crook.

author by Philippublication date Tue Aug 18, 2009 21:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good article, the people of Ireland need to vote NO. Dont listen to the scaremongering of the corporation ruling the country and vote NO

author by potoolepublication date Thu Aug 20, 2009 00:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is a concise and punchy poster. Great message and simple logic.

Well done to all involved

author by posterpublication date Thu Aug 20, 2009 01:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

another poster


author by Yes Voter.publication date Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"....and simple logic."

You mean "simplistic logic" potoole.

You NO people should come up with something a bit better than THAT........stuff.........if you want to convince me, for one.

author by MichaelY - NO to Lisbon Campiagnpublication date Thu Aug 20, 2009 13:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We NO people, as you put it, represent the absolute majority of our people in this divided State as well as the 500 million plus Europeans sunshine......refer yourself to McCreevy if you have any doubts.
From your response, it would appear to me that you're beyond thinking rationally - do us a favour and stick to your arguments (if you have any) and to your clogged process of figuring things out.

author by Floating voterpublication date Sat Aug 22, 2009 09:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Particularly the first one as its the only one Ive seen to date (from either camp) which actually quotes from the text of the treaty in order to support its argument.

Well done and more of this sort of thing !

author by lisbon debatepublication date Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the daily mail online:2day
Does this apply to us only 2 days left to buy light bulbs?.

author by NoAgain - The Anti-Organisationpublication date Sat Aug 22, 2009 17:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On the Six-One News last night RTE ran a news feature about 800 applicants for 45 Officer cadetships in the Irish Army this year, you all probably saw it too .

So where's the embargo on public service recruitment now ? Apparently none when it comes to building up the Irish Army with the sons and daughters of the rich and powerful capitalists of the land being especially recruited for Officer Rank, Sobbery and Waste !

It is obvious too that the Irish Army is being built up, from news like this, for full participation in European Military adventures abroad as soon as the Lisbon Treaty is passed by the irish People.

I was horrified to see this news clip on RTE last night encouraging militarism and ' Action' - this is the very last thing that we should gbe showing at peaktime viewing, glorifying the Army, Action and War !

Now wouldn't it make more sense if these 45 sons and daughters of the Rich and Powerful of Ireland were instead out preserving the peace as Gardai on the streets of Ireland, but no, a garda career is for the sons and daughters of the working class, not for them the snobbery & waste of the cadet College in the Curragh plus free university education for these Rich Snobs to boot !

Wouldn't it make more sense to recruit 45 extra staff for Social Welfare, Health or E ducation or for something, anything useful -

But where is the Recruitment Embargo gone ?

The Public Service trade Unions should look into this Upper Class Snob Exercise recruitment of 45 Officer cadets THIS YEAR to the Irish Army :

And what they are supposed to do as Officers, what else but serve E.U. militarism abroad !

Just as soon as Lisbon is passed.

author by Hurler on the Ditchpublication date Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The government seem to think that, like unruly children, we should be dragged again to the blackboard to do our spelling-test all over again; this, from the people who brought you rogue bankers, propped-up and failed developers, John 'Six Figures' O'Donoghue and cuts in social welfare. There are no neutrality assurances in the new treaty worth a damn. It's entire aim is to benefit those who are already wealthy. The United States has already extended its border (the official US statement, not mine) to include Shannon, where they have a permanent military presence, and no one in Ireland was asked an opinion. It's time what passes for our government was itself taught a lesson - vote NO for Lisbon, which is a YES for democracy.

author by A Freemanpublication date Tue Aug 25, 2009 00:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just been to a highly successful event run by Generation Yes here in Waterford (large turnout, several hundred euro raised), hopefully a sign that the naysayers, sinn feiners and me feiners are on a downward slope ahead of the lisbon referendum. I don't think most reasonable people in this country are afraid of our miniscule armed forces launching wars of aggression, unless Willie O'Dea has a secret plan to invade the Faroe islands to distract us from the recession at home!

author by Petepublication date Tue Aug 25, 2009 16:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Unless Willie O'Dea has a secret plan to invade the Faroe islands."

He wouldn't be the first Irish "invader".

The Faroese agree that Irish sailors discovered the place.

This Faroese stamp depicts our own St. Brendan landing there:

The history of the Faroes:

"The physical description of these islands and the travel time described, fits the Faroe Islands, and the name Faeroe is thought to mean Sheep Islands. According to this, the first settlers in the Faroe Islands were Irish monks, who introduced sheep and oats to the Faroe Isles. Recent pollen analysis showing that oats were grown in the Faroes about the year 650 A.D supports this theory."

In pre-Viking days Irish seafarers were the "Masters of the North Atlantic."

(This maritime history we seem to have totally forgotten. Kevin Myers,for instance, is allowed to get away with saying that we never had masted ships.)

author by Kevinpublication date Tue Aug 25, 2009 21:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Might be worth invading the Faeroe Islands to get at their oil and gas reserves. Of course, if we did, we'd just have to give them away.

Freeman, you know the Lisbon Treaty will apply to the whole European Union don't you, and not just Ireland?

So it won't just be the Irish army which has to improve, year on year, for ever, if the referendum is passed. It will be every state in the EU which will be constitutionally bound to improve its military capabilities, no matter what its people want or need.

The entire European Union will be obliged to increase military spending, year on year, forever. The EU will constitutionally prevented from entering into discussions with anyone about disarmament, as the very notion of getting rid of weapons will become illegal.

That means more bombs, more tanks, more guns, more soldiers, every year, in every state, for ever.

How do think your "reasonable people" would feel about that?

author by Einstein.publication date Wed Aug 26, 2009 13:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"That means more bombs, more tanks, more guns, more soldiers, every year, in every state, for ever.
How do think your "reasonable people" would feel about that?"

That makes for an infinite number of bombs,tanks,guns and soldiers.

That sounds reasonable to NO voters I suppose.

author by Sherlockpublication date Wed Aug 26, 2009 19:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sounds good to arms dealers. That's why it's in the treaty.

Talk about a blank cheque...

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