"As Irish people our
relationships with the United States and the European Union are complex.
Geographically we are closer to Berlin than Boston. Spiritually we are
probably a lot closer to Boston than Berlin."
- Mary Harney, speaking in 2000 as Minister for Enterprise
"The Skibbereen Eagle
has got its eye both upon Lord Palmerston and on the Emperor of Russia."
This terrible warning has elevated the little insignificant town of Skibbereen,
in the southwest coast of Ireland, quite into a Lilliputian pre-eminence
. Beware, beware, ye statesmen, emperors, and thrones, for the Skibbereen
Eagle has its eye upon you!
- And let that be a warning
Anyone perusing this
340-page document will see for themselves that the Skibbereen Eagle still
flies... Gender inequity, military power, economic injustice in under-developed
countries, 'drugs and international crime', and anti-personnel landmines
all felt the lash of Mother Ireland's tongue.
- Eunan O'Halpin, on the Government's 1996 foreign policy white paper, "Defending Ireland"
Main Quotes Page - Immigration - Ireland & EU - Lisbon - Nice
# IRELAND AND THE WORLD
"We are not neutral
on any issue, we have a position on every issue."
- Brian Cowen, as Minister for Foreign Affairs
"Neutrality is not
a policy. It is a status, either protected or respected on the one hand,
or ignored. It has relevance where nations might declare war on each other."
- Bruce Arnold, "Irish Independent"
"Neutrality means we
sit on the fence, protected by America and the RAF in case of war, consuming
a free lunch as far as foreign policy is concerned. Do we really believe
that this kind of politically sluttish behaviour does not, at some level,
diminish our sense of reality and damage our self respect?"
- Eoghan Harris, "Sunday Independent"
We are in no military
pacts, therefore we are uniquely virtuous. Similarly, we are a nuclear-free
country, na na na na naa. Meanwhile, our airspace is protected by the Anglo-Americans,
and our future electricity shortfalls will be made good from the nuclear-powered
grid of the UK.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
There was never any
attempt to create an army that could defend the new state's borders against
a foreign enemy. In case of invasion, it became the official policy to
invite in another invader to repel the first one: Belgium's abominable
fate in 1914-18 became the grotesque template for our defence policy. To
add a pious gloss to this military weakness, we call an utter inability
to defend ourselves "neutrality". These are uniquely bizarre and contradictory
definitions of independence; but they have been hard-wired into the perception
- Kevin Myers, on Free State Ireland, "The Irish Independent"
There are many things
we did not do during the Tiger years, but apart from our failures to radically
improve our primary schools, the worst was that we did not make ourselves
into a militarily grown-up nation. A true republic does its best to guard
its skies, to mind its seas and to patrol its borders. It gives its soldiers,
airmen and sailors the equipment which makes them members of modern defence
forces, and not of a well-equipped gendarmerie... In other words, we should
have created an army and air corps which can use violence to further our
national interest. But of course, even to say that is to risk the wrath
of that extraordinarily powerful constituency in Irish life, which lives
in a permanent kindergarten of neutralism, piety, pacifism and victimhood...
It is not especially heroic to bawl some maudlin ballad about The Carrickmacross
Six, or prate in Dail Eireann about the evils of US foreign policy, or
picket a multinational company and prevent it from doing its lawful business.
No. Our true national heroes never say anything in public. They are too
busy in the Glen of Imaal, training for combat.
- Kevin Myers, "Moral Leprechauns", "The Irish Ind." (May'09)
Gardaí who searched
airplanes accused of being used for CIA rendition flights only found racehorses
and golfers onboard, the Dáil heard today. Minister for Foreign
Affairs Dermot Ahern told the Dáil that the garda probed six separate
allegations relating to aircraft refuelling at Shannon Airport, but found
no evidence of wrongdoing in each case. Greens TD John Gormley called for
a parliamentary investigation into claims that shackled terrorist suspects
are being transported through Irish airspace en route to secret interrogation
- From "Online.ie"
"The [Irish] anti-war
movement [is] not a peace movement but a strident anti-American one...
Rather than an organisation which wishes to see the peaceful resolution
of conflicts around the world through discussion and compromise, it is
a collection of misty-eyed old Soviet Union sympathisers who have now befriended
- Alan Shatter, after the anti-war movement invite a Hizbollah member to attend a meeting
There might well indeed
be some prospect, more fantastical, more surreal, more bizarre and more
grotesque, than that of Aengus O Snodaigh calling the Israeli ambassador,
Zion Evonry, a new Goebbels before a Dail Committee, but I certainly do
not know what it is, nor do I know where to find it. Let's get this straight.
Aengus O Snodaigh belongs to an organisation which once proclaimed Goebbels
an ally, and which backed the Nazis against both Britain and Ireland. Furthermore,
in 1941, IRA men lit fires on the Black Mountain to guide Luftwaffe bombers
to Belfast. (The Luftwaffe didn't notice. Among the target-markers was
the latter-day IRA hero, Joe Cahill). Moreover, Aengus O Snodaigh has participated
in rallies at the (now-destroyed) Dublin statue of Sean Russell, the Nazi
collaborator, who might even have met Goebbels during his war-time trips
to Berlin. So, it must be deeply rewarding for any Jew to be compared by
a representative of that depraved tradition to one of the most demonic
anti-Semites of all time... Ah well, that's Ireland for you, a truly upside-down
moral paradise which has never, ever tried to defend itself seriously against
a foreign enemy, and which for 25 years tolerated the presence of the IRA
terrorist HQ, as it conducted its war against the only neighbour we have.
And now our politicians feel free to issue sanctimonious lectures to a
people, who are under constant terrorist attack, on the immorality of aggression
and armed action. The loudest, constitutional voice bawling the usual platitudes
about the Middle East conflict has been that of Chris Andrews TD, who wants
the Israeli ambassador expelled for the "disproportionate" actions of the
What is proportionate, Christopher? Is it for the Israelis to reply in strictly pro-rata measure to terrorist provocation, namely by firing 8,000 rockets into the Gaza Strip? Is that what you want, is it? Or is that too excessive? On the other hand, possibly you really don't know what you want. Maybe, you're simply content to lecture people, who have known unbroken war and terrorist threat for 60 years about what they shouldn't do, rather than offer constructive advice on what they might do. Though to tell you the truth, I imagine the Israelis are getting rather sick and tired of being told how to live in peace, when to live in peace has been their aspiration for over 60 years. Have the Israelis been arrogant? Yes. Have they been wrong? Yes. Did they allow terrible things to happen to Palestinians, especially in the camps of Sabra and Shattila, in September 1982? Yes. Have they themselves used inexcusable violence against Palestinian camps in the past? Yes. Ask any moderate Israeli the same questions, and you'll get the self-same answers. Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. Yes, we have been guilty of making many mistakes, and we have killed innocent people and done things that we should never have done. But we are tired. We have accepted the principle of the two-state solution. We evacuated the Gaza Strip. Let us live in peace now. But Hamas won't let Israel live in peace.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent" (Jan'09)
The Air Corps has been
re-equipped to a degree not incomparable with the major combatants in the
later years of WW2. Concerns have been voiced about the Government's Plan
B, should fast jets be required for an emergency in the morning, namely
calling in the RAF. Senior decision makers were apparently told that UK
military pilots taking combat actions in Irish airspace could seriously
contravene longstanding international law, even if called in on request
by the Irish Government.
- Michael Mulqueen, on dealing with hijacked jets, "The Irish Independent"
"In Iran Contra they
had Irish passports... The Irish were very co-operative. They were on our
side during the Cold War."
- Robert Baer, former CIA operative, interviewed on RTE Radio
"Ireland's most precious
gift to the world has been the Irish. No nation has benefited more from
the talent of the Irish than the United States. Today over 44 million Irish-Americans
reinforce the natural bond of friendship between our nations."
- President George W Bush, St Patrick's Day Message, 2001
The Irish American
community harbors a deeply held belief that it was the victim of systematic
job discrimination in America, and that the discrimination was done publicly
in highly humiliating fashion through signs that announced "Help Wanted:
No Irish Need Apply." This "NINA" slogan could have been a metaphor for
their troubles — akin to tales that America was a "golden mountain" or
had "streets paved with gold." But the Irish insist that the signs really
existed and prove the existence of widespread discrimination and prejudice.
The fact that Irish vividly "remember" NINA signs is a curious historical
puzzle. There are no contemporary or retrospective accounts of a specific
sign at a specific location. No particular business enterprise is named
as a culprit. No historian, archivist, or museum curator has ever located
one; no photograph or drawing exists. No other ethnic group complained
about being singled out by comparable signs. Only Irish Catholics have
reported seeing the sign in America: no Protestant, no Jew, no non-Irish
Catholic has reported seeing one.
- Richard J. Jensen, "A Myth of Victimization", in the "Journal of Social History"
No one stands alone
in Irish American families. You are born into a web of relations. By yourself,
you are little more than a human dot, insignificant and indistinguishable.
Connect all the dots, and there is family. You exist as a point in a set
of relations. You may ignore or rage against your relations, the people
who define you less by what you do or say or think or accomplish and more
by who your parents are and whom you marry. In the end, you are still so-and-so's
daughter and niece to so-and-so. When things get bad enough, you follow
the lines to safety.
- Richard White, "Remembering Ahanagran: Storytelling in a Family's Past"
Yearn though I might
to be a European boulevardier, the truth is that I inescapably belong to
the great Anglophone world that encompasses Broadway, Brisbane, Bombay,
Boston, Birmingham and every kind of Baltimore, and whose defining gut-instincts
are democratic. The EU can add all the accession states it likes to make
itself more powerful, like a foundering lifeboat solving its problems by
hauling more struggling bodies aboard. The long-term future of this archipelago
is not with the bloated and narcissistic entity of the EU, but with the
global and dynamic entity that is Anglophonia.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
Last May in San Francisco,
I bought two pairs of slippers from a bright, smiling Chinese lady who,
with quilted delicacy, informed me that she was certain she neither knew
nor had ever heard of a country called Ireland.
- Paul Durcan, quoted in "Talk Nation"
# IMMIGRATION & INTEGRATION
"Efforts have been made to foment fears that
migrants from the new member states could flock to Ireland. This is not
only unpleasant but plainly wrong.... Ireland is already benefiting from
the skills and energy of workers from the applicant states, about 7,000
of whom received work permits last year. There is no basis whatever for
expecting a huge upsurge in these numbers."
- Brian Cowen, Sunday Business Post (Jul'2000)
When this column made the rather modest observation
some months ago that Ireland was not a
multicultural society but a liberal, secularised Christian one, those tiresome mulculturalists in our midst
accused me of racism and something called 'cultural hegemonism'.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Times"
Will multicultural-apartheid laws allow Irish
Somalis... to invoke Somali law before a Somali jury at an Irish trial?
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
What is the name for the condition which
thinks the deckchairs are a threat to the welfare of the ship, and gets
the look outs to come down and re-arrange them? This is the class of affliction
which maintains that any discussion on immigration-driven changes in Irish
life is worse than those changes themselves - even though they could in
time make Ireland culturally, ethnically, politically and religiously unrecognisable.
And indeed, maybe it is wholly desirable that these transformations occur
- but at least let us have a discussion about whether they are likely,
and how great they might be. But we don't, because we are paralysed by
our obsession with the deckchairs of an imaginary racism that renders all
conversation about the iceberg ahead - whether we're going to miss or hit
it, whether it's lethal or not, or whether it even exists - politically
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
The most important thing to remember is that
if you ignore a problem, it will always go away. For example, the British
ignored the problem of immigration for decades, because a) the left-liberals
said it was racist to discuss the issue, and b) immigration would never
present a problem. And they were right, for one day the problem simply
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
We haven't had any debate in the Dail on
immigration, even as Ireland undergoes the greatest demographic alteration
since the Famine. Ay least 10% of our population is foreign-born. We have
primary schools where 20 languages are spoken and no lessons are taught...
yet even with these dramatic transformations occuring before our eyes,
we have no strategy to deal with immigration, because we have no policy;
and we have no policy because we have had no debate. Instead, we have an
all-prevailing, glutinous sanctimony which makes a virtue of having no
debate at all.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
Endless blocks of flats have been thrown
up in the past three years to house MetroLite's huge population of largely
Chinese and Polish immigrants... In the unplanned horrors of MetroLite,
with multi-storeys jumbled over one another in an ugly, extended suburban
strip, like building-blocks which have fallen from the back of a circling
lorry, is anyone starting schools to educate immigrant-children? Or are
we, as always, going to try to solve a problem only after it has become
- Kevin Myers, on Dublin's future problems, "The Irish Independent"
The loose estimate is that there are around
a million Poles in the UK. Ireland, which as a result of migration from
Eastern Europe has the fastest-growing population in the EU, probably has
more than 100,000. Over the past six months, with the advent of more cheap
flights to Dublin and Liverpool full of eager Poles responding to recruitment
drives by British and Irish construction firms, wages are shooting up in
Poland and so Ukrainians are pouring in. What next asks Anne Applebaum
— The Ukrainians importing Kazakhs?
Migration on a sensible scale is one thing: this mass migration is in the interests only of employers, who would rather import cheap labour than make an effort to train the young people at home who have been let down by their schools and their society... We don't know the young Poles who have been arriving over the past few years in their tens of thousands unless we meet them in their places of work, although they walk past us in the street speaking Polish to each other or on their mobile phones. Because of technology, they live in a parallel world. In Ealing, your average young Polish immigrant lives with other young Poles, watches Polish television and listens to Polish Radio, reads Polish news on the internet, communicates by phone with family and friends at home for little or nothing, travels back cheaply by coach or air for holidays or family celebrations, goes to mass at the local Polish church... Geographically, they may be over here, but their hearts and minds are still over there... Applebaum ended her article appealing to the Poles of the British Isles to come home: "We need you more than they do." I would add a plea that if they intend to stay in Ealing, would they kindly stop trying to turn it into a corner of Warsaw.
- Ruth Dudley Edwards, "The Sunday Ind."
On the radio, not so long ago, the then Minister
for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, made the point that Bord
Failte had received negative feedback from many visitors to the country,
who complained that they met few Irish people working in hotels and restaurants.
He mused that this was a legitimate cause for concern. The interviewer
on the flagship radio programme automatically suggested that he didn't
want foreigners here, which is not what he had said at all. The discussion
degenerated into Junior Cert babble about racism, equality and the dignity
of immigrants, rather than a response to a legitimate dilemma... Realism
is not racism in the immigration debate.
- David McWilliams, "The Irish Independent"
"The Supreme Muslim Council of Ireland would
like to say that it believes that the rule of civil law, the democratic
system of representation in government, the protection of the rights of
women and minorities and the freedom of thought and belief — under all
of which we live here in Ireland — are not only compatible with Islamic
values but are closer to the ethos and spirit of tolerance, pluralism and
peace in Islam and better serve the Irish Muslim community than the undemocratic
regimes and the draconian judicial systems found in some predominately
Muslim countries today."
- Mohammed Alkabour, Secretary-General of the Supreme Muslim Council of Ireland
You know you're having a weird day when you
find yourself arguing with a middle-aged traveller woman in a wheelchair
before you've had lunch. Even the most enthusiastic bully would baulk at
such an easy target, but I found myself part of a panel last Thursday debating
diversity in the Irish media and all the usual suspects had come out to
whinge. The topic itself was a giveaway as to what we could expect. "Is
the Irish media hideously white?" was the question... As I pointed out
at the time, would anyone ask if the Nigerian media is hideously black?
Or if the Pakistani media is hideously Muslim?
- Ian O'Doherty, "Irish Ind."
About 10% of the population is made up of
people who are not Irish. That's a big percentage and we got to that figure
in about 10 years... But we did all this without any major upheaval. There
were some racist incidents carried out by scum who would have been beating
up Irish people if they didn't have foreigners to beat up. There was a
certain amount of grumbling and grousing out of earshot of foreigners but
nothing worse, really, than the sort of things we say about ourselves.
But now we (all) need to have a debate out loud, whatever the accent may
- Padraig O'Morain, "Evening Herald" (Sept'08)
Make no mistake about it: immigration, displacement
and the resulting social upheavals are the key issues facing this country.
Real politics will be determined at the point where economics, demography,
immigration and geography intersect. At the moment we are witnessing a
phoney war, characterised by oversensitivity, overblown rhetoric and ham
indignation, the winner being he who shouts loudest or he who feigns most
injury. By 2016 — 100 years after Pearse & Co fought for "Ireland for
the Irish" — close to 15pc of the Irish population could be immigrants.
But where are we all likely to live? The CSO attempted to answer this in
a fascinating publication last May when it confirmed what most of us privately
suspected — that Dublin between the canals will be a largely non-Irish
zone by 2021.
- David McWilliams, "The Brave New World", in "The Irish Independent"
The State is spending around €150m a
year hosting a "United Nations" of nationalities in rented properties,
according to new figures. People from 161 different countries, ranging
from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, are in receipt of the free rental allowance.
They account for 39pc of the 63,000 people on the means-tested scheme,
which costs a total of €390m annually and is generally open only to
those who are unemployed. Although 61pc of people on the scheme are Irish,
the numbers of immigrants on rent allowance has been increasing steadily.
There are more than 3,000 from Nigeria, 3,000 from the UK, 1,950 from Poland
and 1,130 from Romania... Labour deputy leader Joan Burton, who obtained
the figures, said it was extremely worrying if young immigrants from Eastern
European states were on the rent supplement scheme due to unemployment.
The number of people on the scheme has almost doubled from 32,000 in 1995
to 63,000 this year.
- Michael Brennan, "The Irish Independent" (Aug'08)
The people who come second in the rent-allowance
league table are the Nigerians -- barely less than the British, with 3,024
claimants. But whereas the British figure constitutes just 2.7pc of the
total population of Britons living here, the figure for Nigerians is 18.6pc
of their total Irish population of 16,300. Alas, just how many more Nigerian
dependents are the beneficiaries of the rent allowances that are being
granted to the 3,024 family-heads, I cannot say. Now this reliance upon
the state for the accommodation of so many Nigerians reflects another rather
uncomfortable truth which was revealed in the 2006 census, but which has
never -- so far as I know -- been highlighted in the media. It is this:
contrary to almost all predictions about the impact of immigrants upon
an economy, a majority of Nigerians are not economically active at all.
For even at the height of the boom, in 2006, only 38pc over the age of
15 were at work... Why are so many people, from a country to which we have
no moral or legal or historical obligations, living off this state? Why
are they being allowed through immigration, if they have no jobs to go
to? Why are they choosing to come to Ireland, when 20 countries or more
lie between their homeland and ourselves? And finally, and perhaps most
important of all, why is no one else asking why?
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
While 8pc of the working population in Ireland
are migrant workers, we were one of a number of countries that had done
"virtually nothing" to create migration policies, said Peter Sutherland,
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's representative on migration.
- see in "The Irish Independent"
Despite the February
2003 Supreme Court judgement denying parents the right to automatic citizenship,
the numbers of pregnant women coming here actually increased last year.
The document shows that the number of births to non-nationals in Dublin's
three maternity hospitals rose from 4,440 in 2002 (before the Supreme Court
judgement) to 5,471 in 2003. This represented a rise of 19.9 per cent of
all births in Dublin in 2002 to 23.9 per cent in 2003. Last year asylum
applications were received from 1,893 pregnant women.
- The Sunday Independent looks at the facts underlying the Citizenship Referendum
A major cross-border
investigation has reportedly uncovered widespread social welfare fraud
by asylum seekers and other immigrants. Reports this morning said the inquiry
had uncovered significant numbers of foreign nationals taking advantage
of the common travel area between the Republic and the UK to defraud the
Irish Exchequer. One Nigerian couple was reportedly found to be registered
for benefits despite owning a four-star hotel in Lagos, while a foreign
woman living in Co Meath was found to be claiming benefits of almost €3,000
per month even though her husband was working as a fully qualified doctor
- News article on Online.ie
on a European-wide system have revealed that more than one in 10 asylum
seekers in Ireland has already claimed refugee status elsewhere in the
EU. Staff from the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (Orac)
have tightened their scrutiny of asylum claims and are looking for tell-tale
signs from application forms that the would-be refugees have already tried
elsewhere. This is being backed up by greater use of the Eurodac fingerprinting
system... The applications commissioner, David Costello, reported that
a total of 3,985 applications were received last year, representing a drop
of more than 7pc when compared to 2006, and the lowest number since 1997.
The admission of Romania to the EU last year was a significant factor in
the reduction in applications.
- Tom Brady, "The Irish Ind." (Jun'08)
Four out of five asylum
seekers have been caught making false claims by 'language detectives' who
can tell where they really come from, the Irish Independent has learned.
The language analysis tests are being used because of "ongoing evidence"
of efforts to undermine the State's asylum system, according to the Office
of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC). In some cases, asylum
seekers from a "safe state" are claiming to be from another country which
is generally regarded as having serious human rights issues. Some 140 applicants
have now undergone the tests in order to verify their ethnic origin. Only
one out of every five applicants tested are from where they claim. A spokeswoman
for the ORAC said a significant number of applicants provide no passport
or documentary evidence which might support their statements as to their
identity, nationality, ethnic origin or how they arrived in Ireland.
- Seen in The Irish Independent (Dec'08)
Seven out of ten applicants
for asylum here already have an immigration history in the UK. Unpublished
end-of-year statistics also revealed that 1,000 bogus asylum seekers have
left the State in the past year. The end-of-year total represents
a 23pc increase on the corresponding figure for 2007. These included over
160 who were deported, another 530 who were moved back to the EU country
where they first applied for asylum under the Dublin II convention, and
a further 530 who availed of the voluntary return programme rather than
await deportation. Immigration officials reckon that about 70pc of those
found to have breached the Dublin II convention -- which aims to prevent
an applicant from submitting applications in multiple EU member states
-- were subsequently traced and transferred. Officials said the rise in
bogus asylum seekers last year was due to the increasing scale of enforcement
- Seen in The Irish Independent (Jan'09)
Despite what one may
hear from alarmist media commentators, the race card is rarely played by
politicians in this country. The racism card, by contrast, is slammed onto
the table at every opportunity by all too many trendy lefties who apparently
see the charge as an unbeatable trump.
- Liam Fay, "The Sunday Times"
They call it the dog
whistle. You work out what voters are prejudiced about — immigrants, say
then you subtly indicate that you share their concerns. Nothing so ham-fisted as playing the race card,
mind. The signal is called the dog whistle because it isn’t just off the record, it’s off the scale. Labour’s
Michael D Higgins is wise to such skulduggery. During the citizenship referendum, he accused the justice minister Michael McDowell of speaking "out of the side of (his) mouth" to racist voters, assuring them
he’s "doing something about the other thing". We await with interest Higgins’s response to the
insinuations by the Labour leader, Pat Rabbitte, about the threat to Irish jobs posed by "40m or so
- Liam Fay, "The Sunday Times"
It may be facile to
compare the attitudes of Irish emigrants to Britain and America with those
of migrants relocating here. But our emigrants were also mindful of the
fact that they were guests and that their hosts were entitled to our gratitude,
respect and hard work. There is no record of any Irish emigrant landing
in a foreign country and demanding to know what rights had been put in
place for them, what benefits they were entitled to, and what concessions
would be made to minimise their inconvenience and discomfort.
- Brenda Power, "The Sunday Times"
Everyone who conducts
a conversation in Irish could just as easily do so in English. Outside
the truly Gaeltacht areas — a tiny fraction of the country where the language
is a true mother tongue — the language is less a regular medium of exchange
than a cringingly self-conscious form of cultural sport. There is more
Chinese or Polish being spoken in Ireland at this moment than Irish. But
that's not the reason why the language is doomed. The Irish language is
doomed because of the McLuhanesque glow of self-satisfaction that surrounds
'participation' in it by those who believe that the medium is the message.
Or in plainer English the Chinese and Poles speak their languages to communicate
truths that exist in the real world. Regular Irish speakers outside the
Gaeltacht are mere participants in a 'movement'.
- Policy Watch from the Open Republic Institute
"If the Irish don't
speak Irish, why should I have to?"
- Marcio Chaves, "What Immigrants Really Think", "The Irish Independent"
To all those people
that believe the Irish language is what makes you Irish let me put your
mind at ease: you have an identity stronger than mere language. Many of
us foreigners have a very distinct idea of Ireland and the Irish people
and yet are completely oblivious to the fact that there is an Irish language.
Also, if I've got your history correct, for over 800 years of occupation
the Irish language dwindled and declined but the Irish identity never did.
The irony here is that many of the people I've come across who learnt Irish
as a second language tend to be pretentious, pompous snobs.
- Jamie, with a letter to Dublin's "Metro"
These idiots who say
Ireland needs to promote Irish are like dogs who chase cars. If they ever
get what they want, they won't know what to do with it because it's useless
- A text to Dublin's Metro
Real traits of Ireland's
culture are determined by forces beyond the control of our politically
correct chattering classes. These forces include Ireland's membership of
Western civilization with its Christian values and its emphasis on individual
liberty. It is important, while looking back at the rich history of Ireland,
not to lose sight of the importanec that Christian and Western principles,
such as tolerance, compassion, respect for liberty and self-determination,
belief in moral values and justice, have played in the past... On the other
hand, it's impossible to imagine that any modern society can owe anything
at all to the fossilised ethnicity of the Celtic tribes... It has no connection
to reality beyond that grafted onto our psyche by the romantic intellectuals
of the 19th century. All immigrants have a duty to learn, respect and embrace
the cultural and moral values of their new country if they want to make
it their new home. On the other hand, Ireland should help the newcomers
to integrate into its culture. It should not change its identity to suit
the new residents, but should offer them an equal opportunity and demand
from them their equal share of responsibilities. Living in a new country
is a privilege. It must be earned. This privilege becomes meaningless if
it is extended without an effort.
- Constantin Gurdgiev, responding to Enda Kenny's "Celtic and Christian" speech, "Irish Ind."
The only reason that
Irish was made an official EU language was to generate jobs for Irish speakers.
Or, more accurately, to give those who speak Irish an advantage over Irish
people who do not. This approach has been State policy since its foundation
— in education and public service jobs. If Irish really is 'our' language,
why is it necessary to pump so much public money into it to keep the corpse
twitching? Why did it take the Government 34 years of EU membership to
discover the urgent need to make it an official language? Maybe it's time
we had a referendum on the status of Irish as our "first national language"?
- John Cassidy, with an email to Dublin's "Metro" (Jan'07)
Over one fifth of pupils
leave school functionally illiterate, the greatest proportion in Europe,
and though the sheer amount of time spent on trying to teach working class
children Irish cannot he held solely responsible for their abysmal intellectual
condition, it must be a major contributory factor.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
The one worry would
be that this could mean that foreigners will now start taking all the jobs
been traditionally reserved for culchies.
- Brendan O'Connor, as Chinese people apply to join the Gardai, "Sunday Independent"
"Muslims have been
asked to reject polygamy to get Irish citizenship: when they meet Irish
women they'll realise why we don't recommend more than one wife."
- From "People Are Talking" In "The Sunday Independent"
"We must take action
against those who try to enter the country illegally and against those
facilitate them. To suggest that we should take no action to combat illegal immigration, trafficking and
people smuggling on the basis that it may affect asylum-seekers is unsustainable. To do so would leave
Ireland open to this evil trade, playing into the hands of international organised criminals."
- John O'Donoghue, then Minister for Justice
When you repeatedly
indoctrinate any group about their rights, but not their duties, the result
is a socially-dysfunctional minority who believe that they should be allowed
to do as they want — spending summers on the road, halting as they like,
and even claiming the dole wherever convenient. Irish farmers, helpless
before the law, have taken to spreading pig slurry whenever travellers
camp on their land. Prosperous Ireland is now sucking immigrant workers
from around the world, yet unemployment among traveller males stands at
75 per cent. there is nothing romantic about traveller life. It is patriarchal,
caste-based, dirty, diseased, alcoholic, illiterate, violent, misogynistic
(often brutally so), low-achieving - two thirds of traveller-children have
abandoned all education by the age of 15 - and, most of all, short.
Only multicultural mumbo-jumbo at its most fatuous crowns this dismal tribal phenomenon with the title "culture". The world will be far happier when the traveller-tradition is hastened to a humane end.
- Kevin Myers, "The Gypsy Problem", "The Telegraph"
It is culturally acceptable
in some societies, for instance, to accept the barbarous practice of female
circumcision. Is that something we are prepared to tolerate in Ireland?
After all, if we are to be multi-cultural, do we have the right to judge
or condemn someone else's culture?
Irish Travellers, for instance, have for years been given a free moral pass by a settled community that is largely afraid to publicly condemn them for fear of being called 'racist' — a ludicrous proposition, since we are all Irish anyway, but a loaded term which is used by many Traveller advocacy groups whenever someone questions their practices. If someone wants to live in squalor by the side of a ditch that is their business, but when was the last time a truant officer went into a Traveller encampment to find out why their children weren't attending school? The very people who shout the loudest about tolerance and multi-culturalism are, in their own subconscious way, the most racist of all.
- Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"
Let's say that Travellers
aren't Irish like the rest of the country. Where do the originally come
from? How did they get here? And, seeing as they're always moaning, why
do they stay? And coming on the same day that Michael McDowell said any
non-nationals from outside the EU who committed a crime would be faced
with automatic deportation, does this mean Travellers now face the same
- Ian O'Doherty, on moves to class Travellers as an ethnic group, "The Irish Independent"
It's quite scandalous
that these two blameless sisters should have to spend any time at all in
jail when their only crime was to kill a man - a mere man. However, there
are reasons why they're going to jail, when normally women who kill men
don't. Firstly, they made the blunder of killing an African, and our liberal
bien-pensant (right thinking) classes probably wouldn't be too happy seeing
white girls getting away with killing a black man. In the hierarchy of
permanent and professional victimhood, an African is considered to be even
more oppressed than white women. Which is no doubt why absolutely no questions
have been asked about how this bogus asylum-seeker and criminal managed
to convince the authorities he was a Somalian escaping Islamic terror in
his own land, even becoming an Irish national, when he was in fact an illegal
immigrant from Kenya who found Ireland a soft touch. Moreover, the Mulhalls
probably didn't read newspapers. If they had done, they would have known
now Irish courts don't really punish women who kill white men, provided
they'd played they cards right.
- Kevin Myers, on the 'Scissor Sisters' murder trial, "The Irish Independent"
Foreign criminals are
being allowed to roam undocumented around Ireland, the Garda Representatives
Conference conference heard yesterday. New legislation was needed to ensure
that gardai could keep trace of the movements of foreign nationals with
criminal records, it was told... Cork West delegate Pat Sullivan claimed
a number of foreign nationals had arrived here with previous records for
sexual assault and paedophilia-linked crimes, but they had then refused
to sign on the sex offenders' register. He called for changes in the legislation
to make it more difficult for that group to avoid signing the register
and for stiff penalties for those who failed.
- seen in "The Irish Independent"
More than a quarter
of fatal stabbing victims since 2003 have been foreign nationals, while
40% of all stabbing-related deaths have involved foreigners as either victims
or perpetrators, a Sunday Tribune investigation has found. Over the past
five-and-a-half years, 100 people have been fatally stabbed and 26 of these
victims were immigrants. Foreign nationals were charged or suspected by
gardaí to have fatally stabbed other non-nationals in more than
half (14) of these killings... The most recent census found that foreign
nationals accounted for more than 10% of the population so the number of
immigrants stabbed to death is highly disproportionate.
- Ali Bracken, "The Sunday Tribune" (Jun'08)
The average cost of
keeping an offender in custody last year was €97,700, according to
the Irish Prison Service's annual report. Almost one-third of the total
number of people committed in 2007 were non-nationals, according to the
report. Overall, 6,447 were Irish nationals or 66.4 of the number of people
sentenced a decrease of 352 on the corresponding 2006 figure of 6,799.
Other EU nationals (excluding Ireland) accounted for 1,354 or 13.9 per
cent of the total number of people committed last year. Asian nationals
accounted for 611 or 6.3 per cent of committals while there were 303 Central
and South American nationals who were committed to prison in 2007.
- Seen in The Irish Times (Dec'08)
Teachers last night
gave a guarded backing to calls for immigrant children who cannot speak
English properly to be "segregated" in our classrooms. This followed a
Fine Gael call yesterday for the Government to separate immigrant children
with poor language skills from the rest of their classmates. The party's
education spokesman, Brian Hayes, said children should not be put into
a mainstream class until they have a competence for it. He added: "And
if that requires segregation, well then we have got to segregate the child
in the best interests of that child." He said he was also aware that many
parents were frustrated at the effect the lack of segregation was having
on the education of their English-speaking children. Secondary teachers'
union ASTI last night said they preferred not to use the word "segregation".
But they gave their backing to the concept of immigrant children being
taught apart, temporarily, in secondary schools.
- Seen in "The Irish Independent" (Aug'08)
'White flight' is the
emotive term coined in the United States to describe the exodus of whites,
post-racial desegregation, from areas where their children would be forced
to go to school with lots of black children. 'White flight' became a byword
for racism, sometimes rightly so, but not always. This term has lately
been introduced into Irish public debate. What's the context? As reported
in this paper the other day, the Catholic Church (among others) has noticed
that some parents are not sending their kids to the local school but are
instead skipping over to the next school in order to avoid their children
having to mix with too many kids from ethnic minority backgrounds. This
has been described by some as 'white flight'.
But is 'white flight' a fair term? It all depends. If a parent takes their children out of the local school simply because a large minority, or maybe even a majority, of their classmates are from Africa, that would be appalling and a major cause of scandal. It would be racism pure and simple.
However, suppose a lot of the class can't speak English and the teacher is spending a lot of time with them, meaning the education of the rest of the kids is suffering? Wouldn't this be a legitimate concern for any parent and wouldn't it be grossly unfair to accuse such a parent of 'white flight' for removing their kid from such a school? The question hardly needs to be answered.
What would you do in similar circumstances given the opportunity? If you thought your child would get a better education at the school a neighbourhood away, rather than at the one around the corner, wouldn't you send your kid to that school?
Some argue that the common good demands that parents keep their children in racially diverse schools. But what the common good really demands is that you be prepared to make a sacrifice of your own interests for its sake. No-one can reasonably ask a parent to sacrifice their children's interests for the sake of the common good. In fact, not only has a parent the right to seek the best possible education for their children, they have a duty to do so, and to even implicitly accuse them of racism for carrying out this duty is fantastically unfair...
The State has a responsibility to ensure that immigrants are not allowed into a country faster than they can be absorbed. If they are being brought in so fast that they put a strain on physical infrastructure, or on the school system, then the State has to review immigration policy. The State has either got to put the resources into schools to cope with large numbers of non-English speakers, or it has to slow down immigration. Until either one of these things is done, let's not even think of blaming parents for looking after their children.
- David Quinn, State is to blame for 'white flight', "Irish Ind".
### IRELAND AND EUROPE ###
>> Quotes on the EU Constitution are on main Europe page
# LISBON REACTION
Real people 1, Eurocrats
- Headline in The Times
"People feel despised
and cheated by their leaders... We have taken the vampire out of its box
and killed it three times now. They have to listen to us."
- Emmanuel Bordez of Mouvement pour la France
"Your boss, Jose Manuel
Barroso, says the treaty's not dead, it's still alive. Can you explain
to voters what they would have to do to kill it?"
- Gavin Esler, interviewing Margot Wallstrom on BBC Newsnight
"The good news is nobody's
dead and we haven't been kicked out of the European Union. The bad news
is that other member states want Ireland to continue with the ratification
- Sean Whelan, RTE's Europe correspondent
"The treaty is very
clear — you need unanimity. You have to get the Irish to vote again and
if Cowen says he can't, I don't see 26 countries who would want to isolate
him. I don't think the Czechs, Poles, British, Swedes and Danes would follow
- EU official interviewed in the International Herald Tribune
"It would be ridiculous
to ask the Irish to vote twice, when we haven't even been allowed to vote
- David Cameron, UK Conservative leader
"EU leaders will never
consult us again. The EU will simply implement the Lisbon Treaty and never
risk a referendum again."
- Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP
Why am I so confident
that the Lisbon treaty is going to be implemented? Because, contrary to
widespread protestations, Europe’s leaders actually have a plan B. It is
not a pretty plan. Just listen to what senior French and German politicians
had to say over the weekend. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign
minister, suggested on Saturday that one way to implement the treaty was
for Ireland to withdraw temporarily from the process of European integration.
This is a fairly exotic comment for an otherwise non-exotic minister. I
had no idea that that you could temporarily withdraw from the EU and rejoin
it later, as though you were buying a forward contract with an option attached.
What he is saying in effect is that Ireland should quit the EU.
Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the French European minister, said something similar. He talked about a “legal arrangement” with the Irish. It seems to me that France and Germany have put some thought into how to drive the Irish out of the EU if they fail to reverse their No vote...
Ireland could hold a second referendum. One possibility would be to ask the same question again, but it is difficult to see what should produce a different result... An alternative would be a referendum with a differently worded question, such as: “Do you want to remain in the EU on the basis of the Lisbon treaty?” Of course, this bundles two questions many people would like to answer separately. Yes, stay in the EU, No to Lisbon. But folding the two into a single question is politically more honest because it is Ireland’s only real-world choice.
What if the Irish government refused to hold a second referendum? In that case I would suspect a frantic discussion about enforcing the Lisbon treaty without the Irish. I honestly have no idea of how this could work. I know this appears to be in contravention of European law. But then again, European law may not be quite as predictable as you may think. It is not enforced by pundits, but by an often unpredictable court. My hunch is that if the 26 member states really wanted to do this, they would find a legal way.
- Wolfgang Münchau, "Financial Times"
The contrast with German
reactions to the French "no" in 2005 is striking. When the French say "no",
Europe has a problem. When Ireland says "no", Ireland has a problem. There's
one law for the big and another for the small... It cannot be," said interior
minister Wolfgang Schäuble, an old advocate of a core Europe, "that
a few million Irish make the decision for 495 million Europeans." That
would be right if the EU were a direct democracy; but it isn't a direct
democracy... Each democratic member-state has to reach its own decision
in its own way. That's time-consuming. As in a convoy, or an extended family,
everything takes longer. Slower ships and curmudgeonly cousins must be
attended to. But that's exactly what it means to be a European Union, not
a hegemon-dominated alliance or a United States of Europe.
- Timothy Garton Ash, "The Guardian"
The Sunday edition
of the Frankfurter Allgemeine argued that it was unfair to treat the Irish
No differently to the French and Dutch Nos in 2005. "It's an illusion to
believe this series of negative referendums are individual national accidents
that have nothing to do with the EU. The Brussels quasi-natural tendency
towards centralisation now faces a model that would make a lot of work
for bureaucrats, but which would find great consensus among Europeans:
Welt am Sonntag asked: "Should 860,000 Irish people be allowed to stop 495 million Europeans? Yes, they should, because that's what was agreed. What does this vote mean? That Europe cannot be created behind the backs of the people." The newspaper said that politicians who object to the Irish vote would prefer, as Bertold Brecht once remarked, to "dissolve the people and elect another."
- Derek Scally, covering Germany reaction to the vote, "Irish Times"
"You'll hear emotional,
hysterical, excessive declarations," Hubert Védrine, who as France's
foreign minister oversaw negotiation of the Nice Treaty, predicted. "They'll
say, 'We cannot let this little country stop the rest going forward,' but
that's meaningless in international law, which requires unanimous ratification
of treaties. At the end of the day, everyone will calm down." Until now,
Europe has advanced through what Mr Védrine calls "enlightened despotism".
"European elites want to act as if they're in a federation. But it's not
a federation. You cannot make peoples disappear. So we're going in circles,"
he said. "We're wasting time looking for the ideal treaty when we should
be concentrating our efforts on having policies on energy, on ecology,
on how to act towards China . . . It's not treaties that prevent us doing
Though he regrets the Irish No vote, he thinks it's "an illusion" to think the future of Europe can be solved by treaties. The Irish vote may mark "the end of the utopian, federalist dream of a United States of Europe. For 10 or 15 years, people have been showing that they are happy to live in peace, to co-operate and have shared projects, but they don't want to be merged together. The elites don't accept this idea, so they keep trying to invent new mechanisms."
- seen in The Irish Times
of people who voted 'No' in the Lisbon Treaty referendum mistakenly believed
the pact could be easily renegotiated. A major survey of voters conducted
by the European Commission immediately after last Thursday's referendum
reveals why a majority of Irish people rejected the treaty... The huge
influx of immigrants into the country was a factor in the 'No' vote.
- Fionnan Sheehan, putting his spin on the leaked poll in The Irish Ind (17.06.08)
An impressive 76% of
“no” voters supported the view that the “no” vote would allow the Irish
government to renegotiate “exceptions” within the treaty, whereas only
38% of “yes” voters held this opinion...
At the bottom of the list, just 1% of all survey responses adjudged the “no” votes that they cast to be either a way of avoiding an influx of immigrants or as a method of saying that the treaty did not need fixing, as it was “fine”.
- Actual content of Eurobarometer poll released on 20.06.08
Open Europe has caught
the European Commission out in some outrageous spinning. Before the recent
summit, the Commission circulated a briefing note to journalists that stated
that 40 percent of No voters in Ireland voted no because they didn’t understand
or were not familiar with the Lisbon Treaty. However, the Commission’s
Eurobarometer poll published yesterday shows that this isn’t true. It reports
that only 22 percent of No voters said that they voted no for these reasons.
This raises the question of where did the Commission’s 40 percent figure
come from? As Open Europe says, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that
the Commission were stretching the numbers in an attempt to persuade journalists
that the Irish had voted no out of ignorance and so the vote could legitimately
be re-run. It is another indicator of how reluctant the Euro-elite is to
accept the result of the Irish referendum.
- James Sheehan, "The Spectator"
Things like conscription
seem daft. But other Europeans have national service for their young people.
The prospect of a unified EU defence is real and so is the idea of a European
army. While the actual provision of conscription was not in Lisbon, people
believe they can see the direction we are heading with each succeeding
treaty. And they are right. But this demonising of No voters has got to
stop. We're getting close to the old Soviet idea of opposition: if you
don't love the regime, there must be something wrong with you.
- Off the Bull Wall, in Dublin's "Northside People"
It has been alleged
that the new provisions in the area of enhanced co-operation will somehow
result in a two-tier Europe. This is just not true. In practice
we already have examples, above all the Euro, where different Member States
move forward at different paces. Enhanced co-operation is about creating
the possibility of some flexibility on a case-by-case basis in a Union
of up to 27. It is not about creating a permanent vanguard or inner core.
- Brian Cowen, defending the Nice Treaty in 2002
A spokesman for the
Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday said that there was now a possibility of
a two-tier Europe, with Ireland being left behind. “This is a difficult
situation not just for Ireland, but for Europe,” he added.
- Seen in "The Irish Independent" after Lisbon is rejected (Jun'08)
Adherence to a principle
can often result in apparently wrong decisions. Many individuals have reason
to believe that the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' has allowed
miscreants to escape justice. Nevertheless, the principle remains fundamental
to the fair running of all EU judicial systems. Democracy, I suggest, has
an equally fundamental principle: that the democratic process is more
important than any single objective. For, if you find a way to formally
thwart the process once — no matter how important, beneficial or noble
the objective — then that process is rendered worthless. I therefore urge
EU representatives and all sovereign EU governments, especially our own,
to keep true to the principles of democracy (and their word) and to let
the Lisbon Treaty go. Otherwise, you'll do more than lose our trust: you'll
be putting democracy at risk.
- Ranald Milne, in a letter to the "Irish Independent"
For centuries, another
country dominated us. Opposition to the rulers became second nature to
the politically conscious. As an independent nation, we grew accustomed
to democracy and expert in our operation of it. But when the opportunity
arises, we can revert to type. That is by no means a fanciful explanation.
Practical experience bears it out. Twice we turned down a proposition to
change the voting system which might have led to permanent Fianna Fail
rule. But that did not prevent us from supporting that party in general
elections. And in general elections -- or local or European elections --
we have always known what we were voting for, in terms of policies and
personalities. That was emphatically not the case in this week's referendum.
The proposal put before us had two weaknesses which ultimately proved fatal.
First, the treaty is hideously long, complex and difficult to read. There was no easy way to explain the treaty, but it is ridiculous to imagine that the best brains in Dublin and Brussels could not find one. Yet we were told instead not to bother our pretty little heads about it.
Secondly, the rulers of Europe, when they come to take the implications of the Irish vote on board, must accept that Irish misgivings echo those in many other countries and that populations, for reasons which include mere puzzlement, neither understand nor share the desire of the elite for closer union. They do not wish to confer power, whose extent they do not know, on institutions they do not trust.
- Editorial on "Life After Lisbon", "Irish Ind."
We didn't accept the
Lisbon Treaty, not because we didn't understand it, as many people are
claiming today, but because we understood some bits of it only too well.
We were uneasy that the so-called more efficient running of the Union meant
a downgrading of the power of the 23 smaller states. We were uneasy with
a treaty that required member states to boost their 'military capabilities',
that made the liberalisation and privatisation of public services a constitutional
goal, that sought to concentrate power still further in the Commission
and Council, that opened up transport and energy to enforced private competition,
and that increased the powers of the European Court of Justice. Ireland's
decisions was taken for our own reasons... We are people with a long-held
suspicion about the concentration of power in foreign hands because
we know that political autonomy and economic freedom can, indeed, must,
go hand in hand.
- Eoghan Corry, "The Evening Herald"
The common thread that
drew the seemingly incoherent worries of the Irish groups campaigning against
the Lisbon treaty is democracy. The left didn't want to cede power to Brussels
to determine health policy, the liberal right didn't want to cede power
to determine tax, conservative Catholics didn't want social policy regarding
abortion or euthanasia determined by the EU. Whether the Lisbon treaty
in fact ceded this power to the EU is a matter of debate - a debate the
yes side didn't entertain. But there was a common fear that democracy was
under threat. If the EU responds to the concerns of its supporters it can
extricate itself from this problem. If it chooses to ignore these concerns
it will deepen the divide between the political elites and the citizens.
This will leave us vulnerable to the rhetoric of populist nationalist parties
and all that goes with it.
- Dr Eoin O'Malley, in a letter to The Guardian
"Is it possible that
citizens experience the EU nowadays primarily in terms of rather intrusive
bureaucracy, oppressive legislation and insecure economics rather than
as a social project based on fundamental human values?"
- Sean Brady, Catholic Primate of Ireland, addressing Oireachtas Lisbon committee
Just this week, for
example, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed to hear a complaint
by three Irish women that their rights under the European Convention on
Human Rights have been violated because they were unable to have an abortion
in Ireland. Did we ever think this would happen when we signed the European
Convention on Human Rights? Decisions of the ECHR are not yet binding in
Irish law. On the other hand, the European Court of Justice, an institution
of the EU, will gain immeasurably more power over Irish law if the Lisbon
treaty and the accompanying Charter of Fundamental Rights is ever passed.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the manner in which Ireland is being made ever more subject to international human rights law, and to international courts and human rights bodies. We were then appearing before the UN Human Rights Committee to give an account of ourselves. International law should exist for one reason alone; and that is to try and prevent severe violations of fundamental human rights of the sort that are presently occurring in Zimbabwe and Darfur.
International bodies have no business telling countries like Ireland that they have too many denominational schools, or that they should change the constitutional definition of the family, which is what the UN Human Rights Committee has just told us. This is a totally unwarranted interference in the affairs of a sovereign state.
That our politicians, allied with certain Irish NGOs, should cooperate with such a process is quite simply grotesque. We have to wake up to the fact that the more power we cede to judges, lawyers and other experts, whether they are based in Ireland or overseas, the less democratic we become. The heart of democracy in any country has to be the national legislature with its elected representatives, not the courts and the law library.
- David Quinn, "The Irish Independent" (Aug'08)
Is it any wonder our
voters didn’t buy the suggestion that Lisbon was about enhancing democracy
when other colleagues went to such lengths to prevent ordinary people from
having a say? The safeguards for national parliaments didn’t look very
meaningful when set alongside the areas made subject to qualified majority
We need to deliver tangible benefits from the European project within our current structures. Only when we have done so should we contemplate going back to our electorates with a new constitutional treaty. For your perusal, I enclose a copy of Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of Ireland. You will notice that it extends to a mere 64 pages of large text. Perhaps there is a message in that for all of us.
- Stephen King, drafting a response for Brian Cowen if Lisbon is rejected, "The Examiner"
Whatever we do, now
and in the future, will depend on ourselves and on our political shrewdness
- Bruce Arnold, "The Irish Ind."
Ireland is seen as
awkward, demanding, critical, independent and unashamedly self-centerd.
On Thursday, we nakedly voted for the interests of Ireland, not for the
hidden agenda of European governments. Not a bad place to be. The result
can only be a better deal for Ireland. We will have earned respect, as
well as irritation.
- Senator Shane Ross, "The Sunday Ind."
Never in the history
of unholy alliances has a coalition ranging from the impossible to the
unspeakable inflicted on the Irish establishment such a smashing blow as
the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
- James Downey, "The Irish Ind."
(1) The superficial
and inept presentation of the seriousness and meaning of the Lisbon Treaty
by the Referendum Comission.
(2) The deliberate confusion and obfuscation about Lisbon, the fact that it altered for ever our citizenship, reduced our democratic strengths and safeguards, took away key rights and never explained these things.
(3) There should never have been a three-party Yes vote pact. This saw the Opposition leaders taking on the objectives of the government and speaking for only the Yes side of the population... It was their business to take care of the doubt and uncertainty, not to hector it... Politicians should allay concerns of ignorance and fear. The 'Big Names' among pro-Europe disciples and apostles did the opposite.
(4) Brian Cowen turned it into a one-sided campaign. He prejudiced the outcome. He was over confident, thinking that buying over objectors, like the farmers, would be admired and get him more votes. It had the opposite effect. He has divided the country not on party lines — which would be bad anyway — but on irreconcilable arguments many of which were not really arguments at all. He eased no fears and explained his way through none of the ignorance that was so damaging to the Yes side.
- Bruce Arnold, on why Lisbon was rejected, "The Irish Ind."
It is neither the Yes
voters nor the No voters that are to blame, except in the ways they treated
each other. Theirs was a sovereign right, in our democracy, to vote in
accordance with their views and judgments and it will be a sad day when
scuch freedom is brought under non-democratic control. No, the fault was
Europe's. The EU has distanced itself so far from the people that their
ruling junta is no longer liked nor trusted by the people. They do not
understand its laws. They do not even understand its language which, though
in English, is largely a form of gobbledygook. It had given us much, with
more to come. But it does not know how to communicate and has become comprehensively
arrogant about its own rights.
- Bruce Arnold, "The Irish Ind."
Irish voters sent a
clear message to Brussels last week: we won’t be bullied into “ever closer
union”. And if you had any doubts that voting against the Lisbon treaty
was the right decision, then the reaction following Thursday’s vote should
have put those to rest. From the moment it became clear that the No campaign
was going to win, Europe’s political elite has been parading in front of
the TV cameras to assure anyone who will listen that they won’t be influenced
by the Irish decision... In the Brussels bubble the discussion now is all
about how to force-feed the country a treaty that it says it doesn’t want.
After all, the wheels have already been set in motion. There are big empty
offices in Brussels waiting for the new EU leaders to take up their posts.
A little country like Ireland can’t be allowed to get in the way. With
that kind of reaction, you begin to wonder why Ireland was allowed a vote
- Neil O’Brien, "The Sunday Times"
Instead of analysing
how the European Union can be made more accountable to its citizens, its
elite is more concerned with devising clever ways of pulling the wool over
the eyes of the public. It’s the sort of Yes Minister trickery that saw
the rejected EU constitution transformed into the almost identical Lisbon
treaty. The big difference between the two documents was not their content
– as its chief architect Valéry Giscard d’Esta-ing, the former French
president, was quick to admit – but the fact that the treaty did not have
to be put in front of the rest of Europe’s electorate... It is
not the treaty that is dead, but Europe’s democratic process.
- The Sunday Times leader "Contempt for Democracy"
Eight decades ago,
Britain gave Ireland back her sovereignty. Today, it seems the people of
that glorious country have returned the favour... Yet again, the EU project
has failed; unable to pass the tiniest bit of democracy from the European
people. This tells you all you need to know about its true nature. There
is something odious about a politicians’ project whose success depends
on its ability to circumvent the people they purport to represent. For
years their central deception has been encapsulated by the question: “do
you want more powers to pass to the EU, or do you secretly hate foreigners?”
- Fraser Nelson, "The Spectator"
Interruptions and flag
waving marked the EU Parliament's debate on the future of the treaty. European
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the ratification of
the Lisbon Treaty must continue, a view which was echoed by the majority
of speakers from the main parties.
However, that call was roundly condemned by the UK Independence Party. Its leader Nigel Farrage said it was a disgusting insult to democracy. But UKIP and other eurosceptic MEPs were then criticised by the speaker of the house for wearing green t-shirts and holding up banners saying 'Respect the Irish vote'. They were also criticised by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael MEPs. Brian Crowley said they had disrespected the Irish flag... Leader of the socialist group Martin Schulz called for the removal of Charlie McCreevy as Internal Market Commissioner, claiming his dismissive attitude to the Treaty and disrespect for workers' rights had cost votes.
- Seen on RTE.ie
On Wednesday, members
of the UK Independence Party in the European Parliament donned green t-shirts
to congratulate the electorate of Ireland for voting 'No' to Lisbon. Avril
Doyle MEP, quivering with indignation, promptly denounced UKIP as a motley
collection of Britons. Did she actually hear herself when she thricefold
sneered at the national origins of UKIP?
The default position taken by Irish MEPs supporting the Lisbon Treaty, when confronted by British opponents, wasn't to resort to some non-national, multi-ethnic, single, undivided, pan-Europeanism. No, indeed not. Instead, they reverted to a wrap-the-green-flag-around-me, Brit-bashing, self-pitying, lip-quivering hibernianism. Because, you see, this term "European" apparently only applies to Europeans whom Europhiles approve of: however, if they're dissenting Europeans, why, they're not Europeans at all, but from the country of their birth, and are therefore responsible for all its sins. And not merely are they therefore not European, but their accusers (for the moment anyway) cease to be European too, and reverting to their pre-EU national identity, may freely indulge in pre-EU national stereotyping... Unlike the poisonously jingoistic UKIP, they're such very good and tolerant Europeans: Up The Republic!
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
A happy consequence
of the “No” vote is that the relationship between the UK and its neighbour
is warmer than at any time since the foundation of the Irish Free State...
A consequence of EEC membership was that Eire developed a balanced foreign
policy portfolio, having to give due weight to its relations with France,
Italy, Denmark and so on. As it did so, it found that, more often than
not, its interests coincided with London’s, whether on fisheries, free
movement of people, agricultural exports tax harmonisation or whatever.
Almost without noticing it, the two states fell into the habit of voting
together... Again and again, you will hear it alleged that Ireland’s prosperity
derives from EU subventions. This, indeed, is why many Continental politicians
are so cross: they feel that the Irish have taken their money and run.
They are wrong. Ireland has a modern economy, making money from software,
financial services and other invisibles. None of these sectors owes its
success to EU grants which, au contraire, have largely gone into the slowest-growing
parts of the Irish economy, notably agriculture. No, what made Ireland
rich was a domestic programme of deregulation and tax cuts... Having blogged
extensively about this issue over the past month, I have been struck by
the fact that you can no longer tell who on the comment thread is British
and who Irish. The arguments, on both sides, have become indistinguishable...
At the same time, Irish politicians are closer than ever to their British
counterparts, united by their unpopularity on this issue. “God Save Ireland!”
cried MPs on both sides of the House when John Redmond called on Irishmen
to volunteer for the Great War. Almost from that moment, things started
to go wrong, mainly because of errors on the British side. But the “No”
vote has brought about what could only have been dreamed of then: a British
public that values Irish independence and cheers Irish patriotism.
- Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP, "The Telegraph"
A YouGov poll for Open
Europe finds that by a margin of four to one, British voters think the
Government should drop the treaty and not ratify it. A total of 54
per cent think the constitution by another name should be binned while
just 14 per cent want UK ratification to proceed. That’s the kind of result
you’d expect following Ireland’s brave rejection of the treaty and the
bullying contempt with which that democratic decision has been greeted
by the EU’s political elite. But the antipathy towards the EU runs much
deeper than that. YouGov found that just 29 per cent backed the statement
that “the UK should stay in the EU” while 38 per cent said we should stay
in the single market but “pull out of other political elements of the EU”
while 24 per cent said we should leave the EU altogether. In other words,
just over one voter in four wants to continue our existing relationship
with Brussels while the remaining three-quarters say we should fundamentally
change it or just get out.
- David Hughes, "The Telegraph"
The entire business
and political elite of Ireland combined (as they did in France and Holland
when their referendums rejected the EU constitution in 2005) to tell their
countrymen to vote "Yes". The electorate was threatened, cajoled, blackmailed
and bullied. They were told their economy would collapse and their country
would be ostracised, and still they voted "No".
And what was the response to this, the only expression of popular opinion on the treaty among any of the 27 member states? It was a collective sucking of teeth, a shaking of heads, and expressions of bewilderment that a country that had benefited so mightily and visibly from EU largesse should bite the hand that fed it.
In normal democratic and accountable institutions, the democratic will, voiced several times over, must eventually be heeded. In the EU, as if to prove the point that its detractors continually make about its arrogance and complacency, "No" is not an answer anyone is prepared to accept. Instead of creating the sort of Europe that most of its 480 million citizens apparently want to see, the Euro-elites propose instead to hold more summits and conferences to bring about the conclusion that they insist on achieving. That is the "ever-closer union" set out in the Treaty of Rome 50 years ago... For the British Government to participate in this shameful exercise, when the Irish voted the way Britain would have done if given the chance, is outrageous. European integration cannot be indefinitely maintained in open defiance of public opinion everywhere. Here, in short, is an opportunity for a different and better Europe. No means no.
- Britain's Daily Telegraph leader
It was said as the
ballots piled up in Dublin yesterday that fewer than five million people
were deciding the fate of 500 million. If the EU were now to respect its
own rules and the Irish vote this might be true... This treaty would give
national parliaments a voice in European lawmaking, but a faint and reactive
one at best. That lawmaking, meanwhile, would steadily extend its scope
to energy, security and social policy. Even the most ardent believers in
the European project must see the treaty for what it is: the next stage
in a piecemeal but remorseless increase in the powers of a central secretariat
at the expense of the national democracies that are the wellspring of Europe's
diversity. The Irish have called Lisbon a stage too far... The EU suffers
enough already from a democratic deficit in its institutions. It is in
danger of suffering from democratic denial by plugging its ears to the
voice of Ireland.
- The Times
Last year, EU leaders
seemed to have decided that the problem with the constitution was that
it was far too easy to understand - and therefore frightening to the voters.
As I wrote at the time, the Lisbon Treaty was a quite deliberate effort
to obscure what was being done - and therefore to bore voters and parliaments
into submission. Now that the Irish have nonetheless rejected Lisbon, a
new conventional wisdom is forming - the problem with the treaty is that
it is too difficult to understand.
- Gideon Rachman, "The Financial Times"
Some politicians readily
conclude that it is far too easy to confuse citizens about complicated
issues. To them, this is a proof that referendums are intrinsically bad
and that treaty approval by stealth is justified. This is a deep misunderstanding
of democracy. Our citizens are not confused; they are cynical, and this
is a rational response to our leaders’ cynicism. They vote No to Europe
because they do not have any other means to express their displeasure with
the way the EU is being run. The only votes that they can cast are
for the European parliament, but these elections are really national affairs.
We vote for national parties and the campaigns are almost everywhere dominated
by domestic issues. Citizens do not know much about Europe, simply because
there is no public debate about European affairs. They do not care about
a treaty that will keep them on the sidelines. The treaty matters greatly
for the elites, because it sets the rules by which they play. It is not
just complicated; it is not understandable because it does not address
the everyday concerns of ordinary citizens...
The EU is unique in the world in that some significant chunks of sovereignty have been abandoned by member states for the common good. But this authority has been transferred to unelected officials, notwithstanding the required nod of approval of the European parliament. What kind of a democracy is this, when citizens have no say in the choice of their leaders? Neither the Commission nor its president, who is treated in terms of protocol like a head of state, is chosen as a result of elections in which they ran. The new president of the European Council (the body on which government leaders sit) envisaged in the Lisbon treaty would not be directly elected, either. These figures are selected by heads of governments who were themselves elected for other reasons. No one knows whether the Commission is a legislative or an executive body; strangely, it is both. European citizens would not be so cynical if they were regularly invited to choose the people who run European affairs.
- Charles Wyplosz, "The Financial Times"
There are many reasons
for rejoicing. The rejection of the urgings - sometimes menacing urgings
- of the establishment parties is a testimony to the vibrant self-confidence
of the electorate, no longer deferential to the ‘authorities’. The rejection
of a change to our Constitution (by the unintelligible Lisbon Treaty),
was absolutely the right thing to do... The claim that a treaty that was
contrived to preclude electorates around Europe from having a say in it,
that was presented to the only electorate that could not be circumvented
(the Irish electorate) in a way that prevented them from being able to
make a considered judgment (because of its unintelligibility), that this
could be celebrated as ‘democratic’- that was shameless... It was
a con job because of the contrived unintelligibility factor. True, there
was quite a bit of conning on the No side as well, but those putting forward
the proposition to change our Constitution had a duty to tell us frankly,
truthfully and intelligibly what was involved. They did not do that.
- Vincent Browne, "Rejoice", "Sunday Business Post"
Instead of confidence,
the result speaks more of a desperate desire for things to continue as
they have been. Previously, when we voted on European treaties, we thought
of what we had to gain. This time, we thought of what we have to lose...
It was appropriate that both sides should have accused each other of scaremongering,
for fear was the one area of real common ground. The various No campaigns
formed a loud (if dissonant) orchestra of anxieties - about taxation, abortion,
militarisation. We were even treated to stickers of a nuclear mushroom
cloud, as if Lisbon was a suburb of Armageddon.
But the Yes side indulged in its own brand of counter-terror. While the No campaign was scaring us with what would happen if we voted for Lisbon, the Yes side told us hair-raising tales of what might happen if we didn't - shame, isolation, disinvestment. It managed the extraordinary trick of making the word Yes sound anything but positive. In essence, voters were being asked to decide which brand of trepidation they wanted to buy. Yet this decision to abandon hope, and retain nightmare scenarios instead, didn't just spring spontaneously from the campaigners. It was what they thought we wanted to hear.
The strong No vote also tells us something about the dysfunctional nature of our collective relationship to politics. The same Irish Times poll that showed that most people weren't buying Government reassurances about Lisbon also showed that that same Government would have been comfortably returned to power if there had been a general election on Thursday.
So here's the paradox: we don't trust the people we vote for. We don't believe the people we ask to run the country when they tell us that they know what's good for the country. What on earth is going on here? What's going on is that we have a more or less permanent Fianna Fáil government which holds power almost by default. It dominates the political system not because most voters think it's wonderful but because we're unconvinced by the alternative.
This creates a collective political psyche that could perhaps be called a simmering stability. Beneath a calm surface, resentments boil and bubble. They overflow in unpredictable rages.
- Fintan O'Toole, "The Irish Times"
If there were any last,
few, pitiful remaining scraps of doubt about the depth of the disdain felt
by the European Union’s leaders for the people of their wretched union,
they ought, surely, to have been dispelled by the miserable saga of the
Treaty of Lisbon, the sly, squalid, and cynical pact that has just been
rejected by Irish voters, the only mass electorate given the chance to
do so. From its very beginnings, the Treaty of Lisbon was an exercise in
deception, deliberately designed to deny the EU’s voters any more chances
to slow down the construction of a European superstate that relatively
few, outside an elite chasing power, privilege, and the chance to say “boo”
to America, actually appear to want. Its origins can be found in the 2005
decision by some of those voters, the ones in France and Holland, to take
the opportunity presented by two referenda to say non and nee respectively
to the draft EU constitution that had been prepared so meticulously, so
proudly, and so expensively on their behalf. Lesson learned: The voters
were never again to be trusted. In future they would have to be bypassed.
Nevertheless, in a pantomime of responsiveness to that non and that nee,
the constitution’s ratification process was suspended in the late spring
of 2005. What ensued was officially described as a “period of reflection,”
but was, for the most part, a period of frantic scheming. Its aim: To investigate
how the draft constitution could be revived and, this time, be ratified...
The message was clear: The people had spoken, and they were to be ignored...
Those who now direct the EU project believe in it too much to accept placing
the union’s future in the hands of its voters.
- Andrew Stuttaford, in "National Review"
Have you noticed how
the political establishment hates elections? It regards them as vulgar,
foreign, exhibitionist and unpredictable. To those in power they are mere
concessions to mob rule. If electors did not insist on them, elections
would have been abolished long ago as Victorian gimmicks to appease proletarian
sentiment.There is no other explanation for Westminster's reaction to Ireland's
weekend vote on the Lisbon treaty... Ireland is regarded as too small to
matter, or too stupid to know what it was doing, or too irritating to worry
overworked Eurocrats who might have to renegotiate the rejected document.
The treaty is defunct when rejected by a member of the Union. Yet I have
heard commentators argue that 5 million Irish cannot be allowed to stand
over against 500 million Europeans - as if the rule was not really a rule
and as if the 500 million had ever been asked their view. None had, for
the obvious reason that they would have agreed with the Irish. A writer
in the Financial Times even depicted Ireland as a snivelling little country
that should be kicked into the sea. That is how Belgium and Poland were
once treated. European super-statehood seems to drive people mad... the
contempt shown by Europe's governing elite for the wishes of Europe's peoples
is dangerous. It indicates how far a noble postwar ideal has strayed into
oligarchy and contempt for democracy. The European Union's inability to
clean up its governance, to audit its administration and to put its reform
to public scrutiny has reinforced voter scepticism for politics generally.
Members of the European parliament are now helpless popinjays, as incapable
of controlling Brussels as of limiting their personal greed.
- Simon Jenkins, "The Guardian"
There has been something
staggering and infuriating about the events of the past few days. The response
to the latest setback has been so brazen from the European elite that wants
full integration, it proves those involved have passed beyond a point where
they might feel the slightest embarrassment about appearing not to be good
democrats. In reality, they are now actively anti-democratic in pursuit
of their master plan, revelling in a refusal to acknowledge that voters
might be anything other than sheep needing to be led in the right direction...
Impotent rage is an understandable reaction. Why can those involved not
see that their project lacks any popular mandate and is driven by an elitist
contempt for opinion across Europe? On and on drives the ratification of
Lisbon, and yet there is nothing to be done.
- Iain Murray, "The Telegraph"
The EU has been good
for — and to — Ireland, and the Irish know it. But gratitude is not a blank
check and that, increasingly, is what the electorate came to believe that
it was being asked to sign... As the EU’s bureaucracy has extended its
reach deeper and deeper into territory once reserved to the nation state,
it is bound to provoke opposition, even among many of those who broadly
support European integration. Much of that opposition is reasonable, but
much of it is not, and who is to blame for that? The EU’s political class
has made a mockery of truth for so long that we should not be surprised
that some Irish “no” voters preferred to believe (as, reportedly, some
did) that the Treaty of Lisbon would pave the way for a pan-European draft.
The “no” coalition was wide, messy, crazy, sane, pragmatic, romantic, all-embracing, and self-contradictory, sometimes well-informed, sometimes not, sometimes paranoid, sometimes prescient, sometimes socialist, sometimes free market, sometimes high tax, sometimes low tax, sometimes honest, sometimes not, sometimes more than a little alarming (Sinn Fein was the only official party of any size to lend their support) and sometimes more than a little inspiring. Marvelously, miraculously, they won, and they won well, 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent (on a respectable turnout of 53.1 percent). If you think that sounds like democracy, you’d be right. And if you think that sounds like a nation, you’d be right too.
But if you think that it’s too soon to declare victory, you’d also be right. Early indications are that the ratification process will continue. As Jose Barroso, the EU’s chief bureaucrat, announced within minutes of the Irish result, “the treaty is not dead.”
And that tells you much of what you need to know about the EU.
- Andrew Stuttaford, in "National Review"
Matters as diverse
as the number of commissioners, neutrality and abortion fears could conceivably
be resolved in a Lisbon II by protocol or otherwise. But what will not
be acceded to is what is at the core of the Lisbon Treaty — the mechanisms
for the creation of the EU as a law-making political super-state. What
few seem to have recognised about Lisbon is that the treaty is not designed
as a status quo document, but rather a political engine that, over the
years, will create an evolution towards a European super federal state.
In particular, if ever there was a mechanism for fundamentally changing
and reshaping society, it is the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. As it
says in the Lisbon preamble, this is concerned with citizens’ rights and
the Charter of Fundamental Rights: the Treaty of Lisbon will preserve existing
rights while introducing new ones. In particular, it guarantees the freedoms
and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and gives its
provisions a binding legal force. It concerns civil, political, economic
and social rights. Where once this was the function of Ireland’s legislators
in the Dáil operating under the guidance of the Constitution and
the Supreme Court, post-Lisbon the situation will be fundamentally different.
No wonder both Britain and Poland have opted out of this.
- Tom McGurk, "Sunday Business Post"
The further the E.U.
moves away from its earlier principle of unanimous approval, the less its
member states are self-governing nations. And the citizens of those nations
seem weirdly attached to the idea that they live in self-governing democracies,
with governments accountable directly to them.
- Clive Crook, "National Journal"
The strongest message
out of this is that people want an economic union but they don't want any
kind of political/military union.
- Saratoga, on Politics.ie
There should have been
a box to check on the ballot paper, like when you do the lotto, to make
it good for 2 referenda.
- QuizMaster, on rumours of a Lisbon re-run, on Politics.ie
Politicians that are
not beholden to those they are politicians for are a cancer to democracy.
- Twin Towers, on Politics.ie
Avril Doyle's part
of the European People's Party misnomer which is particularly terrified
of a popular vote by the European People.
- Twin Towers, on the Fine Gael's MEP's hostile reaction to the No vote, Politics.ie
"Sarkozy actually blamed
Mandelson for pissing off Irish farmers."
"Aren't they permanently p*ssed off? Ye know like Muslims?"
- Universal 001, on Politics.ie
"No, no! No, no, no,
no! No, no, no, no! There's no treaty!"
- No campaigners celebrate with a reworking of No Limits
Thanks be to God this
blasted Lisbon Treaty is behind us. I steered clear of the whole issue
in case I’d further confuse the people. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t
make head nor tail of it and neither could any other councillor I know.
None of them canvassed a vote for the yoke... Up to the last week of the
campaign the very mention of Lisbon was enough to have a fella thrown out
of the pub and barred for life but as pollin’ day approached people began
to get into a ferocious flap. They gave up watchin’ telly or listenin’
to the radio because all they got was one blazin’ row after another. They
didn’t bother askin’ their local politicians because they couldn’t get
a straight answer, so they reverted to all manner and method of tryin’
to divine how they should vote. The night before pollin’, a crowd of fellas
in the pub in Teerawadra gathered around the pool table and divided themselves
into teams of “Yes’s” and “No’s” . It was agreed to play for Lisbon; if
the “yes’s” won they’d all vote “yes” and if the No’s won they’d all vote
“no!” A novel way of to decide the future of a continent. Anyway, Jose
Manuel Barroso will be relieved to hear that Europe’s destiny didn’t hinge
on a game of pool in a rural pub in the back arse of the country; a row
broke out before the game finished and, like the Treaty itself, the whole
thing was abandoned... On the evenin’ of the votin’ I discovered that confusion
reigned under my own roof. I went home to collect my pollin’ card and found
the Mother sittin’ at the kitchen table with a “Yes” and a “No” leaflet
in front of her and she whisperin’, “eenie, meanie miney mo.”
- Pat Shortt, with his tongue in cheek Hickey Weekly
[The Ungrateful Irish]
Official European Union statistics reveal that Ireland's past image as one of Europe's largest financial beneficiaries is largely a myth. Statistics indicate that, year on year off, Ireland has consistently been one of the biggest net financial contributors to Europe as a result of fish supply. Official figures from the EU's statistical gathering agency, Eurostat, reveal that Ireland is second only to Germany as an indirect contributor to EU coffers. Although Ireland did well in extracting almost E40 billion (£27.8 billion sterling) in transfer funds from the EU, the fish extracted from Irish territorial waters has been worth almost E200 billion (£139 billion sterling) in comparison. The EU fish wars have raged in Irish waters for decades, and have now left Ireland facing a massive crisis with the prospect of the extinction of many fish species.
- Tom Prendiville, Daily Ireland (March 2006)
In 2004, an estimated
700,000 tonnes of fish were harvested by the international fleets mainly
from Spain, France, UK, Norway, Holland and Ireland from the Irish Exclusive
Economic Zone, with an estimated value of €500 million. Total Irish
landings in 2004 from all sea areas were estimated at 324,000 tonnes valued
at €194 million... Fish stocks (excluding the Inshore stocks) are
managed by the EU under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
- From Marine.ie
"The worst threat to
Irish farmers is not foot and mouth disease, but a postal strike."
- Saying in rurul Ireland, reflecting their dependence on EU subsidies
"They kept on telling
us during the campaign what Ireland got from Europe. Ireland gave a lot
to Europe too. It was not all one-way traffic ... Fair play to the people
... The people gave the answer to the Government and to the rest of them
when they tried to dictate to them. They showed independence. People are
- Michael Ring, Fine Gael TD (who had urged a Yes vote)
What makes a good European
country? According to many of our European neighbours -- specifically the
French and Germans -- Ireland post-Lisbon, can't be regarded as a good
member of the EU club because we are ungrateful and unpredictable... But
Europe is about more than countries; it is about people. It is about 400
million individual people whose ambitions, aspirations and lives can be
improved by the opportunities that economic integration affords. If you
take this people- centred view of things, it is interesting to contrast
Doubting Ireland and Enthusiastic France. French politicians have conveniently
forgotten that while they might hob-nob with their Polish counterparts,
France does not allow Polish immigrants to work freely in France. So France
talks the language of solidarity but freezes out the people that this very
solidarity is supposed to help. What breathless hypocrisy!
While France threw up barriers, Ireland on the other hand opened its doors to hundreds of thousands of ordinary Poles, Lithuanians and Latvians whose lives have been greatly enhanced by the opportunities we have given them. Ireland is a proper European partner to the Joe Soaps from Warsaw, Riga and Vilnius, while the French and Germans have closed their doors to them.
This distinction between a Europe of the peoples -- the Irish view -- and a Europe of the elites -- the old Europe view -- goes to the heart of our differing approaches... Only Ireland, Britain and Sweden -- the three countries most regarded as sceptical on Europe -- have shown real, material solidarity with the poor of Eastern Europe. While the French, Germans and Italians might lecture others on being good Europeans, they don't stick to the spirit of the treaties they sign... Go down to your local Spar or Centra and ask the Polish or Lithuanian working there (who would not be freely allowed to work in France or Germany) who has done more for them -- France or Ireland? Some of our neighbours are 'top down' Europeans, pushing through treaties in parliament, not consulting their electorates. This makes them look powerful at summits. There are others who are happy to enhance ordinary peoples' lives but have to face the electoral music at every turn.
We are the 'bottom-up' Europeans -- the more honest and less hypocritical EU members.
- David McWilliams, "Look What We Have Done For Ordinary Europeans", "The Irish Ind."
Mr Cowen should not
be slow to point out that we were the only country to put the matter to
a vote. Neither should he be slow to suggest that the margin of defeat
might be as wide if the French or German government allowed a vote. Neither
should he be slow to point out the practicality of our contribution to
European unity. When France and Germany rejected Eastern European immigrants
we opened our borders and offered opportunity where others offered nothing.
We changed lives rather than constitutions.
- The Irish Examiner
Irish voters may have
saved the EU from following a course of action that ultimately would have
alienated the political establishment even more from the people they represent...
The real problems facing Europe have nothing to do with bureaucratic and
procedural tangles. They are economic and the Lisbon treaty has no bearing
on them. Irish voters may eventually realise that the European Central
Bank has been applying an inappropriate interest-rate policy to the euro,
as far as we are concerned. They may also remember how we were told that
it was impossible and dangerous for us to stay out of the eurozone and
how Britain would have to join its embrace. It didn’t. The euro has brought
many ills to Ireland, including the wrong interest rates (too low and too
high at different times) to suit our circumstances and exchange rates that
have left us vulnerable in our relationship with sterling and the dollar.
Misguided enthusiasm about joining the euro got the better of us, even
though few want to admit it. Remember that the next time somebody tells
you that unless we endorse Lisbon we’re doomed.
- Matt Cooper, "The Sunday Times"
# LISBON CAMPAIGN
"I think it's a bit
upsetting to see so many countries running away from giving their people
an opportunity. If you believe in something, why not let your people
have a say in it? ... Perhaps others shouldn't be so much afraid of it."
- Bertie Ahern, urging other European countries to vote on the Reform Treaty\Constitution
"Public opinion will
be led to adopt without knowing it proposals that we dare not present directly."
- Valery Giscard D'Estaing, on why Lisbon is an unreadable rewrite of the EU Constitution Treaty
"We have not let a
single substantial point of the constitutional treaty go."
– Jose Zapatero, prime minister of Spain on Lisbon
"There’s nothing from
the original institutional package that has been changed."
– Astrid Thors, Finland's Europe minister
A HARRIS opinion poll
last week suggested that there is a pan-European public desire for referendums.
Some 75% of Britons, 76% of Germans, 65% of Spaniards and 63% of French
said that they should get a vote on the treaty.
- Nicola Smith, "The Times" (Oct'07)
The Proclamation of
the Republic in the presence of Bertie Ahern on Easter Sunday was nothing
short of farcical. Let’s get something clear: Ireland is no longer the
sovereign or independent state referred to in the proclamation.
Fact: Ireland has only 12 members out of 750 in the European Parliament (as opposed to 100 members out of 600 at Westminster when it was part of the UK in the 19th century). Fact: two-thirds of Irish laws now come from Brussels. Fact: EU law overrides Irish law.
In light of these, how can Ireland still be said to have a national parliamentary democracy?
- Claire O'Donoghue, with a letter to "The Irish Independent"
The New EU Won't See
You; Won't Hear You; Won't Speak For You.
- The Prohpetic "Three Monkeys" No poster slogan
A letter instructing
EU staff to postpone "politically sensitive discussion" on the Lisbon Treaty
until after the Irish referendum has been leaked to No campaigners, according
to the editors of VoteNo.ie. A copy of a letter sent by Jo Leiman MEP and
chair of committee on Constitutional Affairs outlines instructions to hold
discussions on potentially controversial implementation plans in secret,
or to halt them altogether, until after Irish voters have gone to the polls.
- seen on BreakingNews.ie (Apr'08)
Businessman Ulick McEvaddy
has added his voice to the Libertas campaign for a 'no' vote to the Lisbon
Treaty. Speaking in Dublin this afternoon he said that he had read the
Lisbon treaty four times and he did not understand it. He said that by
contrast he had read the American constitution and he understood it readily.
He said he read Bunreacht na hÉireann at school and he understood
that. He said we are simply being asked to vote for something here in Europe
that nobody understands and that is being handed out as the Lisbon Treaty.
- Seen on the RTE website
The Treaty is so ambiguous
that you could take every line of it and challenge it, and that's what's
going to be done in the various jurisdictions. I mean it's unintelligible
- Businessman Ulick McEvaddy
"As your question necessarily
points up or implies, it's quite difficult to be precise about what that
means. There certainly isn't a precision about it whereby one could say
it applies to A, B, C or D."
- Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill, at at Referendum Commission news conference
The final straw, said
Dermot Gilmartin, was seeing an (Referendum Commission) official struggle
on television to answer questions about the topic of the hour: the European
Union's Lisbon Treaty, which is being put to a referendum in Ireland on
Thursday. Challenged on a technical point, the official sputtered, began
frantically rifling through his papers and fell silent. For two and a half
"I was cringing for the guy," said Gilmartin, 25, interviewed en route to his local pub the other afternoon. But pity aside, he said, why should he vote for something so abstruse that even someone whose job is to understand it cannot explain away its mysteries?
- Sarah Lyall, on why people voted No, "International Herald Tribune"
"The French and Dutch,
who were given an opportunity to vote on the European Constitution, voted
against it. They are not being given an opportunity to vote on the Lisbon
Treaty. We are being afforded this right, not because our government has
secured it for us, but because our father, Raymond Crotty, took the Irish
government to court back in 1986. The Supreme Court ruled in that case
that in the event of any major change within the EU that impacted upon
Ireland's constitution, the government would be obliged to get approval
for that change from the Irish people. The implications of the current
treaty are so wide-ranging that lawyers who worked on our dad's case believe
that, if it is implemented, it will be our last EU-related referendum."
- Mary Crotty, interviewed in "The Irish Independent"
Consider the sheer
awfulness of the farrago surrounding the 2005 French and Dutch referendums
that rejected the European Constitution. Since many EU leaders have since
boasted that the Lisbon Treaty is practically the same as the "Constitution,"
the fact that the French and Dutch will effectively get something they
rejected is obviously a travesty of democracy. In some ways this is more
antidemocratic than if the EU had rigged the referendums. To rig a vote
is at least to accept the principle that political legitimacy requires
victory at the polls, even if the "victory" is secured by cheating. To
hold a ballot, lose it and then ride roughshod over the result is not even
to accept that a democratic vote matters at all...
It is not easy to define when referendums about European integration are appropriate. But given that the general thrust of EU integration has been to take powers away from national parliaments, genuine democrats should probably err on the side of calling referendums more often than not. Whichever way the Irish go this week, they can at least be proud their country has given them a choice. The rest of Europe looks on in envy.
- Robin Shepard, "Wall Street Journal"
The Lisbon Treaty is
a constitutional document. It establishes a new federal state of Europe.
It makes us citizens of that state with dual loyalties... The American
people gave themselves a constitution that was open, protective of them
and their society, amendable, flexible and inspiring. They are justly proud
of it and other peoples have used it to frame their freedoms. It is through
the American people that laws are made and changed... The European Union
is going in an entirely different way, the heart of which is that it is
not democratic. The European Union constitution dare not speak its name.
It has been put into denial by those who framed its camouflaged equivalent
— the Lisbon Treaty. And it is being introduced in a subversive and shameful
way. There is a deep democratic deficit in the failure to link up the constitutional
act every man and woman in this country will make if he or she votes 'Yes',
with the undemocratic instruments that will then become the main power
within the European Union... In the Lisbon Treaty we are being asked to
transfer power to one collective authority. We do not elect it. There is
no opposition to it. It is parcelled out into sections which contribute
to law-making, but the real power is under the titular control of ministers
and national leaders to whom bureaucrats submit ideas for legislation and
then draft the legislation. Our only protection against this is out own
sovereignty wisely used.
- Bruce Arnold, "Lisbon Compromises Our Hard-Earned Democracy", "Irish Ind."
We have campaigners
from the main political parties who are proposing we should enter a European
federation stripped of all the weapons of democracy by which the same people
have lived their lives... Let us imagine if we to reverse ourselves, and
view Ireland as it would be if we did the same with our own country as
a Lisbon Treaty 'Yes' vote will do for Europe. To start with, we would
lose the Dail, the Seanad and the presidency. In Europe, there is no elective
assembly where laws are made. That does for the Dail. Amd there is no second
chamber to check the first. That does for the Seanad. The European Parliament
fails to compare with our own parliament at the very lowest level, of being
a legislature. It does not originate laws or have to pass them, the first
essentia of democratic politics. Europe is found wanting... Europe will
not have an elected president as head of the 27 states. Applied here, and
it would mean losing the presidency.
- Bruce Arnold, urging a No vote, "Irish Ind."
So the United States
faces change. The people have voted for it, and the voting strength and
passion were written into the myriad faces that held the television screen
momentarily, and then vanished... There will be difficulties, defeats and
setbacks. But it will not take away from the extraordinary surge of vitality
that the powerful expression of the public will, through the ballot box,
gave on this occasion.
At one point I turned away in a cloud of regret, that we in Europe cannot do what the people of the United States have done so forcefully this week. In a massive expression of popular will, Americans swept aside the dismal memories of the past eight years, the darkness of grim experience and the unhappy threat of the corrupting of politics.
We are not able to do this in Europe. We are locked in a mechanism that does not permit us to free ourselves from the past and order up a new opportunity for change. We cannot elect those who govern us. We cannot change. While 137 million Americans, well over half those of voting age, expressed their democratic right to decide on change of a massive kind -- not just in direction but in choosing, for a first time, an Afro-American leader -- Europe has no such right.
We cannot reverse what we have got. Five hundred million European people -- all from democracies which operate with universal suffrage (otherwise they would not be in the EU) -- and which make up a federal structure of 27 countries, cannot do what America has just done. They cannot throw out a sick, disorganised and confused bureaucracy, which they neither like nor understand, and replace it with something they have chosen and which they -- who should be sovereign -- believe to be better.
...Where, in Europe, is the comparable will of the people? Europe failed its member states in the economic collapse and in the banking crisis. There was no central leadership or direction. And what happened was far from being the first exercise in floundering and uncertainty. We have had it over Georgia and over NATO, over Kosovo and Turkey. We are cutting corners on enlargement. We are pretending about the democratic will of Europe's people, which is certainly not being expressed by the still-handicapped European Parliament... We are divided, uncertain, angry with our rulers, and we have no way out or back. We are locked up in a nonsense called the EU and subject to an even greater nonsense called the Lisbon Treaty. It was sad to have these recollections forcefully emphasised by the triumphant rise to power, in the United States, of a determined and democratic voice for change.
- Bruce Arnold, after Obama's victory, "The Irish Independent"
I thank Anthony Coughlan
for pointing out the following provision to me: "The Council shall, acting
unanimously in accordance with a special legislative procedure and after
consulting the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee,
adopt provisions for the harmonisation of legislation concerning turnover
taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation to the extent
that such harmonisation is necessary to ensure the establishment and the
functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition."
Harmonisation is Euro-babble for maximising both taxes and central power, and might one day enable the European Court of Justice to rule that Ireland's 12.5pc rate of corporation tax, compared to Britain's 28pc and Germany's 30pc, is a "distortion of competition" (what a lovely term). Why should we sign a deal, by which some future Euro-judge might declare our tax regime to be illegal, when that is the reason for our prosperity? Would your solicitor let you buy a house with such an uncertain clause in the contract? If she did, she's actually working for the vendor -- which is the very reason why our political classes are urging us to vote 'Yes', and why we should vote 'No'.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
If we don't like a
judgment of our own Supreme Court, we can reverse it through a referendum.
If we don't like a judgment of the European Court of Justice, there is
nothing practical we can do about it. We will be stuck with it. That is
also undemocratic. Radically so. Judges should never, ever, be given that
much power. Don't give it to them. Vote 'No'
- David Quinn, "The Irish Independent"
I cannot stand being
patronised, threatened, bullied and lied to, all at the same time, especially
when the people doing the bullying have not bothered to read and understand
the very document that they are trying to ram down my throat. That is reason
enough to vote No, and it is why so many people have turned against the
Lisbon Treaty in the past few weeks... Cowen tells us that Lisbon is as
good as it gets, but I cannot accept that. He tells us that our economy
will be imperilled if we vote No, but that is nonsense — it is already
in danger, and he is doing nothing about it. He claims that we will be
turning our back on Europe and will suffer for it, but that too, is nonsense.
France, Holland, Sweden and Denmark all prosper within the Union and all
have said No in the recent past to either a European treaty or the Euro...
Do not take us for granted, and do not treat us like fools. Next time deliver
a tretay that is readable, accessible and understandable. Then explain
why it is necessary, show what it will achieve and put it to the vote across
Europe, and not just on this small island. That, more than anything, would
convince me that a new treaty was worth voting for, because it would demonstrate
that every European political leader was prepared to stand and be counted.
For now they hide, hoping that we can be arm-twisted into supporting something
that they know many other European states would reject. The only logical
conclusion is to vote No... Mad? I don't think so.
- Alan Ruddock, "The Sunday Ind."
This treaty will only
be passed if Brian Cowen can find it within himself to sell the benefits
of this particular piece of cumbersome, often unintelligible, constitutional
waffle. If it is good, then tell us why it is good, what benefits it will
bring, and too, what risks it carries. The alternative to this treaty is
the status quo: if we reject it, then we have what we already. While that
may be far less than perfect, it is not a scary prospect... Who can be
absolutely certain how this treaty and its provisions will be interpreted
by the courts or by future politicians? Why, if tax harmonisation will
be impossible to achieve under the treaty, do French politicians promise
their voters that it will be achieved? Who is lying? Our, or theirs? Cowen
cannot answer those questions or calm those fears by simply shotuing that
the sky will fall on our heads if we vote No... The case against Lisbon
can be made on very narrow, and very democratic grounds. The people of
France and the Netherlands rejected it, and that rejection should have
forced Europe's politicians to devise a different approach to the problems
of managing an expanded EU. Instead, they tweaked their original plan and
threw it back to the people - except they made sure that it would not go
back to the people who rejected it... Cowen must be honest enough to accept
that, if the people choose to reject the treaty, the fault lies with the
architects, not the people. The world will not end, Ireland will not be
kicked out of Europe's inner sanctum and foreign investors will not flee.
Or, if they do, it will because of our loss of competitiveness, not our
rejection of a series of unwieldy amendments to two existing treaties.
- Alan Ruddock, "The Tactics of Fear Will Not Convince", "Sunday Ind." (May'08)
When politicians talk
about “chaos”, they make it sound like rejecting the treaty will mean the
lights go out all over Europe and people will be queuing for bread in the
streets. The reality is that a few people in Brussels would have to organise
a meeting to discuss what they’re going to do next... Politicians don’t
really believe for a single second the hysterical nonsense they have started
talking about how Ireland will become a “pariah” state if voters say no.
They just can’t think of a good argument for the Lisbon treaty, so they
have defaulted to scaremongering. But this isn’t necessarily a smart tactic.
A poll taken in the wake of the Dutch voters’ decision to reject the EU
constitution in 2005 found that one of the reasons people voted against
was the Dutch government’s scaremongering campaign.
The justice minister warned that a rejection would raise the chances of war; the economic affairs minister said that “the lights would go off” in the case of a rejection and the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy withdrew a controversial television broadcast which connected rejection with the Holocaust. No wonder 59% of voters said the government’s campaign had put them off.
It seems that politicians just can’t help playing on people’s fears. Before the Danish voted no to Maastricht, their politicians said they would be isolated if they rejected that treaty. They weren’t. Before Sweden said no to the euro, politicians said that Sweden would be isolated if they rejected the currency. They weren’t. And it was the same old story before France and the Netherlands went to the polls.
If anybody is isolated, surely it is the politicians from the people? The truth is that many people all over Europe are against transferring further powers away from democratic control to the European centre. That’s why in so many other countries the politicians are denying people a vote... Both Brian Cowen and Charlie McCreevy have admitted to not reading the treaty. In fact McCreevy went further, claiming that “no sane sensible person” would read through it all. So not only are they asking us to take the whole thing on trust, but in fact they are taking the whole thing on trust themselves. This is pretty extraordinary.
- Neil O'Brien, "Reject the Political Scaremongering", "The Sunday Times"
It was interesting
to hear Danny Cohen Bendit -- the utterly cosmopolitan leader of the 1968
Paris rebellion -- say yesterday that Ireland should leave the EU if we
vote 'No'. This was a man who once called for tolerance and respect for
diversity of opinion. Today, he seems to think that one size fits all.
Sometimes the irascibility of this pro-EU elite is evident as they regard
any questioning of the project as treason. It is a tone that really grates.
It's as if only they understand the complexity of the issues and that comprehending
the machinations of the EU is only open to the hyper-educated.
- David McWilliams, "The Irish Independent"
The entire business
and political elite of Ireland ganged up to tell their countrymen that
they should vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. Failure to comply would
risk outraging the EU elite and integrationist maniacs who want to impose
their undemocratic project on an entire continent. The implication was
profoundly insulting: that if voters were to cause any trouble, Ireland
would suffer somehow. By implication it is incapable of prospering as a
nation which values its independence. Irish voters, thank goodness, appear
to have had other ideas and in raising two fingers to the latest stage
of the federalist programme have cheered those who want a different kind
of Europe - an accountable Europe of free nations.
- Iain Martin, "The Telegraph"
Voters face a simple
choice on Thursday. Do they want to give more powers to the EU or not?
That seems a pretty straightforward question to me, and no doubt it does
to you too. But this is not the issue that the Yes campaign wants to debate.
They want people to answer a completely different question, one that does
not appear on any ballot paper. They are trying to turn this into a referendum
on whether Ireland should be “in or out” of the EU... The former EU commissioner
Peter Sutherland says if there is a No vote on Thursday, the EU will just
go ahead with the Lisbon treaty anyway. He says: “I can’t believe that
a way will not be found to proceed.” Think about that. This is telling
us that EU politicians care so little about democracy they would just ignore
an Irish No vote and carry on regardless. And he thinks that’s an argument
for instead voting Yes. It hardly makes the eurocrats sound like the sort
of people we would want to give more power to. Sutherland is not alone.
The European parliament has voted against a motion to respect the result
of the Irish referendum. One Irish MEP even voted against respecting the
wishes of the public. How out of touch can you get?
The Yes campaign has also tried to change the question by making completely unrelated (and indeed impossible) promises in order to buy up votes. Brian Cowen has promised to veto any concessions being made in world trade talks in return for the support of the farmers. There is an irony here. The Yes campaigners are maintaining that Ireland cannot possibly say no to Lisbon and deny politicians in other European countries what they want. On the other hand, Cowen says Ireland would be prepared to veto the world trade talks and deny the entire rest of the world something that they want.
- Neil O'Brien, "A Giant Leap in the Dark, "The Sunday Times"
Business is hugely
worried about the uncertainty that the introduction of a legally binding
Charter of Fundamental Rights will create. During the talks, which turned
the EU constitution into the Lisbon treaty, Ireland and Britain attempted
to negotiate an opt-out from the charter, but then bottled out. That should
set alarm bells ringing. If the charter is such a good thing, why did the
government go to so much effort to limit its effect? Nor is the scope of
the charter limited to business. It would be up to EU judges (not the Irish)
to decide what the rights in the charter would mean in practice. What,
for example, would the right to “balance work and family life”, to “education
and training”, to “collective bargaining”, the “right to strike” and “dignity”
at work really mean for employers?
Irish voters and businesses are being asked to take an enormous leap of faith, and allow the European Court to make a lot of political decisions for them. All these issues confirm that saying Yes to the Lisbon treaty would be a huge leap in the dark. It means handing all manner of important decisions over to EU officials who can’t be controlled or voted out of office. These powers would be handed to an institution that, for the past 13 years, hasn’t had its own budget signed off by its auditors.
- Neil O'Brien, "A Giant Leap in the Dark, "The Sunday Times"
It is striking that
politicians are not really arguing for the treaty itself. Instead, the
Yes camp has two basic arguments, which are contradictory. Firstly there
are grim warnings about the “disaster” that would befall the country if
a No vote were delivered. Clearly, this is not true. Nobody called for
France or Holland to leave the EU when they voted against the constitution
four years ago. Nor did smaller countries such as Denmark or Sweden leave
the EU when they voted No to the euro (despite exactly the same dire warnings
before they voted). All these countries continue to exert considerable
influence in Brussels. At the same time politicians across Europe have
done their best to play down the importance of the treaty, claiming it
is just a minor set of technical changes, almost patting voters on the
heads, saying: “Now, now, nothing for you to worry about.” So which is
it? It is either a supremely important treaty, so important that all manner
of misery would hit Europe if Ireland dares to reject it; or, it is a mere
“tidying-up exercise”. Politicians can’t have it both ways.
...The Lisbon treaty abolishes more than 60 national vetoes. Ireland will give up its right to veto EU laws on everything from the rights of criminal suspects to aspects of foreign policy. If you don’t like what is proposed then tough, because Ireland won’t be able to say no... In the future all countries will find it harder to stop EU laws, but the likes of Ireland lose out the most. According to a study by academics at the London School of Economics, Germany’s power to block EU laws will fall by 4%, while Ireland’s blocking power will be cut by a whopping 40%.
- Neil O'Brien, "What We Will Lose", "The Sunday Times"
First, on Thursday,
four million Irish citizens resident in the Irish Republic will be asked
to ratify a new democratic structure for the European Union and its 500million
citizens. Despite the fact that this proposed structure will radically
alter the relationship between all the member states and the union, and
between all the citizens and the union, it apparently does not require
the votes of the other 496million or so citizens. Such is European democracy.
Second, the treaty document that the Irish are required to ratify has proved to be almost unintelligible and, according to opinion polls, remains a total mystery to many ordinary voters. This week, thousands will go to the polls to radically alter the nature of the state they are living in, with no idea of what they are voting for or against. Such is European democracy.
Third, apparently if the four million reject Lisbon, it falls through for all 500 million. But then, on second thoughts, maybe not. After all, the Nice Treaty was rejected, but the question was re-asked until the answer was Yes. The constitutional forerunner of this Lisbon Treaty has already been rejected by previous referendums in France and Denmark. So if the Irish vote down the treaty, will it fall? The problem is that nobody is sure about that; Europe does not easily take No for an answer. Such is European democracy.
Fourth, given that all of this extraordinary political exercise is supposed to be about the establishment of new democratic structures in the European Union, shouldn’t alarm bells be ringing already?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a European superstate run by Eurocrats who are unsackable, founded on a treaty that is unintelligible and watching the democratic linkage between citizen and state disappear under oceans of verbiage.
- Tom McGurk, "Sunday Business Post"
Key to Gordon Brown’s
assertions about protecting British interests in Lisbon were the red lines
that allow Britain to opt out of or into EU provisions relating to justice,
foreign policy, social security and tax and the overarching Charter of
Fundamental Rights. David Cameron, the Tory leader, has characterised them
as “red herrings”, while the chairman of the Labour-domi-nated House of
Commons European scrutiny committee last week said the safeguards would
“leak like a sieve”. Those involved in the drafting of the treaty say the
concessions won by Tony Blair in June, which Brown has inherited, are indeed
not as watertight as has been suggested. Particularly vulnerable is the
Charter of Fundamental Rights which, aside from its general protection
of personal freedoms such as thought, expression and family life, has important
provisions relating to the workplace. According to one of the three MEPs
who helped to draft the treaty, the problem with the British opt-out is
that the charter is subject to case law at the European Court of Justice...
Describing the new treaty as “extremely significant” in terms of European
integration and on a par with Maastricht, Andrew Duff said the opt-outs
and optins had been drafted by legal experts with the specific aim of pressuring
Britain to join in. For example, a loophole picked up by the Commons scrutiny
committee last week means that in five years’ time Britain will face the
choice of accepting the full competence of the European Court of Justice
on many new justice measures, or opting out of certain measures altogether.
This would apply to measures Britain has already joined, such as the European
arrest warrant and the sharing of DNA databases. Many argue that to opt
out of these measures would hamper the fight against organised crime and
- Nicola Smith, "The Times"
To say that the EU
can only succeed by trampling on the wishes of referenda results it doesn't
like, being ruled by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, and by halving
the Irish and other small countries' votes while doubling those of France,
Germany, the UK and Italy, is utter tripe.
- FutureTaoiseach, on "Politics.ie"
Open up the treaty,
type 'ctrl+f', type 'common defence', hit return and get back to us. More
when that's done.
- Helium Three, on the dangers to Ireland's neutrality on Politics.ie
US Constitution ~9,000 words
Italian Constitution ~10,000 words
French Constitution ~10,500 words
Irish Constitution ~17,000 words
Spanish Constitution ~18,000 words
Swiss Constitution ~19,000 words
German Constitution ~29,000 words
Lisbon Treaty ~76,000 words
- Munion, on Politics.ie
Typical random chunk
of the Treaty of Lisbon (I think it's article 9(b):
"At the end of the first sentence of the first subparagraph of paragraph 1, the words "and address appropriate recommendations to that State" shall be deleted; at the end of the last sentence, the words "and, acting in accordance with the same procedure, may call on independent persons to submit within a reasonable time limit a report on the situation in the Member State in question" shall be replaced by "and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure."
Eh? EH? Vote for what again? And there's 294 pages of this stuff. So we had no idea what we were voting for, and the commentators in the papers (who definitely haven't read it), have no idea what they are commenting on. Given that huge teams of negotiators and translators worked on this in sections, there is absolutely nobody on earth who knows what's in it.
- Julian Gough
Chaos — Eamonn Ryan
Minister for CMNR.
Expulsion from EU — Chairman Jo Leinen MEP Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Armageddon — John Gormley Minister for that sort of thing.
Hand over your piggybank — Jose Manuel Barroso Presidente.
Vote No and you all turn into piranhas - Dr Garret FitzGerald (OK he said pariahs...)
Groundhog Day — Junior Minister Mary Wallace told a voter yesterday that if it is a No, we will be asked to vote again.
Neutrality will be up for grabs — Brian Lenihan, Minister for Finance
CIA is manipulating our referendum campaign — Gay Mitchell an official FG person.
- Helium Three, on the best threats from the Yes camp, on Politics.ie
[The Libertas Effect]
By hikacking the No campaign from the neutrality nuts, abortion obsessives and other associated flat-earthers who normally front the Irish opposition to EU referendums, Declan Ganley and Libertas have done Irish democracy a great service. Ganley has forced the main political parties to seriously debate the issue of Ireland's future relations with the EU for the first time... We have for the first time been able to conduct something approaching a rational debate on the subject of Europe. The fact that it took a complete outsider to make this happen demonstrates just how badly the major political parties have neglected the subject of the EU and Ireland's relationship with it over the past 35 years.
- Dan White, on polling day, "Evening Herald"
"Apparently I'm being
backed by the CIA, the UK Independence Party and the American military.
What's next? I'm working for Martians? I get advice from lizards?"
- Declan Ganley
"Would you make a good
"I don't think so."
- Declan Ganley, interviewed on TV3
should go to Sinn Fein, and specifically to Mary Lou McDonald. Along with
Coir they did their bit for the Yes campaign. Just imagine how much stronger
the No vote would have been if all those people you met who said: "I was
thinking of voting No but I wouldn't want to be on the same side of anything
as them", had actually voted No. Sinn Fein and Coir probably raised the
Yes vote by at least a few per cent... The real stars of this one -- the
people who swung this referendum -- were Ulick McEvaddy, Shane Ross and
Declan Ganley. It's all very well the usual Euro referendum nutters like
Sinn Fein and Youth Defence saying No. But when people heard capitalists
like McEvaddy, sane, grim realists like Shane Ross and well-spoken rich
boys like Ganley expressing concerns, they listened. These three legitimised
a No vote among the middle classes.
- Brendan O'Connor, "The Sunday Ind."
They gave us fatcats
on one side, and fruitcakes on the other. And they asked us to get on with
it... And while the fatcats were generally on the Yes side, and the fruitcakes
were generally No, just to confuse matters, the fruitcakes had a few fatcats
on board, and vice vera... Paddy Irishman knew they were offering him a
choice between something bad, and something equally bad... Normally after
a while you get a sense of the good guys and the bad guys... With Libson,
until the end, Paddy was in a strange new place. He was in the middle of
a story in which there were no good guys, a bit like the war in the former
Yugoslavia. And he was being asked to provide the ending. So while it was
maddening for Paddy, in many ways, he could also see that there was a real
challenge here. And he rose to it.
- Declan Lynch, following Lisbon on TV, "Sunday Ind."
The negative campaigning
against Libertas would leave Karl Rove and Hillary Clinton in the shade.
But second and more importantly, it questions the right of such organisations
to exist at all... During the Lisbon debate at least one senior Government
minister tried to suggest, in essence, that only elected representatives
had a right to campaign. Amazing. In a referendum campaign every citizen
has a right to campaign and to be heard. It's true, obviously, that not
all of us have an equal ability to be heard, but we should have the right
and that right should never, ever be questioned... There is now a deep
distrust of money in politics stemming from the fact that money can corrupt.
The result is that private money is increasingly being excluded from the
political process. Unless you can raise money from lots and lots of small
donors, or receive it directly from the State as the existing political
parties do, then it is very hard to break into the political debate and
to have your voice heard.
But here is the dilemma; how do you attract the attention of all those small donors unless they can hear you, and how can they hear you if you're not already a senior politician and don't have a media platform? So the effect of making it harder to raise and use private money is to lock in the advantage of the existing parties -- turning them into a sort of a cartel -- and to lock in the ability of the media to influence public and political opinion.
In other words, limiting the power of private money makes the established parties and the established media more powerful than ever and that is undemocratic. This is what made the relentless questioning of both Libertas and Declan Ganley about their money so insidious. I believe an organisation like Libertas should be able to raise as much money as it likes from any one individual just so long as we know (above a certain euro limit) exactly who that individual is and how much he's contributing.
- David Quinn, "Private cash underpins our freedom of speech", "Irish Ind."
If Declan Ganley didn't
exist, the left-liberal EUrophiles would have to invent him. Because, you
see, they are ideologists, and like all ideologists, their belief in the
Big Idea is a matter of faith, rather than of reason and empirical knowledge.
And when the plain people of Ireland do not subscribe to the Big Idea (and
plain people seldom do, which is why the Euro-elites across the EU are
denying their electorates the right to have referendums), why, a sinister
conspiracy (with a megalomaniac leader) is blamed. It cannot be, nor can
it be allowed to be, simply a question of what people want. The electors
of Ireland have said No to the Lisbon Treaty, but they did not say No to
Europe. The EU that existed before we voted on Lisbon is the one which
still exists today. Simply, the Irish people do not want a European state
with a European army and a European defence policy, and a European immigration
policy. Perhaps most of all, we don't want increasingly incomprehensible
layers of government issuing baffling laws from Brussels, or wherever.
And we don't want to be told that we have a democratic right to say 'Yes',
but not to say 'No', to European statehood... If it's a hallmark of a right-wing
conspiracy to defend the democratic decisions of the Irish people, why,
Declan, just send me the conspiracy application-form, please, and I'll
join up, here and now.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Ind."
[A Second Referendum?]
Dick Roche got straight to the point: "My personal view is that a referendum is ultimately the appropriate response to the position in which we find ourselves."
A second referendum, that is to say, since there already was a vote, inconvenient as the result may have been for the minister. Indeed, it's interesting to note how that 'No' result was so distressing to Roche that he can refer to it only by a euphemism, as "the position in which we find ourselves". Not that he intends to find himself in it for long. As he says oddly: "We cannot simply sit on our hands ... and keeping saying that no means no." So no actually means yes now, does it? What does maybe mean -- definitely?
Now, like cynical defence barristers for an accused date rapist, the 'Yes' camp is trying to queer the pitch with all sorts of semantic trickery about how 'No' doesn't mean 'No', but might actually mean 'Yes' in some circumstances... If the Government were honest, they'd forgo the charade of another referendum and just ratify Lisbon in whatever tricksy, legalistic manner their constitutional pettifoggers could devise. When there's only one acceptable answer, after all, there's no point asking the question. It'd save us from another tedious and expensive campaign, if nothing else.
- Eilis O'Hanlon, "Why ask the question if only a 'Yes' will do?", "Sunday Ind." (Aug'08)
Now, member of the
political parties wonder aloud if the people's vote can be ignored. Gay
Mitchell, one of our more excitable MEPs, goes so far as to question the
validity of Irish democracy, saying in effect that the people cannot be
trusted. In his world, it would seem, only members of this new political
elite can be trusted to make serious decisions.
This is dangerous nonsense, and it feeds precisely those fears that caused many people to turn their backs on Lisbon. Democracy matters in Ireland, and we are lucky that we have a constitution that guards it jealously. Many of those who opposed Lisbon did so because, in part, they feared that its provisions would dilute democratic accountability in Europe and would take power further away from the people. By their reaction to the treaty's defeat many of Europe's leaders have simply confirmed those fears.... It is simply wrong that Irish democracy should be treated with such disdain, and Mr Cowen must be exceedingly careful that he is not seen to tolerate or encourage it.
- Sunday Independent Leader (Aug'08)
for something is not democracy. That's the rather odd view of NuLabour's
foreign minister, Lord Malloch Brown, who says that us pesky Paddies should
not be allowed to make up our own mind and that we should be forced to
hold another referendum where we should then also be forced to vote 'Yes'.
This is because we're not democratic, apparently. In an interesting analysis,
our hero says: "I am not sure whether the voters of Ireland should have
a right of veto over the aspirations of all the people of Europe. I am
not sure whether that is, or is not, democracy." So, welcome to Planet
Labour -- where holding a referendum is seen as being undemocratic.
- Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"
"It is simply incredible
that any democratic government would align itself with other governments
against its own people. The refusal of the Government to accept the result
of the referendum (there is an unwritten rule that referendum results last
about 10 years, unless the turnout is very low) is a matter of the utmost
gravity. The possibility of treason is a legitimate question to raise."
- Unnamed civil servant, quoted by Bruce Arnold in "The Irish Ind." (Oct'08)
FG foreign affairs
spokesman Billy Timmins wants the Government to look at legislation in
relation to the McKenna judgment on referendums, which prevents the Government
using exchequer money to push an argument in favour (or against) any referendum.
"No matter what the argument might be, 50pc of the time in TV and radio
debates has to be given to the opponent and the Government is prevented
from giving resources," he said. "The McKenna judgment strikes me as an
unhealthy state of affairs," he added.
- Seen in The Irish Independent (I guess when if you can't win a fair fight, stack the decks)
If the government does
put Lisbon in front of Irish voters again, Mr Ganley and other No campaigners
now have a new weapon in their armoury. The decision by Mr Cowen’s government
to opt for a nationalist solution to the banking crisis two weeks ago,
rather than wait for a federalist decision approved by all EU member states,
was a victory for realpolitik. If we had been depending on Germany and
others to approve our next move, then Ireland could have been left as broke
and isolated as Iceland is today. Brian Lenihan, the finance minister,
summed up the situation when he told the Seanad that he had no choice other
than to enter into a €400 billion guarantee for domestically owned
Irish institutions. “There are six banks that would be orphaned without
us,” he said. “Europe was not prepared to adopt them. Therefore we had
to take decisions.” It sounds like a script for the No to Lisbon campaigners...
The financial crisis has shown up the EU for what it is: a group of 27
states that have agreed to break down trade barriers and, in some cases,
share a currency. In that limited role it can claim a measure of success.
But as events in recent days have shown, there is simply no prospect of
all these countries ever working together as a unified political unit that
can promise to represent the interests of all members equally. That’s why
Lisbon is a dead letter.
- Sunday Times Leader (Oct'08)
I have a theory about
our Government. Are Brian Cowen and co really as incompetent as we think?
Maybe they are purposefully destroying the country so when the next Lisbon
vote comes around, the choice we have is vote No and have the country run
by idiots, or vote Yes to take the power off them. Then they can sit back
with huge salaries and pensions and very little to do: the 'super dole'
if you will.
- Eoin, with a letter to Dublin's Metro (May'09)
# NICE TREATY (2001)
The Nice Treaty is
dead. It is indeed shameful that the first response of various Irish commentators
to the people's verdict on the Nice Treaty is to speak openly of how they
are going to try to get the people to change their minds.
- Anthony Coughlan, The National Platform, following Ireland's rejection of Nice
Thursday was a great
day. It was a victory for democracy and not just on our behalf, but on
behalf of the tens of millions throughout the EU deprived who have been
deprived by their political leadership of the chance to vote at all. Savour
Ireland put this treaty to the people. No other European government has done so. If Nice was put to the test on the continent, most countries would vote against it. Proof that this is a fundamentally anti-democratic union. It makes clear that those behind the EU project are scared of their own people.
- David Quinn, "The Sunday Times"
Nothing about the EU,
and nobody promoting it, is capable of inspiring in a human heart even
a fraction of the passion invoked by a scoreless draw in a mid-table League
of Ireland match on a wet Sunday in February. This absence is deeply suspicious
as well as profoundly boring.
- John Waters, "Irish Times : 12 Reasons why we said no to Nice"
Say what you will about
the loony left and right-wing fundamentalists, but they do vote. Ironic
really when you consider they're the ones who don't trust democracy and
the Government. If things keep going at this rate the loony left and the
far right will take over everything simply because they're the only ones
with the time or the inclination to vote.
- Brendan O'Connor, "The Sunday Independent"
Everyone favours "enlargement".
Or so they say. I wonder. Germany tried it. West Germany, a member of the
European Union, absorbed millions of East Germans, paid them the same wages,
gave them "tax harmonisation" and donated them a one-for-one currency rate.
And what has happened? The unified German economy has stalled. East Germany has given West Germany economic indigestion. Unification was a noble political gesture but Germany has paid a high economic price for its generosity.
- Senator Shane Ross, "Irish Independent"
More or less at public
war with one another are, at the latest count, the Tanaiste, five cabinet
ministers, four junior ministers and the Attorney General.
- James Downey, "Irish Independent" , in the aftermath of Nice
# FREDERICK FORSYTH ON IRELAND & EUROPE
Back in January 1963,
I sat, literally for there were too few chairs in the hall, at the feet
of Charles de Gaulle as he rebuffed Harold Macmillan's application for
Britain to join the Common Market. De Gaulle was already an iconic figure,
bestriding not just France, but all Europe. On the one hand he regarded
himself as a passionate European. I can see him now, hands raised, palms
upward, great schnozzle raised to the heavens, intoning: "Je suis un EUROPEEN."
And he truly believed it. France had co-founded and joined the EEC in 1957,
the year before he came to power, and though he repudiated almost everything
he inherited from the Fourth Republic, the European dream he embraced with
passion. Yet, yet, yet . . . he would absolutely not contemplate the departure
of one single gramme of French sovereignty to others. He pulled France
out of Nato and expelled Nato HQ from France because he believed even that
impugned the sovereignty of his beloved France. But how on Earth could
this be when we all know that huge transfers of national sovereignty are
part and parcel of membership?
The answer is there were always two alternative destinations for the European dream. He believed utterly in the Union des Patries; a union of wholly sovereign nation states whose internal autonomy was not even a subject for discussion. When the German president of the EEC Commission in Brussels, Dr Walter Hallstein, tried a tiny measure of integration, Le Grand Charles became so angry he withdrew the French delegate and all business terminated while he was on the throne. He died in November 1970, before he could see how utterly wrong he had been.
Now fast-forward five years. British premier Harold Wilson gave called a referendum in the summer of 1975. The subject was not entry into the EEC (Common Market). We had joined with the Irish in 1973. It was a referendum of endorsement ... or rejection. Among those passionately canvassing for a Yes vote was one Margaret Thatcher. Thirteen years later, she walked into a hall in Bruges, Belgium, and gave a speech ending with the words "No, No, No". She was not, as she had been accused, denouncing the whole European Union (as it had become). She was calling for no more transfers of national sovereignty from our respective parliaments to Brussels. Once again, what was the reason why?
She, too, had become a dedicated believer in the Union des Patries, which we called the 'Europe of Nations'. But eight years as prime minister had taught her what De Gaulle had never lived to learn. Even the last vestige of national autonomy had got nothing whatsoever to do with the real destination of what the French call Le Grand Projet. Others have tried, others have spoken, but the juggernaut just rolls on, and what we think seems to have nothing to do with it. Now the Irish have spoken again.
Have the Irish, by their courageous vote, said No to the entire European Union? Certainly not. What I think they have done is send a message, and the message is this:
"We Irish are an old and proud people, and not to be treated like colonial serfs. We are not to have blank cheques tossed at us with the instruction to 'sign here and sign now if you know what is good for you'. We do not appreciate that the document put before us was deliberately unreadable and even less do we appreciate the pretty naked threats thrown our way by certain people east of Calais. We insist on a document we can all understand and the time to comprehend where we are really going and to discuss it among ourselves. For that is the democratic way and that is the Irish way."
Your message must now go to two groups of people. It must go to your Irish politicians, for all three major parties urged you to sign the blank cheque, which might as well have been written in Classical Greek. Your Taoiseach Brian Cowen must now think: does he cleave to the Irish land and people that bore and bred him, or has he transferred his obedience to others in their Brussels committee rooms? In short, where does his crucial primary loyalty lie? Perhaps it is time for all Ireland's politicians, civil servants and diplomats to consider to whom they owe their first allegiance. It is to Ireland and her people.
And your message must go to the mandarins of Brussels, and their reaction will tell you much. If they reply: "Screw the Irish. We will simply ignore and crush them," then that is an answer indeed. For it will tell us what kind of government Brussels has in store for us all. Democratic or autocratic?
Or Brussels could say: "OK, we made a mistake. We must go back to the drafting table and rewrite our constitutional treaty in clear, layman's language and explain why we think it is vital. And we must explain, nay indeed prove, to each ethnic group on this marvellous continent, from Galway Bay to Warsaw, just what it will be that they will one day bequeath to their children. But we must not try to govern the Irish from behind closed doors or with threats because it does not work."
If they do this it will cost an extra year and several million euros. But we are a thousand years old and our countries are, to us, worth more than jewels.
- Frederick Forsyth, in "The Sunday Ind."
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