"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


"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 of ourselves.
        - 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 camps elsewhere.
        - From ""

"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 Islamic fundamentalists."
        - 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 Israeli army.
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"


"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 unacceptable.
        - 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 vanished.
        - 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 insoluble?
        - 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 be.
        - 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 in Belfast.
        - News article on

Fingerprint checks 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 operations.
        - 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 — and
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 to them.
        - 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 that have
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 who
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 punishment?
        - 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".


>> Quotes on the EU Constitution are on main Europe page


Real people 1, Eurocrats 0.
       - 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 process."
        - 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 that line."
        - 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 once."
        - 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: European diversity."
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 so."
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

Almost three-quarters 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 voting...
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 and leadership.
        - 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 at all.
        - 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

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

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

Politicians that are not beholden to those they are politicians for are a cancer to democracy.
        - Twin Towers, on

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,

"Sarkozy actually blamed Mandelson for pissing off Irish farmers."
"Aren't they permanently p*ssed off? Ye know like Muslims?"
        - Universal 001, on

"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

"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 not stupid."
        - 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"


"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 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 (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 drivel.
        - 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 minutes.
"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 terrorism.
        - 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 ""

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

Luxembourg Constitution ~6,000 words
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

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

[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 politician?"
"I don't think so."
        - Declan Ganley, interviewed on TV3

Honourable mention 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)

Apparently, voting 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 it.
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


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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