Carrot and Stick to budge stubborn Irish donkey

The second Lisbon referendum is following the same pattern as last year. Opinion polls showed the Yes vote well ahead, but the gap is starting to narrow. As the issues get debated the voters minds are focused on the glaring inconsistencies in the Yes campaign arguments. Biffo Cowen, the Fianna Fail leader, is displaying his ignorance despite claims to have been reading the Treaty from cover to cover. When asked how the Treaty would impact on employment in Ireland, he prevaricated and waffled with generalisations. What he did not say was that employment in all EU countries would become a shared competence with the EC resulting in common policies. Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael leader, was also demonstrating his misconceptions. Asked about the effect of the proposed double qualified voting system, he explained that it would increase Irelands voting power when in fact it will reduce it down to 0.8% [increased – Germany 17% and UK, France & Italy 12%]. How can you have any trust in political leaders like that? But that is the main problem for the Yes campaign, they are not trusted.

Why is the outcome of the Second Irish Referendum so important for every single person in the European Union? The answer is that the Lisbon Treaty will confer statehood on the EU and like any state they need to adopt the trappings of a state such as; a foreign minister and diplomatic corps with EU embassies; a president of the European Union Council; and armed forces. Make no mistake these matters are already implemented or merely awaiting ratification of the Treaty. Naval forces off of Somalia are operating under and described as EU navy. The Irish Government has considered the purchase of a large multi-role vessel with the capacity to embark a contingent of the Irish Defence Force. This can only be for the purpose of participating in an EU security force. This proposal might have been delayed but it will happen.

This is particularly important for Ireland as the neutrality of the country is enshrined in the Irish Constitution. It is also a matter of concern for the UK as the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army have already been earmarked for an EU Defence Agency. Ministers at the UK Foreign Office have denied that this is happening and say they remain committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. If that was so, why has the Brussels Treaty Organisation been reactivated? The only reason for the BTO is to create a military command and planning HQ for armed intervention which excludes Canada and the United States. Military force is an essential part of and an extension of diplomacy. It is no use having a common foreign policy and diplomatic corps if you do not have the big stick to back it up.

We also need to understand that under existing treaties the EU already has primacy over the laws of Member States in the areas that the EU has competence. Last month it was revealed that a piece of UK legislation [Video Recordings Act 1984] was not valid because it had not been notified to the European Commission. In July 2008 the European Court of Justice overturned Irish residency laws. It is very clear that the sovereign laws of Member States are subservient to the Directives of the European Commission. This will also apply to the sovereign Constitutions of Member States. The Lisbon Treaty extends the areas were the EU has sole or joint competence. The areas of competence reserved solely to Member States are reduced and ill defined. The Lisbon Treaty reserves a power for the EU to interfere in these areas in default. This is a massive transfer of power to unelected and unaccountable Commissioners.

There is also the aspect resulting from the decision of the EU Council, last December, to retain a Commissioner for each Member State. This overturned the reduction brought about by the Nice Treaty. With twenty-seven Member States, and even more in the future, there are not enough portfolios to go around for the areas of competence. To keep the Commissioners occupied new portfolios will be created resulting in scope for Commission interference in areas that are rightly the responsibility of Member States, such as the sanctity of life, traditional families and education.

This gives rise to two questions for Micheal Martin, the Irish Foreign Minister. How can the EU Council overturn a provision of the properly ratified Nice Treaty without an amending provision in the Lisbon Treaty? This must be an illegal act. How are these extra Commissioners to be employed? They must either have a vote and no portfolio, or portfolios are going to be created. The EU Council does not seem to have given any thought to the matter, but the recently re-elected President of the European Commission [Jose Manuel Barroso] has declared that in his second term he proposes to create extra Commissioners for Fundamental and Social Rights, Climate Protection and Immigration.

Rather than attacking Coir and Youth Defence, Minister Martin might like to explain these incongruous situations and to what extent the guarantees given by the Member States are legally binding. Member States creating an alternative military alliance are the same Member States that are actively and openly pursuing the extension of abortion across the Globe and are the same States that have given guarantees to Ireland.

In any case, what have they actually said? Only that the Lisbon Treaty does not affect the provisions contained in the Irish Constitution. This is merely a statement of fact at a single point of time, not a guarantee that the Irish Constitution will have primacy over European Law. To be a real and enduring guarantee it would have been necessary to agree that Ireland had an opt out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights which would prevent the European Court of Justice from exercising jurisdiction. Ireland’s neutrality should have been protected by a protocol. This is Fianna Fail’s failure to properly protect the Irish Constitution when they negotiated the Lisbon Treaty. It is pure political incompetence.

Minister Martin might also like to explain the status of the guarantees. Are they agreements entered in to in accordance with the Vienna Convention? If they are, they will be treaties made individually with each of the other twenty-six States. That was the intention of the Irish Government, but they did not achieve it because it would have resulted in many of the States having to go through the ratification process again. They have negotiated something less than a treaty. Even using the word ‘guarantee’ to describe the agreement is stretching the truth. The term ‘assurances’ has also been used. It might be more accurate to describe the statements arising from the European Union Council meeting in June, as a comfort communiqué. They also had their fingers crossed behind their backs.


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