The first act of newly re-elected EC President Jose Manuel Barroso was to head to Limerick in the final week before the Referendum to boost the Yes campaign and at the same time announce various financial supports being made to Ireland. After the carrot he said he was not threatening that Ireland would lose a Commissioner if they voted No and would not speculate about what could happen afterwards. He criticised the leaflets distributed by the No campaigners and said much of the debate on the Treaty had been dishonest.
If he wanted an honest debate he could have specifically addressed the issues identified by the No campaigns, but he did not. Instead he drew attention to the increased role of national parliaments at the EU level. What this means is that previously sovereign parliaments have had their powers reduced by earlier treaties and are now to be given a procedure whereby they can “influence” decisions. They are not to play any part in the actual decision taking. What a come down. The Germans have taken steps to legislate so that their parliament will play a pivotal role in the process. With their highest voting strength and the enhanced participation of their elected representatives it will be a German dominated EU.
Europe for Ireland are desperate to get bodies out on the street canvassing for a Yes vote in order to counter the enthusiastic volunteers from Coir who have made a huge impact. Their answer is to e-mail EU officials in Brussels offering free Ryanair flights if they will canvass for a Yes vote in Ireland during the last week. This is outrageous behaviour by Brussels lobbyists enlisting people who have a vested interest in getting a Yes vote. By contrast Brian Lenihan, Ireland’s Minister for Finance, has attacked Declan Ganley claiming that a London based hedge fund, which does not have Ireland’s best interest at heart, is backing his No campaign. Declan denied the claim as nonsense. But smearing opponents and sowing seeds of fear is the defining image of Fianna Fail. Lenihan also claimed that the Head of the National Treasury Management Agency had confirmed a No vote would increase Ireland’s borrowing costs. Pure spin as the cost of borrowing will go up either way due to Ireland’s credit rating being cut as result of Fianna Fail’s mishandling of the economy.
Coir has spotlighted the threat to a living wage and loss of jobs resulting from foreign workers being paid their own countries minimum wage. Foreign Minister, Micheal Martin, has admitted that the Coir campaign was “gaining traction” but he repeatedly refuses to debate the issue on RTE with them. Coir’s response, “we have a feeling he is afraid to because the facts support Coir’s case and the Minister knows that”.
Coir’s website is the most visited for referendum information, more so than the Referendum Commissioner’s site. Coir has again won the poster campaign with a series of eye catching pink heart shaped posters. The messages: – ‘The EU loves control – Kiss your freedom goodbye’ ‘We love our Constitution – Don’t kiss it goodbye’ ‘EU loves low wages – Kiss your pay goodbye’. Their long narrow poster with a giraffe just about sums it up: – ‘Vote again? – They’ve got some neck’
Coir’s principles are sovereignty, life, family, faith and freedom. We can identify with them. It will not be lack of effort on their part if they are unable to get their message across. The media are giving the Yes campaigns twice as much coverage as the No campaigns. Just to prove one point of Coir’s concerns. This month the EP voted to condemn Lithuania, which has enacted a protection law for minors that prohibits promotion of homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations. The European Peoples Party split and failed to defeat the motion which directs the Agency for Fundamental Rights to give an opinion on whether the law contravenes European anti-discrimination standards.
Bet you didn’t know that. Even before the Lisbon Treaty has been fully ratified and the Charter of Fundamental Rights adopted, the EU already has an Agency and a set of standards. The next step is the appointment of a Commissioner who will propose European wide directives. What price the guarantees given to Ireland then?