As I surf around the net and continue to research all of the information available regarding the Lisbon Treaty, I do begin to wonder how the Irish people have not lost the plot yet!!! I’m not referring to arguments for or against Lisbon, I am referring to how some groups from both sides of the debate keep galavanting back to 2008 when there were idiotic debates between the Yes and No side before Lisbon was rejected.
While it is good to have various groups set up for different reasons, it is important for them to be telling the truth, and the first time the Treaty was put to the Irish people, most of the information we were given was lies, and sadly the lies were told by both sides!!!
I think there is something in our political system both nationally and in Europe that centres around power, I do not know where that feeling is generated from but its something which I fear and that I know is a valid fear of the Irish people.
When you put a proposal to someone you need to have the correct, and most importantly, truthful information so that person is able to make a decision for themselves based on facts.
The reason why the Irish people fear this hidden but true perception of power is because politics in every sense is supposed to be centred on what the people think, but unfortunately they are forced to try and understand complicated and unattractive texts and speech drafted and spoken by the people they elect, who don’t seem to want to speak easy to understand language, and that is why the Irish people are confused because these words that are thrown out left, right and centre make no sense to us, and will have a very big impact on the future!!!
That is why it is pleasing to see groups on both sides of the debate who are now willing to engage in proper and more truthful discussion on what Lisbon means for Ireland.
Although I am against the Lisbon Treaty, and I shall tell you why shortly, I have to commend the work of Generation Yes, who are a group of young people between the ages of 18 and 30 who believe in Europe and belive that the Treaty is a good deal for Ireland.
I know I disagree with them on this issue but it is good to see a group of young people getting together and fighting for something they believe in. This is a very positive sign for the future of Irish politics and activism, and that is why I hope young people from the No side will do the same this time around, because I certainly am getting involved!!!!…I will give you more details on how I am in one of my later blogs but let me begin by telling you why I am against Lisbon.
Ireland has a veto in these treaties, so I cannot argue that that is not democratic because it is.However, last year on Friday 13th of June, the Irish people had the chance to use this veto and decided to vote against the Lisbon Treaty by a margin of 53.4 % to 46.6 %.
This was a democratic vote and a democratic decision was made, the Irish people rejected Lisbon. Now, however, the Irish people have been asked to vote again, actually, they have been forced to vote again!!!
This in my mind is surely not democratic because it is going against the decision that the Irish people made last year. Now a devil’s advocate approach to that would be well the Irish people did not understand the issues properly, and that the Irish people will vote Yes now because we need the Lisbon Treaty to help us during this tough economic period, and while I agree that Europe does bring economic stability to Ireland, the Lisbon Treaty is not going to dramatically save us from this downturn, I think that should be told to the Irish people.
In recent months, An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, has come back from Brussels with a relieved smile on his face telling the Irish people that he has got the guarantees on the core issues of the Lisbon Treaty; on social issues, neutrality, and the Rights Commissioner. Now, the fact is still clear, the words of the Lisbon Treaty have not changed because they remain the same, with an “add-on” page for Ireland’s purposes.To be honest, I find that to be quite embarrassing and humiliating!
We have guaranteed the Rights Commissioner and I do concede that this is a step in a positive way but there is still an issue with regards to neutrality which has not been clarified yet, and I hope there will be a proper debate based around this issue in the coming two months. When it comes to social issues, I am quite liberal, so I am disappointed that these elements were used as scare-mongering tactics by the No side, so that is the only area where I disagree with some groups who form part of the No side.
The European Union is great for Ireland, and I do believe that, and I will go against any claims from people who tell me I am anti-European as I am certainly not.
Anyway, The EU is supposed to stick to its status as a democratic union, and while it has maintained this core principal in the past, with the exception of the Nice Treaty, I believe that sadly it has gone against the definition of democracy when after voting No to Lisbon, the Irish people are being told to vote again, informing us that if we don’t vote in favour of Lisbon, so that it will be ratified, we will fall behind Europe.
Now, is this a representation of democracy?!!
This statement telling us that Ireland will lose ground in Europe certainly points to Europe becoming anti-democratic, unless the Yes side are guilty of scare-mongering in this area, so can you blame the Irish people for being confused???!!
Now, as a republican socialist, I believe in the upkeeping and respect for workers’ rights, both in Ireland, in Eurpoe and worldwide.Let me take a look at multinational/transnational companies.
For those of you who may be still unaware of what these are, I will explain: These are firms that have headquarters in one country but own and operate businesses in many other countires, being holding companies that own the majority of shares in a number of other firms located in different countries.
Now, the current corporation tax rate here in Ireland is 12.5%, which is one of the lowest rates in Europe. I personally believe this should be highered, so that European multinational companies that avail from Government grants would actually contribute to Irish society, lessening the burden on the taxpayer.
Now I know that this could also be a separate issue categorised as a separate debate but I wanted to draw you into my next point. Now, I’m not anti-multinational companies because I do have to give respect to EMC, which is functioning well and has been good for employment in my area.
It is when I look at companies such as Dell packing their bags and leaving for another European country, in this case, Poland, on the nearest hint of the word “recession”, that I believe we as the Irish people have to remain vigilent, and fight against this particular direction that Europe is heading because that is not promoting and advocating the safe-guarding of workers’ rights.
It is allowing a company to benefit from the low cost of wages in one county in expense of the worker in a country where the minimum wage is higher. If they get a Government grant and can avail of low corporation tax rates in this country, why should these companies be allowed to use the Irish workers like this??. This is a very important issue which I feel needs to be addressed!!
Finally, I am left-wing. I am not going to go into party politcs about this but one does have to look at the recent European elections and realise that Europe has taken a swing to the right, with the EPP (European Peoples’ Party) gaining the most seats with 265 being won. Now, I do respect that they won their seats democratically but I think that it should not be about left or right-wing policies, it should be about both wings coming together for the people of Europe.
I would like to re-iterate that I am pro-Europe and I believe Ireland has achieved a lot since its membership began in 1973. I am voting No to Lisbon for a more just and fair future for Ireland , domestically and abroad.