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17 January 2008 Edition

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Lisbon Treaty referendum can be won by 'No' campaigners

This week An Phoblacht details the reasons why Irish republicans are calling for a ‘No’ vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The referendum date has yet to be set but it is expected in May. This is another important milestone for democracy in Ireland and nothing less is at stake than the ability of the Irish people to determine our future politically and economically. It is vital that all Sinn Féin members and supporters are mobilised because this is a winnable referendum for the forces of progress.
This week has witnessed the Green Party leadership throw in its lot with the larger establishment parties in the 26 Counties in calling for a ‘Yes’ vote on the treaty.
It should never be forgotten that if successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments had had their way there would have been no referendum on the European Union after that which led to the accession of the 26-County state to the then European Community in 1972. A principled citizen, the late Raymond Crotty, challenged the constitutionality of the Irish Government’s action in adopting the Single European Act in 1987. His victory in the courts meant that governments have had to refer to the people whenever treaties affecting the sovereignty of the 26 Counties have been proposed at EU level. Of course attempts by Irish governments to undermine democracy did not end there and other court battles had to be fought and won to ensure that Government money could not be spent on only one side in a referendum and that the broadcast media treated both sides fairly.
This means that today voters in the 26 Counties are in the unique position of being the only ones in the EU who will be able to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. The stakes are high for the current Fianna Fáil-led government and for their colleagues in the political establishment throughout the EU who want this Treaty passed.
Like its predecessors, the Lisbon Treaty takes more powers away from democratically elected parliaments in EU member states and vests those powers in an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels and Strasbourg. It further undermines our already greatly weakened ability to make economic and political decisions in the interests of the people of Ireland.
Two simple and recent examples illustrate the point. As a result of  EU dictation the Irish government is no longer exempting schools from water charges, resulting in further financial strain on already hard-pressed schools. A laudable attempt by Dublin City Council to provide free ‘wifi’ broadband access to its citizens has been blocked by Brussels as ‘anti-competitive’.
As usual the ‘Yes’ side will peddle the lie that a ‘No’ vote is a vote against EU membership. It is no such thing. It is a vote for stronger democracy at national and EU level. It is a vote for international peace and Irish neutrality. This referendum can be won by those calling for a ‘No’ vote and Sinn Féin will play a vital role in the campaign.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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