5 June 2008 Edition
Debate on the Lisbon Treaty referendum
Writing in the May edition of the Small Firms’ Association magazine Your Business, Labour Party TD Ruairi Quinn states: “I believe the [Lisbon] Treaty will strengthen the hand of the Commission to promote economic growth and will reaffirm its commitment to liberalisation and competitive markets for Irish goods”.
Quinn later in the article prides himself for being aligned in this view with IBEC, the IDA and CEOs of big business.
We in Sinn Féin have long been aware of Labour’s right turn, though this is perhaps one of the most blatant neo-liberal stances taken in public by a senior member of that party. It will be interesting to see whenever a Labour TD next addresses a trade union audience, which section of the market the party wants to see liberalised first. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have already done a good hatchet job on the telecommunications industry in Ireland. Perhaps Labour is intent on supporting the EU Directive to liberalise postal services? Or maybe the public transport system?
The duplicity of Labour in attempting to betray the very people who have traditionally voted for the party was proven without a doubt when, last week, the union most associated with it refused to endorse the Lisbon Treaty without the Irish Government providing domestic protection for workers’ rights. Labour had tried to sell the notion to SIPTU that the Charter of Fundamental Rights would give Irish workers the right to strike and collectively bargain. SIPTU weren’t buying and after much debate came to their own conclusion that these rights must be legislated for in Ireland. Labour’s answer? They attacked the union for trying to effectively represent its own members.
With Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael having firmly sewn up the Irish vote on the right, many would have imagined that Labour might try to revisit its left roots during its current review of itself. But its position and lies on this Treaty have proven that, more than ever, Labour is just a smaller version of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
A FURTHER example of the Irish Government’s underhand tactics in the Lisbon Treaty campaign has been exposed by the French newspaper, Le Figaro. A report in that paper pointed out that the government has interfered in the publication of a white paper outlining plans for security and defence over the next 15 years. Le Figaro said:
“Dublin fears that the parts of white paper devoted to the expansion of European defence policy will feed the ‘No’ vote and ruin the referendum.”
So much for open discussion and democratic debate.
Throughout history we see examples of setbacks in the march towards freedom, where power is centralised in the hands of a few. The arguments for centralising power are always similar – to deliver efficiency and flexibility and make government more effective and responsive to challenging times.
The results are often disastrous.
The most extreme example is when opposition parties lined up with the Nazis to pass the notorious ‘Enabling Act of 1933’ which turned Germany into a dictatorship.
The cumbersome nature of representative government has almost always been cited as the reason to free the hand of those in power, usually with the argument that ‘we need to act decisively in exceptional times’ and, of course, any time can be talked as exceptional.
Over the past eight depressing years George Bush has centralised power in the US through mainly agreed legislation such as the Patriot Act and his notorious ‘signing statement’ which declares he can ignore laws he doesn’t like. This has enabled him to take ‘decisive action’ and start ‘pre-emptive’ wars around the globe and take captives to concentration camps like Guantanamo Bay. All this is done in the name of improved efficiency and flexibility to deal with unique challenges. The results have been catastrophic for the US and the world. War and economic crisis and the US, the richest state in the world, in turmoil and some now say, terminal decline.
The Lisbon Treaty centralises more power in the hands of the EU. Irish opposition parties need to heed the people. Opinion polls show over 30 per cent against this Lisbon Treaty, which means many of their supporters are not with them on this. Can it be that the leaders are out of touch with the people? History, ancient and recent, has many examples of that also!
EU COMMISSION President Jose Manuel Barroso’s ‘warning’ to Irish voters that rejecting the Lisbon Treaty would be a bad move must be seen as nothing short of a direct threat. Hopefully it will backfire against Barroso and the ‘Yes’ camp.
Telling people that unless they vote for something, disaster will follow is straightforward coercion. It has nothing to do with assisting open, democratic debate.
Ireland, and particularly the Republican Movement, has lost a giant. Cliches are too often over used at such times, but no accolades nor praise fully justifies the contributions that this bravest of men has given to the cause of Irish freedom.
Brian was a man with a steel will and conviction. A man of honour and honesty. Honest to his friends and above all to himself. To his family I extend my sincerest sympathy – hold your head high when you speak the name of this great man.
I am proud to have known him.
Caitríona Ruane won’t be bullied
Caitriona Ruane played a pivotal role in the Bring Them Home campaign. During that time she faced the full force of a discredited government, a harsh prison regime and the threat from right-wing paramilitaries. Neither Dominic Bradley nor the other vested Establishment interests will succeed in bullying her. The discredited 11+ is gone. Caitríona, don’t let the b******s grind you down!