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27 August 2009 Edition

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A real spoofer

Jason O’Mahony is a funny guy. Don’t take my word for it check out his website
He is a former member of the Progressive Democrats with a fetish for Evel Knievel and Terence Trent D’Arby, but don’t let any of that put you off.
The funniest thing on his site is, The Spoofer’s (Improved) Guide to the Lisbon Treaty.
Underwhelmed by the Yes side during the last referendum campaign, O’Mahony decided to take matters into his own hands.
The result is a short and humorous take on the treaty. But just how accurate is The Spoofer’s Guide?
Take the opening page, The Lisbon Treaty in less than 150 Words, including a gratuitous mention of Evel Knievel.
O’Mahony claims that Lisbon ‘is designed to make the EU system, which was designed for six countries, work for more than thirty.’
Unfortunately this is not true. The Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties were all designed to enable the EU to cope with successive waves of enlargement. The Nice Treaty was specifically designed to accommodate the 10 new member states that joined in 2004.
O’Mahony claims that the treaty took eight years to ‘painstakingly negotiate... with every country including Ireland carefully adding their own  “ifs and buts”.  Again not true. The first version of the treaty, known as the EU Constitution was written in private by a number of unelected former right wing politicians. The current version was written by a committee of civil servants, again in private, following the French and Dutch peoples’ rejection of the first version.
O’Mahony claims that Lisbon gives ‘every country a Commissioner’. Now here things get more complicated.  There are currently 27 Commissioners, one for every member state. Since this is the body that both initiates and drafts all legislation this is a good thing. The Nice Treaty proposed a reduction in the size of the commission once the EU grew to more than 27 member states, which it now has. But Nice did not outline the formulae for the new Commission.
Lisbon proposes to reduce the size of the Commission to 18, with each member state getting a Commissioner for ten out of every 15 years. Lisbon also gives the Council the power to alter or amend this proposal.
Following the Irish rejection of Lisbon, the Council of Ministers agreed that if Lisbon were passed they would use this latter power to give each member state a Commissioner in the new Commission. However the problem is that the preferred option of the Council  – to reduce the Commission to 18 – remains in the Treaty and will more than likely be invoked when the next Commission is formed in 2014.
O’Mahony also claims that Lisbon ‘helps the EU fight climate change’. This is not true. There are no new powers, policies, targets or punishments relating to Climate Change in the Lisbon Treaty.
O’Mahony is correct when he mentions that there are new policies regarding criminal justice matters. But he forgets to mention that the Irish government has opted out of most of these.
Most fanciful of all, O’Mahony argues that if we reject the Treaty again, important decisions will no longer take place in the Council, Commission or Parliament, but somewhere else from where the Irish government will be excluded. Here O’Mahony is not just wrong, he is making it up.
Jason O’Mahony is clearly a very funny guy. He is also a passionate supporter of the Lisbon Treaty. Unfortunately his knowledge of the Treaty leaves a lot to de desired. If the first page of his Spoofer’s Guide contains so many factual inaccuracies you have to ask your self why you should keep reading. Clearly it’s not called a Spoofer’s Guide for nothing.

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