Ireland and Lisbon

Ireland and Lisbon

This is a blog by Jim Murray on the proposed (second) referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland.

To declare my position, I favour a Yes vote. I think a Yes vote is in Ireland’s best interest now.

Comments, and comments on comments, are welcome.

Like many Irish people abroad I was dismayed at what happened in the campaign in the first referendum. There were exceptions, but generally there was a huge failure of political leadership on the Yes side. People were patronised – too many politicians just put up posters of themselves (with a view to future elections) and expected that would be enough to persuade people to vote Yes. Concerns that many people had were not addressed. Many of these concerns were not well founded, but that is beside the point – they should have been taken more seriously and better addressed by the Yes side.

Then there were the unfortunate statements by leading supporters of the Yes side – admitting they had not read the full text of the Treaty or even implying that it was not meant to be read. They may argue that their remarks were taken out of context but these are experienced politicians well used to public debate and media reporting, who should know the political effects of what they say.

Some comments from abroad were no help either – implying that Ireland had a duty to vote Yes or threatening all kinds of bad consequences if Ireland did not “toe the line”.

I have little patience with those who blame the No side for the result. There were some lies or misleading claims from some of the people on the No side but the Yes side should have dealt with that.

Enough of looking back. This time we have to set out fairly the many good arguments for voting Yes. (Not all arguments are good arguments. In future blogs, I will try to identify some bad arguments for voting for Lisbon. I will also have a small and I hope very rare feature entitled “With friends like this…” – citing statements from Yes supporters that seem to me to be unhelpful or unpersuasive.)

This time around, the Yes supporters have gotten off to a better start. A number of pro-Yes groups have been formed in Ireland, the chief among them being Ireland for Europe (www.irelandforeurope.ie). Ireland for Europe has an impressive list of patrons, among many others the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, Edge (from U2, an Irish band), Robbie Keane (Spurs and Ireland), Denis Hickie (Irish rugby international),the founders of Riverdance, Moya Doherty and John McColgan, together with Bill Whelen who wrote the music, former Commissioners David Byrne and Peter Sutherland, and former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald.

Irish people in Brussels are getting together to do what we can to support the campaign for a Yes vote – more about this later.


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