July 9, 2009
The date for the second referendum on the Lisbon treaty has now been set for 2nd October. We now have a target date.
For supporters of a Yes vote, the results of the European elections in Ireland were fairly positive. In the North-West, Declan Ganley of Libertas, the most prominent (and the richest) opponent of the Treaty was not elected. In the South, outgoing MEP Kathy Sinnott was not re-elected. In Dublin, outgoing MEP Mary Lou McDonald lost her seat. A new anti-treaty candidate was elected in Dublin – Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party. In this case Socialist does not mean social democratic in the Western European or PES sense. Joe Higgins is an unreconstructed anti-capitalist, Marxist/Trotskyite. By all accounts he is a good man of great integrity and supporter of many progressive causes but he is wrong about the Lisbon Treaty.
One point that may not be well known to readers outside Ireland: The Supreme Court has ruled (in the “McKenna case”), that the government may not use public money to advocate a particular result in a referendum campaign. Campaigns for a Yes or No vote must be funded entirely by private money. For opponents of Lisbon, the Supreme Court judgement also implies that the European institutions may not spend public funds advocating a Yes vote. Of course there is great controversy about what exactly constitutes “advocating”.
The Government is going to send a postcard to every house, detailing the guarantees given to Ireland by the other member states at the July summit. I suspect the postcards will have to pass by the courts on their way to delivery.
In a related judgement, RTE, the Irish public broadcaster, was required to give equal time to both sides in referendum campaigns.Author : Jim Murray