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Irish PM: 'No' would kill Lisbon

Mark Mardell | 08:22 UK time, Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The Irish political establishment is, quite literally, lined up calling for a Yes vote in Thursday's referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Three men who represent 80% of Irish voters stand behind three podiums to warn of the dangers of voting No.

Enda Kenny from Fine Gael says it would be "irresponsible and wrong" and Ireland would isolate itself. Labour's Eamon Gilmore declares that, with economic uncertainty ahead, "now is not the time for this country to throw a wobbly". The prime minister, Brian Cowen, who stood between them, said that a No vote would be a vote for uncertainty.

As the leaders posed afterwards for pictures their new-found friendship did not go so far as them agreeing to shake hands. Irish PM Brian Cowen

I asked Mr Cowen what a No vote would mean. He said there would be a "huge sense of disappointment" and "obviously we would not be able to proceed with ratification and the agreed reforms - and if you don't have the agreed reforms you don't have reforms".

So Lisbon would be dead? "Obviously, yes. Every country has to ratify and any one country that doesn't ratify means it can't come into effect."

I suspect they agree with him back at the commission in Brussels. They are braced for a No vote. If that happens, eyes will turn to Britain, to see if Gordon Brown declares ratification is off. That would pull the plug on Lisbon.Irish child with No sign

In any case, there is a strong feeling the Irish could not be asked to vote again and so the project, enshrined in the dead constitution, resurrected in Lisbon, would be dead. Well, dead-ish.

There would be no attempt to renegotiate a second reform treaty. No further tinkering with the text, no treaty of Prague or Stockholm to be signed next year.

What there would be is a dissection of the corpse. Some major parts of both Lisbon and the constitution would be sadly discarded. Plans to get rid of the veto for justice and home affairs, to have a stronger foreign policy , to have a president of the council and beefed-up high representative for foreign affairs, would probably be junked. Some would no doubt try to sneak back to the dustbin and save them for later use. But an Irish No kills aspirations like these, at least for a while.

Other bits of Lisbon, like the plan for EU embassies, or if you prefer, an external action service, don't need a treaty change, so they might happen anyway. The same goes for one of the issues in contention in this referendum - the size of the commission. Plans for a smaller commission were there in an undetailed way in the Nice Treaty and could also go ahead. Ironically, an Irish No would have the effect of bringing them forward by five years.

But perhaps the number of commissioners and the change in the weighting of votes could be adopted in an accession treaty when Croatia joins the EU in 2010 or 2011. It will be interesting to see if Ireland votes on that. But Ireland may still vote Yes: it is on a knife edge and I have changed my mind about the likely result back and forth in the last 24 hours.


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  • 1. At 08:50am on 10 Jun 2008, ScepticMax wrote:

    I find myself in the embarrassing situation of an Englishman begging the Irish to save our bacon.

    Having fought for their freedom and independence from one Empire, one can only hope that our Irish friends will not vote to subsume their proud nation into another.

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  • 2. At 09:01am on 10 Jun 2008, lacerniagigante wrote:

    Re 1: 10 Jun 2008, ScepticMax wrote:

    I find myself in the embarrassing situation of an Englishman begging the Irish to save our bacon.

    Forget it, if you beg too much about wrecking unions, you'll give some ideas to Alex Salmond and his crew (which I'm sure you're loath to even think about). Why don't you relax and watch some Euro 2008 instead, you may learn something from those EU undemocrats ;-) Wake up mate, this is 2008, not 1908.

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  • 3. At 09:06am on 10 Jun 2008, chrisboote wrote:

    Interesting that you now say that "there is a strong feeling the Irish could not be asked to vote again"

    This is the opposite of what has happened in the past; the 'ratchet-democracy' that allows vote after vote until the 'right' answer is obtained, after which point there is never a vote allowed to reverse out of a change

    I hope that the Irish vote 'No', my Irish friends and family say they will vote against because no one has ever explained to them the treaty nor its consequences - they feel that their supine acceptance has been taken for granted, and are angry about that

    And to thoswe who say that the whole EU project should nto be derailed over the wishes of a few million, I agree wholeheartedly

    Let us ALL have a vote, and if the majority of EU subjects agree, the by all means we should press ahead

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  • 4. At 09:09am on 10 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:

    It doesn't mater how your Irish friends will vote: what'll mater is how their votes will be counted.

    "Desperate times call for desperate measures".

    Oh, and for those who worry that a 'no' vote would mean the and to EU Const..err.. Lisbon Treaty.

    Relax. Brussels will simply change a name of the same document and order people to vote on it again. And again. Until final victory.

    After all, what's in a name?

    [may I suggest Ljubljana Pact, or Madrid Compact, or Prague Concord, or Good Friday the 13th Agreement?]

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  • 5. At 09:12am on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    The supporters of the Lisbon Treaty dare not speak the truth as to what it is really about, resorting instead to meaningless maxims: "We need to build Europe," "Europe needs a new start," "Let’s be more European!", they say. Their argument is that we need to build Europe because we need to build Europe. Their method is to present the opponents of the resurrected constitution as dangerous reactionaries. They predict great disasters will befall the reluctant, but the purpose of the alarmist rhetoric is always to hide the true political nature of the project.

    Afraid to come out and argue the case for a federal Europe they still refuse to consider alternatives. "There is no Plan B" they say. "Europe had to get out of the rut it is in". This kind of phrase shows that Brussels still believes that 27 sovereign nations can be united in a political union using the Monnet method of integration by stealth, first putting the constitutional framework in place and deferring the need for popular legitimacy to a later day. This is the Brussels mentality that must be broken.

    The Brussels Plan A must be replaced by another that recognises the need for "Government of the people, by the people, for the people" and that Brussels does not have one. The Plan B should acknowledge that the maximum of decisions should be decided within the democratic arena of the nation-state with the EU having a minimalist role focussing only on cross-border issues to protect the people of one country from harmful activities carried out in another.

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  • 6. At 09:13am on 10 Jun 2008, Mmmm_beans wrote:

    Come on Ireland, save us all! Vote NO.

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  • 7. At 09:15am on 10 Jun 2008, Gheryando wrote:

    If they vote yes, good, if they vote No, even better. That way, we can finally go on with the real EUropeans like France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Benelux (and newcomers if they wish) and form a real political union. Should Ireland vote no, then its like a girlfriend ditching you and you tell yourself: she wasnt right for you anyways. Furthermore, 1% of total EU population can be recovered in a year through immigration. I understand the UK has traditionally been sceptic but if Ireland votes no, then they have proven that they arent mature enough by following scaremongering fringe parties.

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  • 8. At 09:22am on 10 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    So if this gets approved can the EU force Ireland to change its corporate tax rate from 12.5%? If it does they should definitely vote no.

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  • 9. At 09:26am on 10 Jun 2008, asamorgen wrote:

    If the Irish vote no, they should do the decent thing and withdraw from the union, allowing the EU to go ahead make the badly-needed reforms which are contained within the Lisbon treaty. We are all part of Europe, and you have to see the wider picture, not limited purely to national self-interest. Perhaps this view will prevail in the upcoming vote; it'll be interesting to watch the results.

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  • 10. At 09:26am on 10 Jun 2008, Evphil wrote:

    The reason there is some confusion over here is because of fringe groups like Sinn Fein and Libertas engaging in a deliberate campaign of misinformation. Their hope is that if people don't understand what they are voting for they will vote No. At this stage are telling bare faced lies to derail the treaty.

    These same groups are out with the same old tired arguments every time we Irish get to vote on Europe. Their dire forecasts have never surfaced - and their not going too.

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  • 11. At 09:36am on 10 Jun 2008, Josey85 wrote:

    "Some major parts of both Lisbon and the constitution would be sadly discarded"

    I thought it was the job of the bbc to report the news not give your opinion on events, this is typical of pro-euro reporting as any anit-euro events are not reported, welcome to the totalitarian state that is being created.

    Come on Ireland save our skin

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  • 12. At 09:36am on 10 Jun 2008, Gaspode2008 wrote:

    Ireland, notably one of the Member States which have benefitted most from EC/EU membership, should in any event vote 'yes'. They should do so for several reasons:

    1. The vote is not on whether the Irish approve of their EU membership or not, it is not about voting out of the organisation (which certainly is NOT an empire!) but on a treaty that basically simplifies its administration and makes it more efficient which can only be in the mutual interest of all Europeans.

    2. One of the elements of Lisbon is that it is helping - and not hindering - democratization of the Union and strengthening the rights of individuals, e.g. by cross-refering to the EU Charter of Human Rights, making it legally binding.

    3. Economic integration is already way further developed than is known to the average European, so that in fact much of Europe's economic and trade policy is made in Europe, not in, say, Paris or Dublin. Is it not better then to facilitate unity rather than to maintain an administrative monster which seriously threatens Europes position in the world economy?

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  • 13. At 09:36am on 10 Jun 2008, angobansaor wrote:

    The following must be wrong in the 2nd sentence above ... "Three men who represent 8% of Irish voters". Perhaps 80% is what was meant?

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  • 14. At 09:39am on 10 Jun 2008, The_Guvnor wrote:

    I urge the Irish to vote NO.

    If for no other reason than none of the other 26 EU states being allowed to air their voice as there is no room for democracy or accountability in the EU.

    Once this treaty is passed there will be no way of having a referendum on such future treaties and I hope everybody is aware of this fact.

    If you want to imagine the future under EU dictatorship then I think Orwell summed it up best -

    "Imagine a a jackboot stamping on a human face, forever..."

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  • 15. At 09:44am on 10 Jun 2008, Evphil wrote:

    @knight321: No. Our corporation tax rates will be decided by us. Even if we ratify the treaty we maintain the same veto rights that the U.K. does. In a stronger Europe there will come a time when we don't need such a low tax rate as our dependence on foreign investment will be significantly reduced.

    @Gaspode2008: Yes, I couldn't agree more.

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  • 16. At 09:51am on 10 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 9, you repeat the simplistic mantra that people can either vote yes to this and go along with the E.U. project or leave the E.U.

    Reminds me of an experience from childhood when the person who owned the football said we had to play by his rules or not at all.

    No, the Europen countries are mature democracies populated by educated people. If they want to decide to slow down the process or even try to reverse it while within the E.U., that is for them to decide. Similarly if they want to leave or stay in the E.U. and vote for increasing integration that is for them to decide.

    Please do not presume to limit peoples choices in a democracy. If given the chance I would not vote to leave the E.U. but would vote against any further integration and to roll back of the E.U.'s area of competence.

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  • 17. At 09:58am on 10 Jun 2008, cold_dead_hands wrote:

    Of course these national politicians want a yes vote. As soon as there respective countries get tired of their graft and slimey shenannigans they will be able to board the gravy train to an even bigger Brussels beauracracy and suckle at the teat of the Nanny State.

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  • 18. At 09:58am on 10 Jun 2008, mvdejong wrote:

    As a Dutchman I hope that the Irish will save us from this irreversible commitment to a bad thing.

    Since we Dutch, as many other nations in Europe, are denied our own vote because our governments know that we would vote against, again, I hope the Irish realize that they will not stand alone in their NO-vote, but are the only nation which has been allowed to express itself.

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  • 19. At 10:22am on 10 Jun 2008, josieblogger wrote:

    I am surprised by the comment made by scepticmax, you fought for OUR freedom, you may need to go back to your history books and read our history.

    We fought for 800 years for our freedom and we are not going to sign it away with the Lisbon Treaty

    We are not prepared to give up our constitution to become part of another empire where the rights of the family, children, the unborn and the elderly will be torn to shreds, where our culture and beliefs will be consigned to the dustbin of a new Secular Europe. If you read the treaty you will find that full information is not 'Yet' available on all aspects of the 'PLAN', would you sign a contract where there were areas of incompleteness, more fool you if you did.

    Giving our MP's and UK MP's high positions in Europe with grand pay packets to sell their countries down the drain, Tony did it without the consent of the UK voters, that is all you matter to him, that is all the British Constitution matter to him.

    They have tried to influence the young with their plans (you know get them while they are in the pram, Hitler did the same) Brainwashing our young.

    Keep a close eye lest you make a terrible mistake.

    Think outside the box and don't march silently into the abyss. This is just another empire buildup programme where the individual voice will no longer matter and the few will gain even more power over the masses

    'NO' to Lisbon

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  • 20. At 10:39am on 10 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:


    i think maybe you misunderstood what he meant. To me it comes across as him saying that the Irish fought for their own freedom.

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  • 21. At 10:48am on 10 Jun 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    What astonishes and annoys me about the EU is the total arrogance of it all. References to 'going back to the dust-bin' are spot on - they would try and circumvent the democratic will of the people, as they did before when others voted against the Constitution.

    The Americans have a very useful, if slightly rude, question for this which seems apposite at the moment...


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  • 22. At 10:48am on 10 Jun 2008, wickedmessenger01 wrote:

    Re Josey 85's comment on Mardell's sentence: "Some major parts of both Lisbon and the Constitution would be sadly discarded".
    J85 seems to think Mardell is saying "sadly, some parts etc. would be discarded" - which would of course not be proper BBC impartiality.
    But in fact, given the placing of the word "sadly", that can't be what MM means.
    He is saying that the people who wanted them in the treaty would be sad about discarding them: they would be discarded in a sad manner (picture it).
    BBC not guilty. Keep up, Josey!

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  • 23. At 10:49am on 10 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    After reading repetitive posts in favor of No, I only see scaremonging reasons that could be shortened in this sentence:

    "EU wants to swallow little happy countries, or Arcadias, in order to create a superstate managed by dark bureaucrats from their Brussels offices".

    Where is the alternative of the negative vote? Nowhere. Just fear of globalisation.

    As we saw in the French referendum, the No can come from antagonistic directions: the far right appealing to fear of mass immigration; whilst the far left considered the Constitution "too much Anglosaxon, blessing the free market".

    The sceptic Anglosaxons will say otherwise to oppose it: the Lisbon treaty is interventionist.

    Anythin goes. Nihilism, fears and contradictions become good reasons to stop any constructive project.

    Despite all this nonsense, I trust Irish will vote in positive to dismantel unfounded prejudices.

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  • 24. At 10:56am on 10 Jun 2008, Evphil wrote:

    @josieblogger: How on earth will we loose our constitution by ratifying the Lisbon treaty?! Please explain that to me.

    And do we really need to compare people to Hitler just because they have different points of view to ourselves.

    I can see know why such a cutting sentiment of Irish voters was expressed in comment 7.

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  • 25. At 11:00am on 10 Jun 2008, Freeman wrote:

    "Some major parts of both Lisbon and the constitution would be sadly discarded"

    I am assuming Mr Mardell was referring to the sadness the Eurocrats will feel when they dispense of parts of the Constitution... for a little while anyway.

    As many, including myself, have pointed out many times and will continue to do so....

    A government without the mandate of the people has no more legitimacy than an invading army. Play with paper as much as you like, this will never change. I have no desire to see an Anti-EU terrorist group forming during my latter years but we could easily end up in that situation. The best we can hope for is a reluctant EU. Give Europe a choice and lets us ALL have a real talk and decision about Europe. Countries never form without hope and aspirations. Strongarming can never bring you that.

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  • 26. At 11:10am on 10 Jun 2008, daveratters wrote:

    I would vote yes for the treaty IF I was given the chance to by our corrupt elites - but as I'm denied the chance to express my wishes regarding the new EU constitution (that's what it is - no matter how much it is spun by the politicians), along with the rest of the hundreds of millions of voters in the other 26 EU countries, I beg Irish voters to send a clear message to the Elite. Vote no - please, for the sake of the rest of us.

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  • 27. At 11:35am on 10 Jun 2008, sjamapa wrote:

    I am fervently pro-European, have lived in three different European countries and voted in European elections in each of those countries - and I would urge the Irish voters to say 'no' to the treaty proposed.

    The treaty proposed further increases the concentration of power in the hands of the centre, away from voters in the individual member states, and the opposite is needed. The Union should first deal with the existing democratic deficits, give voters more say in the Union's policies and limit the disproportionate influence of special interest groups.

    Only when democratic safeguards are in place will European peoples vote for any further centralisation, streamlining and simplification be trusted by the European peoples. Until then, it must be clear that the EU-construct being built in Brussels will remain faceless, un-democratic and unloved. Until then, many governments, including the UK government, and the EU itself can only shy away from any democratic tests (which they know they will lose).

    It is time for democracy to start replacing bureaucracy at a European level. Some things, an insightful man once said, you don't do because they are easy, but because they are hard. Trying to manipulate repeat elections until the 'right' answer is voted will only increase Europeans' dissatisfaction with their politicians.

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  • 28. At 11:35am on 10 Jun 2008, Beansof57 wrote:

    I can't help sending a rousing cheer to all those who, like myself, are hoping that the Irish can save us from this constitution. Even though they are going to have to keep going back to the polls till they come up with the "right" answer.

    Until some sort of democratic control is in place to pull the snouts of the self-perpetuating bureaucrats in Brussels out of their ever bigger trough, we should never vote for the constitution, however good other parts may be, it's the pen pushers whose only objective is making more work for themselves who have the power.

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  • 29. At 11:37am on 10 Jun 2008, purpleDogzzz wrote:

    The globalist elite want you to vote yes to increase the size of their trough at your expense. If you do not clearly understand the intricacies of this treaty, vote NO. After all, this will be your last chance. After Lisbon comes the destruction of nation states and the introduction of undemocratic pan-national regions lead my mini-dictatorships who answer to the European elitists who in turn answer to the global elitists who are setting up such pan-national "Unions" all over the globe as stepping stones to a global dictatorship.

    Look back 50 years, are we becoming more free? more democratic? or is the world heading towards a new world order?

    This is your last chance to stop and reflect. VOTE NO!

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  • 30. At 11:42am on 10 Jun 2008, AqualungCumbria wrote:

    The Irish have to be applauded for giving their people a vote in the first place.

    Our spineless masters wont honour their commitment to give us one but believe me the next time we do get a vote it will be remembered.

    Many thanks to the Irish for showing us how democracy is supposed to work which ever way the vote goes thats your choice and 100's of millions of others aren't going to get that choice.

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  • 31. At 11:44am on 10 Jun 2008, J_Nelson wrote:

    United we stand, divided we fall. I think people should look back into the history of the United States of America, their union of which, despite what they want you to believe, was in many cases reluctanly agreed to by many states. It wasn't until after the US Civil war that the US started to describe itself as one nation rather than a collection of Nations. Not that I am suggestion a nation of Europe, but we are all nations of Europe and when you look at history there have always been movements towards Union of some kind or another. Why? Because united we stand, divided we fall.

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  • 32. At 11:51am on 10 Jun 2008, peregrine69 wrote:

    I will be bitterly disappointed if the Irish do not vote no because if the vote goes the other way it we will never have another chance to blow the treaty out of the water and become another distasteful memory that should never have emerged.

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  • 33. At 11:51am on 10 Jun 2008, In Vitrio wrote:

    Remember all those British politicians telling us that joining the EU and signing up to Maastricht would lead to no loss of sovereignty?

    Now the future of British law depends on how people in a foreign country vote.


    Of course, we can't have a vote, because the Labour government and Liberal opposition have vomited on their manifesto commitments.

    The barefaced lies of those politicians is only dwarfed by the idiocy of the electorate that is happy to vote for them.

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  • 34. At 11:55am on 10 Jun 2008, Brendan_Wexford wrote:

    I will be voting No.

    I was going to vote yes until last week when the three main parties all said we should vote yes and trust them that they would not sell us a pup!! - Politicians are all the same the world over.

    The other thing that concerns me is the rotation of the commissioners in that Ireland will only have a commissioner for 10 out of every 15 years and as everyone knows five years is a long time in politics not to mention a day.

    So I will be voting No.
    I would like to vote yes but I don’t believe that Ireland will have a big enough say in the way Europe goes forward and will be increasingly run by the big two France and Germany if the treaty is passed.

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  • 35. At 11:57am on 10 Jun 2008, purpleDogzzz wrote:

    To quote Mark mardell:

    "and so the project, enshrined in the dead constitution, resurrected in Lisbon, would be dead. Well, dead-ish."

    So, Mark, you admit that this Lisbon Treaty IS indeed the old constitution by another name! About time too. Quick, high-tail it over to Downing Street and start hectoring Brown for our promised referendum!!!

    As for a no vote rendering the treaty dead and the Irish will not be asked to vote again? Nonsense! That is the impression that the yes camp would like to project, in order to "guilt trip" people into supporting their own incarceration within an unelected oligarchy.

    They said the same of Nice and of the No vote in France and Holland and yet here is the same, unchanged inexorable slow evil march to an eventual European dictatorship. I mean, what do we have to do to kill it? It's like Jason in the Friday the 13th films. It just keep coming back, and NOT by popular demand either. The people of Europe support co-operation between states and countries working together on common policies, but not complete integration and submission to a new sovereign country complete with the total eradication of their old nations as they are split up into pan national regions. There is NOTHING xenophobic about that. In fact rampant pro Europhillia is xenophobic as it is an irrational hatred of the independent nation state as a threat to the global elite's plan for a new world order.

    If voting No kills this thing once and for all, I say GOOD! and not a moment too soon.

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  • 36. At 11:57am on 10 Jun 2008, vermelhu wrote:

    I'm Irish, and I'm voting No. It's my choice, and it's one I cherish. Much as I would love a more structured Europe, I dislike how Lisbon is being touted as "more democratic". I'm hard-pressed to see how.

    Ireland is the only country to have Lisbon go to referendum. This in itself seems counter-democratic to me. There will be an unelected EU president. The Commission is also unelected.

    The majority of the body of the Treaty has been voted on by both France and Holland before, under the guise of the EU Constitution. It wasn't passed. Now, rebranded, it has been decided on over their heads.

    I've been open to the Treaty... I've researched it, read it, listened to both sides of the debate. I remain wholly unconvinced by the Yes side, who in most of the debates I've heard have resorted to smear tactics, and misdirection rather than discuss the issues. That isn't to say the No side were that much better, but they did address the issues, and I've found myself more and more swayed to the No side, loathe as I am to side with Sinn Féin or Libertas. Still, until I vote on Thursday evening, I will remain listening for something to change my mind.

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  • 37. At 11:57am on 10 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    POST 14 "The Guv'nor"

    "Once this treaty is passed there will be no way of having a referendum on such future treaties and I hope everybody is aware of this fact."

    So are you saying that if Ireland passes this treaty, that in the future Ireland would not have referendums for new treaty's? I thought his was guaranteed under the Irish constitution?

    Maybe you were just talking about the other EU members?

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  • 38. At 11:59am on 10 Jun 2008, vermelhu wrote:

    An addition to my last post... Once Lisbon is passed, it is self-amending. No more referenums needed. We won't have a vote. Again, not something I would embrace.

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  • 39. At 11:59am on 10 Jun 2008, purpleDogzzz wrote:

    J Nelson, "Because united we stand, divided we fall. "

    Yes and we can be united WITHOUT further integration. The EU gravy train has gone FAR ENOUGH. We are a united Europe already. What the EU wants to do is destroy the nation state next!

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  • 40. At 12:10pm on 10 Jun 2008, MauraOD wrote:

    I am Irish and I live in Andalucia, Spain- where, through the negligence of our regional and local planning authorities, I (along with some 3,000-6,000 others) now own an 'illegal' home.

    I say vote YES in the referendum. An EU constitution will give people like me much greater protection when we choose to live in another EU state.

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  • 41. At 12:11pm on 10 Jun 2008, Steve Sutton wrote:

    C'mon Ireland, we all love you!

    Vote NO!

    If it's possible, we'll love you even more! :)

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  • 42. At 12:14pm on 10 Jun 2008, solpugid wrote:

    Can there now be any excuse remaining for failing to hold a British referendum on this 'Treaty'?

    A modest proposal: might not Scotland just jog Mr Brown's elbow by holding their own referendum on Europe? Those seeking independence must surely be prepared to think independently. Is it time to begin to define Scotland's potential position as a European state? The 'Treaty' presents an independence issue for both nations, for different reasons, but for real.

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  • 43. At 12:14pm on 10 Jun 2008, colmacgearailt wrote:

    In response to comment 7:
    "If they vote yes, good, if they vote No, even better. That way, we can finally go on with the real EUropeans like France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Benelux (and newcomers if they wish) and form a real political union."

    If these so-called real European countries were given a chance to vote do you think the outcome would be 'yes' in all (any?) cases? I highly doubt it! The fact that all countries are not given a chance to vote is the single greatest reason to vote 'No'. As an Irish person living abroad I'm still not sure which way I would vote if I was at home - I am fundamentally pro-European but the democratic deficit within the EU, illustrated by the fact that Ireland are the only country voting on the Treaty, is a very serious issue.

    As commented by sjampa (comment 27):
    "It is time for democracy to start replacing bureaucracy at a European level"

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  • 44. At 12:16pm on 10 Jun 2008, yralthegd1sgne wrote:

    i would ask all irish people to vote no. living in northern ireland we cant vote on it as gordon brown doesnt want to upset his chums in europe but the irish still can save us.
    the EU was set up as a economic partnership. to help out other members with grants and farming subsidies, as a economic union with free trade and all that. but now the EU is somewhat straying from that, wanting to create an EU constitution and a super federal state. if the treaty goes through the EU will have more power over us as if it didnt already with all the daft laws comin from brussels. we will al lose our national identity as they take over our embassies, change our laws and more. too much power is alreayd going to the EU i dont want to see them have any more.

    in the uncertain economic times we now face i would say the EU should forget about this daft treaty and get back to basics helping out their people, do something about the price of oil or inflation not worrying about how they can get more power and hang onto it.

    i believe the polish PM was right in saying that germany couldnt take over europe through military means now it is trying to do so through political means, as we all know that germany and france run the EU, being the biggest countries and contributing most to the EU budget.

    the new voting system based on population, how many people would represent ireland? one? two?

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  • 45. At 12:16pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    J_Nelson (31) : You are absolutely wrong to suggest that the US was ever anything other than one nation from the start. The US Constitution after all, written in the 1780s, begins with the words “We the people”. This cannot be said of Europe today which consists of many peoples. So long as Europe consists of multiple nations then democratic government requires that there be multiple nation-states in Europe.

    The interests of the peoples of Europe are not necessarily aligned with those of politicians unless there are democratic mechanisms to force this alignment. Democracy has never existed outside the context of the nation-state because majority votes are only accepted within that context. The formation of the Irish state in 1921 for example was a statement that the Irish nation would not agree to be bound by majority decisions of the Westminster parliament which the Irish opposed. The politicians pushing the EU project will be only be too glad if they can misuse the good name of Europe to shuffle off democratic checks on their power by transferring ever more power to EU Councils that are effectively a power cartel where they agree to run one another’s countries overriding the wishes of national electorates when they please.

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  • 46. At 12:19pm on 10 Jun 2008, plonkeroo wrote:

    The EU is nothing more than a growing fascist bureaucracy. Little did we realise at the time that the Common Market was to be the springboard for this to happen.

    We need to dismantle the EU without further delay. It is an affront to freedom and democracy.

    The Soviet Union was successfully dismantled so why not the European Union.

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  • 47. At 12:20pm on 10 Jun 2008, joffmanning wrote:

    surely 80% of voters are represented by the big three, not 8%?

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  • 48. At 12:21pm on 10 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    "31. At 11:44 am on 10 Jun 2008, J_Nelson wrote:"

    Interesting points and typically conservatives and liberals in America have two completely different types of views. In Europe the differences between people are much less and generally people have many of the same beliefs. The one problem is that every single country in Europe has a strong national identity and pride. I really don't see the European Union ever being the united nation that people think it will become. I think it can become closer and work together but I don't think that you will ever have people be more proud to be European than Irish, English, French, etc. Take for example 9/11, no matter what type of beliefs you had at that time, all Americans were united. If something like that happened say to France, it would be interesting to see if the entire EU was ready to go to war for France? (similar to Afghanistan)

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  • 49. At 12:22pm on 10 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 40 the problem in that part of Spain has also been a problem for spanish citizens, not just foreign nationals. Are you saying this treaty will allow the E.U to overturn decisions on planning made by national and local Governments. If you are, another reason to say no.

    If mistakes are made it is up to the National Government to rectify, this should be no part of the E.U's jurisdiction.

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  • 50. At 12:25pm on 10 Jun 2008, WhiteHorses11 wrote:

    About time we got rid of the crooks in Brussels altogether but this'll do during the interim - we'll even give Ireland 12 points in the next eurovision charade :oD

    And that concludes the votes of the Great Britain Jury......

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  • 51. At 12:26pm on 10 Jun 2008, Smeashy wrote:

    This referendum is frustrating to observe. A decisive factor seems to be the amount of people who don't understand the treaty and are consequently persuaded to vote no. Ironically, had it have been the constitution they were voting on, there would have been much greater clarity in exactly what was being established: a document accesible for the benefit of European citizens.

    What we have now, is a tehnical document designed for diplomats and political professionals. Ultimately, the treaty isn't designed to be readily understood by the public, and as a result won't be! The no vote is trumping this middle ground of uncertainty with hysteria. The referendum seems to be floating on trust more than understanding.

    Frankly, I'm happy I won't get to make the decision here in NI, whichever way the vote goes on Thursday.

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  • 52. At 12:33pm on 10 Jun 2008, Alex wrote:

    At the end of the day, how will the Treaty affect the average man/woman on the street? It will not. Therefore, do we actually need it? No. The quotes MM gives by the Irish polititions are scaremongering in the extreme. Nothing bad will happen if there is a "no" vote. So go ahead people of the only apparent democracy in the EU, vote "no" and show these egotistical and arrogant polititions what we think of them.

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  • 53. At 12:39pm on 10 Jun 2008, Munnyn wrote:

    In reply to post 11., it should be noted that Mr Mardell wrote,

    'Some major parts of both Lisbon and the constitution would be sadly discarded.'

    and not,

    'Sadly, some major parts of both Lisbon and the constitution would be discarded.'

    There is a clear and significant difference between these two statements.

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  • 54. At 12:42pm on 10 Jun 2008, vermelhu wrote:

    You can hardly say it doesn't affect the average person on the street. National policies affect everyone. Whether you're aware of it or not depends on yourself. It will affect taxes, and as such whether multinational companies decide to locate in your country, which in turn affects jobs... Massive knock-on effects on the economy. Also, the Treaty has primacy over national law. Not an insignificant point.

    So it affects the average man/woman on the street. If you're unaware of how, well, that's your choice not to find out.

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  • 55. At 12:43pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:

    I'm another Irishman voting no.

    Being unable to make head nor tail of the rhetoric from both sides of the campaign I did some digging around and the only reliable and half understandable information I could find is constitutional amendment we'll be voting on.

    We'll effectively be giving control of our constitution from the electorate (us) to the politicians (them).

    Given the ease at which some of our politicians have been bought and sold over the last few years this doesn't strike me as the best idea in the world...

    If you're Irish and still undecided, don't take anyone else's word for granted including mine. Go out and find some facts for yourself and make up your own mind.

    Voting in something you don't understand is pretty much the equivalent of voting in Michael Jackson as the next Taoiseach.

    Both the constitutional amendment and the Lisbon Treaty text can be found on Referendum Commission's website. G'luck trying to decipher the Lisbon Treaty...

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  • 56. At 12:44pm on 10 Jun 2008, Walshicus wrote:

    Yet again the parties of xenophobes and opportunists threaten to wreck progress and efficiency through targetted campaigns of misinformation... all in the name of patriotism.

    It seems patriotism is a by-word for lying through your teeth. Gods save us from self declared "patriots".

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  • 57. At 12:47pm on 10 Jun 2008, WeAreDan wrote:

    First off, I am an Irish voter and would consider myself staunchly european and pro-EU. I am still voting no to the lisbon treaty, as are the VAST majority of my friends and family.

    Our reasons range from simply refusing to sign something they don't understand to believing it to be insufficiently democratic (though a it was a step in the right direction), especially given that further power is transferred from the people.

    to mvdejong re: post 18. The fact the rest of europe, especially the French and Dutch who voted against the constitution(which lisbon is just a repainted version of) is a garish example of the democratic deficit in th EU, I am all for the EU, even for further integration (though not without limits) but it needs to be a democratic union, with accoun tability and transparency even at its highest levels.

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  • 58. At 12:48pm on 10 Jun 2008, kapenaar wrote:

    C'mon us on the continent! we who were denied a vote and vote NO!

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  • 59. At 12:53pm on 10 Jun 2008, overseaschinese wrote:

    re comment by post 9.
    reminds me of encounters with americans in the usa. "if you are not with me, you are against me". if you don't like it, get the hell out.

    we live in a democracy. this is what make us so great. the other member-states of the eec have not have the courage to have referenda because they know the people will reject it. they are all waiting for the proud people of the small state of eire to reject it and consign the lisbon treaty to history. i am very proud, as an irish national, that we require a referendum to vote on this, as this requires a change in our constitution.

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  • 60. At 12:55pm on 10 Jun 2008, Mark wrote:

    Eamon Gilmore's argument for Lisbon -- as many politicians -- amounts to simplistic fear mongering when referring to economic uncertainty followed by, "now is not the time for this country to throw a wobbly."

    Recent use of fear mongering by professional politicians include, of course, Iran. How long will people allow themselves to be deceived in this manner?

    My hope is the Irish see through these self serving political hacks and their incitement of fear.

    Brown is fearful of the outcome should he "allow" the English to vote on the EU treaty. Brown appears to favour "allowing" a ratification vote only if polls indicate it would go his way. A sad commentary indeed.

    Brown's next, logical, step is to follow America's example and control the tabulation of voting; no worries then. All that is left of democracy in America are the props and PR to pacify the people. Let's not let that happen anywhere in the United Kingdom.

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  • 61. At 12:55pm on 10 Jun 2008, kapenaar wrote:

    Ireland give the silent masses in Europe a voice and vote NO. A No vote would be a vote for democracy.

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  • 62. At 12:57pm on 10 Jun 2008, Bob Long wrote:

    Any proposal from the EU to do anything other than increasing accountability in the organisation should be rejected out of hand.

    Once we have some semblance of democracy within the EU organisation itself, then is the time to start discussing constitutions and technical treaties.

    Until then, everyone should do everything they can to block any and all EU business no matter what it is or who it benefits in the short term, because in the long term it's currently all designed to benefit the political classes at our expense.

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  • 63. At 1:03pm on 10 Jun 2008, mancroft wrote:

    I pray to God that the Irish people vote NO and help deliver us from the evil that is the EU.

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  • 64. At 1:05pm on 10 Jun 2008, Fionavroom wrote:

    Well said, asamorgen! If Ireland says no it should then follow up and leave the EU. This way much money can be saved and given to the EU areas that really need it, rather than self-proclaimed 'richest in Europe' Irish people. With unemployment increasing by the thousand, the credit crunch and disastrous health system and infrastructures I don't feel that Ireland has a very bright future on its own at the moment. Perhaps it can finally become another US state? What Irish people forget in their opposition to 'Europe' is that the EU has brought important changes for the workers here, such as equal pay for women, a more regulated working time (and more holidays!). By the way: where is Bono?

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  • 65. At 1:10pm on 10 Jun 2008, jc wrote:

    Come on the Irish and use the spirit of Eurovision... . Vote NO!! Tactical voting rules!!

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  • 66. At 1:12pm on 10 Jun 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:


    Please save Europe from this monstrosity and vote "NO!!"

    It could mean fascist continental policemen on the streets of Ireland and the UK trying to enforce continental laws which we do not want, enacted by bodies which we do not recognise and which we despise.

    It won't bring peace in Europe!

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  • 67. At 1:12pm on 10 Jun 2008, 1OUTTA27 wrote:

    I'm getting a little irate reading comments from those who belittle Ireland's adherence to democracy.

    The EU is often quick to lecture others on the need for democracy, as are many of the states comprising the EU.

    1 state out of 27 is asking its citizens for assent to a major alteration to the structures of governance across most of the continent.

    Instead of derogatory remarks to the effect that our measly little 1% of the EU's population should be ignored by the rest, why aren't others demanding that their democratic voices are listened to by their leaders? Why have citizens across the EU put in power those who have no intention of even asking their electorates if they actually want these new and significantly enlarged roles for the unelected eurocrats and budding diplomats of the EU?

    I don't recall a single political party now in power in Europe going to their electorate in their general election on a pro-Lisbon treaty ticket. Despite this fact, the political and business elites across the EU take it as a given that their citizens have embraced Lisbon.

    Let us never hear again about democratic accountability in the EU. This foisting of the wish list of the Rich and Powerful upon almost half a billion people without their consent simply stinks.

    I'm a proud European who has usually voted in favour of the EU, but I'm sickened by the bulldozing of the people of Europe by their 'betters'.

    Ireland has many faults, but our constitutional requirement for the citizens to be consulted on their futures is not one of them.

    Lay off Ireland, and start demanding true democracy in your own states. Or are you, as Jimmy Carter described the EU, too supine.

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  • 68. At 1:18pm on 10 Jun 2008, Red Lenin wrote:

    The Irish must vote no for the sake of what little democracy we have left.

    A yes vote, followed by pan-EU ratification and implementation doesn't just transfer political power upwards, it also transfers it across to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.

    The bureaucrats MUST remain fully accountable to politicians and the politicians MUST remain fully accountable at all times over all things to us the people.

    Please Ireland, vote no or the ballot box will become an irrelevance.

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  • 69. At 1:18pm on 10 Jun 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    "Plans to get rid of the veto for justice and home affairs, to have a stronger foreign policy , to have a president of the council and beefed-up high representative for foreign affairs, would probably be junked." says the great Mark.

    Coordinated "justice" could mean German laws like not being able to mow you lawn or wash your car on a Sunday. It could mean any policeman being able to lock you up for three days if he considers you a "danger." It could mean the police being able to gun you down if you do not stop as happened recently in Austria to an unarmed man.

    Don't want it! Won't recognise it!

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  • 70. At 1:18pm on 10 Jun 2008, 1OUTTA27 wrote:


    "Where is Bono?"

    Grow up, you child!

    The electorates in France and Holland ditched the failed EU Constitution (96% of Lisbon, for the uninformed) back in the day when they had true democratic accountability. Were they threatened with being kicked out of the EU as some idiots are recommending in the case of Ireland?

    As a NO voter, I say to you all: keep the threats coming. We Irish are quaking in our boots.

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  • 71. At 1:20pm on 10 Jun 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    67. At 1:12 pm on 10 Jun 2008, 1OUTTA27

    Well written. Never was a truer word spoken!

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  • 72. At 1:21pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:

    asamorgen and Fionavroom,

    by that line of reasoning France and Holland should've followed up and left the EU after rejecting the EU Constitution in their referendums.

    From my albeit poor understanding, the Lisbon Treaty is just a repackaged version on the ill fated EU Constitution.

    Maybe ye should do some research and try and educate yourselves a little before making such comments on a public forum.

    Hopefully people going to the polls on Thursday will show a little more gumption than you guys...

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  • 73. At 1:25pm on 10 Jun 2008, DanInCork wrote:

    I am voting yes because the amount of scaremongering and lies told by the 'No' campaign has been nothing short of unbelievable. We've had everything from tax, abortion, trade to comments that we will be forced to legalize hard drugs!

    It is sickening to listen to Sinn Fein waffle on about neutrality given that they and their cohorts have a private army at their disposal.

    The EC/EU has been good for Ireland ( not only in terms of funding) but I think it has allowed Ireland to develop and mature and to escape from Britain's post colonial shadow.

    I think the result on Thursday will be very tight but I'm hoping for a yes

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  • 74. At 1:28pm on 10 Jun 2008, Walshicus wrote:

    Did you read that in The Sun or the like? Are you the victim of misinformation, the perpetrator or both? There is nothing in the Reform Treaty that would put foreign police on domestic streets. Nothing.

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  • 75. At 1:30pm on 10 Jun 2008, Smeashy wrote:

    RE: Post 66

    'It won't bring peace in Europe"

    The past 50 years since the Rome Treaty have brought perhaps the only period in all European history where there has been any genuine, interdependant and mutually benefical peace across the significant majority of the continent

    I'm surprised and dissapointed by the level hatred for the EU on here. Is it just a signal of the generations post war, that we can take for granted the most protected rights in the world, and flippently dismiss the institutional standard for them in a barrage of parochialism and lack of understanding?

    I'm not ever so enthused for the Lisbon treaty myself, but to even suggest that a yes vote would bring about 'fascist continental policemen' to the streets of EU member states is an insult to nations where there actually are totalitarian security forces patrolling the streets.

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  • 76. At 1:31pm on 10 Jun 2008, daveratters wrote:

    Could not agree more 1OUTTA27 (#67) - there is a huge democratic vacuum in the rest of the 26 EU nations - they are acting much more like dictorships - I understand the various governments fear the power of the even less electorally valid privately owned media organisations - ie. Murdoch doesn't want a united Europe.

    The answer isn't just to shut the electorate out to defeat the wishes of a view powerful moguls - but to take them head on with legistation that outlaws any one person controlling more than a small percentage of media in the EU.

    This of course would be at odds with the likes of Berlusconi in Italy, and frighten the pants off of snivelling (unelected) PMs like Gordon Brown.

    But it needs to be done, for the good of us all.

    We need a backbone injection into all of our national politcicians.

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  • 77. At 1:36pm on 10 Jun 2008, purpleDogzzz wrote:

    "The referendum seems to be floating on trust more than understanding."

    That's the problem. Trust politicians? Never!

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  • 78. At 1:42pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    While I couldn't understand the treaty and this may be pointedly correct, if you have a read of the change to our constitution, what's in and not in the treaty at the moment may be of little relevance in future.

    The politicians will be able to pass any law that the EU dictates whether it is constitutional or not.

    I guess it's down to how much you trust our politicians and I don't trust them a hell of a lot...

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  • 79. At 1:55pm on 10 Jun 2008, Smeashy wrote:

    RE: post 69

    "It could mean any policeman being able to lock you up for three days if he considers you a "danger." It could mean the police being able to gun you down if you do not stop as happened recently in Austria to an unarmed man."

    Have you been in the UK over the past few years?
    Would you prefer 28, or even 42 days locked up for being a "danger"? I wonder what Jean Charles de Menezes thinks about that Austrian incident too.

    In the current terror climate, and erosion of liberties in the UK, I'd rather opt for a greater European protection of my rights (much to my dismay at the UK opt out for the Charter on Fundamental Rights). Nevertheless I really don't have much of a problem with EU primacy right at the moment!

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  • 80. At 1:56pm on 10 Jun 2008, sbennet wrote:

    Wow, @josieblogger. Godwin’s Law proved in only 19 posts.

    I really don't understand the drama on this, individual nations will never give up their sovereignty, as most have this guaranteed in their constitutions. To pretend otherwise is scaremongering, pure and simple.

    As for voting "no" for something because you don't understand it, surely this is illogical and dangerous. If you don't understand something, shouldn't you avoid voting on it altogether? You don't know the consequences of your vote, so don't vote. Pretty simple really.

    Personally I think passing power from the European commission (unelected bureaucrats) to the European Parliament (elected directly by us) is a good thing. I thought one of the main complaints about the EU is that we want to give more power to our elected bodies?

    It's another Y2K. If the Irish vote yes, expect a huge anticlimax as apocalyptic predictions of a fascist superstate fail to materialise. I genuinely think an EU with simpler, clearer rules and more power to elected politicians is a good thing.

    If member states get worried about this down the line, there is nothing stopping them simply walking away. The idea that this ties us in forever to an unelected EU is guff.

    If informed people want to vote "no", I have no problem with it, but please vote with your heads and not as a knee-jerk reaction. And for god's sake, don't vote on something you don't understand.

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  • 81. At 1:58pm on 10 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:

    The Soviet Union was successfully dismantled so why not the European Union. [#46]

    Because Soviet Union was perceived as a threat to the outside world.

    European Union is not a threat to the outside word.

    Whether it's a threat to the rights to the citizens of its member-states can be only determined by their citizens.

    And they can take an appropriate action if they still have rights to do so.

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  • 82. At 2:05pm on 10 Jun 2008, Grumpy_Fogey wrote:

    At no. 7, Gheryando wrote as follows:
    "If they vote yes, good, if they vote No, even better. That way, we can finally go on with the real EUropeans like France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Benelux (and newcomers if they wish) and form a real political union."

    Of the countries named above, only tiny Luxemburg voted for this constitution when given the chance. The voters of both France and the Netherlands threw it in the rubbish bin!

    The Brussels bureaucracy must really take the Irish people for fools if they think that omitting reference to the flag and anthem would trick us into thinking that this treaty was anything other than the constitution which has been rejected by the voters in two member states already.

    If my sense of the mood here is accurate, it will be rejected by a third member state on Thursday.

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  • 83. At 2:09pm on 10 Jun 2008, sbennet wrote:

    The Soviet Union was successfully dismantled so why not the European Union.

    Because Soviet Union was perceived as a threat to the outside world.

    European Union is not a threat to the outside word.

    Whether it's a threat to the rights to the citizens of its member-states can be only determined by their citizens.

    And they can take an appropriate action if they still have rights to do so.

    Quite. How can you comapare the two? You might as well say The Soviet Union was successfully dismantled so why not the errr... Brewers Union.

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  • 84. At 2:10pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    Evphil (24): You ask for an explanation of how the Lisbon treaty will erode the Irish Constitution. The answer is contained in the Constitution itself, specifically Article 29 (see below) which makes clear that any measures adopted under the Lisbon treaty (and other treaties on European Union) are superior to both Irish law and the Irish Constitution. It is clear the Irish Constitution is only supreme in areas where there is no EU law. It is also clear that unless the EU institutions stop their work there will be an ever increasing number of European acts adopted in the coming decades such that the area where the Irish constitution remains applicable will dwindle towards nothing.

    Article 29.10: No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the (Irish) State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union or of the Communities, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the European Union or by the Communities or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the Treaties establishing the Communities, from having the force of law in the (Irish) State.

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  • 85. At 2:11pm on 10 Jun 2008, 1OUTTA27 wrote:


    You're voting yes because "the EU has been good for Ireland".

    Is that a blank cheque or what?

    The EU has had many very positive benefits for Ireland. Why, in that case, do you want to create a new type of EU if you're so happy with the workings of the one we already have?

    I'm mystified.

    Is it the case that your "the EU has been good for Ireland" argument justifies voting for anything at all that our 'betters' in Europe want us to accept? What hypothetical proposals would, for you, make void the utterly simplistic argument that we must vote yes because "the EU has been good for Ireland".

    As for the fatuous remark re Sinn Fein's private army (the army without weapons), surely one can be neutral while armed to the teeth i.e. Sweden and Switzerland (Ireland's neutrality is bogus - pitstops for US troops en route to Iraq etc).

    Do you have a view on the statements by some of the EUs leading lights about how they must hide the true intentions contained within Lisbon. In case you're uninformed and haven't heard about it, just check Giscard D'Estaing contempt for us all -

    "Public opinion will be led -- without knowing it -- to adopt the policies we would never dare present to them directly. All the earlier proposals will be in the new text but will be hidden or disguised in some ways."

    And D'Estaing isn't alone, check Baroso and Sarkozy too.

    Isn't democracy, EU-style, a wonderful thing?

    You've a problem with "all the lies" of the NO campaign, the examples of which you provide come from COIR, the miniscule far-right catholic fundamentalist group who don't even go forward for election.

    Any views on the lies and obfuscation of those in the YES camp as they try to hoodwink 500m citizens of Europe?

    Wake up and smell the coffee!

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  • 86. At 2:18pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    Completely agreed about Sinn Fein waffle and scaremongering, but let's not forget that the main political parties are producing plenty of waffle of their own, not to mention the press...

    I'm voting no because of the lack of hard facts available, and the only hard facts I can find I'm not too keen on.

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  • 87. At 2:20pm on 10 Jun 2008, jon_toronto wrote:

    The Irish should be politely informed that a No vote will result in the end of the enormous EU subsidies they receive; I'm confident they'd soon realise where their bread's buttered.

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  • 88. At 2:22pm on 10 Jun 2008, pauldanon wrote:

    Eight percent of voters isn't very many.

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  • 89. At 2:25pm on 10 Jun 2008, vermelhu wrote:

    @87: Lovely example of bullying there. "Vote Yes or we'll stop giving you money!"

    If the EU start taking that line, and strongarm tactics, it would be even more openly mocking the 'democracy' it claims to represent.

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  • 90. At 2:27pm on 10 Jun 2008, MalcolmW2 wrote:


    Just what is it that makes you believe that the EU would not require a second vote from Ireland in the event of it voting "NO" this time?

    I recall Denmark in 1992 voting "NO" to Maastricht. They were made to vote again. Ireland voted "NO" before and were made to vote again. France and Holland voted"NO" to the Lisbon Treaty under its former name; they are simply like everyone else, bar the Irish, being refused the opportunity this time around to vote at all.

    There is something in the EU psyche that simply does not recognise the word "NO", and that alone should give us all pause to wonder why. Their real problem, (and something I suspect that keeps many eurocrats awake at night), is that denying the people a voice for long enough (or ignoring their voice when they are allowed to speak) has been shown throughout history to end in serious tears. The whole shakey edifice in Brussels will one day come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho unless the occupants start to listen to the people. It won't be a trumpet this time around, it will be the outraged voices of people across a whole continent that simply demand to be heard.

    Whatever the Irish decide to vote, and that is a matter purely for them, I hope the British courts decide in the case presently before them that the UK government must either honour its manifesto commitment and hold a referendum, or call an election stating its new position in refusing one. However did the mother of modern democracy sink so low?

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  • 91. At 2:30pm on 10 Jun 2008, Colin Allcars wrote:

    The thing that annoys me most about this whole affair is the sheer denial of democracy. The majority of European citizens would like to vote against this Treaty but are denied by their supposed political servants. Please (to any Irish people reading this) the vast majority of your fellow europeans are counting on you to speak up for us. Please don't let us down

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  • 92. At 2:34pm on 10 Jun 2008, phoneon wrote:

    The 3 men mentioned at the top of this piece probably represent over 80% of the electorate rather than 8%...can this be corrected please?

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  • 93. At 2:34pm on 10 Jun 2008, 1OUTTA27 wrote:


    Hello jon. Wake up. You've been asleep for a long time. It's 2008, and quite a while since Ireland received enormous subsidies from the EU.

    Why? Because, in the past, and as one of the EU's poorest states, we received enormous subsidies from Brussels, and used them to transform the state into a capitalist's wet dream, in the process removing the need for the subsidies.

    If you've nothing to contribute to the 21st century I'd suggest you go back to sleep.

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  • 94. At 2:41pm on 10 Jun 2008, UglyJohn wrote:

    It would be nice to think that the Irish vote matters, but it does not.

    The EU parliament has already voted by a significant majority, to ignore the result of the referendum, whatever it should be.

    British Conservative MEP's abstained for the most part.

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  • 95. At 2:44pm on 10 Jun 2008, colmacgearailt wrote:

    "The Irish should be politely informed that a No vote will result in the end of the enormous EU subsidies they receive; I'm confident they'd soon realise where their bread's buttered."

    It's not a vote for membership! So why would it affect the subsidies we receive? This sort of nonsensical statement contributes nothing to the genuine debate on the Treaty.

    Insinuating that Irish people are ungrateful if they vote 'No' is ridiculous. No-one in Ireland denies that membership has had massive benefits for the country but that's not really a justification for voting 'Yes'. If a person understands and agrees with the Treaty, vote 'Yes'...if a person understands it but doesn't agree, vote 'No'.

    Unfortunately for other Europeans, only Irish people have the chance to vote.

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  • 96. At 2:45pm on 10 Jun 2008, Fionavroom wrote:

    1OUTTA27: perhaps you should check your numbers on EU subsidies to Ireland, which are still enormous despite the claim of the country being a 'capitalist's wet dream'. Looking at the picture right now, growing unemployment, collapsing house market, not to mention insufficient infrastructures and 5th rate health service, it looks to me like a capitalist's nightmare!

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  • 97. At 2:47pm on 10 Jun 2008, vermelhu wrote:


    Nope, it's everyone or no-one for Lisbon.

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  • 98. At 2:48pm on 10 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 99. At 2:50pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    Well said! It'd make for a much better debate if people educated themselves a little bit before posting...

    Hopefully everyone going to the polls on Thursday will do just that before voting.

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  • 100. At 2:51pm on 10 Jun 2008, Old-Man-Mike wrote:

    To Ponk (91) and others - how dare you presume to speak for the majority of Europeans? Spain as required by our written constitution voted YES to the Constitution. All European countries have democratic Governments and free elections. Where the Constitutions gave this responsibility to the elected Government of the country, that Government to the decision on behalf of the citizens. Who are you to try and influence the democratic decision of the citizens of a sovereign State, which the Irish Republic most certainly is, in the name of democracy.

    Oh and by the way Saturdays El Pias the number one newspaper in Spain gave almost 3 full pages to the Democratic Primaries in the USA and less than two column inches to the Irish Referendum. That just shows how imortant it is in European let alone world terms.

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  • 101. At 2:51pm on 10 Jun 2008, cozzy121 wrote:

    To me it's not about the EU - it's about the hundreds of hospitialised people being treated on trolleys, it hallways of our Nations hospitals. It's about cancer sufferers having to travel for hours to a few city Hospitals for treatment, because their local services are being cut-back. It's about the complete lack of accountability on the part of the HSE (Health Service)and the Government who created it.
    It's about sending a message.
    I'm voting No.

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  • 102. At 2:51pm on 10 Jun 2008, RugbyFairerThanSoccer wrote:

    All such votes like this, where the people are denied their right to vote, shoul;d be answered with a re-sounding "NO!".

    This vote reminds me of the vote in the German Reichstag where they voted to screw themselves and not allow themselves a free vote in the future!

    Europe is not a democratic institution! A democrat is someone who consistently carries out democratic principals. As soon as this is not the case, where he or she has broken the rules to help their own aims, from this moment they do not deserve to be called a democrat anymore!

    Gordon Brown is denying the British democracy and has no right to do so!

    At least in Germany, they don't call themselves a democracy, but a "Rechtsstaat" as laid out by their supreme court!

    Is this not a time to be ashamed to be British?... Thanks Gordon!

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  • 103. At 3:00pm on 10 Jun 2008, Colin Allcars wrote:

    If the EU was built in accordance with the will of the majorityof people in Europe, I could accept it. BUT, although it's origins had popular acceptance, the vast majority of this current embryonic superstate has no democratic mandate and is built on half truths, denial and duplicity. It is like us agreeing planning permission for a semi and finding that the builders have built a mansion. What we need is for the EU to be returned to it's people instead of being a trough for politicians to stick their snouts in.

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  • 104. At 3:05pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    Sbennet (80): Do you know what sovereignty is? My dictionary defines it as 'the supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state'. There can only be one supreme authority, which in a democracy should be under the control of a people. All talk of sharing sovereignty is hogwash because in practice it means transferring the power to decide the supreme law of the land to institutions in Brussels which are not under the control of the people.

    The Irish state was created in 1921 to act as the supreme authority over the Irish people but controlled by them via democratic elections. The creation of the Irish state was an affirmation that the Irish people would not be ruled by a parliament in London dominated by others. The Westminster parliament however has far higher democratic credentials than anything that exists today in Brussels. Anyone who says the Lisbon treaty makes the EU more democratic has not read it properly. It does not (as you claim) transfer power from the Commission to the EU Parliament, because the unelected Commission will retain its obsene monopoly on all proposals for changes to law that is superior to any other for 500 million people. The increases in power for the EU Parliament mainly come at the expense of the Council of Ministers which consists of elected governments that have greater democratic legitimacy than the EU Parliament, but whose democratic legitimacy only exists within the country that elected them. No MEP from another country has any more democratic legitimacy to decide the law I live under than the head of government of another country. The main effect of the Lisbon treaty is to transfer decision-making power (i.e. sovereignty) in more policy areas to institutions in Brussels that our votes cannot influence. Therefore form the point of view of democracy it is a wholly retrograde step and should be rejected.

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  • 105. At 3:08pm on 10 Jun 2008, Colin Allcars wrote:

    OK Old-Man-Mike. I challenge you! Let the Europeans speak for themselves and see what they say to Lisbon. I would prefer to listen to what they / we want rather than to our elected leaders who are doing things the way they want and not the way we elected them to do.

    As an illustration, our government was elected on the promise of a referendum on this treaty and has promptly changed its mind. The majority of people in this country want a referendum and want to say No to Lisbon.

    All we want is democracy, no more and Definitely no less.

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  • 106. At 3:10pm on 10 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    You do know that EU subsides were not what turned Ireland around. Having low corporate tax, educated and English speaking workforce, high profile Irish American politicians, not complete welfare states like France. The subsides helped but they were not the main reason for Ireland's success and being a member of the EU helped only as an enticement to business.

    Ireland has a crap medical service and a problem with crime. Both problems that could be turned around if the people in charge got there act together. The biggest problem for Ireland is that there is so many people involved in the construction industry, which is always the first to suffer in a downturn.

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  • 107. At 3:10pm on 10 Jun 2008, sla7aah wrote:

    One thing is certain the Irish government would not have wanted to put the provisions to a referendum but thank God for their constitution. Because it has forced the govenment to ask the people unlike the rest of the gvernments of other European countries who have hidden behind semantics to bring in the constitution. Hopefully for the sake of national sovreignty the Irish vote NO

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  • 108. At 3:16pm on 10 Jun 2008, Colin Allcars wrote:

    No, old-Man-Mike. 2 column inches is just a mark of how the Irish Referendum is being supressed in many national media outlets. Another revealing little phrase is "after the Irish referendum" as muttered by mandarins in Brussels - a reference to the fact that several controversial announcements have been delayed in case they add ammunition to the No side.

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  • 109. At 3:17pm on 10 Jun 2008, 1OUTTA27 wrote:


    If, as you assert, Ireland is still in receipt of the enormous subsidies of yore, please explain why the YES campaign and the EU have not reminded us of this as the vote draws near.


    Ireland has been a capitalist's wet-dream for at least 15 years.

    How about:

    (1) Massive tax-breaks for the rich and for investors in property.

    (2) The running down of the state health system in favour of a US-style privately funded system for over half of the population (BTW, where did you get the idea that capitalism equates to great state healthcare?).

    (3) Massive expansion of the road network at the expense of investment in public transport.

    (4) As for unemployment, it's one of the lowest levels in the EU despite recent increases. A little unemployment ain't such a bad thing for capitalists in the long run i.e. paring wages back even further.

    (5) As for the fall in house prices, I'd suggest the rise over the past 15 years has been obscene in scale, though perhaps your historical view extends all the way back to.....2007.

    (6) A fantastically low corporate tax-rate designed to attract the capitalists of the world to Irish shores.

    If Ireland hasn't been a capitalist's wet dream, why have they flocked to our shores.

    Your understanding of what capitalists want seems on the upside of naive.

    Now, back to the Lisbon Treaty.......

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  • 110. At 3:22pm on 10 Jun 2008, Art Vandelay wrote:

    Vermelhu - Post 54.

    Spot on. How many big companies such as Google, Microsoft, eBay/Paypal, Dell etc.... would actually set up shop here if our corporate tax rate was the same as Europe? Logistically, it wouldn't make too much sense for them. Especially when it comes to distribution.

    Also, I really dislike the fact that some people (Asamorgen - Post 9) seem to feel that if we reject the Treaty, we should leave. How do you think the rest of Europe (who didn't get a vote) feel about this? The fact is, the Irish shouldn't have to carry the apparent burden of the other, silent Euro voices alone.

    Asamorgen, are you living in Ireland? If not, are you not somewhat annoyed that your government did not give you the choice (even if you agree with it)?

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  • 111. At 3:23pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    Totally agree, I hope the Government will have to keep asking the people they're meant to represent after Thursday!

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  • 112. At 3:23pm on 10 Jun 2008, kapenaar wrote:

    Old-Man-Mike. You are wrong !
    I agree with PONK.

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  • 113. At 3:31pm on 10 Jun 2008, ephialtes wrote:

    Interesting how few comments here have been about what's actually in the treaty.

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  • 114. At 3:38pm on 10 Jun 2008, donaghkebab wrote:

    The incredible amount of bogus information and rhetoric about 'ungrateful ireland;' and her enormous subsidies is about as relevant as the many 'scaremongering tactics' employed by the NO side.

    Regardless of these tactics I shall be voting NO (and not yes in opposition purely to voice oposition to Sinn Féin, Cóir etc.) but because NO provides the best way forawrd for a seriously democratic union.

    Ireland is a mature developed state both economically and socially and it will be this mature decision of her population based on their opinion that will decide the outcome of this referendum.

    Even if it takes 800 years to finalise a contented position for every member state within the union let it be.

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  • 115. At 3:50pm on 10 Jun 2008, Out-Rider wrote:

    It seems to me that the Internet is one difference between the ratification of the treaties of Nice and Lisbon. It used to be possible for political elites to tell their peoples that the rest of Europe was desperate for them to approve these treaties and they would be isolated by voting NO. But the Internet shows that all across Europe the people are praying that Ireland votes NO and it is only other European politicians that are desperate for a YES.

    The Internet also allows to read Le Monde online which I find a more reliable guide to EU politics than the BBC. According to it Brussels feels it would be legally untenable to exclude a country that uses the Euro currency and that the preferred solution, should the Irish vote NO this week, would be to ask them to vote again. The main difficulty could be to find some concession to offer as a pretext for a 2nd referendum.

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  • 116. At 4:01pm on 10 Jun 2008, Anglophone wrote:

    Firstly, as an Englishman I have long realised it is very unwise to urge the Irish to anything that they didn't want to do in the first place.

    That aside, I'm embarrassed that Ireland is giving us and the rest of the EU a lesson in democracy and accountability by giving it's people a vote. In the UK we are overruled by political opportunists who dare not represent the views of the people for fear of upsetting the other "elite club" members. Gordon Brown's government has performed a most shameless U turn on a manifesto commitment and has resorted to weasley lawyer-speak to justify its actions. Their comeuppance is overdue.

    I'm in favour of European unity but not European Union...there is a difference. The Constitution/Treaty is always couched in terms of "administrative efficiency". Not in terms of "for the betterment of the people". Not in terms of "reinforcing personal freedom of choice and action". It's a device to simply make us easier to govern, nothing more, nothing less.

    It should be rejected by anyone who believes in liberal democracy and who fears authoritarianism. I hope that the Irish people can help all of us by making the right decision.

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  • 117. At 4:02pm on 10 Jun 2008, ToryICSL wrote:

    As Robert Mugabe found to his cost in the "first round" of his misconceived Presidential election, the public can often return the answer that those in authority and out of touch neither expected nor wanted.

    This must be why last year's turkey that failed to impress has been re-dressed for the following Christmas and reprocessed to be served as something that might look like a turkey but will somehow taste much more palatable.

    But this time the Christmas club members aren't universally permitted to decide for themselves whether they actually want the turkey: in nearly every case it has been delegated to the local committee to make up its mind whether its members should be forced to eat it or not.

    Fortunately, the Irish enshrined in their constitution the right to vote on any treaty amendment; unfortunately other member states of the EU did not.

    I am one of those who believes that no Parliament should - without referring to the people it represents - be permitted to alienate powers that a future Parliament cannot repatriate.

    So it is somewhat ironic that, under the same government that rectified a long-standing wrong for the Scots when, through Devolution it finally mainly reversed a decision that, in 1701, it is arguable that their then Parliament was not entitled to make, no such courtesy has been extended to Britain's electorate in respect of the European Union.

    But while our European masters may find themselves crying over spilt milk if the Irish reject the Lisbon Treaty, I think that there is a much more perilous issue about to wash over (and possibly away) the EU integration project.

    So far the Euro has enjoyed 10 years of relative improvement in its members' economic circumstances. The test for the Commission and Europe's political establishment will be how the Euro operates in times of economic crisis without a central political authority to lend it the credibility that every other monetary system in history has required to survive financial turbulence.

    Some argue that, with globalisation and phenomenal international capital flows, the rules no longer apply. However, without the basics, it appears to me that the Euro is basically flawed.

    Now there's a turkey that probably won't fly no matter how it's dressed and re-dressed!

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  • 118. At 4:08pm on 10 Jun 2008, DutchNemo wrote:

    The Irish will probably vote 'Yes' on Lisbon (51% 'Yes', 49% 'No') but even if they vote 'No' I don't expext that 'No' would have major consequences. The Lisbon Treaty (or something similar) will be approved before Croatia joins the European Union. The European Union needs serious reform and in my opinion the Lisbon Treaty is the first step to achieve that reform. However, I would have prefered a referendum but I didn't got one so I have to accept their won't be a referendum. The parliament is elected by the people and the parliament approved Lisbon so Lisbon is indirectly approved by the people.

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  • 119. At 4:10pm on 10 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    Whatever happens in Ireland, could we reinstate the EU in two speeds?

    1st speed: around the Berlin-Paris axis, that would include Benelux, Italy and Spain, and maybe Finland, Austria, Portugal and Greece. Call it "the hard core".

    2nd speed: the others that could join the first speed according to their suitability and desires.

    Under this realistic structure, everybody could feel more confortable.

    French and Dutch referenda could have had a different result under this scheme and Irish could better choose where they want to be.

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  • 120. At 4:14pm on 10 Jun 2008, mccjohn wrote:

    "Three men who represent 8% of Irish voters stand behind three podiums to warn of the dangers of voting No"

    so who represents the other 92% ?

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  • 121. At 4:26pm on 10 Jun 2008, Colin Allcars wrote:

    Yes, Anthony(113), the comments so far are interesting. The fact that most are about the EU itself and the arguments against it in its present state are an indication that the peoples of Europe have no outlet for their views and are dissatisfied with where our elected leaders are taking us.

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  • 122. At 4:45pm on 10 Jun 2008, 3bluedolphins wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 123. At 4:59pm on 10 Jun 2008, Fionavroom wrote:

    Ireland Capitalist's wet dream? Here some data on EU subsidies. The EU contribution to Ireland, according to the official EU 2005 budget report: Ireland's net receipts from the EU Budget rose by €34 million to €1.594 billion in 2004. The Irish at €396 per capita in net receipts from the EU, were the highest in the EU15. Ireland's EU bonanza in 2004 amounted to 1.3% of GNI (Gross National Income) compared with 1.38% in 2003. Ireland's per capita income from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was €453 compared with France's €157. France got €9.42 billion in funds from CAP while Ireland received €1.83 billion.

    Please vote NO so we will save some money!

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  • 124. At 5:15pm on 10 Jun 2008, Tiddler wrote:

    I will be voting Yes, We wont lose any ouf our heritage and culture, These are all myths about the lisbon treaty, The fact is if we say yes, we will notice no change whats so ever to our day 2 day lives, We just want 2 stand out like a sore thumb because we can, Typical Irish Mentality If the government told us 2 vote no we would vote yes, Like big babys

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  • 125. At 5:31pm on 10 Jun 2008, vermelhu wrote:


    If you believe that, you clearly haven't a clue about the issues involved with the Treaty. I recommend you look into them, or refrain from voting. The only thing worse than a spoiled vote is an uninformed vote.

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  • 126. At 5:31pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    Fionavroom (123) : Your figures are well out of date. Ireland will soon be a net contributor to the EU budget.

    The Lisbon treaty is about changes to decision-making rules that will affect FUTURE decisions, especially in those areas where the treaty transfers new powers to Brussels or changes the rules (for example to intrdocue majority voting) in areas where Brussels already has power. I cannot understand why you try to justify it by looking into the past. It is like driving a car while looking out of the back window.

    "The result of these developments is that over the seven years, 2007-2013, we will not have anything like the sort of net transfers from the EU Budget we previously enjoyed. We will continue to be net recipients from the Budget for the first number of years of the 2007-2013 period. But after that, from about mid-way in the period, we will move to become net contributors" -- B. Cowen, speech to Institute of European affairs, December 9, 2004.

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  • 127. At 5:36pm on 10 Jun 2008, chriskingfleet wrote:

    Just don't understand how moderation works.

    I posted a while ago, other later postings have popped up.

    If there was something "wrong" in my posting, I'd like to know what it is. If not, how could it just disappear?

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  • 128. At 5:48pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    Ehm, our constitution is a pretty important part of our heritage and we'll lose that.

    Not playing into the whole republican green brigade thing, but this has been true for all free states back to the first Greek City States and we had to wait quite a while to get ours.

    In any case, PLEASE do some checking up for yourself so you'll at least vote with a somewhat informed opinion.

    You can find both the Constitutional Amendment and the Lisbon Treaty text on the Referendum Commission's website.

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  • 129. At 5:49pm on 10 Jun 2008, gerardmulholland wrote:

    I have the -I think unique- privilege of having been the only person to have been Secretary-General of a national political party (Community Democrats of Ireland) registered with the Clerk of Dail Eireann (1979) without ever having been a citizen of the Republic. It was to enable the Irish to join all other EU electors in having Liberal candidates to vote for in the first ever European parliament election. I was and am passionately in favour of a truly democratic United States of Europe. There is no EU country as democratic as the Republic of Ireland, where the people are truly sovereign and I am appalled that Ireland's blessing has still not extended to any of the other members nor to the EU institutions themselves. And that's why I beg and implore the good people of Irealnd to consign this wicked treaty to the dustbin of corporate history where it belongs. By cementing the erasure of all trace or hope of effective parliamentary accountability, by elevating the will and interests of corporate business above the will or interests of the population, by confirming the European Central Bank's status as a virtual 29th State of the Union -the only one with an absolute veto over all future legislation and all future constitutional change- and by preventing for ever the direct election of EU officials by the people of the EU, this Treaty enshrines for ever the victory of Gabriele d'Annonzio's deam of the corporate fascist State. This Thursday the Irish people hold within their hands the destiny of Europe, of all Europeans and of Europe's hopes of continued influence in the world and on all future human development. Please don't fail.

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  • 130. At 6:01pm on 10 Jun 2008, Fionavroom wrote:

    freebornjohn, I quoted the 2004 figures as Ireland was in a much better financial state at that time and even then the country benefitted from a lion share of EU funds. The fact is that in the past small countries (Ireland in particular) have gained a lot more from EU funding in comparison with large ones. In the future the situation is going to be fairer and more balanced for all.
    Quoting a speech from 2004 is however not very useful.... a bit like driving a car while looking out of the back window?

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  • 131. At 6:08pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    What exactly is the point you're trying to make?

    First you say that if we vote no we should leave the EU with no mention of France or Holland leaving the EU when they voted no.

    Then you say that we should be threatened with a cut in subsidies if we vote no and when corrected on this you return with out of date figures...

    Afaik, the 2007 - 2013 EU budget switches Ireland and Luxembourg from being net recipients to net contributers to the EU.

    And you say that us leaving will save you money???

    Or are you suggesting that we leave the EU and then ask for subsidies when we've left???

    You'd do well to come over here and campaign for one of our political parties, I'm sure you'd be more than welcome...

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  • 132. At 6:14pm on 10 Jun 2008, ctandre76 wrote:

    Ireland seems to be doing well for itself without EU interference. Anyone who thinks that the elite class in Brussels will be better able to meet the needs of the individual nations than the local ruling gentry is very mistaken.

    Perhaps more European nations should take a look at the modern US model (which has been successful since it's inception), than trying to invent another quasi empire like so many Europeans have done before? Of course, this time the empire will be formed under the auspices of scoialism instead of at the end of a spear. The result, however, will be the same - a two class system that pays nothing but lip-service to rights of men.

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  • 133. At 6:16pm on 10 Jun 2008, asamorgen wrote:

    Re post 16, I agree with you in that there are many more options for the Irish than a simple "in" or "out" of the EU. But the time for that discussion has passed; the treaty has been debated and complex compromises struck. Now is the time to ratify it and move forward. This is why it is much more of an "in" or "out" question here.

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  • 134. At 6:37pm on 10 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    If the people of Ireland do vote no they need to be prepared for vitriolic comments from those in favour of the treaty. The British have had to suffer such comments for a long time, even though for example it was the French and Dutch that voted against the consitution. The British are labeled as 'little englanders' spoilers', 'nationalists', 'right wing', 'stuck in the past', 'etc etc.

    It has already started with the Irish being labelled as 'ungrateful' and 'should leave the E.U.' , they 'should pay the money back', 'undeucated' and worst which I will not repeat.

    I hope the people of Ireland realise such comments are not representative of the vast majority of europeans but merely a handful of die hard federalist. Their day has gone I sense a real change in the feelings of people to the E.U. and Ireland can start that change -

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  • 135. At 6:45pm on 10 Jun 2008, RCMoya612 wrote:

    I find it amusing just how vociferously anti-European so many Brits are, and their reservations usually turn on the sovereignty issue. I'd make two critical observations on this, both of which suggest just how ludicrous euroscepticism is.

    Firstly, the sovereignty debate is ridiculous. Yes, the EU has reserved powers that the UK government has passed along to it. Yes, one can say that in practice the UK has had its sovereignty impinged. But the UK Parliament IS still sovereign, in theory. It could still revoke its EU membership and divest itself of EU law. That it chooses not to is more to the point than to say the EU has effectively reduced the UK government's power. Further, and this is more important, you mustn't forget that the EU still works as an organisation of EQUALS. There is no primer inter pares. This is the same principle that Britain, nominally, accepted when dealing with other nations even at the high-noon of empire...that is what international law is all about. EU membership is a hyper-version of that; one must always that within the EU Britain is its own sovereign state, a 'master of the treaties', but also an equal one in its decision-making.

    Secondly, and tailing off the second sub-point above, eurosceptics should probably concentrate their energies attacking British subservience to AMERICAN power, which is an extant fact. The Iraq War is probably the most blatant example of how sketchy eurosceptic arguments are. IF Europe is as all-powerful and sovereign-impinging as eurosceptics say it is, then how did Britain manage to skip away and bomb the hell out of Iraq? Despite international law, and despite the reservations of many EU states. In the end, the UK has decided to be America's lapdog--with the full support of the eurosceptic media--instead of an equal-footed partner in Europe. Even if all EU nations, and EU institutions, had criticised Britain's decision, its decision would still have been its own. Should it be this way? Yes, obviously. But accepting this fact little to strengthen eurosceptic arguments, and everything to undermine them.

    Europe is Britain's only chance at punching above its weight WHILST still maintaining its liberty of action.

    The UK can choose between being an UNEQUAL agent of the US, or an EQUAL partner in a stronger Europe. As an American who loves, and lives in, the UK the latter choice seems too obvious for words.

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  • 136. At 6:52pm on 10 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    Spain 4 Russia 1, in a splendid match!

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  • 137. At 7:24pm on 10 Jun 2008, gerardmulholland wrote:

    At url:
    under the headline 'Irish PM: 'No' would kill Lisbon' there is this note:
    "# 129. At 5:49 pm on 10 Jun 2008, gerardmulholland
    This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain."

    The only 'reason' I can divine for this is that instead of saying "the lower House of the Irish Parliament" I use it's proper -and only- name, Dail Eireann. The English text of the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland calls it that. The Oxford English Dictionary and Webster's American dictionary both call it that. There is no English language term.

    And to register a political party in the Republic of Ireland -in order to have the party's name on a ballot paper- the party must satisy certain legal conditions which must be verified by "the Clerk of Dail Eireann" who then registers the party.

    For you to insist that one must use a term that doesn't exist would really not be very sensible.

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  • 138. At 7:44pm on 10 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    How exactly does Ireland being "in or out" as you put it differ from France or Holland being "in or out" where the EU constitution was concerned?

    Also, if the time for discussion is passed, perhaps you could explain the following piece of the Treaty to me, and why it is good for Ireland and Europe.

    Forgive me for being a little slow, but I'm a little stuck with it and have to vote on it on Thursday...

    From page 157:

    255) In Article 266, third paragraph, the words "at the request of the Commission" shall be replaced by "on a proposal from the Commission" and the words "in accordance with a special legislative procedure" shall be inserted after "unanimously" and the words "Articles 4, 11, and 12 and Article 18(5) of" shall be deleted.
    256) In Article 267(b), the word "progressive" shall be deleted and the words "or functioning" shall be inserted after "establishment".

    Does this gobbledegook make sense to anybody (apart from asamorgen that is)?

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  • 139. At 7:59pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    RCMoya612 (135): The UK (or Ireland as per the article of the Irish constitution I quoted in post 84) is not sovereign on any matter where EU law exists, except to the limited extent that it can pull out of the EU entirely. For any country that remains in the EU, it is the EU that is sovereign in the increasing number of areas where EU law applies.

    There was a majority in the UK parliament in March 2003 and among the UK population (I can provide polling evidence to prove it) in support of the invasion of Iraq. Given the information available at the time it seemed the right decision and we were not coerced by the Americans any more than we were when choosing not to be involved in Vietnam war. You need to distinguish between voluntary co-operation and forced compliance and show me an example where the UK has been coerced into doing something it did not want by the US government before you talk of the UK losing its sovereignty to the US government. Since you will not be able to find any such example your talk of the UK losing its sovereignty to the US is entirely bogus.

    The point at hand here is whether the Lisbon treaty involves a sacrifice of sovereignty and clearly it does, because Article 29 of the Irish constitution says that 'no provision of this Constitution invalidates laws necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union from having the force of law in the Irish state' and the Lisbon treaty will lead to more such EU laws in more policy areas. Do you see any ambiguity there? I think the words of this article are clear and can only be interpreted one way.

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  • 140. At 8:06pm on 10 Jun 2008, chriskingfleet wrote:

    What's going on?

    I offered a posting (which disappeared), then using exactly the same approach, had a posting to wonder where an earlier posting had gone accepted.

    Then a couple of postings to try and replace my orginal just vanish into the ether.

    Do you have some key-words that are identified to automatically edit out postings?

    Is it wrong to say that we will all be citizens of the Union, like it or not, because that what the Treaty says?

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  • 141. At 8:39pm on 10 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    If there is an Irish no vote I certainly hope our leaders use this rebuff and the breathing space it gives constructively.

    They need to engage the population over Europe, discuss the issues and listen to the people.

    They should be open and receptive to all ideas and not necearily think that a concept and plan that was devised 60 years ago is still apropriate now.

    They must seek to understand why large numbers of Europe's population have voted no. Even in the countries that voted yes the no vote was significant.

    What I really hope does not happen is a regurgitated treaty appears 12 months later and the European peoples told don't worry this one is totally different and infact you don't even need to vote for it now.

    For the first time in my life I may end up voting for the tories. I really do not want to and would go into the voting booth holding my nose. But they do seem the only party (with the exception of the lunatic finge) to have made a cast iron promise for a vote on this issue.

    I implore those in authority to save me making this choice and listen to the people. At the very least give us a vote if this comes up again

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  • 142. At 9:00pm on 10 Jun 2008, EthnicIrish wrote:

    If people have a problem with 1% of the population and 1.2% of the economy of the EU deciding all of Europe's direction on the Lisbon treaty then there is an easy solution.

    Let every citizen of every country have a vote on the treaty!

    Oh wait i forgot. The French and Dutch will probably vote no again. The British sure as the rain will vote no. Not to mention the various other nations of Europe who may or may not vote no. That is what the EU bosses are afraid of.

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  • 143. At 9:12pm on 10 Jun 2008, Marcus_K wrote:

    I agree with you completely RCMoya612.

    I find it equally appalling to see that so many of my country-men (the Dutch) are so vehemently and, I daresay, ignorantly opposed to the idea of European Union.

    I am not euro fanatic, but to me it is painfully obvious that Europe needs this treaty. Not because without the European Union, European nations would be a drop in the ocean, for that is not at stake here. What is at stake is an unwieldy union in need of reform. It can be as simply as that. A union of 27 cant work with rules applying for 6.

    Now you might not be sensitive to that argument if you are a nationalist (or proud country man, if you prefer), but the fact is that small countries like Ireland or even bigger countries like England, have no clout in a globalised world. What do the US care is Ireland alone decides to ban US meat due to unfair competition? The European Union provides the forum in which we can debate and be listened to. We need the EU.
    Now this is no simple matter, which is why I am no proponent of referendum. There are many, many factors involved, upon which I will not try to elaborate now. Though you need not be an expert to see the writing on the wall.

    Admittedly, I am no fan of nationalism (and am proud that we live in a part of the world which shows signs of post-nationalism). I see no merit in clinging to a certain arbitrary patch of land or people and denouncing all that lies beyond. To me, xenophobia is nothing more than a relic of the past which is still being used in a way for people to inflame issues which may be resolved peacefully. This is why I can not relate to the cries for loss of sovereignty, which I find marginal already. Besides, is cooperation equal to losing sovereignty? Together we stand, right?
    But I am a positivist and I prefer to see where people are similar rather than where we are different.

    I would vote yes, if not because of these reasons, then merely because I would not like to side with the likes of Le Pen. =)

    But thats just me.

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  • 144. At 9:18pm on 10 Jun 2008, valley2 wrote:

    I am Pro-European and Pro-Lisbon, but from what I have read and heard recently has made me Question ALL.

    Did not every European Country sign up to the fact that ALL countries had to agree to major changes as we were democracies with common interesst. A contract between countries.

    Instead of acceptance we have what is reminiscent of George Bush a few years ago. You are either with us or against us. When what people were trying to say was that their was a better approach to his war and tactics.

    If you vote no you are against us and can get out. So when we get kicked out and stop our brothers fishing our waters, when the fishing ports of France, Spain and Portugal go into recession will Europe resort to another Bush like tactic and send its war ships into our waters. Remember the value of fish caught by non-Irish EU fishing vessels in our waters exceeds the money received by Ireland.

    It is so worrying I had more respect for Europeans, but now!!! Maybe we can join China seems the place to be!!!!

    PS: Serious consequences for expressing your democratic right, is Europe no longer a democracy????? Put it to your own people and lets see what you say then.

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  • 145. At 9:26pm on 10 Jun 2008, RCMoya612 wrote:

    Freeborn-John: I was referring to ULTIMATE sovereignty in my post, as I've granted. There's a dual sovereignty that the UK, and all other European countries, continue to have that is NOT nixed by any existing treaty--to include the Treaty of Lisbon. The first sovereignty is the ultimate sovereignty I referred to before, the sovereign ability to pull out all together from the Union. The House of Lords has made this point explicitly on more than a few occasions. The UK Parliament is prevented from doing its bidding in much the same way, legally-speaking, it can vis-à-vis the devolved assemblies in Edinburgh and Cardiff. That is, they are allowed to legislate and exist alongside Westminster insofar as Westminster cares to recognise them. Likewise with the EU: they are given competence over certain issues, surely, but that's neither here nor there on the question of ultimate sovereignty.

    You're right that the Treaty of Lisbon appears to increase certain competences, but again: that STILL does not prevent a member nation-state from doing what it feels fit to do.

    Again, you're confusing the supremacy of EU law with the sovereignty of the nation-state. The latter still exists, and will exist. And not to be too pedantic, but I'd carefully point out that the member states remain--and shall remain--the 'masters of the treaties'...the EU cannot claw power to itself that has not been granted to it by SOVEREIGN, INDEPENDENT members. As for Article 29 of the Irish Constitution: like in any constitution, that is modifiable by the NATION-STATE. You're right that they're not ambiguous, but they're also a world away from nefariously preventing independent Ireland from making its own choices--including the all-important one regarding the union.

    As for the point on America: sorry, dude, but you're country has been nothing BUT a lackey to my country for quite a while. Your Vietnam example is telling in itself: yes, the UK didn't send troops to Vietnam, and yes the majority of your population rejected that war, but your government still supported US actions in word if not deed. The UK decided long ago that pissing off America wasn't in its interests, whilst pissing off your European allies would be necessary if forced to choose.

    Oh, and post (140)/chriskingfleet: you're ALREADY EU citizens. That was established 16 years ago in Maastricht; sharpened over time by the European Court of Justice; and reiterated with the Treaty of Amsterdam from 1999-onward. Your EU citizenship is COMPLEMENTARY to your national citizenship; EU citizenship does not replace, supercede or exist without your national citizenship.

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  • 146. At 9:29pm on 10 Jun 2008, djAttila wrote:

    I am a Hungarian national living in London.
    I moved to the UK from New York in 2004 after having lived in the States for ten years.
    In the US most people have this false picture of Ireland as a still very poor country. I knew many legal and illegal Irish immigrants there and I admit I also had this false belief that Ireland was a poor country.
    Most Yanks, even fifth generation Irish-Americans think of the Irish as something to do with potato famine or potato heads of which they are not really sure.
    If Ireland votes 'No' to Europe, it had better become a US state as it won't survive by itself in the long run. You gotta choose guys; it's either the US or the EU.

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  • 147. At 9:46pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    Marcus_K (143): Why are you suggesting that opponents of the Lisbon treaty are xenophobes or ignorant? Would it not be better to make a coherent case for the changes it introduces?

    It would be accurate to say undemocratic rules designed for deciding common market regulations such as the maximum curvature of cucumbers should not be used to decide political issues in all the areas where the EU has acquired power. But for some reason EU supporters never mention this even though the 'community method' has survived unchanged for 50 years. Instead we always hear that a union of 27 cannot work for with rules designed for 6 and therefore undemocratic rules should be used more often in the name of efficiency. This was the argument used to justify the treaty of Nice which assigns voting weights for all 27 current EU countries. And once again we hear this tired old excuse . . .

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  • 148. At 9:46pm on 10 Jun 2008, seairishman1 wrote:

    i'm irish and i'll be voting no. for one reason only. I do not want to ratify something on behalf of nearly 500 million people who don't have a voice. if we vote no and it comes back to us and more countries can vote, then I'll vote yes. thats democracy. silencing the rest of the european people is not. if all europeans vote yes, so be it. united we stand. but I'll be voting no, not for ireland, but for the EU itself. long live democracy.

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  • 149. At 9:49pm on 10 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 144 - well said

    Re post 143 - I will take your points in turn -

    "I am not euro fanatic, but to me it is painfully obvious that Europe needs this treaty. Not because without the European Union, European nations would be a drop in the ocean, for that is not at stake here. What is at stake is an unwieldy union in need of reform. It can be as simply as that. A union of 27 cant work with rules applying for 6."

    Exactly the same argument that was said if the constitution was rejected, 3 years later the E.U is still functioning pretty much as always and the calamity foretold has not happened

    "Now you might not be sensitive to that argument if you are a nationalist (or proud country man, if you prefer),"

    Am not a nationalist - next

    "but the fact is that small countries like Ireland or even bigger countries like England, have no clout in a globalised world."

    Much prefer diplomacy and mutual trade than clout, perhaps choice of word indicates your view of the world.

    "What do the US care is Ireland alone decides to ban US meat due to unfair competition? The European Union provides the forum in which we can debate and be listened to. We need the EU. "

    Have no objection to forging alliances, we do not ned a centralised, bureacritic and undemocratic quango to do this

    "Now this is no simple matter, which is why I am no proponent of referendum. There are many, many factors involved, upon which I will not try to elaborate now. Though you need not be an expert to see the writing on the wall."

    Obviously the people of europe are too stupid to discuss and come to an opinion on this, just tell us what is good for us and we will obey

    "Admittedly, I am no fan of nationalism (and am proud that we live in a part of the world which shows signs of post-nationalism)"

    As above that is two of us then

    ". I see no merit in clinging to a certain arbitrary patch of land or people and denouncing all that lies beyond. To me, xenophobia is nothing more than a relic of the past which is still being used in a way for people to inflame issues which may be resolved peacefully. "

    Again I agree, nothing to do with the reason we should vote yes or no though

    "This is why I can not relate to the cries for loss of sovereignty, which I find marginal already. Besides, is cooperation equal to losing sovereignty? Together we stand, right?"

    Absolutely your right to say that, I do not happen to agree. I believe nation states provide the best avenue to maintaining democracy and accountability at a local level than a group of commisioners who are not subject to the vote of the people on a regular basis

    "But I am a positivist and I prefer to see where people are similar rather than where we are different."

    Again also agree, love europe and its peoples, have worked there and will do again in the furture. May even retire to some where hot in Europe. Again nothing to do with this treaty.

    To sum up I am not against this treaty because of petty nationalism. I am against it because I firmly believe it further degrades our democatic rights and ability to choose a given path

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  • 150. At 10:20pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    RCMoya612 (145): For any country that is a member state of the European Union, EU law is supreme to national law, is decided by EU institutions, and can be imposed on us against the will of our elected government. Clearly sovereignty lies with the EU. All you are saying is that we can recover sovereignty by leaving the EU which is an academic issue so long as we are talking about members of the European Union.

    If the Irish modify article 29 of their constitution and enact legislation contrary to EU law they would be in breach of the terms of EU membership and will be fined by the Commission until either they come back into compliance or they will ultimately be required to leave the EU. So please let's not have this pretence that they are free to choose which EU laws to obey as they go along.

    The UK desires good relations with many countries in the world, including the USA, but on the basis of voluntary co-operation. It is only in the EU that co-operation is coerced by a combination of the supremacy of EU law and its imposition by majority vote even against the will of our elected government. Furthermore, once such EU law is agreed, it cannot thereafter be changed no matter how we vote in future elections. No such rules govern the UK-US relationship. If an international treaty existed between the US and UK that contained such rules I would be opposed it just as much as I am to the treaties on European Union. But no such rules exist.

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  • 151. At 10:24pm on 10 Jun 2008, chris smith wrote:

    As many are aware the EU is far from democratic its the oposite so how do we know they dont rid the polls in Ireland on Thursday

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  • 152. At 10:32pm on 10 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    Seairshman1 (148): I grew up in Britain but am part of a large Irish family. My parents live in county Longford and my grandfather fought against the British and was imprisoned in the Curragh during World War 1. Without men like him there would be no vote in Ireland this week because Gordon Brown would have silenced your voice as he has mine. Your vote is your own to shape your future but please consider if it is wise to swap 100% of the influence to decide the law you live under in a parliament of your choosing for 0.89% of the votes in the EU Council of Ministers dominated as it is by deeply undemocratic individuals like Brown, Merkel and Co. EU membership has been good for Ireland but this treaty is about political union in the future and not the common market of the past. Your politicians will tell you that you will be isolated if you vote NO, that all of Europe wants you to vote YES, but they speak only for other political elites that will benefit from the concentration of power in EU Councils where they sit and not for people like me that they have already silenced.

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  • 153. At 10:36pm on 10 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    To #138 thebaldsoprano,

    Quite correct, it is gobblegook to stop anybody understanding sfa about what the treaty is about. I simply find it amazing that somebody got paid from all our taxes to write such garbage.

    I saw a few comments here today about the net contributions etc, I hope nobody is quoting the Wikipedia site for 2006 figures as if they are there is an error, the column TOR in the source document of the EU (traditional own resources) is composed of four separate figures, whoever transcribed that pseudo spreadsheet into Wikipedia seems to have plus'd (+) the total and minus'd (-) the four components, meaning the TOR total in Wikipedia is not there and the relative order of the countries is wrong.

    If you guys are interested negate the UK rebate and see the result, UK will be number one contributer, curious I think.

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  • 154. At 10:37pm on 10 Jun 2008, natan1 wrote:

    There is a double paradox: the treaty is meant to make EU more democratic (not less); this is being decided now by Irish voters by the way of direct democracy; most people will vote NO because they don't understand the treaty while the major complain of the nay sayers is that EU is not democratic enough (and they are right on this).
    In summery: direct democracy will stop the democratization of the EU because voters do not understand (and admit so) what they are to vote on.
    Ergo: maybe it is better to have less democracy in the EU. If you agree vote NO. If you don't know what are you voting on DO NOT vote. Let others decide on their freedom to decide. If you know the treaty you are probably voting YES anyways but if not: hey, this is democracy!

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  • 155. At 10:54pm on 10 Jun 2008, RCMoya612 wrote:


    You're wilfully ignoring what I'm saying, and in any case often parroting what I've just said. Exactly, see post (145), EU law is supreme to national law with respect to those areas under which the Union is given competence by national governments. You have a national government making the sovereign choice of accepting a treaty and the obligations pursuant to that treaty. In that strictly, narrow, legalistic sense the EU is nothing different.

    'Clearly' nothing. Sovereignty does and will continue to exist, pre- and post-Lisbon. You've failed to respond to the premise of my comparison with devolution and the general principle of sovereignty itself, as reiterated by the House of Lords. Those are legal facts, my friend, not fictions or exaggerations perpetuated by the papers. Again, supremacy and sovereignty are not necessarily the same thing; and insofar as the EU is GRANTED supremacy on certain issues, then a double act of sovereign decision-making has occured: both to invest the Union with those powers in the first place, and with the ability to pull out entirely.

    As for article 29: you've fumbled, again, on my point. The implicit statement I've made is that should the Irish wish to abandon the Union completely, then a simple rejection of article 29--or the replacement with an article explicitly renouncing Ireland's place in the Union--would be enough.

    But perhaps you're not getting my point here, so let me elaborate. A TRUE lack of sovereignty (before or after the current treaty) would probably mean the super-state would have the right to deny or mitigate a unilateral withdrawal from the Union. Put another way: if Eire abandons Europe, Europe can do nothing about it. That is entirely different from the situation within nation-states themselves, as per the Canadian-Quebec example (laid down by the Canadian Supreme Court), a post-Civil War Supreme Court case in the US, and customary and UN-charter international law.

    To put it brusquely: if 'sovereignty lies with the EU', as you erroneously state, then that sovereignty is the most pathetic example of sovereignty since the Holy Roman Empire.

    Obviously nation-states don't have the ability to challenge laws once they are on the books, but they can--and do--challenge them throughout. In the UK, the House of Lords has ruled that IF the UK ruled contrary to EU law, and in the process formally rejected EU competence on the issue, then the courts would have to follow Parliament's will. Parliament is still supreme AND sovereign in this country, and will continue to be. That's the law, not myth.

    One FINAL point: de jure legal independence from the US says nothing for the de facto dependence the UK has for the US. In everything from your foreign policy, to your 'control' over nuclear weapons systems, to one-sided treaties (need I remind you of current extradition law, whereby a UK citizen can be sent off to trial in the States if requested without effective due process in this country, though the UK CANNOT do the same?).

    It's a sad, but true not lost to the majority of my Anglophile friends in the US, many of whom bitterly refer to the UK as the 51st US state...

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  • 156. At 11:03pm on 10 Jun 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    I haven't seen this mentioned on the BBC website. I think it should have been. Maybe it was and I missed it.:

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  • 157. At 11:32pm on 10 Jun 2008, snowkathy wrote:

    If the Irish vote no, the Irish government should take the decision to leave the EU and the Euro.

    I hear a lot about "lost independence" and other supposed injustices in the comments arguing to vote for no. If the Irish/British/other people want to be independent, that is fine.

    The whole point of the EU, much like in a marriage/partnership/community/nation, is to build something that transcends direct own interests because having the community has greater or more important benefits for each individual. It means making trade-offs. If the Irish/British think these benefits do not outweigh the costs, and put their own particular interests first, well do so, but do not stop the rest of us from moving ahead.

    I also read a lot about how undemocratic the EU is. To be frank, I find it undemocratic that some 500,000 voters in Ireland (3m registered voters, 1/3 predicted to vote, half of them saying no) are potentially blocking a treaty that was agreed upon by governments democratically elected by more than 250,000,000 people!

    If I would look after my own selfish interests, I would say, who cares about Ireland? As a Dutch tax payer (The Netherlands is one of the biggest net contributors to the union, while Ireland is by far one of the most generously paid net recipient per capita of the EU budget),
    I do not see any significant direct benefit to me of having this country in the union. Please, get out of this marriage and move on. Be truly independent!

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  • 158. At 11:42pm on 10 Jun 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    What do the three Irish politicians have in common? They apparantly all have aspirations to become members of the EU parliament or find other lucrative jobs in Brussels one day. That is their motive.

    Why are they scared? Why are they so insistant? One thing is obvious in Ireland and all over Europe, they do not trust the people to vote in their own best interest. They are elitists who feel they know what's best for Ireland just as their counterparts all over Europe feel they know what's best for their own populations. The prospect of a public general referendum on the EU is the British government's worst nightmare. And why is it so? Because when you get right down to it, none of these countries are actually democracies, not in the sense for example the United States is. The smug French government under Chirac made the mistake of allowing the people to have a voice and much to their astonishment and horror, the people said NON! No French government will ever make that mistake again.

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  • 159. At 00:02am on 11 Jun 2008, Bob Long wrote:

    I have to say that the posters suggesting that Ireland leave if they exercise their right to vote freely do a very good job of illustrating why Ireland, and everyone else, should vote "no".

    "Here's a vote, just make sure you cast it the way you're told"?

    Take a hike!

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  • 160. At 00:21am on 11 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    RCMaya (155) : I have already dealt with your points RCMaya612 in post 150 and see nothing new in your latest post. The volume of your words cannot disguise the paucity of your point which is that EU states are sovereign to the extent that they can leave the EU. So long as they remain in the EU it is the supreme authority that is sovereign. National courts must bow to the ECJ. National parliaments must not contradict EU law. You are correct that IF we acted on the House of Lords ruling we would be sovereign, but only because we would be in breach of the conditions of EU membership which would ultimately lead to us being expelled.

    It is easy to throw around accusations of the UK being the 51st state of the USA. But unless you can you point to the treaty we have signed that makes this so I will take it as another non-serious point from you.

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  • 161. At 00:46am on 11 Jun 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Well it's quite an interesting dilemma the Europeans have engineered for themselves. They can't go forward because they were so arrogant they couldn't imagine any populaton with sense turning down voting with the elites so they made it that certain treaties would have to be approved unanimously, that's how they sold it to the masses, and they can't go backwards because they have made treaties and other decisions which seem irreversable. So what do they do next, the constitution having failed and now the prospect of Lisbon failing? It's strange to watch a would be superstate that has no effective government.

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  • 162. At 01:03am on 11 Jun 2008, yralthegd1sgne wrote:

    snowkathy (157).

    you say the irish are undemocratic? the so called 250 million ppl that voted on this treaty where are they? as far as i know only hollland and france voted on this it was scrapped something new brought in and forced on you. it seems to be the governments of these people that forced through the treaty to stay on the gravy train.

    i fully support the No argument the EU is gettin too powerful it is becomin a federal state not was it was originally set up to do fifty odd years ago.

    the money men, sorry our esteemed masters in brussels will force this upon us, we will vote no and still it will come in they dont care about three million irish people they care about their pockets and gettin as much money into them as possible.

    the issue of our national indetity is one i fell strongly about i class myself irish even though i live in N.I. i dont want to be called a european subject. i dont like the idea of brussels being able to directly change our laws or have anything to do with our laws, what might be good for the rest of europe may not suit ireland, the EU will probably ignore our vote anyway and press on regardless. it shows you how they claim to be democratic and any attempt to stand up to them is steamrolled and blacked out, if they dont listen to the voice of the irish people would we be better off out of europe?

    i believe that europe has been kind to ireland helping us grow. but now they are possibly asking to much of ireland, people did die so that we could have the choice to vote on this. we fought for 800 years to be free of oppression from one empire and i dont want to see our country in invaded by another through pieces of paper for a group of people with only their interests at heart telling the irish people what is good for them when the irish people know what is good for them and that is why we have the irish parliment to do this.

    another thing. the possilbe creation of the EU army, why do we need this? i thought nato was sufficent enough to stop us from those nasty reds wanting to take our cars and telvisions off us. wait....not unless the EU plans to go to war with america! i could be onto something.

    the whole idea of a "better more connected europe" is a joke. masterminded by people who want to be americans, a federal state, one unified army, a bunch of old corrupt men sitting in a big old building passing laws they dont even know about or read half the time. europe seems to be getting like america more and more, we are getting fatter, lazier, more obese, sucked into the world of fast food, terrible american shows.

    what will europe be like in twenty years if this goes through? a huge federal state, controlled by the all seeing and hearing big brother, something out of george orwells 1984. that is what i can see happening.

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  • 163. At 01:51am on 11 Jun 2008, Rdlp715 wrote:

    Firstly, i'd like to say your coverage on the referendum has been sluggish, short and lacking depth, when it has seldomly appeared.

    Also i recommend people going to

    Now with only hours til the referendum, i'd like to say that there has been nothing but lisbon treaty coverege from the media and in public and everywhere for the last month or so.

    Everyone knows the topics at this stage really. But it has been revealed exactly how dodgey the treaty is, incomprehensible, contradictory and ambiguous. Both sides make convincing and factual arguments.

    I accept that the EU needs many of the reforms mentioned, but it does not need a lot of things like the clause where we are obliged to beef up military expenditure, increase liberalisation?? What kind of constitution has these things? As for corporation tax levels, yes we do have a veto, but there is another section that says under competition rules the commission/ecj could either force us to increase, introduce a new tax or take tax revenue. In the end the ECJ would make the choice. There are MANY matters like that.

    I am voting no against this ridiculous document, the way it was made, the way its being forced through for a second time, way it dodged vote across europe and for the insane thing it includes like military and liberalisation. They say 4million people shouldnt decide fate of 500million, well we shouldnt and its not our fault, but im sure there are 4million no voters who didnt get the chance and thats reason enough. This treaty needs to be cherry picked because a lot of it is undesireable

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  • 164. At 03:45am on 11 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    You know just the other day I was commenting in another BBC blog about how I thought a EU army would be a good idea. I think I really must have had a brain freeze. Because after reading some of these negative comments I realize that this whole united Europe thing is never really going to work out. You have people like the French who feel that the rest of the smaller countries like Ireland owes them something. I believe the original idea of integrating countries like Ireland into the EU was to provide them with subsidies so that they could become successful states within the union. Seeing as though Ireland has become so successful that struggling countries all around the world are looking at the Irish model, then hasn't Ireland done more than you expected?

    What is funny about these subsides is that many people that have looked at Ireland say these are not the primary reason for Ireland's success. I am not knocking the European Union because they have played a big part in Ireland. But the Irish government devised a plan in the 80's and turned that country around. A plan that included low taxes and less of a welfare state as countries like France. Then with the help of America, including ex-presidents, Irish American politicians, Irish American organizations along side the Irish government, they were able to make Ireland into a haven for large American companies. If you take America out of the success of Ireland you are missing a big part.

    To people to turn around to people from Ireland and criticize them if they do vote no is almost laughable. When a lot of the bigger countries in Europe know that if they put it to there voters it would also fail. I think after this whole lack of democracy that nobody from Europe should ever criticize the way the American election system works. To add to that if I was in Ireland and was not sure how I was going to vote Thursday and read some of these comments, I would vote no just for my pride.

    If Ireland got attacked tomorrow it would either be the Americans and British alone that would do anything about it. What kind of union is it when Ireland can rely on American and Britain (800 years !!!) than some of the people that they are in the union with. I think this is something that they should just put to an end and go back to just having an economic union. Who are they kidding? In Ireland and UK alone there is the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England. Who are they kidding when it would be hard enough to get people to agree about something between the places that make up Ireland and UK. Add some people from the other arrogant countries of Europe and you are never going to get anywhere.

    A big part of having a successful state is by letting people vote for what they want. People that vote for something are less inclined to turn against something when it goes wrong. How is that going to work in Europe? When nobody voted for anything. As soon as some major disagreement comes up nobody is going to feel like they even voted for that this whole treaty to happen in the first place.

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  • 165. At 04:39am on 11 Jun 2008, natan1 wrote:

    (158): "One thing is obvious in Ireland and all over Europe, they do not trust the people to vote in their own best interest."

    1) It is equally obvious, then, that people do not trust the politicians that they have voted for.

    2) People do not necessarily vote in their best interest. In Ireland, as has been shown, most nay sayers say NO because they are upset with the state of their knowledge of the treaty. Now, this is irrational and thus not in their best interest.

    Finally, this discussion is not about EU or even the treaty in question; it is about weather you want to live under direct democracy or representative democracy. The EU is representing the states and their governments who were elected by their citizens. The EU is the second level of representative democracy. If you do not trust the government you have voted for (if you had) to make a decision about one agreement it had previously signed with the rest of the EU then you do not believe in representative democracy, period.

    Ironically, the treaty is trying to make EU closer to the voters (people, that is) and will probably not succeed precisely because governments let ignorant (for better and worse) decide.

    Of course, those that plainly say that they oppose the idea of EU having more (if any) power should vote NO - but they are a minority in Ireland and in the EU as a whole.

    If you are not sure what the treaty is about take a few minutes and read about it on one of numerous websites. If you don't care, DO NOT vote.

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  • 166. At 05:34am on 11 Jun 2008, thebaldsoprano wrote:


    Let's just test out your second assertion.

    A car dealer tries to sell me a car I know nothing about. I ask about the warranty and he gives me a document which references a whole load of other documents and by itself is pretty much gobbledegook.

    I then ask him to explain the warranty to me in plain English and instead he gives me a load of rhetoric.

    At this point I get upset about my lack of knowledge and decide not to buy the car.

    Since I am upset, I am irrational and obviously not acting in my own best interests.

    Ehm, hello?

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  • 167. At 05:56am on 11 Jun 2008, SpeleoKarst wrote:

    I get the impression that many of the "NO" proponents would be happier moving to the USA and stockpiling assault weapons...

    They should also always wear tinfoil caps, just in case the EU is actually run by mind-controlling evil aliens.

    It's amazing what poor education combined with poor information will result in!

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  • 168. At 06:35am on 11 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    "It's amazing what poor education combined with poor information will result in!"

    You should go on a mission to America to warn all these large companies that they made a mistake about Ireland. Irish educational system!!! it is at the bottom of the world. I remember when my family moved to America the educational system was considered so bad that they moved us all a grade ahead.

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  • 169. At 07:33am on 11 Jun 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To knight321 (164):

    The economic miracle of Ireland in my opinion is due to both membership in the EU and it being a tax heaven for American companies. In example Microsoft uses Ireland to recycle and store a lot of its global sales revenues and finances. Ireland is very important for Microsoft and to many other American companies. That's one of the reason why EU Commission can play strong ball with Microsoft. Thought I have to add that even if Ireland hadn't low corporate taxes it still would probably be quite successful still as Nordic states as Denmark, Sweden and Finland have been able increase their GDP while being net payers in EU. This also raises a question on why in example Denmark can have almost the same GDP per capita (nominal) as Ireland without forsaking welfare society and being a tax haven for foreign companies.

    I also don't concur with on your opinion with state of democracy in other EU countries. In other EU countries there are strong tradition of parliamentary democracy where parliament and the goverment it has chosen lead the country and the nation in limits set by the constitution. In example here in Finland, when Finland concluded accession negations to EU, there was a referendum on the issue. However having a referendum wasn't completely seen as good a thing, there was also a feeling that the parliament didn't do its duty and failed the people on not making the decision itself. It should have been the parliaments job as it's and has been parliaments job to guide the country and the nation in times of war and peace. So saying that other EU countries are lesses democracies because they have strong parliamentary traditions is more or less insulting. In parliamentary democracies people get their say when they vote in the parliamentary elections.

    I also would like to remind you that European and American criticism against way elections have been hold on in US is to a stark warning on how not to do things. In example its not a good idea to use electronic voting machines without no source code from a manufacturer who's chief executive was a top fund raiser for the other candidate. Also many people couldn't vote or their votes weren't counted for. Also in almost every state the politicians themselves have drawn election districts to optimize votes going to their party. I would say that those are quite a big issues and they should be criticized. We in Europe have working democracies and we would like them to work also tomorrow, that is why we criticize when we see something wrong so we won't make the same mistake by ourselves.

    I also don't understand this talk of an imaginary attack against Ireland and that Britain and America would only countries to defend Ireland in that case. If you we want to put this theoretical discussion on move we have to at least name the attacker and the type of attack. If let say Russia would attack Ireland and land troops there that would also impact the security of every other European country. Nordic countries like Sweden and Finland would be mobilizing their reserve forces in a wait for an attack against them. NATO countries also would be mobilizing their troops to secure their own territory, but also getting ready for an plea of help from the Irish goverment. The thing is that we don't live in vacuum and thus every action has consequences. Saying that Ireland wouldn't defended by other EU countries is quite dead wrong and doesn't have any basis on realpolitik.

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  • 170. At 08:10am on 11 Jun 2008, cybershades wrote:

    Enda Kenny from Fine Gael reckons that Ireland would be 'isolated'.
    The exact opposite would be the case. Ireland would be held up as a beacon of reason and freedom in having the courage to give the people the vote unlike the odious Eu leaders of the remaining countries. Whatever the result , at least they have been given a voice.

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  • 171. At 08:21am on 11 Jun 2008, knight321 wrote:

    "Saying that Ireland wouldn't defended by other EU countries is quite dead wrong and doesn't have any basis on realpolitik"

    Who is going to defend Ireland besides America or Britain quickly? I mean what country is immediately going to find out about the invasion of Ireland (no matter who invaded) and support Ireland.

    You know the chances of Ireland getting invaded is slim to none but the whole European system seems to be based on what "probably" will not happen.

    Now your criticizing electronic voting machines when 95% of the EU is not even being allowed to vote?

    This whole European system is a joke, come November no person from Europe has no right to criticize the American election.

    You might think that Ireland is standing in the way of having a true united Europe. I have read the treaty and I am not a lawyer but to me it seems like this treaty allows changes to happen in the future without any thought to the Irish public.

    If you really feel that you should pass this treaty because you owe Europe, then you should have no problem passing a law giving Shannon Airport complete control to the Americans. But we all know that you would never even think about doing that, but instead you would hand over a substantial amount of the Irish influence to Europe.

    That is how you should think about this treaty. If you don't want to hand Shannon airport over to America, then you definitely don't want to hand the entire country over to Brussels.

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  • 172. At 08:48am on 11 Jun 2008, DutchNemo wrote:

    A 'No' vote will not benefit Ireland nor other small countries. If the Lisbon Treaty is rejected (which I don't expect to happen) the European Union will not be reformed. This means:

    - 9 countries will already lose their Commissioner in 2009 instead of 2014
    - Germany (and other large countries) will become much more powerfull compared to small countries because the European Parliament will be reduced in size and the Voting Weights in the Council won't be changed (which would be favourbele for large countries).

    The myth about Lisbon is untrue: Lisbon won't take all sovereignty away from the European Union members and hand it over to Brussels. Besides, Brussels isn't a bureaucratic monster which desires to 'steal' sovereignty or to 'destroy' national identities. People who believe this idiot theory have no clue what the European Union is really about.

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  • 173. At 08:58am on 11 Jun 2008, Conorworld wrote:

    I don't think it is a nice thing what one member here wrote saying that if Ireland votes no then it is like a girlfriend jilting you and that the "real" members of Europe should move ahead without us. Let us not forget that two "real" member of Europe voted No to the Constitution, which bar some cosmetic differences is the Lisbon Treaty in all but name. European-wide polls have shown s Irish we are probably one of the most enthusiastic members of the Union.

    I am voting Yes tomorrow. Why it fails is not that people are not really in favour it is a question of the way the campaign is going. The No side have misconstrued the argument and deliberately tried to lie about certain aspects in it. However the Yes side have been just as bad. They have failed to explain the Treaty to the people (which many people in Europe, including the man who presided over the commission Valery Giscard d'Estang have said it is deliberately unintelligible to the common people hoping they go along with it). They have also used threats and bullying tactics that are unwholesome and bad tact. If it fails it will be more to do with those two-not knowing the Treaty and a bad Yes campaign.

    I am an ardent supporter of Europe and its ideals under the Union. However I believe that European leaders and Eurocrats in Brussels have become complacent about the people themselves and have deliberatly ignored them and their wishes chasing a different European dream to what the people want. They took no heed of the French and Dutch No in 2005 and wrongfully stitched it up to be a "Treaty" so they didn't have to have a referendum on it. That is wrong and as a pro-European it at times pains me that that is the way things go. So although I am voting yes I will be partially glad if it fails as maybe people will take notice and realize they can't steamroller over and deceive us Europeans.

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  • 174. At 09:05am on 11 Jun 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To knight321 (171):

    Er? Both France and Germany have pretty good intelligence services and both also do military intelligence. If there would be an invasion to Ireland, I would think that they would know. Besides France is almost next to Ireland and Germany and Spain are not so far away: i.e. fighters can fly directly to Ireland from their home bases.

    I also don't understand why it's bad to base what you do on what is probable to happen and what is not. If you start preparing for something that is very improbable you are wasting resources. If you are wasting resources you are sacrificing your economical base and allow those who spend less on preparing for improbable to catch you economically. Besides EU countries spend 311 billion dollars on military where as US spends 585 billion, China 59 billion and Russia 41 billion. So really? Should we really but more money on military? Maybe the aliens will attack Europe or all other countries will turn against us. Yes, that is a risk that we have to be protected against. Maybe we should arm ourselves and start a pre-emptive war against the whole world as we can never be sure about them.

    It seems that you didn't get a point made about parliamentary democracies. All EU countries have parliaments and in 26 EU countries parliaments elected by the people have or will vote on the Lisbon Treaty. People have had a vote in the parliamentary elections, their voices have been heard. Direct democracy via referendums is not the only form of democracy. You should know this as you are a citizen of an republic.

    Ireland doesn't stand in the way of united Europe. Europe is integrating and will continue integrating regardless on how Irish will vote. If Irish will vote no, EU and national leaders have to go back to drawing boards and find ways to further European integration. As some other posters have noted, EU will eventually be split into two groups, on the core group that will adopt closer integration and to other group that will work inside the current structures.

    It should also be noted that the vote on the Lisbon Treaty is not about who owns what but on what result gives the best long term results. To this date European integration has given all EU citizen and nations more results be it economical, political or concerning citizens rights. I also don't understand why everybody is so concerned about who has power and sovereign countries are. The current nation states in Europe where largely created to safeguard and secure national cultures and languages. European integration doesn't endanger national cultures or languages and thus there is no reason why countries shouldn't pool their power on European level to advantage the well being of their citizens. It should also be noted that when pooling power to European level a country doesn't loose its influence, but makes a trade where it gets influence on European wide arena.

    All in all I really can't understand this criticism against the Lisbon Treaty or European integration coming from an American, after all you have gone from initial confederation to strong federation, from strong states to weak states, largely without asking states or their inhabitants on how they would like things to be ran.

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  • 175. At 09:25am on 11 Jun 2008, godkin01 wrote:

    As a public affairs researcher working for a multinational company with Irish connections I was grateful three years ago when my employer offered me an opportunity to attend a seminar in Brussels on the workings of the institutions of the European Union.

    Over two days of intensive lectures from public affairs specialists interspersed with tours of the Commission, Parliament and Council buildings I was able to gain a number of insights, but I have two distinct memories in particular.

    The first was when I had the chance to sit for a moment at the place reserved for the Irish representative at the Council of Ministers.

    As researchers from other companies around Europe took their respective places I began to realise why deliberations in that chamber seem so dull and plodding when featured on television news reports. The sight of one’s national flag sitting on the table before you tends to focus the mind and promote care in what you say and how you say it.

    The second came at a farewell dinner attended by one of the many bureaucrats who serve the various Members of the European Parliament.

    The subject of further European integration arose over a pleasant dinner- at which point I and a number of others were startled by aq sudden statement from our guest of honour who said;

    ‘of course there should be no referenda on further European integration as the issues involved are far too complicated for the average voter’.

    Taken aback by this I pointed out to him that there were many complicated issues voted on in general elections in the nations of Europe and that no-one in their right mind would dare to suggest the right to vote on those issues should be taken away from the citizen.

    I added that if the issues were complicated then we had such things as newspapers, internet forums, public meetings and printing presses to helps us shine the necessary light.

    It became clear to me that the arrogance displayed by that gentleman was by no means unusual within the secretariat. So I have been following closely the debate around the European Constitution and its hybrid the ‘Lisbon Treaty’.

    Neither the people of France or the Netherlands who voted against the European Constitution three years ago are careless with their stewardship of democratic principles. Yet we hear that their vote has been pronounced somehow ‘wrong’.

    The people of Britain where I live and work were promised a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in a general election manifesto, a promise which has been broken. The signs are clear, the arrogance palpable.

    The polished table with the flags of many nations at which I sat for a moment will not be broken up for firewood should the vote in this week’s referendum return a resounding ‘No’. Trade meetings will proceed as normal, European Courts of Justice will still sit and European nations will continue to resolve their differences via discussion in Brussels which is only right and proper.

    A glance at a calendar reveals that Ireland is but eight years short of a celebration of the centenary declaration of our right to national self-determination.

    It is my hope that in eight years time those celebrations will not be spoiled by a feeling that we have meekly signed away powers over our constitution which should never have been given away.

    I hope that the Irish people will vote ‘No’ on Thursday and raise the greatest of cheers- not from politicians of course, but from the many millions of European citizens from Galway to Gdansk who understand full well what is being attempted here and whose voices are being ignored.

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  • 176. At 09:51am on 11 Jun 2008, lacerniagigante wrote:

    Voting systems are great, but they do have their own inadequacies. People usually vote with their hearts, not with their brains, as it should be the case. People need a "figure", some politician to love/hate in order to gauge their vote. In the case of the Lisbon treaty, all that comes to mind is the image of the "eurocrat", which is of course a hated figure.

    Like in the Eurovision voting, people are not voting on the quality/contents of the treaty, which is too abstract; they are voting following their instinct, which makes them wary of politicians, most of whom support the Yes. This inflates the No vote and makes it likely to pass like it did in France and the Netherlands.

    A word in favour of the nay-sayers is that the treaty is really unintelligible (I had a go and gave up) to the lean person, and rather than "changing" for something unknown, it is all too natural to stick with the whatever old and known system you've got.

    If the No prevails, Eire should be suspended of the EU and the Eurozone indefinitely. People start thinking when they're pockets are affected. I'm sure many Irish will start reading the treaty more carefully, at the prospect of returning to the good old pre-1973 days.

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  • 177. At 10:25am on 11 Jun 2008, Conorworld wrote:

    In relation to Lacerniagigante:

    We should be suspended?! For saying No?! In a perfectly democratic election?! WHy did we not say the same to France and Holland when they voted No to the Constitution. It is such undemocratic bullying and threats that is helping the No side.
    If it is unintelligible then that is the fault of the people who wrote it and it was that way so as to flummox people into voting Yes which is grossly wrong.

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  • 178. At 10:26am on 11 Jun 2008, Out-Rider wrote:

    Time and again I am amazed by the autocratic instincts of EU supporters. Many come from countries that have never been net contributors to the EU budget. Yet they say that subsidies that British tax-payers like myself have contributed towards throughout my working life should be denied to those nations that do not blindly sign up to a federalist project which most British tax-payers do not support.

    Did you ever hear a British EU-sceptic say that Spain should have been denied EU funds for voting for the EU Constitution in 2005? As a British tax-payer ultimately paying for those funds I have a stronger right to make such a claim than most of those those now threatening the Irish with my money.

    Perhaps those wanting to see Lisbon ratified resort to threats because their arguments in favour of the Lisbon treaty are so weak? Since Ireland will soon be a net contributor to the EU budget even their threats are dud.

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  • 179. At 10:47am on 11 Jun 2008, Huaimek wrote:

    Dear Mr Mardell ,
    youv'e done alright here !
    What an amazing selection of replies to your Blogg .
    There is no excuse for our respective governments pushing this treaty , vitually the same as the constution , through by government only ratification , without a referendum . I have lived in the EU and have family still living in Germany .
    You would not believe how many Eurosceptics there are across Europe , maybe half the population .
    It is totally wrong for the EU to ratify this treaty without a referendum or democratic vote . To call the parliament of 3rd rate failed national polititions and former local government representatives , our democratic voice is a nonsense .
    No amount of treaties of this nature is going to create a cohesive European Union , without the actual will of the people . To deny us a referendum when we want and ask for one , builds bitter resentments in the people of member states ; not only against the faceless EU , but against their national governments as well . Watch out Mr Brown , when the next British general election comes around !
    You don't have to understand word for word what these treaties are about ; it is clear that it is forming a massive undemocratic state , where the people are denied any say in what EU government does .
    I was taught years ago ," If in doubt say no ".
    Ireland you have the chance of saving us all , of becoming the people's hero in Europe ! Please vote NO !!! We the people will Applaud you and Applaud you .

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  • 180. At 10:48am on 11 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:


    The EU cohesion funds for Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Italy were mainly paid by countries like Germany, Benelux and Scandinavia.

    UK has enjoyed her Thatcher rebate that proves how much solidarity you spend towards poorer countries.

    EU funds have largely contributed to the welfare of many British expats who can get faster to their second homes in the Costas thanks to splendid highways.

    And what about medical tourism? Lots of British receive free health treatment in Spain, where the system is by far much better than UK NHS.

    So don't worry too much over your taxes. They're well invested.

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  • 181. At 11:06am on 11 Jun 2008, RCMoya612 wrote:

    Freeborn-John: The 'volume of my words' is simply (a) my elaboration on points you're not addressing properly, and (b) providing new examples and sub-arguments to undo your argument.

    I've already stated ad nauseum that state sovereignty exists NOT ONLY to the extent that states leave the EU. That is but one argument. But fair enough if you're ignoring that fact.

    But let me reiterate my points to others who don't wish to play fast and loose with legal facts: states ARE still sovereign, ultimately, and the EU states recognise this, describing them as 'masters of the treaty'; the legal status of EU law is premised on individual states handing COMPETENCE, not complete sovereignty, to the EU--and only over these issues does EU law becomes 'supreme' (i.e. takes precedent over national law); yes, the states have the right to exit the EU; yes, the states DO have the right to revisit issues if they so wish, and sometimes get their way (e.g. Poland and voting rights, the UK and its rebate); and the EU is not a 'sovereign authority' over member states--at best it is complementary to it.

    Again, Freeborn-John, that is the status of the law.

    The House of Lords ruling isn't a 'guide' for 'reclaiming sovereignty'. It is at best a statementof fact: that there is a fundamental sovereignty that the existence of the EU has not changed. As reiterated in a case before the House of Lords only a few years ago, Parliament 'has the right to make or unmake any law and no body is recognised as having a right to override or set aside legislation of Parliament'.

    If you can't address my points...fair enough. But surely you can't blame me being long-winded for being factual?

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  • 182. At 11:20am on 11 Jun 2008, badgercourage wrote:

    Actually, betuli (#180) the UK has always been and is still (2006 figures) a substantial net contributor to the EU even after the rebate, to the tune of 1.5 billion euros. Germany and the Netherlands (and recently France!) do however contribute even more.

    This is because gross contributions are mainly based on VAT receipts which in turn depend on population size and GDP per capita.

    And Greece not Spain is the most disproportionate net recipient, although Spain as a large and successful country would not be such a strong net recipient if the system was fairer.

    Moreover out-rider is correct that Ireland's net contributions are now heading towards zero.

    If anyone's interested the figures are at, and summarised on Wikipedia.

    And I don't know on what basis you say that the Spanish medical system is "far better than the UK NHS. Can you provide evidence for this?

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  • 183. At 11:40am on 11 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    181: You are just playing word games RCMoya612. The competence you speak of is the power to decide the supreme law of this land (i.e. sovereignty) so long as we remain a member state of the European Union.

    The UK does not have a written Constitution I can quote, but the Irish do and have signed the same treaties on European Union as the UK with the same effect. Article 29 of the Irish Constitution says "No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the (Irish) State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the European Union from having the force of law in the (Irish) State". I think it is clear where the supreme authority lies, and the same situation applies in every other country that remains a member-state of the EU.

    Are you are suggesting we leave the EU to recover this sovereignty? If not the rest of your long-winded posts are just pure smokescreen.

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  • 184. At 11:40am on 11 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    Badgecourage (182),

    Evidences on how bad NHS works is on a daily basis in the British media, so it's at odds to provide here any link. Just buy a newspaper or turn the TV on any day.

    These UK media have informed in several occasions on how many UK citizens travel to other EU countries, mainly France and Spain, to get a faster or better health treatment, and free of charge, of course.

    It's ironic that British are usually the ones who complain the most about their "net EU contributions", when it is the only EU country to get an unfair rebate.

    Let alone that there are more British expats than any other nations "enjoying" the created welfare in EU countries.

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  • 185. At 12:05pm on 11 Jun 2008, dasdog wrote:

    @lacerniagigante (post 176)

    By your reasoning democracy can now be surmised in the case of a referendum as people are :

    Vote one way and there will be no punishment


    Vote the opposite way and you will incur punishment

    ...because voters do not have the capacity to arrive at logical decisions. Bernard Kouchner's recent comment inferred this also and the strategy has backfired on him. Ireland needs to be part of a harmonious EU. Ireland also needs a good relationship with the US. The states that make up the EU need their respective referendums. Ignoring the wishes of the French/Dutch voters was nothing short of undemocratic and this is the reason l will be voting No.

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  • 186. At 1:02pm on 11 Jun 2008, RCMoya612 wrote:

    183: Those are far from word games, mate. They're the law. You're obviously in denial, of course, but state sovereignty is far from non-existent: as passed by the UK Parliament, as reiterated by the House of Lords, and as accepted by the European Union and the European Court of Justice.

    You can quote Article 29 of the Irish constitution ad infinitum, but that doesn't change anything. Again, that article can be repealed by Ireland (and Ireland alone), and even if it weren't it is only stating what--by international law--is already a fact: treaty obligations come first, INSOFAR as treaty obligations are accepted. That principle of legal heirarchy wasn't created by the EU, and it would exist without it.

    Those EU treaties were signed by the sovereign state of Ireland, as per the Treaty of European Union/Maastricht. EU law is like other international law, and like other international law it can pull out if it doesn't agree with it. Simple enough. But if it chooses to remain within it, then it has obligations to that EU law JUST AS IT DOES to its other international legal obligations.

    All law creates obligations, and EU law (as an international legal system) is no different. That states remain sovereign within this framework--just as they remain sovereign within the WTO, the UN and other such bodies--is as true today as it would be if Ireland voted 'for' Lisbon.

    There may be valid arguments against the Treaty of Lisbon; the sovereignty issue just isn't one of them.

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  • 187. At 1:39pm on 11 Jun 2008, badgercourage wrote:

    betuli (#184).

    Ancedote is not evidence and tabloid newspaper / TV headlines are rarely good evidence of the reality on the ground. Sure the NHS is not perfect but I would guess the Spanish press also have critical stories about their health system. And it relies more heavily on the profit-making sector than the UK system.

    I've now looked up the figures on the OECD website,3343,en_2649_37407_12968734_1_1_1_37407,00.html and the UK spends more per head and as a percentage of GDP on health than Spain. So I would judge that despite some problems the UK system is probably better.

    As to whether the UK rebate is "unfair", that depends on your point of view. If the EU did not spend 45% of its total income on agricultural support there would not have been a rebate in the first place.

    Now that the EU has expanded to nearly 30 countries the case for a fundamental review of what it does and what is the responsibility of member governments is more than overdue. But France won't countenance this at present as the political power of its farming lobby is so great, even though the tables have now turned so France is a bigger net contributor than the UK.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm no apologist for things that could be done better in the UK, and have support UK membership of the EU since before we joined. But I'm no starry-eyed idealist about the imperfections of the EU either, and know that the reality is more complex than we normally get to see.

    And the implication that the EU has been funding road improvements so that UK second home owners can get to their holiday properties or sponge off the Spanish health system more easily is too ridiculous to bear scrutiny. UK expats in Spain are in reality a miniscule issue in the wider scheme of things. The numbers involved can only be a tiny proportion of the traffic on these roads. And surely most of them fly with UK budget airlines?

    To get back to Mark's blog, maybe if the Irish do vote "No" then the EU will have to do some more fundamental rethinking. There has recently been a conference on exactly this in Budapest, although few expect it to lead to fundamental change...unless Turkey does eventually get admitted, when there really WILL have to be a rebalancing.

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  • 188. At 1:55pm on 11 Jun 2008, SCFNL29 wrote:

    I am relatively pro-European, have lived in another Member State and have the dual nationality of another Member State, but like #27 said, I am praying that Ireland saves us all and votes NO.

    From the way the EU and national governments have gone about this, to the actual content of the Treaty itself, the whole process has been completely shambolic. The Irish must sent a clear message to the EU that the citizens of the EU will not tolerate it.

    The Irish have a chance to reject what was already rejected, and should have been dead a long time ago. Its time to put the citizens of the EU at the centre of the organisation, and focus on them, rather than these shambolic token institutional changes they want to make (granted there are a couple of good things they put in, like the role of national parliaments, but in practice such changes will like they always do, end up token in nature).

    If you're an Irish voter and you're wavering, please please PLEASE vote No, the majority of EU citizens who have been silenced are counting on you!

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  • 189. At 2:13pm on 11 Jun 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    RCMoya612 (186): Your argument is essentially that nation-states are sovereign because they can leave the EU. But you do not advocate that step.

    Please tell me what measures a national parliament can take to prevent an EU law that a majority of its members are against from having the force of law in this country, which will not automatically lead to unlimited fines from the EU Commission and ultimately exclusion from the EU? If you cannot then you must accept that EU membership is mutually exclusive with parliamentary sovereignty in any of the growing areas where EU law exists for any member-state of the European Union.

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  • 190. At 2:53pm on 11 Jun 2008, Paulc2 wrote:


    If you are voting yes but hope it fails why not just vote no instead?

    At least you are getting a vote which is more than most did.

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  • 191. At 6:33pm on 11 Jun 2008, European62 wrote:

    I for one urge the Irish to vote "yes", because I am in favor of strong European leadership (and that to the detriment of national governments). Two reasons:
    1) In a globalised world any european country is small. Wherever you are: picture your country against the USA, against Russia, against India and (the ultimate challenge) China. Don't you feel small? I do.
    2) I live on the border. Friends and relatives live only a few kilometres away, but in two different countries. I've grown up with border controls and hated it, I've grown up with three currencies and hated it, I've grown up with senseless regulations on when you can do what on which side of the border and hated it. Even now: our firebrigade MAY help, if there's a fire on the other side, BUT going there it may not use its SIREN!
    There is a growing campaign (oddly enough not so much on the border where you would expect it, but among the young in our capitals) to merge our countries. I don't really like it, because a monolithic country of 145 million people would by sheer force of numbers dictate the course of the EU, but if the Lisbon Treaty fails, I will jump the bandwaggon (as our dear American friends would say)

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  • 192. At 6:43pm on 11 Jun 2008, JanKowalski wrote:

    Come on Ireland, save us all!

    Vote NO.

    We Poles are counting on you!

    Kick the EU bureaucratic bacon!


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  • 193. At 6:46pm on 11 Jun 2008, gerardmulholland wrote:

    I have the -I think unique- privilege of having been the only person to have been Secretary-General of a national political party (Community Democrats of Ireland) registered with the Clerk of the lower house of the Irish Parliament(1979) without ever having been a citizen of the Republic. It was to enable the Irish to join all other EU electors in having Liberal candidates to vote for in the first ever European Parliament election. I was and am passionately in favour of a truly democratic United States of Europe. There is no EU country as democratic as the Republic of Ireland, where the people are truly sovereign and I am appalled that Ireland's blessing has still not extended to any of the other members nor to the EU institutions themselves. And that's why I desperately hope that the good people of Ireland to consign this wicked treaty to the dustbin of corporate history where it belongs. By cementing the erasure of all trace or hope of effective parliamentary accountability, by elevating the will and interests of corporate business above the will or interests of the population, by confirming the European Central Bank's status as a virtual 29th State of the Union -the only one with an absolute veto over all future legislation and all future constitutional change- and by preventing for ever the direct election of EU officials by the people of the EU, this Treaty enshrines for ever the victory of Gabriele d'Annonzio's deam of the corporate fascist State. This Thursday the Irish people hold within their hands the destiny of Europe, of all Europeans and of Europe's hopes of continued influence in the world and on all future human development. What is left of our entire democratic culture will dissapear for ever if they fail.

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  • 194. At 7:32pm on 11 Jun 2008, European62 wrote:

    @ gerardmulholland (193): If the European Central Bank is the "29th State of the Union" (come to think of it - that's typical US jargon: "Tennessee, the xxth state of the union"), pray, tell me, which is the 28th? Bulgaria and Romania were the 26th and 27th to join on January 1st, 2007. What state have I missed?
    And incidentially: Why does the ECB have "an absolute veto over all future legislation and all future constitutional change"? The Lisbon Treaty won't yield it.

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  • 195. At 11:36pm on 11 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:


    Funny that, I've never heard of your party so I did a web search, all I found was the progressive democrats, formed in 1986, are you sure you remembered the right name?

    As for the ECB's veto, I certainly never heard of that one about an absolute veto over all future legislation and all future constitutional change when I spent two years in one of the CB's helping to implement the Euro, controlling the Gold and Interest rates yes but the rest, er, um.

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  • 196. At 00:55am on 12 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    referendum on the Lisbon Treaty---i hope that ireland does not say NO to it...because it would affected all of the European Union in many unknown ways.

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  • 197. At 05:15am on 12 Jun 2008, JanKowalski wrote:

    dennisjunior1 (#196):

    What a beautiful piece of "european" logic!
    Please try, for a change, normal, regular, common sense thinking:

    If Ireland vote "NO", nothing will change. Day after tomorrow will be exactly like yesterday and today. No Lisbon Treaty. We can live with that.

    Vote YES? This will surely mean "many unknown ways". Especially when the future of Europe is in the hands of crooks and liars.

    And you know? It is somehow embarrassing seeing such nice piece of an Englishman being shitless scared.

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  • 198. At 06:44am on 12 Jun 2008, bbnanno wrote:

    OK, so where was Ireland before all the EU money poured in? They didn't seem so bothered about all these questions when they were receiving all the EU cash and investment.

    Fine go ahead and vote NO, not questioning their right to do so,
    but then can they please get out of this EU business, seeing it is so bad, and return all the money please?

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  • 199. At 09:17am on 12 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:

    Good luck to all voting in today's referendum!

    Whether they are voting 'yeah' or 'ney', or whether they are Irish citizens or not.

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  • 200. At 09:35am on 12 Jun 2008, JanKowalski wrote:

    bbnanno wrote (#198):

    "Fine go ahead and vote NO, not questioning their right to do so,
    but then can they please get out of this EU business, seeing it is so bad, and return all the money please? "

    So, it is YOU, who scared our poor Englishman [dennisjunior1]?

    "European" komissar?

    No wonder, you are so impertinent to tell Irish what they can or cannot do!
    Komissar! Big money, and no responsibility at all. Good job! For you. Certainly not for us.

    You are one of the reasons, there should be NO vote.

    European history tells us what people like you can do for European nations. Nothing good, that is for sure!

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  • 201. At 09:44am on 12 Jun 2008, Ramunas1 wrote:

    Irish NO could be the very best news for many Europenians.

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  • 202. At 4:13pm on 13 Jun 2008, mcdv1975 wrote:

    OK people, we need to hold the politicians to the agreement. No means no, and that means end of story for the Lisbon Treaty. Do not let them try to sneak it past us again.

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  • 203. At 3:48pm on 14 Jun 2008, CollegeBhoy wrote:

    I voted No and I'm very pleased with the outcome and the fact that it was a huge turn out. Hopefully the turn out wil deter a re-run of the referendum (already people are starting to refer to FF as Zanu-FF). However there's talk that they'll try and sneak it in next year with Croatia joining. If they do decide to run it again, and they did before - what next?, best out of three, five, or should be we just toss a coin to decide?. It makes a mockery of any notion of democracy to even suggest this, but people actually are - and Cowen hasn't ruled it out!!

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  • 204. At 3:57pm on 14 Jun 2008, CollegeBhoy wrote:

    Powermeerkat - just to inform you people are not entitled to vote in a refernedum in Ireland unless they are Irish citizens.

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  • 205. At 06:22am on 24 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Did the NO vote killed the Lisbon treaty...?

    --Dennis Junior--

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