ON THE SECOND OF OCTOBER we are being asked to vote for the second time on the Lisbon Treaty. The fact that we are having a second vote is a bone of contention in some areas and as you might imagine misinformation is rife. A key point of interest is that all of the major political parties bar one are calling for a yes vote to accept the treaty.
We have a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt being spread by fringe political parties and groups such as Sinn Fein and Coír that are getting out of hand and more ludicrous by the day.
Ridiculous claims that the minimum wage will be reduced, that abortion will be legalised and other nonsense are being constantly quoted by them but the fact remains that these claims by Sinn Fein and others are non-runners. These were never issues to begin with and these lies are being spread by them for their own personal gains and not for those of the Irish people for whom the ratification of the treaty will solidify our place in a fairer, more democratic and more accessible European Union. More accessible for businesses thereby providing for greater employment prospects, and more accessible for ourselves by allowing us to have a greater say in a more democratic European Union.
Firstly we need to get the facts regarding the Lisbon Treaty straight so I will begin by addressing the common issues that seem to get everyone fired up.
1. We will lose our European Commissioner:
False. If we vote yes then Ireland will keep its commissioner. On the other hand if we vote no then we do run the risk of losing our commissioner. An interesting point to note about EU commissioners is that they are expressly forbidden to represent their countries of origin. Their loyalty is to the EU first and foremost.
2. It will affect our neutrality:
False – The Lisbon treaty will have no bearing on Ireland’s neutrality. The treaty will enable the EU to develop its capabilities for conflict prevention and crisis management in a manner that is consistent with Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality. A yes vote to the treaty will not mean that Ireland will have to increase its military spending. We are still a sovereign nation and it is entirely up to us what we decide to do with our defence forces. In fact the Lisbon Treaty will actually restate our prohibition on Ireland joining any EU common defence arrangement.
3. The treaty will lead to the legalisation of abortion:
False – Abortion and other issues such as euthanasia are outside the scope of the European Union. It is up to each member state to legislate on these issues accordingly. Indeed retention of these legislative matters is one of the key guarantees that the government have secured in the run up to the referendum.
4. The Treaty will undermine workers rights and wage levels and damage family farms:
False – workers rights and public services are included in the key guarantees secured in the run up to the election. It is up to each member state to decide their minimum wage, tax rates etc. A yes vote will not affect any of our current workers rights and wage levels. In fact the Lisbon Treaty demands an adequate social protection and contains new protections for worker’s rights. With regards to farmers, if ratified the treaty will for the first time allow MEPs to vote on issues relating to agriculture. If you are a farmer then it will allow your MEP to have a direct say on your behalf.
So with a lot of the misinformation out of the way perhaps it is time to look at just exactly what a yes vote to the treaty will mean.
1. The Lisbon Treaty will result in a more democratic European parliament. The new Citizen’s Initiative will allow at least one million signatures from a significant number of member states to ask the EU to take a specific initiative. This gives power to people and their national parliaments.
2. Faster decision and law making. At present decision making within the European Union requires all 27 member states to be in total agreement. This has led to scenarios where a single member state can effectively veto any decision in their own self interest and possibly to the detriment of others. If ratified the treaty will be more democratic by implementing qualified majority voting. In a nutshell this should provide individual member states with a greater say in the creation if European Law.
3. The Lisbon Treaty if ratified will make the Charter of Fundamental rights legally binding. This charter lists the human rights recognized by the European Union. These fundamental include respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights including the rights of minorities.
It is up to you to decide whether the treaty will be ratified. The treaty provides for a much fairer Europe and it actually grants us as Europeans more say in the issues that affect us the most. The treaty will allow all member states to work for our mutual benefit. I hope that come polling day your vote will be cast as an informed one and the lies of Sinn Fein, Coír, Youth Defence and others will not influence your decision.
The Lisbon Treaty is essential for Ireland’s future it is imperative that we do not lose sight of that fact in the run up to polling day.
Disclaimer – This post reflects my own opinion and in no way reflects the opinions of any third party nor those of Fine Gael of which I am a member.
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