Yes to an imperfect but beautiful Union

With recent polls suggesting that the Irish electorate’s faith in the European project is dwindling, the Irish Times restates its case for a Yes vote in the 2 October referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, arguing that Ireland must contribute its genius, “to this great, imperfect project.”

Published on 30 September 2009 at 10:46
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, who voted No in last year’s referendum, has been campaigning in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. Dublin, September 29, 2009. (AFP).

Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the latest Irish Times /TNSmrbi poll on attitudes to the Lisbon Treaty is the doubling in a year, from 9 to 18 per cent, in the number of those who say that it would be better not to be part of the European Union. Forty-three per cent of No supporters are of this view.

Although most No campaigners, from Declan Ganley to Socialist MEP Joe Higgins, profess to be strong supporters of the idea of a European union, albeit very different models, one result of their campaign has in fact been to push very significant numbers into the ranks of outright Euroscepticism. In the face of such a reality those making the case for Lisbon have again found it necessary to go back to basics to remind voters of the case for EU membership itself.

The treaty defines the nature of our membership and of our relationship with our partners in what has been and remains for this State an enormously important and beneficial common project. The EU has helped to lay the basis of our economic and social transformation and has brought down barriers across a continent, opening extraordinary opportunities for travel and education of our young and for business. It has provided an international platform for Ireland to find its “place among the nations”, to establish a separate identity from the British, and in the process has contributed significantly to peace on this island. In the wake of a century marked by Europe’s bloodiest wars, it seems extraordinary to have to restate that the EU provides a unique, first-of-its-kind, democratic model for peaceful reconciliation, balancing the interests of sovereign nations large and small, an important counterweight economically and politically to great power rivalry. Read full article...

Lisbon 1

Ireland knows where its bread is buttered

In the Daily Telegraph, Irish Times journalist Sarah Carey embarrassedly remembers “Lisbon 1”, i.e. Ireland’s 2008 rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Many, she argues, “sick of them (the Irish government/EU) getting their own way all the time,” wished to register a No of protestation, while believing the majority would approve the controversial text. “The people were angry,” she recalls. “ Our economy was a train wreck waiting to happen.”

One year and one economic train wreck later – the once dynamic Irish economy is one of the hardest hit by the global recession - attitudes have changed towards a text which, in the words of EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy, no “sane person” was expected to read. “We Irish are quite clear on which side our bread is buttered,” she reasons. “The difference between Ireland and Iceland is not one letter, but four: E-U-R-O. The European Central Bank is paying the bills and recapitalising our insolvent banks – we know who our friends are.”

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