The following is a statement from Lawyers Against Lisbon
We, the undersigned, have decided to vote “No” on Friday and recommend that our fellow voters do so as well.
We each have slightly different reasons for our position but are agreed on what now follows.
Contrary to a common argument from our opponents, the Treaty is about much more than improving decision-making, but even if it was
The North Korean parliament is a marvel of efficient decision-making, as is a torch-wielding lynch mob. Neither is an attractive model for the EU
(The quotation is from “The Economist”)
The Referendum Commission’s work, while valuable, at best clarifies what is in this treaty. Given its complexity, there is an understandable tendency to conclude that, having reached some understanding of its contents and having failed to confirm one’s worst fears, it is safe to vote for it. This is, sadly, no way to decide on the rules for our government. The treaty must also be seen in a larger context, especially that of its genesis.
None of the other groups opposed to the Treaty represent us adequately, and in the case of some, do not represent us at all. Nor, as is absolutely clear from polls and from last June’s elections, do they represent the majority of “No” voters.
In deciding how to vote, the bad reasons on either side are irrelevant.
Some say that Lisbon is a bad deal for Ireland: we don’t agree with this formulation of the problem at all. Our negotiators did a reasonable job.
C’est Magnifique! Mais C’est Ne Pas la Democratie
The EU’s Constitution (for that is what the Treaties culminating in Lisbon amount to) has been developed, and continues to develop, without adequate democratic participation. Most regrettably, Lisbon was deliberately written to further preclude this. “The Economist“, whose Europhile credentials are impeccable, had the integrity to note this as drafting proceeded. The titles of the relevant articles – Hee-hee Voters Fooled Again and Journalists for a Cover-up – must make any genuine democrat’s blood run cold.
Public opinion in the EU states has not been able to arrive at an informed view on the merits of the Treaty because of the way in which it was written. Even to us, as lawyers accustomed to dealing with abstruse documents, the Treaty as signed is well-nigh unreadable. We recognise that some of this arose from the inherent difficulty of arriving at an agreement, but it is clear beyond dispute that the form in which the Treaty was signed was a function of the perceived necessity to disguise, or at least to “cosmetise”, some aspects which would cause difficulty, especially for the people of the UK.
Voting “No” is Not Rejecting Everything
We acknowledge some good things in the Treaty, but cannot support further extension of Union competences while the ethos of democratic exclusion continues to hold sway. The Union leadership has now developed the habit of discarding democratic methods reflexively, if they do not produce the right answer.
Indeed, we fear that the Union may already have gone further than is inherently possible while remaining politically legitimate. The choice now is either to go fully federal or to revert to a community of more or less equal states. Lisbon is an unsatisfactory mish-mash from this perspective.
The Commission’s sole power to initiate legislation, including repealing measures, is increasingly anachronistic in democratic terms now that so many of the laws governing us are made in this way.
We don’t accept that non-ratification will lead to “the sky falling in”. The ECB, for example, is not helping us as a reward or a bribe. (But if it is , it will stop on Monday whether we vote “Yes” or “No”).
Whether “Yes” or “No”, Ireland will still be near the top of the table of countries supportive of the EU. Even “No” voters are 2-to-1 in favour of membership.
Some “Yes” people want an EU government instead of an Irish one, arguing that native rule has failed. That is a dangerous fantasy and one which the EU itself will not indulge.
The apparent requirement on EU Commission staff from top to bottom to be not merely functionaries but enthusiasts and proselytisers for “the project” is worrying for an ostensibly democratic entity.
Brendan Nix S.C., Joe Noonan, Solicitor, Fergus O’Rourke B.L., John McGuiggan B.L.