Lawyers Against Lisbon


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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.

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4 Responses

  1. gramsci

    September 30, 2009 9:26 am

    OK so we must vote NO because the Economist tells us to!!

    The Economist, The Murdoch Media, Le Pen, UKIP, the whole gamut of right-wing xenophobes and rampant US style free-marketeers like Ganley all calling for a No vote.

    The European Social market model is far from perfect but lets not be codded by Joe Higgins and co, a No vote will not usher in a socialist nirvana it will more likely cut us loose from the last vestiges of European Social protection and make the world even safer for rapacious US-style capitalism.

  2. No to Lisbon, a Vision for Ireland

    September 30, 2009 5:32 pm

    IMPORTANT Political strategy INFORMATION ON ANIMAL ISSUES /Relevance of Lisbon

    From: bernie [mailto:]
    Sent: 30 September 2009 10:21
    Subject: IMPORTANT Political strategy INFORMATION ON ANIMAL ISSUES /Relevance of Lisbon

    From: Nuala [mailto:]
    Sent: 29 September 2009 23:48
    To: Bernie
    Subject: Lisbon

    The Green Party today started negotiations with Fianna Fail on a new Programme for Government. There is a very strong possibility that the Greens will wring concessions from Fianna Fail in relation to getting legislative change on a number of key animal abuse issues. We have this on good authority, but can’t be more specific than that for the moment.

    This all depends on the current government lasting long enough to implement any such programme which may be agreed. This government is far from stable. One thing is certain, if the Lisbon Treaty referendum is defeated on Friday, then this government will fall and all hope of change for the beter for some animals will be gone with it.

    You may already be voting yes on Friday or indeed not voting at all. If you are going to vote no, then I would urge you, for tactical reasons only, to consider a yes vote. I oppose Lisbon and find it a gross insult that we are voting a second time at all. But for the sake of some progress for animal rights in this country, the current government in which the Greens hold such power must be kept in place and it is for this reason, and this reason alone, that I will be voting yes.
    A hard pill to swallow yes, but it could be worth it in the long run!

  3. Roger Cole

    September 30, 2009 10:22 pm

    The core of the Lisbon Treaty is to accelerate the process of the militarisation of the EU. Most of the states in the EU are already in NATO thus already support the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike weapon. The applies to the Social Democratic parties such as the New Labour Party in Britain and therefore have no problem with the militarisation of the EU or the dewvelopment of a common defence which is compatible with that of NATO. In Ireland however there is a much stronger opposition to the use of nuclear weapons, and only the right wing social democrats have no problem with that issue support that issue. Also, I assume nobody is actually serious suggesting that we should support the development of an EU defence policy compatible with the use of nuclear weapons in exchange for a political promise on legislation to protect animals.