Thursday 9 July 2009

Referendum date set: 2nd October 2009

The 28th Amendment of the Constitution (Treaty of Lisbon) Bill 2009 (Initiated draft PDF) has been passed quickly by the Dáil yesterday. The date for the next referendum (in case you missed the title), is the 2nd of October, and the Referendum Commission has already been set up.

The Bill has probably already gained the assent of the Seanad (the Upper House), as it was due to vote on it when I was watching the Oireachtais Report earlier on. A video of the debate in the Dáil hasn't been uploaded on the Oireachtais website yet, but it hardly seemed a stimulating debate from the Report, with the 3 main parties mainly stressing the need to win the confidence of the people in the referendum campaign. Sinn Féin, the only anti-Treaty party in the Dáil, didn't have anything new to say either, from what I've seen. When it comes to Yes campaign unity, I haven't seen anything yet to make me optimistic on this score; some of the outspoken invokers of unity haven't always been great at putting across a good campaign message. Perhaps the new civil society groups will strengthen the coherence and argument of the Yes side this time around.

The Yes side has no excuses this time - it has plenty of ammunition against the arguments of the No campaign from last time around. The legal guarantees form a catch-all argument against various claims, the German Constitutional Court ruling has confirmed that the EU will have no say over the armed forces of the member states, and the Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon has recently stated that Ireland's EU peace mission participation is compatible with its UN role (the UN is a key source of legitimacy in any international involvement for Ireland).

On top of this, the most successful anti-Lisbon group, Libertas, has lost its well-known leader Declan Ganley, and the representation of anti-Treaty MEPs from Ireland was halved in the June election (from 2 to 1) with the loss of Kathy Sinnot, the co-leader of the now defunct InDem group. Of course, many of these people and groups will continue to campaign against the Treaty - notably the new Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group will campaign against the treaty, though it hasn't got an EP seat in Ireland. The temptation of Yes campaigners to rubbish them and get caught up in ridiculous claims must be resisted, and they must focus on reasons why people should vote for the Treaty.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Conor, I'm pro-European too. But after viewing this video ( just now, I start having doubts.
    (The problem with the video is though that it is 2,5h long. Don't even bother looking at it if your don't plan on watching the whole movie.)