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Balanced public debate on Lisbon can address knowledge gap

28 April, 2008

Responding to a survey released by the Referendum Commission which has  found a low level of understanding about the Lisbon Treaty amongst the public Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has this afternoon urged the public to take part in the debate despite the daunting presentation of the Treaty text.

The Dublin MEP said

“The survey results announced today by the Referendum Commission are a stark reminder to both sides of the Lisbon Treaty debate as to the job of work that needs to be done over the coming weeks.

“It is worth remembering that the Treaty is in fact meant to be unreadable, this was a key objective in its repackaging following the rejection of its earlier manifestation, the EU Constitution, by the French and Dutch people in 2005. Vice President of the Constitutional Convention of the European Union has frankly acknowledged “it was decided that the [Lisbon Treaty] had to be unreadable because if it’s unreadable that means it’s not constitutional – that’s the idea.... If people could understand the text on the first reading, then you would risk getting calls for referendums.” As we know Ireland is the only state holding a referendum as the Irish government cannot legally bypass its own people. A lone citizen had to bring the Irish government to court to win this right.

“Government scare tactics and proponents of the Treaty’s refusal to engage in a rational debate on the Lisbon Treaty and its implications are also unhelpful when trying to encourage a national debate. Telling off farmers for daring to question the wisdom of giving enhanced power to a Commission that is currently seeking to destroy their livelihoods is a shocking display of arrogance by the government, and indeed Fine Gael who have taken the same line.

“Why are proponents of the Treaty refusing to take on rationally the public discussions around enhanced power, taxation, public services, workers rights, neutrality and democracy? Because people are beginning to take notice of just how much the EU impacts on their daily lives and are realising this is not always a good thing. Despite the Yes Campaigns best efforts a national debate on the Treaty content is beginning to emerge. Whatever the outcome of the referendum come polling day the people of this state deserve that democracy be upheld and a balanced debate be held. ” ENDS


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