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Public understanding of Lisbon can be improved - McDonald

29 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald today called on all stakeholders in Irish society to act on the Referendum Commission survey results which show a majority of the population are still unsure as to what the Lisbon Treaty is about. Ms McDonald said "we have a little over six weeks before the referendum is held and much can be done to ensure people get a broad understanding of what the Treaty contains and its implications for Ireland and Europe."

The Dublin MEP added:

"There can be no doubt that there is an information deficit in the public realm on the Lisbon Treaty. However we still have time to address the issue before the referendum takes place. I believe this can be best achieved by a robust and lively public debate amongst all stakeholders in Irish society.

"The political establishment as well as media outlets have a key part to play in facilitating a national debate. Distribution of information to homes throughout the country will help to inform the public of the contents of the Treaty and what it means for them. But a more innovative approach is needed. All sectors of society must consider taking a role in the debate. Positions do not need to taken prior to the Treaty but a public debate must be facilitated.

"I am calling on schools, not for profit organisations, universities, business groups, trade unions, community groups and residents associations to consider organising debates for their membership. Publications can become a space for debate and contributions from membership on what the Treaty means for them. Questions can be raised and answers sought. Debate is the healthiest tool of any democracy. The surest way to encourage people to engage in this debate is to let them have their say.

"The Lisbon Treaty is about more than the institutional workings of the EU. It will shape the union's future and the people who live within it for decades to come." CRÍOCH

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