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Re-run of Lisbon a denial of democracy – Ó Caoláin

17 December, 2008 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Speaking in the Dáil today, on last week's European Council meeting in Brussels, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said, "The arrogant approach of the government over the last six months shows a complete lack of respect for both the democratic institutions of the State and the democratic will of the people. Re-running the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would be a denial of democracy."

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Throughout the Lisbon referendum campaign Sinn Féin argued that a better deal was possible. We argued that the Irish people's concerns on workers' rights, public services, neutrality, democracy, tax sovereignty and international trade were valid and must be addressed. Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his fellow Yes Campaign supporters told the people that there was no better deal to be had. Last week's meeting of the EU Council has proven this proposition wrong. However the EU Council agreement raises more questions than answers.

"As it stands today the government has committed itself to re-running a referendum on the same Treaty that the people rejected on June 12th. They have secured no changes to the Lisbon Treaty or its protocols. The deal struck will not address the substantive issues raised by the electorate time and time again before and after the Lisbon referendum.

"We want to see Ireland's influence maintained and enhanced. We want to see neutrality protected. We want to see a social progress clause that will protect the pay and conditions of workers. We want to see a new approach on public services. We want to see the promotion of a trade policy that is good for Irish farmers and the developing world. We want to see the Irish government deliver on the mandate which they were given.

"Contrary to claims made by Micheál Martin in newspapers this week, Sinn Féin has not rejected any deal before considering its detail. The problem is that the government has agreed to hold a second referendum without putting the detail in the public domain. Why? Because they don't have it, and they are telling us that they won't have it until later in 2009. So how then do they know it will in any way resolve the substantive concerns that led people to vote no in June?

"Declarations are not worth the paper they are written on as they are not legally binding. They are exactly what they are called, political declarations made by politicians with no legal status or force. They are like promises made by a government at election time, made only to be broken. Unless 'protocols' are secured and ratified by all members states 'guarantees' as described by the government are worthless.

"So, all in all, the Council Conclusions are an exercise in smoke and mirrors. They do not provide credible guarantees where they are needed. They divert attention away from many of the real reasons for the No vote. They fail to deliver positive reasons for voting in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. Instead they attempt to confuse a number of issues in order to give full reign to fear and misinformation in a rerun of the referendum.

"The arrogant approach of the government over the last six months shows a complete lack of respect for both the democratic institutions of the State and the democratic will of the people. Re-running the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would be a denial of democracy. It is no different to a defeated government re-running a general election in the hope that the voters would change their mind. If the Taoiseach proceeds with his intention to put the same Treaty to the people for a second time he will have profoundly misjudged the public mood once again." ENDS

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