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17th June 2008, Dublin
By Gayle Kinkead
After the Irish No to Lisbon there has been a lot of comments, and speculation about the impacts of the vote and what is going to happen next.
As the first results came through on Friday EU leaders were already preparing their speeches. At first there seemed to be many condemning and disrespecting the Irish vote. For example President of the Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said “The Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution.” The French Foreign Minister said “I don't think you can say the treaty of Lisbon is dead even if the ratification process will be delayed.” There has also been those which called Ireland ungrateful which lead to the Irish Commissioner Charlie McCreevy run to Brussels apologising on behalf of his people.
The Irish papers are full of opinion pieces about why the Irish voted no, mainly stating that the Yes campaign wasn’t good enough, or trying to say that the No campaign was full of lies with which they managed to manipulate the people. I can honestly say that this wasn’t the case. I have been here in Dublin talking to people and attending the many debates held leading up to the referendum and there were falsehoods told on both sides. Also, in my humble opinion, I would argue that the Irish people voted no because the No side at the end of the day had the arguments (because they actually read the Treaty) and won the debate.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen goes to his first EU summit this Thursday and has been told to come with an idea to tell to EU leaders what happens next. Several options have been presented, however the one that keeps re-emerging is calling a second referendum in Ireland which will allow the Lisbon Treaty to continue. German Minister Wolfgang Schaüble said “a few million people cannot decide on behalf of 495 million Europeans.” However what everyone has to remember that this is exactly the rule by which the EU should adhere because it is the rule which was created by the EU itself. The Union cannot make up rules and then break them as it pleases. We must also remember that 490 million people have not decided to ratify the treaty. The Treaty has been push passed the people in every single country except Ireland, and we can be sure that if it referenda were held in other member states then Ireland would not be standing alone in its vote.
As time has passed the reality of the Irish vote has sunk in and cheers for the Irish No have also been prevalent. The ERC has received many emails congratulating the Irish decision and hailing the 12th June as a wake up call to the EU’s leaders, and a great day for democracy. The Irish vote has shown the full extent of the cleavage between EU leaders and the people they are meant to represent.
Finally, to end, a shocking tale which more than angers me upsets me. An Irishman who wrote into one of the newspapers and actually called for Ireland’s right to be heard, its right to hold referenda on EU treaties to be taken away. People across the EU have been campaigning for a chance to be heard in Europe and were denied by European elites. I urge everyone regardless of which side of the debate you may be on to respect democracy because when it is gone I assure you, you will miss it.
© Democracy International www.democracy-international.org