Friday, 11 September 2009

Lisbon II

Why we should vote "Yes"
I wasn't on the register of electors for the first referendom on the Lisbon Treaty. Kerry county council stupidly robbed me of my right to vote when I was unable to vote in the 2007 general election due to work commitments. I stayed off it until now because I wanted to stay under the radar for a while. I should be back on it for the next referendum. If I could have voted in the first one, I would have been undecided until polling day. My mind changed on the issue a few times. I was happy for the no side when they won the day though. Well this time I intend to vote in favour of the treaty. Let me tell you what swung it for me. It was the recent documentary on RTE called "If Lynch Had Invaded". For those of you that don't know, it dealt with the hypothetical situation of then Taoiseach Jack Lynch sending Irish troops across the border to Northern Ireland in 1969 to help Nationalist/Catholic civil rights protestors in a time of escalating civil unrest and violence. That situation, in itself, didn't directly influence my decision on Lisbon. It was the outlining of Irelands position on the world stage. If Lynch had invaded, the Irish Government would have been strongly condemned for it's actions. A territorial claim written into our constitution (pre-Good Friday Agreement)wasn't recognised internationally. The international community such as the likes of the UN, the EEC(which Ireland wasn't a member of yet) and the United States(despite a strong Irish-American lobby) would have only recognised British rule in Northern Ireland and any deployment of Irish troops in the region would have been seen as an unlawful invasion. Not that our tiny army would've had much impact. But anyway, the point is that in world affairs in 1969 Ireland didn't have a strong voice. With the combination of the peace process, the democratically accepted Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and both Britain and Ireland's membership of the EU, Ireland is probably more united than it has ever been since partition. An example being Nationalist's condemnation of dissidents attempts to restart the troubles when British soldiers were killed outside an army barracks recently. Now if we could only get Britain to join the Euro we'd have the same currency throughout the Island as well. But the real reason for voting for the Lisbon treaty is so that Ireland can use it's position in the EU to have a strong voice internationally. When we voted No the first time, the world sat up and took notice of our little country, which showed how big our voice on the world stage had become since 1969. That was due to our membership and influence within the EU. Within being the operative word. I don't like everything about the EU. I was against the idea of an EU constitution since I first heard about it the day President MacAleese addressed the EU on the issue years ago saying there should be a reference to God in the constitution. I believe Bertie Ahern was just showboating when he negotiated the constitution during Ireland's presidency of the EU. He was naively glory hunting when we ordinary Irish civilians do not want a foreign constitution overruling our own when Irish died for our independence. I'm still opposed to an EU constitution. I'm glad we showed our unhappiness by voting no the 1st time. But we shouldn't fear being overruled by the EU but use other facilities, such as an EU foreign minister and closer ties with NATO as tools to make Ireland's views more influencial and push Irish foreign policy to the fore. We may even be able to prevent wars as a result. We have democratically elected members of the European Parliment who represent the Irish people and so their agenda is to get the best deal for Ireland. If there's anything we don't like about the EU as a result of Lisbon(and I'm sure there will be), we have a strong enough say to voice our opposition as an integral member. Not so if we're on the fringes as a result of a No vote this time. There are also the potential economic benefits, such as international companies looking to enter the European market establishing a base in Ireland and so creating jobs. Ok, it is a bit expensive still, to do business in Ireland. But we can't afford to be greedy these days with pay when there are so few jobs available relative to the Celtic Tiger years. Anyone who abuses workers rights will hear about it in Ireland. Our government were the only people talking about a "review" of minimum wage. That's a matter we'll deal with ourselves regardless of Lisbon. I've waffled on for ages now about why we should vote yes. So now just prepare to go and do it on referendum day.
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