The Yes camp are dodging details

Kieran Allen, one of the editors of the Voteno.ie and of the People Before Profit Alliance, appeared before a Dail Committee of Yes supporting TDs and Senators and accused them of evading discussion on the details of the Lisbon Treaty and of trying to “frighten and bore” people into voting yes.

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs earlier, Kieran Allen of Voteno.ie and the People before Profit Alliance said: “The establishment parties are conducting the debate on Lisbon in an underhand way.

“Instead of engaging with the detail of the treaty, they have tried to frighten and bore people in the hope of carrying the vote.

“The people of Ireland deserve nothing less than a frank and serious debate. We should be provided with a copy of the consolidated text of the Lisbon Treaty for free.

“During the referendum on the EU constitution in France, copies were freely available in the post offices. As a result, turnout was over 70% and an informed citizenry decided to vote no. The Irish political elite want to avoid this type of informed debate.

“Instead they are using three main sorts of arguments which are either erroneous, irrelevant or marginal.

“The Yes camp claim that a no vote would damage Ireland’s reputation and scare away foreign investment, yet there is absolutely no evidence for this. US foreign companies do not base their investment strategies on how the people vote in EU referenda.

“The case of France clearly illustrates the fallacy of this argument. The inflow of foreign direct investment to France shot up from $32.6bn (€20.8bn) in 2004 to $81 (€51.6bn) in 2005 when the French voted no and also to $81bn (€51.6bn) in 2006. Opponents of the treaty do not claim that the no vote was good for investment, merely that it had absolutely no detrimental effect.

“They claim that the Lisbon Treaty is necessary to “streamline” the workings of an expanded Europe. But this ignores how the EU Commission itself has acknowledged that enlargement has not hindered decision-making in the EU. The EU Commission has publicly said that the accession of 10 new members in 2004 and of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 has not slowed down decision making.

“The EU institutions continue to function; new members of the European Parliament play an active role in its political groups; the Barroso Commission works effectively with 27 Commissioners; and the Council takes decisions as well as before.

“The Yes camp ignore the content of the Lisbon Treaty and focus on the Charter of Fundamental Rights, claiming that it adds to the rights of Irish citizens.

“However, this is to concentrate attention on the packaging rather than substance. We challenge the Yes camp to name one single extra right that Irish people gain from this charter.

“We believe there are none because Article 6 of the Lisbon states that “the provisions of the Charter do not extend in any way the competencies of the Union as defined by the Treaties”. As if to make doubly sure, the same article states that the “rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter will be interpreted in accordance with the general provision of Title V11 of the Charter”.

“But this title says explicitly that: ‘The Charter does not extend the field of application of Union law beyond the powers of the Union or establish any new power or task for the Union, or modify the powers and tasks defined in the Treaties.’

“Yes campaigners also state that the Lisbon Treaty will make no real difference to Ireland or the EU. This new claim which has been promoted by Peter Sutherland hardly explains why 271 pages of amendments are needed if it makes for little change. In reality, the Lisbon Treaty brings major changes in the promotion of a neo-liberal economic agenda; in the militarisation of Europe, and in transferring more competencies to the EU rather than individual states.”

Kieran Allen also called on the Oireachtas Joint Committee to tell the Irish public how much money is coming from the EU parliamentary groups to help fund the Yes campaign in Ireland.

He also called on the Oireachtas Joint Committee to state what is their projected budget for organising meetings on the Lisbon Treaty and to give an assurance that speakers from both the Yes and No sides will be evenly represented at these meetings.

www.people-before-profit.org

www.voteno.ie

www.caeuc.org

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