In the wake of last year’s referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, the whole world, and especially the Europhile academia tried to figure out why this nation of superstitious peasants couldn’t just do what we were told and vote “Yes.” Our media and the opposition parties blamed the government, as if the government could have done any more to force people to vote yes. Meanwhile the government blamed the lack of education of the voters on the subject. But in reality the failure of the “Yes” side can be traced to the treaty itself.
The treaty was much too complex and obscure; open to too many possible interpretations; and contained too many unrelated factors to be approved with a single vote. One could entirely agree with some parts of the treaty and totally disagree with other parts of it. In this case what is one to do? The obvious thing is to vote No if any part of the treaty is completely unacceptable.
Notwithstanding the many promises that Ireland’s position would be secure on such issues as abortion, people were not convinced that the European Court of Justice would always interpret the treaty in accordance with such promises.
Furthermore, including the European Charter of Fundamental Rights is neither necessary nor desirable in a treaty that “is just about making Europe more efficient” – as we were so often told was the purpose of Lisbon. The charter does nothing to further the efficiency of Europe, while it gives cause for concern, and even suspicion, given the social agenda that is more and more clearly promoted by EU institutions. Therefore including the charter is an invitation to a much greater public to vote No.
Many voters were dissatisfied that no other country in Europe held a referendum. This fact could not but convince the people that the Lisbon Treaty was undemocratic. After all, isn’t it a contradiction to suggest that the EU could impose enhanced democracy with an iron fist? If our No vote could be seen as a protest vote, it was a protest against the other 26 governments of Europe who did not consult their electorates on the issue. It is certain that the No vote was influenced by the lack of referendums elsewhere in Europe.
Finally, the real Achilles heel of the Treaty of Lisbon was its failure to acknowledge God and the Christian roots of Europe. This omission alienated a large block of voters in Ireland, as dedicated and educated Catholics can now be expected to vote in accordance with their faith and conscience rather than taking the cue from their political, or even their religious, leaders.
And now we are going to be offered another chance to vote Yes. Nothing essential will be changed – maybe a little bit of window dressing here and there – but the treaty will still be the same, and the Charter of Fundamental rights will still be the same.
One of the great things about voting No is that, if we so decide, we can be sure that we will get a chance to change our minds again in the future – as happened with the Nice Treaty, and is now happening with the Lisbon Treaty.
On the other hand, if we vote Yes, be sure that we won’t be given an option to change our minds about that in the future. Remember the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty and the Amsterdam Treaty? Did we get a chance to change our minds? Voting No is keeping our options open – a wise thing to do in these uncertain times.
Most Irish people are proud to be European. The Europe that inspires us with such pride is one made up of Christian nations living in harmony and mutual cooperation, each with its own distinct culture and customs, and united by our Christian Faith. Europe has a rich heritage inseparable from Christian civilisation. It is this same Christian Europe that attracts millions of non-European visitors every year and that has the admiration of most of the world. As long as the EU fears to acknowledge its Christian roots – which are the very foundations of Europe, and without which Europe is nothing – it is doomed to failure.