Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ireland and the Lisbon Treaty. Hmm...

I've been pondering over this issue for a few days, and thinking if I should post something about it. After all, I did live in Ireland for seven years and if I was still there, I would have had a vote last week. And how would I have voted? Well, like the vast majority of my friends, I would have voted 'Yes'. Not that I agree with everything that's contained in the treaty, but I do believe in Europe. I also believe in progress, and I think that's what this treaty will achieve if it is ever ratified.

I know many of my Irish friends are extremely disappointed with the result. They have been angered by the lies told by the 'No' campaign in order to scaremonger people and force a No vote. It also didn't help that Murdoch's newspapers came out, as you would accept, typically xenophobic and anti-Europe. I wish people would stop being swayed by what the 'Sun' thinks! Its so frustrating!

Ireland has always been a strong supporter of Europe and has, of course, benefited hugely from being a member of the EU. But this Treaty tried to push too many things through at once, thus giving the no campaign ample opportunity to spin the argument. People thought that if they voted yes, abortion would be legalised in Ireland and that Irish men would be forced to fight in an EU army. Crazy! And yet, these lies managed to sway the result...

Plaid Cymru were firmly in favour of a referendum on the treaty, and I think that would have been wise. The treaty will have implications on all of our lives and as such, should be considered carefully and democratically. However, would the No campaign here in the UK have been any wiser or fairer? I suspect not, given that the Sun has even more of a sway here. Indeed, I think its fair to assume that the No camp would have won my by a larger margin here which is a depressing thought.

Wales as an independent state within the European Union could flourish, and I hope that we don't start adopting negative attitudes towards it just because of this treaty. Indeed, we have often used Ireland as an example of how a small nation can benefit from being a member of the EU. Lessons do need to be learned from last week's vote, and Wales should keep an eye on what's happening over in the Emerald Isle. Let's hope that this shock wave leads to the strengthening and democratising of the EU, rather than undermining it.

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