Ireland: Socialist Party MEP denounces “campaign of fear” on Lisbon Treaty

Joe Higgins’ second speech to the European parliament

Click here to watch a video of Joe’s speech.


“I oppose the nomination of Mr. Barroso as President of the Commission. Mr. Barroso is using the EU Commission to interfere with the democratic right of the Irish people to freely decide to accept or reject the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum on 2 October.

Joe Higgins

With great cynicism, his Commission has sent employees of the Commission into schools all over Ireland in recent days, to speak of supposedly how good the European Union Commission is, in reality, a signal to their parents that they should vote Yes for Lisbon and a senior civil servant of the Commission has openly participated in public rallies of organisations campaigning for the Lisbon Treaty. Like Caesar Augustus, Mr. Barroso is sending his emissaries to tell the Irish people what they should do. Now, we will on embark on democratic debate with anybody, but it is a gross abuse of taxpayers’ funds that civil servants should intervene on one side of this debate.”

Barroso reappointment will inspire Left to step up campaign for No vote

Speaking at a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Joe criticised the interference of the European Commission in the Lisbon Treaty debate in Ireland and the campaign of fear of the Irish government in favour of the treaty. Here we republish Joe’s statement.

"The President of the European Commission, Mr Barroso, and his Commission have been interfering in the debate in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty, which is to be voted on in a Referendum on 2 October. Mr. Barroso has cynically abused the Commission’s resources to work for a Yes vote on 2 October.

"For the past weeks, Commission employees have been visiting schools all over Ireland, speaking of the benefits of the European Union for Ireland. This is a cynical means of sending a message to parents that they should vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty. A senior civil servant of the Commission, the Secretary General of the Commission in fact, openly participated in public rallies of organisations calling for a yes vote.

"The Left in Ireland is in favour of the widest democratic debate on the Lisbon Treaty and we are fully prepared to debate with any of the political groups around Europe, but it is a gross abuse of taxpayers’ funds and of democratic procedures for the Commission to intervene in a one sided fashion in the way the Commission has done in Ireland.

"Unfortunately, the Irish Government and many of the establishment organisations calling for a ’Yes’ vote are relying on a campaign of fear to pressurise the Irish people to support Lisbon. Basing themselves on anxiety among most people about the current economic crisis in Ireland, they are threatening further economic catastrophe if Lisbon is not passed and encouraging people to vote yes for jobs and the economy. It is also an extremely unbalanced debate, with strong media bias towards the Yes side and big business funding for the Yes campaign on a massive scale. I believe that the ’Yes’ campaign will spend ten times as much money on the campaign as the ’No’ side.

"The Lisbon Treaty advances the agenda of the economic and political establishment in Europe – of the major corporations, the right wing political parties, the military and the armaments industry. It is hostile to the interests of working people.

"Lisbon seriously diminishes the democratic leverage of ordinary citizens in the EU, facilitates further privatisation of public services like Health and Education, institutionalises attacks by the European Court of Justice on Workers’ rights and gives a huge impetus to militarisation and the armaments industry. That is why we are opposed to it.

"The reappointment of Mr. Barroso as President of the EU Commission will motivate us to redouble our efforts over the next two weeks to secure a ’No’ vote. Europe has had enough of Mr Barroso’s neo-liberal agenda."

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September 2009