Irish Sovereignty: Rejection of the Lisbon Treaty

Excellent news from Ireland today… election results indicate that the referendum in the Republic of Ireland to approve or disapprove the Lisbon Treaty has resulted in a “no” vote: Ireland has rejected the treaty.

Various articles both today and leading up to the referendum have included warnings that a “no” vote would “[trigger] a political crisis” which would lead to “much infighting and bickering across Europe”. Lobbyists for the Lisbon Treaty attempted to invoke poetic guilt by claiming that a denial of the treaty would transform Ireland “from grateful recipient to begrudger”. The question remains: what justification exists for Ireland to be a mere “grateful recipient”?


The Lisbon Treaty is said to “streamline” the EU and its Constitution. Ireland is the only nation of the twenty-seven which has held a referendum. All 27 nations must approve the treaty for it to be approved, unless exemption is provided by the EU for a specific nation. The Lisbon Treaty is in the best interest for the EU as a centralized body. The burden of persuasion, therefore, is placed on the EU. Ireland has neither compulsion nor duty to approve the treaty.

Two significant elements exist which serve as giant, blinking mauve-alert signals that the Lisbon Treaty is not ready for Irish approval: the content of the treaty and the rhetoric used by its supporters.

Some basic points of the Lisbon Treaty which are not in the best interest of Ireland:

  • Ireland would have significantly less representation in the EU.
  • The EU would be able to tax without an Irish referendum.
  • Ireland would lose the ability to decide its internal civil rights and liberties.

The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre has a good, short list of the risks to Irish sovereignty contained in the Lisbon Treaty.

An opinion piece from the Belfast Telegraph is an excellent example of the rhetoric used to pressure Ireland into passing the treaty. Curiously, the rhetoric of the Lisbon Treaty supporters parallels that used by teenagers committing date rape.

Lisbon Treaty Advocate:
“The treaty was born from nearly a decade of wrangling, compromise, negotiation and diplomacy across an entire continent.”
Date Rapist:
“Think about all the trouble I went through for this! Gas for the car, movie tickets… I even bought you popcorn!”

Lisbon Treaty Advocate:
“Renegotiation is not a sensible option, and it is hard to see what strategy would remain post a referendum-defeat. ”
Date Rapist:
“You’re not gonna make me go through all of that again, are you? What else could I do for you?”

Lisbon Treaty Advocate:
“Something would surely arise from the ashes, but the implications would be profound. ”
Date Rapist:
“It’s biology, baby. Think about my health!”

Lisbon Treaty Advocate:
“Rejection would place the Irish in a unique position — a nation transformed from grateful recipient to begrudger in the blink of an eye.”
Date Rapist:
“You ungrateful kid. You were happy to go to the movie, but you don’t wanna give me something back?”

C’mon. I’m being mild about this. The columnist in the Belfast Telegraph even went so far as to say the following: “Certainly, there are many EU concepts that are fuzzy and imperfect — democracy, national sovereignty and accountability chief among them. However, Ireland’s voters should resist the temptation to poke big Europe in the eye today. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not the way forward.” How, precisely, would Ireland have been able to move forward and demand superior terms if they signed away their sovereignty and representation? By asking pretty-please? No. If Europe wants to bully the Irish, they’d best expect a poke in the eye. In business negotiations, one would not expect the smaller party sacrifice its only bargaining chip in order to maintain unity. Europe can argue that this isn’t about business, it’s about friendship and relationships… but friendly relationships don’t generally involve one party telling to other to sit down, shut up, and prepare to foot however much of the restaurant bill as everyone else at the table decides.

The Irish have been sufficiently wise and bold to vote no and say that this treaty is unacceptable. The rest of the world needs to stand up and applaud the Republic of Ireland for choosing to protect their liberties and their sovereignty. Ireland does not need the EU; they certainly did not need the Lisbon Treaty.

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