Sunday, October 4, 2009

A resounding victory - Ireland says YES to Lisbon Treaty

It's all over and yes, Ireland has voted YES to ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. I wrote my last post about this and how divisive it had become in the weeks running up to Friday's vote. I am delighted with the result - the polling went on yesterday from 7.00a.m. until 10.00p.m. and the count started this morning at 9.00a.m.

A group of Labour women campaigning for a Yes vote - Joan Burton TD (Deputy Leader), Joanne Tuffy TD, Roisín Shortall TD and Mary Upton TD are those I recognise (TD = MP)

It was clear from about 10.00a.m. this morning that the Yes vote was coming through and by lunchtime it was all over - a resounding victory for the Yes vote, with a 67% majority in favour, and only 2 out of 43 constituencies voting No and then marginally. Ironically these were both in Mary Coughlan, the Tánaiste's (Deputy Prime Minister) constituency of Donegal, a border county near Northern Ireland. Mary has had quite a time of it lately so this can't help her reputation as a lightweight politician who is out of her depth as deputy leader, having inherited her seat at a young age and coasting along without real challenge in her roles to date. (A recent gaffe included crediting Einstein as having developed the theory of evolution!)

This says it all!

I was surprised at the strength of the Yes victory and while we are all delighted there is no gloating or triumphalism because the issue was bigger than the government - all the main opposition parties united with the government coalition in promoting a Yes vote with the exception of Sinn Féin who were staunchly opposed. The No side are poor losers and have been trenchant in their condemnation of the result. This is in stark contrast to their mantra of listening to the will of the people that they have been preaching during the campaign. Their biggest gripe was that the country voted No to Lisbon in June 2008 and therefore had spoken - and there was no need to put the vote to the people again, that that was treating them like recalcitrant children who needed to be taught a lesson until they got it right.

My argument with that is that the first referendum in 2008 was flawed in that there was a very poor information campaign with it so most people didn't know what they were voting on. This gave the No camp a clear field for scaremongering and they made the most of it, fomenting lies and fear that euthanasia and abortion would be available and foisted on a hapless populace if we went along with the EU constitution. The fact that God doesn't feature in the constitution was another bone of contention, notwithstanding the wish of most countries to keep a separation between Church and State.

The Guardian (UK) reports on the Irish vote - the British are notoriously Eurosceptic at the moment but Ireland is a different story

We have a history of changing our minds politically and I don't think Ireland or the Irish should make any apology for this. People change as do circumstances, and the fact that we voted No last year shouldn't close the door on another chance to vote.
In 2001 we voted No in the first Nice Treaty - about expanding the EU to include new accession states in Eastern Europe. Back to the drawing board and in 2002 we voted Yes to the Nice Treaty.

Likewise with Lisbon. Change often comes slowly - granted, after last year's No the government got reassurances on the issues concerning the doubters - specifically on abortion and our sacred cow of neutrality, as well as retaining a Commissioner - a voice at the top table.

Don't forget Ireland voted No to Divorce back in 1986 again based on fears fomented by the right and supported openly by the Catholic Church that Irish women would lose their homes, and family farms would be ruined by the prospect of gold-digging second wives disinheriting the destitute first family. Of course that was all nonsense as the legislation was there to protect the first family/ex-spouse. And in 1995 Divorce was voted into the Irish Constitution and gave a second chance to the thousands of people in the limbo of separation who could now remarry and not worry about the status of their new families in law.

So there seems to be a tradition of recognising that circumstances and people are dynamic and evolving and in that case there is always a good argument for having a second chance - not just a woman's prerogative to change her mind, but a citizen's!

Ironically, Dutch hubby - while advocating a Yes vote and present as a tallyman at the Waterford count centre - was not eligible to vote in this Constitutional Referendum; it is only open to citizens of Ireland to have a say in Constitutional matters.


Irene said...

Congratulations on getting the Yes vote. It is a wonderful day indeed. I'm glad the scaremongers didn't win. There are too many of them about nowadays.

Catherine said...

Thanks IRENE - glad you are happy for us! I must look up the Dutch newspaper response as I just heard on Irish radio that there was a good bit of coverage on NRC Handelsblad and presumably others too. The sky hasn't fallen yet - so the No camp are disappointed! But we are enjoying an Indian Summer in October so I am happy anyway!

constant gina said...

The EU requires a birth certificate

Catherine said...

I think I must start using comment moderation on my blogpost comments as I am getting some spam which I should have filtered and didn't - the link to the third comment above is to a Florida holiday rental site which is probably automated - I don't fancy this happening again and should have blocked it. Having Comment Moderation prevents automatons getting into my posts and leaving links to ad sites. Hope that isn't an inconvenience to the real people out there! I will post this to my blog also.

Niamh Griffin said...

It turned out to be a pretty strong Yes in the end. From talking to my friends a lot of people still have some reservations about how power will be handled and how the administration of the EU will take place now, but decided that further re-writes wouldn't neccessarily change that anyhow. If nothing else at least we are all much more educated about the process and how it all works than we were 6 months ago. You couldn't avoid learning this time round.