May 21 2008

Lisbon And Me – Finian McGrath Gives It To The President

Published by at 3:44 pm under Blog,Politics

It seems the No campaign has finally got legs, a voice and a brain at last. I can understand how some can see the No campaign as nothing more than a few archaic parties more interested in putting a lid on this thing called the EU than in deciding what is best for this country. It is clear that many of the No campaigners are going about things the wrong way entirely (Sinn Féin and Libertas, I refer to you here), but that doesn’t mean they are ultimately wrong on Lisbon.

Finian McGrath, TDIndependent TD, Finian McGrath, yesterday sent a letter to President Mary McAleese asking for her to call a Council of State to decide on the constitutionality of the Lisbon Treaty. Being that I am not a political aficionado, I didn’t know this was an option open to us. McGrath is suggesting that the Treaty goes against Article 9 of our own constitution, which states that fidelity to the Nation and loyalty to the State are fundamental political duties of all citizens. According to McGrath,

The Irish people need clarification on this matter. Lisbon would establish a supra-national European federation for the first time, and in effect establish a new State.

And it would seem that adding Article 28.4.11 to our Constitution would put EU Law and EU Treaties ahead of our own Constitution. We have already said No (Update: I refer here to Europe having said ‘No’. See comments below) to a Europe wide Constitution and we should now say No again, to this watered down stepping stone towards a single European State.

The President is put in a difficult situation here. Entertaining Finian McGrath’s request could send out a message to the People that Lisbon is unsound and could sway the vote towards a No, and this is not the job of the President’s Office. However, ignoring or rejecting his request sends out a clearer message that the President is endorsing the Treaty. It will be interesting to see what twist this takes in this ongoing saga.

Either way, McGrath is to be commended for being the one of the first people in the No campaign to do something constructive and criticise the Treaty not because it is too pro-Europe, but because it may be against our Constitution and ultimately anti-Ireland.

There is no reason why we can’t be loyal Irish people and also be part of Europe, but supplanting our Irish pride with a blind faith in Europe is not the way forward.

Side note: Bruce Arnold today replies to Minister Roche’s article in yesterday’s Independent. He rebukes everything Roche said. I don’t have much more to say on this except that the pair seem to be playing a bit of a tag-you’re-it game. They both made good arguments, while attempting to change the focus onto something their side can campaign for. Roche was right yesterday regarding the issue of taxation. Arnold is right today on the issues of the pressures the EU would be able to exert if the Treaty is ratified.

Previous Posts

5. Lisbon and Me – Roche’s Reactionary Rant

4. Lisbon and Me – Consequences

3. Political Apathy and a Yearning for Change

2. Lisbon and Me – Deciding The Future

1. Lisbon and Me

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Lisbon And Me – Finian McGrath Gives It To The President”

  1. Major Alfonsoon 22 May 2008 at 3:42 pm

    We have already said No to a Europe wide Constitution and we should now say No again, to this watered down stepping stone towards a single European State.

    When did that happen? I never had a chance to vote on the Constitution, are you a French or Dutch citizen?

    …ignoring or rejecting his request sends out a clearer message that the President is endorsing the Treaty.

    He has no power to ask for the President to this. I’m not sure the Treaty can even be submitted to the Council of State, only the legislation enabling the Referendum and the wording of the the amendment therein. This is a complete red herring on the part of McGrath. The Presidential office would usually never get involved in a debate such as over a European amending treaty. Now if this treaty was stand alone and made superior claim to the Irish constitution that would be unprecedented. As it stands it reforms the institutions of the EU, the same body as that established under the Treaty of Rome.
    There is no change in relation legally between the state and the EU, the EU has had legal character since Maastricht, ALONGSIDE the Irish State. The effect of the Lisbon Treaty, whatever its merits or demerits, is to amend the previous treaties. This is a complete Red Herring and I’m sure voters will see that.

  2. Darrenon 23 May 2008 at 11:03 am

    @Major First point: by ‘we’ I was referring to Europe, but I can see that this is vague. Sorry about that.

    I agree McGrath is clutching at straws a bit. There is no precident for such a thing being done before, but it seems there is nothing wrong with what he did and it is within the Presidents remit to call a Council of State to discuss such matters (it’s just not a common occurance).

    Yes, Maastricht gave the EU Law legal parity with our own laws, but Lisbon goes further with Article 28.4.11 which puts EU Law before our own. Now this is an Article which may remain untested for years, but it will have repercussions eventually.

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