Archive for June 9th, 2008

Jun 09 2008

Lisbon And Me – My Final Decision?

Published by under Blog,Politics

It’s few weeks (May 16th) now since I began researching the Lisbon Treaty and its ratification’s repercussions on the Irish Constitution, on the lives of the Irish people and, most importantly, on my life.

I do not envy political analysts and journalists who have to cover these things. I guess, like anything else, if you are passionate about it, you will find it interesting, you will find it exciting and you will find it easy to comprehend. I am not a political analyst. I am the common man, trying to understand this major change to Europe and I have struggled.

My Struggle

I began by gathering information from a number of sources: the Referendum Commission’s website and handbook (the latter being a useless waste of paper – it doesn’t even have the referendum’s date on it); the websites of the Yes campaign (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, etc.); the websites of the No side (Sinn Fein, Libertas, etc.), I talked with friends who were in favour of it; I spoke with friends who were against it. Ultimately, it was clear that very few people had all the answers I sought, so I tried to summarise the Treaty in one succinct post. Now, any regular reader will know that I don’t really do brevity, but in this instance I really tried to chop it all down into small easily digestible pieces. It was impossible and while my post Lisbon and Me has gained a lot of hits and some favourable comments, I don’t feel I was able to do any better job that the many sources I had consulted.

I progressed with my research and asked more questions and very quickly began to veer towards a No vote. Once the pendulum swung that way, I made a concerned effort to seek answers and explanations from the Yes camp, so I didn’t blindly vote with my gut instinct. No one has been able to give me a sufficient reason to vote Yes. I even consulted the good people in the European Union House on Dawson/Molesworth Street who have some lovely hand-written signs pleading with people to go in and ask them questions. They were understandably biased towards a Yes and after speaking with them, I began to have even more adverse feelings for the Yes campaign. I asked why I should vote Yes, but they seemed to be throwing facts and figures at me that were aimed at telling me why I should not vote No. What’s the difference? I was looking for honest and solid explanation as to why the Treaty will be good, but they just wanted to tell me why voting No would be bad.

And that seems to be the consensus approach of all the Yes campaigners. Rubbish the No-sayers and hope propaganda and scare-mongering will secure ratification. Not that the No campaign has been any better. The approach of the No campaign has been to rely on people’s disinterest in gaining information and preying upon that, or to shout down the Yes campaigners and make outlandish claims about abortion, unemployment, high taxation, neutrality and war.

Exercise Your Franchise

And yet, I have settled on a decision. Firstly, I will definitely vote on Thursday. I don’t like the argument “I don’t understand it, therefore I won’t vote on it”. Saying that is the equivalent of saying, “I don’t understand it, therefore my vote won’t matter, I don’t matter”. If your opinion is that you don’t understand the Treaty, then have that opinion heard and vote No. This may result in the Treaty being sent to us again for another referendum, but maybe the powers that be will make a greater effort to educate the common man the next time around. Not voting will mean your opinion and your lack of understanding is irrelevant.

I Will Vote No

I will vote No for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the electorate has not been given a clear picture of what is involved in changing our Constitution. This is the fault of the Referendum Commission and the Government. I am one of the people who confidently voted in the current government and I feel let down by this debacle.

Secondly, the Yes campaign has been unable to convince me that the Treaty is a good thing. I have received vague answers which only serve to convince me that many of the Yes campaigners do not fully understand the Treaty themselves. Even the sections I am in favour of, seem to baffle some of the Yessers I have spoken with. Much as I am irritated by the poor campaigning by the No side also, it is not their job to do the convincing. Many of those calling for a No vote are merely seeking to maintain the status quo. If the Treaty is not ratified, we will not be kicked out of the EU, we will not be fined, we will not feel the mighty hammer of France and Germany down upon our figurative brows. A vote No, is a vote to keep things as they are.

Now, I am a liberal and very much in favour of progress and change to further this progress, but change for the sake of change and change without fully understanding the outcomes of those changes is stupid and irresponsible. A vote for No will allow time for understanding of what changes are proposed. It will allow time to fully appreciate what positive progress is required and what we need to do to achieve it.

Voting No is not anti-Europe. Some of the Yes campaigners are actually suggesting this is a referendum on Europe as a whole. It is not. I am very much pro-EU and I believe that future prosperity for out little nation can only come in partnership with the EU, but partnership is very different to being one nation. The Treaty is a step towards a Supernation ruled predominantly by the European Parliament. The EU Constitution was defeated in France and the Netherlands, and the Lisbon Treaty is a watered down version of this Constitution (this is stated by many members of the Yes camp and by many EU Ministers). A No vote will not remove us from Europe. We will still continue to benefit from our close ties and trade links.

I am still not happy with many aspects of the new voting systems to be introduced by Lisbon. The Yes group makes a great fuss about unanimous decisions being required for all major issues which will effect Europe as a whole and Ireland in particular. But these unanimous decisions are not decisions made by the people, they are made by the government and we live in a country where the two main parties, the two largest parties, who are in opposition to each other, have such blinkered pro-Europe stances that it must raise some alarm bells every time a major vote on Europe arises.

At Last, A Conclusion

I am not trying to convince anyone to vote No. I am simply laying out my reasons for doing so. This referendum is a perfect example of bad bureaucracy in action. It has been a shambles from day one and no side can claim any moral high ground. The Yes group have been inefficient have been saying nothing quite loudly. The No campaigners have focused on false-prophet issues such as abortion and neutrality, which are not directly effected by the Treaty and have failed to put up a convincing argument, relying instead on the nervous nature of the electorate.

So, has everyone else made up their minds? How will you be voting?

Previous Posts

5. Lisbon and Me – Roche’s Reactionary Rant

4. Lisbon and Me โ€“ Consequences

3. Political Apathy and a Yearning for Change

2. Lisbon and Me โ€“ Deciding The Future

1. Lisbon and Me

20 responses so far

Jun 09 2008

Tickets To Tom Stoppard At The Dublin Writers Festival

Published by under Overlooked Classics,TV

Sir Tom Stoppard, one of the world’s most celebrated and influential playwrights and author of the fantastic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, will be one of the highlights of the Dublin Writers Festival which runs from this Wednesday to Sunday in a number of locations in Dublin City Centre, including the Project Arts Theatre, MacNeill Theatre, Morrison Hotel, FilmBase, Peacock Theatre and Irish Writers’ Centre

On Friday at 6pm, Tom Stoppard will be in the MacNeill Theatre in Trinity College and if you would like a pair of tickets to attend this unique event, it’s very easy: just leave a comment and tell me why I should give you the tickets. Are you a Stoppard fan? Are you an avid reader and want to attend something at the writer’s festival? Are you just curious? Perhaps you just find Tom Stoppard extremely sexy? Whatever your reason, this is a great opportunity to witness first hand the mind of a a literary genius.

Click on the programme for a better idea of what else is on at this years Festival or click here or here for more information.

3 responses so far

Jun 09 2008

Being Pissed On At The Radiohead Gig

Published by under Blog,Music,Night Out

Sadly, the weather was incredible and the title of this post does not refer to raindrops on my noggin. Instead, it relates to the middle-aged weirdo who was high on god-only-knows-what at the Radiohead gig on Saturday night. He will thus forth be known to us as Pissy Guy.

Maybe I’m wrong (I’m notoriously naive when it comes to these matters) but it definitely seemed that there was far more than alcohol coursing through Pissy Guy’s system to make him dance in a disturbingly writhing manner, to make him profess his hatred and then his unending love for Andrew, to make him wear his dark sunglasses well into the night (maybe he was being cool – it was hard to tell) and lastly, to make him relieve himself in the middle of the field outside Malahide Castle, surrounded by other concert-goers. Why are drugs such a significant part of Irish culture (and world culture) today? Are our lives so miserable and uninteresting that we need to fill our systems with a variety of life threatening chemicals. It is here that my own hypocrisy shines through – I’m a big drinker and while I could attempt to explain and excuse my drinking habits, all explanations and excuses would fall flat on their face – I am aware, like many Irish people, I drink too much. But I digress, this post is about my ire for the ever-expanding drug culture in Ireland.

In addition to Pissy Guy, there were a number of other strung-out oddballs at the gig. Bug-eyed Boy who repeatedly asked me if I was enjoying the gig was particularly bothersome as the gig hadn’t started at that point. My trek to the bathroom passed two separate blokes who had passed out (and received swift medical attention, to the credit of the gig organisers) while surrounded by their equally high-as-kites friends.

I have lost one of my best friends to drug use. No, he is not dead, but he is most definitely lost. In recent times, he has apparently got his life in some semblance of order – he doesn’t do as much drugs as he used to – but this guy had so much potential, was loved by so many around him and could have done so much with his life. Instead, he wasted the potential and is now wasting his life. It’s very sad that whenever he comes up in conversation these days, the best anyone can manage to say about him is “he’s not looking too bad” or “well, he’s looking better than he used to“. I referred to my naivety earlier: this best friend of mine was well known on Wicklow’s druggy scene and yet, I knew nothing about it. I can’t even look back and retrospectively pretend I was in denial. I truly didn’t know, didn’t imagine and didn’t see that my always-hyper best mate was taking any illicit substances. That’s more than naivety – it’s stupidity.

Drug use in Ireland today, is on the increase and this will not change. Even someone as blind to it all as me can see it in every bar, at every gig, on every street corner. If I decided right now that I wanted to get high, I’m fairly confident I could ‘score a hit’ fairly easily. Is it the economic downturn that is making people turn to drugs to ease the pain? Unlikely, as the upsurge began in more prosperous times. So, is it the ready money of Celtic Tiger Ireland that explains the increase? Possibly – Justine Delaney Wilson‘s book, The High Society: Drugs and the Irish Middle Class, controversial and over-reaching as it may be, does educate the reader to Ireland’s drug culture and it definitely shows the connection between wealth and drug use, but it doesn’t sufficiently explain it, as drug abuse is still a predominantly ‘lower-class’ (perhaps ‘poverty stricken’ may be a better choice of words) problem. Or is it simply the worldwide drug culture filtering into the lives of the Irish. Regardless the reasons for it, it’s sad, it’s scary and it’s here to stay.

Incidentally, the gig itself was excellent. It’s the first Radiohead gig I’ve been to and I’d love to see them again (perhaps at a different, smaller venue though). Andrew gives his review of the gig here, with a little more emphasis on the actual music. ๐Ÿ™‚

11 responses so far