I am very encouraged to see such a well thought out statement on the Lisbon treaty coming from among others my own Church of Ireland - Well done! Not often we stick our heads above the parapet but this time it could not be more important and I am so relieved we have not fallen for the percieved need to be unbiased in matters political. Signs of leadership here! :-)
Statement on the Second Lisbon Referendum by the European Affairs Working-Group of the Church of Ireland Church in Society Committee, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Methodist Council on Social Responsibility and Mr Alan Pim, Clerk of Ireland Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends.
We urge voters to consider carefully the changed context in which Ireland finds itself following the rejection of the first referendum, and in the light of the Declarations of the European Council. These guarantees provide that Ireland will keep a commissioner, will remain in control of our own tax rates, will retain control over neutrality (no conscription and no defence alliances), over sensitive ethical issues such as abortion, and that workers’ rights and public services will be valued and protected in Ireland and across the Union . We therefore urge that serious consideration be given to the following questions. What impact would a negative Irish vote have on our partners in the Union when they have given legally binding guarantees? If we do not trust either the intentions of 26 partners, or the capacity of our government and EU representatives as members of the Union to negotiate in Ireland’s and the Union’s best interests, why remain in the Union? What are the implications of increasing isolation for Ireland’s future in the context of our current crisis?
* In the light of the Council’s assurances, there is a renewed opportunity to consider the core purpose of the treaty, which is to streamline the institutions of a Union designed initially for six partners. The complexity of the treaty is the direct result of long and exhaustive negotiation between all the member states, which needed to be satisfied that not only would the treaty make the Union more efficient but that its provisions in detail would not damage – on balance - their individual interests. Ireland took a leading role in that process. The Treaty contains important structural changes that will enhance democratic participation both by increasing the competence of the European Parliament and the roles of national parliaments. Thus the key question is whether the Union will function more efficiently, effectively and democratically as a consequence of adopting a treaty that our partners are satisfied will achieve these objectives. Outside the Union, how will another rejection by Ireland be viewed by potential investors or by aspiring member states, which will have to wait indefinitely until the Union is in a position to carry out the similar structural reforms to those proposed in the Treaty? That will be a long time coming if this treaty fails. The effect will be to deny to others the enormous benefits we have enjoyed since joining the Union.
* In a global context, faced with enormous trade, energy and environmental concerns, will we be better served by membership of a Union with improved internal structures and processes, or with a less effective Union of 27 members hampered by outmoded structures designed to cater for six members in 1956?
* For information on the Lisbon Treaty we refer readers to the publications of the Referendum Commission, www.lisbontreaty2009.ie .