David Granville argues that solidarity with the No to Lisbon campaign is in the interest of working people throughout the EU
IN JUST a matter of weeks the fate of the Lisbon constitutional treaty should be clearer, as the Irish go to the polls in the re-run of a referendum which will pose a question that they've voted decisively on once already.
Democracy not being a strong point of those in control EU-federalist project, and rather like the way some of our less-enlightened judges view the issue of rape, No clearly couldn't have meant No, and so the question has had to be put again.
Because of what's at stake, the Irish vote has democratic implications for each and every person in the European Union. It wouldn't be too dramatic to suggest that, to a significant extent, the fate of national democracy throughout the EU is in the hands of the people of the 26-counties on 2 October.
While it's a sound and progressive internationalist principle not to meddle in the internal affairs of another state, solidarity in the form practical support and encouragement for whatever progressive forces are operating is essential. That's precisely what is now required of people in Britain with regard to the Lisbon treaty No campaign.
Showing solidarity with the Irish No side is in our interest and the interest of working people throughout the EU. This is especially so in Britain in view of our our own government's reneging on its promise to hold a referendum on the treaty.
As Irish campaigns have suggested to friends here in Britain, there are a number of practical measures that can be undertaken by individuals, trade unions and campaign organisations. Though in no way a definitive list, such measures could include:
- organising delegations to the Irish embassy to congratulate Ireland on being the only EU country to allow its people to vote on the treaty
- organising demonstrations outside the EU Commission to protest at the Commission's unlawful interference in the Irish referendum campaign (in both cases notifying the Irish media in Britain and Ireland is essential)
- encouraging family and friends who are eligible to vote of the importance of a second No vote and explaining that they are not in opposing the Lisbon treaty
- larger organisations and campaign groups could consider placing adverts in the Irish press making factual points about the Lisbon Treaty and pointing out that people elsewhere in Europe are being denied a chance to vote on the treaty.
It is especially important, no matter how deep opposition to the treaty is felt by those engaged in solidarity actions, that any action does not take the form of 'telling the Irish what they should do' - that's their business alone. A hectoring tone should be avoided at all costs.
While there's no room to go into details here, anyone needing further information or guidance on the democratic issues relevant to the Lisbon treaty should refer to the recent article by Brian Denny in the Morning Star (also published here on the Irish Democrat website). Invaluable information can also be found on the websites of the Campaign Against Euro-federalism and the People's Movement.
Of course, even if the Irish vote No a second time, no one should be naive enough to believe that the Euro-federalists will simply give up their plans to create a new imperialist block capable of rivalling the US, Russia or the major powers of east, like China or Japan. Tenacity and the utilisation of powerful vested interests across the European Union are the federalists' hallmark.
But if the Irish vote No again and the Euro-federalists come back and demand a third referendum, progressives and democrats throughout Europe will, more than ever, need to stand shoulder to shoulder in a concerted effort to ensure that such a provocative and shameless assault on democracy is given short shrift.
Given the significance of Irish Lisbon referendum campaign and the issues involved, it is particularly appropriate that this year's annual Desmond Greaves Summer School, which takes place in Dublin at the Ireland Institute, Pearse Street, over the weekend of 11-13 September is this year focusing on a range of democratic issues connected to the EU.
The school brings together progressive forces from throughout the island of Ireland and regularly attracts a fair smattering of visitors from Britain too, many of whom have long been associated with organisations such as the Connolly Association and the Campaign Against Euro-federalism. Individual school sessions cost a few euros.
The school undoubtedly convenes at a critical moment in the referendum campaign. The Irish ruling class, political and economic, along with their lackeys in the Irish media, have already gone into overdrive in their efforts to stifle and distort the message of the No campaign. But the No campaign will not be silenced and the summer school is set to provide an important focal point in the campaign..
Let's be clear, the Irish No campaign not only deserves our support, but also requires it. The future of democracy as we know it in Europe may depend on its success.
Desmond Greaves Summer School 11-13 September, 2009
Friday 11 September7.30 pm: The Race to the bottom in an EU context. Speakers: David Begg (ICTU general secretary), Eamon Devoy (TEEU); chair: Jack O'Connor (SIPTU)
Saturday 12 September11am: The neo-liberal agenda in Ireland. Speakers: Eoin O Broin (Sinn Fein); Marie O'Connor (author and health campaigner); Andy Storey (lecturer and development activist); chair: Michael Quinn (People's Movement)
Saturday 12 September2.30 pm: Remembering 1969: memory as history. Speaker: Brian Hanley (lecturer); chair: Mick Ryan. Sunday 13 September, 11 am: Women and the EU. Speakers: Deidre Ui Bhrogain (CPI), Ursula Barry (lecturer), Evelyn Mahon (lecturer); chair: Patricia McKenna, People's Movement)
Sunday 13 September2.30 pm: The International Financial Crisis: what can governments do? Speakers: Kieran Allen (lecturer and author), John Foster (lecturer and author); Prof. Ray Kinsella (economist and director of Centre for Insurance Studies); chair: Colm Rapple (economist and journalist)
Cost: full school 20 euro; individual sessions 6 euro.Further information from Frank Keoghan on 00 353 1 8423076; the Desmond Greaves Summer School website: http://www.greavesschool.com or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2009 David Granville