Three Cheers for Ireland

I was in Lithuania for a conference last week, but some of my attention was focused on the Emerald Isle. The Irish referendum on the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty took place on Thursday, and the Friday papers - which I perused online before boarding my flight back to Washington - indicated that the referendum was thought to have received a majority. Indeed, one Irish newspaper even had a story that bookies already were paying people who bet it would be approved. So you can imagine my happiness when I landed and saw about 10 emails from people saying the referendum was defeated. This represents a huge victory for sovereignty and decentralization over the statist bureaucrats and political elites in Brussels. As Investor’s Business Daily noted:

The European Union’s politicians and institutionalized bureaucracy were stunned and affronted at the audacity of the Irish people, who…unexpectedly bucked their own political establishment by voting against the EU reform treaty. …An impressive multimedia campaign opposing the pact was orchestrated by technology entrepreneur Declan Ganley. It emphasized the dictatorial powers the deal would give the Brussels bureaucracy, the threat to the low business taxation in Ireland that attracts investment, the supremacy of Euro law over Irish law, and a provision that lets changes be made without member-country approval. …the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty should be seen as more than just a sign of the troubles ahead for the peoples of Europe as they become victims of a self-inflicted dictatorship of the bureaucrats. The very notion of a United Europe was always fundamentally misguided. …Many centuries ago, Irish monks saved Europe from itself by preserving the moral and intellectual foundations of civilization. Unfortunately, the continental powers are unlikely to let the Irish save Europe from itself a second time.

You may be wondering about the last sentence in the excerpt. If the Irish voters rejected the Constitution/Treaty, how can the bureaucrats prevail? The answer is simple and indicative of how the political elite have little use for democracy. As this EU Observer report indicates, the Eurocrats - for all intents and purposes - intend to ignore the Irish vote and press forward on the referendum:

The European Commission has called for ratification of the Lisbon treaty to continue, despite the No result in Ireland’s referendum. “This vote should not be seen as a vote against the EU… [It] has not solved the problems which the Lisbon Treaty is designed to solve,” commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said in Brussels on Friday. …Mr Barroso said he believed “the treaty is alive” and “we should go on and try to find a solution.” It is “important now that the EU does not fall again in depression and does not forget there are other issues to deal with,” he added. In a joint statement later on, France and Germany also called for the ratification of the Lisbon treaty to continue. “The ratification procedure has already been achieved in 18 countries. Therefore we hope that the other member states will continue the process,” the Franco-German declaration reads. 

This arrogance is typical of European elitists. Libertas, the group that led the campaign to defend Irish sovereignty, has an excellent webpage detailing some of more absurd statements made by the continent’s out-of-touch politicians. Perhaps even more distressing, though, is the fact that some Irish politicians are siding with the Brussels bureaucracy and conspiring on ways to impose the Constitution/Treaty, even though the Irish people rejected the referendum. The EU Observer explains:

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has said that his country’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty result must be respected, but was unclear on whether to rule out a second referendum on the document. …In a resounding defeat for the treaty, only ten out of 43 Irish constituencies voted in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. A majority of Irish people - 53.4 percent - voted against the EU’s Lisbon treaty in Thursday’s referendum, while 46.6 percent voted in favour… shortly after, in an interview on Irish public television station RTE, asked by the presenter what he felt about comments from other European leaders saying that ratification should continue, he said: “It’s a matter for those governments to proceed as they wish. Pressed whether he could rule out a “Lisbon Mark II”, the Irish leader replied: “I’m not prepared to surmise on that. …Other Irish politicians were scornful of the idea of continued ratification. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso earlier in the afternoon had said the remaining ratifications “should continue to take their course.” Patricia McKenna, a former Irish Green MEP and leading No side campaigner reacted angrily to the suggestion: “It is completely unacceptable that anyone in Europe should continue with ratification. “It shows complete contempt for the voice of the people. They simply fail to understand why people are voting No.” “It’s time for the EU bureaucrats and senior politicians to come to grips with the fact that they cannot forge ahead without the consent of the people.” …Mary Lou McDonald, a Sinn Fein MEP and the face of her party’s No campaign, objected to French European affairs minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet’s mid-afternoon suggestion that ratification continue and that some “legal arrangement” could be cobbled together. …Declan Ganley, the millionaire businessman and founder of Libertas, the centre-right anti-Treaty group campaigning around tax harmonisation issues and against European ‘red tape’, called the vote: “A great day for the Irish people and a great day for Irish democracy.” …Mr Ganley also warned against moves to push forward with the same text. “[European Union leaders] need to listen to the voices of the people. The people of France and Holland have already spoken and now the Irish are making their voice heard.”