Friday, August 14, 2009

We must stop the Lisbon Treaty.

Lisbon 2 and the the fall of the Republic once more threaten. Art is imitating life, but it is a grotesque constitutional form of modern art, devoid of inspiration, and in that respect rather akin to the "light goes on - the light goes off" school of artistic mediocrity. We are once more being forced to choose what we are told is the least worst option, which, according to the elites, is the Lisbon Treaty. Maybe we are about to choose the least worst option. But that is a no vote - rather than a vote to consign the Republic and the freedom so many sacrificed their lives for - to history. The Republic is in danger. Now as never before since 1921 has the call of the patriot dead for its defence rang so loudly in the ears of the Irish people. Freedom is under siege from powerful elites, determined to foist their will upon unwilling nations such as the French and Dutch (who rejected the EU Constitution), and many others who would - had they been offered the opportunity to decide by direct popular vote - have joined the former in throwing out this Treaty. The recent Bastille Day celebrations in Paris are a stirring reminder of what is at stake. The Louis's and Antoinettes of Brussels are determined to imposed unelective government of 27 countries through the Lisbon Treaty project. For the first time in EU history, a document whose provisions have essentially been rejected by 3 nations in referenda is being foisted on 2 of them by elected parliamentarians. And so it is that just as Ireland saved civilisation in the Dark Ages through the spread of learning by our scholars who travelled Europe, so too are we now called to save democracy in Europe through the defiance - as in the past - of powerful, unelected and even elected elites, for some of whom taking the EU shilling is an acceptable inducement for the abandonment of the principles on which this Republic was founded - the principle of national self-determination. The men and women of 1916 would turn in their graves to see such an unholy alliance between the forces of politics, the media, leaders of business-organisations and unions who largely refuse to ballot their own members, no doubt fearful they would not give "the right answer". Is this democracy - the notion that government should be 'of the people, for the people, by the people"? Because it sure doesn't feel like it from where I'm standing.

What is especially frustrating about the Lisbon debate, from the perspective of all true democrats, is the dismissive, condescending and arrogant tone adopted by the elites towards the people who voted no. We are being blamed by them for the recession that they were largely responsible for landing us in. When a Government resorts to such subliminable messages, it has truly ceased to represent the people and instead substituted representation of outside elites, many of them themselves without a mandate, and based outside this country. The Government gives the impression of representing not Ireland in Europe - but Europe in Ireland. But have no illusions as to the kind of "Europe" they are defending. It is not the people of Europe, who do not want this Treaty, which is why Ireland was the sole country to have a referendum on Lisbon, though the French and Dutch peoples rejected the 95% identical EU Constitution. No. The 'Europe' the elites defend is one of vested-interests, including Dickensian employers in search of cheap-labour (as was shown by the aftermath of Nice and EU Enlargement, when assurances on immigration by figures such as Dick Roche, Willie O'Dea and Proinsias de Rossa were proven wildly inaccurate). In an interview with the Irish Catholic at Government Buildings in 2002, Roche stated: "It is the view of the Irish government and a number of other governments that this idea that there is going to be a huge influx of immigrants is just not supported. The evidence is just not there for it. They are not going to flood to the west. The same rules are going to apply in all 15 states. There is no evidence to suggest that the people of the Czech Republic or Poland are less anxious to stay in their home as we are." In a letter to the Irish Times on 20th August 2002, Proinsias de Rossa claimed that a "trickle" would come: "It is a deliberate misrepresentation to suggest that tens of thousands will suddenly descend en masse on Ireland...The expected trickle of immigration to Ireland will on balance benefit the Irish economy...I estimate that fewer than 2,000 will choose our distant shores each year""Bizarrely, some of the elites now try not merely to deny the future as before, but seemingly to deny the present as well. That is apparent from Brian Crowley MEP's contention that Lisbon will aid the fight against drug-trafficking. He obviously is not aware of the proposed Article 29.4.7. of the Irish Constitution as amended by the 28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009, if we vote no. Article 7 would empower the Government, with the support of the Oireachtas, to take Ireland into the Schengen Area, which would abolish passport-controls on immigration into Ireland from this 25 country group. It would also permit the Government, with the consent of the Oireachtas, to abolish the Protocol that allows the Irish Government to optin/out on an ad hoc basis to common policies in the field of Justice and Home Affairs, including asylum and immigration, policing, border controls, the powers of Europol/Eurojust and of the European Public Prosecutor (an office Lisbon allows the European Council to establish by unanimity). It states: "7° The State may exercise the options or discretions— i to which Article 20 of the Treaty on European Union relating to enhanced cooperation applies, ii under Protocol No. 19 on the Schengen acquis integrated into the framework of the European Union annexed to that treaty and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly known as the Treaty establishing the European Community), and iii under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, so annexed, including the option that the said Protocol No. 21 shall, in whole or in part, cease to apply to the State,but any such exercise shall be subject to the prior approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas." .But the relationship between people-trafficking and Lisbon goes beyond this. Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union as amended by Lisbon states that the Charter of Fundamental Rights shall have "the same legal value as the Treaties". The relevance to immigration and asylum is found most directly in Articles 17/18/19 of the Charter, but there are also implied implications in Articles related to the right to work (Article 15), health, education etc. Article 18 states:"The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community.". Article 19(1) states: "1. Collective expulsions are prohibited.", while Article 15 states "Everyone has the right to engage in work and to pursue a freely chosen or accepted occupation.". The State, in the midst of a fiscal crisis with a deficit of €21 billion, could find itself hauled before the ECJ and forced to subsidise free healthcare and education for illegal-immigrants, on the basis of the Charter's absolute prohibition on "discrimination" on grounds of nationality. While opposed to racism, I think we need to get real on this question. Nation states have always discriminated on grounds of nationality to some degree, by virtue of restrictions on non-citizens with respect, for example, to voting rights, access to the labour-market and social-welfare. Were it not the case, nation states - especially in Big Government countries in the EU - would rapidly become bankrupt. So the last thing Ireland needs is Big Brother telling us what to do in the fields of asylum and immigration in general, and in terms of entitlements for illegal immigrants in particular. Yet that is where the road to Lisbon takes us. And if the Chen (2004) and Metock (2008) cases are anything to go by, there are no prizes for guessing the likely outcome of such challenges to Irish law in this area on the basis of the Charter. With Chen in 2004, the ECJ required EU member states to grant rights to the mother accuring from the EU citizenship of a Chinese mother whose child had been born in NI (on the basis of advice for her own solicitor). The Metock case in August 2008 struck down Irish law in the area of marriages-of-convenience. Prior to this ruling, Irish law had denied automatic residency to non-EU spouses without prior residency in another EU member state. In this respect, Ireland was supported by other member states, including the UK and Germany, but the ECJ had other ideas, with respect to a highly questionable interpretation on the latter's part of the Freedom of Movement Directive, which calls into question what we are told as to the certainty of the pro-Lisbon camp with respect to future interpretations of the Charter by the ECJ in this area. The ECJ is an activist court, and has been exposed as such by its own hand, and those of critics such as former German President Roman Herzog. Herzog recently produced a paper outlining the phenomenon of "competence creep" by the ECJ, referring in particular to the Mangold case in which a German law intended to assist those aged 58 and over to find work was struck down as discriminatory by the ECJ. This was in spite of the fact that the deadline for the implementation of the relevant EU directive cited by the court had not yet been reached. In the ruling, the ECJ included in the basis for its ruling what it called "constitutional traditions common to member states". Yet the Herzog paper demonstrates that such traditions do not exist in all member states. So this is not a court that can be trusted to confine itself to the letter of the law when interpreting the Charter of Fundamental Rights.