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Friday, August 01, 2008

The heart of the matter

Cracking piece from David Quinn in today’s Irish Independent:

“Here is why the Lisbon Treaty referendum was lost -- and if the Government does not address this, the next one will likely be lost as well: people are worried about the loss of sovereignty and national identity… the European Court of Justice, an institution of the EU, will gain immeasurably more power over Irish law if the Lisbon treaty and the accompanying Charter of Fundamental Rights is ever passed… We have to wake up to the fact that the more power we cede to judges, lawyers and other experts, whether they are based in Ireland or overseas, the less democratic we become. The heart of democracy in any country has to be the national legislature with its elected representatives, not the courts and the law library.”

Quinn is spot on with this analysis. All the polling evidence (pre and post referendum) confirms that people in Ireland were above all concerned about the transfer of power from national to EU level.

Politicians habitually talk down voters’ ability to understand ‘complex international treaties’. In fact, the Irish people did ‘get’ the fundamental argument over Lisbon – whether or not to trade in more centralised powers at European level for reduced democratic control over national decision-making.

The debate over Lisbon is actually pretty simple. Professional politicians naturally want to preserve that debate as their exclusive domain – they have a vested interest in constantly trying to emphasise its supposed complexity.

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