On a Sunday morning between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. I listen usually to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio 1, in order to hear what the nation is talking about at present.
But yesterday I had an outside appointment and thus missed my usual two hours in front of the wireless.
Thankfully RTÉ repeats the first half of Marian's programme on Monday morning at 2 a.m., for all those who missed it live. So I only heard early this morning what Marian was discussing with her guests this Sunday. And I am glad that I had the chance to hear it.
One of the subjects discussed was - not surprisingly - the Lisbon Treaty, the up-coming referendum on it, and the latest Red C poll that showed a clear increase in people who said they would vote 'No'. (for details see my entry from yesterday)
Representing the 'Yes' campaign in the studio were two TDs from Co. Mayo, who both represent Dublin seats. There was former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte (left), now speaking for his party on Justice. Despite the fact that Labour is in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, he kept his personal statements on the matter to an absolute minimum, saying that he hopes people would vote 'Yes' and that he would advise them to do so. But this is all he really said. No enthusiastic appeals or gloomy warnings, as one hears them now from both FF and FG. Maybe Pat Rabbitte is listening to some of his old friends. The former ITGWU official and TD for the Workers' Party and Democratic Left (before they merged with the Labour Party) will have noticed that his former comrades in the UNITE trade union (formerly ITGWU) have meanwhile joined the 'No' campaign. As have all parties and most organisations of Ireland's political Left, with the sole exception of the Labour Party...
There was also - way more vociferous and beating every available drum for the Lisbon Treaty - Fine Gael's new spokesperson on European Affairs, another Mayo-born Dubliner called Lucinda Creighton (right), who won a seat in Dublin South-East in the last election and is now one of the youngest TDs in the Dáil.
I had never before even heard her name, left alone anything she stands for. So I followed her words and arguments with special interest, in order to find out how Fine Gael sees the future of Ireland and Europe.
I have to admit that I was disappointed by her approach of the subject, her line of argument and especially by her diction and way of speaking. Having the appearance of a happy-go-lucky girl that enjoyed the benefits of the "Celtic Tiger", her voice could not be more contrasting. When one hears her speaking on the radio - without the benefit of a picture or knowing her - the voice of the 30-year-old sounds more like that of an old political "warhorse", well past the fifties and slightly on the rough side. And at times one also wonders if she is trying to impersonate senior Fianna Fáil TD and former minister Mary O'Rourke. There is definitely a strong resemblance, in the voice itself as well as in the way Lucinda Creighton speaks.
But as much as the way Ms. Creighton spoke was of interest to me, what she actually said about the Lisbon Treaty was almost unbelievable. Either she is extremely naïve (in which case she is neither suitable as a TD, nor to speak on Europe), or devious and misleading (which is not a rare trait among lawyers).
When questioned by Marian Finucane (left) over the really hair-raising text of the Lisbon Treaty and the impossibility to make any sense of it, Lucinda Creighton reacted with legalistic arrogance and said that it was "a legal document" and as such it had to be written in this way, so that "courts could understand and interpret it in the right way".
Well, I have seldom heard such a complete nonsense. Any text can be written in a clear and understandable way, or - as the Lisbon Treaty - in a form that is unintelligible. And while the government advises us ever so often in sponsored ads "never to sign any contract you don't understand", it expects us to do exactly that with a far more important document: the Lisbon Treaty.
What I don't understand is why Fine Gael, the largest opposition party, is not only supporting the government on the Lisbon Treaty, but is actually doing a great deal of its work in the well organised and financed 'Yes' campaign. It appears that Fine Gael is actually even more enthusiastic in support of the treaty than Fianna Fáil. At the same time it is strange that they cannot come up with any proper argument for it. All they tell us is that the treaty is "good for Europe and good for us", that we - the great unwashed people of Ireland - are too stupid to understand it, and that "nothing really changes for Ireland anyway".
Lucinda Creighton also insisted several times that "this is a treaty, and not a constitution", despite the fact that one of its main authors - former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (right) - has declared many times that more than 90% of the text of the Lisbon Treaty is "still the same as it was in the Constitution", which the people of France and the Netherlands defeated in referenda.
Who do you think knows and understands the treaty better: the man who wrote it, or a very arrogant and very junior TD who is so full of herself that she cannot even see reality? Ms. Creighton also failed to explain what - in her opinion - is the difference between a treaty and a constitution, despite the fact that she is a law graduate from Trinity College, Dublin.
But Lucinda Creighton, whose short record on Dublin City Council (before she won her Dáil seat) is rather mixed and far from distinguished, went further in her zealous attempt to sell out Irish freedom and democracy. She launched a completely uncalled-for verbal attack on Irish businessman Ulick McEvaddy (above left), who recently joined Libertas in the 'No' camp, accusing him of doing it on the orders - or at least at the behest - of US interests "who are opposed to a stronger EU".
It is correct that the former Irish army officer and airline tycoon has based his company Omega Air in Washington and does a lot of business with the US government, but it is also important to know that he is a staunch Fine Gael supporter and a very close friend of the Bruton and Mitchell families. Being one of Ireland's wealthiest men, his donations to the 'No' campaign will surely be missed by his friends in Fine Gael. This is the real reason for Lucinda's anger.
Apart from that, look who is the pot to call the kettle black! Ms. Creighton herself is registered as an attorney-at-law in the state of New York and has worked in the USA as a campaigner for the Democratic Party, despite being a Councillor - and now a TD - for Fine Gael in Ireland and also heavily involved on several levels of Young Fine Gael and YEPP (Young European People's Party). One wonders how she is dealing with her own conflict of interests on both sides of the Atlantic...
For Ireland and the Irish people she is certainly doing a poor job, and one wonders why she - a very junior TD - was appointed to the important European portfolio, especially at a time when Europe is one of the main elements in Irish politics. But that is for Fine Gael to answer. It is, however, clear that Fine Gael is taking us - the Irish people - for complete fools. I remember the speech their MEP Gay Mitchell gave in Liberty Hall in Dublin (photo below) on March 4th, during the meeting of the National Forum on Europe (NFOE). His arguments for a 'Yes' vote in the up-coming referendum included World War II and "the good things Ireland has received from Europe". In other words: Ireland was given a lot of gifts by the EU, and now is time to pay for them with our freedom and the right to properly participate in the democratic process.
I wonder if people like Gay Mitchell and Lucinda Creighton do actually believe themselves what they are telling us. But while Mr. Mitchell was preaching at us in Dublin with his well-known silver tongue, trying to persuade us to just follow him and his party down the river (and in the process even bringing Maurice Hayes, the experienced chairman of the NFOE, to despair - as you can see above), Ms. Creighton is more a "straight into your face" person, accusing all those who campaign for a 'No' vote as being part of an "anti-European conspiracy" and warning us of unspecified "consequences" if Ireland should vote the treaty down.
Well, the only consequences Ireland can expect after rejecting the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum is an increase in political power in Europe and being taken seriously by large EU member states. Right now we are seen as a push-over and a little country at the fringe that does not really matter. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party want to keep it that way, and in fact make it even worse. It is time to call their bluff, be independent and vote 'No'.
And to Fine Gael we should send the clear message: Stop taking us for fools, and while you are at it, stop Lucinda Creighton from making an even bigger fool of herself. She might well have her qualities as a trained lawyer, but she has not a clue about the EU and certainly no skills at all when it comes to public speaking. A course in oratory might help her performance, but given her lines of argument, some extra education - especially in the areas of history, philosophy and common sense - are also advisable.
In the meantime, forget the big parties who want to sell out Irish democracy, get behind the 'No' campaign and help to defeat the Lisbon Treaty, which is unintelligible, dangerous and full of undemocratic measures. Because if the treaty is accepted, this might well be the last time ever Ireland had any say in European affairs. Use your own common sense on this, and send a clear message to those who take us for fools!
The Emerald Islander