But Micheál Martin (left), our Minister for Foreign Affairs, seems to know already what the study has found. Did he see an advanced copy of the 'research' ahead of the rest of the cabinet? Or is he the one who manipulated the results? How else can he have the information?
In a public statement over the weekend Martin said that "it is already clear that the fear of conscription into a European army was a much bigger issue than previously thought".
What a load of nonsense! If it were not so serious, one could take it for a joke. I have been very much involved in the discussion and campaign before the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, taking part in many of the debates organised by the National Forum on Europe and speaking with a large number of people on the streets in various parts of Ireland. So I know a thing or two about the treaty, the national debate and the concerns people had.
Alright, there were some who expressed worries about a possible European army and the slight possibility that Irish people could be drafted into that. But they were a tiny minority and mostly people with not much knowledge about politics and the institutions of the European Union. When the matter was raised, it was predominantly by women who feared that their sons might be sent to serve in an 'EU army' (which does not even exist) against their will.
Such can and will never happen, as the Irish Constitution has a clause to prevent it. I did wonder during the campaign how well Irish people actually know our own Constitution, and if it is taught in schools at all.
Personally, as a former naval officer who served many years with NATO, including in some of its multi-national commands, I would actually welcome an integrated European army, with peace as its main aim and peacekeeping missions as a possibility. (During the four decades NATO was a peaceful but deterrent organisation, it kept and guaranteed peace in Europe. Now that the USA have turned it into their auxiliary force for the final Americanisation of the world, it has lost most of her original qualities and needs a replacement in Europe.)
I would also be in favour of a national service - including service in the armed forces - for Ireland in the near future. Such a service could solve many of our current problems and create a deeper understanding of the nation and the state among young people at the same time. Especially the young men, naturally full of testosterone, would find a meaningful way of using their surplus of energy in a national service. But in the age of equality I would have girls serve as well (as they do already in the armed forces and the Garda Siochana on a voluntary basis).
Anyone with common sense will see the benefits of such a proposal, and the only reason why we do not have a national service already is our history, in particular the traumatic experience with the British army. But that is a long time ago, and times change. In fact, there are plenty of young Irish men currently serving voluntarily in the British armed forces, because the minute size of the Irish military prevents them from serving their own country. This is a real shame, and in any other country I know it would be seen as scandalous.
This subject needs to be discussed in more detail at another time. But it is interesting and significant that the government chose it as an apparent reason for loosing the referendum. They know very well that it had no real relevance for the referendum, so they use it deliberately as a smoke screen to confuse fools.
Since making one idiotic statement at a time is seldom enough for our government, the minister felt obliged to add another, declaring the government had been "asked by a number of US companies if the vote meant Ireland might leave the EU, and whether they should continue to invest here".
This is even worse than his reference to a non-existent EU army. I doubt that such questions have been asked at all, and I challenge Micheál Martin to provide us with proof for it. (Should any US industrialist or businessman have indeed asked such a stupid question, it would only show how dumb Americans have become, and how little they know of the world as it is.)
But this is not a new tag of the government at all. It only underlines the twisted arguments used by the YES campaign (including the Labour Party and especially Fine Gael) before the Lisbon referendum. Many of the politicians who advocated a YES vote were trying to scare the people with a whole bunch of lies and made-up scenarios - such as Ireland leaving the EU, or foreign investment drying up - all through the campaign. (Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell went even as far as using the Second World War as an argument, obviously forgetting that Ireland was not a part of that conflict...) So all Micheál Martin is really doing here is trying to serve us a new brew-up of the same old weak tea. It won't work, since the Irish people are no fools.
Speaking at the fringe of an EU foreign ministers meeting in the French city of Avignon, Micheál Martin said that "there is a need for the government and the people of Ireland to understand where we are coming from (regarding the Lisbon vote) and to communicate that to our colleagues".
Well, the people of Ireland know very well where they are coming from, and with their votes in the referendum they have clearly shown that they also know where they want to go. Obviously such clarity does not exist in our government, and I cannot say I am surprised. And thus there is of course also the problem how to explain to other governments and EU institutions a matter one has not clarified oneself.
There is however some hope left, as Micheál Martin also said that "it is timely for us to have a look at our membership of the EU and how we engage with it into the future".
Well done, Minister! You seem to have finally understood what the referendum was all about and why the majority of our people rejected the Lisbon Treaty. Now it would be nice if you would act accordingly. Listen to what they have said. They did it clear enough.
There is no need for any 'research' to understand one's population. Governments who need that are so far removed from reality and from their electorate that they won't last very long.
So, Minister, be so kind and stop trying to fool us with smoke screens. Accept the people's vote and decision, and do what you are paid for: govern the country!
The Emerald Islander