Sunday

18th Feb 2018

European Commission criticised over Lisbon leaflet

  • The Yes side says a rejection of the Lisbon Treaty would hurt the Irish economy (Photo: Andrew Willis)

Anti-Lisbon Treaty campaigners in Ireland have criticised the European Commission for what they say is illegal interference in the campaign after it placed a supplement in the nation's Sunday newspapers

Former Green MEP and chairwoman of the People's Movement, Patricia McKenna, says the 16-page insert, entitled ‘Your Guide to The Lisbon Treaty', was a clear breach of Irish laws and also a waste of taxpayers' money.

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"The EU Commission, with the massive funds and resources available to it, courtesy of the taxpayer, can influence Irish opinion prior to the vote if they can get away with it," she said.

The pamphlet, which Ms McKenna argues is pro-Lisbon in nature, was produced on behalf of the European Commission's Publications Office.

A decision by the Irish Supreme Court in 1995 ruled that taxpayers' money cannot be used to promote one side in a referendum, with the People's Movement set to seek legal advice this week.

The Irish will vote for a second time on the Lisbon Treaty this Friday (2 October), having rejected the document last June.

Since then however, the Irish government has secured legal guarantees from EU leaders that the new treaty will not threaten Irish laws in the areas of taxation, neutrality and certain moral issues such as abortion.

The People's Movement also says that placing the Lisbon guide in Irish newspapers contravenes EU law: "since the European Commission has no competence whatever in the ratification of treaties."

But a commission spokeswoman said it had a duty to inform people about the treaty. "The commission has provided information in an understandable form," she said.

Yes vote pulling ahead

A new poll conducted last Friday suggests the Yes side is pulling ahead further in the race to convince Irish voters to back the Lisbon treaty.

Around 68 percent of those responding to the latest Sunday Independent / Quantum Research poll say they will vote in favour of the treaty.

Of the remaining 32 per cent of respondents, 17 per cent expressed their intention to vote No, while 15 per cent are still undecided.

A previous poll conducted by the newspaper on September 11 showed the Yes vote on 63 percent compared to the No vote on 15 percent and 22 percent undecided.

Leading Irish business figures have come out strongly in favour of Lisbon Treaty in recent weeks, saying a No vote would hurt the country's economy by raising doubts in foreign investors' minds.

Chief executive of packaging company Smurfit Kappa, Gary McCann, warned that a No in the Lisbon Treaty would be "tantamount to a vote for isolationism".

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