Breathtaking, Gobsmacking, Barefaced Arrogance

20th June 2001

AND you thought you were living in a democracy. Well think again. It’s now obvious that the Government hasn’t the slightest intention of honouring the referendum result on Nice.

The pity is that we abolished the death penalty for treason on the same day because there’s a few characters around this town who should be dangling now

Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowan and Dessie O’Malley spring to mind. Most of the members of Dail Eireann, in fact. And a few MEPs as well.

These people are trying to subvert the Irish Constitution, no less. They have taken it upon themselves to be the arbiters of what should, and should not, be written in the little blue book

In actual fact this is the sole prerogative of the people.

The situation is that every government for the past 10 years has been trying to fix referendum results.

Remember the divorce referendum? The then Government (FG, Lab and WP) moved referendum day to Friday and kept the polling stations open late so that students could vote. Then, when they weren’t needed, referenda were returned to Thursdays.

And remember how Patricia McKenna (that she may live forever) took them to the Supreme Court and had their interference in referenda campaigns outlawed? Hence the McKenna Judgement.

This time the Government tried to smart-arse their way through the process by having as many obscure polls on the same day as they possibly could to muddy the water. Then they embarked on a three week condescending sneer which they thought would convince us to vote yes.

All this and they want us to believe that Dail Eireann knows best. That Dail Eireann is the proper place for complex treaties to be decided. That Dail Eireann is where democratic accountability is at.

Is this is the same Dail Eireann that was making such a good job of accountability that we now have a shortage of judges because they’re all off running tribunals?

I’d believe more in the Dail if it wasn’t full of political sheep who vote whichever way a few party controllers tell them to. Witness the attempted witchhunt of Eamonn O Cuiv because he voted No. (‘Attempted’, I say, because Bertie was cute enough to drop it given the way the wind was blowing)

Now that they have been beaten they want to change the rules back again. That’s why we have had the disgraceful attacks on the Referendum Commission and the McKenna Judgement.

Dessie O’Malley tried on some twaddle about the Referendum Commission having to publish the same number of arguments. The implication is that us peasants count the number of words as opposed to reading them.

Well Dessie.

Remember the Belfast Agreement? The Referendum Commission worked on that one too but 95 per cent of us voted Yes. I suppose that proves we are innumerate as well as illiterate.

A lot of the talk was about the red and black No posters and the bad effect they might have had on us. Five years ago I sat in the Supreme Court listening to Government lawyers arguing that the money they had spent on promoting the Yes side in the Divorce Referendum couldn’t be proven to have had any effect. The amazing thing was that they convinced the Supreme Court of such nonsense.

Now they want us to believe that marketing has some effect after all. They have a neck like a jockey’s undercarriage.

Then Proinsias De Rossa said on Questions and Answers that if it weren’t for the EU we wouldn’t have equal working hours for women or some such directive. Really Proinsias? We would never have any social progress without the EU?

What all of this amounts to is arrogance on a solar system scale of size. It should be a severe warning to us that our democracy is a fragile thing in need of constant vigilance.

Keep it in mind when the second Constitution-breaking referendum is foisted upon us. Then you’ll know what to do.

As well as that…

Parties and their dilemmas

A POLITICIAN’S job is not an easy one and there’s a difficult decision at every turn. Last week they voted themselves an extra £5 million or so to compensate for the loss of corporate donations.

It’s a good whack of cash and should stop them having to raise money from every Tom, Mick and Barry. But it is Government cash.

Cash they are banned from using whenever the next Nice Treaty referendum comes along. (Or even for the third one).

I’m just mentioning it so that they won’t be tempted to use it. I don’t want our politicians facing any ethical dillemmas.

BIFFO’s quick wit

BRIAN COWAN was quick to come up with the line about us needing to respect the equal mandate of the other 14 EU countries.

Smart lad. But their mandates are not equivalent because they never bothered (or were afraid) to ask their people to vote on Nice. So you can drop that one, Brian.

The single European pothole

ACCORDING to the pro-Nice lot, if it wasn’t for the EU we wouldn’t have our present infrastructure.

I think it’s a bit unfair to put the blame on the EU.

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