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 Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD

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PostSubject: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:45 am

Hi all, just back from a debate held by the TCD Historical Society in the GMB. The motion was "That this house would re-run the Lisbon Treaty".

Brian Dobson of RTÉ was the chair. Speakers included Garrett Fitzgerald for the proposition and John McGuirk of Libertas for the opposition, filling in for Declan Ganley who could not attend for personal reasons.

After the usual detestable pretensious formalities during which members of the society make a sorry attempt at humour (which goes down great with the other members, not so much with the audience) and relish the fact that they're wearing suits and sitting at a fancy table, the debate got under way.

John McGuirk started his speech by mentioning a number of things the yes side had said would happen in the event of a No vote and contrasted those predictions with the current situation where, he claimed, those predictions had been proven wrong. One example he mentioned was the claim that a No vote would have disastrous consequences for FDI, yet Conor Lenihan said two days ago on Q&A that FDI was coming in stronger than ever before. Another was that the treaty could not be renegotiated, yet now, he says, we are being told we may be able to keep our commissioner. A point of information was raised making the point that Ireland keeping its commissioner would not require a renegotiation of the treaty. McGuirk responded by saying that the government should have said this before the vote, and that they had lied to us.

McGuirk also responded to claims that Libertas lacked the mandate to dictate European policy, and that they have yet to publish this much anticipated 25 page constitution, by saying that they were seeking a mandate to publish the 25 page constitution. McGuirk strongly criticized some EU directive which prohibited the consumption of cakes at fairs or something. He said that Libertas' constitution envisioned a Europe which is completely democratic, where all decision makers are directly elected by and accountable to the people and can be removed if they are not doing their job properly. He also envisioned an EU where things should be done at local level if at all possible, and where there are no complex directives about food standards (or something; that point wasn't clear but it was aimed at the aforementioned cake directive).

Garrett Fitzgerald started off by agreeing that the government had done an awful job at educating the people about Lisbon, and said that only one member of the government, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, actually understood the treaty. He expressed anger that the elected representatives of the people had been dismissed as "idiots" by unelected people during the Lisbon campaign. He criticized McGuirk and Libertas' ideal EU, saying that the commission added balance to the EU and that he had found it very helpful while representing Ireland in the EU himself. He said that the Lisbon Treaty was one of the most democratic treaties ever, having been negotiated by elected representatives and having the support of almost all the major opposition parties throughout Europe.

Garrett addressed the loss of Irish vetoes in the treaty, saying that other nations had vetoes too and that these vetoes had in the past been used to block laws which could have been very beneficial for Ireland. He made the general point that the EU operates more on goodwill than on people vetoing each other all the time. He also talked about the increase of codecision in Europe that Lisbon would bring in, strengthening the directly elected European parliament. He made some point about protecting public services, but I didn't really catch it. I presume it was about the provision exempting public services from the competition clauses. he also said that the Lisbon Treaty gave the EU the competence to fight climate change, which was very important. [This is not strictly true, the EU gained that competence in an earlier treaty, I think it may have been Maastricht. But Lisbon put fighting climate change as a central principle of the EU, so Garrett's point is still relevant and important.] He also made the point that Ireland must be positive about EU integration, and gave examples of goodwill working in Ireland's interest like the increased fishing quota that was achieved under his representation.

Some of the student speakers made some good points as well. Andrew Burke for the proposition said that Libertas were asking us to sacrifice our position at the heart of Europe by voting No without offering anything constructive themselves. Ursela Ní Quill (or at least what sounded like Quill but is certainly not spelled that way) made a very interesting opposition speech. She was a first-time speaker and started out very weak, using exaggerated tones and barely relevant clichés (that is, in fairness, how it's done in the Hist). But soon she got a hold of herself and was making clear her agenda. She spoke about the Finance Act, and how it wasn't put to the people because it was long and complex and the point of representative democracy is that we elect leaders who we best trust to go through that kind of stuff for us. Her general point was that it should be the competence of the Oireachtas to ratify Lisbon, and that Lisbon made Ireland more democratic. She was challenged twice by John McGuirk and both times she put him right back in his place to a massive round of applause.

In the end, the motion was carried by a substantial margin. Brian Dobson made some remarks to conclude. He emphasised that he was strictly prohibited from commenting on the merit of either side of the argument by virtue of his occupation with RTÉ. However, he did jokingly ridicule and belittle each speaker in turn, which was quite a funny affair. I noticed that he went relatively easy on the guest speakers McGuirk and Fitzgerald.

I took some photos, they're on the girlfriend's camera. Will stick them up tomorrow.
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:14 am

Dear me...did he really mention the "Cakes Directive"? There is such a directive, but it doesn't apply to fairs and cake competitions at all. It applies only to food businesses (see here).

The great thing about that particular euromyth was the way it was described by the (English) Telegraph as happening in Scotland, complete with a quote from the Scottish Women's Institute - unfortunately, the SWI never issued any such quote. The various papers that carried the story then phoned up random mayors and the like using the SWI quote, and got more quotes, thus spreading the story further.

The entire thing was a fabrication....but I suppose it's entirely reasonable for an astroturf organisation to base arguments on fabricated stories.

More seriously, of course, an EU that did not issue such directives could only be one that had no common market.
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:24 pm

Thanks very much for that report evercloserunion. Interesting that Declan Ganley was not there. I'm sure that McGuirk was very capable of representing him though.

Was anything said at all about neutrality?

The bit about decision-makers being directly elected is a bit loose. After all the Council members who vote on law are directly elected. Was he suggesting a Federal Government elected by a cross-europe election?
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:07 pm

Ganley was in Brussls opening the Libertas office hardly "personal " business see Irish Times or was it a Freudian slip?

And applying for EU funding for Libertas.


Last edited by Frightened Albanian on Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:56 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:12 pm

He looks like a hotel porter in that coat Razz.
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:14 pm

johnfás wrote:
He looks like a hotel porter in that coat Razz.

He brings out the worst in me, too, johnfas. Crying or Very sad
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:33 pm

johnfás wrote:
He looks like a hotel porter in that coat Razz.

Arthur Daly from Minder for those who are advanced enough in years to remember. He IS Arthur Daly!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:31 pm

evercloserunion wrote:

Ursela Ní Quill (or at least what sounded like Quill but is certainly not spelled that way) made a very interesting opposition speech. She was a first-time speaker and started out very weak, using exaggerated tones and barely relevant clichés (that is, in fairness, how it's done in the Hist). But soon she got a hold of herself and was making clear her agenda. She spoke about the Finance Act, and how it wasn't put to the people because it was long and complex and the point of representative democracy is that we elect leaders who we best trust to go through that kind of stuff for us. Her general point was that it should be the competence of the Oireachtas to ratify Lisbon, and that Lisbon made Ireland more democratic. She was challenged twice by John McGuirk and both times she put him right back in his place to a massive round of applause.


That's a fair point sure enough, but what is its direct relevance to Lisbon? The Supreme Court, as we all know, has said that we require a referendum if the 'essential scope and objectives' of the EU are being altered. The government's legal advice in respect of Lisbon was that a referendum was necessary. Therefore the above point is moot.
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:44 pm

borntorum wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:

Ursela Ní Quill (or at least what sounded like Quill but is certainly not spelled that way) made a very interesting opposition speech. She was a first-time speaker and started out very weak, using exaggerated tones and barely relevant clichés (that is, in fairness, how it's done in the Hist). But soon she got a hold of herself and was making clear her agenda. She spoke about the Finance Act, and how it wasn't put to the people because it was long and complex and the point of representative democracy is that we elect leaders who we best trust to go through that kind of stuff for us. Her general point was that it should be the competence of the Oireachtas to ratify Lisbon, and that Lisbon made Ireland more democratic. She was challenged twice by John McGuirk and both times she put him right back in his place to a massive round of applause.


That's a fair point sure enough, but what is its direct relevance to Lisbon? The Supreme Court, as we all know, has said that we require a referendum if the 'essential scope and objectives' of the EU are being altered. The government's legal advice in respect of Lisbon was that a referendum was necessary. Therefore the above point is moot.

Actually nobody knows the Governments full legal advice in regard to Lisbon -and the AG is the Governments council - thus has political aswell as legal masters to serve - I remember having a conversation with Eugene Regan and several other legal eagles last January and its was a very open question as to whether a referendum was required at all - I think the political as opposed to legal precedent had been set in the state in regard to ratifying EU treaties by popular referenda and thus this was the way to go. However the Crotty Judgement is a two headed Chimera in regard to all of this. Enda Kenny didn't pluck his idea out of having future treaties stress-tested by the supreme court out of thin air you know.
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:48 pm

Edo wrote:
borntorum wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:

Ursela Ní Quill (or at least what sounded like Quill but is certainly not spelled that way) made a very interesting opposition speech. She was a first-time speaker and started out very weak, using exaggerated tones and barely relevant clichés (that is, in fairness, how it's done in the Hist). But soon she got a hold of herself and was making clear her agenda. She spoke about the Finance Act, and how it wasn't put to the people because it was long and complex and the point of representative democracy is that we elect leaders who we best trust to go through that kind of stuff for us. Her general point was that it should be the competence of the Oireachtas to ratify Lisbon, and that Lisbon made Ireland more democratic. She was challenged twice by John McGuirk and both times she put him right back in his place to a massive round of applause.


That's a fair point sure enough, but what is its direct relevance to Lisbon? The Supreme Court, as we all know, has said that we require a referendum if the 'essential scope and objectives' of the EU are being altered. The government's legal advice in respect of Lisbon was that a referendum was necessary. Therefore the above point is moot.

Actually nobody knows the Governments full legal advice in regard to Lisbon -and the AG is the Governments council - thus has political aswell as legal masters to serve - I remember having a conversation with Eugene Regan and several other legal eagles last January and its was a very open question as to whether a referendum was required at all - I think the political as opposed to legal precedent had been set in the state in regard to ratifying EU treaties by popular referenda and thus this was the way to go. However the Crotty Judgement is a two headed Chimera in regard to all of this. Enda Kenny didn't pluck his idea out of having future treaties stress-tested by the supreme court out of thin air you know.

Well, I'm assuming that given the political shitstorm the government is now in, it would be much more palatable for them to proceed through the Oireachtas if possible. Given that there is not even the merest hint of a suggestion of going down this route, I feel satisfied enough that the government's legal advice is that a referendum is probably necessary
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:54 pm

borntorum wrote:
Edo wrote:
borntorum wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:

Ursela Ní Quill (or at least what sounded like Quill but is certainly not spelled that way) made a very interesting opposition speech. She was a first-time speaker and started out very weak, using exaggerated tones and barely relevant clichés (that is, in fairness, how it's done in the Hist). But soon she got a hold of herself and was making clear her agenda. She spoke about the Finance Act, and how it wasn't put to the people because it was long and complex and the point of representative democracy is that we elect leaders who we best trust to go through that kind of stuff for us. Her general point was that it should be the competence of the Oireachtas to ratify Lisbon, and that Lisbon made Ireland more democratic. She was challenged twice by John McGuirk and both times she put him right back in his place to a massive round of applause.


That's a fair point sure enough, but what is its direct relevance to Lisbon? The Supreme Court, as we all know, has said that we require a referendum if the 'essential scope and objectives' of the EU are being altered. The government's legal advice in respect of Lisbon was that a referendum was necessary. Therefore the above point is moot.

Actually nobody knows the Governments full legal advice in regard to Lisbon -and the AG is the Governments council - thus has political aswell as legal masters to serve - I remember having a conversation with Eugene Regan and several other legal eagles last January and its was a very open question as to whether a referendum was required at all - I think the political as opposed to legal precedent had been set in the state in regard to ratifying EU treaties by popular referenda and thus this was the way to go. However the Crotty Judgement is a two headed Chimera in regard to all of this. Enda Kenny didn't pluck his idea out of having future treaties stress-tested by the supreme court out of thin air you know.

Well, I'm assuming that given the political shitstorm the government is now in, it would be much more palatable for them to proceed through the Oireachtas if possible. Given that there is not even the merest hint of a suggestion of going down this route, I feel satisfied enough that the government's legal advice is that a referendum is probably necessary
Yeah, it's all very well and good to cast doubt on a legal fact but acting on that doubt is a different thing, especially when it could have disastrous political consequences.
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PostSubject: Re: Re-running Lisbon: Debate in TCD   Today at 6:57 pm

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