Critics of the Lisbon Treaty who claim it is indecipherable were today accused of pedalling stupid nonsense unworthy of debate.
Former European Parliament president Pat Cox berated those who claim on the one hand not to understand the Treaty but then warn of the dangers of backing it.
Although not referring to him by name he hit out at comments from Irish aviation tycoon Ulick McEvaddy who recently branded the document as drivel.
He was speaking at the launch of the Progressive Democrats’ €50,000 Yes campaign, with leader Ciaran Cannon claiming ratification would ensure Ireland remained at the heart of Europe.
“Prominent voices play the game of pretending not to understand anything in the Treaty while simultaneously insisting that they be taken seriously when they expound at length on its content and alleged serious consequences,” Mr Cox said.
“They cannot have it both ways. One cannot claim to understand nothing in one breath and in the next to pretend to be a competent authority on what the Treaty will mean.
“Some who should know better have gone further describing the Treaty as ’drivel’.
“This kind of stupid nonsense is unworthy of a serious national debate. Such trivialisation is totally out of place when so much is at stake for Ireland and for the European Union.”
Mr Cox, who served as European Parliament President between 2002 and 2004, said it was in Ireland’s interests to back the Treaty and that we should “not risk cutting off our nose to spite our face.”
He said Ireland had played a fundamental role in developing the European Union despite the efforts of previous anti-EU treaty lobbyists.
“There are some new actors on the stage this time but they too are peddling the same discredited and jaded formula.
“Each time that we have been called upon to vote, critics have insisted at every juncture that the available Europe would be bad for Ireland and for Europe.
“They were wrong before. They are wrong now.”
Meanwhile PD leader Ciaran Cannon pledged to lead a vigorous and comprehensive campaign to rally support before the June 12 referendum.
He claimed ratification of the Treaty would ensure Ireland remained at the heart of a vibrant and progressive Europe.
Both Fianna Fáil and Labour launched their campaigns earlier this week, with Taoiseach Brian Cowen vowing to travel the country to urge voters to back the document.