Lisbon Treaty debate negative and inaccurate, says Kenny

The debate on the Lisbon Treaty here has been uninspiring, negative and bedevilled with inaccuracy, it was claimed today.

Speaking at a Fine Gael event to mark Europe Day today, party leader Enda Kenny said almost every aspect of economic and public life in Ireland had been revolutionised by EU membership.

"There is no escaping the fact that Ireland is facing a moment of choice that will have dramatic consequences," Mr Sutherland said.

"We are about to make a decision as to whether we continue to favour the course of European integration that has been the core policy of Ireland for some 40 years.

"If we vote No we reject continuing integration. I would argue that we also reject the continued efficiency and effectiveness of the European Union itself.

"The whole debate here on the Treaty of Lisbon, has, to date, been uninspiring and intensely negative.

"It has also been bedevilled by inaccuracy and cynicism. The Irish people deserve better," he said.

Europe Day, May 9, marks the anniversary of the day in 1950 when the European Union was conceived.

French foreign minister Robert Schuman gave a speech calling for European countries to combine their coal and steel production under a single European institution, paving the way for our current European Union.

It is particularly momentous this year as the European Parliament is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first meeting in March 1958.

Former European Commissioner and World Trade Chief Peter Sutherland said a No vote in next month's referendum would amount to a rejection of the EU.

Mr Sutherland, who served as an Irish European Commissioner between 1985 and 1989 and Director General of the World Trade Organisation in the mid 1990s, said the world faced a number of challenges in the 21st Century, including climate change and the eradication of poverty.

The Lisbon Treaty is indispensable in tackling these issues, he said.

Referring to complaints that the treaty was too complicated he said: "Yes it is complicated because it has to be. A Treaty for a European Union of 27 Member States has to be complicated or, if it is not, it will be accused of being too loose and imprecise."

Mr Kenny said ratifying the Treaty in the June 12 referendum was essential for the continued success of the Irish economy.

"One can see that almost every aspect of economic and public life in Ireland has been revolutionised as a result of our EU membership," he said.

Meanwhile the European Commission offices in Dublin held a special lunchtime concert to mark Europe Day.

Performers included prize-winners from the Feis Ceol, including mezzo-soprano Naomi O'Connell and tenor Dean Power.

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