EUROPEAN Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso weighed into the middle of the Lisbon Treaty debate last night when he described many of the No campaigners as dishonest.
He is expected to meet a hostile reception from some people during his 24-hour visit to Limerick today, when he visits the Milk Market this morning and later debates with students at the University of Limerick.
There were reports that Cóir and Pana, groups that claim the Lisbon Treaty affects Ireland’s neutrality and abortion laws, and Declan Ganley, were planning to protest during his visit.
Commenting on anti-EU leaflets being distributed, Mr Barroso said: “I like debate but about facts and not fear. These people who explore fear or use demagogic arguments are completely dishonest and falsifying reality. They are dishonest politically and intellectually and are trying to create fear instead of addressing facts.”
He told RTÉ it was absurd to argue that anything in the Lisbon Treaty could force Ireland to change its laws on abortion. “Family rights are not addressed in the Lisbon Treaty… this is one of these myths.”
But he insisted that if the referendum result was No, then up to half the member states could expect to lose their commissioner for a five-year term at a time.
The member states agreed to Ireland’s request after the first rejection of the treaty that every country would retain its commissioner.
Under the Nice Treaty, which would remain in place if Lisbon failed, the commission is due to be cut by at least one member.
“The only way for every country to be sure to keep their commissioner is to keep the Lisbon Treaty. That was the deal made after the last vote in Ireland.”
He also insisted that a No vote would create the perception abroad that Ireland was not fully committed to the EU and that this would affect investment and the creation of jobs. “It’s a matter of confidence and so it is important for us in Europe, including Ireland, for the creation of jobs to have a Yes, to have the Lisbon Treaty approved.”
Mr Barroso, who won a second five-year term this week, will meet members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for European Affairs and later the lord mayor, officials and local community groups in the city hall before going for a private lunch in the university.
He will address students in the college and take some questions and later meet a number of women’s groups.
He is staying overnight and hosting a dinner.
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