ANTI-LISBON treaty group Coir’s poster campaign was condemned by Minster for European Affairs Dick Roche, who said the group was “trading on mis-truths and misrepresentation of people’s fears”.
In a heated debate on RTÉ radio with Coir spokesman Peter Murphy the minster stated that “neither truth or character can be found in Coir”.
Mr Murphy said that government claims that guarantees on issues such as maintaining the illegality of abortion in Ireland received from Ireland’s EU partners following the defeat of the Lisbon treaty in June 2008 “were of no consequence”.
Mr Roche claimed that the guarantees will be lodged with the UN and as such would have a legal standing, although he accepted that the Lisbon treaty has not be changed in any way following it’s rejection last year.
“These are political promises they are not guarantees,” Mr Murphy said that could be overturned by the EU. “If this treaty gets through, the arbitrator of all these things will be the European Court of Justice.”
Since the weekend, when Coir launched a national poster campaign calling for a no vote in next month’s referendum, senior Fianna Fáil politicians have attacked the ultra-Catholic group for fear mongering and misinformation.
Mr Murphy accepted he was a former member of the extreme right wing group Youth Defence adding “Youth Defence stopped abortion being introduced in Ireland”.
In defence of the poster campaign, he said: “Coir is about giving out information and debating.” The posters question whether the Irish minimum wage could be reduced to €1.84 if Lisbon is passed.
Mr Murphy added that the group was “funded by donations from the members”.
The Coir group emerged from the Youth Defence-inspired ‘No to Nice’ campaign which played a role in successfully defeating that treaty in the 2001 referendum.
At that time the activists were led by Justin Barrett, who, along with other former Youth Defence activists, had attended a number of neo-fascist rallies on the continent.
The exposure that Mr Barrett and others associated with Youth Defence had consorted with members of the International Third Position – a group which contains convicted fascist terrorists – aided the success of the second Nice Referendum.
Dublin city councillor and People’s Movement spokesman Ciarán Perry said: “Concentration on the right-wing lunatic fringe, such as Coir, is an attempt by government to escape real debate on the Lisbon treaty.”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has pleaded with voters not to use the Lisbon referendum to vent their anger with the Government. Mr Gilmore said: “Voting no to Lisbon will do more damage to Ireland than it will to Fianna Fáil.”
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