FF and Labour step up attacks on no campaign

FIANNA Fáil and Labour have stepped up their attacks on the no campaign as the last full week of Lisbon campaigning gets under way.

With the referendum on June 12, both sides will attempt to make the most of this week as they endeavour to convince the sizeable bloc of undecided voters of their arguments. And while the yes camp began its campaign by talking positively of what the treaty contained, it has switched to combative tactics, repeatedly condemning the no camp.

Yesterday, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore criticised the “strident and hysterical tone” of the anti-Lisbon campaign, saying it involved groups that formed “an intolerant and unrepresentative minority”.

“These groups include people who are opposed in principle to the EU and who have opposed every single social reform in this country. The same people brought us the ‘Hello Divorce: Goodbye Daddy’ poster in 1996 which is typical of the misleading and alarmist tactics they specialise in,” he said.

Mr Gilmore dismissed claims by the no side that the treaty would enable Brussels to take children as young as three into custody or that it would lead to the introduction of abortion or euthanasia.

“These issues have absolutely nothing to do with the Lisbon treaty or the EU, but this has not stopped those advocating a no vote to use them to try to frighten the electorate.

“[These groups] are an intolerant and unrepresentative minority. The electorate should resist attempts to be frightened or intimidated into a no vote.” Taoiseach Brian Cowen expressed his belief that people were beginning to realise the no camp had deliberately tried to “increase confusion by inventing issues or distorting very clear provisions of the treaty”.

Independent reviews had confirmed that supposed threats concerning tax, abortion and trade vetos “just don’t exist”, he added. But Sinn Féin, the only Dáil party endorsing a no vote, hit back, saying the Government, in particular, was failing to debate the actual content of the treaty. Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said it was obvious from talking to the public that there were huge concerns with the treaty. “People who would normally follow the line of their preferred party are very cautious and cannot understand why they are being asked to support this treaty,” he said.

“People are wondering why trade unions, small businesses and farmers have not come out in support of the treaty.

“This is because the Government is failing to engage in a real debate on the content of the treaty and is instead resorting to scare tactics in a desperate attempt to win this referendum campaign.”


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