FF ‘out to nail Cóir lie’ over wages

FALSE claims by anti-Lisbon campaigners regarding the lowering of the minimum wage in Ireland will sway voters if they are not countered strongly, according to Fianna Fáil.

Addressing his party colleagues on the Lisbon campaign at the party’s think-in yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mícheál Martin said he had received reports that the controversial Cóir posters – which suggest the minimum wage will drop to €1.84 under the Lisbon Treaty – were getting a reaction.

“We have work to do in terms of exposing the fact that this is basically not true,” he said, before adding that the party would “go all out to make sure that lie is nailed”.

At the Hodson Bay Hotel Mr Martin also drilled the party on canvassing tactics in the run up to the vote and said Yes campaigners could not trust the volatile polling data.

However, he admitted feedback had been positive and generally people appeared more likely to support the treaty on this occasion.

Mr Martin said he also believed that on an economic and workers’ rights grounds the Lisbon Treaty was a better deal for Ireland.

He suggested people “from outside the region would give their right arm to have the kind of access to Europe that Ireland has”.

Elsewhere, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore also said the Lisbon Treaty protected workers’ rights more than any previous EU treaty and urged trade union leaders and those on the left who have campaigned for a No vote to reassess their position.

“I find it difficult to understand the opposition to Lisbon by those who say they are on the side of working people,” he said.

“The fact that some trade unions have opposed all previous EU treaties does not exempt them from an obligation to fairly assess what is on offer,” he added.

Mr Gilmore was responding to claims by the TEEU’s Eamon Devoy, who suggested “the Lisbon Treaty does not improve workers’ conditions or workers’ rights one jot”.

Former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, who was canvassing for a Yes vote on Dublin’s Grafton Street yesterday, said the Yes side has been more organised and effective in getting their message across.

“People are interested and concerned and I think there has been a swing. But we’ll wait and see,” he said.

He added that the arrival of No campaigner, Declan Ganley, into the campaign will make “not much” of a difference.

“The issues he raised were dealt with in the guarantees and the commissionership issue,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

On the issue of the next EU Commissioner, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he will not make a decision until the treaty is passed.

Sinn Féin No campaigner and former MEP, Mary Lou McDonald, yesterday re-iterated the claim that the Government has not secured a single change to the treaty since last year’s referendum.

Launching her party’s No to Lisbon poster in Dublin, Ms McDonald said: “It remains a bad deal for Ireland and the EU.

“As it is exactly the same treaty, Sinn Féin is urging people to give it the same answer and vote No on October 2.”



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