Labour criticises ‘alarmist’ no vote poster campaign

THE Labour party has criticised one of the groups supporting a no vote in the Lisbon treaty referendum, claiming it was revisiting “alarmist” tactics used in the 1995 divorce referendum.

Coir, campaigning against the treaty, erected posters bearing messages such as “People died for your freedom — don’t throw it all away”. Another says “Lisbon: it will cost you more tax — less power”.

Labour, backing the treaty, claimed such messages were “deliberately misleading”. The party claimed Coir was associated with those who had erected the “Hello Divorce: Goodbye Daddy” posters in the referendum of 13 years ago.

Labour’s European affairs spokesman Joe Costello noted Coir shared an office at Capel Street, Dublin, with Youth Defence and the Pro-Life Alliance. It was also the registered address of Justin Barrett’s mother and child campaign during the Nice campaign.

“During the 2002 campaign, it emerged Mr Barrett had associations with extreme right-wing, quasi-fascist organisations in Europe,” said Mr Costello.

“Many of these people have been associated with opposition to every development in the EU and every single social reform in this country,” he added.

“The same people brought us the ‘Hello Divorce: Goodbye Daddy’ poster which is typical of the misleading and alarmist tactics they specialise in.

“We now know that, despite what that poster suggested, the introduction of divorce has not led to the collapse of marriage.”

But Coir spokesman Scott Schittl said it was Labour and the other political parties campaigning for a yes vote which are misleading the public.

“I’d like to say what’s really criminal is that the Irish people are being misled as to what the treaty is,” he said.

“It’s 96% the same as the European constitutio,n which was rejected by Holland and France.

“I think the real misleading is being done by the mainstream political parties.”

Claiming the treaty would supersede our constitution, Mr Schittl said Coir was campaigning against the Lisbon treaty because the group wanted to protect Ireland’s sovereignty.

He said Coir was also concerned about the “social and moral aspects of the treaty”. Coir recently claimed legalised abortion could be introduced in Ireland if the treaty is passed.

Mr Schittl said Coir was a “separate camp altogether” from Youth Defence. “Everything is separate. We share an office, but it’s a big building,” he said.

Coir emanated from those who had opposed the Nice treaty, he explained. “The membership we got for the Lisbon treaty [campaign] came primarily from people who we would have contacted during no to Nice.

“Whether or not people support Youth Defence or the mother and child campaign, and they want to support Coir, is up to them.”

Lisbon info

Where to go for information on the Lisbon treaty:

* www.lisbontreaty2008.ie (neutral site by the Referendum Commission).

* www.rte.ie/lisbon (neutral site showcasing the views of pro and anti-treaty campaigners).

* www.vote4europe.ie (pro-treaty site by Fianna Fáil).

* www.finegael.ie (links to reasons for a yes vote).

* www.labour.ie/lisbonreformtreaty (pro-treaty).

* www.lisbonvote.com (anti-treaty site by Coir).

* www.libertas.org (anti-treaty).

* www.no2lisbon.ie (anti-treaty site linked to Sinn Féin).

* www.europarl.ie (site contains views on the treaty from various sitting MEPs).

Today’s Lisbon events

* The chairman of the Alliance for Europe, Labour’s Ruairi Quinn, and the leader of the Socialist party Joe Higgins will outline their respective views on the treaty at the National Forum on Europe. The event will take place at the State Apartments in Dublin Castle from 11am and will be streamed live on the internet at www.forumoneurope.ie

* The Progressive Democrats will launch their campaign for a yes vote at a press conference in the offices of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Clare Street, at 11.30am.

* The Irish Alliance for Europe campaign group, the Business Alliance, will hold an information roadshow at the Clarion Hotel, Steamboat Quay, Limerick, at 6.30pm. Defence Minister Willie O’Dea and Declan Walsh, lecturer in European Union law at UCC, will speak at the event.

* The European Commission will hold a public meeting in Dublin. The theme for the meeting is the Future for Ireland and the European Union. It will take place at the Gresham Hotel, Dublin 1, at 7.30pm. Speakers will include European Affairs Minister Dick Roche, Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell and Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald.

www.forumoneurope.ie (site containing webcasts, podcasts, summaries and transcripts of debates by the National Forum On Europe)


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