Women urged to vote Yes

WOMEN have been urged to support the Lisbon referendum by Yes campaigners who said regardless of what is in the text of the treaty their “actions have consequences”.

Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Joan Burton, claimed Friday’s referendum is about telling Europe this country wants to be an active member of the EU. She said this goes beyond the precise wording of the treaty articles.

“It isn’t just about what is in the nuts and bolts of the treaty. Friday is about sending out signals,” she said.

She said Europe was an immensely positive vehicle for women’s equality and the country in general. “People are correct in saying, ‘is there an actual jobs provision in the Lisbon Treaty?’ Of course, no there isn’t, but it has the possibility to be very progressive for this country.”

Ms Burton said the Yes side had yet to convince voters and the minimum wage debate had become a “huge factor” among women.

She was speaking at a press conference organised by the Charter Group, an alliance of left wing and rights-based pro-Europe groups.

Former senator Mary Henry said since joining Europe it had been a consistent ally for the feminist movement.

She said from the first victory, using a European directive to enforce equal pay, the women’s movement has been buoyed by the support it found in the text of various treaties.

The Labour Party’s new member of Dublin City Council, Maria Parodi, pointed to the benefits offered by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“This charter secures greater equality by providing anti-discriminatory legislation, by improving workers’ rights, by extending and protecting the rights of women, children and men in all aspects of society,” she said.

This charter was negotiated and agreed well in advance of the Lisbon Treaty and was not included in the main body of the deal.

Its wording has been attached to the treaty in order to give it legally binding status. But this charter is not the Lisbon Treaty.

Ms Burton accepted neither the charter or the economy were main planks of the main Treaty. But she said economic circumstances had changed the reality which voters had to assess and people needed to be conscious of what a No vote would mean for recovery.

“Even if the European Union isn’t perfect, we as a country gain immeasurably from active and full participation,” she said.

Senator Ivana Bacik said there has been a far more informed debate on the treaty this time.

She said if ratified, the treaty would give far greater weight to the European Convention on Human Rights and this was already having an important impact on the direction of judgments in the European Court of Justice.


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