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THE only reason the Lisbon Treaty is not being renegotiated is because Brian Cowen failed to carry out his democratic mandate to represent the wishes of the Irish people to his European partners.
Instead he chose to insult our intelligence and opt for the familiar path of craven political cowardice by kow-towing to his EU colleagues, speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
If he thinks we the public are too stupid to perceive clearly what he has done, then he is sorely mistaken, just as he was mistaken in thinking the 800,000-plus of us who voted against the Lisbon Treaty would accept his attempt to smear us in the Dáil by referring to our “new friend”, the French right-wing leader, Jean-Marie le Pen. (In fact, le Pen refused the cynical invitation of yes campaigners to come over to debate in the lead-up to the referendum). Incredibly, the Taoiseach is attacking and apologising for his own people instead of defending our interests.
He adopted a reproachful tone in his interview after the summit meeting, repeating the tired old refrain about how good the EU has been to us while neglecting to mention how good we have been to the EU.
We have surrendered our valuable fishery waters and generously opened our doors to immigrants from all across eastern Europe, even while the French and others shut theirs firmly.
He says he respects our democratic verdict, yet he refuses to rule out another referendum, as the Dutch premier did at the European summit in 2005, when Dutch voters rejected the earlier version of the Lisbon Treaty.
The results of the Eurobarometer survey, conducted in the wake of the referendum to assess voters’ reasons for their choices, indicated that the second largest reason for voting no was to protect Irish identity.
What assurance can Mr Cowen give us that he will in fact protect our identity when he has refused to declare the Lisbon Treaty dead and so force the renegotiation of a properly democratic treaty which will protect the interests of smaller states?
Let it be stated again clearly: the only reason the Lisbon Treaty is not being renegotiated is because of Brian Cowen, not the other EU leaders.
It cannot be ratified without Ireland’s assent, just as the earlier constitution of 2005 couldn’t be ratified without the assent of France and Holland.
Mr Cowen must choose between the wishes of his own people and those of the political elite across Europe.
He still has the opportunity to champion authentic democratic reform of the EU should he find the political courage to do so.
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