“Respect the Irish Vote”



The protest in the Strasbourg plenary on June 18th

Pictured:- Myself, Chris Heaton-Harris and Syed kamall


Another Strasbourg demo.  Probably another fine in the offing.  On June 18th the parliament debated the outcome of the Irish referendum.  A group of us were determined to make the case for democracy, so we appeared in green T-shirts with the slogan “Respect the Irish vote”.  And carefully concealed about our persons we had several well-rolled banners, a dozen feet long, with the same slogan.
As Commission President Barroso rose to speak, we all rose in our places and stood.  Since we had attracted particular opprobrium last time for chanting “Referendum” over the remarks of the Portuguese Prime Minister, we exercised vast self-restraint this time and stood in dignified silence.  We also unfurled the banners.  I shared mine with my comrade Dan Hannan.  Of course the ushers arrived, right on cue, to confiscate the banners.  They had been hovering anxiously for some time and trying to work out where trouble would strike — as though the T-shirts were not a sufficient give-away.
Somehow they got hold of Dan’s end of our banner, but I was determined to hold on to mine, and an unseemly tug-of-war ensued.  Finally they let go.  I staggered backwards against the row behind, and then we quietly reinstated the banner for several more minutes, until courtesy demanded that we submit to the authority of parliament.  But by that time, the job had been done.
As usual, the parliament averted its electronic eye, and the official video coverage of the event will show not a hint of protest.  But of course we had our own still and video cameras all over the place like a rash, and good if amateur coverage should be on YouTube very soon.
Amusingly, many of the speakers, sparked by our slogan, insisted that of course they respected the result of the Irish vote.  But in the same breath they insisted that ratification should continue in the other 26 member states.  This despite the fact that under their own rules, ratification requires all 27 to agree, so further ratification is redundant.  You will recall that after the French and Dutch No votes in 2005, Tony Blair insisted that the EU Constitution could no longer be ratified, and that therefore there was no point in proceeding with a UK referendum.  That logic now seems to have been forgotten.
The EU plan seems to be to ratify in 26 states, and then present Ireland with a fait accompli.  Either they will have to vote again, or Brussels will invent some legal fudge (perhaps using the Croatia accession treaty) to bring Ireland on-side.
Fortunately there are still a few flies in Brussels’ ointment.  There is increasing pressure on Brown in the UK to reconsider, with the Wheeler legal challenge, the new Open Europe poll, and so on.  We are hearing that the Treaty is meeting headwinds in both Poland and the Czech Republic — keep an eye on those countries.  In any case the anticipated schedule, of an EU Council in October and implementation before the 2009 euro-elections, cannot now be met.  So we can turn next year’s euro-elections into the referendum we never had.  I can’t wait.

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7 Responses to “Respect the Irish Vote”

  1. Michael Byrne says:

    How dare you manipulate the Irish referendum for your own backward beliefs. The result of the Irish referendum was 54% no, 46% yes. with a 40% turn out, thousands of irish are openly saying they voted no because they didnt understand the vote, it was a failed referendum. How the history books would be written differently if the english paid this much attention to votes carried out by the Irish people. Shame on you.

  2. Elizabeth Scott says:

    Though an American, I am greatly concerned by the loss of liberties in my forefather’s land. I thank God for our tradition of British common law, and what a tragedy for the world if Britain loses its independence to the EU. If the Europeans knew what was best for them, they’d be begging for admission into the UK, not the other way around!

  3. Oh come on Michael. The vbote was no – and suddenly the same old arguments about people not understandng what they were voting for is used. Have you personally spoken to “thousands of people” or is it just the fact that the result wasn’t what you expected.

    Sorry – but in a democracy sometimes the people may give you a result you aren’t expecting.

  4. Roger Helmer says:

    Michael Byrne does the usual europhile trick of trying to finesse the Irish vote. They didn’t understand it. They were worried about abortion/immigration/tax/neutrality/you-name-it. I daresay that many people voted Labour in the UK in 2005 because they liked the colour of Tony Blair’s eyes. But we don’t look for a thousand reasons to dismiss the result. We accept it. That’s what we mean by democracy.

    Besides, even though some Irish voters did say that they didn’t understand the Treaty (hell, does ANYONE really understand it? It was designed to be incomprehensible), the basic question was simply “Do you want more powers for Brussels?”, and the answer was clearly NO. I’m afraid, Michael, you’re just going to have to get used to it.

  5. David York says:

    The Irish vote was 54% against. If the UK had a referendum no doubt the result would be 80% against. Every one knows this, so what is it that Gordon Brown knows that he isn’t telling us?? What is it about the EU that the UK so desperately needs? Is it the lack of democracy? – or the lack of financial accountability? – or perhaps the thrill of a European Army with a ‘rapid reaction force’? (Just think being able to mobilise in just a couple of years a disorganised army, with no clear objective and plenty of political interference to deal with the world’s trouble spots. They would make even the UN forces look fantastic!)
    No-one has ever beeen able to outline to me just two major benefits of being in the EU, where I can list hundreds of disadvantages. I think the Irish people are well aware of this. Good Luck to them!

  6. Melissa says:

    I was in Ireland when they voted no to the Lisbon treaty. Out of the 70 people I talked to every single one of them said that they could not understand anything about the treaty. I am proud of Ireland for voting no, and for being able to finally make a stand. All around Ireland the signs said Vote Yes or no to Lisbon, but absolutely nothing about it . If they Ratify the treaty it will high-lite the injustices that still happen in Europe. Before people speak they need to remember to get their facts straight.

  7. Lachi says:

    Thank you for your vote!!! Hope with you that the european wake up!!!!

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