Saying yes to Lisbon

Speaker's Corner
“A clear line is drawn in the sand as to what the EU can have influence over and what it can’t. Issues such as neutrality, education, health, taxation remain our responsibility alone.”

Claire Tighe

There is much talk about the merits and the drawbacks of the Lisbon Treaty and whether it is in Ireland’s best interest to ratify it on October 2.
It has become a cacophonous debate, often blindsided by extremist scaremongering.
We are all entitled to our individual view. I intend to vote YES this Friday and let me explain why.
Some of the issues that face our world today require cooperation between countries to be effectively combated. Drug smuggling, human trafficking, climate change. These ugly social problems don’t just plague Ireland. They seriously affect other EU states in equal measure. Ignoring the widespread extent of these issues and the very real implications they hold for us is unfortunately not enough to make them go away.
The Lisbon Treaty enables us to act together to more effectively fight modern day challenges that affect us all. If we are to succeed in tackling these issues, it must be a collective effort. Through greater communication and cooperation at the EU table, we determine the best means of facing these issues, tangibly influencing the way we meet the future and the challenges it holds.
There are areas where we are better off working together with other EU states. Then there are matters that we are better off tending to ourselves. Thankfully, this is central to the logic of the Lisbon Treaty.
A clear line is drawn in the sand as to what the EU can have influence over and what it can’t. Issues such as neutrality, education, health, taxation remain our responsibility alone. The EU can merely supplement these through financial aid, but Ireland retains full control in these areas.
There are things which people need to be clear on. There is no European Army. There can be no conscription. Ireland is one of six other neutral member states. The Lisbon Treaty has no bearing on our national neutrality policy.
Lisbon does not introduce abortion. Bishop of Down and Conor, Noel Treanor, is but one recent authority to come out and say that catholics can vote Yes to Lisbon in good conscience. We retain full control over all sensitive ethical issues. They remain our full responsibility.
We keep our commissioner permanently. On the matters of immense interest where we need Ireland’s voice to be heard, we keep strong representation as the deals to improve our future are struck.
The Guarantees are guaranteed. A permanent Commissioner. No taxation interference. No army. Absolutely no abortion. If we ratify the Treaty, the guarantees will be lodged with the UN and become as valid and legally binding as the Good Friday Agreement.
There can be no doubt that our ratification of the treaty on Friday will come to bear dramatically on our economy. Since Ireland’s rejection of the treaty, foreign investment has declined markedly. Over 84 per cent of Irish employers believe rejecting the Lisbon Treaty last year damaged Ireland’s economy, according to The Irish Times.
Distancing ourselves from a Europe that enabled the economic transformation of our country would be detrimental. While no one can say for certain what a future in a two-tier Europe would be like, the economic risks would undoubtedly be grave.
Don’t vote based on a poster that annoys you. Don’t vote because you think it will upset or delight our Taoiseach. Don’t vote based on issues that aren’t actually in the treaty.
Vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Vote on whether you think we are stronger as part of  a team combatting universal issues that affect us all. Vote on whether you think we’re best served on the fringes of Europe or at its centre.
I will be voting YES this Friday October 2. Personally, I believe that together we are stronger and more effective working as a team, and that Ireland has much more to gain by being actively involved than by watching from the bench. Ní neart go cur le chéile.

Claire Tighe is a founding member of Generation Yes. She is a past pupil of St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina, and a former Deputy President/Communications Officer of Trinity College Students’ Union.