From mass manipulation to real politcs?

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I picked up this informative exchange on Twitter on the day of the Referendum count between Damien Mulley and Richard Delevan:

Damien: “The No victory is refreshing in that it shows the main parties do not have a complete stranglehold over mass manipulation.”

Richard: “No, Mass manipulation has been privatised!”

That brief exchange for me encapsulates the key problem both with the referendum and Irish politics within which it took place more widely. In Irish politics, ‘mass manipulation’ is the weapon of choice. Scape-goating Libertas for something the Republic’s political parties routinely get away with, hardly conceals the fact that on this occasion a small, highly unrepresentative micro-minority simply played the mainstream at their own game, and won.

As Irish parliamentary democracy flounders, having been so completely flipped on its back, it’s useful to note that few of the concerns which appear to have been decisive in persuading people to vote NO have anything to do with the Lisbon Treaty. The Nice Treaty for instance, which the Republic ratified at the second time of asking, already commits the EU to reducing the amount of Commissioners to below the current level. Lisbon simply put a quantity on it.

As far as defence is concerned, Lisbon states that the EU “will move” towards a common defence policy. But, Ireland already has an effective opt out under both the Nice Treaty and the provisions of the 26th Amemndment of the Constitution. The relevant text:

The State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 1.2 of the Treaty referred to in subsection 7° of this section where that common defence would include the State.

Lisbon actually contained clauses aimed at strengthening the scrutiny role of national parliaments. According to the Irish Times (H/T Ciaran):

“Both the Daìl and the Seanad will get to see and consider all commission green and white papers, draft legislation, and the agendas and outcomes of ministerial meetings at the same time as they are sent to council members and MEPs.

“If a third of national parliaments feels proposed legislation conflicts with the principle of subsidiarity – that decisions should be taken at the level closest to the citizen – it can be “yellow carded”, requiring the commission to reconsider its proposals.”

If the particular highlights of the NO campaign were not exactly ‘sturdy’, the fear that a Constitution (Lisbon is a 90% repackage), along with a President, and a Foreign Office would one day harden into a European super state was probably the legitimate fear behind the campaign. (Well, that and the alarming thought that the Taoiseach hadn’t read from cover to cover the text of a treaty he was asking the people of the Irish Republic to accept in good faith.)

These fears are what motivated the national electorate in France and the Netherlands to reject the ‘Constitution’. Yet there was no convincing answer to those fears from a YES camp, which seemed content to rely on the somatic charms of the European project to draw in the support of the prosperous middle classes of south Dublin, whilst administering their own brand of fallacious fear-mongering over what might happen if the country said no to everyone else. Double negatives generally cancel each other out. If you are the last party to the field you tend to lose.

What was needed from the Yes camp was a clear vision of Ireland’s place in a European future: what it is and what it is not. The State’s long term neutrality means that foreign policy has never been it’s strongest public suit. And as Marc Colman argues in last week’s Sunday Independent, the PR system of voting has marginalised radical content (like Euroscepticism) from Irish politics.

Added to that is the abject position of the average TD as legislator (as opposed to community representative):

At present, the Irish parliament is characterised by a strong executive, a highly disciplined whip, a weak committee system, and domination by representatives who focus on local and regional issues to the detriment of national and international concerns. The Dáil has no real input into the government’s positions in EU negotiations, and directives are implemented with a minimum of debate and virtually no media attention.

This is one reason why the Irish media (to an extraordinary extent) are rarely interested in what the opposition has to say on anything. And it may be why an extraordinarily wide group of media interests went looking for ways to undermine small lobby groups behind the lobby groups, rather than more soberly investigate the claims they were making.

Last Thursday, the people of the Republic sent a message to the various political (and media) establishments that, amongst other things, they were not getting proper service when they enabled to a rag bag of ‘amateurs’ beat a combined 11 of the nation’s top ‘professional teams’. Questions should be asked (not just about Europe). And both Houses!

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  • kensei

    I think one of the reasons you are missing is the idea that Lisbon could be amended without reference back to the Irish people. So while tax, neutrality and the like might be safe today, they would not necessarily be safe in the future. It’s an alarming suggestion for a country that must be consulted for any change to the Constitution, at any rate.

    I haven’t heard anyone comment on the veracity or otherwise of that one, but I’ve heard a few people come out with it, and not just on here.

  • kensei

    And as Marc Colman argues in last week’s Sunday Independent, the PR system of voting has marginalised radical content (like Euroscepticism) from Irish politics.

    Also, this is also the first time I’ve ever heard the suggestion that PR narrows representation. In fact, it’s aberrant nonsense.

    a strong executive, a highly disciplined whip, a weak committee system seems closer to the mark.

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick Fealty

    The point ken is that Ireland has an opt out written in two places: Nice and the 26th Amendment on those matters. Whether Lisbon allows substantial self change or not.

    As for your second point, you’re ‘tanglefooting’ yourself there. PR clearly doesn’t narrow representation, it broadens it. FTP narrows and polarises it. But that’s patently not the point Coleman is making.

    Radical parties are present in the Dail, but unless one of the big two co-opts them, they remain marginal to its workings.

    The big two are effectively post ideological grand coalitions, whose TDs have maximal interest in the welfare of the individual constituents but little incentive for genuine policy innovation.

    Dan Boyle made the mistake of taking his role as a legislator to seriously, and is consequently having to sit this parliamentary term in the Seanad after losing his Dail seat.

    On Saturday, Quintin Oliver argued that he was calling it a loss for the YES camp a month ago on the basis that any YES (regardless of the subject) needs to pile a massive lead so that the land mines of any NO can be successfully negotiated. That’s just about the beginning of the campaign. That is how ill prepared these ‘professionals’ were.

    None of the main Dail parties gave the electorate a good reason to follow their lead. That says rather too much about the current health of parliamentary politics in the Republic.

  • http://orcid.net Ciarán

    Sorry Ken: the self-amendment idea is rubbish. You’re referring to Article 48 of the treaty which says in paragraph 1 that the treaty might be amended by ‘an ordinary revision procedure’ or by a ‘simplified revision procedure.’ What these two pieces of legalese actually mean are described (relatively clearly) in the rest of the Article.

    An ordinary revision procedure involves getting a consensus in the council of ministers that a change is necessary, a decision of a committee made up of reps from all member states as to what the amendment might be and then in 48 (4) “The amendments shall enter into force after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

    A simplified revision procedure can only work regarding part three of the Treaty, which covers how the Institutions – the Commission, Parliament etc – work. A government can propose a change as to how the EU works, every country has a veto over that change and the change “shall not enter into force until it is approved by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

    You can verify this yourself here (pdf), on pages 40-41. The article is entirely and absolutely unambiguous. There is no debate to be had over it. To say that the treaty is self-amending and would circumvent the requirements of the Irish Constitutional is entirely and absolutely untrue.

    I’ve no doubt that members of the ‘no’ campaign were aware of what this article actually says. I’m less sure about the ‘yes’ campaign…

  • kensei

    Mick

    The point ken is that Ireland has an opt out written in two places: Nice and the 26th Amendment on those matters. Whether Lisbon allows substantial self change or not.

    No, Mick, the point is that the EU really don’t give a stuff about the 26th amendment or any other amendment of the Irish Constitution, and Lisbon is sold as a replacement for Nice. We are currently seeing feelers for bullying or threatening Ireland into line.

    So it is an extremely valid concern, and it is passing power from the people to the politicians. And even if tax and neutrality were safe, what else might the EU try to slip in without the consent of the people? The idea of Constitutional law being tinkered with without consent of the people is abhorrent to a Republic. I doubt a fraction have that high minded concern but still find the prospect very worrying. Who defines the relationship?

    As for your second point, you’re ‘tanglefooting’ yourself there. PR clearly doesn’t narrow representation, it broadens it. FTP narrows and polarises it.

    Nope, still don’t agree. People typically vote more by party than personality. Campaigns are conducted on the manifesto, and that tends to be what is argued about, along with arguments about leadership. Local variations do happen but I don’t think the ideological difference is being driven by the electoral system. In a FPTP system, FF and FG would still select similar candidates and get similar results.

    The UK Right is also projecting itself onto the Irish No vote and seemingly speaking for them at times. That would be a somewhat dangerous assumption if you ask me.

    None of the main Dail parties gave the electorate a good reason to follow their lead. That says rather too much about the current health of parliamentary politics in the Republic.

    I’m not too sure it does. This isn’t Parliamentary politics. It’s a referendum and I’m not sure you can apply one to the other. There are at least half a dozen countries that would fall at referendum, and Lisbon was not exactly an easy sell.

  • kensei

    Ciaran

    You can verify this yourself here (pdf), on pages 40-41. The article is entirely and absolutely unambiguous. There is no debate to be had over it. To say that the treaty is self-amending and would circumvent the requirements of the Irish Constitutional is entirely and absolutely untrue.

    Ta. That seems fairly clear, but I would like to hear the other side as it’s been repeated that frequently. Even one of SF’s demands published after the No is:

    • Maintenance of the absolute right of Irish citizens to have the final say in any significant say in changes to the EU treaties

    I’ve no doubt that members of the ‘no’ campaign were aware of what this article actually says. I’m less sure about the ‘yes’ campaign…

    Perhaps. Though if it is that blatant, surely at least someone in press would have pointed it out?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Mass manipulation has been privatised!”

    Surely, the important point is that the internet blog has facilitated the ‘democratisation’ of political communication, even the humblest of blogs such as Slugger O’Toole and NALIL can have purgative effects ;)

    IMO it is now far more difficult for the political establishments to control the flow of information; in the past they just had to lean on a few editors.

    It’s easy to understand why government ministers should feel apprehensive when investigative journalists and bloggers ‘collude’.

    For those who like their clues cryptic: lobster, salmon and a whiff of cod

  • http://orcid.net Ciarán

    Kensei: I’m afraid that this point at least is that blatant. On the lack of a rebuttal, lord knows. Maybe Bertie’s long goodbye was more interesting than the treaty….

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Ken,

    I don’t expect you to agree (when do we ever?). But I think Ciaran has cleared up any confusion over what the Treaty actually says. (And yes, it was that much of a cock up).

    I don’t have time to try to address your loose assertion (there is no sign of anything resembling a rational argument attached) that moving to FPTP would not change anything.

    But my point, just to reiterate, is that STV means that the constituency trumps the parliamentary every time. TDs connect well over local issues, but find it almost impossible to connect with the wider public over the complex issues they are dealing with inside the House.

    Thus we have the Minister for Defence protesting the removal of Aer Lingus from Shannon to Belfast, resultant from a policy decision made and approved by the cabinet of which he is a prominent member. It’s a schizophrenia much in evidence yesterday at Stormont with some SF MLAs outside with the anti Bush protesters, whilst the SF Deputy First Minister was inside welcoming the US President to Belfast.

    We may think it is just ‘the Irish way of doing politics’, but it’s a combo of highly discernible factors which force certain behaviours too. It also accounts for some pretty nasty cynicism within the Irish political media.

    Coleman’s argument concerns the mundane reality of politics from month to month, year to year, but is highly relevant when virtually the whole parliamentary body had the opportunity to front up a contentious national campaign. And so spectacularly failed.

    All the bleedin’ family open days in the world can’t fix that.

    Sorry for the Admin byline…

    Mick

  • Dewi

    Every time the Treaty has been put to the public it’s been beat. Perhaps the people are right. Subsidiarity may be just about where people want it to be.

    Like if the Treaty doesn’t really effect State’s sovereingty then what’s the point?

  • DC

    Mick, you raise very valid points about the commitments, but one thing that strikes me is that those that advocate No argue for much lesser outcomes than what is currently in place.

    For example, the single currency, monetary control placed in Frankfurt, when you look at the above concerns you wonder whether they are really whistling in the wind and are holding up required progress to build on the ongoing substantive already in practical use in the Republic.

  • DC

    “These fears are what motivated the national electorate in France and the Netherlands to reject the ‘Constitution’. Yet there was no convincing answer to those fears from a YES camp”

    I think those fears arose from enlargement linked to recent members who had joined and voters wanted to put a break on it, especially further enlargement suggestions, and this was a good chance to measure their displeasure by not allowing the institutional mechanisms by which to enable that further enlargement. Turkey too is firmly in the minds of the French along with concerns over the other new democratic-Easterns. Many feel enlargement happened somewhat un-democratically and may be a follow on from under-represtantion of benign impacts of the EU at large, nevermind the minor minutiae!

  • kensei

    Mick

    I don’t have time to try to address your loose assertion (there is no sign of anything resembling a rational argument attached) that moving to FPTP would not change anything.

    It’s simple Mick. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael pick the candidates. The candidates offered would be the same whether we are in FPTP or STV, and the underlying method of selection the same. The relationships between the legislature, the whips and the executive would be the same. Ireland is simply a more pro-European country than the UK, and the political parties doubly so. There is no anti-EU party because all the major parties realise how well Ireland has done out of the EU, don’t want to upset their position and crucially it’s never been an electoral winner.

    But my point, just to reiterate, is that STV means that the constituency trumps the parliamentary every time.

    What exactly is your evidence for this? One of the key arguments against STV in the UK is that it weakens the constituency link. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason why STV forces what you are suggesting.

    Ireland has no pretensions towards being a “power”, unlike the UK. It does not have a legacy of Empire, or a position to maintain. It doesn’t involve itself in invasions of other places to extend influence, and is proud of it’s neutrality. Of course local issues matter more.

    TDs connect well over local issues, but find it almost impossible to connect with the wider public over the complex issues they are dealing with inside the House.

    No one cares. Leinster House bubble is Westminster Bubble is Stormont Bubble is Washington Bubble.

    Thus we have the Minister for Defence protesting the removal of Aer Lingus from Shannon to Belfast, resultant from a policy decision made and approved by the cabinet of which he is a prominent member.

    Breakdown in Government discipline. He could easily have said the same thing under FPTP and still been confident it would have went down well with in his constituency and done no harm to his electoral chances.

    It’s a schizophrenia much in evidence yesterday at Stormont with some SF MLAs outside with the anti Bush protesters, whilst the SF Deputy First Minister was inside welcoming the US President to Belfast.

    That one is because SF is a coalition of interests some of whom are fracturing in the face of difficult changes in policy. Why does STV force this? I may not have had a rational argument, but at least I had one.

    Coleman’s argument concerns the mundane reality of politics from month to month, year to year, but is highly relevant when virtually the whole parliamentary body had the opportunity to front up a contentious national campaign. And so spectacularly failed.

    The problem was that there was no easy sell for this, no matter how clever or engaged you were, and a lot of reason to doubt. Second, the parliamentary body simply did what it did before which was generally successful. That was complacent, especially in the face of Nice, but I’m not sure you can read such wide reaching conclusions based on it. Referendums are different to normal elections.

  • Dave

    Kensei, you are correct that the Lisbon treaty takes precedence over the Irish constitution and that it is self-amending. The (rejected) 26th amendment stated:

    “No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union referred to in subsection 10° of this section, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the said European Union or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the treaties referred to in this section, from having the force of law in the State.”

    In other words, the EU has precedence over the Irish constitution for all the areas of national sovereignty covered by it. In addition, the Lisbon treaty gives precedence to the proposed ECJ to interperet the Lisbon treaty, and it is this body that will do so in accordance with the Treaty of Rome which mandates that the member states of the EU seek “ever closer union.” That is the constitution of the European Court of Justice: it must put the interests of European integration before the interests of the member states. In short, it must subvert national sovereignty in order to promote integration. That is the process that you would have been approving if you were foolish enough to vote yes. There are a rafgt of other areas where sovereignty is stolen by stealth in order to engineer the super state of Europe in the Lisbon treaty and I’ll be happy to list them all if you want.

    In additionm

  • Dave

    “In other words, the EU has precedence over the Irish constitution for all the areas of national sovereignty covered by [the Lisbon treaty].”

  • Wilde Rover

    The FPTP system just leads to Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee running the show and in the case of PRSTV in Ireland it seems to lead to Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber as many good legislators never last long.

    The possible unease No voters might have had at Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s ominous utterance that “public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly” might have been an important factor.

    After all, the electorate, being presented with what appeared to be a perfectly fine car, might have been distracted by what it perceived as a sneer by one of the managers of this particular car dealership and became concerned about what they might find out down the road.

  • DC

    “In other words, the EU has precedence over the Irish constitution for all the areas of national sovereignty covered by it.”

    Supposing things are as concrete as that you seem to place the notion of the term ‘EU’ as foreign, so should there be anything positive to take from your comments?

    The EU is a co-operative model of governance, it is about relationships between member states. The EU is a concept with Ireland not without it, as noted Ireland largely runs through it and shaped this treaty, it has up until now reflected the positives that can be taken from EU membership.

    Some of the coverage as to why the No won-out has been bang-on and it does reflect on the democratic leaders as it is they who act as the continuation of that popular vote to control in part matters between states at an EU level, if they haven’t fed back appropriately they must take their share of the blame. It is they who have shaped it and it is they who must move the people to positions taken in the interests of home and Ireland. MEPs have their own unique parliamentary role too.

    Largely the EU has been a success story, people will opt for varying baselines, some will see no-warring as the baseline, others will view economic progress. There are some real points to be taken from the failure to promote the positives of the EU and the negatives have won-out.

    In defence I suppose this problem has not been a fairly new one but is more long term harking back to the 90s if not before. In defence of Britain and Ireland both countries relationship priorities have been focussed on Northern Ireland and between themselves, relationships are hitting an all time high now.

    So, perhaps they should now prioritise the EU to win out the benefits of those co-operative concepts that have in part helped to upholster Northern Ireland with a cross-party form of devolution with peace; not perfect, but before there was neither democracy nor peace.

    Europe was plagued by internecine warring before a responsible and sticking form of EU governance was put in place and developed.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Wilde Rover, your comment reminds me of this anti-Nixon poster:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2331/2273802356_13a4ac298d.jpg

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    DC, have you looked at the possible competitive ‘warring’ role of some EU states in the Balkans, perhaps related to the ‘control’ of an oil pipeline?

  • Mick Fealty

    ken,

    It looks like you are having some trouble following the argument. If that’s down to lack of clarity, then I accept responsibility.

    “There is absolutely no rhyme or reason why STV forces what you are suggesting.”

    On STV, ask yourself why only Malta and Ireland use it? It creates competition between candidates from the same party and prioritises geographical alliances, rather than those of political interest. No one is arguing for a moment that STV does not gives a ‘fairer’ (ie more proportionate) share of seats. But you also sacrifice political coherence within the larger parties it creates.

    If you want to argue this one further, I suggest you find a political science student to hammer it out with. Try this presentation for starters: http://tinyurl.com/5wwmgy.

    My point about neutrality was to suggest it explained a problem the Republic has with explaining to its people what its interests are abroad. It was not, as you seem to have read it a criticism of that neutrality.

    “No one cares.”

    Possibly true. But if that is true, it serves to underscore my original point further.

    Your next two points only work if you believe STV has zero effect on how politics is run (which is, frankly, a ludicrous suggestion, whichever system you support). Though your explanation again only underlines my earlier point about geographical coalitions.

    Referendums are different to elections. They are about issues. Not about getting elected. To recap succinctly, if our elections north and south were more about governing than just getting elected, the fitness of the first 11, would not be in question.

  • George

    Ciarán,
    “The amendments shall enter into force after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

    A constitutional requirement also means being passed by the respectives states’ parliaments.

    On what do you base your argument that there is a constitutional requirement for Ireland to hold a referendum for any amendment to a Lisbon Treaty that would have already been passed by a constitutional referendum when the Treaty specifically states that amendments are possible?

    Accordingly, as there would be no change to the Constitution by any amendment for the simple reason that the Constitution would now allow amendments of EU Treaties, it would seem to be constitutionally permitted for future amendments to be passed by what are the constitutional requirements laid down in the Bunreacht for the implementation of new law, namely an Act passed in both houses of the Oireachtas.

    As I haven’t read the whole Lisbon Treaty, I am happy for you to provide something else to show the contrary.

  • Dave

    “The EU is a co-operative model of governance, it is about relationships between member states.”

    No, it isn’t. The Treaty of Rome constitutionally commits the member states to seek “ever closer union” between them. What is the logical outworking of that directive other than full integration?

    “The EU is a concept with Ireland not without it, as noted Ireland largely runs through it and shaped this treaty, it has up until now reflected the positives that can be taken from EU membership.”

    Again, nonsense. The logical outworking (and constitutionally binding obligation) of the EU is to obliterate national sovereignty, and not to respect it. Union can only be achieved at the direct expense of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the member states. Everything that the EU has done since its inception is toward this aim.

    “Europe was plagued by internecine warring before a responsible and sticking form of EU governance was put in place and developed. ”

    And this is a valid reason to surrender national sovereignty, democracy, independence, self-determination, and the nation state itself to the EU? Err, no it isn’t. Imperialism – and the EU is a neo-imperial entity – caused Europe’s two world wars, not nationalism. In addition, many men have died for their right to exist as a nation within a nation state and they will die for those values again if they are stolen from them by the EU. You will see the emergence of separatist terrorism at first and then you will see civil wars between those who reject the emergent national identity of European and those who accept it. This is a whole new class of conflict that you are unwittingly engineering.

    The EU cannot be other than a nation state (once you wave that Euro flag and call yourself European then you’re in a nation state regardless of any other expedient definition), since, rather obviously, 92% of the world’s population will live in other nation states that the EU will be competing against. To this end, they are already engineering the new national identity of European (as if Europe was already a country rather than a continent) in parallel of the national identity of the member states, and the aim is for the new identity of European to take precedence over the national identity by engineering propaganda which depicts it as unpatriotic to be Serbian or French and not European – and, indeed, if the new nation state of Europe is successfully engineered, then it would be unpatriotic.

    Incidentally, since the ECJ is biased toward the EU (being a servant of it and bound by the Treaty of Rome to promote integration), it is utterly stupidity of the Irish government to claim that this body is an impartial entity that will respect its right to national sovereignty: it won’t because it must promote the union which can only be promoted at the direct expense of national sovereignty. Giving this body the power to interpret the Lisbon treaty and expecting it to be other than a quasi-kangaroo court is akin to the Coca-Cola company giving a court established by the Pepsi company to promote the interests of the Pepsi company the right to rule over the affairs of the Coca-Cola company. If you’re dumb enough to fall for the ruse, then sobeit.

  • kensei

    Mick

    It looks like you are having some trouble following the argument. If that’s down to lack of clarity, then I accept responsibility.

    I wasn’t aware you were making one.

    On STV, ask yourself why only Malta and Ireland use it?

    It undoubtedly has effects, not least on the ability to get a solid majority. But we are talking about candidates here.

    It creates competition between candidates from the same party and prioritises geographical alliances, rather than those of political interest. No one is arguing for a moment that STV does not gives a ‘fairer’ (ie more proportionate) share of seats. But you also sacrifice political coherence within the larger parties it creates.

    This is where I have problems. As demonstrated in the referendum there are geographical variations, often large in attitudes towards the EU. Moreover, if you are placing candidates from the same party against each other, you leave them trying to find a USP. That would make it more likely to create variation in candidates, not less.

    Second there are two assumptions there I don’t like: that voters only care about local issues, and that parties don’t have favoured candidates who are much more likely to get elected.

    If you want to argue this one further, I suggest you find a political science student to hammer it out with. Try this presentation for starters: http://tinyurl.com/5wwmgy.

    The missing information you have there is my opinion of Arts graduates.

    My point about neutrality was to suggest it explained a problem the Republic has with explaining to its people what its interests are abroad. It was not, as you seem to have read it a criticism of that neutrality.

    That wasn’t my point at all.

    Possibly true. But if that is true, it serves to underscore my original point further.

    I don’t think so, and I suspect you are confusing features with benefits. Only wonks care about detailed policy and I’m not sure you’ll ever get people interesting in it. They do care about where these things go and what the end result is. In that sense, being unable to explain that is poor performance. But it can be hard to do both.

  • DC

    “DC, have you looked at the possible competitive ‘warring’ role of some EU states in the Balkans, perhaps related to the ‘control’ of an oil pipeline?”

    Nevin that proves a point about national sovereignty still being in place, despite what the N0-voters would have us believe. Besides the energy market remains to be brought under strong EU-regulation and your example perhaps proves the point about hanging separately. There has also been a recent move by Germany for example to by-pass Poland and plant a big juicy gas pipeline into that country from Russia for use by its inhabitants only. A two-fingered approach to Poland from Russia with love.

  • DC

    Dave the EU is not a nation-state, it does not raise taxes, has no fixed concept of European-ethnicity, but is unity through diversity and pooling sovereignty on issues cross-cutting members states. You know Dave, airplanes, trains, boats, people moving about a lot requires new approaches?

    Nation-state:

    “a sovereign state inhabited by a relatively homogeneous group of people who share a feeling of common nationality.”

    Dave, your contradictory rationale proves that you are an idiot – goodbye. Oh and Dave, I don’t suppose you are posting from southern England btw?

  • Dave

    [i]Dave the EU is not a nation-state, it does not raise taxes, has no fixed concept of European-ethnicity, but is unity through diversity and pooling sovereignty on issues cross-cutting members states. You know Dave, airplanes, trains, boats, people moving about a lot requires new approaches?

    Nation-state:

    “a sovereign state inhabited by a relatively homogeneous group of people who share a feeling of common nationality.”

    Dave, your contradictory rationale proves that you are an idiot – goodbye. Oh and Dave, I don’t suppose you are posting from southern England btw?” – DC[/i]

    Bye DC, see ya on the next thread – unless you were planning on going somewhere? And before you push your imaginary ignore button, read what you are replying to before you reply to it:

    “The EU cannot be other than a nation state ([b]once you wave that Euro flag and call yourself European then you’re in a nation state regardless of any other expedient definition[/b]), since, rather obviously, 92% of the world’s population will live in other nation states that the EU will be competing against.”

    Now America is not a nation state under your expedient definition, is it? Yet America has been involved in how many wars…? Which renders your argument that nation states cause wars null and void, doesn’t it?

    As I patiently explained to you, clown: “Imperialism – and the EU is a neo-imperial entity – caused Europe’s two world wars, not nationalism.”

  • Mick Fealty

    Dave,

    To try and tease fact from polemic for a moment: that quotation you provided us earlier is from the Third Amendment and has been part of the Constitution since 8th June 1972. It’s been a senior principle within the EEC/EC/EU since Costa v. ENEL in 1964.

    As one reader put it to me by email:

    “The EU is a regulatory body designed to forge coordination between member states on a variety of issues. It would be a useless regulatory body if its rules didn’t really apply. Which they wouldn’t if member states could just agree things in the council of ministers then either not bother introducing them or just circumvent them by introducing their own laws.”

    But it is also governed by the principle that the nations are ‘the masters of the treaties’. Nothing goes in that doesn’t get signed off by the nation states. Ireland has since the Crotty judgement in 1987 been bound to submit each treaty in turn to a referendum.

    To George’s point. I don’t see where Ciaran claimed such. Rather he pointed out that it would be subject to constitutional law. What you’re looking for is a judgement about whether such an amendment would bypass Crotty, and could pass with simply with the approval of the Oireachtas?

    Ciaran’s point appears to be that it cannot bypass the Irish government, in any circumstance. There is no such thing as a self amending ordinance here.

    [A more general point: it is common courtesy to thank people who bring new material to the debate that you may be reluctant to fetch yourself. Asking them to do more work to fill your information gaps would be a chargeable service anywhere else.]

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    Just remember for every Arts Graduate, there’s a droid with Engineer’s Disease! Thank you, and… Goodnight!

  • Dave

    The point was, Mick, that the sovereignty is granted for all areas covered by the treaty. All treaties amended to the constitution have that clause granting them precedence in the areas that the treaty covers. However, this isn’t a treaty about fishing rights in territorial waters, is it? It is a de facto constitution which is granted precedence over all areas that conflict with it – and how much of it will be found to conflict with the Irish constitution? The Lisbon treaty transfer a vast array of powers to the EU, and those powers may be freely exercised by the EU without any regard to the Irish constitution. In that regard, it will be the ECJ which tells us what the Lisbon treaty actually means, so we don’t actually know the full extent of the powers that we have given to the EU.

    It is also self-amending, and rather than restate the arguments, I’ll link to two short articles that outline them:

    http://www.europeanmovement.net/wordpress/?page_id=13

    http://www.libertas.org/content/view/194/114/

  • Dave

    “…we [b]would[/b] have given to the EU.”

  • DC

    Dave, I can’t be arsed because you are just one big false shit storm.

    For example, WWII was caused by ethnic-nationalism, German ethnic nationalism, and this measured other nations and groups as inferior and therefore liable for capture, kinda like failing a test for survival. And even nationalism causes a bias towards ones own view of self and belonging which immediately creates false notion of worth when meaured across cultures and breeds internal protectionism, a hot bed for contention. Just turn the clock back to life in NI, but I have my suspicions you’re not even Irish!

    However, your imperial argument is not correct either, because:

    “the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies.”

    No one state in the EU is foreign and no one state at the present time can extend its rule or authority into any particular other state.

    It is a collective form of co-operation. And as to your:

    “Imperialism – and the EU is a neo-imperial entity – caused Europe’s two world wars, not nationalism.”

    What causes world wars, by the way note ‘world’, is disagreement. Even with the EU reaching your high hopes of a ‘worst nightmare’, this worst nightmare will only happen through *agreement* not disagreement, at least following existing EU obligations and democratic means. Ireland has failed to progress further and so the consequences of this outcome *will* have to be factored in.

    Things change but at least the EU is an attempt to keep it together and draw more efficiency from closer working especially economies of scale. Rather instead of disunity and disharmony caused through nationalist projects that have failed on several occasions to capture the notion of one world and one race, the human race, coupled with immigration and integration.

    Should nationalism arising in a certain geographical place have a statutory right to expunge the culture of another via its own assimilation demands?

  • George

    Mick,
    I don’t see where Ciaran claimed such. Rather he pointed out that it would be subject to constitutional law.

    I don’t know if Ciarán was making such a claim but if he was, he would be wrong. Once a European Treaty is taken within the Irish Constitution (this is the same for all countries) it has prevalence over domestic law in the areas it covers. In Ireland’s case this comes about from Article 29.4.10 which had to be put in as part of EU membership and states:

    “No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union or of the Communities, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the European Union or by the Communities or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the Treaties establishing the Communities, from having the force of law in the State.”

    So if we agree to put in place in our Constitution a Treaty that can be amended then these amendments have force of law, even if repugnant to the Irish Constitution, because of Article 29.10.4.

    So I will continue to await Ciarán’s answer to the question about what he thinks the term “constitutional requirements” in Article 48 actually means in relation to Ireland’s situation?

  • Mick Fealty

    DC:

    Civility is the only price of participating here. If recall you are on a Yellow?

    Dave,

    Those were (thankfully) short and to the point.

    Let me retrench slightly. And (temporarily?) withdraw my statement that there was no self amending clauses in another effort for clarity, rather than for the sake of any argument. Here’s another extract from that emailer I mentioned earlier:

    “The regulatory competence of the EU is defined by the treaties, so its sphere of influence is no greater than that which Ireland agreed to. Any mission creep is a consequence of national governments agreeing on a new mission.

    “Most of the notorious activities of the Commission that so gets the red-tops in a tizzy either involve regulatory innovations that national governments would have introduced on their own if they weren’t being coordinated through Brussels or regulatory innovations to answer an agenda defined by the council of ministers (if you want a single market in education, for instance, you need to coordinate on acceptance of qualifications. And if you do that, you need to ask questions about whether, say, accountants can work in any country etc).

    “Sure, there’s empire building, as in any bureaucratic structure, but the EU simply can’t have extend its reach endlessly.”

    What you make of that goes to the heart of how much you trust the political parties at the head of government to steer a consistent and reliable course on these matters, and how powerfully the Oireachtas can be in calling them to account for their actions. Which is just about where I came in.

    George:

    That clause is the one previously referred to that first came in under the Third Amendment in 72. Hope that extract above is helpful.

  • DC

    Mick, you do appear positively passive to negative dogma, does this turn you on along with fermenting blogs to curry favour with unionists that subtly encourages their political viewpoints?

    Tbh Mick, it’s tiresome having to read false reports about nation-state recreation via European Union treaties, it’s tiresome watching Gregory Campbell say that he isn’t going to talk around the Executive table in an apparently changed environment of good relations, it’s just so false.

    My only hope is that the actors in the real political world never give up the fight for proper representation and show that they can win out the actual facts and indeed true repercussions of such agreements and treaties. Because if they give up and become passive to polemic nonsense then the consequences could be damaging.

    The Irish leaders may have lost out this time, but I hope they and many others carry the fight to prove inaccurate much of what has passed for political substance. As stated, both Britain and Ireland have been tied up recently with Northern Ireland and they did a really positive job in terms of outcome at least for the younger generation, time to turn on other more pressing interests in tough times ahead.

    Better to have Europe working along side in confidence than with uncertainty as a result of unproven national insecurities by a collection of incoherent fragments. Or perhaps splinters of old nationalism/internationalism.

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com Mick

    What on earth has Unionism got to do with this discussion? Red Herring No 3,333.

    Lot’s of things are tiresome DC. But I’m much inclined to Milton’s dictum that truth will out on an open field of battle!

  • kensei

    Mick

    What you make of that goes to the heart of how much you trust the political parties at the head of government to steer a consistent and reliable course on these matters, and how powerfully the Oireachtas can be in calling them to account for their actions. Which is just about where I came in.

    Ah. I think this is where we’re coming up short. Your argument is incomplete. The question extends beyond the ones you are asking. You need to also ask:

    How reliable do you feel Ireland’s veto is in the face of unanimity of opposition (or at least lack of support from a major player)? The last few days have not been encouraging on that score.

    Second, not simply how strongly will the representatives in the Oireachtas call the government to account, but also how much the institutions will let them do so.

    This was what I was trying to get at in my first post. The problems are on an institutional level – strong executive, weak committees, weak upper chamber, rather than being a problem with the quality of candidates per se. Perhaps the truth is a combination of both.

  • DC

    Or in terms of a European free market, you could use another Milton by saying that:

    “A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

  • Mick Fealty

    Taxis versus Cosmos? http://url.ie/gb2

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    DC, it may also demonstrate that German-French-Italian oil precipitated the Balkans crisis in its tussle with USA-UK oil for control of an oil pipeline. I suspect the smaller EU states had little say in the matter.