Lisbon Treaty: Claim and counter-claim

While politicians and campaigners trade blows on air, a group calling itself ‘Generation YES’ has launched a ‘Fight the Lies’ section on its pro-Lisbon website.

Generation YES bills itself as “a movement of young people from all over Ireland who are committed to promoting the benefits of EU membership. We will further this core aim through events and campaigns which show that membership of the EU is one of Ireland’s greatest strengths, and offers our generation huge opportunities.” They claim in a video on their site, filmed at IKEA, to have 1,200 registered members.In the ‘myth-debunking’ section of the site, they challenge claims that the minimum wage in the south will be reduced to €1.84 if Lisbon is passed, that the Lisbon Treaty will reduce Ireland’s voting strength to 0.8% in the Council of Ministers, and that the EU wants to introduce conscription in Ireland.

It reminds me somewhat of the ‘Fact Check’ initiative that CNN deployed during the US presidential election, although obviously with a more partisan bent.

Meanwhile, the southern government has published a condensed guide to the Lisbon Treaty. Perhaps one of the biggest failures of the Yes Campaign during the first referendum was that they relied too much on a ‘trust us, we’re right’ attitude rather than actually informing voters and letting them come to their own conclusions. Presumably this site is aimed at remedying this shortcoming.

Separately, Labour hit the ground running yesterday as the first party to launch its pro-Lisbon campaign with a new blog. Party leader Eamon Gilmore argued: “In the current climate it is possible that some angry voters, who may have not problems at all with Lisbon, will be tempted to use the referendum to inflict what they would regard as a blow on the government. I would urge anyone thinking along these lines to reconsider the position. A second defeat for the Lisbon Treaty will do more damage to the country than it will to Fianna Fáil.”

However, Sinn Féin’s Kerry North TD Martin Ferris accused the Labour leader of doing “a massive u-turn on workers rights,” pointing out that “in June last year Eamon Gilmore said ‘the Lisbon Treaty is dead’ and ‘the result of the referendum must be fully respected’ and that ‘it would be entirely wrong, inappropriate, and counter-productive for the European Union to proceed on the basis of any settlement that does not fully respect the voice of the Irish people.?

With just over a month to go until the vote, things certainly look to be getting interesting.