Lisbon II: The Revenge

The Lisbon Treaty is once again being put before the Irish people in a referendum. I say “again” as they rejected it the first time, much to the consternation of the Irish Government and their partners in Brussels. The Treaty represents a major change in how the European Union is run and simplifies decision-making. Now with 27 members states, the EU can no longer run smoothly on rules put together when it had half that many members.

The Irish Constitution requires a referendum on the Treaty (whereas other EU states passed the legislation in their respective parliaments) which means the continent’s attention has been focused on Ireland for the past few months.

Determined not to lose another referendum, the Irish Government has upped its game and set forth clearly the benefits of approving the Treaty – in stark contrast to their lethargic, laissez-faire attitude last time around. Opponents to the Treaty look like a veritable rogue’s gallery of Irish politics. They include Sinn Fein (terrorists), Cóir (head-case anti-abortion mentalists) and a selection of bizarrely paired far-right and far-left extremists. All mainstream parties and organisations are behind the Treaty and many have done their best to translate its tortuous language into something the average voter can understand.

The plot has recently thickened with the intrusion of UK-based UKIP into Irish affairs. Nigel Farage… (I’m sorry, a little bit of vomit just flew into my mouth) has spent his time, not unlike a character from the Irish RM, explaining to the simple locals why they should believe him when he instructs them to vote no. The irony of Farage being on the same side of anything with Sinn Fein has not been lost on most observers. (There’s nothing like a bossy Englishman with a Home Counties accent to make an Irishman bristle).

Just this morning, the Guardian reported on some dirty tricks on the part of the “No” Campaign:

Conservative party Eurosceptics and the UK Independence party are using dubious polling data supplied by militant Irish nationalists associated with a convicted IRA gunrunner in their campaign to kill off the EU’s reform blueprint, the Lisbon treaty.

A week before the Irish vote in a referendum that will make or break Europe’s attempt to streamline the way it is governed, the Europhobic blogosphere is buzzing with the results of an obscure “opinion poll”, purporting to show a 3-2 majority against the treaty – the direct opposite of several professional surveys conducted in Ireland in recent weeks.

The result was initially supplied to bloggers by Ukip whose leader, Nigel Farage, has been campaigning for a no vote in Ireland.

The findings were reported this week in the Irish Daily Mail. They were also hailed by Bill Cash, the anti-European Conservative MP, as proof of “overwhelming support amongst the Irish people to kill off this treaty once and for all … This poll is accurate and historic.” But professionals in Dublin derided the “survey” as a hoax.

“This is a voodoo poll,” commented Roger Jupp, a veteran Dublin pollster and chairman of the Association of Irish Market Research Organisations. “It is quite extraordinary. My colleagues and I have been looking into this. I’ve never heard of these people.”

The suspect survey is said to have been conducted by and organisation named Gael Poll. Its members describe themselves as “strong Catholic nationalists” and “Catholic researchers” who worked until last year at the Hibernian magazine, which closed down.

Hmm. “Hibernian Magazine”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that. Do tell me more:

The magazine was founded and edited by Gerry McGeough, a Provisional IRA veteran once described by the FBI as a “dedicated terrorist”.

Ah. There’s yet another Sinn Fein connection.

McGeough spent four years in jail in Germany after being arrested on the Dutch-German border in 1988 with AK-47s in his car, and was then extradited to the US where he received a three-year sentence for IRA gunrunning and seeking to buy surface-to-air missiles to shoot down British helicopters.

He was rearrested in Northern Ireland two years ago in connection with the attempted murder in 1981 of an Ulster Defence Regiment reservist and bailed.

McGeough campaigned against the Lisbon treaty last year when the Irish voted no. The Irish edition of the Sun, fiercely anti-Lisbon, gave prominent coverage to a poll conducted by the Hibernian a week before last year’s vote.

I sincerely hope the Treaty is approved. I don’t have a vote as I don’t live in Ireland anymore. But if only to remove the smirk from the collective faces of Farage and Gerry Adams, not to ignore the potential to upset the many toe-rags in Coir, I hope Irish voters can see beyond the hate, the misinformation and the undiluted bullshit that these characters have been spewing these past few months. I hope also that voters don’t use the referendum as an opportunity to give Brian Cowen and his government the severe kicking they deserve.

Hold your noses, vote “yes” and then take them down at the next election.

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