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Guest Voice

Ireland Snubs the EU

By Conor O’Clery

Irish voters, making up a fraction of one per cent of the population of the European Union, have rejected a crucial EU reform treaty by a narrow margin, leaving itself isolated in Europe and the European Union in crisis.

The result stopped in its tracks an accord hammered out in Lisbon, Portugal, to enable European institutions to cope with a rapid EU growth to 27 countries with a population of 495 million people.

The outcome, announced yesterday afternoon, of the referendum held Thursday dismayed and angered governments across Europe, which saw their tortuous negotiations to make EU institutions more efficient thrown into disarray.

The Lisbon Treaty had to be ratified by every country before coming into effect and EU leaders must now find some other way for European integration to go ahead. Twenty-six countries left ratification to their national governments and only Ireland, with 3.05 million voters, staged a referendum, as required under its constitution.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will now face furious domestic pressure to hold a once-promised referendum rather than continue to ratify the treaty through parliament. Ireland can only hope that Britain will also reject the treaty: a small country saying no is a problem for the small country, but a big country saying no is a problem for Brussels.

The vote is a slap in the face for the French Government whose foreign minister Bernard Kouchner warned Ireland on Monday that it would be very troubling “that we would not be able to count on the Irish who counted a lot on Europe's money.” Such comments, implying that an ungrateful Ireland would be cast adrift, sounded like bullying to many Irish voters.

What has left veteran European observers scratching their heads in genuine bewilderment is that Ireland of all countries should rebuff the EU, as membership of the European club has allowed Ireland to prosper mightily and to escape from the shadow of Britain, its former ruler.
The result confounded and infuriated the Irish political establishment, which had thrown all its energies into securing a “Yes” vote. The government, the major opposition parties and the biggest labor and farming unions all campaigned for ratification.

It also confounded Ireland’s leading gambling company, Paddy Power PLC, which was so convinced of the outcome it prematurely paid out winnings to people who bet on a ‘Yes’ vote, leaving the company left with “egg on our faces” as a spokeswoman put it.

Irish prime minister Brian Cowen put his personal prestige on delivering a “Yes” vote and is also left with egg on his face. Seemingly unaware how compromised the Irish political class has been by corruption allegations and failures to cope with internal problems such as a dysfunctional health service, he and other government ministers erected posters on every Irish lamp post with their portraits, urging a “Yes” vote.

Opponents of the treaty in Europe cheered on the Irish ‘No” campaign, and British newspapers circulating in Ireland, like the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times, campaigned against ratification, leading to accusations from the “Yes” campaign that Britain's Eurosceptics were waging a proxy war in Ireland.

For the anti-EU Europeans, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much been done, by so few, for so many, as the Irish have scuppered a treaty which would likely have been rejected by the electorates of several other member countries.

One reason for the “No” vote was that the 287-page document was so full of bureaucratic language that people did not know what they were voting for. The treaty proved impenetrable even to legal experts: the chairman of the independent Irish Referendum Commission, Iarfhlaith O Neill, was embarrassingly unable to answer a technical point at a press conference last week.

In an ill-tempered national debate, both sides threw around accusation of lies and distortions.
A free-market organisation called Libertas formed by Irish businessman Declan Ganley argued that the country’s low corporate tax rate, crucial for international investment, would be jeopardized by the treaty.

The pro-life lobby expressed fears that a loss of sovereignty could mean the end of Ireland’s strict anti-abortion law.

The minor opposition party, Sinn Fein, stirred up concerns that Ireland would lose its cherished neutrality and become part of a militarized Europe. Some voters said they thought they were voting against conscription.

Opponents also argued that Ireland’s influence in Europe would be weakened through the loss its commissioner on the European Commission, the de facto European cabinet, for five out of every 15 years.

The government rejected all these claims, and pointed out that every EU member country would lose their commissioner for similar periods. But as Irish radio presenter Pat Kenny put it, the “No” campaign had all the best tunes.

Anticipating the outcome, the Irish Times thundered its disapproval on Saturday in an editorial headed “Are we out of our minds?” Seeking an explanation for a likely defeat it reflected on “a strange public mood out there that is anti-establishment, anti-authority and anti-politician.”
Ireland’s foreign minister Micheál Martin admitted the result showed a disconnect between EU institutions and its people. Martin, who has to face his fellow EU foreign ministers on Monday to explain what happened, admitted “There was a general sense we were giving away too much power.”

Ireland may try again as it did with a previous EU treaty when it held two referenda in 2001 and 2002 to get a “Yes” vote, but such a move would only confirm the argument that European democracy means everyone agreeing to what the bureaucrats decide.

Conor O'Clery is former chief foreign correspondent of The Irish Times, Ireland's leading national newspaper.

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Comments (147)

John Moran:

Well, if the socialistic and internationalist EU wants to play hard ball, and treat ireland like a rebel colony (sounds familiar?) then be my guest. It has happened before (mixed with religious, cultural, and political elements). If Sinn Fein and the parties who championed Irish independence in every aspect from the UK want to abandon their primary reason for being created, let them. That means their day is done for the Irish.

it is evident that the Irish population and the political elite are two worlds apart. it seems, historically, it always has. If we had a sham democracy like some Latin American country, where democracy is manipulated for the elite's purpose, the results would be different. But there is a referendum instead, direct democracy if you will, and the people are free to express their decisions by vote.

Irish -- Be not afraid!

P Coleman:

I'm proud to be Irish, and thank God for the result. I distibuted No Campaign leaflets door to door on crutches, and did it to save my country from the communists, or who do you think these land-grabbers are; disguised as the EU/UN? Ireland is a Democratic, sovereign nation, with the right, under God, according to our Constitution, to be self-governing. For 800 years we have been fighting off the foreigners who invaded, and took over our country, making our lives hell on earth. Thousands of our brave men & women gave their lives for our freedom, and now, because our so-called leaders, have so steeped themselves in corruption, and lies that we are expected to betray those who died for our freedom.This has nothing to do with Commsioners; nothing to do with getting a better deal for Ireland. It is to do with remaining a self-governing, Gaelic Nation. The EU have taken more from us than they have given; it's all a fairy-tale. We lost our Corrib Oil and Gas find; we lost our fishing rights; our right to farm as we have done when we owned our own land; we cannot even move to the rural areas because they want us in the towns where they can control us,and now they want to privatise our ESB, worth billions to the government every year all our rights have been taken away from us. We, the people are not stupid, but we, who are truly, Gaelic Irish, are angry. We told them No to Nice, and we were tricked at Nice 2 by the Voting Machines; you could say this our revenge for not listening to our Democratic Vote. We are Irish, and we want to stay Irish, and do not want to be absorbed by Europe - we would be much worse off than we were during our long, tortured history of foreigh occupation. Our "leaders" have lost touch with God, with Nationhood, and with their own people, and if another Referenum is forced upon us, we will say No again, and we add our voice to the voice of James Connolly, as he stood on the steps of the GPO in Dublin in 1916, and bravely shouted - NO SURRENDER. Eire go Brath. God save Ireland.


When Roman civilization was collapsing, Irish monks saved Western classics and laid a foundation for reinjecting Europe with the gifts of thoughtful reflection handed on by the Greeks, the Romans, the Jews, and early Christian thinkers.

for dumb uneducated idiots like you:

Europe is much bigger then Ireland and Britain

delia og:

Saw some of Cóir's materials over there - really first class stuff, reached out to people on lost of issues. Well done - go on the Irish

Dan Ross - Missouri:


When Roman civilization was collapsing, Irish monks saved Western classics and laid a foundation for reinjecting Europe with the gifts of thoughtful reflection handed on by the Greeks, the Romans, the Jews, and early Christian thinkers.

Now they rise once again to save Europe from plunging down a path of darkness lit by the "black light" of post-modern elitists who, in the name of protecting individual rights, are setting up a system of government that will inevitably disempower and objectify individiuals, their families, and even their cultures.

God bless the Irish! We thank you for your wisdom!

Bad day for the EU but even worse for Ireland:

In a democracy proposals should be debated and passed on their merits and unfortunately the Lisbon treaty was complex and opaque making it very difficult for even some legal experts to understand.

The Lisbon Treaty is a treaty between governments to amend the workings of the EU; it is quirk of the Irish constitution that in all of the 27 member countries it had to be put to a referendum (18 of the 27 EU member states have ratified it.)

This allowed the Libertas NO campaign to make all sorts of ludicrous claims as to what passing this Treaty would entail.

Now there is the perception and the reality in other EU countries regarding the Irish No vote.

On both counts the anti-Lisbon vote was against the interests of Ireland and the European Union will move without us.

How does it look when we grabed billions in EU funding since it joined in 1973 with our 'poor mouth", and then turn around a give them the two finger salute?

Thirty years of hard work in shaping a favourable opinion and a positive image and good will toward Ireland as successful, small a pro European nation in Brussels has been squandered.

As for "civic pride" more blarney from a “jackeen” that owes his very right to work in Germany to the EU!

The Irish voter turnout was a meager 52% of eligible voters, quite low by Irish standards, and actually similar to voter turn outs in the United States of American (which can be less) which are often run on gross simplifications and caricature, come to think of it quite similar to the tactics of the Anti-Lisbon campaign.

Don't expect any sympathy from the EU as ECB interest rates go higher, farm supports are gutted, structural funding dry up and foreign investors have second thoughts all while Ireland enters a recession.

The best thing the Taoiseach could do would be to resign and call a general election with all the main political parties which back the treaty to campaign for it again.

Let’s see how many of the electorate really wants to elect the Christian Solidarity Party, Sinn Fein and the Brit interloper Declan Ganley to the run the country and the Irish economy.


As an Irishman happily living in Germany i was non too pleased to see my Berliner Zeitung morning newspaper's headline read;

"The Irish vote against Europe"

We are being villified as being somehow anti-European and, as one member of the Bundesrat quantly put it, the irish "duped Europe".. well! Aue contraire, mein lieber Herr! The Irish are amongst the most pro Europeans. Similar to our American cousins, we have a stong sense of civic pride and take our civic responsibilities seriously.


Jan Smajic: "Elected representatives exist so they can act on the behalf of their constituents, protecting their interests concerning matters that tend to be beyond the scope of comprehension of the average voter and such a decision was of that nature."

What planet do you live on and if these are matters that tend to be beyond the scope of comprehension of the average voter they should damn well be voted down.

T'is a Great Day for the Irish!

Lisbon - Yes, No, and in fact:

Yes, No, and in fact

Did the Lisbon Treaty endanger Ireland’s tax regime?

The Yes side says:

All parts of the Yes campaign say that the Lisbon Treaty has no implications for taxation policy. It remains an ‘‘exclusive competency’’ of the member states – Brussels-speak for something that the EU is not allowed to interfere with. All the political parties (bar Sinn Fein), the European Commission, Ibec and the Business Alliance for Europe say that Lisbon has no implications for our taxation rates - though, obviously, they have a stake in the argument. More persuasively, representative bodies of accountants and tax advisers, as well as the OECD, say that Ireland’s tax rates remain outside the influence of Brussels, with or without the treaty. Even Laszlo Kovacs, the EU commissioner for taxation, who is pushing the plan for a common corporate tax base across Europe, last week confirmed to Labour’s Eamon Gilmore that the Irish veto would remain in place after Lisbon.

The No side said:

The Libertas campaign bus is adorned with the slogan: ‘‘Don’t let Brussels set our tax rates’’. The group’s posters warn that the treaty could allow Brussels to alter the Irish taxation regime though the back door. Coir, associated with the antiabortion group Youth Defence, has printed thousands of posters which advise a No vote in order to ‘‘Keep taxes low’’. Libertas also argues that the European Court of Justice could decide that Ireland’s low corporation tax is a barrier to competition and therefore illegal under EU treaties. The group also warns about plans by the taxation commissioner, backed by the French who hold the next presidency of the EU, to introduce a common corporate tax base. ‘‘The fact is that business can, and should, put a stop to CCCTB (Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base) with a No vote,’’ Libertas says.

In fact:

Ireland’s taxation position is not affected by the treaty, as the independent Referendum Commission has said. Suggestions that Lisbon spells the end of Ireland’s ability to set low corporate tax rates are simply wrong. The other countries of Europe - some of them with even greater sensitivity about their tax rates - concur with this. The European Commission is preparing proposals for a common corporate tax base which could have implications for how taxes are calculated across the EU, though Ireland cannot be forced to take part. As Commission President Jose¤ Manuel Barroso confirmed in an interview with The Sunday Business Post, a group of countries could proceed with the CCCTB under the enhanced cooperation procedures. But that is unaffected by Lisbon.

How will the Lisbon Treaty affect employment rights?

The Yes side said:

The EU has been of enormous benefit to Irish workers, and all of the social legislation which has improved working conditions - including equal pay, better holidays, health and safety in the workplace, limits on working time, parental leave and anti-discrimination provisions came from Europe - says the Yes side. The treaty contains new social values that improve workers rights by enshrining the Charter of Fundamental Rights in EU law. The charter will make the right to collective action and to bargain collectively with employers a Europe-wide right. Consequently, the treaty cannot be used to interfere with the fundamental right of workers to take strike action to protect their livelihoods. Irish trade unions do not currently have the right to collective bargaining enshrined in law, and there is no automatic guarantee that the charter’s rights will apply in all instances in domestic law. But if the treaty is passed, says the Yes side, trade unions will be in a stronger position to negotiate with the government on extending to Irish workers the rights that will apply to most other EU countries.

The No side said:

The EU is headed in a neo-liberal direction which favours big business over employment rights and should not be given additional powers. The No side points to three key judgments by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which they say show that the pendulum has swung against workers’ rights and that the EU’s political direction has moved away from ‘social Europe’. Judgments in the Laval and Viking cases accepted that workers had the right to organise in unions, but raised questions about the right to undertake industrial action where it conflicted with the provision of goods and services. In the Ruffert case, it found that a Polish subcontractor operating inGermany was entitled to pay workers less than half the agreed minimum wage for the German construction sector, as the right to provide unrestricted services tookpriority over collective wage agreements.They also say that, since Irish law does not guarantee workers the right to collective bargaining, the treaty’s charter would have no application to Irish workers on this matter.

In fact:

Recent ECJ decisions appear to favour the free movement of goods and services over the rights of labour. Nonetheless, the overall thrust of the court on social justice issues has been positively disposed to employee rights, particularly in relation to equal pay. Failure to apply the Lisbon Treaty’s charter to Irish workers would be a matter for Irish law, the government and trade unions to negotiate in the context of social partnership talks, rather than a shortcoming of the treaty. It appears likely that the Labour Court will refer a test case dispute on collective bargaining rights to the ECJ to adjudicate on the applicability of the charter in domestic law.

Does the Lisbon Treaty endanger Ireland’s neutrality?

The Yes side said:

There is no threat to Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality. The Yes side points to the declaration secured after the defeat of the first Nice referendum and the constitutional amendment that took place after that. Ireland cannot participate in any military action without a UN mandate, a proposal from the government and approval by the Dail. The treaty will enhance European co-operation in peacekeeping activities, the Yes side says, not promote militarism. Pointing to the warnings given by No campaigners in previous referendums they ask: ‘‘Exactly how many times can we lose our neutrality?”

The No side said:

The treaty enhances and deepens a military role for the EU and Ireland’s participation in it. For many of the left-wing groups campaigning against the treaty - groups such as the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Pana), the Irish Anti-War Movement and the People’s Movement, neutrality is the big issue of the campaign - not just a political issue, but a moral question. ‘‘Lisbon is all about creating a centralised, militarised, neo-liberal EU superstate allied to the US and engaged in wars all over the world,’’ wrote Roger Cole of Pana recently.

In fact:

Because there isn’t general agreement on what Ireland’s neutrality means, it’s not really possible to say if it is undermined or not. Some see the use of Shannon by US forces as having ended Irish neutrality, but others believe that it doesn’t affect our traditional stance. What is indisputable is that, in recent years, defence co-operation has become an increasing - though still relatively minor - part of the EU’s operations. Lisbon continues this process with a provision that creates the possibility for ‘‘permanent structured co-operation’’ among states wishing to have it. However, Ireland is under no obligation to join any such arrangements. Currently, the Irish army cannot participate in overseas missions unless the ‘‘triple lock’’ – UN mandate, government decision, Dail approval - is satisfied, and this will not change if the Lisbon Treaty is passed.

Will Lisbon lead to the legalisation of abortion?

The Yes side said:

Europe is not interested in the Irish abortion debate. Besides, the Maastrict protocols are still in place. Opposition from the hardcore wing of the pro-life movement has been a feature of every European referendum campaign, they say, but abortion hasn’t yet been foisted on Ireland yet. Most pro-life people agree, they say. However, nobody is happier than the Yes side when anti-abortion campaigners get into the debate. Because the Charter of Fundamental Rights only has effect where EU law is being administered, it has no effect on Irish law relating to abortion.

The No side said:

Many of the groups campaigning for a No vote are wary of making an issue of abortion, conscious that middle-ground voters who harbour doubts about the treaty could be nervous about aligning themselves with some elements of the pro-life movement, such as Youth Defence. However, Coir, a group which is fronted by at least one former member of Youth Defence and which shares an address with that organisation, has claimed that the Lisbon Treaty would lead to the legalisation of abortion, gay marriage, hard drugs and prostitution. Libertas says that it is not campaigning on the issue of abortion but it has raised the possibility that it could lead to Ireland’s strict regime on abortion being compromised. No campaigners say that because European law will override Irish law, the European Court could rule that abortion must be permitted here.

In fact:

In areas where the states have agreed through treaties to share common laws, EU law has always has primacy over national law. If member states could cite the superiority of national law when confronted with EU directives, then the EU would be unable to function. Common standards and rules could not exist. This has been the case since 1972. Generally, abortion is not permitted in Ireland, and there is specific protection for the unborn written into the Irish Constitution. The protocol to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 explicitly recognises that nothing in any European treaty can affect the Irish constitutional position on abortion. The Referendum Commission has issued a statement in these terms, and the Catholic bishops - not normally known as backsliders on abortion - have agreed. The guarantees with regard to abortion that Ireland enjoys might never have happened were there not a strong awareness among pro-life campaigners and politicians that Ireland’s position could have been subject to European challenge - but the protocol is there now, and it is unaffected by the Lisbon Treaty.

Will Ireland lose its commissioner?

The Yes side said:

Having 27 commissioners doesn’t make sense - there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. On Romanian accession, for instance, the new Romanian member of the Commission, Leonard Orban, was given responsibility for multilingualism. The rotation of commissioners will ensure that large and small countries are treated on the basis of strict equality. The No side says:

Though the theory is that commissioners leave their national allegiances at the door, in fact each state’s commissioner is a vital national champion at the highest decision making level in the EU. They are even more important for small states, as the big countries have inherent clout anyway. The Lisbon proposal means that Ireland would be deprived of a vital voice for five out of every 15 years, which would seriously damage Ireland’s national interest, say most of the No side.

In fact:

Ireland does face the loss of a commissioner for five out of every 15 years under the Lisbon Treaty, but so does everybody else. If Lisbon is defeated, the existing position, where every member state has a commissioner, will expire in 2009 - a provision of the Nice Treaty. Though no mechanism has been agreed by the council, this would have to happen in the next year and a half, and must be agreed unanimously by the prime ministers. The number of commissioners will be reduced in 2014 if Lisbon is passed, and in 2009 if it is defeated.

Does the Lisbon Treaty weaken Ireland’s voice in the EU?

The Yes side said:

A new system of qualified majority voting (QMV) is needed to ensure that an expanded EU with 27 member states functions more effectively. This new ‘‘double majority’’ system will give smaller countries protections and prevent three larger countries grouping together to support a decision of the Council of Ministers. The double majority system stipulates that 55 per cent of the member states must agree a decision of the Council of Ministers, which accounts for 15 of a total 27 member states. Additionally, 65 per cent of the EU population must support a decision. The treaty will also expand the number of areas - including energy, transport, humanitarian aid and the election of the European Council president - where QMV, rather than unanimity, applies to increase efficiency of decision-making at EU level. There is an opt-out clause in immigration, asylum and justice matters. The Referendum Commission has stated that the veto is retained in key decisions including taxation, World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, the constitutional ban on abortion, neutrality and common foreign and security policy. Additionally, national parliaments will have eight weeks to vet EU proposals and offer an opinion.

The No side said:

The treaty’s new voting system puts more emphasis on member states’ population, and has the effect of increasing the weighted vote of larger member states - France, Germany, Italy and Britain - while reducing the weighted vote of smaller countries. Currently, a decision based on QMV requires 255 weighted votes of a total 345,which is almost 74 per cent of the total. Under the system, Germany’s relative voting weight on the Council of Ministers will double from 8 per cent to 17 per cent, and the voting weight of France, Britain and Italy will increase from 8 per cent to 12 per cent. Ireland’s weighted vote will more than halve from2 per cent to 0.8 per cent. They say the double majority system means Germany and France can still band together with two other countries to forma blocking minority against decisions by the Council of Ministers. The No side also feels the EU is extending into more and more policy areas, while the threshold for a blocking minority has come down. It is removing the veto from more policy areas – the No side claims 60 areas are removed, while the Referendum Commission states it is 24 areas.

In fact:

While the Referendum Commission states that the new double majority voting system is not directly comparable with the current system, it is recognised that the current weighted voting system gives more representation to smaller countries than the new population-weighted system. The relative loss of influence will to some extent be counterbalanced by a double-majority clause. The new system permits four countries including Germany and France to take a blocking minority to decisions of the Council of Ministers and extends the number of areas in which the veto is removed. Most decisions are currently reached by forming deals with other member states, and not by member states threatening to forma bloc to veto deals. Nonetheless, the power to employ a veto is integral to consensual decision-making. The political imperative to change the voting system to increase efficiency suggests that it may become more influential in speeding up policy decisions after the Lisbon Treaty. Aspects of the treaty may be amended without a referendum. However, this will be based on advice sought by the government from the Attorney General, and must conform with the constitution.

Can we send it back?

The Yes side said:

Following the tortuous construction of the Constitutional Treaty - and its defeat - Lisbon has been agreed by 27 member states. It’s a careful balancing act where everyone accepts compromises while protecting their vital national interests. If Ireland rejects the treaty, reopening negotiations between all the member states is simply not feasible. The treaty will fall, the Yes side says, and Ireland’s position in Europe will be severely damaged - with severe consequences for Ireland’s interests in EU negotiations. Last week, Dermot Ahern said it was ‘‘ludicrous’’ to say Ireland could go back and renegotiate the treaty.

The No side says:

Both Libertas and Sinn Fein say we can send the treaty back and demand a better deal for Ireland, citing several demands that Ireland should make in new negotiations. These range from narrow demands for a protocol on taxation to a wholesale renegotiation on such issues as the number of commissioners. Other No groups say that the entire thrust of the European project should be changed. Their slogan is: ‘‘Another Europe is possible’’. But even if the present treaty were renegotiated, they would be unlikely to support it.

In fact:

It’s impossible to know if a renegotiation is possible and, if it was, whether the outcome would be favourable to Ireland. Most people in Brussels say Ireland’s interests would be severely damaged; but most of them are pro-Lisbon. What we can say is that the EU will not cease to function if the treaty is defeated; it has, after all, managed to exist without it in recent years. However, most people accept that Ireland has benefited greatly from being an enthusiastic participant in the EU. Should Ireland reject the treaty, that status will unquestionably be altered.

Roger Thomson:

Heavens, every conspiracy theorist going is thumping his chest and bragging about his Irish granny and what a proud blow for liberty the Irish have struck against the faceless bureaucrats.

Some interesting neutral comment here


Sometimes the truth is rather prosaic.

thems some feckin' eejits:

"It ran contrary to the values of democracy and recognition of constituent, subsidiary entities that are enshrined in the US constitution (through, for example, the provision of a popularly elected president and a state-based Senate)"
Well let’s talk about the “American style democracy” everybody talks about it but nobody would actually want to do it!
How many of the worlds democracies run on the US model of executive presidency? Sure the world might look up to the Unites States for ideals in freedom but nobody would seriously want to actually run a “democracy” like the US.
But certainly the Anti-Lisbon was run just like American style campaign fueled with outright misinformation, distortion, scare tactics and secretive funding resulting in the Anti-Lisbon campaign winning with a large share of the ultra-nationalist (red states) working class (blue-collar) and ultra-Catholics (evangelicals) who won with 53% No vote to 47% for the Yes with only 53% of the electorate actually turning out! And some Irish wonder how President Bush won two elections?!!
For proof enough of the misinformed on the anti-EU camp, the last time I checked the office of the US President was not popularly elected! But through the process of the "electoral college" which as we have seem recently can elected the President of United States even without winning the popular vote.

As for subsidiary within the EU there are the

"European Council"

which is a twice annual meeting of the Heads of State of all EU members,

And the

"Council of Ministers" an Executive Body drawn up from the twenty-seven EU national ministers represented with one minister per state.

These two bodies are analogous to the US Senate.
(Which of course is not strictly democratic since the votes of North Dakota’s 1/2 million people count as equal to that of 30 million Californians as far as Senate representation goes)?

The last time I checked "elected representatives" are elected to represent and negotiate such as treaties between national governments.

How is this undemocratic?

Do the anti-Europeans want a plebiscite every time a new EU directive is proposed?

As far as analogies to Nazi Germany just goes to show how much Murdoch’s British tabloids have seeped into the minds of some the Irish electorate.

It is little cart before the horse would nt you say?

The one thing that has prevented conflict these past fifty years (asides from American and Russian military hegemony) and will forever prevent conflict between Poland and Germany is their membership within the European Union;

The same will be true for Bosnia Croatia and Serbia someday. The EU is not perfect but it’s the only game in town and your “in” or sidelined.

Its far better Europeans come to consenus within the EU rather than be divided and subject to the stategic interests of the United States, Russia and China.

The idea of Ireland as a totally independent economically self sufficient sovereign 32 county Irish Republic was a 19th century romantic dream, and is as much out touch with 21st century realities as the Jacobite cause was in the age of the French Revolution.


The Irish vote on Lisbon was a case of democracy working to reject an anti-democratic proposal, presented undemocratically, and it vindicates what often may seem a naive belief that when the general public is consulted, they can make very serious decisions very well.

This proposal was part of an ongoing trend in EU planning, whereby a small group of political leaders and bureaucrats has tended to arrogate to itself the authority and image of a State, without any sense of obligation to obtain the democratic mandate that makes such authority legitimate. The thrust of this draft was to limit the voice of small states by enhancing that of bigger ones.

At the same time, through creation of a "presidency" and a "foreign affairs" service, it would give still further powers to an unelected bureaucracy, which judging by past experience can be expected to favour the interest of big business, and to show very little insight or sensitivity to the concerns of less-powerful constituencies.

While this Treaty would give powers to EU institutions that would increasingly resemble those of the US federal bodies, it ran contrary to the values of democracy and recognition of constituent, subsidiary entities that are enshrined in the US constitution (through, for example, the provision of a popularly elected president and a state-based Senate) and make it such an effective basis for joint action.

Alongside of these substantive problems, the manner in which this was advanced displays a similar contempt for public opinion.

This "Treaty" is essentially the same "Constitution" that was rejected by popular votes in France and Netherlands four years ago. It is an extraordinary piece of effrontery to try to ram this through a second time, essentially unchanged, but this time relying on Parliamentary ratification precisely because its supporters don't want to be bothered with consulting or persuading those whom the Treaty affects. It is very likely that, if they were asked, a majority of European voters today would be just as unenthusiastic as the Irish electorate that alone among the public of all EU members actually had the opportunity to express their views.

And the kinds of arguments that were addressed to the Irish voters in the run-up to the referendum suggest the same kind of arrogance, both foreign politicians' outrageous threats that Irish voters “had better approve, or else...”; and national leaders efforts to "guilt-trip" voters into accepting out of "gratitude" for what the EU had done for them in the past. Ireland is a co-equal and voluntary partner in a multi-State experiment in collaboration; it is not a wayward child to be reprimanded or intimidated into doing what others know is best for it. Never was there any sign of a respectful and serious effort to explain to voters what was in this for them - which is the obvious starting point if any sovereign people is being asked to voluntarily accept a new legal relationship to a larger body.

Hopefully, this vote may be taken seriously as a challenge to substantive problems of a democratic deficit, and a rejection of efforts to side-line public opinion, rather than merely eliciting further efforts to brow-beat and hood-wink voters to swallow what they have now twice clearly rejected. There is plenty of enthusiasm in Ireland and in Europe for closer collaboration, but the question should be posed seriously. If presented respectfully with thoughtful proposals, perhaps including an elected President or a State-based Senate, the Irish -- and European -- publics might respond quite differently than they did this week.

Tom (Ireland):

I voted no. I didn't think that Europe should be given even more power. Now that I see the venom of the pro-Europeans and their anti-democratic attitude, I'm doubly glad I voted no and I will vote no again when they present the same EU demands again in another form. If they want to rule us, why don't they just march in, instead of insisting that we must pretend to say yes.

As the European Empire begins to look like the Fourth Reich in its mentality am I wrong in thinking that 1936-39 was the era of using false plebescites to cover Empire-building?

'How dare the Irish in 2008' begins to echo 'how dare the Poles' in 1939.


The No campaign was pretty much a proxy fight by Brit Euroskpectics, Sinn Fein ultra-nationalist, fundamentalist Catholics, paranoid pacifist and folks who were genuinly confused and misinformed.

Its ironic that the anti-Lisbon "Liberatas" organisation talked about the loss of Irish netrality when its British founders are part of the US military supply chain through their companies.

Its ironic that they claimt eh EU would treaten Irish corporate tax rates when it was the EU that forces the Irish government to harmonize the difference between the rates for domestic and export industries under EU trade rules.

Its ironic that we had the British tabloid press in Ireland urging a note note to mainatin Irish independence.

Its ironic since had Sinn Fein/IRA had its way the island of Ireland would have gone the same way as Bosnia with massive ethnic clensing.

Its ironic that the ultra-catholics denounces the treaty because of fears the introduction of abortion when even the Irish bishops denounced such misinformation and the Pope himself seem to favour the Yes campaign when he spoke of Irish contribution to European civilisation.

Its ironic the misinformation by leftie pacifist regarding common EU defence arrangements since the status quo allows for American military hegemony over western Europe.

The Yanks and their Brits poodles dont want to see an more unified and assertive EU (nor of course does Russia) Good to have a common market access but thats about all.

We saw how the Yanks picked off and divided Europeans over Iraq, missile defense, trade etc all the better to maintain their geo-stategic dominance.

Do you think the French and Germans publics would have voted for the European Coal and Steel pact back in the 1950s? The EU is founded on and functions on treaties between elected governments not by the popular vote.

If the popular sentiment was prime we probably have had several more wars in Europe by now.

Had the EU not existed today European nations would all have closed borders with heavily protected markets, lumbering state owned industries,restricted travel and immigration and be far more ultra-nationlist, hostile and xenophobic.

THe EU project will still proceed two steps forward and one step back and in a century the EU will like Switzerland but of the globe. A peaceful and properous conferderation of European states build on consesus and compromise.


Masonic conspiracy failed. The garbage elitist in Brusselles showe the real intentions to go ahead with their agenda. These Irish people said NO and still the fricking masons don't want to give up.After this blow what else will they come with to enthrone the new order government a single religion and so on.All of us should be aware.

We have a voice:

The EU Empire: Lisbon Treaty

The Irish people are at a crossroads. They can choose to remain a relatively young democratic nation or become a province of an empire once again.


The Irish have chosen!


Joe in Ireland wrote " It was poorly delivered by the EU, and looked suspicious in all the official's hands. "

The people of Europe don't have a clue where their leadership will lead them. It's a preparation for WW3 and the EU is like a big frying pan. The silent motto is "join and be fried later".

Congratulations Ireland for saying NO. But the EU won't stop here. It will return just as it did in other countries when the people voted NO but was later overuled by their parliaments.

Andrew Vincent Alder:

Several commentators have referred to me and my comments regarding the Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty. To respond to a few of their points: 1) There is no question but that many aspects of EU governance are bureaucratic and, indeed, wasteful. Due to a decades-old indulgence to de Gaulle, for example, the European Parliament ports itself on a regular basis from its base in Brussels to Strasbourg, France at a cost of some 600 million Euro per year, a ridiculous expenditure of which European taxpayers are justifiably resentful. 2) Likewise, there is also no question but that the EU’s administrative branch, the Commission, particularly in the past, has shown itself possessed of a’tin ear’ with regard to how it is perceived by the citizens of the Member States; the Lisbon Treaty curbs the power of the Commission and makes it more responsive as an entity. 3) Anyone who follows Member State politics is very aware of the fact that national governments routinely use Brussels as a scapegoat for their own shortcomings; failings in the EU structure are often created, or exacerbated, to enhance domestic political policies and reputations. 3) Globalization, and the loss of traditional internal controls that characterize the phenomenon are, indeed, a matter of concern to Europeans, Americans and to many others. But the rush of global capital to the lowest common denominator is a contemporary reality, one that is affecting, and changing, every society. Blaming Brussels for the loss of Member State “sovereignty” is both wrong and short-sighted. However imperfectly, the EU is attempting to maximize Europe’s collective role in the world. Strength in numbers is not merely a slogan, it is a fact. 4) By any measure the standard of living of the citizenry of every Member State has risen since the accession of each into the Union, and the benefit to the Irish of EU membership has been among the most dramatic. 5) Only the most naïve would doubt that there are elements of the American polity which seek to ensure a Europe that is strong and stable enough to serve useful geo-political and trade functions but simultaneously desire a Europe that cannot aggressively chart a foreign policy disfavored by the US. To ask for proof of such machinations is akin to asking for Bush administration for confirmation of the details of extraordinary rendition.

On balance the growth of the European Union has been a net plus. It is an entity borne out of the wreckage of a post-WWII Europe, one that continues to evolve. Americans can pine for the hegemony of the 1950s and 60s, but that world is gone. So change happens for everyone. Europeans, however inelegantly, are forging a new way in the world, and is so doing are reshaping themselves and the rest of us.


Joe in Ireland wrote " It was poorly delivered by the EU, and looked suspicious in all the official's hands. "

The people of Europe don't have a clue where their leadership will lead them. It's a preparation for WW3 and the EU is like a big frying pan. The silent motto is "join and be fried later".

Congratulations Ireland for saying NO. But the EU won't stop here. It will return just as it did in other countries when the people voted NO but was later overuled by their parliaments.

Citizen of the post-American world:

Well done, lads.

We, the people are the sovereign.

Let the people speak and decide!

Long live Irish democracy!

brian mcc, the arctic:

Such a small country has global impact. Why is that? Ireland is strategically located, a coastal island not yet having celebrated its centennial. 100 years of recovery and numbness from invasion and civil war.

Not to complicate the treaty of Lisbon, a 'yes' vote would have perhaps buried, while certainly making murky the waters for Irish independence.

The result of the poll reflects a collective consciousness of a fractured country; 26 counties in a free state, and 6 counties to the north where the forced marriage between 2 partners is teetering on divorce.

Joe in Ireland:

I don't like the fact that people are reacting like we're snubbing the EU. I'm pro-European, count myself as being a European and I voted no because I looked at what was asked of me. The Lisbon Treaty is self-amending. Any state would have to be crazy to allow a self-amending treaty to be ratified. It was poorly delivered by the EU, and looked suspicious in all the official's hands.

And while I would agree with many others that there are people out there resistant to change, to European ideas, etc, I don't think articles like this help. You're polarising the argument, and that won't bring us to any formative solution. The beautiful thing about a democracy is that it must move slowly. I like to think that we in Ireland served our European family well, and slowed things down enough today. And while we may get bad press, there are more important things at stake.

paul (Europhile):

With 27 nations and a necessity of consensus for everything, Europe is simply too big to move on. The EU should be formed only by its founders : France, Germany Italy and the Benelux(Belgium,the Netherlands and Luxembourg) with some differents agreements with other nations like the UK, Irland, Spain and others.
What is the common point between a Scott and a Greek by instance?: none.
Its time to reduce the paquet and let the nations who burded Eurosceptics to follow their own track without bothered the real Europe believers...

Embarrassed Irish Citizen:

Cheers to my fellow no-voting and abstaining citizens - we are now screwed. Don't ever expect to see us carry any weight in Europe again. There was nothing to fear from Lisbon. Now we have everything to fear. I voted yes. I am proud of Irish democracy and I respect the result. However, I am utterly embarrassed and ashamed that we are now rightly viewed as selfish and ingrateful by our fellow Europeans. When things start to slip down hill, which they will, remember that we did this to ourselves.

Ryan Haber:

It is important to remember that the majority of citizens opposed the Treaty of Lisbon before, when it was packaged as a European Constitution. The differences between the two are negligble, thus says Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown, and other leaders while speaking to their parliaments. In polls taken throughout Europe, there is still widespread and deeply felt opposition to it - and in a number of countries like Great Britain, apparently a majority. So why are their leaders so darn eager to cram it down their throats that they will repackage it as a treaty so that no plebiscites are needed?

Maybe people oppose it in Britain or Ireland as an expression of dissatisfaction with the way their national governments represent them. Or perhaps, they are dissatisfied with their national governments' representation of them on such issues.

So? What's the difference?

The point is that in a democracy leaders are to be somewhat responsible to the will of their constituents. If people in Ireland are willing to let their economy tank in order to live in Ireland rather than in Irengancany, in order to be governed from Dublin rather than from Brussels - so be it. They have that right. So have the people in ENGland, FrANCe, and GermANY. Kudos to the Irish Republic's government for recognizing that, in the face of the cold cynicism and political manipulations of other national governments.

The campaign advertisements in Ireland show a great deal. To sell a "Yes" supporters placed posters of their own visages, or of half-naked people and sexual innuendo promising enlarged "opportunities." Opponents, on the other hand, reminded citizens of the bravery and sacrifice of their grandparents to secure the right to control their own national destiny, and not to sell it overseas for the price of a couple melons in front of a pretty blonde's chest.

Leaders in Europe are trying to forge a new nation, a transethnic state to compete with the US and China. America was not forged in the same way as modern Europe - we shared a history of pilgrimage, exile from home, search for liberty, and common concerns from the outset. Europe, on the other hand, is being forged by the hands of very powerful and wealthy people who want only to increase their own wealth and power.

This is truly a case of the mouse that roared. Way to go, Ireland. Keep at home the rule you fought so long to bring there.


Freedom what a great word!:

I find it ironic you criticize Americans about commenting on this issue and then say at the end of your post Go Obama.

I don't know if media coverage is the same partial bias over there as here but a lot of Americans actually looking into the candidates find Obama is not what he is made out to be.

I don't presume to think that I know which politicians European countries should elect so I don't understand it I guess. In my opinion Americans, Europeans and other people around the world have a lot in common but devisive media and politicians forward their agendas by dividing and conquering.

Each of our nations has unique problems as well as common ones. One of the big problems plaguing health care and other facets of life in America is litigation. My understanding is litigation isn't as out of control in most European countries.

Once again hats off to Irish for this vote. I've read through some of the proposed treaty and although confusing I did see some things that I would be concerned with if I lived in Europe. I bet the no vote would represent a lot of voters as evidenced by French and Dutch the last time.

What if..?:

Irish fellows voted for no. What would the people of the other EU countries have would said if they had given a right to vote? Why don't we create a poll asking people of each country? AT least we can have and Idea, I'm sure Ireland wouldn't be the only one with the NO. Lets play the "If.." factor


Way to go Ireland!

Oh my!:

And with a huge Housing Bubble ready to explode...! You know! things can easily go downhill from here...

Richard Oakes:

Ireland voted to preserve the very same EU it benefited from so much. There is no moral obligation in accepting the benefits of union as currently constituted which requires accepting a radical change in said union, nor any logical connection between the two.

This is especially true since the Lisbon Treaty, in all major respects, is the same constitution rejected by the French and Dutch peoples. The EU, understood in democratic terms, is the people of the member states, not any specific set of institutions or politicians. The people of Ireland arguably owed it to the EU to reject the treaty, lest it be imposed on the people of France and the Netherlands against their expressed will.

Pathetic referundum:

People voting on a treaty they have not read, extreme-rights front groups fueling the No vote with a Goebbelsian propaganda, a pitiful Sinn Féin playing again the "B plan" card -vote No to allow us to discuss another treaty which will of course fit better our narrow views- etc. It was a pitiful day for Ireland.


Hurray for Ireland!

If you don't understand the terms of a treaty, and if officials cannot cogently explain it, that's a pretty good reason to reject it.

A NO vote was just a postponement in this case. The issue will come up again, and hopefully, the bureaucrats who work and act as the servants of the people will be able to explain it better.


This result has nothing to do with Ireland in particular; most other nations would also have rejected the treaty if they'd beeen allowed to have a say. So all of the sniping at "ungrateful" Irish is disingenuous. The real lesson here is that Europeans are not satisfied with the distant, unaccountable beaurocratic process that drives EU integration these days. That the beaurocrats didn't get this back when the previous treaty was rejected is made clear by their response: to draft yet another bloated, obscure treaty without public input, and demand that it be enacted with even less public approval. The entire process is backwards: you build a consensus, and then enshrine it in a treaty. You don't start with the treaty and then insist that people support it. Some serious thought needs to be put into the problem of connecting a supranational organization to the people, not just to their respective national governments. When the people of Europe are pushing their national governments for a treaty, rather than the other way around, is when this will succeed.

Bad idea!:

Well... with or without Ireland the Lisbon treaty will move on. So, the Irish are now one of the riches countries in the EU. Congratulations! Apparently many of the critics supporting the no were afraid of losing power in Brussels. But it would be a miracle if a country with 6 million inhabitants would have more power in the world if it were outside the EU.

Im Spartacvs:

I Love a Democracy!!!!!


I (also) live in Southern California, do business in the EU, and my Scots wife of 39 years, as well as my German son-in-law join me in a hearty "CONGRATULATIONS" to the Irish - well done!


Way to go Ireland! Love you for your independence and fortitude in the face of oppression. Not once but many times. If all the countries had the right of referendum this farce of democracy wouldn't have come close to passing. Keep up the fight for freedom and God bless Ireland.

Ashamed to be Irish:

The working class were fooled with spin, lies and misdirection.

A sad day for Ireland.


The article says that the populace of several other counries would reject the treaty if there were a referendum. Wouldn't that be just terrible. Thank God the Irish constitution requires a vote by the people. Ironic that the anti-EUers in Britian still have a chance to prevent loss of soverignity due to the action of a people they kept in thrall for centuries. Erin Go Bragh!


*GDP per capita, obviously...


As an Irish voter, I'm taken aback by the venom of the pro-treaty comments, and by the enthusiasm of people who think we were voting for Freedom or against the European project.

As I said before, I voted 'yes', with serious reservations about some of the provisions of the treaty, and without - despite my best efforts and 8 years of university education - fully understanding it.

I can see why other Irish people voted 'no', in all conscience, as Irish people and Europeans, because they didn't think it was in the interests of Ireland or Europe.

To suggest that Irish people in general are somehow anti-Europe is nonsense, but people voted 'no' for a whole host of specific reasons - not only because the detailed checks and balances and pro-democratic measures in the treaty weren't enough in the end to convince voters that their voices would be heard.

It's also worrying that people seem to think that Ireland owed it to the EU to vote yes because it was a beneficiary of EU aid - are you seriously in favour of vote-buying on a national scale?

Ireland is now a net contributor to the EU and has been more open than most EU states in allowing entry to migrant workers from accession states. And, in passing, EU financial assistance in building Irish infrastructure in the 90's was a major factor in Ireland's economic miracle (we now have the third highest GDP in Europe), but it wasn't the only one...

No one should be bullied:

If in the end really happens that Ireland will have to face solitude being isolated by the rest of Europe because of their NO on this Treaty, people around the world against bulling should stand and back this country that had the guts to be themselves saying their opinion. Is so sad to hear people say that Ireland is arrogant after all the help has been given in the past, I thought all the humanitarians works on helping countries to develop were unconditional. Do we really want a Europe that "helps" their countries on the condition of their silent content that can cost their soul? No thanks.


Mr McCall

You selfish amadan, all you can think of is your self and your partner. So narrow minded and simplistic. This was not a vote about you and your partner.

Wash, DC

Friend Across the Pond:

Doug McCall (Italy) @ 12:47 wrote: "Europe badly needed the human rights legislation enshrined to give fairness and equity to all Europeans."

OK, but there's nothing to keep them from bringing this up again. Perhaps a referendum on human rights legislation would pass if unencumbered with all the other crap which was in the referendum.

"As our relationship is same sex I have endured four years of hostility and exclusion at the hands of Italian authorities."

I'm saddened to hear that, and hope things improve for you. However, since I live in the most homophobic state in the USA you're probably way better off even in Italy than I am in my home state.


When given the chance, the French rejected the same thing under a different name: The European Constitution. I read the whole document and all it was about was creating a big central bank with control over everyone and answerable to no one like the US already has - the Fed. Yeah, like anyone wants their country to go the way the U.S. has gone? Not! (I'm a U.S. ex-pat, by the way, living in France.)

Some corrections to libertarian freedom:

All this big talk about freedom coming mostly from our American friends is nothing more than... big talk, just not to used less kind words. We can see where all those libertarian myths are doing to the USA. If the macho libertarian "ideals" would prevail the USA will end being a country almost without a government. Of course somebody still would have to set determine the big and the little policies for the little guys. And of course those would be - what else? - the big corporations. The results are not hard to predict: fewer people with social security, the price of medical insurance close to the moon. There would be some advantage too: everybody and their mother-in-law would be carrying guns at all time, to protect them... from big (non-existent) government, education would be very good for very few and null for the rest, the rich would be ever richer and the poor... well the poor would be emigrating to "socialist" Europe.
Now I think of that... congratulations, Americans, you are getting closer to the "libertarian" ideals. Too bad people all over the world are not listening to your advice... Heck! maybe even the run of the mill American is not listening to you either. Go Obama!


You mean "Go O'Bama"

Freedom what a great word!:

All this big talk about freedom coming mostly from our American friends is nothing more than... big talk, just not to used less kind words. We can see where all those libertarian myths are doing to the USA. If the libertarian "ideals" would prevail the USA will end being a country almost without a government. Of course somebody still will have to set determine the big and the little policies for the little guys. And of course those would be what else the big corporations. The results are not hard to predict: fewer people without social security, the price of medical insurance close to the moon. There would be some advantage too: everybody and their mother-in-law would be carrying guns at all time, to protect them... from big (non-existent) government, education would be very good for very few and null for the rest, the rich would be ever richer and the poor... well the poor would be emigrating to "socialist" Europe.
Now I thing of that... congratulations, Americans, you are getting closer to the "libertarian" ideals. Too bad people all over the world are not listening to your advice... Heck! maybe even the run of the mill American is not listening to you either. Go Obama!

Karl, Ireland:

There are alot of people on here who don't have a clue what they're talking about.I have paid alot of attention to the treaty and still do not for a second say that I completly understand it. It is simply stupid for Americans to criticise the Irish decision as they seem to think it is a pro/anti Europe vote when this is simply not the case.Issues such as neutrality, tax reforms and constitutional power come into the treaty along with countless other very important issues.


What surprises me is not the vote but the EU's "how dare you" reaction. A vote is sacred and should be understood for what it is, the will of the people. When the will of the people is considered by men to be a problem, bad things follow.

It would be a hypocritical if the EU decided to try to restict democratic freedoms such as the Irish referendum in order to build a democratic EU. People in the EU should be asking who only the Irish were allowed a referendum and a voice in building a new democracy.


God bless us Irish!

AEH, California:

Contrary to common belief it is in the interest of the United States to have a strong Europe as a partner. There is no one else left for us but adversaries.

The Irish voters have shown themselves to be ingrates who were saved from economic extinction only a few years ago by taking from European tax payers billions of dollars and other benefits that allowed them to stay in business.

What benefit has accrued to the EU tax payers from their generosity? Does the EU need Ireland? Give them the boot. Let them struggle, they are used to it.


Wow. So does anyone else at all see a problem in a democracy where people feel they should be able to tell others how to vote? We tell people they voted "incorrectly" if they do not vote as we would. Really? Think about how a democracy works. Even if others don't agree with you, it is their vote, not yours.


When the wee tail wags the dog, its good to see.
Democracy says... The vote is the vote..
Instead of saying they are wrong. "APPLAUD"
The people have spoken...
People here have said they are duped and cant think for them selvs
Wrong...they voted.. the EU lost...
Now what...


This is just my opinion but it seems there is a strong push to remove sovereign countries' rights under a global leadership. This is largely why I am glad the Irish voted against this.

My prediction would be if they treaty was signed (taking away European countries' sovereign rights) it would only be a matter of time when the political climate is friendly for both the EU and US to secede their sovereignty to the UN. The UN would then make decisions that would govern all of our nations and all of this would be done with the average person having no say in the matter.. That to me is very scary especially considering all of the corruption in the UN.

Zoltan B. Hungary:

Thank You Ireland! Respect for the last independent country in Europe!

Zoltan B. Hungary:

Thank You Ireland! Thank You for the last independent country on Europe!



Mr Pog mo Thoin, Singapore::

Mr Burns - you amadán - you are an insult to Mr Bush's intelligence and the rest of the free World too.


Cheers to the Irish who voted against this!

I do not like the increasing pressure by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to bypass voters concerns and tell us they need to tell us how to think and live.

I think it is appalling that after referendums failed before that the solution was to bypass the voters and have the politicians vote. That sounds like something American politicians would do also.

I am an American who has seen both political parties in this country taken over. I don't like some of the things European politicians do but I recognize there is a big difference between politicians and the people they represent. Hopefully the feeling is mutual. Good luck to you all! :)

Marc van Loo:

All this talk about "democracy prevailing" is rubbish. There's many things that concern all of us but that we don't get to vote on, and rightly so: we don't have a popular vote in the daily business of our national governments, we don't have a vote in our courts, and we don't have a vote in setting the central bank's interest rate, for a simple reason:
We'd be sure to screw it up, just like we've done now.

Not that I blame the Irish mind you: anytime you ask people to vote on something like this, they will likely vote against regardless of what the treaty says, simply because many people will use their vote to express dissatisfaction with their national government.

Of course the treaty would have been good for Europe, we all know that. All this fear-mongering about losing national identity bla bla bla is just that: a load of nonsense. It didn't happen before, and no-one would accept it now. Sure the treaty will have its flaws but you've got to start somewhere. Another lost chance for Europe to become a much-needed global player.


@Ireland is free again:

The EU was designed on our side of the pond to emulate the way we do business. By putting workers in a meat grinder and pissing on the leftovers while executives get massive pay increases for their strategy. You will find yourselves in our shoes if you follow us down the dark path of unmitigated greed. It seems that the Irish have their eyes open and at the very least want to think very hard about repercussions.

If global competition means work camps and restrictions on speech then you can feel free to move to China or Brazil and live in your business dream world.

Annie Laurie:

I am glad the Irish people have shown they have the will and guts to stand apart from the crowd. Just because Ireland has gained economically from the EU does not mean they must be in lock step with all their policies.

I am proud to be Irish American.

meek and simple european:

Isn't it is surprising how the divine plan works and if you learned how to live in bliss you perhaps also live in joy observing how all unfolds on the smallest as well as on the broadest of scales.

Small and freedom loving country, where the will of each person still has a way of expression, so gently have been expressed, and not only for prosperous and beautiful Ireland, but also from energy of minds and wills of masses of people across whole of the Europe, and who voices were conveniently disregarded by self-serving elites, that only have as much power as how much people give them out of their own powers to create their dreams. Of course that is to the myriads of reasons, and mostly those reasons are due to fears and insecurity projections towards them every day and night since birth … and not due to love, that is so abound now and is for everyone, one by one, to claim from within.

I am of many unnoticeable to most teachers of new consciousness and what I say I experience myself and I share with those who seek upliftment towards more of light and love and not of more fears and dramas. And I respect and love all people, no matter of on what paths they are choosing to travel.

All old structures have to pass thru outpouring of loving energies and if they don’t serve to highest good and higher love, these loving energies will continue to open cracks in everything that is no longer serving us and our planet eventually will crumble down and change … all that is not of love … for new to be born … where only love, peace, prosperity, freedom, responsible for every thought will be able to live… because our thoughts create our experiences and our realities.

I just love how gently and unexpectedly all what has been going on now slowly awakening each of us to look deeper inside and remember that we are more that we think we are. It’s so easy to pit other people due to multitudes of inner fears and insecurities that plaque majority of people … but all that is just an illusion, although very real one if you focus only on what is going outside of yourself.

Find peace and love within and you will find peace and love everywhere you go and everyone you meet. Get back to what innately belongs to you – because love of your Source never left you and that love keeps you alive.

And I have high hopes and visions about that Europe also soon will find higher grounds instead of again and again repeating what serve interests of ego-self-serving elites, but in new way that will serve the real needs of every real person on our beautiful continent.

So let’s keep finding and opening new pages of more loving and joyful life every day! And become fully responsible for your thoughts, feelings and deeds!

J. Buchanan:

As a descendant of Scotland with Irish roots and an American by birth I am happy to see the people of Ireland take a stand for their personal Liberty. Too many in Europe have given too much to a central EU Government that can "NOT" truly be called a democratic body if the people of European Nations were not allowed to directly vote for its creation. The States and people of the United States of America have little say in their own Federal Government in its current form. Senators and Presidential candidates are paraded for "votes" but what are the real choices we the citizens of each State are left with? Voting for the lesser evil among few choices? It is hard to believe that this was what the Founding Fathers of the United States had in mind. The people of Ireland made a wise choice to keep some control for their destiny in their own hands. When the Bureaucrats in Brussels look to control all of Europe, with no true vote by the people of each Nation of Europe, then the EU is not a real democracy. Eastern Europe is fresh from the grip of the former Soviet Union, so did the people of those Nations truly wish to so quickly submit their national rights to another foreign power so soon? Let fair trade and governance be conducted by Democratic Nations where the people are given a say in the major issues that affect their lives. Once more let it be said: "God Bless Ireland!"

Mr Pog mo Thoin, Singapore:

Mr Mesmer - amadán - it is entirely because the memory of the brutal British colonial experience is less than 100 years old in Ireland, that the Irish treasure independence and democracy so much - Ireland is doing Europe a monumental favor.

Stephen Shaw:

As an American, I know first hand the blatant and unconscionable disregard that a federal government has for the needs or expectations of the majority of the population. The most powerful branch of the American government is not the president or congress, but the paid special interests of large corporations or power brokers. The American federal system is awash in money and thus corruption, and completely detached from what is best for the people they in theory represent. I envision no reason that such political misbehavior would become the case in Europe. For the Europeans, if you can't understand what is up for a vote, say no until its crystal clear. Its probably too late for America, but Europeans still have a real chance to make a better place for themselves. .


Looks like lots of people disappointed by the NO vote from the Irish people only knows how to bully. They say things like that you condemned Europe and should be left alone.. Only because they used they right to vote? Because they would rather say NO to accept something that wasn't strongly clear? What a Bullies! I'm sure that if more countries were given a referendum Ireland wouldn't be the only one giving a sound No. That reminds me the film "V for Vendetta" when V says "People shouldn't be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid from their people", that's why a chance of referendum was taken away from most of EU countries. We want a great Europe of course, but please, if we want to be united and work as a big great team, we should be respectful, give equal power and opportunities to each country. But above all to know how to listen, be able to listen our people as they are the country and not only their politicians or governments.


Congratulations to the voters of Ireland. A little nation with a big heart!

frank burns:

George Bush should move to Ireland. This situations shows they are just the sort of people who would love such a politician. They'd fall right in line with his isolationism and religious/nationalist brand of hype.


Congratulations to the Irish people. A little nation with a big heart!

Ireland is free again:

Yes, Ireland is free to become the poor country that it was before joining the EU. If the EU continues this trend is going to end up with a two track union. One for the countries that can compete globally (Germany) and another for countries that just can't and it seems like Ireland will be part of this second track. I can see many opinions here are coming from countries that have a vested interest in a weak Europe: the USA mostly and their old friend the English. Do you want a weak Ireland? Listen to advice from the USA. Of course they know better... we only need to look at their current president...


Thank God for the Irish people! They took a hard stand in the face of ridicule from the other nations who have not called upon their people to decide. The EU is defunct and corrupt.


Divided we stand, united we fall. What a predicament. The majority of the great people of Ireland have all the right to do what their heart tells them to do. It may not be the BEST decision, but it is the right decision for the time being. There is no short, straight path to unity, why should unity be any different from anything else in life? The EU is the right thing to do, but the "U" will have to be earned. The USA did not earn its U magically, there has been a lot of blood, sweat, and many tears to earn the privilege. For it is, after all, a privilege. EU, you will surpass the USA sometime in the not so distant future as the leader of the free world, I will be the first American to admit it. We Americans are getting tired of the ungrateful job, we are looking forward to our 6-week vacations (holidays)! But you will NOT become number one without earning it, without sacrifice, without feeling the pain that comes with the privilege. Good luck!


I don't understand... Give people the right to vote and then critcize them for for making a free decision. If the EU doesn't really want their citizens vote to matter, they should just send everyone over here to the USA. No one here listens to or respects their people either.

Cheers Ireland

Kevin, Ireland:

There are a large number of reasons why the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty. For my part, just read Vince Alder's contribution (11.16am) and consider - many of the people pushing for approval of this Treaty are beneficiaries of the Brussels gravy-train - huge salaries, massive expense accounts, etc, and a stronger Brussels means even more memberships of various committees, advisory groups, etc etc. MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) recently voted to suppress an Auditor's Report detailing wholesale fraud in claiming expenses. Their legitimate expense allowances are extremely generous, but a large proportion of them pad out their accounts fraudently, in ways which we cannot detail - because the Auditors report is silenced! Most of Ireland's MEPs voted in favour of suppressing the report. Yet they want us to trust them, and give them increased powers?? No, thank you.
Regarding Vince's contribution - the arrogance underlines the standard attitude of the Brussels insiders - 'we know what's good for you, so do what you're told'. There is only one answer to that, and Ireland gave it.


This is not a fault of the irish people. The blaime for this treaty not getting a "Yes" falls on the people in charge of translating the treaty. If you can give answers to questions without people scratching their heads then we have communication issues.



Excellent news from Ireland. The EU was conceived to bulk the nations together so they could crush unions and enable corporate masters the ability to more easily manipulate an entire continent. Enough of that nonsense. Set yourselves free!!!!!!


Ireland sure loved the EU when the EU's money was pouring in to re-build Ireland in the 90's.

David (America):

You Irish are awesome folk. I hope to God when I come back to this earth, I come back as Irish. You've got guts, honor, humor, and the true sense of freedom for humanity and are NOT AFRAID TO FIGHT FOR IT!

Gratz on the "NO" vote. Awesome job.


I will disagree with Andrew Vincent Alder... I would urge you to say no to conformity and question authority. The sole purpose of a "democracy" is it is for the people by the people. Letting a bunch of brainwashed politicians make all your decisions for you will cease your democracy. Right or wrong it is a decision FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE. All of you lemmings can go jump off a cliff with your so called informed know it all politicians.


I love it!! When the Socialist Power Mongers actually allow the people to give a fully informed opinion of what the Bureaucrat's are doing they are REJECTED!!! Looks like they are going to have to force this down the "regular" folks throats the old fashioned way. Stalinist Gulags and fascist tactics are on the way and in the mail to Ireland. Keep the faith my Irish Friends, we kicked those same Elite "Smarter than the Average Guy" pin heads out of our country in a revolution. Keep your independence, LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF Ireland.


sorry...I am and I know what the EU is all about....should have been I am German,and I know what the EU is all about..end

Michael Lathrop, Irvine, CA:

It is a commonplace amongst the worst governments that, "the people don't know what's best for themselves". It seems the height of arrogance for elected officials to undermine the intelligence of those who elected them; if those same officials could not make a coherent case for the "yes" vote, then perhaps the problem lies not with the people's supposed ignorance, but the ignorance of those in power who believe themselves above the petty values of democracy ~ free speech, representative voting and equality before the law.

Whether one approves Ireland's choice in this matter is personal; but we must respect their right to choose.


IRELand has benefited from the EU more than any other country, let them become a British Colony again or kick them out of the EU. Slainte'

Kevin Donahue:

Agreed, Michael Duggan. Additionally, the fact that the rest of the EU was passing it through representatives, rather than referendum, is a travesty.

you fool no one:

I am and I know what the EU is all about.Today we have proffesional workers that once earned a good living bieng replaced by younger workers from other countries that earn much less.This is all about greater profits for large companies,as they have lower employee costs,not just in salary,but because they can keep getting younger people,they save in health care too.While our workers are bieng abused by less and less rights,top management has been getting wage increases that border on perverse.There is a good reason why this will not come up for a vote by the public here in Germany,because it will fail badly.I am so proud of you Irish today,I cant tell you how much.What the Irish yes voters fail to understand is that once your economy matures,and that day is soon,you too will see cheap workers flooding your industries.The EU is all about greater profits,not about a better living for the common man.Tonight I will go to my local Irish pub,something I normaly do not do,and tell them how proud I am of them,while I drink some cold Guiness.

Narcis in California:

Good job Ireland! I am a Romanian living in California, and I know the effects of the "European Dream" on my country: over-regulation that disregards national traditions and needs (especially in agriculture--Spain had similar concerns with its olive crop), and sky-rocketing prices. The EU seems to benefit the Beaurocracy, not the people. A more powerful central government thousands of miles away means fewer and fewer choices left to local citizens. Thank you, Ireland.

Paul, Dublin:

To Doug McCall,

Your quasi-racist ramblings do you no favours.

"all I see is a greedy nation who don’t say no to handouts"

I don't think any EU Member State rejected any subsidy they received from Brussels. Of course, Ireland has been a net contributor to the EU for the last few years.

"too lazy to turn out and vote in numbers sufficient to consider this a true democratic process."

As opposed to other Member States being too lazy to hold referenda at all? The turnout was actually quite high for a referendum (especially on a Treaty so complex and administrative as Lisbon).

"does Ireland really deserve to be part of the EU ?"

Good grief man! Should only Member States that do as they're told be "allowed" to be Members? Does that mean that France and the Netherlands should have been evicted a couple of years ago?


Having accessed the EU's jumbled, nonsensical bureaucratic rules for industry safety regulations through the official EU website, I have found it to be confusing, illogical, and an indication that paper-pushing bureacrats without any real knowledge of the subject area are in control of the EU power-structure. Ireland has made a most wise decision at this point in time by refraining from joining the EU, this in keeping with its renowned heritage of sages, scholars, and keepers of the truth. 'Éirinn go Brágh' !


Who in their right mind would vote yes for anything that even experts can't read and understand the wording of..Good job Ireland

Mr Pog mo Thoin, Singapore:

Europe has bigger problems ahead! - potential EMU crisis for a start - the clock is ticking. Introspection is deserved, that the Irish are the only member state who insist on a referendum on this issue underlines their seriousness on issues of sovereignty, that is lost on their Euro partners. Europe's moral conscience may indeed only exist, with 1 percent of it population on the Emerald Isle.


Hurray for the Irish and for Democracy! Well done.

I wish our American politicians would actually read and understand legislation before they vote on it. The Lisbon Treaty was a mess and the well-educated folk of Ireland had the courage to call a spade a spade.

The Eurocrats need to get out of the mud of details and competing special interests. If they want to form a more perfect union, they need to ordain and establish a much shorter, more clear, and easily understood document enumerating broad powers, principles, checks and balances.

If they are to succeed, it will only be with the consent of the people. Every country should vote by referendum. Ireland shouldn't be the only one with the wisdom to do the heavy lifting for the continent.

Jimmy of Georgia, USA:

I applaud the Irish People for stepping up and making their say!

To join together as one political group is certainly a quite serious matter. How one agrees to do so is also quite serious. This agreement must understandable by all. The leadership of the EU should see this as a clear message to create a clear, understandable agreement. Should complex wording be required, then provide a clear translation of such wording from bureaucratic-speak to common-speak. To ask the People of Ireland to give power to a central government without them being able to understand what power is being given, is not right.

While I am from the US, my ancestry includes people of Ireland, Scotland, Holland, and Native America. I am quite the American Mongrel. My family has fought for the freedom of Europe where one of my uncles fought in seven campaigns of WW2, another buried in Tunisia after 23 missions in B-17’s, many others fought elsewhere, and I have done my service in defense of freedom. Perhaps my opinion does not matter. But those of the people of Ireland and of Europe do matter in this agreement.

In today’s world of rapid information, the leadership of the EU must forge an agreement that all can understand, and that the people of Europe can support. To force them into an agreement they can not understand nor support, will only lead to strife in the future. All of the countries of Europe should vote in referendum. They should be able to vote on clear issues. When issues are clouded in complex wording, the only clear message is that something rotten is hidden in the clouds of complexity.

Michael Duggan:

The Irish people were not duped. They are an independent people who will not be bullied into this treaty. All Europeans should be allowed to vote on this. If it does not pass, then you fix the treaty and try again. BRAVO Ireland.

paulo- -Dublin:

I voted No. reasons:
1. we were effectively voting to give away our voice on future decisions, page 11 of the referendum booklet for you yes people.

2. The EU is un-democratic, if it was democratic then the vote would be put to all EU nations citizens. (The EU elite think we are dummies who can't be trusted, not the EU I want to live in thank you very much)

3. legislation and laws passed in the EU have favored the bigger states at the expense of the Irish fishing and farming industry, passing this treaty would would see their demise altogether.

4. The EU is great in theory but has become a bureaucratic unaccountable monster, this treaty would double that bureaucracy and allow unelected people make laws, again , not democratic.

This might, just might, force the EU elitists to reflect on what democracy means. if you want support you need buy in. The people are the EU, not the politicians, this no vote reinforces that.

i am pro EU, but I'd rather go it alone then sell my soul to the current devils in Brussels.


To Mr McCall

Irish people have aways supported human rights legislation. If the human rights legislation containen in Lisbon was separated from the other mumbo jumbo I have no doubt that Ireland would have accepted it.

I suggest that you redirect your ire at those people who have made yourlife a misery in Italy rather than castigate a compassionate people who unaware of your plight voted for the greater good.


Thank God for the Irish! Enough of these decisions imposed on us from above. If the other countries in the EU had had referenda, they too would have largely rejected the new Europe of the bureaucrats. By the way, I'm in Italy.

Tom Veil:

The story opens, "Irish voters ... have rejected a crucial EU reform treaty by a narrow margin." According to ireland.com, the margin is 46.6% Yes to 53.4% No. That's not a narrow margin by any standard. In the US Presidential elections, for example, no president has won more than 53.4% of the popular vote since Ronald Reagan!


The bottom line here as has been said by several is that the "People" of Ireland exercised their constitutional right to vote and defeated a document that the majority of the people in the European Union (including the Politicians) do not understand.

The President of the European Commission has stated that the ratification procedure should continue even though by European Union Law the Constitution is dead. It would appear that this particular law can be ignored.

However, when the Fishermen, Truck Drivers, and Farmers wen to to Brussels to ask for a decrease in the VAT tax on Petrol, they were told by the same Commission that under law the tax could not go below 15%.

If the politicians can ignore one law, can they not ignore another and help the millions that are suffering at the present time????????

Paul, Dublin:

As a "yes" voter, I am disappointed that the administrative changes necessary for the EU (and contained in Lisbon) were rejected.

Nevertheless, the Irish people have spoken and, as the only people in the EU who were given a say, their view must be respected. The anti-Irish mutterings from other Member State governments are a bit rich given that they were too cowardly to ask their own people to vote.

Furthermore, the veiled threats from Mr Kouchner did the "yes" campaign no favours. No-one likes a bully. I doubt he made similar comments when France rejected the Constitution. (Should France and the Netherlands have been "left behind" then? Or do different rules apply to little Ireland?)



JD for liberty:

Good going, the EU is another attempt to enslave its member countries into a "do business with us..or dont do business at all" philosiphy. EU, or any other type of "Union" are horrible for the PEOPLE. End of story, the wealthy distribute the profit from the ventures they create at the expense of the commen people. NO EU, NO NAU, NO AU! Freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness.

In Liberty.

An American with Irish heritage:

Way to go Ireland!! I support you!!


Way to go Ireland! You've done Europe a favor. I'm in Italy right now and people here are real iffy about the EU. Mixed emotions, I'm sure its that way through most of Europe and its not right to have this treaty jammed down people's throats. If the EU wants to be democratic then be democratic. If they want to be a buricratic oligarchy then admit it.

dont even try it:

Citizen-1,big business-0

Doug McCall, Italy:

I am really disappointed with the Irish result and the attitude of the Irish people. Europe badly needed the human rights legislation enshrined to give fairness and equity to all Europeans. I am a immigrant who came to the EU so my EU partner, who has serious health concerns could be with his family. As our relationship is same sex I have endured four years of hostility and exclusion at the hands of Italian authorities. This ratification of this treaty was really important to us in order to have a chance to stay together.

The Irish people lost today the only thing I could give them, my respect - all I see is a greedy nation who don’t say no to handouts, to selfish to think of others EU citizens once they have been lifted out of poverty and too lazy to turn out and vote in numbers sufficient to consider this a true democratic process. The question that comes from to day is if this is the level of participation does Ireland really deserve to be part of the EU ?

Hugh Dunne:

Re Vincent Alder, that's pretty rich, an American calling the Irish ignorant. How did George Bush get two terms? Anyway, the Lisbon treaty is a nightmarish bureaucratic "solution" in search of a problem. There is absolutely no reason why there should be a monolithic European superstate with all individuality stamped out. A confederation of equal states makes much more sense. Besides there are vastly more serious problems for Europe to tackle, such as global warming, radical Islam etc. Someone has to tell the armies of parasitic bureaucrats to take a hike. Congratulations to the Irish voters for making the right decision.

Bad news for Ireland:

As an Spaniard living in Ireland I'd like to point that this vote represent a loss for the Irish people. Ireland economy had improved considerably but mostly thanks to money coming from Germany and investments coming from the USA. This had led many Irish to believe that this wealth will last. I don't think so! The American companies could leave for greener pastures or cheaper countries and many are doing just that, moving operations mostly to India. Ireland - like my own sorry country, Spain - had wasted the money provided by the Germans (mostly) in public works and it has not developed their own technological companies. Now, with the economy weakening fast, it's not the right time to become arrogant and offend the rest of Europe. The only winners here are people like Murdoch, a shady character whose interest are very different that the interests of a strong European Union. Just my 2 cents.


As an European I am glad that the Irish voters showed the euro-politician(when they meet in Brussels)a lesson in democracy.In their meeting in Brussels they FIXS things, so-called democraticly, but in fact with out respect for the voters. We voters call their way of work undemocraticly,they only say there is a slight "défict democratic".

Marc from the States:

G-d Bless the Irish Democracy.

No matter the outcome, the Irish win. Democracy can be faulted in many areas, but the freedom of a popular vote is awe-inspiring.


The EU had been from its inception a power grab. The French and Dutch rejected it. The English people don't want it. So what happens? The forces pushing it are so powerful and have bought so many politicians that it's brought back and the people are not allowed to vote on it anywhere - except in Ireland where that country's constitution requires a public referendum.

Unfortunately this power grab is not done.


kudos to the Irish. great job!!

Jarrod Bagwell:

As a an American and Libertarian, I applaud the Irish for exercising their right to vote. I will fully admit that I don't know the full extent of what this treaty entailed, but the thought of giving up the personal sovereignty of a nation to form a Superstate gives me the willies. Economically more efficent? yes. Good for the rights of the individual and for personal freedom? No. I know it sounds a bit ironic for me an American to be saying this sort of thing while the current administration in the US uses the Constitution for toilet paper but I will tell you some of us are awake and we are trying to change the course of our nation. Cheers.


I think A True Christian has slightly skewed the truth about the sovereignty of US states. The sovereignty of the US federal government is superior to the limited parallel sovereignty of the states for many very important matters. No nation could really be fully sovereign without its own foreign policy, for example, and of course the individual states have no authority in this area, among various other important areas arrogated by the federal government.

Among other key differences between the Irish situation with respect to the EU and the US state situation with respect to the federal government, no US state can secede or independently reject any federal law, nor can a state reject any properly voted change to the constitution itself, but Ireland can reject the EU whenever it likes.

Anyhow, the Irish certainly have the right to approve or reject any treaty, articles, or compact as they see fit without considering any greater good for the general community of European states.

It's the EU's fault if their own treaty was so obtuse that it could not be clearly presented to the Irish people, or if EU officials and other Irish supporters of the treaty were so incompetent or apathetic that they failed to champion the cause with sufficient diligence or clarity.

Populism is ironically often not in the interests of the people, but if the EU can't manage to characterize a treaty in such a way that its own citizens approve of it, the treaty deserves to fail.

Tom in USA:

Maybe if the 27 other countries had let their people vote instead of letting bureaucrats run the show than maybe Ireland would not have been the only country with a "no" vote.Democracy at its best, which is what Europe lacks.


The people have spoken. If you don't like the answer, then don't ask the question. If you ask a nation to vote on an issue, you must be prepared to live with their decision.

I don't even begin to understand the subtleties of the proposed treaty and what effects it might have on the Irish people. However, the proponents of the treaty weren't able to explain to the Irish just what benefits they might reap from it. Lacking a clear understanding of what good they might get from it, I understand why these people decided to stick with what they know and not surrender their autonomy.

It appears that the other countries did not ask their people directly, but relied on the governments to answer for them. I wonder whether voters in the other countries would have ratified the treaty. If the rest of Europe is so certain of the benefits of this treaty, why not submit it to a referendum in each of the countries, to let the people themselves decide? My guess is that the people might not agree with their governments.

Thomasio Gergich:

The perspectives on this issue and arguments that those who choose to blame (and essentially belittle) Ireland are a study in philosophy themselves. Is not the best test of democratic input the one where a nation state asks their citizens it they concur? What does it say about every other "democratic" state who chose not to compromise their sovereignty by taking the safe way of having the ruling party and their control of parliamentary seats in their home country assure ratifying a treaty that likely would not be ratified had it been put to their people? Are the EU's country parliaments really that in tune with what the people want? Would Switzerland have done it that way? Of course not. Ian McKenna commented it wonderfully; let's all step back, and recognize the core of how government is supposed to work, and *who* they work for, and thus who should have the final say in things. The treaty isn't dead either, and I think it's fair to have it reflect the input of what is definitely 200+ million of the EU's citizens.

Friend Across the Pond:

Despite the patronizing hand-wringing of Mr. Alder, the Irish have made a prudent decision.

Any EU readers doubting the wisdom of the Irish vote would do well to familiarize themselves with the US "Whiskey Rebellion" of 1791.

Hugh Janus:

Woot! Go Ireland! Keep the slave masters off your backs.

s masty:

right after saying that ireland's rejection legally condemns the lisbon process to failure, the author writes that the vote is 'a problem for the small country' unless some big place like britain condescends to vote and the voters concur. is the author illiterate?

End of the Nation-State?:


Fear not. A united Europe is no threat to the US. Everyone knows that Europe has no stomach and will "belly up" if the screws are put to them. They would never give up their precious social programs in order to actually outfit a military force capable of extended, independent deployment (even if the Eiffel Tower was threatened).

Good for the Irish, I say! If the EU can't weather this then it should not be anyway. Perhaps they will teach the rest of Europe a thing about Democracy. Most Western European States, at best, are Socialist Republics, with a smattering of Monarchic decay. It is not the least bit amazing to me that States in Europe that have recently thrown off the yoke of oppression should want to have some independence.

And what's this about the end of the Nation-State period? It looks alive and well to me. I intend to defend this system to the death.


I never really thought of my Irish heritage before, but I am so proud of it today.

Sean :

"The vote is a slap in the face for the French Government whose foreign minister Bernard Kouchner warned Ireland on Monday that it would be very troubling “that we would not be able to count on the Irish who counted a lot on Europe's money.” Such comments, implying that an ungrateful Ireland would be cast adrift, sounded like bullying to many Irish voters"

This is exactly why a number of people I know voted NO, The Irish don't take well to bullying.
Ireland would not have been the only country to reject this Treaty but other nations never have the chance to vote. One thing it did prove is Ireland is one of the most democratic countries in the world.
The Treaty was never explained to the Irish people. All that was said was vote Yes or you will be in trouble. It really was a complete joke to expect people to except something without a proper explanation.
Would any other nation except a new treaty for to change the way their country was run without know what it was about? I think not.

Muireann Ni Bhrolchain :

I am one of those who voted NO yesterday. As a long time campaigner, I voted no because of the EU's spectacular failure to protect Tara's landscape from the destruction of the M3 motorway. The commissioner and the European Court of Justice could and should have intervened but although they expressed their intention to do so - they did not, probably because this referendum was coming up.
Ireland also shows scant regard for the directives and conventions of the EU and as a result, our most important archaeological, historical and literary site is threatened by a motorway snaking around it.
The EU are powerless, or chose to be powerless, in this regard. Therefore, I voted NO.
Visit http://www.savetara.com


@Chris: "The Irish did not vote against the EU, but against an undemocratic EU."

Yet they voted against a treaty that will make the EU more democratic by giving more power to the European Parliament. It's a great irony that the people who are always complaining about the EU being undemocratic are the same who are blocking all attempts to make it more democratic.

JMFulton, Jr. Stockbridge MA US:

Congratulations to Irelend's winning side. The Irish and other European citizens win. For one, Brussel's 287-page document is an afront to the citizenry just on its face. Only diehard bureaucrats who believe in the rule of fiat would think it is good to cram through a virtually complete body of law onto the citizenry who likely have barely a sense of what is being voted upon.
Instead, the EU constitution should be revied to simple and principled, and ten make way for agreements that have evolved democratically over time and in more comprehensible fashion instead of this strategy of being shoved down peoples' throats all at once. Sorry to the bureaucrats, but democracy is messy and time-consuming.
Second, and perhaps more important than the idea of evolving democratically, is the cost of broad efficiencies achieved by pursuing the EU growth formula. Efficiencies at what price? The term `Economics as if people mattered,' comes to mind. Local cultures, whole communities, even helthy families come under strain, if not ruin and obsolesence, in the economists' drive for Nirvana, efficiency at any cost. Consider the ways of life lost to corporate efficienceies that already are casualties not counted by bureaucrats or economists, or corporate leaders.
So, cheers to the Irish and cheers to the French for being so backward by modern economic terms. Theirn vie is actually forward thnking beyond corporate or economic measure. As if little "people" in an actual democratic system of governance mattered.


Go Ireland Go, hold the torch of democracy high. If UK voted it would have been a resounding NO. Brown after going back on his word is despised, today even the safest Labour seat is not safe.
Brown's standing with electrate is at an all time low. EU is an undemocratic institution which doesn't know NO means NO. So today majority in UK celebrate and salute the brave stand the Irish have taken. But the empire will strike back with revenge that's for sure. Be assured the people in EU who have not been given the choice or who had who voted NO denied their choice are all proud to be Irish today.

Robert Sebag-Montefiore:

Bravo, Ireland! I never thought that you would have the courage to defy the threats and bribes from Brussels and the self-important, indoctrinated national political leaders and elites.

A shameful thing for an Englishman to have to admit, but you have a better Constitution than England; and you have shown that you are prepared to take advantage of your right to a Referendum.
In the UK we were lied to by two Prime Ministers! But nothing happens and Britons are slaves.

Whether Ireland's decision will be allowed to stand is another matter. Let us pray that it will!

Lee Pefley:

Congratulations to the Irish, who have voted against international homogenization and have thus posponed at least for a time becoming part of a grey undifferentiated slurry such as has resulted from the suppression of the once-sovereign states of America.

Chris In England:

Well done the Irish.

The Irish did not vote against the EU, but against an undemocratic EU.

The EU in it's current form is corrupt and undemocratic. We want a EU that is accountable to it's people, not the other way round.

Michael Olsen:

A big Thank You to Ireland from Denmark
Denmark like all other countries except for Ireland have not been allowed to vote on the treaty.
There are opposition in many countries against the treaty but the people are not allowed to vote on it.

Looks like Ireland bailed out millions of people in Europe and we will be forever grateful to the Irish people.

Ian McKenna:

It's utter rubbish to suggest that Ireland has snubbed Europe. Ireland is one of the most pro-European states in the European Union and has played a full part in all matters European since Ireland joind the original EEC.

I voted yes. I know a lot of people who voted no, and they're not "anti-Europe" in any way. The treaty was discussed, dissected and debated everywhere two people gathered. Most of the people I know struggled with the wording of the treaty and its conflicting interpretations. People are naturally nervous about things they don't understand.

Irish people want to do what's right and people voted with their conscience and with integrity. A huge number didn't vote since they couldn't decide what way to vote. The treaty is unintelligible to the ordinary man in the street.

Why don't some of the other Governments let their people vote on the treaty as well. Sarkozy has already admitted that the French population would vote against it.

As the only people with a mandate to vote on the Treaty, Irish people were very conscious of the repercussions for their fellow citizens in other countries. If Ireland voted yes, our neighbours may not have thanked us for any adverse consequences.

Yes, Ireland got money. So do lots of other European states. But Europe can't buy our conscience and integrity. If something is not right we'll say so. The Irish people are not paid puppets. Nor should we be.

I passionately support the European dream. 90% of Irish people feel the same way. I voted yes, others voted no. I respect their opinions and their reight to exercise their democratic mandate and so should everybody else.

The problem is not Ireland. The problem is the arrogance of the drivers of the European juggernaut. Red light means stop. Don't run us over.

James Ball:

If you want to know why the treaty was rejected just read Jan Smajic's comments above. Its the essence of every Brussels argument e.g. These matters are above the comprehension of the average citizen-so trust us. Good on the Irish for hoisting the B.S. flag.

A True Christian:

AVA is really a Euro stooge isn't he? He forgets that the US is also a country of Nation-States since each state actually is a SOVERIGN entity that can manage the affairs of its own citizens within the bounds of the Federal Constitution. If anyone's been duped, its been the rest of Europe. You can't shove a form of government down everyone's throats or you won't get the "more democratic" form of government that James in Paris talks about. While I don't necessarily agree with JIP's complete sentiments, I do agree that the world needs to be more democratic, but the EU formation process has been as democratic as elections in Cuba.


Good article. I voted 'yes' yesterday in Dublin, after much thought and despite serious reservations about some aspects of the Treaty.

Irish people are overwhelmingly pro-EU and self identify as European, but the referendum asked voters to make a decision on a specific set of international laws, not the substantive (but more simplistic) 'are you in favour of Europe or not?'

Because we use referenda frequently as part of our democratic process, people in Ireland are used to engaging legalistically with the detail of what they're being asked to vote on. The 'no' campaign provided concrete (if sometimes ill-founded) reasons for voting against, the 'yes' campaign relied on general goodwill towards Europe and local politicians. This proved to be a mistake.


Like the man Pat Kenny said, the "No" vote sides points hit the mark harder then the other side and it was helped along the by the french foreign ministers comments. Nobody likes to be told what to do and given Ireland's history, especially coming form another country.

Jan Smajic :

Dear Sir,

as an EU citizen and a lawyer I am genuinly bewildered by the outcome of this referendum. I fail to comprehend why a comprehensive campaign has not been fought for a YES vote and why lies and misrepresentations were not promptly rejected and corrected.
A legal document that brings to life a sui generis super-governmental organization representing 495 million people cannot be easily explained to voters, therefore there will always be insecurites about the content, these insecurities prompt fear and fear breeds rejection.
Elected representatives exist so they can act on the behalf of their constituents, protecting their interests concerning matters that tend to be beyond the scope of comprehension of the average voter and such a decision was of that nature.
This decision leaves the other 492 million citizens without adequate representation in the EU bodies, it robbes us of a chance to unify our foreign policy, makes further enlargement nearly impossible and wreaks havoc on the prospect of having a trully workable intra-governmental system, one not plagued with over-beaurocratization.

The sadest part is, that Ireland has not done itself any favours, they will have to live with this system designed for a maximum of 15 coutries just like the rest of us. A trully frustrating day for us in Europe, fitting perhaps, that it happend on friday the 13th:)


Michael, Washington, D.C.:

Why blame the Irish for exercising their right to vote and break their faustian pact with the EU? Why should they give up an advantage? There is no doubt that the corporate tax rate of Ireland would be increased by the socialist EU; thus causing corporate flight. The citizens of the other EU nations envy the Irish their opportunity to vote No. The other EU citizens are realizing what a bloated and corrupt beast the EU has become which is unaccountable with unelected and unremovable bureaucrats ruling from Brussels. They are complicating the lives of Europeans through endless regulation. EU citizens also are furious about the empty promises of the EU. Italians, for example, voted for the common currency because they were promised it would benefit them. Instead, their purchasing power was halved overnight and prices skyrocketed.The EU does not have to evolve any more than it already has. Who says that it has to become a greater beast than it already is.


Instead of Ireland Snubs EU, it would perhaps be a better form of journalism to print: "Pro-Europen Ireland rejects terms of European Treaty proposed".


As an irishman living in Paris, whose daughter is French, and who loves Europe, I disagree with Andrew Vincent Alder's contention that only the "unthinking duped irish" could vote against the european treaty proposed. I am a thinking, pro-European European who disagrees strongly with the terms of the present treaty. QED

Jim, Sammamish, WA:

Good for Ireland! Economic advance is not worth selling your soul, and Ireland would be giving up a tremendous amount of autonomy by approving this.


The Irish who have fought so hard and long for freedom should and can be allowed to do what they want and what is best for the Irish, not the EU.


The treaty is a "simplified" version of the treaty rejected by referenda held in France and Holland two years ago. The question is not whether one wishes for a european political entity, but what kind of europe citizens wish for. having failed to convince the citizens of europe, a simplified treaty that didn't ask citizens their opinion was devised, and pushed through the parliaments of each european state. The French govt ratified the european treaty the French have rejected in substance already, and were ireland not obliged to hold a referendum by its constitution, the irish govt would also have ratified it.
The treaty proposed gives constitutional stautus to things that do not belong to this category. It would create a political straightjacket that would only permit ultra-capitalist policies and the creation of a superstate not disimilar to the USA. The world needs something else today, something more democratic, more human, where citizens and not money and power are at the heart of the political process, a politics of Civilization rather than one of Money and Power and Force as is the case with the US today.

good job ireland:

Smart of the irish, being gobbled up by foreign bureacrats is a sure way to lose everything you cherish. Thank God, we don't live there being asked to give up our rights and way fo life to foreign bureacrats.

Andrew Vincent Alder:

I live in Southern California but do much work in Europe, particularly Brussels. It is incredibly short-sighted, indeed, just plain ignorant of the Irish to have voted "No" on the Lisbon Treaty. The evolution of the Member States into a coherent EU is, to be sure, a marked change from the past, but the strengthening of the Union is a major benefit to all Europeans as well as an important, if not monumental, window onto a post-nation state world. One point never mentioned in the American press on this vote is the degree to which the US quietly added the "No" vote; the US does not want to see a Europe united to the point that it in any way becomes a credible challenge or counter-weight to American interests. The unthinking Irish have been duped, and one can only hope that the remaining 26 Member States will proceed to ratify Lisbon and then figure out a way to exclude Ireland. The Irish state has benefited enormously from EU membership and if, for whatever reason, they now don't want that association they should be left to go it alone.

— Andrew Vincent Alder, Palm Springs, California

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.