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Ireland Takes the EU Spotlight

The Irish, of all people, hold Europe's fate in their hands with a single vote.** (Ed. Note appended.)

By Philippa Maister

Today, the Irish -- for the first and perhaps only time - hold the future of Europe's 500 million people in their hands. For weeks, they have been wrestling with the question of whether to vote for a treaty that would change the balance of power between the European Union and its component countries, including Ireland.

Ireland’s four million people are the only Europeans to have a direct say in whether reforms of the EU’s powers and procedures, which have taken six years to negotiate, can eventually become reality. The changes embodied in the Treaty of Lisbon can take effect only if ratified by each of the EU’s 27 member states. Other states have left the matter to their elected representatives to decide.

As an American, to observe the struggle has been to gain some sense of what the citizens of the original 13 American colonies must have experienced as they contemplated joining a larger Union.

It has brought out the patriots, the economic interests, the opportunists willing to exchange their votes for a promise that their interests will be protected, the die-hard republicans, the politicians, the philosophers, and the conspiracy theorists. It has also wrought confusion, as experts on both sides pronounce conflicting opinions as to what exactly the treaty means or doesn’t mean.

Barely a lamppost in the nation is not bedecked by posters urging a Yes or No vote. On the No side, they range from the patriotic, “People died for your freedom: Vote No,” to the comic, with the usual three monkeys demonstrating that “The EU won’t see you, won’t hear you, won’t speak for you.”

The Yes side’s Young Fine Gael, targeting the youth vote, offers an attractive blonde woman holding two melons in front of her with the slogan, “Increase your prospects: Vote Yes to Lisbon.” A companion poster featuring a buff young man in tight-fitting briefs urges, “Enlarge your opportunities: Vote Yes.” The more mainstream posters from the majority party Fianna Fail are more blunt. “For jobs, growth and Europe’s future, Vote Yes.”

Protagonists say the treaty will make the operation of the EU more efficient and more democratic and allow Europe to speak with one voice. But it is highly complex and open to different interpretations, and skeptics have seized on those to discredit it. Indeed, Ireland’s current EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy, who supports the treaty, has said he wouldn’t expect “any sane, sensible person” to read the more than 300-page document in full.

The No side has seized on a provision that would change the composition of the Commission. Instead of each country being represented by one commissioner, only two-thirds of countries would be represented at any one time on a rotating basis. Each country would be represented for 10 out of every 15 years.

More issues would also be subject to “qualified majority voting,” a weighted system that does not require unanimity and therefore removes any country’s veto power. Veto power is retained in other areas.

The treaty also grants the EU “exclusive competence” – the power to legislate and set policy – in specific areas, including the customs union, competition rules and monetary policy. In others areas, the EU would have joint competence with the states, while reserving the exclusive competence of states in other areas.

A provision of the treaty that has proved highly controversial in pacifist Ireland is one that would require member states to assist each other if they are victims of armed aggression, though the type of assistance is not specified. States would also be obliged to assist each other in the case of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Small wonder, then, that 30 percent of the respondents who said they intended to vote No in a poll conducted by The Irish Times gave "not understanding the treaty" as the explanation. An additional 24 percent planned to vote No “to keep Ireland’s power and identity.”

Of those voting Yes, 36 percent said it was to keep Ireland fully involved in the EU. The remainder mostly cited economic benefits.

Once considered a sure thing, late polling data suggested a growing No vote could torpedo the prospects for reform. Sinn Fein, the political party, came out against the treaty, saying the Irish government could negotiate a better deal. There has been opposition from farmers concerned about agricultural exports, groups afraid Ireland’s low corporate tax rate could be imperiled by an EU mandate, and individuals who fear the treaty could draw Ireland, whose military is traditionally deployed for peacekeeping purposes only, into a war.

Some Catholics, concerned that EU laws could force Ireland to legalize abortion and gay marriage, are also praying for a No vote.

But the chief sponsor of the No vote is Libertas, a group led and funded by two Irish entrepreneurs who head U.S.-based companies with strong ties to the American military. Whether that is a coincidence or not, it has given rise to conspiracy theories galore and suspicions of U.S. involvement in the anti-Lisbon campaign.

Libertas was founded by Galway native Declan J. Ganley, chairman and CEO of Rivada Networks, a provider of interoperable public safety communications networks for homeland security forces and first responders headquartered in Washington, D.C. Although Libertas claims to be independent of Rivada, they share many of the same personnel.

What motivated Ganley to form Libertas is an open question. According to a spokesman, Ganley read the EU constitution in 2004 to check out any business opportunities it might open up.

“When he read it, he discovered that it was so fundamentally anti-democratic that something had to be done,” the spokesman said in an emailed response. “He founded Libertas to lobby for greater democracy and accountability in the EU.”

Mailboxes overflow with anti-treaty literature delivered by Libertas volunteers. The company remains secretive about its funding sources, raising speculation that some may exceed the Irish legal limit. However, one is known to be Ulick McEvaddy.

An entrepreneur with interests in many ventures – including an €800 million development near Berlin’s new airport. McEvaddy heads Omega Air, a San Antonio, TX-based company that offers commercial airborne refueling of military aircraft.

“The idea of a politically strong E.U., acting as a check or counterbalance on the U.S. does not sit well with our transatlantic friends,” Fine Gael representative Lucinda Creighton declared in a statement. “And now as stronger political union becomes likely, these two figures with close links to the U.S. military are trying to derail the process.”

Comments by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, added fuel to the conspiracy theory. In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Bolton said the treaty would undercut NATO, which he described as a huge mistake. If the EU had its own military capability, people would think NATO was redundant and Europe could take care of its own defense, Bolton said.

An Irish rejection would embarrass the EU and perhaps sink all prospects for change in the near term. It would represent the second rejection of the effort to restructure the EU’s cumbersome administrative procedures and create a united front on important policy issues. French and Dutch voters vetoed a previous draft in 2005.

It would also damage the leadership image of Brian Cowen, the former finance minister who recently assumed the mantle of Taoiseach, or prime minister, after the forced resignation of Bertie Ahern in May.

In response, Cowen and the leaders of the two main opposition parties, Enda Kenny of Fine Gael and Eamon Gilmore of Labour, who all support the Treaty, launched a joint offensive to turn out the Yes vote, stopping in cities, towns and villages across Ireland to spread the word. Cabinet ministers fanned out across the country on a similar mission and every willing member of parliament was called on to do the same with their constituents.

The American Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby here, says passage is vital. “It is no understatement to say that membership of the EU has been good to Ireland,” the Chamber pointed out in an opinion piece. “Ireland’s continued economic success is, we believe, completely dependent on the country remaining a fully committed and influential member of the European Union.”

Chambers Ireland, which represents chambers of commerce around the country, also describes a Yes vote as essential for business and to remain an attractive location for Ireland’s lifeblood, foreign direct investment.

Farmers were brought on board after Cowen unwillingly agreed to veto any World Trade Organization deal that would harm Irish farmers. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions backs the treaty because it would give legal force to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the right to unionize and strike.

Supporters say the opposition’s argument that rejection would allow the treaty to be renegotiated on more favorable terms is nonsense. And French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner has hinted strongly that a No vote could jeopardize future EU funding for Irish development projects.

Did our forefathers in the colonies go through similar doubts and questionings as they pondered whether to sign on to a dream of a united nation and a division of powers? Most likely they did.

As an American, it makes you both wonder at, and take pride in, the drafters of the Constitution of the United States. In simple language, in the fewest words, and in a brief manuscript, they created a document that resonated in the individual consciousness and has stood the test of time.

Philippa Maister is an American business journalist living in Athlone, Ireland.

Note: The author had no intention of insulting or demeaning the Irish people, whom she has found extremely well-informed about world affairs. She intended simply to suggest how remarkable it is that so small a nation has the responsibility of acting as the representative of the 500 million people of Europe.

**Editor's Note: The subtitle of this piece was written not by the author but by an editor and Irish citizen, of all people. Its intent was to highlight the irony of the fact that the historically downtrodden Irish are now the only Europeans with a direct say in the Union's future - certainly not to offend.

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Comments (99)


Interesting debate in the European Parliament on the fallout of the Irish referendum, punctuated by UKIP and three of the Tories coming in wearing T-shirts urging "respect for the Irish votes" - prompting one Irish MEP to comment that history would have been quite different if right-wing British politicians had started to do that a century or more ago!

If there are by the autumn 25 or 26 ratifications, it would not be unreasonable nor undemocratic to ask the minority to consider the possibility to seek a compromise rather than to block reforms entirely.

Indeed, that was the professed view of No campaigners in Ireland, who said they want a better deal.

Yet, the UKIP/Tory/Sinn Fein/French Communist view (what an alliance! watching the acting leader of the Tories vigorously applaud the French Communist leader was instructive) expressed in the debate was that other countries shouldn't be allowed to vote on the treaty at all (presumably in case they Vote Yes).

For good measure, Nigel Farage threw into the debate a claim that a Commissioner had committed fraud - a remark somewhat undermined when the very next speaker was UKIP's shame, Ashley Mote, recently released from prison after serving a sentance for...fraud!

Several Irish members were understandably bitter at the the claims by some No campaigners that the Lisbon Treaty would have legalised euthanasia, drug-taking and abortion in Ireland, and also required higher corporation tax rates and an Irish contribution to a European army. These lies had an impact on enough voters to swing the result.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy says that no new members can be admitted to the European Union unless the Lisbon Treaty takes effect.

At a news conference Thursday in Brussels, Sarkozy said that some Eastern European countries that are enthusiastic about making the union bigger are the most reluctant to approve the treaty, the EU Observer reported.

"It is certain that as long as we have not solved the institutional problem, the question of enlargement is stopped de jure or de facto," he said.

The Lisbon Treaty, meant to replace the treaties that originally created the Common Market and European Union, received a setback when Irish voters rejected it. The British parliament approved the treaty Thursday, but a judge delayed ratification Friday.

Sarkozy is just beginning a six-month period as president of the union.


I think it's interesting that the editors choose to defend the poorly written statement above the by-line in the manner of which they did.

The "note" on the authors intention is amusing. Where the author supposedly has found Irish people extremely well-informed, etc. None of that is suggested in her article. Her article is awful. The ending paragraphs are terrible. This nostalgia toward American legal history is revisionist at best. The Constitution did not survive because of how "simple" it was, a 1L in law school could tell you all about how it was political maneuvering and the allotment of judicial review that stopped it from collapsing upon itself in a Constitutional Crisis. Anyway...that's secondary. The best bit is the editor's note.

The editor makes it clear it was written, not by the author, but an Irish citisen. CITISEN being the keyword. Does not mean they are actually Irish, just have citisenship. Further, so what? It's still a stupid comment. Not like the island isn't full of grasses or West Brits anyway. Their cutesy way of saying "and Irish citizen, of all people." is further insulting. Who thought that was the best PR way of handling such failure?

To highlight the irony, please. That's a pathetic reasoning. The Irish has done much for Western Civilisation and doesn't need a No (or yes) vote for the Lisbon Treaty to prove it. Historically downtrodden, heh try colonised and oppressed. I don't see the irony in it at all, but rather a very idiotic statement and poor "sound-byte". Not that I had high standards for the Washington Post. May as well be reading the Daily Mail.


Britain's parliament has ratified the European Union treaty despite Ireland's rejection of the document last week.


just to remember our dumb anti-europeans.

it were Eurocrats, who saved pensions of thousands of british people. it were so called eurocrats who saved nature on your coast trouth pressure on british and another international oil companies.


__One has to wonder what does it say for Irish "democracy" that the Anit-Lisbon campign was primarily funded by a single billionaire business man euroskeptic and neo-liberal Declan Ganley through his Libertas organisation, or that the British media through its Irish editions primarily Rupert Murdochs tabloid press editorialised so heavily against the Treaty?

Only that irish and britains are weak in anti-coruption and anti-oligarchy. Rupert Murdoch is anyway an old idiot whose patriotism has only one agenda: british fat prono-cows with junion jack in the arse.

he should go back to his mumia-piramid at best together with his plastic chinese wife and let this world alone.


One has to wonder what does it say for Irish "democracy" that the Anit-Lisbon campign was primarily funded by a single billionaire business man euroskeptic and neo-liberal Declan Ganley through his Libertas organisation, or that the British media through its Irish editions primarily Rupert Murdochs tabloid press editorialised so heavily against the Treaty?


Mike in Ireland:

__1. The French and Dutch already said No to the original constitution. The EU, in response, spent over two years redrafting the treaty, into an incomprehensible series of amendments to existing treaties thereby obviating the need for a second French and Dutch vote. This is not democracy at work.

i have a question about: why are you taking forign opinion if you should form your own and present it on vote.

aside that french and dutch vote for it. you should keep your knowledge uptoday, my dear child.

2. The treaty proposes to allow unelected officials in Brussels to decide on 60 new areas of law for Ireland. No has explained to me why this is a good idea.

i see you are not from Ireland but from british nazi-club. because even last dumb horse inside of Ireland does vote officials into Brussel. so you are failed again to make a logical point.

3. The final nail in the coffin was the remark from the French foreign minister this week indicating that if we did not vote yes we would be punished. Well excuse me - we had another colonial power tell us what to do for 700 years. We will not put up with that sort of cr*p ever again.

coffin? colonial power? so.. you are complaining about the democracy and the pluralism inside of EU but you are failed to respect, to understand and to acsept french opinion about? i think you are the one who should take MANY lessons about democracy and how EU is working. Aside that EU was never to go being local politic thing it was from the begining a "inter-nation" thing. And now irish are going to make referendum about when they have already representants of own nation like goverment and parliament? maybe irish should fix own referendum laws because its just stupid to vote "no" because local goverment did wrong health care politics or someone dumb populist told them that irish will be forced to have only 2 kids.

__Don't get me wrong. I am pro European. Ireland has done well out of the EU and I am happy that we now become a net contributor so that Latvia, Lithuania, etc can now benefit from EU membership. I wanted to vote yes but this treaty, and process, appears to be undemocratic.

:) this is just a what you was told by british and anti-european media. tell me what you do think realy.

American fan:

Bravo!!! Go, fighting Irish!! The Irish can stand tall and proud because they defended democracy and voted "No"to Lisbon. Thank you, Ireland, for speaking up for those in other EU countries who were not permitted a say. I'm so pleased that you voted "NO" to the Treaty which would infringe further upon the sovereignty of Ireland, the U.K. and other E.U. nations. Ireland has the right to self-determination.

As to the author's speculation regarding whether the U.S. military is indirectly responsible for fueling the "No" campaign--lady, there are many of us Americans who are NOT interested in seeing the military maintained at such conflated levels. We spend half our budget on the military, and frankly, that's ridiculous. I want a healthy and strong military, but that doesn't mean I want it in EU's or anyone else's backyard. My relief that Ireland has defeated this Treaty is hardly due to any personal desire to see the E.U. dominated militarily by the U.S. (Just the opposite, I'd like to see our military power confined mostly within our own borders, and diplomacy as the tool of choice in negotiation).

Like an Irish poster said, it's about democracy, stupid.

Score one for the IRISH!!!


To NLYNNC, who naively wrote: "Yet one more reason to regret that my ancestors left that country for this one.": Do you need help packing your bags? No one is keeping you here. See ya.


Perhaps Ireland could give the US lessons on how Democracy really works. Yet one more reason to regret that my ancestors left that country for this one.


in fairness we've been called a lot worse

Mick says "Ta":

Under the Lisbon Treaty all 27 members would lose the representation would be rotated equally between all states and no state would have more than one in any single Commission.

Currently in the EU, there is one Commissioner per member state; however Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state.

It’s ironic the Libertas campaign speaks of democratic deficit yet remains highly secretive and unwilling to disclose its funding. Yet the EU is primarily founded on a collection of treaties between member states.
As for corporate tax rates it was the EU that forces the Irish government to harmonize the difference between the low rate for Irish manufacturing exporters and domestic under EU anti-competitive rules similarly EU social and the European convention of Human Rights has broadened Irish civil rights.
Pax Romana was founded on brute force the EU is founded on compromise consensus and mutual benefit.

A reader:

Never ever vote for anything you DO NOT understand... no matter how sweet the sales pitch!

I understand the ballot proposition is 500 pages of legal double speak. (*&^ the people who wrote it don't understand the document!

Thus a NO vote is a wise choice.


"The author had no intention of insulting or demeaning the Irish people, whom she has found extremely well-informed about world affairs. She intended simply to suggest how remarkable it is that so small a nation has the responsibility of acting as the representative of the 500 million people of Europe."

The answer to this conundrum is quite simple: It's not so much that the Irish have taken upon themselves this mighty task of "acting as the representative of the 500 million people of Europe," but that the EU through it's arrogance and cold-calculating "cunningness" have removed that right--the democratic right of voting by citizens on such mighty issues as the Treaty of Libson--from the rest of the 500 million citizens of the EU.

So, instead of blaming the Irish people of somehow "usurping" this grave responsibility, the blame should fall squarely on the elitist and globalist EU "leaders" and their "wanna-be's" in each of the parliaments that comprise the EU.


Go fighting Irish... Vote no to the new world order. You are lucky to even get to vote. To hades with the central bankers.

Aidan Gillespie:

The above title and the Irish and having power over Europe. Blah ! We have a vote, Do with it as what your conscience tells you, which ever way you believe.
Voting today, I found this an interesting question to settle for my self, This afternoon I knew I had to vote and I knew I could go either way Yes or No, Whish way to vote
In the back of my mind I thought I would go for No for almost 3 weeks and wondered was that the best decision, I loved the fact that we Irish had a vote, I loved the fact that I could have a say but I knew that “no” was a cheap way of saying I don’t understand what is involved, I don’t have a better solution / alternative . I don’t know, what no would mean to the Lisbon treaty and Ireland’s role in Europe, Would my no mean I was anti Europe ( I am not ) but I guess my main argument was, my Ireland as a small nation would have a smaller say in Europe as opposed to a country with 30 or 60 million people . I feared for that
I guess I could have trusted the European Brussels politicians.( I don’t know any )They do their job and I do mine. They know what they are doing. We vote them in. But do we ? (I didnt vote the bureaucrats in? . Surely like doctors I should respect their decisions. But yes, should I , how great are doctors ? I don’t really know them and they don’t know me, or my concerns are, but do they know all. ? Do they know how we all feel at surface level ? I doubt it !

I am a very liberal person, no real strong opinions on anything. Quite flexible. Should I have believed in democracy and allowed the politician to get on with it, Should I have allowed a German or a French or a Bulgaria politician to say in Brussels that this is what is good for me and his like In Ireland . Possibly I should have. One flaw I perceived was that when they were drawing up their plans for an ideal EU Constitution I did not see much debate in the public sphere. Also I resent the fact that our politicians / doctors were telling us to vote yes….. why .. why no reservations or reluctance… complete assurance…. What are we, stupid ? swallow and accept. No way ! If it means doing it all again then so be it … The arrogance of the signposts that say vote yes / and a sign post that says no with some stupid comments jobs, lost European parliament not hearing .. loose win ….. No the sign posts were too simple . This was complicated and a placard on a post was not going to do it. It needed real signs and not silly one liner sign posts jingotisms or scaremongering. I voted no today , not because I wanted to, but because there was not enough info out there , not enough Irish or European leader ship on the issue and lastly because if we have to do this all over again we will at least have more information at that point.

B. McEvoy:

Would the US States agree to have a third of them not be able to vote for 5 out of every 15 years? Not a chance.

This is from page 5 of the pamphlet that was sent out to the people of Ireland...

"If the Treaty comes into force then two-thirds of the Member States will nominate a Commissioner in 2014. There are 27 Member States at present. So, if the number of Member States remains the same, there will be 18 Commissioners in the period 2014 – 2019.

The right to nominate a Commissioner will rotate among the Member States on an equal basis. This means that each Member State will nominate a member of the Commission for two out of every three Commissions (that is, 10 of every 15 year cycle). The precise details of how this will operate in practice have yet to be decided."

I'll quote that last sentence again...

"The precise details of how this will operate in practice have yet to be decided."

For this reason alone I voted NO.

The Lisbon Treaty is aggressively anti-Democratic. It's right there in the pamphlet.

Say what you will about us ungrateful Paddies, how we've bit the hand that fed, but that's not why so many of us voted NO...

It's about the Democracy, stupid.

Mike in Ireland:

I voted No today. Why?

1. The French and Dutch already said No to the original constitution. The EU, in response, spent over two years redrafting the treaty, into an incomprehensible series of amendments to existing treaties thereby obviating the need for a second French and Dutch vote. This is not democracy at work.

2. The treaty proposes to allow unelected officials in Brussels to decide on 60 new areas of law for Ireland. No has explained to me why this is a good idea.

3. The final nail in the coffin was the remark from the French foreign minister this week indicating that if we did not vote yes we would be punished. Well excuse me - we had another colonial power tell us what to do for 700 years. We will not put up with that sort of cr*p ever again.

Don't get me wrong. I am pro European. Ireland has done well out of the EU and I am happy that we now become a net contributor so that Latvia, Lithuania, etc can now benefit from EU membership. I wanted to vote yes but this treaty, and process, appears to be undemocratic.



ben from uk:

I dont see any reason why they should vote no, ireland has benifited alot from the eu.

Does anyone know what will happen if they vote no?

A Yorkshireman:

Please let the Irish save Britain from our own stupid polititions

Hugh Dunne:

Jaime - whatever tax you have paid that went into Irish coffers isn't even a drop in the ocean compared to the centuries of British exploitation of Ireland, in terms of natural resources (Ireland was deforested for the benefit of the British navy), taxes and rack rents, cannon fodder, food being exported at gunpoint during the Famine etc.

Anyway this whole EU constitution thing is a gigantic waste of time and resources. It's a job security scheme for armies of Brussels bureaucrats when the EU should be focusing on global warming, oil depletion, third world immigration and the buildup of radical Muslim groups within their countries, etc. etc. This treaty is a 500-page unreadable legalese "solution" in search of a problem. Even Brian Cowen admits he doesn't understand all its implications so the only sensible course is to vote no.



Get a clue and read the end of the article.

eyes open:

you can be 'european' without unelected dictatorship and the creation of an Orwelian super state. Its amazing how easily these corrupt mind controllers convince the masses to surrender their freedoms for something their forefathers sacrificed so much to prevent. WAKE UP !!!!!!

In Miami:

Vote well our Irish friends. If the Treaty passes - you may not ever need to vote again.


"the irish of all people" who thought that one up stupid yanks


Let's hope they deal a blow to the new world order and vote against EU integration. They only recently freed themselves, why would they want to give that up for a EU dictatorship run by moneychangers?


European Citizen:

Your point about the comparison between EU and US could go a little further--contrary to how you describe the US as a young country that unified after only a couple hundred years, the US unified nearly at its inception. The original United States were thirteen British colonies on the East Coast that broke from England. The most recent states, Alaska and Hawaii, joined the Union in 1959. So the US benefits from people "growing up together," and not from trying to blend at full adulthood.

Also, I notice that becoming an American requires no change of culture. New entrants simply import to the US that which they wish to retain of their culture of origin.

However, Americans ROUTINELY refer to themselves as citizens of states, Georgians, Calfornians, Hoosiers (from Indiana), Buckeyes (from Ohio) . . . Or they might refer to themselves as a regional citizen, New Englander, Midwesterner, Southerner, etc.

And there are differences between the groups--foods, accents, dress, social rules, language, etc.

Incidentally, the US Constitution carefully builds separation of power between the States and the Federal governments and among the three equal but different federal branches.

The manner in which we Americans govern ourselves is not as simple as some Europeans seem to think. And please note that, although we have had eight bad years, it really took us only six to self-correct. We did not sink into despotism. And I marvel at our presidential candidates this year. Where else will you see such diversity?

I know, we Americans are so arrogantly optimistic and presumptuous in our 'we can do it' attitude. It helps me understand why so many from other places really hope to see us fall.

And maybe we will. But, I'm optimistic, and armed with my 'can do' attitude, I'm supporting change in the US.

And I applaud the Irish people for the respect and honor they demonstrate for democracy and justice by attending seriously to this very important decision.


I happily and in good conscience voted yes about an hour ago. I've scanned through the politically correct gobbledegook of the treaty and while I don't agree with everything it proposes, I agree in principle with the entire idea. I am an Irishman who identifies with the noble concept of being European.

Europe together can become even more socially and politically integrated, forming something new and vibrant, and if we do not like it in time, we can always vote to leave. No big deal.

The nay-sayers have had too much voice in all of this debate and the FUD they have dispersed throughout has been astonishing. I consider everyone to have a free will and a right to speak as they consider best in conscience, so I have not attempted at any time to state my view or coerce others. Perhaps I should have done so ... and perhaps our own 'Yes' campaigners might have led the debate on its merits and not have provided what was - essentially - a knee-jerk campaign of reaction to the images of doom and irrationality that many of the disparate No camp had proposed.

Now we shall await the peoples' considered verdict and accept what we have chosen.


The Irish are politically very savvy and have, until now, given unquestioned support to all things EU. The fact that a No vote is a serious possibility indicates that, unlike their political "leaders", Irish voters demand to be informed on exactly what we're voting for. Gone are the days of blind loyalty to one party line or another.

EU membership has brought "prosperity" to Ireland but at what price? The sense of community that existed for centuries in Ireland is gone - perhaps forever. Vote NO - and let us see where the chips fall - it may be the best thing we've ever done for ourselves.

Mick in USA:

I think you guys should relax...this is a well-written article. I'm Irish and wasn't at all put out by the "of all people" phrase. Anyone reading the full article would realize that the author meant no harm or insult..again, well-written. Thanks


How can the US constitution be compared to the EU in any sense? The history of the US at the time of the 13 colonies was much briefer with a common enemy in Britain. Unification of a continent that has had a history of violent conflict dating back to the Romans and beyond is a far more challenging, and impressive feat than the unity found among 13 colonies in 18th century North America.


America: United we stood.Divided we would have fell.I believe that E.U. should do the same. For it was in this constitution of the U.S.@ the time a very young country with men who not with perfection but goodness of heart for all of it's citizens desired to strive and promote life,liberty and the pursuit happiness.

Note: There is no nation or union that is perfect but the union/nation that honestly strives for the welfare it's people will become strong and secure.


Wow, what a bunch of hypersensitive vaginae we have here? The subtitle clearly points out the historical Irony of the EU's current situation. That being that the Irish are in a position to dictate not just they're own future but that of the entire EU. Myself being a Mexican, Mescalero-Apache, French, Irish and Scottish (AKA Chicano Gabacho)American from Northern California can relate very closely with the Irish. For the first time ever my fellow Latinos and I have a political voice in both parties that must be addressed.
In my opinion it would behoove any Irishman (or woman) with a vote to (as in football) KEEP YOUR FREAKIN' EYE ON THE BALL. Sit down with the appropriate literature and learn for yourself if the treaty of Lisbon is good or bad for you and vote accordingly. Rather than pissing and moaning that the worlds wonderment at the current situation belies a low national self esteem problem. Take this opportunity to let you voice be heard in a way it never has before.

Why, You ask?

Because a functioning and health democracy depends on an educated and active voting body, and in such a democracy decisions are made by those who show up. And no one else.


I don't need to have read the book to reject your premise. There are books that claim that the moon landing was faked, but that doesn't make it so.

I'm not sure what you consider a "legitimate academic challenge", but I suspect that it could never be one that contradicts your view.

You can believe that Ireland has been an historical force all you like, it doesn't make it so. And why is it so important to you anyway?

Your ad hominens toward me further highlight the weakness of your arguement.

I suppose you can name several times in the past century that Ireland was the main player in forming European history?



Sorry Hugh, didnt mean to type it anonymously, just very angry at what i was reading... so typed too rapidly... which is good sometimes..real statements etc!

I am of course from the EU and a few years of net contribution as you know has no comparison to how much Ireland has benefitted.

here's a well rounded unbiased feature (i reckon)...


At the time of writing (May 07) they said Ireland was on its way to becoming a Net contributor.

I wanted to reply because i'm in no way anti-irish (i am English but from Irish decent - parents). But i do feel held back by a few million. I think the concept of majority voting is better than unanimity because i am firm that you cant convince everyone 100% and in this case we (EU) NEVER gets anything done and we waste billions a year going round in circles.

I believe we need to get rid of the 6 month presidency and get elected presidents in place, and i still firmly believe that our country (and yours) interests are firmly routed in being part of what is something big and history in the making. totally original (voluntary offering something in return for something) and of course, the boycott thing is a fair issue surely. If a country votes to not be a part of something, then we can spend our money on products and people that do want to be part of it. i think so many people now are becoming more aware and less scared of of the EU, partly because their daily lives are affected by it. eg. their jobs are on the line...fair enough no? Also, check this out... although exports within EU from Ireland have decreased VERY slightly in the latter half, you guys are exporting bigtime...


All the best


Having learned to read the Washington Compost theories with a box of salt I have to say that post mortems such as this one are only adding to the "Suicidal Downfall of the Washington Post!RIP


I'm an Texan of solid Anglo-Saxon descent, but I still took offense at that woefully worded byline. Methinks that the editors are getting a little too big for their britches, and the author of the piece should have every right to demand the removal of such offending material. Unfortunately, it won't be removed, because this is the elitist Washington Post. "Of all people", indeed!


"Ireland’s four million people are the only Europeans to have a direct say in whether reforms of the EU’s powers and procedures... can eventually become reality... Other states have left the matter to their elected representatives to decide."

The Irish in the republic have a say as a result of the Republics constitution, which requires a referendum to be changed. The Irish in the North of Ireland have no say because they are under British jurisdiction and the British government has declined to solicit the voters opinion on all matters EU. This is despite Tony Blair, claiming a referendum would be held.

The statistics on those who havent read it are likely mirrored on the 'Yes' side. European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy even said on May 23:
"I did not [read the Treaty], and I doubt whether there's anyone in this room has read it cover to cover. I don't expect ordinary decent Irish people, or anywhere in the globe, to be sitting down and spending hours and hours reading sections about subsections referring to articles about sub-articles."

Matt still wrong...:

"@Re: Matt:

The accuracy Thomas Cahill's book is questionable, to say the least. Many critics have labeled it a work of pompous propaganda (Google it)."

I couldn't find one legitimate academic challenge to the book. Admittedly, I only went through the first dozen pages of results. Have you read the book and can present legitimate historical inaccuracies?

"The fact that everyone seems to be citing the same book should be evidence enough that the concept of Ireland as the savior of civilization is not commonly held."

Irrelevant. Who cares what the "commonly held" belief is? All that says is that the common people are ignorant like yourself.

"But, for the sake of delicate egos I'll revise my statement: "For the last 1,500 years, Ireland has never been found at the crossroads of major European history"

Wrong in so many ways. I don't know if you're being intentionally obtuse to make your point or you have no concept of European history or trying to be funny. I'm going to hope for the latter.


@European Citizen:

It's not a silly comparison at all. The author reasonably imagines that both peoples felt that similar issues of identity and independence were at stake.

The people themselves, at the point of unification, weren't viewing their future in light of hundreds or thousands of years of history. They were, and are, looking to the future and that's why it's an apt comparison.

Ask a Georgian if they believe they share the same culture with a New Englander.

Rob M:

Phillipa, the constitution of America; is this the same document which your president described as "just a god-damned piece of paper", before proceeding to rip shreds out of the basic protections that citizens are supposed to have...?


to annomous i am irish and believe me that is not the case.. the thing is that our polititions will not explain what this treaty means and how it will be any good to ireland apart from making eu laws superiour to ours an giving us less voting power.im sorry my spellings no the best but i speak for alot of people when i say this that most poeple in europe dont want this watch the video on youtube the protest in the eu parlement..we are blessed to be able to speak on behalf of the people of europe and thats why we will vote NO as the results will show tomoro.

John H.:

I find it offensive that an anti-Christian treaty is imposing on a Catholic country. It will prepare the way for forcing abortion and same-sex "marriage" upon the Irish. I support the NO vote.

Hugh Dunne:

To the brave anonymous person below - first of all, Ireland's prosperity has nothing to do with your taxes (do you even live in the EU?) since Ireland has been a net contributor to EU funds for several years. Secondly, the Irish are the only people getting a chance to vote - polls show that many other countries would vote no if they got a chance. I wonder what your motivation is in calling for anti-Irish boycotts. I'm not saying you are necessarily racist but there is a lot of anti-Irish racism out there.

European Citizen:

I would like to applaud the Irish for taking such matters to the people. This is the most pure form of democracy. It seems that there is confusion about what the pro's and cons are and what the implication of passing this would meen to everyone.

I think the author's comparison to the unification of the US is a little silly. How can you compare states in existence for only a few hundred years unifying, to the unification of countries that have been in existence for thousands of years?
Given the history of Europe and the intricacies of the different cultures, it is a wonder that we have come this far and I believe we will become stronger. I think that you can't even begin to compare the differences between the states in America to the differences between the countries in Europe. Each country has a very strong sense of individuality and has fought during hundreds of years to keep it's independence.
I have never heard and American say they are "Georgian" or "Californian" rather they are American. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

However, I did enjoy the article, discarding the comparisons. I would have liked to read more about what both sides have to say on pros and cons.


Bite the hand that feeds you? I for one will Boycott Irish goods and tell everyone I know to do the same if a No vote comes. out. I read a feature that said the main reason Irish want a No is because now that they are wealthy, thanks to OUR taxes, they dont want to share it with the new EU states or anyone else fgor that matter. Wow...what a lovely bunch! thanks. Sorry to sound bitter but its a bitter subject. :-(


@Re: Matt:

The accuracy Thomas Cahill's book is questionable, to say the least. Many critics have labeled it a work of pompous propaganda (Google it).

The fact that everyone seems to be citing the same book should be evidence enough that the concept of Ireland as the savior of civilization is not commonly held.

But, for the sake of delicate egos I'll revise my statement: "For the last 1,500 years, Ireland has never been found at the crossroads of major European history".


Interesting timing, this. I just watched "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" last night. It made me at times both angry and wanting to cry in grief. I certainly can understand reluctance, on the part of the Irish people, to yet again pledge allegiance to a foreign power.


If the "ayes" have it, sounds like it will be "Hail Ceasar" and onward to the "Pax Romana".


A constitution is only so useful.As soon as they start flying 747's into tall buildings, the constitution becomes a hindrance and must be done away with for the safety of the people...lol....we're all being sold out in every country. The US constitution is toast...why are you all bragging about something they are destroying?? Defend it and stand up for the US before it is all gone...THERE IS A FEMA CAMP NEAR YOU!

NAU right around the corner 2010..sad to say.

Mark OConner:

Yes, the leprechauns agree - a NO vote is the best course.

RE: Matt:

Matt: You could not be more wrong. Without the Irish, Europe would not exist today. Pick up Thomas Cahill's book (cited several times in other comments) if you want to learn more.

Editor's Note: I can see the darkly self-deprecating sense of Irish humor in the subtitle, but it appears in an article written by an American which, I imagine, is why many were confused. The first line of the article still ignores the pivotal role Ireland has played in Europe's history which is moderately offensive. I also don't understand how the importance of minority veto escapes an American journalist, but that's another story for another day.


The US constitution is toast...why are you all bragging about something they are destroying?? Defend it and stand up for the US before it is all gone...THERE IS A FEMA CAMP NEAR YOU!


To all offended Irish Persons:

Please read the ironic editor's note now posted at the end of the article.


The US constitution is toast...why are you all bragging about something they are destroying?? Defend it and stand up for the US before it is all gone...THERE IS A FEMA CAM NEAR YOU!


Dominic: I apologize to you. I mistakenly thought that you were Irish instead of pretending to be.


David (2nd Comment), there is no such thing as a "One World Government" but there is such a thing as a nutty conspiracy theory concocted by US religious fundamentalists (yourself excluded, of course). Very few give this theory any credence.

As to the Treaty, it may not be wise for Ireland to distance itself too much from Europe. It benefitted greatly from Britain's policies in that respect. Eire got a lot of investment that might have gone to the UK because investors wanted a Eurozone base in an English-speaking country.

Ireland will continue to benefit from EU legislation and will stagnate if it returns to parochial and isolationist thinking.


The Irish Are Great And Wise People I Am An Englishman And Would Stand By The Irish They Are
Fantastic And Proud People.

Patrick Walsh:

"The Irish, of all people" is not exactly the right way to a head a popular news source. I don't really understand why you would say something like that anyway. Are you trying to infer that Ireland is irrelevent or something? Obviously I'm not the only one concerned.

Decent information in the text;
hardly acceptable title.


Editors are often the ones responsible for article headlines and lead-ins. The author may not have even written it.

Either way, it may be an unnecessary or even insulting comment, but it expresses a reasonable sentiment. Ireland has never been found at the crossroads of major European history, as far as I'm aware.

Ireland has been viewed by most of the world as a poor and rather backward nation until the very end of the 20th century. It is a new and exciting development that they have found prosperity and established influence with their continental cousins.

I love Ireland and the Irish and hope they make the best decision for their beautiful country.



The Irish of all people is a dumb line but I don't believe there was offense behind it. Getting more upset about that line than the article itself is America 101. Please take care not to get caught up in worrying about a careless sub-headline more than the rest of the article explaining the much more important massive historical responsibility on Ireland's shoulders.

I love Ireland, I was recently in Ireland and I talked a lot of politics and found the people to be very diverse in their beliefs but very intelligent across the board. I'm glad the responsibility is on them.

Best of Luck,

Has Bono weighed in? ...sorry I had to type that.

Simon Bailey:

While not wanting to rant hysterically, as some others have, I would like to take this opportunity to object to the by-line. As an Irish citizen living in Ireland, perhaps I don't 'get' the intended meaning. Nevertheless, as you can see from the comments posted, it does cause offence. It comes across as dismissive of the Irish and their democratic process.

Well, at least it does go to show the interest that the Irish people have and how seriously they take both their national identity and their democratic duties.

no two are alike:

I believe it is amazing and beautiful that it is the Irish "of all people" who are questioning not only this document but the principles of the EU. Because the Irish are heart people, and they know that things such as this cannot be divorced from the heart. A constitution or a treaty are not just legal documents; they are covenants in a way, promises from one person to another. For example, asking one nation's military to fight another nation's battles might seem economically sensible, but the heart of the matter is that the internal struggles in Czech Republic or Spain couldn't be more different (nations which are far more different in their identities than, say, New Hampshire and Texas).

Ireland must be free to choose if it believes in other nation's struggles. When people sign to something their identity is involved, not just their money. And this to me is one of the fundamental questions for the EU. EU is not America and vice versa, and neither should try to be. As an American living in Europe, I think there is no comparison, I love them both. America has its own identity, and even in its weaknesses it is still "a great idea" as the Irishman Bono put it. We are unique. And so are the Irish. The Irish want their unique identity, and they have every right to question what feels to me like a soulless treaty, and decide if they want to put their soul into it. And to keep questioning it every step of the way.

Norway said no, Ireland can do it as well. Bless you, Ireland, to make your own heart decision, no matter who or what is pressuring you, no matter how silly or impractical it seems, no matter what it risks.

nick barfoot :

I am english, theIrish are good people and wise, they will not fall for this EU con trick rubbish and that must serve as a message to us all.

Nick Barfoot London.

James Durkan:

I was going to leap to la Maister's defence, suggest that English might not be her first language and just blame her editor for letting this offensive turn of phrase through. However, a little googling tells me she is an American based in Dublin - so, yeah, just what does she mean by 'the Irish, of all people'? Whenever we use that phrasing in Ireland, we mean to be disparaging and dismissive. So, what's that about?

And if she did understand what's going on around her, she'd realise that Ireland is often in this position. The nature of our constitution means that anything impacting on our sovereignty has to be decided on by referendum: Maastrict, Barcelona, Lisbon - referendum, referendum, referendum.

Vinny, Florida.: :

A little strong perhaps Dominic, but I agree with your sentiment


Irish to Save the World Again?


"How the Irish Saved Civilization" is the title of a book by best-selling author and historian Thomas Cahill.

The title to next Thursday's Irish vote on the European Union (EU) might just as well as be, "Irish to save the world again?"

On June 12, 2008, the question that everyone, not just the Irish, should be asking is this: "Will the Irish save Europe from itself?" And possibly save the world from the silent bulldozer of the New World Order?

Of the current 27-member nations that comprise the EU, Ireland is the only country whose citizens will get a chance to put democracy to work when they vote on whether Ireland will ratify the Treaty of Lisbon or not--the only national vote throughout all the EU nations will determine the fate of the rest of the 26 EU members.

How did this come about? Dutch and French voters rejected the EU Constitution in 2005 and as a result, the EU was left in limbo politically. So what did the EU leaders do to make democracy work better the next time?

They decided to take away further voting by their respective citizens and instead make any vote on the collective future of the EU the responsibility of the politicians in each member nation, i.e., voting will only be done by their parliaments. The only slight problem is that the Irish Constitution demands a referendum on such mighty and “Irish Constitutional changing” issues such as the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Irish Supreme Court has previously ruled that any fundamental changes to EU Treaties that would change the Irish Constitution's recognition of sovereignty (as being ultimately derived from the Irish people) would require an amendment to the Irish Constitution. Needless to say, Ireland's Constitution can only be amended by a referendum or popular vote of the Irish people.

The significance of this particular Irish vote is that Ireland, by voting “No” on June 12 will effectively kill the EU Constitution—again for the second time--and this time around it might be the deathblow. But then again, maybe not.

The current Treaty of Lisbon was a foregone conclusion, thanks in no small part to some $64 billion USD of “grant” money pumped into Ireland from the European Union (what some might call political “bribery”) until the growing Irish “No” voters decided that maybe ratifying this EU Treaty is not good for the political, economic and financial health of Ireland and the Irish people.

Because the Treaty of Lisbon is needed by the EU to rebuild from ashes of the defeated European Constitution (the Constitution of the EU) and, more importantly, because to pass this Treaty the unanimous consent of all27-member nations is required; the Irish vote could become that proverbial fly in the ointment on the road to a One World Government. (A more in-depth explanation of what this Treaty is all about can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Lisbon)

The creation of the European Union, North American Union, South American Union, Africa Union, and Asian Union (some of which are still on the drawing board) is meant to consolidate national powers into regional power centers, and thereby rid the world of nations and those stubborn nationalistic traits. These regional power centers (think or Google: Star Wars and “Regional Governors”) would then be consolidated into a One World Government.

Even if one doesn’t believe in “conspiracy theories”--what ever that really means except as a pejorative oxymoron to stifle dissent--the Irish people have plenty of practical reasons to reject the Treaty of Lisbon:

1. The Irish premier, Brain Cowen, and his EU Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, who are leading the “Yes” vote both haven’t even read the 287-page treaty! And they are expecting the Irish people to blindly follow the blind? Exactly!

2. EU’s centralized tax system will run roughshod over the relatively low Irish corporate tax rate that has been one of the primary reasons why foreign companies were attracted to invested in Ireland in the first place.

3. Ireland may not be able control its own interest rates and would be subject to the geopolitical whims of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany. While the current Irish economy could benefit from lower interest rates, the ECB is maintaining its inflation-fighting stance by keeping interest rates relatively high.

4. Current farming subsidies to Irish farmers could be drastically cut and everyone knows what globalization is doing to farmers everywhere around the world--just ask why Indian farmers are committing suicides by the thousands, and why so many Argentinean or Honduran farmers are no longer farming and are in abject poverty. Is this because of farming globalization? Probably.

5. Irish pro-life laws that protect the unborn will go the way of the rest of Europe which means a slippery-slope path to legalized abortion that won’t sit well with her majority Catholic population. (The author of this article suggests that the following educational tool be utilized in the battle for the unborn: www.whendoeslifebegin.info)

If history is a good guide, the Irish are a fickle people and for good cause. On the eve of the Treaty of Nice in 2001 (the previous Irish vote on the EU Constitution), the “Yes” vote in Ireland were polling well over 50 percent, that is until voting day when the treaty went flaming down as the “No” vote garnered a huge victory: 53.9 percent “No” vs. 46.1 percent “Yes”. Back then, there were only 15 nations in the EU and Ireland was once again the only nation that allowed (and required) her people to vote on that treaty.

If polls are to be believed, the “Yes” vote currently has about 41 percent and the “No” vote has 33 percent when the Irish people are asked about how they are going to vote on the Treaty of Lisbon. This means that there is a significant minority of undecided voters (some 26 percent). If the “No” voters turn out in full force as they did during the prior treaty and if they get a few more votes from the "Undecided" voters, they will win.

Will the Irish vote to save Europe from itself?

Will they save the world from the One World Government of the Bilderbergers, Trilateral Commissioners, and Council of Foreign Relations members that make up the small handful of global power elites who seek world domination, i.e., enforcement of a complete totalitarian global state, and the political and economic slavery of the billions of “little people,” while ensuring “god-like” status and powers for the 5,000 or so overlords on “prison planet Earth”?

Time will tell.

But again if history is any indication, the Irish may yet save the world once again by their “No” vote onThursday, June 12, 2008.

While the rest of Europe was being overrun by barbarians and the Dark Ages that covered the continent like a dense fog of forgetfulness and ignorance, it was the Irish people who were able to maintain the light and breath of civilization, through their love of learning and literacy that can be traced directly back to that jolly green saint who is loved and celebrated every year by everyone around the world, Saint Patrick.

The Irish people (and you the readers) should read Thomas Cahill’s book and fight this pivotal battle by casting a resounding “No” on the Treaty of Lisbon this coming Thursday!

What would Saint Patrick do?

Ireland and the Irish people: you should do the same!


The author of this article is an engineer in the United States who is currently finishing his first book called “NO Foreclosures! Guerilla Principles to Save Your Family and Stick It to the Banks!” This book will show how American families caught up in the subprime and foreclosure mess may be able to stop paying their mortgages and still keep their homes. It will be released in Adobe’s PDF format and will be available at www.NoForeclosures.info by August 8, 2008.


The Irish should vote No. Their right to vote at all will be replaced by a rotating council of elitists. Voting Yes is a vote for enslavement.

Peter Pucill:

"As an American.." twice, and both times unattached.
Philippa should do better.


"The irish, of all people". What the hell is that supposed to mean. Not only is that opening line offensive (and I'm an American) but the rest of the article is pathetic as well.

The Irish are at a crossroads, and I hope that whatever decision they make, it is for the best of the Irish people and also for all of Europe (and the world).



The offensive phrase is above the writer's byline, which means it might not be the writer's writing . . . It could be that of an editor or webmaster . . .

Eileen O'Conor:

What the hell do you mean by 'Thew Ireish of all people'


Dominic, please learn how to spell before posting any more comments. I am ashamed that you are Irish.


whoever is the columns writer needs to be a little more careful with there comments.And after what has been said an apoplogy is deserved for sureand if you want to resign dont wait for the little Irish to stop you.After all what power do we have!!


I am not sure what the "Irish of all people" was suppossed to mean or what the author intended, however it could be a reference to the opening line of the preamble to the Constitution of the United States.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

I took it to mean The Irish of every race,religion,etc.

I also see how it could be seen as an insult and I hope that is not what the author intended. Ireland is wonderful country with a rich heritage in politics and the people of Ireland are very capable of making this decision.


Posted on June 12, 2008 13:01

Vote No: "Dont end up like the American superstate......with only a hunger for war money and power....Ireland is Irish not European VOTE NO"

Sorry Vote No but not all American's are hungry for blood and power. Good luck deciding your future Ireland. Take it from an upset "Californian", maintaining your own identity in the EU is only going to become more difficult and it comes down to whether one (whether that one is an individual or the state as a whole) chooses said identity or prosperity/security; make sure every country has the vote none of this partial representation I read about above, it seems less powerful countries are going to be left out to dry.

If I offend anyone please forgive me, I'm just trying to understand this treaty and the EU as a whole and it is just something so detailed and in depth ~sigh~. Good Luck Ireland.


I dont think that the writer meant to offend the Irish, but didn't do a good job stressing that the Irish make up less than 1% of the EU population.

And thats why it's intresting that such a small minority has such a significant influence.


Your opening line is discraseful for any artical, What makes you,.... An American of all people better than the Irish?


I see no neat analogy between the Lisbon Treaty and the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land and is interpreted as Common Law. Therefore, that which the Constitution requires or protects is not always found in its text, but in precedential judicial decisions. So it's not really comparable to the more codified Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty has made me very grateful for the countermajoritarion principle, or Madisonian compromise, imbedded in the U.S. Constitution--sometimes the majority is completely wrong, and should not prevail.

And I balk at a representative democracy that has an unelected President and countries that must accept five out of fifteen years unrepresented. I fear that smaller EU nations have little choice but to hide in the wings of the big guys.

OR Melling :

"Other states have left the matter to their elected representatives to decide." You make that sound as if they had a choice! They did not. The leaders of the other European nations are forcing this ratification upon their electorates, even though polls in many of the other countries show their people want a say. You have neglected to point out that this is another reason why many of the Irish are voting NO. The Irish "of all people" have been given this power because our constitution has a fail safe which is triggered whenever our government tries to tinker with it. No changes can be made without the consent of the people via referendum. Our sovereignty and our democracy is better protected than that of the other countries. There's something rotten in the state of Denmark and the rest of Europe that their peoples are not being allowed to vote on what is, in truth, a new EU constitution.

P.S. Gifford:

That is one of the most insulting opening lines I have ever read in an article.

Vote No:

Dont end up like the American superstate......with only a hunger for war money and power....Ireland is Irish not European VOTE NO

Insulted Irish Reader:

"The Irish, of all people"
Do you intend to insult an entire nation and worldwide diaspora with your article?


Anyone find it funny how the EU might 'punish' us by not giving us fundings for future projects. How childish that would be if they did. I don't recall the Dutch or the French having to deal with such rumors...

jack template:

Oh come on! Let's not be so hyper-sensitive about a slightly oddly-worded intro. It was an informed and balanced article. And I just voted a resounding "NO", notwithstanding John Bolton's rather strange involvement in the debate. But the beauty of a free country is that anyone can say what they like - even an American neo-con!


To the Irish Voter who said "We are European citizens, and as such have a right to a say in how the EU is run"
Yes, we do have that right but only thanks only to our Irish Constitution.
The other ‘citizens’ in Europe do not have this right.
The reason why other countries in Europe did not give their citizen’s a vote is because they know that it would be rejected. Welcome to democracy Euro style!
I would question your use of ‘citizen’.
I am Irish and a citizen of Ireland and like many more do not regard ourselves as citizens of any European 'Union'.
With all the main political groups, business lobbies & the media putting pressure on us to vote 'Yes' there will still be close to 50% who will not be pressured into selling out our nation.

Richard Wm Short:

I am a Canadian with a solid English/Protestant upbringing.
I take exception to Ms Maister's demeaning phrase, "The Irish, of all people...".
It is unworthy of the Washington Post.


The author is woefully uninformed about the role of Ireland in world history; especially given that he lives in the capital. Ireland has played a key role in world history from hundreds of years of staunch opposition to British occupation to the civil rights movement and everything in between. In fact, the Irish were busy preserving all of civilization thousands of years before the United States constitution was even written and when the rest of Europe was in the dark (see Thomas Cahill). The ethnocentrism and total lack of understanding of Irish culture is an embarrassment.


Many fear the new Charter of Fundamental could be abused in Europe. Would Irish supporters of "Yes" who are in Public life publicly offer their pensions as hostages to this not happening?

Irish Son:

A well-written, knowledgeable summary of the debate going on in Ireland in recent weeks. I would like to know then, what you mean by "The Irish, of all people, hold Europe's fate in their hands with a single vote." In addition, your other strange phrase "Today, the Irish -- for the first and perhaps only time - hold the future of Europe's 500 million people in their hands" - why does this warrant comment? They are the only electorate who have their direct say over the wide-ranging reforms being proposed, something I think many voters in other European countries would dearly like to have. Shouldn't we be trusted to vote on these issues?

D O'Brien:

" The Irish, of all people "
A slightly offensive beginning to the article I think and has really put me off the article from the beginning. I don't see why us Irish shouldn't have a say in what will affect our country directly and I don't see why it should be surprising that we do have this say in European affairs.

Davey Do:

I would think he meant a country of 4 million, with little history of being as power broker or deal maker, deciding the fate of an entity of 500 million.

Anyway, if Ireland votes "No" a few changes will be made and the process will march on. The "deciding the fate" bit seems exagerated.

Irish European:

If you take offence to the "Irish of all people" exercising their democratic right in the future of their Europe then I think you are living in the wrong country sweetheart. I must admit I find your comment insulting.


Nice piece, but why head it with "The Irish, of all people” ? The Irish above all people have always been on the side of the underdog and the repressed, have given blood, sweat and tears to America since the time of the colonies. PLus they have given America some of its greatest political leaders. It may be ironic to you Ms, that they have the opportunity to determine the fate of Europe, but they are more political savvy than most.



'What exactly is meant by "of all people". We are European citizens, and as such have a right to a say in how the EU is run. Why should it come as a surprise??'.

I wouldn't take it as an insult. The Irish have a reputation for being laid-back and easy-going (as well as being neutral), so it is ironic that you are the one country that gets a chance to send a torpedo into the bow of the mighty Euro battleship.


When you said about the US constitution: "they created a document that resonated in the individual consciousness and has stood the test of time", you are mistaken. The constitution is not being adhered to anymore. The simple fact that the US federal government ask income tax is by itself a breach of the US constitution. If we talk about the Fed that creates mony out of thin air, according the constitution it is forbidden. And there is much much more wehn we talk about war, privacy and laws that are unconstitutional. Just google Ron Paul, and learn the truth! As the EU constitution is concerned, it is one of a bigger covernment, more control over the people, less freedom for the people, and there is no indication that it is better for the economy because for a sound economy we need a sound Euro (it is not, because it is controlled by a central bank, not by the market or gold) and competition also between te EU countries.

Martyn Fortuyn:

Not sure what you are insinuating in your headline when you refer to "The Irish, of all people" holding this important vote. Also this treaty bares no resemblence to the American constitution.

Irish Voter:

"The Irish, of all people"
What exactly is meant by "of all people". We are European citizens, and as such have a right to a say in how the EU is run. Why should it come as a surprise??

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