Friday, September 11, 2009
Déjà vu - I thought we had this debate before
I took part in a debate in Limerick City last night on the upcoming Lisbon Treaty. It was with a sense of Déjà vu as we had the debate before; we had the arguments, the leaflets, the posters, the vote and the result. A majority of people voted on referendum day and of that a majority said no. Over 900,000 people to be precise. The people gave the Government a mandate to go and get a better deal. They wasted that opportunity and are now asking us to vote again on exactly the same treaty.
I believe that voting no simply on the basis that we have already said no is not reason enough. The world has changed since the last referendum. Ireland’s economy has gone into freefall. Our public finances are in a mess. The prospect of direct IMF intervention is real. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs. Savage cuts are being implemented in health, education and across the public sector. Nama is being set up to bail out greedy property speculators and incompetent bankers. So I agree, we do need a new referendum. We need a new treaty for the new changed economic circumstances we find ourselves in.
The economic philosophy which underpins Lisbon and Europe – Neo Liberalism – has failed. It is a system that has brought us boom and bust. It is a system that has increased wage differentials, brought about greater inequality, trapped more people into poverty, privatized public enterprises, weakens public services, undermines workers rights and above all supports the primacy of the free market. This failed ideology is not what we need to turn things around. You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. So we have a choice. We can say no again and for the right reasons again and in doing so send a strong message to our Government and to Europe – we need a new treaty for a new times..