Saturday 21 January 2017

The damage done by Lisbon re-run will not be easily fixed

Published 03/10/2009 | 05:00

Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his wife Mary cast their votes in the Lisbon II referendum yesterday
Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his wife Mary cast their votes in the Lisbon II referendum yesterday

An event of lasting political significance has taken place with the vote on the second Lisbon Treaty referendum. Whatever the outcome, those who have voted 'No' did so having been disenfranchised. The act of doing this took place more than a year ago, when the Government -- without any guarantees at all for what they did -- broke trust with a national democratic decision, one that is enshrined in our Constitution and should have an absolute value, as referendums have had in the past.

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Ignoring this was a government act, pursued immediately and energetically by Brian Cowen, without debate, and aggressively backed by Micheal Martin. After initial prevarication by the leaders of the two main parties, with Eamon Gilmore saying first that the Lisbon Treaty was dead and then changing his mind, Fine Gael and Labour completed the process of disenfranchisement of those who had voted 'No'.

With the exception of a small number of them, who were Sinn Fein supporters, more than 800,000 people, representing close to one-third of registered voters, found themselves without a voice in the Dail.

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