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More Lisbon red herrings on way

If the article by Bruce Arnold (Irish Independent, December 27) is any indication, the No side intends to use the second Lisbon referendum as another occasion to trot out the half-truths and plain untruths about the text of the treaty itself.

There is nothing in the Lisbon text about corporation tax, as Mr Arnold would have us believe, nor is there anything about a European army or abortion or any of the other red herrings so successfully waved by the No side last June.

Mr Arnold, Libertas and that paragon of democracy, the so-called Sinn Fein, are also intent on attacking the EU as being both undemocratic and an infringement on national sovereignty without being embarrassed by the inherent contradiction in arguing for both a democratic EU and full respect for national sovereignty.

The Lisbon Treaty is neither a literary nor a political masterpiece and its attempt to improve democratic accountability in what is still essentially a union of states and not of people serves only to show that the EU can promote democracy or accept national sovereignty but cannot successfully do both at the same time. The EU we have and will continue to have is no more or less than a mechanism for permanent negotiation among member states which enables them to make decisions, generally based on compromise, and ensures that they observe what they have decided. Although the individual member states are democracies, the process by which they together reach and implement decisions is not, and cannot be, fully democratic.

The only honest position for purists, such as Mr Arnold, who want full respect for both national sovereignty and democracy, is to support Ireland leaving the EU, since, by definition, the EU, being a union of states, cannot reconcile what are, in the European context, two conflicting aspirations.

Of course, it is possible that Mr Ganley, whom Mr Arnold appears to admire greatly, will make good on his assertion that a democratic constitution for a Europe of sovereign states can be set out on 25 or even 15 pages. Unless and until Mr Ganley does so and produces his amazing constitution for the EU, people are not only entitled to be sceptical about any of the arguments put forward by Libertas and the other oddball allies in the No camp, they are bound to consider the No case as not proven and unsustainable.

JAMES LEAVY

RUE DE LA BAUME, PARIS

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