Stanley's blog

John Wyles, writing this week in the “European Voice” correctly stresses that the Irish vote has not plunged the European Union into crisis, but that its legitimacy needs a “serious repair job”.

But I disagree that “it would be absurd to ask them to vote a second time when no substantial remodelling of the
Lisbon is needed or desirable.”

Our tradition is representative – not direct – democracy. The referendum is an inappropriate tool to use, other than to answer a vital but simple question, eg: Are you for or against abortion? 27 governments and probably 27 parliaments approve the new treaty.

Surprisingly, we do not have a clear indication of why a referendum was necessary. Two explanations have been given. The first, that it is necessary if its implementation requires an amendment to the Irish Constitution, in which case only the extension of qualified majority voting (QMV) requires this.

The second, a Supreme Court decision of 1985 necessitates an amendment to the constitution each time the state signs a treaty requiring it to share sovereignty. The Lisbon Treaty falls into that category, and can only be ratified if there is an appropriate amendment to the constitution. In other words, it is not a question of whether or not the new treaty contains specific provisions conflicting with the constitution.

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