Who’s the biggest bully?

June 10, 2008

Ireland’s PMEach side accuses the other of trying to scare voters ahead of Ireland’s referendum on the EU treaty on Thursday.
“No” groups have campaigned on issues ranging from abortion and euthanasia to taxation and Ireland’s military neutrality. They also say new decision-making mechanisms mean small states will lose influence and get trampled by the EU’s heavyweights.

The government’s response is to accuse treaty opponents of scaremongering by campaigning on emotive and extraneous issues that will not be affected by the treaty.
In some cases neutral voices are inclined to agree, with the Catholic archbishop of Dublin and referendum commission weighing in to say there is nothing in the treaty that threatens Ireland’s strict abortion and euthanasia laws.
The government warns of “dire consequences” for Ireland’s economy and diplomatic clout if a nation that has gained so much from EU support and subsidies is ungrateful enough to reject the treaty.
The “No” camp accuses the government of bullying, blackmail and exaggeration. Indeed a number of economists say that while a “Yes” vote would be best for future prosperity, rejection of the treaty is unlikely to have any severe repercussions.
So who is the biggest bully in the playground? Or is it just an inevitable flaw in referendums that they become a lightning rod for irrelevant issues and for politicians who don’t trust us to be able to debate the question we’re being asked?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

As an English person I have been more than disappointed not to have the right to vote on this very important issue and I now hope that a signal has been sent to the European Union that they cannot take for granted the support of the ordinary citizens of member states and must always give them the democratic right to express their view and preferences.

Posted by Mike Brocklehurst | Report as abusive

gordon brown please take note you would have been more respected if you had followed the irish method,good for them they must have backbone

Posted by ivan | Report as abusive

Well done the Irish people. But beware Brussels and the European politicians. They are quite capable of ignoring the vote with the connivance of governments like Britain, France and Germany.

Posted by John Hinch | Report as abusive

at least the Irish people got a vote And they are right The policians are only looking after themselves They don’t care about the people

Posted by iain | Report as abusive

“In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?”

-Saint Augustine

From the article:
Richard Bruton, deputy leader of Ireland’s main opposition Fine Gael party, which supported the treaty, said voters lashed out without necessarily understanding the issues at stake. “The treaty’s benefits were very cerebral and a hard sell,” Bruton said.

Mr. Bruton must be very proud for insinuating the working class of Ireland wouldn’t understand the treaty or it’s benefits. How arrogant and proud. If this was such a great deal for Ireland and the rest of Europe why did half of the countries wait on this vote before ratifying it themselves? Does it make you wonder what was in it for him? What ‘official’ post he would have taken had this passed?

Wake up Europe! What ever happened to treaties between countries? How is adding an additional layer of continental government above your own a solution? As we have learned (and are currently learning) here in the U.S., bigger government is not a good thing and most likely does not have your best interest in mind.

So slainte to you, voters of Ireland for standing up to the political social elite of the new world order! RETAIN YOUR SOVEREIGNTY because once you’ve given it up, you’ll be robbed of what you have left.

Posted by Scott Wolf | Report as abusive

Hurray for my brave, independent-minded Irish brothers. This is a vote against One-Worldism. We Americans are in the same struggle against the New World Order, Nafta, Cafta and open borders.

Posted by william | Report as abusive

Is Reuters in hock to the EU just like the BBC (which has over UKP 100 million on loan from the ECB)? If not why is Reuters not taking a more questioning line on the new Soviet – the EU. Everytime a vote is permitted, the EU is rejected. NO NO NO EU.

Posted by Barry Harding | Report as abusive

Let’s be clear about why well over 50% of the Irish electorate voted “No” to the Lisbon Treaty: not only did this “treaty” cede unprecedented power to the pan-European bureaucrats in Brussels, but it called for an unsustainable, unreachable consensus on so called EU “foreign policy”. And, of course, in matters dear to the hearts of the Irish, it curtailed their ability to exercise a veto in a number of important areas. Open borders and tariff-free trade zones are one thing, but the kind of “united States of the EU” envisioned by some Eurocrats is impracticable and wholly unworkable. Why would we try to destroy the diversity and rich cultural differences that exist between EU members in the name of some spurious, ill-conceived “urge to merge”?

Ireland was a poor country, but with help of EU became one of the richest. Now when EU needed their Yes to be more efficient in global world, they kick EU off. Ireland is unbelievablly self-fish.

Posted by Juraj Slovakia | Report as abusive

Thank God for good old-fashioned Irish common sense! What the so-called European “elite” in Brussels have secretively been building up is nothing less than a new, hi-tech version of the USSR based on a total rejection of Christian values and a deliberate crippling of democratic procedures. Before we know what’s happened we’ll be enslaved by an arrogant oligarchy which controls every facet of our lives — all in the name of the “fight against terrorism”, of course. Mark my words, the next step will be censorship of the internet, so that enemies of the Superstate won’t be able to compare notes.

Posted by Eileen Rose | Report as abusive

Absolutely brilliant! Well done the Irish!!

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive


AS A PERSON WHO HAS BEEN TO ALL THE ORIGINAL 15, AND WORKED IN ALL 15, Also haveing ben to many of the later Joiners, what Brussels wants is us to all be Europeans, Now thats an Insault to all of our National History good or bad, or indifferent.

by given the No Vote yet again, France has done it, Sweden Denmark and the UK have done it by not haveing the Euro, this must mean although we all want to be trade partners we all want to Remain Irish Danes Sweedish British French and so on.

Many I have spoken to over the Years never understood Why Britain Never signed up for the Euro, well it wasnt the Euro that was the reason why John Major Never signed the Mastrich Treaty, It was to do with the Social Charter attached to that Treaty, where by it meant Every Uk person had to carry on them an EU document ie a ID Card, and John Major would of never been able to sale that to the UK population at that time, had this treaty happened ofter 9/11 there may of been a different outcome, due to the Balless Priminister at the time of 9/11.


Posted by les | Report as abusive

What a novel idea!!! Ireland has actually exercised responsible democracy by giving her people the democratic right of a referendum on further European integration. May the autocratic house of cards that is the Europe Union come to nothing unless ALL Europe’s people get to exercise the democratic right of a referendum on their own futures.

Posted by Ian McIver | Report as abusive

The YES campaign might have been letargic and boring, but the issue is right. The best example of the need of reforms is the Eurovision song contest. 15 years ago all countries followed the code when voting (with small exceptions, but they always happen). Now, with so many countries (and different cultures) the old rules are not good any more. They have to be revised. The same is with the EU rules. Massive expansion means that it is not the same EU as before.
So the message is simple:
If you liked this years Eurovision song contest, and would like the EU ruled the same way – Vote NO.
If you prefer to safeguard old values – vote YES for changes.
(Well, it is a bit late now for that).

Posted by Pawel | Report as abusive

I am proud of Ireland and all the people who voted “No”, to giving up their freedom and sovereignty to the EU. – Of course you heard the German foreign minister react – suggesting they will “enforce” the treaty anyway – (as they have elsewhere in Europe). This only proves that it is time for the Irish people to stand firm and resist their will.

Posted by H McGurk | Report as abusive

I am Irish, and so relieved that this Treaty got a No vote. Anyone I spoke to beforehand about it were definite that they’d vote no. Given the chance, I think more countries in the EU would have done the same. Well done, countrymen, and thank you to those of you from other EU countries and the US who have endorsed our result.

Posted by Jen | Report as abusive

Well done Ireland – I think, however, to no avail.
A spokesman from brussels has already said they will carry on with the treaty regardless, and angela merkel, (former politician of east germany (DDR) and therefore aware of, and supporter of STASI brutality, torture and murder) has also said “we will carry on with the ratification process but also respect the Irish decision” WHAT??? Isn’t it 1 no and it’s finished? Don’t ALL countries have to agree? Or have I misunderstood something here?
I live in germany and pretty pro-eu. But when all the English press were saying that the eu constitution was dead after the French vote the german government were already saying we will bring it in another way! And they have managed it.
Give the vote to all the countries, and let them have a say. Stop telling us whats good for us without explaining. Stop treating us like children “you don’t need to know, you wouldn’t understand”
We have a saying about the politicians here: same trough, different pigs.
I imagine the trough in brussels is HUGE

Thnak you to everyone in Ireland you have saved the majority of us from being further taxed and buried in Europe. It was plainly obvious that the treaty was simply the consititution which had been rejected before wrapped in a different cover.

Now will the politicians all over Europe take note… you were elected to do the bidding of the people. The people of Ireland have spoken… politicians do you job, do their bidding!

For too long now Poloticians have lost sight of the fact that they are CIVIL SERVANTS… not civil masters!

Gordon Brown.. go now… you are an untrustworthy backstabber of the British people. You know the British people would reject this treaty thats why you ran scared of offering us a referendum. At least the Irish politicians were honest enough to ask their people….

Posted by Barrie Winstanley | Report as abusive

John Dinnery, The Masonic movement has nothing in common with the undemocratic Euro Govt. we believe in the same freedoms as any democrat and totally deplore the actions od Brown and Co for breaking their pledge of a referendum

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive