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That being said, the debate was pretty painful to listen to at times. Jimmy Kelly’s low blows and attempts to link Joe Costello with Fianna Fáil smacked of desperation. A particularly awkward moment for Kelly was when, after slating the Lisbon Treaty with vague generalisations, he was unable to name one specific way in which the Treaty would damage workers’ rights. It was clear that he had no grasp of the basic facts:
This debate raises some interesting issues. It’s very significant that UNITE, Britain’s largest trade union, is transplanting their euro-sceptic agenda onto Ireland’s political landscape. In fact, UNITE has been fundamentally opposed to the EU since its inception. They’ve also been steadfast in their stance against social partnership in Ireland. It’s alarming to see a trade union using Irish workers as pawns for a British Eurosceptic agenda.
Leading Irish trade unionists fully support Lisbon. ICTU have voted in favour of the Treaty. A group of trade union leaders have also established The Charter Group – which publicises the benefits workers will receive from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, an essential part of the Lisbon Treaty. These included Blair Horan of the CPSU, Des Geraghty of SIPTU, Peter McLoone of IMPACT, Steve Fitzpatrick of CWU, Clare Tracey of INO and Sen. Ivana Bacik.
We look forward to hearing some of these trade union activists getting on the airwaves in the next few weeks to fight for the Lisbon Treaty and for workers’ rights.
Over the next few weeks there is no doubt that a few interesting characters are going to pop up and get themslves noticed. Cóir’s “legal expert” Brian Hickey, who received a diploma in legal studies in July 2009, raised some eyebrows when he appeared on Newstalk’s The Wide Angle on Sunday.
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When Mr. Hickey was asked: “Do you think we should be members of the European Union?” The response was,
“Cóir would not have a specific position on that. Different Cóir members would have different views on that matter. My personal view and I would stress that it is a personal view is that we should not be members.“
This is a worrying trend that demonstrates the lack of coherence and foresight by those espousing a NO vote. Whatever misunderstandings people may have about the Lisbon Treaty, it is a minority faction of society that would wish Ireland to exit the EU. Even more worrying is that Cóir as an organisation has not agreed whether Ireland should remain in the EU.
Why after all that this country has benefitted from the EU would we listen to the views of an organization that want us out the Union?