Our strengthening family links with Ireland have stimulated greater interest in Irish current affairs. June 12th is building up to being a very big day. They don't come much bigger. In Ireland on that day, there will occur the only opportunity for anyone in the EU to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Its the day when one million Irish voters will be, in effect voting on behalf of the almost 500 million people who live in the EU.
For me the Lisbon Treaty encapsulates everything that is wrong about the EU - and I'm not referring to the Treaty's content, which is another matter. I'm commenting on the process - the contemptuous way that the great bureaucratic leviathan that is the Commission, dismisses the whole notion of democratic accountability. When the Commission's plans for a new EU constitution were rejected by the people at referendums, the Commission simply re-drafted it a touch, renamed it, and declared that in its new form, it was not a 'constitutional' treaty at all - to avoid the necessity of putting the Treaty to a popular vote. Only die hard Europhiles claim to believe this. But Ireland's constitution was not so flexible and did necessitate a referendum - a week on Thursday.
To begin with, this didn't seem to matter. Ireland has been a massive beneficiary of EU financial help, and all the main political parties, and the media are behind the Yes campaign. A Yes result seemed certain. But it seems that the Irish voters are not so easily led. A campaign group called Libertas has inspired a strong No movement. It started off a very small thing, like a little snowball, but it has grown as it rolled down to the day of reckoning. And now the EU President is getting worried. Mr Barrosa has started to issue veiled threats to the Irish voters. "We will all pay a price for it (a No vote) INCLUDING IRELAND" he warns.
Personally, I hope the No campaign wins the day. Our democracy is diminishing, and the integrationists need to be confronted with the scale of people's disillusionment. Of course, a No vote probably wouldn't make that much difference anyway. The Commission will just dis aggregate all the proposals and introduce them one at a time, without any fuss or popular mandate at all. From this, you will note my level of disillusionment - or is it cynicism.