On 2nd October all eyes will be on Ireland, as the country’s citizens go to the polling booths to vote for a second time on the Lisbon Treaty. And, as Colin Murphy writes in a web exclusive for Prospect today, the increasingly fierce debate around Lisbon, coupled with Ireland’s dire economic situation, has seen old political ghosts come out of the woodwork, as well as insecurities concerning national identity and sovereignty that the Tiger-era had supposedly buried.
Murphy says that the country’s conservative Catholic lobby, which suffered devastating setbacks during the more prosperous and liberal 1990s, see Lisbon as the moment to reassert their influence by running a vociferous “NO” campaign. Most ardent of these groups are Cóir (‘justice’), who have adopted a populist stance in an attempt to appeal to communities who feel patronised and ignored by the Dublin government, and distrust their embrace of Europe:
Their most striking poster features images of three of the leaders executed after 1916’s Easter uprising, proclaiming: “They won your freedom. Don’t throw it away.”Their most striking poster features images of three of the leaders executed after 1916’s Easter uprising, proclaiming: “They won your freedom. Don’t throw it away.” Given that martyrdom is Ireland’s most potent motif, the appropriation of these patriots by a group suspected of being a single-issue lobby was always going to raise hackles. Not to mention that opposition to Lisbon aligns them with the extreme Eurosceptics of UKIP and even—perversely—the BNP, never previously noted for their support for Irish republicanism.
But will the group’s deeply reactionary brand of Catholicism prove a deterrent to an electorate which has been deserting the church in flocks for decades? And how does its conservatism sit with the more left-leaning organisations campaigning against the Lisbon treaty? Read and comment on the piece here.