Monday, 26 September 2005

Co-opting the Irish Catholic Hierarchy in support of the EU Constitution…


The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, Dr Diarmuid Martin, is giving a lecture tonight on “The Future of Europe” in All Hallows College, Dublin 9. This is a prelude to a major all-day conference on the EU in Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium on tomorrow, Tuesday, to be addressed by Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern,and by such well-known Irish Europhiles as Peter Sutherland, Alan Dukes, David Begg and Brigid Laffan.

This ludicrously one-sided event is being financed by the EU Commission, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs AND THE JESUIT ORDER. Its purpose is to generate support in Ireland for the moribund EU Constitution which was rejected by the voters of France and the Netherlands this summer.

The EU Commission has been allocated some 200 million euros to encourage ratification of the “Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe”, in which it is a hugely self-interested party; for the Constitution would greatly increase the Commission’s power, perquisites and constitutional status in a new EU if the Treaty embodying it were ever to be ratified.

The political intent of tomorrow’s Commission-sponsored conference in Dublin is indicated in its invitation brochure, which states that the conference is to consider why Governments have had to “delay” ratification of the EU Constitution. Not “suspend”, not “terminate”, but “delay! This illustrates the mind-set of the Commission and the Irish Foreign Affairs Department as they strain by hook and by crook to revive the moribund EU Constitution.

Below for your information is the text of an “open letter” to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin from Anthony Coughlan of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre in connection with the Archbishop’s lecture tonight. The letter criticises the manner in which the Irish Roman Catholic Hierarchy has allowed itself to be manipulated by a coterie of Europhiles who succeeded in inducing the Irish Bishops to endorse the Treaty of Nice in Ireland’s two referendums in 2001 and 2002, and who were preparing to do the same in the referendum on the proposed EU Constitution that was planned for this October,on the assumption that the French people voted Yes to it in their referendum on 29 May last.

These EU-related events in Dublin tonight and tomorrow were almost certainly planned before the French and Dutch referendums, on the assumption that Ireland would now be moving into the final vital period of an early October referendum campaign here. It seems probable that they were originally geared to influencing Irish Catholic voters in that putative referendum.

Relevant questions that occur are the following: (1) Is it right that Irish taxpayers’ money should be used either by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs or the EU Commission to fund such a one-sided conference panel as Tuesday’s, from which all opponents of the EU Constitution have been excluded?; (2) How has the money to finance Tuesday’s conference been divided between the Commission, the Irish Foreign Affairs Department and the Jesuit Order?; (3) Are the speakers at Tuesday’s conference being paid a fee for their efforts, and if so how much?

Included also is the text of one of the documents referred to in the “open letter” to Archbisop Martin – a list of quotations by senior EU politicians giving their views on European integration over the years.

It is hoped that you may find some of these statements illuminating, in particular perhaps the first and last one.

Anthony Coughlan
24 Crawford Avenue Dublin 9 Tel.: (01) 8305792

His Grace Most Rev.Dr Diarmuid Martin,
Archbishop of Dublin,
Archbishop’s House, Drumcondra Dublin 9

19 September 2005

Dear Archbishop Martin,

I read recently in the “Irish Catholic” that you will be giving a lecture at All Hallows College on “The Future of Europe: Challenges for Faith and Values” on Monday evening next, 26 September, as the first of two events on “The Future of Europe” being sponsored by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and jointly funded by the European Commission, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Jesuit Province. The second of these events, on Tuesday of next week, is a conference in Croke Park Stadium to be addressed by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Messrs Peter Sutherland, Alan Dukes, David Begg, Dan O’Brien, David McWilliams, and Dr Brigid Laffan and Mrs Doris Peschke, all of whom are, so far as I know, strong supporters of the proposed EU Constitution

I was also recently informed – with what truth I do not know – that your colleagues in the Hierarchy decided some months ago that in the event of this State having a referendum on the “Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe”, you alone would speak publicly on their behalf on the matter.

Now that the people of France and the Netherlands have rejected this mistitled Treaty-cum-Constitution – which was of course a Constitution for the EU rather than for Europe – we shall not be having a referendum on it here, but there is still likely to be much interest in your lecture next Monday among those who follow these matters.

As you are doubtless aware, the European Commission, which is helping to finance next week’s Croke Park conference, is a highly self-interested party in the debate on the future of the EU and its Constitution. As the non-elected executive of the EU and sole possessor of the right to propose EU legislation, the Commission stood to gain huge additional power and perquisities if the EU Constitution had been agreed. The recent allocation by the Commission of many millions of euros to advance the cause of ratification of the Constitution, or some further treaty based upon it, is disturbing to democrats across Europe who regard this body as being, in the words of the late French President Charles de Gaulle, “an areopagus of technocrats without a country, responsible to nobody.” Next Tuesday’s well-financed propaganda initiative by the Brussels Commission should therefore alarm everyone who believes that the democratic verdicts of the French and Dutch peoples on the EU Constitution should be respected – which means they should be abided by.

Over the years the European Commission has succeded in co-opting European Transnational Big Business, many senior Trade Unionists, significant sections of the feminist movement, the anti-poverty lobby and many social science academics into supporting the EU integration project through the establishment of various slush funds, the network of EU-financed Jean Monnet professorships and the like. As you will also be aware, the Commission and the European Movement have in recent years turned their attention to the Christian Churches, in particular the Roman Catholic Church and the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches, and have systematically set out to woo them into supporting the EU integration project, with its erosion of national democracy and national independence and its concentration of power in the hands of powerful supranational political, economic and bureaucratic elites, at the heart of which is the EU Commission itself.

Many people in Ireland, among them many Catholics, were very disturbed that the European Committee of the Irish Hierarchy should have been responsible for a statement supporting the Yes side in the Nice Treaty referendums of 2001 and 2002. They found it highly regrettable that the Hierarchy should have endorsed a statement on such a secular matter which implicitly urged people to vote Yes, especially as the Irish Bishops had never intervened before in any of our constitutional referendums on European Treaties, not even in our original 1972 EEC Accession referendum. This development points to the success o
f the co-option exercise referred to – as indeed does the Commission-funded conference to be held on Tuesday next, with its ludicrously unbalanced panel of pro-EU Constitution speakers.

With all due respect to your episcopal colleagues and yourself, one must wonder how it is possible for the Irish Catholic Bishops to obtain responsible and impartial advice on EU-related matters, when its relevant European Advisory Committee consists overwhelmingly of ardent proponents of EU integration, with all critics of that highly contested process being excluded from it?

As you prepare your own public lecture for Monday next, may I enclose for your information some critical documents on the EU that my colleagues and I in the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre have produced. The most important political aspect of the proposed EU Constitution is that it would for the first time have made us real citizens of a new European Union organised in the constitutional form of a supranational Federation – and not just notional or honorary EU “citizens” as at present. If the EU Constitution were to be ratified, we would consequently owe this new Union – which would be constitutionally, legally and politically quite different from the present EU – the prime duties of citizenship, namely loyalty and obedience to its laws. These duties would override our obligations to the Republic of Ireland, in as much as the EU Constitution and law would be superior to our national Constitution and law. The first document discusses this.

The second document is a critical analysis of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which constituted Part 2 of the proposed Constitution. This would give the new Union and its supreme court, the European Court of Justice(ECJ), the final say in deciding our human and civil rights in all areas covered by EU law, which is now vast and whose limits and boundaries would be decided by the ECJ itself in the event of any dispute as to where those limits might lie. This proposal raises some of the most important issues of law, morality and politics. You will surely agree that it is hard to imagine anyone who is genuinely concerned with people’s rights and who knows how the EU and its Court of Justice work, welcoming the EU being given the power to decide the human and citizens’ rights of some 450 million people, over and above their national Constitutions and Supreme Courts and the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg?

You will be aware that on Tuesday of last week the ECJ, that “court with a mission”, to use the words of one of its judges, made a hugely important judgement which opens the legal door to conferring a criminal juridiction on the EU, including harmonised penalties for breaches of EU law and harmonised supranational court procedures that could in time threaten such fundamental rights of our system as trial by jury and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Irish and other EU Governments were thrown out in their attempt to stop the Court of Justice greatly increasing the power of the Commission by this judgement.

The third document is a list of quotations from various EU leaders over the years, indicating how they saw the EU integration project as a way to build an EU World Power with most of the features of a supranational Federal State. My colleagues and I hope that you may find these documents of use or interest as you prepare your lecture. If you would like to discuss these issues with us at any time, we are at your disposal.

Because of the public interest nature of this matter, I am sending a copy of this letter to your colleagues in the Hierarchy, to His Excellency the Papal Nuncio, and to the media and various opinion formers who may be interested in it.

Yours sincerely
Anthony Coughlan