Tuesday, 15 January 2008

EU Commission Official in Dublin weighs in improperly in debate on the Lisbon Treaty

We are informed that Mr Martin Territt, Director of the European Commission Office in Ireland, will be addressing the Dublin Regional Authority on the issue of the Lisbon Treaty on tomorrow, Tuesday, evening, 15 January, in Dublin City Hall.

If this is so, it is a clear indication of the intention of the EU Commission and its employees to interfere in the referendum decision of the Irish people with the aim of ensuring that it, the Commission, can gain more power for itself at the expense of the citizens of this State.

It is quite improper of the EU Commission or its employees to take part in the national debate on the Lisbon Treaty. It is probably unlawful under Irish law, in the light of the Supreme Court’s judgement in the McKenna case, and it possibly unlawful under European law also as entailing an improper use of European Community funds.

The European Commission is not a signatory to the Lisbon Treaty, whose ratification is solely a matter for the EU Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

So far as Ireland’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is concerned, the Commission is an outside body whose duty it is to act under the existing EC/EU Treaties and not to promote the ratification of a future one which would add greatly to its own powers by abolishing the national right of veto in some 40 new areas of policy and giving the Commission the monopoly of proposing EU laws for those same areas in the future.

The Commission has not permitted its employees to engage in domestic political debates on matters of public interest and contention in Ireland in the past. Moreover, it has huge funds at its disposal with which to seek to influence Irish opinion if it can get away with spending them here.

Last year Mr Territt and the Commission Office in Dublin were effectively found to have been encouraging violations of the Irish Broadcasting Acts by inserting political advertisements seeking to influence public attitudes to the EU on Newstalk 106 and all Irish local radio stations – even though political advertising on Irish radio and TV is unlawful.

The Commission’s Dublin Office had spent €360,000 in effectively encouraging Irish local radio stations to act unlawfully before the Broadcasting Complaints Commission decided that these broadcasts constituted unlawful political advertising in adjudicating on a complaint made by Anthony Coughlan and Patricia McKenna.

These advertisements financed by the Commission were ostensibly geared to giving Irish citizens information on their rights under EU law, but they were judged by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission to be propagandist in character and therefore “political” and unlawful under the Broadcasting Acts.

Irish citizens contribute by their taxes to financing the European Commission and therefore Mr Territt’s own salary, by whatever miniscule amount. European Commission funds and Mr Territt’s time and energy should not be spent in making propaganda for the Lisbon Treaty, whose ratification would have the effect of giving the Commission more power at the expense of the Dail Eireann and the Irish people who elect the members of the Dail.

In relation to Mr Territt’s address to the Dublin Authority tomorrow night, one may ask also where is the attempt at political balance here by our tax-funded local authority?

Anthony Coughlan
The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9
Tel.: 01-8305792