By Hilary White

DUBLIN, September 22, 2009 ( – The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference has issued a statement supporting the Lisbon Treaty and throwing in their lot with the “European project” for international unification. This project, however, has been blasted by pro-life and pro-democracy leaders as little less than an effort to establish a new totalitarian European superstate, and one that could easily lead to the demise of Ireland's pro-life laws.

Despite continued warnings from pro-life groups in Ireland and in Europe, a statement issued today by the bishops said the Treaty “does not undermine existing legal protections in Ireland for unborn children.” The bishops further said, “Any material which misinforms voters is an interference with the exercise of a fundamental right and has no place in church buildings or grounds.”

“The Lisbon Treaty is of the greatest importance, not only for us here in Ireland but also for the future shape of the European project.”

The official position statement of the Irish bishops follows another statement last week by Bishop Noel Treanor, who said that the “guarantees” obtained by the Irish government from EU leaders would safeguard Irish constitutional protections for the right to life. But pro-life campaigners have warned that these are meaningless since they are not written into the terms of the Treaty itself.

Leading No campaign group Coir said that a Yes vote on the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, the replacement for the European Constitution that was defeated in 2005, could mean that “the Irish people will lose the right to decide on abortion and a whole range of social issues.”

Coir and other pro-life groups have repeatedly warned that under the Lisbon Treaty Ireland and the few other remaining countries in the EU with legal protections for the unborn will be subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice that could interpret the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights to uphold a “right to abortion.”

Coir spokeswoman Niamh Ui Bhriain said that current legal protections were not at issue, but that the Treaty will give the EU Courts the powers to decide on abortion “and a great many other social issues in the future.”

Ui Bhriain said, “A reading of the treaty makes that very clear. A new and legally different EU is created in Articles 1 and 49, we all become citizens of that superstate in Article 9, and Article 6 then gives us, as citizens, a legally binding Charter of Rights. That's what gives the EU Court the right to decide our human rights law – including our laws on issues like abortion and euthanasia – in the future.”

This position is held also by European pro-life groups who have pleaded with the Irish public, whose country is the last to still allow a public vote, to defeat the Lisbon treaty in next month's referendum. In a media release earlier this month, the Pro-life Movement of the Czech Republic made exactly the same warning about the powers of the European Court of Justice and the biases of the EU in favour of abortion.

This position is also held by the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC). Pat Buckley, SPUC's representative at the European Parliament and Council of Europe said today that the EU's Committee of Ministers are “being encouraged” to develop a European Convention “to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights by 2015.” He called it another step in the “creeping agenda” at the EU to establish the notion of abortion as a “universal human right” that would be protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Buckley rubbished the “guarantees” obtained by the Irish government, saying they “are not binding in EU law, and they don't change one jot of the Treaty of Lisbon. It's the same Treaty that was rejected by the Irish people last year, and virtually the same document as the Constitution for Europe that was rejected by the French and Dutch people in 2005.”

Declaration 17 of the Lisbon Treaty says that the EU would have primacy over the laws of member states: “The Conference recalls that, in accordance with well settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Treaties and the law adopted by the Union on the basis of the Treaties have primacy over the law of Member States, under the conditions laid down by the said case law.”

The No campaign on Lisbon, despite a huge outpouring of public funding in favor of the opposing Yes campaign, is beginning to pick up speed.

A Gael Poll on voting intentions for the Irish referendum suggests there has been a massive surge in support for the “no” campaign, with 59 per cent against the treaty and only 41 per cent prepared to vote “yes.” Last year, the Gael Poll predicted a 54-46 percent margin for the No campaign, with the actual result of the vote being 53.4 percent No and 46.6 percent Yes.

The result of the latest Gael poll has gone largely unreported in the Irish or British mainstream media. The EU Referendum website notes that in general the coverage for this second Irish Referendum on the Lisbon treaty has been significantly played down since last year “by a media that is wholly in favour of the EU treaty.” EU Referendum also notes that the date of the referendum, a few days before the Conservative party convention in October, “will set the EU issue on fire in the UK” and likely renew demands for a referendum in Britain.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy voices in Europe continue to warn of the danger of a “unified” Europe. In a speech last Sunday in Aix-en Provence, France, Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, warned against the rise of a new form of tyranny in Europe. Brussels Journal news and commentary website quoted President Klaus wondering if some former Soviet countries such as his own were not risking falling into “another blind alley of regulated society, of unproductive welfare state, of brave new world of European social democratism and of empty and artificial Europeanism.”

He said the path of the Czech Republic toward democracy began with the catchwords “deregulate, liberalize, privatize” but these were “gradually transformed” into “regulate, adjust to all kinds of standards of the most developed and richest countries, listen to the partial interests of the NGOs and follow them, get rid of your sovereignty and put it into the hands of international institutions and organizations.”
“Europeism is – for me – an inconsistent, evidently heterogeneous, but in principle neosocialist doctrine, which characterizes the current thinking in Europe. It believes neither in freedom, nor in spontaneous evolution of human society,” Klaus said.

Labour MP and former Minister Gisela Stuart blasted the Lisbon Treaty at Open Europe's Dublin meeting last week saying it has serious implications for democracy.

Stuart was a member of the European Convention which drafted the Treaty, and warned that “the nature of democracy is really at stake.” She said the Irish second referendum is the last chance and there would be “no more treaties, no more referendums anywhere” on EU integration.

Read related coverage:

Irish Catholic Bishop OK's Yes Vote for Lisbon

Czech Pro-Life Group Urges NO to Irish Lisbon Vote


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