By Hilary White

DUBLIN, July 20, 2009 ( – One of the Republic of Ireland's leading pro-life lobby groups has warned Irish voters that a vote for the Lisbon Treaty will be a vote against the country's constitutional protections for the unborn.

With the impending second Treaty referendum, Irish voters have been presented with postcards, paid for by the Department of Foreign Affairs, that assure that acceptance of the Lisbon Treaty will pose no threat to abortion laws or national sovereignty and independence. But these are empty promises that cannot be upheld under governing EU laws says Richard Greene, head of the lobby group Coir.

Green wrote Tuesday in the Irish Times that despite promises from the government that Ireland has “iron-clad” opt-outs from certain sections of the Treaty, these “Irish guarantees” do nothing to change the text of the Treaty itself and a Yes vote on Lisbon in October would lead to the overturning of Ireland's abortion law.

The Lisbon Treaty, he said, “will remain unchanged by any assurances obtained by the Government on any issue. Not a word or a comma will be altered. It is exactly the same treaty rejected last June by the Irish people.”

Under the Treaty the national laws of each member state will be interpreted not through the state's courts, he said, but by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that is under no legal obligation to consider any other law besides EU law. This means, Greene wrote, that the government's much-touted guarantees “are not part of any EU treaty (including the Lisbon Treaty), so cannot be considered EU law.”

The main danger is the EU's Charter of Rights which is attached to the Treaty and becomes legally binding on all EU member states if Lisbon is passed. This Charter, Greene said, “will be the basis of a legal challenge to Ireland's abortion laws which will surely be brought before the European Court of Justice.”

“This is the core of the problem. Any protocol on the right to life (or on family law) can come into conflict with the Charter – and the European Court of Justice can use the charter to overrule the conflicting protocol and impose abortion on the Irish people.”

The guarantees were recently laid out in material for voters published by the Department of Foreign Affairs, which said that Ireland “retains control of sensitive ethical issues such as abortion.” A postcard mailed to voters insist that the guarantees mean that Ireland (and all other member states) will keep its own Commissioners and remain in control of its own tax rates, that Irish neutrality will not be affected and there will be no conscription into an inter-EU military force.

Last week, Pat Buckley, the representative at Brussels of Britain's Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), gave the same warning against Lisbon, saying that under the Treaty, given the strongly pro-abortion sentiment of most European legal institutions, the ECJ will be in a position to order the Irish government to overturn its pro-life laws.

Irish voters are set to return to the polls on October 2, 2009. The 2008 referendum rejected Lisbon by a vote of 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent, with a turnout of 53.1 percent. Rural areas, where the majority of the public retain more traditional opinions on life and family issues, overwhelmingly rejected the Treaty while more urbanized Irish voted yes.

Ireland is the last member state in the EU to retain a legal requirement for a public plebiscite accepting the Treaty before the government can ratify. As far back as 1987, the Irish Supreme Court warned that a predecessor document to Lisbon, the Single European Act, would create significant changes to national sovereignty and said that such changes require a referendum. The Supreme Court said that the state's power to determine its foreign relations is “held in trust” from the people and may not be transferred by the national government to a supranational EU body without public approval.

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