The Lisbon Treaty is all the rage these days. Gee, er, not quite. It’s about as ‘all the rage’ as Daniel O’Donnell is with Germaine Greer, Hilary Clinton is with charm and the North Wharf is with immediate redevelopment.
Honestly, how many of us have any idea what we’re going to be voting on come June 12th? How many of us, apart from those who are paid to read, pontificate and hold press conferences on such matters, really know what the Lisbon Treaty is about?
Like a fair share of readers, I intend to vote on Thursday, June 12th, the putative date mentioned by Minister Martin Cullen on Monday’s ‘Questions & Answers’.
Men and women died for our right to self-determine and it’s important that as many of us as possible avail of our right to vote when the opportunity arises.
But that does come with a disclaimer: as many of us should vote when we’ve a firm understanding of what it is we’re being asked to vote on.
And, in what hardly amounts to a head on the chopping block declaration, it’s fair to say that the nation is snoozing towards a ballot that’s evoking as much excitement as ‘Oireachtas Report’ consistently achieves.
Just because this week’s column is devoted to our latest referendum maketh no expert of me on Qualified Majority Voting, the Stability and Growth Pact and the like.
And have no doubt, a good deal of those who’ve written on the Lisbon Treaty have not read each and every word of the 287 fun-filled pages that the Treaty constitutes.
I know I haven’t, nor shall I allude to having done so, given that it’s lawn cutting season and both my beloved Munster and Manchester United remain in hunt for silverware.
It also makes one wonder how many of those in the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps have actually read the Treaty in its entirety.
So, in a not-so-serious set of paragraphs, what have both sides of the debate been screaming about for the past few weeks in the hope that a few of us are listening?
The ‘Yes’ camp proclaims it’ll bring the shiny happy people of Gaultier, Gdansk and Groningen together in a way never thought imaginable when the spectre of Nazism shrouded the continent.
After all, this latest treaty is just sanding off some of the previous EU treaties’ coarser edges. So in reality, we’re just voting for stuff we’re kind of already voted on, sort of.
The ‘No’ camp is predicting that some besuited Brussels behemoth will steal into your house and eat your kids if this treaty is green-lit.
It’s an insanely evil piece of text and should the wind change direction while reading it, you’ll stay like that, unless the Ring of Power is cast into the fires of Mount Doom.
Well, that’s not quite the case, but given the absence of a clear, articulate, utopian/fear-mongering free message out there from anyone, how can we really be expected to vote on something as complicated as this Treaty?
Let’s put it this way. Imagine a book being sent to you in the post. And not just any old book. The tome destined to pop through your mailbox is the most boring book written in the history of history.
There are lots of bad books out there (we’ll say nothing about columns mind you!) and when you open a book that you’re soon bored with, the chances are you’ll never make it to the finish line.
But imagine being asked to write a review of said book that (a) brought on a hint of rigamortis and (b) was so unyielding and dense that made it difficult to even understand in a fundamental sense.
Imagine if the Lisbon Treaty was posted to each and every one of us in full. First of all, its sheer girth would leave many of us having to go to the nearest sorting office to pick it up. The hassle of that alone might well leave most of us not bothering.
Yet such a procedure is the only way of actually ensuring that each and every citizen is in a position to fully brief themselves on what the Treaty entails, without relying on a pro/anti flyer which is simply someone else’s version of what it represents.
There is an abundance of information out there about the Lisbon Treaty. Anyone that says there’s not enough information out there is wrong, wrong, wrong.
That you might need to take a career break to read through it all does represent somewhat of an obstacle.
The problem is that the Treaty itself is so bloody big and so bloody complex that to reduce it to simply ticking a box marked either ‘Tá’ or ‘Níl’ seems a little questionable.
However, it’s worth pointing out that, unlike most of our European neighbours, at least we’ve got a chance to vote on this Treaty, however dense it might be.