Irish Faith in European Union

DESPITE rejecting the Lisbon Treaty, designed to change the way Europe is governed, the Irish this week reiterated their faith in and support for membership of the EU.A new survey from the European Commission showed that Ireland appreciates the benefits of EU membership more than any other nation.The findings, based on work conducted before the Lisbon Treaty referendum, showed that 82 per cent of Irish people believe their country has benefited from EU membership. That represents a five per cent drop since the last survey, but it was still higher than anywhere else in the EU. The vote also reflected the findings of a snap poll of 2,000 people immediately after the referendum. It showed that even among those who rejected the Lisbon treaty, 80 per cent favored continued membership of the EU.Meanwhile, main talking point for the past week was Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle's spirited put-down of what she called "far-right" Eurosceptic British MEPs who donned the green jersey and leprechaun hats in the European Parliament and called for the Irish No vote to be respected.They were 100 years too late, Doyle was quick to tell them. She lamented: "How things could have been different if only our British colleagues had come to this conclusion a century ago." Independent Irish West MEP Marian Harkin also slated the green-jersey wearers. She said: "The sheer hypocrisy of this group is mind-boggling as they and the mindsets of those they represent have always been anti-Irish." Fianna Fil's Brian Crowley highlighted the hypocrisy of the British group when he told the parliament that the same people celebrated in an Irish pub in Brussels on the day of the referendum count and used the Irish flag as a beer mat. Most MEPs in the debate said time was needed to decipher why the treaty was rejected. Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness put forward one reason - "Years of blaming the EU for the things which governments find unpalatable". She said: "It is time politicians who are part of the decision-making process in the EU take responsibility for the decisions they make rather than shifting that responsibility elsewhere. Bureaucrats do not vote at Council or in the European Parliament - politicians do." Her words were echoed by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso who said: "Years of treating European institutions as a convenient scapegoat leave fertile ground for populist campaigns." He added: "You cannot bash Brussels and Strasbourg from Monday to Saturday and expect citizens to vote in favor of Europe on Sunday."Although other countries continue with their processes of ratifying the Lisbon treaty Ireland's sole rejection means it cannot go ahead in its present format. Whether negotiations take place to obtain amendments that could meet some Irish concerns is uncertain. It's also not certain that a second referendum will be held in Ireland as there was in the case of the Nice treaty when it was first rejected in a referendum and later accepted in a new vote.Taoiseach(prime minister) Brian Cowen faced other Euro government heads at a Brussels summit a week after the referendum.He outlined a variety of reasons why he believes the Lisbon Treaty was rejected, despite his government's efforts to persuade the electorate to vote Yes. He also underlined that the sovereign vote of the people must be respected.He stressed the need for time to conduct a full analysis. A report on that analysis will be provided to the EU in October when further talks are scheduled on the prospects of a deal that could save the Treaty.

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