Do you have a question you would like answered regarding the Lisbon Treaty? Or Irelands role in the European Union? What are the implications of the EU’s Charter of Rights for Ireland’s human rights, abortion and family laws?
Please send your questions to info 'at' coircampaign.org and we will endeavour to answer it here.
Q. Can or would the EU be able to force the abortion issue on us?
It would seem 29.4.10 flatly contradicts the meaning and substance of our Constitution. This needs to be removed and replaced with a conditional clause which will make it consistent with 4.1 and 2 of our Constitution.
Our Constitution states:
4. 1° The Oireachtas shall not enact any law which is in any respect repugnant to this Constitution or any provision thereof.
2° Every law enacted by the Oireachtas which is in any respect repugnant to this Constitution or to any provision thereof, shall, but to the extent only of such repugnancy, be invalid.
29.4. 10° No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union or of the Communities, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the European Union or by the Communities or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the Treaties establishing the Communities, from having the force of law in the State.
A. Please see our paper on Lisbon and Abortion here which explains how the Charter of Rights could be used, if Lisbon is passed, to overrule our Constitution and our right to decide.
The section you quoted below (29.4.10) will also be re-stated if Lisbon is passed. Yes campaigners have always held that this subjugation of the Constitution only applied to areas of law under EU competency - but if Lisbon is passed then the Charter of Rights attached to the Treaty will being human rights law under EU competency, and give the European Court of Justice, not the Irish people, the right to decide on issues like abortion. (The EU Court has long practiced what is called "creeping competence" - taking competence in areas where competency is not stated but they find it is implied)
Also for the first time the Treaty contains a Declaration on the Primacy of EU law - Declaration 17 on Primacy - which reads: Declaration 17 concerning Primacy "that the treaties and the law adopted by the EU on the basis of the treaties have primacy over the law of member States, under the conditions laid down by the said case law".
Q. When reading your article Lisbon and Abortion I noticed this:
1. The Lisbon Treaty, in Articles 1 and 47, would create a new EU state for the first time. This is a fundamental change to what previously existed. We would all then be made citizens of this new EU state by Article 9.
Is your reference to Article 47 the actual Article 47 or to the material in it which has been moved to Article 48?
3. Interpretation of these rights would then be given to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which would have the right to overrule our Constitution on all these matters. Declaration 17 on primacy in the Lisbon Treaty spells out that EU law will supersede the Irish Constitution.
I cannot find a reference to Declaration 17 in the Lisbon Treaty - in fact I have failed to find the word 'Declaration' at all. Can you point me please
A. It’s here – on page 331
the government website confirms its existence but doesn’t give the wording
Hope this helps!
C. Deireann Cóir
That’s the Charter [of Rights] which Pope Benedict described as a “Godless” document which would
cause “moral and social harm”.
Tá sé seo scríofa ag Fr. Edmund Grace san Irish Times, 3 Meán Fomhair:
Cóir quotes an initial critical comment about the charter from Cardinal Ratzinger, as he then was, but they did not tell us that his views have developed ... Since becoming pope he has spoken of the European Union as “a most significant achievement which has brought a period of peace heretofore unknown to this continent formerly consumed by constant conflict and fatal fratricidal wars”.
All this is far removed from the suspicion and fear being generated in his name.
Níl m’aigne déanta suas agam maidir le Conradh Liospóin. Sin é an fáth a bhfuilim ag scríobh chugaibh.
F: Go raibh maith agat as ucht an ceist a chur. Scríobh muid an litir seo chuig an IT ar an lá ceanna ach níor fhoilsigh said é. Tá súil agam go bhfuil freagairt do cheist sa litir. Má tá tuileadh eolas uait, srcríobh ar ais chugham,
Le gach dea ghuí,
Fr Edmond Grace’s article urges us to trust and hope that the EU will allow Ireland’s pro-life laws to stand if the Lisbon Treaty is passed. I submit that the right-to-life of preborn children is far too important a matter to be left to hope. That’s why the Irish people voted to approve a pro-life amendment in 1973: because we wanted to ensure that the law, not merely trust in a political system, protected the child in the womb.
The protocol attached to the Maastricht Treaty may have served us well in this regard until now, but it would be extremely foolish to believe that we can rely on that protocol if the Lisbon Treaty is passed. That’s because Articles 1 and 9 of the treaty create a new form of European Union and make us all citizens of that EU super-state. Article 6 of the Treaty then makes the Charter of Rights attached to the treaty legally binding for all citizens, across all EU members states, for the first time.
So Lisbon would be an utterly new departure – and the so-called guarantees issued by the EU Council in order to get Lisbon passed, are not legally binding since they are not part of EU law; something recognized by the Referendum Commission.
In relation to human rights then only the Charter is binding, and Declaration 17 on Primacy in the Lisbon Treaty clearly states that “the treaties and the law adopted by the EU on the basis of the treaties have primacy over the law of member States”. This powerful combination means that the EU Court, will have the ability to overrule our Constitution, and the wishes of the Irish people, in relation to our abortion laws.
Legal experts agree that the Charter gives the European Court of Justice enormous rights. Leading Constitutional barrister Gerald Hogan remarked last year that, post-Lisbon, our Supreme Court would be “eclipsed” by the Charter of Rights attached to the treaty. And Justice Fidelma Macken, an Irish member of the European Court of Justice, said that it would be “foolish” to argue that the Charter will not affect national laws.
Moreover, in describing an Irish No vote as reducing the sovereign Irish people to “sulky outsiders” Fr Grace is confusing the EU elite with the people of the EU member states, who have been denied a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but who, opinion polls tell us, would vote No.
Finally, Pope Benedict, speaking to the Diplomatic Corps in Vienna in September 2007, said that in relation to the Lisbon Treaty that a united Europe “will be a good place to live for everyone only if it is built on a solid cultural and moral foundation of common values drawn from our history and our traditions, and if it does not deny its Christian roots.” The word “only” is key to that sentence and has been omitted by more dishonest reportage of the Pope’s comments. Whether one agrees with that stance or not, it is abundantly clear that the EU has, in fact, turned its back on its Christian roots. Unlike many others Cóir would never use edited versions of the Holy Father’s words, and agree wholeheartedly with his description of the Charter of Rights as a “Godless Document”.
Q. While trying to inform myself for the upcoming vote I came across your website. On the site you stated "the assurances given by the EU Council are not legally binding in EU law, because they are not part of any treaty."
This is simply stated with no reference to any source indicating some sort of validity. Now in direct contradiction to this claim by you, I quote a statement made by High Court judge Mr Justice Frank Clarke, in which he stated:
"They (the EU assurances) will be legally binding as an international treaty straight away and they will have the added status of being part of the EU treaties whenever there's a chance to do that.
This clear contradiction - a statement from you, which is simply made with no reference to it's source in comparison to the legal opinion of the High Court Judge strongly discredits your entire campaign.
It provides me with the impression that you are either a) badly informed yourselves, in which case it was an honest mistake on your part, but still brings into question how well informed your campaign is on any further area, or b) you are well informed but have decided to intentionally mislead people.
Or c) if you can provide me with your source for stating that the assurances are NOT legally binding, then I would be much obliged! (I remind you it is ok to say that they are not part of an EU treaty, but this does not reduce their legal credibility - they are legally binding as an international treaty, according to the High Court Judge)
A. I think it best to give you the words of Justice Frank Clarke in the Irish Times on 30th August.
“Since the referendum on the treaty in June of last year, the treaty itself has not changed. However, the European Council has made decisions giving assurances on certain issues that were of concern to Irish voters in last year’s campaign, and it has said it will include these statements as protocols to a future EU treaty, thus giving them the status of EU law.
These statements concern the retention of Ireland’s EU commissioner, control of Irish tax rates, Irish neutrality and ethical issues such as abortion and workers’ rights. These do not change the treaty, and their political significance or otherwise is ultimately for voters to decide.”
You will notice that the Justice confirmed that the assurances do not change the treaty – something also confirmed by the European Council when issuing their statement. He also stated that their political significance should be decided by voters.
It’s a fact that only EU treaties are part of EU law. In the article you quote below the Judge is referring to the fact that the statements/assurances are lodged with the UN, which may give them international standing but does not make them legally binding in EU law. Most importantly they do not have to be considered by the EU Court if they are not part of an EU treaty. Judge Clarke makes the point that if the assurances are included in a future treaty they will be part of EU law – but that’s a future matter, not something we will vote on come October 2nd.
I hope this makes matters clear.