Lst Thursday, the Irish Public went to the polls to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. This treaty would help to strengthen and give more power to existing European Union institutions. It has been agreed upon by the heads of state (It was Bertie Ahern at the time in Ireland, although new Prime Minister Brian Cowen was in favor it) and it had been approved by the Dail or Irish Parliament.
This treaty was good for Ireland in my opinion and its good for Europe. Not one nation in Europe has the size or population (I don’t count Russia with Europe) to even begin to compete with the vast resources of nations like the U.S., China and India. The only hope for the small nations of Europe is to join together and compete and this treaty was the the first stepping stone on that process.
The Irish public made a very predictable but understood choice. Yes they voted the treaty down, but after the Irish people had fought for more than 800 years to gain independence, their own government was beginning to give some of that hard fought independence away after only 85 years. So it was no surprise to me when the treaty failed to pass, by a slim, but clear majority.
Some have said this had ended hopes for the treaty, since it appears all the other countries will pass the treaty, the deal may be given to the Irish people once more before it is truly dead, but even that it will be back to the drawing board and a new deal will be created. Europe will unite, its only a matter of time and to what extent.
Ireland is unique in Europe in that she likely has better relations with countries such as Canada and the United States then with its neighbors, this is due to the fact the both Canada and the US (Australia too!) were flooded with Irish immigrants in the 19th century. Several generations later, the descendants of those immigrants have made it a point to invest in Ireland. Even the Irish national anthem “A Soldiers Song” references those Irish living in America. So Ireland has always looked west, more than to Europe. That and being a fiercely independent people, the vote was over before it began, no matter how much the main parties in Ireland supported it.
If you would like to see the election results (including a map of Ireland, which I though was interesting) then visit the Irish Times Website here.