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Commission bought Irish Yes, says Roger Helmer MEP

Saturday, 3rd October 2009

Roger Helmer, East Midlands’ Conservative MEP, issues a stinging criticism of Brussels’ intervention in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. He accuses the European Commission of “buying” the Yes vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty -- and buying it with tax-payers’ money.

Last year, Ireland voted NO to Lisbon, but the EU refused to respect the result, and pressured the Irish government into holding the second referendum, which has now reversed the decision. This a follows a consistent pattern. Previously in Denmark (on the Maastricht Treaty) and in Ireland itself (on the Nice Treaty), EU member states have been told to vote again until they get the “right” answer. According to Mr Helmer, Brussels consistently refuses to recognise a No vote, and forces it to be overturned.

In this case, funding from the EU taxpayer, channelled through the Commission, ensured that the Yes side out-spent the No side by around ten to one. Shortly before the vote, the EU Commission announced the mobilisation of millions of euros from the EU's Globalisation Adjustment Fund to help redundant workers at a Dell Computer factory in Ireland, which the company is closing. Not only was this an outrageous and partisan political intervention in Ireland’s referendum, says Mr Helmer, but it was also done off the cuff without the required approval of the European parliament. At a meeting of the parliament’s Unemployment Committee in Brussels last week, which was attended by Roger Helmer as Conservative Spokesman on Employment, Employment Commissioner Spidla was taken to task by the Committee Chairman, Socialist MEP Pervanche Beres, for announcing the funding without parliamentary authorisation.

Helmer was also very critical of the boss of RyanAir, Michael O’Leary, for his part in the campaign. Previously a critic of the Lisbon Treaty who had spoken out against the second referendum, O’Leary nevertheless gave €500,000 to the Yes campaign, in what was widely seen as a cynical move to curry favour with the European Commission in order to persuade it to soften its position on RyanAir’s proposed takeover of Aer Lingus.

Commenting on the referendum result, Helmer said “The Irish have been threatened and bribed and brow-beaten into reversing last year’s decision. The Commission’s behaviour has been disgraceful. It has sacrificed any pretence of impartiality or democratic legitimacy.”

The Treaty still awaits final ratification in two EU member-states, Poland and the Czech republic, where President Vaclav Klaus is reluctant to sign it and is bravely resisting pressure to do so. If the Conservative Party forms a government before all 27 EU member-states have ratified the Treaty, it has promised to hold an immediate British referendum on Lisbon.

Fellow East Midlands’ Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin has also commented on the referendum result. She says, “I am disappointed with the outcome of an EU lead campaign for a yes. The Treaty extends the EU’s powers in 60 areas and will weaken our democracy.”

Mr Helmer supports his colleague’s stance stating that “The Lisbon Treaty will transfer major powers from democratic member-states to unaccountable Brussels institutions.

It is bad for Ireland, bad for Britain, bad for Europe.”