Anti-Lisbon campaigner Patricia McKenna has threatened the European Commission with legal action over what she claims is a “propaganda campaign” over the Lisbon Treaty.
The dispute centres around a 16-page advertising supplement the Commission distributed with yesterday’s newspapers. Lawyers for the former MEP have written to the European Commission warning it faces an injuction over the supplement, which was in support of the treaty.
Ms McKenna, who is chairwoman of the People’s Movement, said Irish law prohibited the use of public money to promote one side in a referendum campaign. The Commission had access to significant resources, she said, a percentage of which was contributed by Irish taxpayers and was therefore public funds.
She accused the Commission of “bombarding the public with propaganda at the public’s expense” and said it was “clearly a serious abuse of public funds”.
“They’ve pulled a fast one at the last minute when they feel nothing can be done,” she said. “It’s difficult to counteract it.”
Ms McKenna said the funding for such must stop, or she would take legal action.
A spokeswoman for the Commission previously said it had a duty to inform people about the treaty, and claimed that the information had been distributed in an “understandable” form.
Other anecdotal evidence has suggested that the EU has mounted a concerted ‘viral’ campaign to counter ‘No’ groups through social networks and activist-style organisations.
Media campaigning has reached unprecedented levels, with all of the the mainstream news organisations openly favouring a ‘Yes’ vote and running stories exclusively to support their view.
Although polls indicate the ‘Yes’ side hold a clear lead, it is still thought possible that a differential turnout and a deepening of the swing currently underway could change the balance
Campaigning in Tallaght, Sinn Fein’s Sean Crowe warned that the “investment and jobs” mantra of the ‘Yes’ campaign -- arguing that only a Brussels administration can save the Irish economy -- was convincing some. “The scaremongering is having an effect,” he said.
Sinn Fein Gerry Adams, who accompanied Mr Crowe in the canvas at the weekend, didn’t want to predict how Friday’s vote may turn.
“Some people are indignantly voting ‘No’ because they think it’s an insult to be asked to vote twice on the same treaty, and some people are quite clearly frightened by some of the arguments the ‘Yes’ side are putting up,” he says. “It’s all to play for.”
In an unusual event, seven republican elected representatives from across the country held a press conference on Friday calling on the electorate of the Twenty-Six Counties to reject the Lisbon Treaty again on October 2nd. All of the seven are independent republicans or members of eirigi.
The seven councillors, Martin Connolly from Down, John Dwyer from Wexford, Louise Minihan from Dublin, Barry Monteith from Tyrone, Cieran Perry from Dublin, Thomas Pringle from Donegal and Bernice Swift from Fermanagh slammed both the Lisbon Treaty itself and the anti-democratic method by which it is being proposed to bring it into effect.
Speaking at the press conference eirigi’s Barry Monteith pointed out that 1.8 millio people living in the Six Counties had been denied the right to vote oLisbon.
“Regardless of the content of the Lisbon Treaty, and the content is appalling, the decision to accept or reject it should not be taken while the Six Counties remains occupied by a foreign power. All decisions on further integration into the EU, or otherwise, should only be taken after national sovereignty has been restored. To do otherwise is fundamentally anti-democratic.”