When the ruling class in the Twenty-Six Counties wants something bad enough it will do pretty much anything to get it. This is one of the main lessons to be taken out of Saturday’s result on the second Lisbon referendum.
For working people in Ireland and around Europe the result was, frankly, not a good one. On a turnout of 58 per cent of the Twenty-Six County electorate, the Lisbon Treaty was passed with a ‘Yes’ vote of 67 per cent.
After ripping up the result of the first Lisbon referendum because they didn’t like the result, the Twenty-Six County government, the official ‘opposition’, IBEC, the state and corporate media, all the main churches and, shamefully, most of the trade union hierarchy spent months and million of euros spreading fear and peddling lies. Who said class was dead?
Those who run the Twenty-Six Counties in the interests of the rich removed the mask of political pluralism and gave public opinion both barrels. Even the leaders of the main universities in the Twenty-Six Counties warned students and staff that voting ‘No’ would impact negatively on ERASMUS programmes. It was one of those rare moments where the vested interests of those who are really in charge stood naked for all to see.
Yet, despite the fear-mongering and the threats from the business class, 33 per cent of those who voted, 504,606 people, stood firm and voted No. On top of that figure there is the 42 per cent of the electorate who didn’t cast a vote. How many of those hundreds of thousands of working people concluded there was no point voting No to Lisbon 2 because of what happened to Lisbon 1?
Those who did vote No again, concentrated in the working class, the exploited, the neglected and the ignored, provide the potential for a radical grassroots movement for revolutionary change in Irish society. Those Irish citizens who were denied the right to vote - the people in the occupied Six Counties - provide equal potential for the building of such a movement.
Speaking on TV3 after the result was confirmed, Fianna Fail’s Conor Lenihan feigned great offence at the suggestion that his party, Fine Gael and the Labour Party collectively represent the interests of the ruling class in the Twenty-Six Counties. In their strenuous efforts to get the Lisbon Treaty passed, however, Mr Lenihan and his ‘opponents’ may just have confirmed that fact in the public mind, once and for all.
Despite the Lisbon result, things are slowly changing in Irish society and it’s not the sort of change that, when it comes to fruition, will suit the agendas of Fianna Fail, IBEC & Co.