Voters in the 26 Counties have the potential to draw a line in the sand tomorrow against a greedy European superstate in Brussels and the corrupt Fianna Fail government in Dublin.
After a campaign in which the “kitchen sink” was thrown at voters by the ‘Yes’ campaign, as Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald described it, the result is still in doubt.
Yesterday, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he would accept a second rejection of the Treaty by voters and not attempt to mount a Lisbon 3 campaign.
But it remains to be seen if the courageous stand taken by voters last year will again resist the combined might of Europe’s political elites.
Millions of Euro have been spent by an array of right-wing parties, international corporations and European bureaucrats to impose their will on the Irish population.
Amid a frenetic last week of canvassing, a new EU propaganda operation, the shadowy Inter-institutional Group on Information (IGI), launched an overt and expensive media campaign.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams accused the ‘Yes’ side of “negative campaigning and scaremongering” because it knew the Lisbon Treaty was a bad deal for Ireland.
“And those leading the Yes side are the same politicians and business people who have led this country and the European Union into the worst economic crisis in 60 years,” he said.
He warned that if the referendum passed, people would be handing decisions about Ireland’s future over to an EU elite. “Once you hand that power away, it is next to impossible to get it back”.
Mr Adams said that those who wanted change, at home and across Europe, should vote ‘No’.
“If you want a fairer, more peaceful Ireland and Europe, then vote No. If you want an end to this political establishment... then vote No.”
He accused the Government of failing to discuss the detail of the treaty. “This is the same treaty as the last time, and there should be the same answer,” he said.
Mr Adams said the result would come down to the turnout on the day.
Asked if it would be dangerous to vote ‘No’ from an economic point of view, he replied: “The most dangerous thing... is the continuation of this government.”
Sinn Fein is the only party in the Dublin parliament to come out against the Treaty.
Earlier this week, it outlined five reasons not to vote for the Lisbon Treaty.
It pointed out that the 26 County state would still keep its permanent commissioner under the existing Nice Treaty; would maintain its current voting strength; would keep its automatic right to a referendum on future changes to EU treaties; could secure a protocol to protect workers’ rights and could also secure a protocol on neutrality.
Mr Adams dismissed the guarantees secured by the Government earlier this year, arguing there was not “one comma” of difference between the document before the electorate and what people voted on last year.
“We need to get a new treaty for new times, and that means voting No and going back to our partners in the EU,” he said. “Our place in the EU is secure.”
He said that Ireland did not need “side of the mouth commitments” but real changes to the treaty.
There were sharp exchanges between Sinn Fein and the Irish Labour Party, which is backing the treaty, albeit with some defections.
Mr Adams accused the Labour Party of trying to be all things to all men.
“One minute, Labour is attacking the Government and the next it is lining up behind Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan in their rush to be Europe’s Yes men in Ireland,” he said yesterday.
“It cannot have it both ways.”
Mr Adams said that the Government knew it could not sell the contents of the treaty, and it was trying to frighten the electorate into submission at a time when people were worried about the future.
“It has been joined in this effort by the Labour leadership, Fine Gael and a strange mix of right-wing elements,” he added.
“Labour is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, it is attacking the Government on its awful economic and social policies while at the same time it is supporting it on Lisbon.”
The referendum, he said, came down to an issue of trust.
“Unlike Labour, Sinn Fein does not trust a Government which bails out bankers and developers and their other friends in high places, a Government of dig-outs, backhanders and sweetheart deals, Nama and An Bord Snip,” he added.
Three million voters in the 26 Counties are eligible to vote on Friday, and voting has already begun on the outlying islands. Counting will begin on Saturday morning.