- The Lisbon Vote
From what I can gather (my main sources have been outspoken men in pubs, so bear that in mind), the importance of the Lisbon vote is not in the details of the Treaty, but rather what a ratification would mean for the Republic symbolically.
In general, and this is in no ways a defining statement, those who are rallying for a No vote are of the Old Guard. Ex-, or current, IRA members, sympathizers and those over a certain age are campaigning against the Lisbon Treaty because they see it as forfeiting Ireland’s power in Europe and undermining the Constitution of the Republic. On this side of the debate, it seems to me that the motivation is stemming from a dire will to be an independent state. While this might seem like an outdated fear to some, it is actually quite understandable given the history of the past century in Ireland.
The campaign to ratify Lisbon is helmed by the Youth and student voices. Any bar that you walk into within a reasonable distance from Trinity, someone will undoubtably strike up a conversation with you by pointing a finger at your heart and threatening, “what are you voting on Lisbon?” Now, this is all in good-natured slagging really, but if you say you are leaning towards a No vote, things could get quite serious quite quickly. We found this out the hard way when several of my peers were convinced they would vote No by the many signs posted on streetlamps across the country - which were then later discovered to basically be propaganda.
There was a certain desire within us to be in support of that old Irish Rebel Cause - the fiery desire to be independent of Britain. This is the romanticized Irish Politics we see as radical. However, in reality, that brand of politics is now quite a stick in the mud. The reality is, Ireland IS an independent state - now the problem is the problem that every other European country has: how do the European states work together while maintaining their own individual National identity and pride?
2. Yesterday was National Arthur’s Day.
I walked through a street in the city centre where I was caught in the middle of a hundred plus people group toast to Arthur Guiness and his brew. However, not all Irishmen were proud to celebrate the man - one local pub patron was quite adamant that we were celebrating the drink and not the man because Arthur Guiness persecuted the catholics, to which another patron replied, “Yes, but didn’t they all?”