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18 / 09 / 2009 - Bishop misunderstands debate on Lisbon Treaty threat to Ireland`s pro-life laws
Cóir has said that Bishop Noel Treanor has misunderstood the debate on the threat to Ireland’s pro-life laws from the Lisbon Treaty. Spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said that the Bishop had “clearly been misinformed in regard to the stance taken by pro-life organizations on the treaty, since what Cóir and others argue is that the Lisbon Treaty will give the European Court of Justice the right to decide on Ireland’s abortion laws in the future”. Coir’s response came in following remarks made by the Bishop to the Joint Committee on European Affairs today.
“Bishop Treanor has said that, ’the Lisbon Treaty does not alter the legal position of abortion in Ireland’, but that’s not what Cóir or anyone else has argued in relation to the treaty,” said Ms Uí Bhriain. “What we are saying is that the very significant changes brought about by this treaty will give the EU Court the right to decide on abortion and other important social issues in the future”.
“The facts are that Article 1 and 47 of the Lisbon Treaty create a fundamentally different and legally new European Union, and Article 9 makes us all citizens of that EU super-state’” she said. “Article 6 of the Treaty then makes the EU Charter of Rights binding on member states for all EU citizens. That significant change gives the EU Court simply enormously enhanced powers to decide on issues such as abortion.”
Ms Uí Bhriain said that while the Maastricht Protocol may have protected Ireland’s pro-life laws to date, the protocol could be held by the ECJ to be in conflict with the Charter, and the ECJ would then have power, for the first time, under the Lisbon Treaty, to overrule the protocol and the wishes of the Irish people.
“If the European Court of Justice decided that a right to abortion exists under any clause in the Charter, then EU law will simply be held superior to Irish law and to the wishes of the Irish people,” she said. “Therefore if Lisbon is passed it will merely take a court case – such as the D case currently being funded by the Irish Family Planning Association - to come before the ECJ for our pro-life laws to be overruled. And there will then be absolutely nothing we can do about it. We will have voted away our right to decide.”
The Cóir spokeswoman added that it was the belief of a great many Irish people, as indicated by the government’s research after the first No to Lisbon vote, that matters such as the right to life were too important to be left to trust in politicians. “That doesn’t make us lacking in hope, it simply makes us sensible in requiring certainty on the issue,” she said.
Ms Ui Bhriain also pointed that Cóir welcomed persons of all denominations and none. “We represent Irish citizens, whatever their denomination,” said Ms Uí Bhriain. “Our key issues are what define us as an organization: sovereignty, life, family, faith and freedom.”
Cóir also pointed out that the assurances issued by the European Council and referred to by Bishop Treanor as ‘guarantees’ were not, in fact, binding in EU law. “Justice Frank Clarke of the Referendum Commission has confirmed that they do not change the Lisbon Treaty,” said Ms Uí Bhriain. “They will certainly not protect the right to life of our unborn children.”