The Irish were saying, in effect, that they were not ready to risk losing their sovereignty without a proper debate about the future of Europe and the growing power of the EU.
The opposition to ratification was lead by a face and voice well known to many Catholics (and fans of EWTN) Dana Rosemary Scallon. Some of her fans may not realize that she moved back to Ireland to become a member of the European Parliament representing Connacht Ulster. Dana’s voice was heard in the Irish media arguing that protection of Irish sovereignty meant that the pro-life voice of Ireland would continue to be heard in the EU.
On this side of the Atlantic, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) was vigilant in keeping those who would listen informed of the threat posed by the Treaty of Nice.
Ireland is the only EU country with constitutional protection for the unborn. The European Charter for Fundamental Human Rights, the political playbook for the EU, does not enumerate a right to life for the unborn. EU bureaucrats at the United Nations make life hard for the representatives of the Holy See and the U.S. by fostering policies that are pro-abortion, anti-family, and anti-religious.
Ratifying the Treaty of Nice would have led to much less Irish influence at EU tables in Brussels. The treaty would have drastically reduced Ireland’s votes. Under its terms, Spain gets 27; the Netherlands, 13; Greece, Belgium and Portugal 12; Sweden and Austria 10 votes; Finland, Denmark and Ireland seven; and Luxembourg four. This increases the bigger states from 10 to 29, while the smaller states like Ireland increase from 3 to 7. No doubt the Irish didn’t like the idea of being made second-class citizens in the EU.
The Irish bishops inexplicably spoke in favor of ratification in spite of the fact that the pro-life plank of the Irish constitution was in danger. As Dana points out, the Treaty of Nice would lead to the European Charter taking precedent over Ireland’s own constitution – without any debate in the Irish Parliament or among the Irish people.
Without Ireland’s voting clout, a pro-abortion consensus in the EU would quickly emerge. Those prospective members, like Poland, with a commitment to protecting the unborn would be stripped of bargaining power.
Those who say that the EU must be allowed to expand overlook the fact that under the present charter the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty five more countries can be admitted. That gives all EU members plenty of time to consider where Europe is heading.
Historian Christopher Dawson chronicled the creation of Europe out of the crucible of Christianity. It took nearly a thousand years for Europe to be born: One wonders if the Irish vote was nothing less than a solitary protest against the further separation of Europe from its Christian roots.