Socialist MEP and anti-Lisbon campaigner Joe Higgins has written to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, asking him to sack Vice-President and Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani for having taken part in a pro-Treaty campaign tour with the Chief Executive of Ryanair Michael O’Leary.
Addressing the AEJ today (September 25), Mr Higgins said the reason Mr Barroso did not sack the Transport Commissioner was because “he would like to have been on the plane himself”! On Tuesday Commissioner Tajani participated on a round-trip of Ireland with Mr O’Leary on a Ryanair Boeing 737 jet promoting a ‘”Yes” vote in the upcoming referendum.
Describing the Transport Commissioner’s action as a disgrace, Mr Higgins compared it to Irish developer Mickey Bailey taking the Chairman of An Board Pleanála out for a night of social drinking. Mr Higgins also delivered a hard-hitting attack on the media, notably the print media, for being blatantly on the “Yes” side of the debate. It was “quite astonishing,” he said and all objectivity had been lost. The media had not criticised the Transport Commissioner for his actions which were totally in conflict with his role as the regulator of the air industry.
Mr Higgins said the second Lisbon campaign would be remembered for the debates which did not take place. The “Yes” side had tried to breathe fear into people by warning of Ireland’s isolationism, the potential flight of capital from the country and other dire economic consequences if there was a “No” vote. He said it was utterly false to assume foreign capitalists were at Dublin airport ready to leave the country if the people rejected the Treaty. These people were in Ireland because of the large profits they made and would only leave when profits dropped. In 2006, for example, foreign corporations had made profits of €35 billion.
He said the Lisbon Treaty would copperfasten the European Defence Agency which had sold armaments to countries such as Saudi Arabia “one of the most vicious regimes” in the world. The EU was supporting both sides by, on the one hand, proclaiming the Charter of Fundamental Rights and, on the other, by selling armaments to appalling governments.
However, Mr Higgins said he agreed with the latest findings of the Irish Times opinion poll which showed 48 per cent would vote “Yes”, 33 per cent “No” with 19 per cent “Undecided” However, he said there was still a full week of campaigning left.