Bruce Arnold

Critic of Public Affairs, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

Referendum cannot be re-run and 'No' means no to Lisbon

There is no amending or freshening up Lisbon. If we think there is, we will prove the flawed and limited nature of democracy in Europe

During the period of active campaigning on the Lisbon Treaty referendum, I talked extensively with friends, acquaintances and critics of the treaty in the political arena. The 12 articles I wrote give a reasonable account of the development of my thoughts, from doubt and uncertainty to an unequivocal rejection of a badly-written, badly-constructed and largely incomprehensible document. Read More...

Arrogant Europe must take share of blame for 'No' vote

IT is neither the 'Yes' voters nor the 'No' voters that are to blame, except in the ways they treated each other. Theirs was a sovereign right, in our democracy, to vote in accordance with their views and judgments and it will be a sad day when such a freedom is brought under non-democratic control.

No, the fault was Europe's. The European Union has distanced itself so far from the people that their ruling junta is no longer liked nor trusted by the people. They do not understand its laws. They do not even understand its language which, though in English, is largely a form of gobbledygook. Read More...


In the debate ahead of Ireland’s vote last week on the Lisbon Treaty, the “yes” campaign was accused of stirring up apathy. This was about right. Brian Cowen, the new leader of the Fianna Fail-led coalition government, appeared at outdoor meetings, his free hand slapped to his worried forehead while the other held the microphone, telling his audiences, “It’s about the enlargement of the Union. . . . It’s about showing solidarity with the new nations. . . . It’s very important not to be misled.”


The result of the Lisbon Treaty referendum is good for the people generally, whether they voted Yes or No. It has restored confidence in them as a voice that matters in our democracy. It is an expression of real attitudes among those who actually had the determination and judgment to go out and vote, showing that half the country took its democratic responsibilities seriously.

This is the only way to ensure we have a say in our future


A victory for the No Side in tomorrow’s referendum will establish a bond between the Irish people and the men and women – the ordinary voters – in the twenty-six other countries that make up the European Union. It will be a bond grounded in our respect for democracy, which we should believe they have a right to share, a right that has been denied them. Our view is, or should be, that the 500 million voters in the European Union deserve to have a real say in the way they are governed, better than the one offered in the Lisbon Treaty. Read More...

Efforts to demonise 'No' vote hide fatal flaws in treaty

In a recent article, Pat Cox, former MEP and president of the European Parliament, argued that I had made a recent – and ‘ignorant’ – argument that the European Parliament ‘makes no laws’. He offered ‘co-decision’ by that Parliament as law-making, adding tht the Parliament, ‘a tribune of the people’, holds the executive to account. It acts ‘as a legislator’.