I see that Sinn Féin has launched its "No Campaign" against the Lisbon Treaty/EU Constitution.
Party members plan to distribute half a million leaflets throughout the 26 counties and hold a series of regional meetings over the coming weeks.
Sinn Féin will also outline central points of debate contained within the Treaty, including democracy, militarism, public services EURATOM & the developing world.
As the only major political party opposed to the Lisbon Treaty this campaign presents us with a major opportunity to reconnect with the public in the 26 counties. It was Vincent Browne who recently pointed out that with the No Vote going to be at least 25% on a very bad day this presents Sinn Féin with a unique opportunity.
Once people start to vote with Sinn Féin it becomes much easier for them to do so in the future. We have local and European elections next year and this is an opportunity that we simply can't afford to squander.
In order to make this a successful campaign from our point of view we need to follow a few key rules.
1. Southern Based leadership must lead this campaign
This is an absolute must! We need people like Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Senator Pearse Doherty, Aengus O Snodaigh TD, and Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald to be leading this campaign. The Northern members of the leadership need to take a serious step back on this issue. Our southern based comrades are more than capable of handling this campaign
2. No "Loony Left" stuff
We need to have an intelligent and rational debate with the electorate. We need to identify 6-10 key reasons why the Irish public should vote No in relation to the Lisbon Treaty. Anti-EU bashing has no place what so ever in this campaign. People need to feel that they can be Pro-EU and still Anti-Lisbon. We should explain in very simple language the reasons why Ireland and the EU as a whole would be better off if the Irish people voted a resounding No.
3. Informed TV debates
Who ever we choose to put on TV in relation to this issue must be fully briefed, I mean going-to-bed-with-papers-for-a-week briefed. No vague aspirations or notions, only clearly defined and supported arguments.
If Sinn Féin can manage to do those three key things in this campaign than I am certain that we will receive a huge boost politically.
This is an opportunity that can't be missed by us; on the information available thus far I am more than content that we will succeed.