The evidence on the European constitution so far is that with all the great conservative establishments being in favour of it, the people are not. We recently had a superb debate on Europe which is now, I suppose, to some extent already overtaken by events. The fact that we did have a very good debate might be an indication that we should do so again.
It is a cliché to say that Europe is in a crisis but it is an opportunity for Seanad Éireann to take a lead, especially given that Ireland was an author of the constitution which is causing so much controversy and difficulty throughout Europe. The date of the referendum is not fixed. Perhaps it would be useful if in the next few months, including after the summer recess, we were to take the bull by the horns on this issue.
I am particularly uneasy that not only is there virtually an all-party consensus on Europe in this House and in the other House, if we omit one or two smaller parties, but there is also a kind of establishment consensus on Europe throughout Europe where the trade unions, industry, all the large conservative political parties, the churches and everybody, including the civil service and the media, favour this European constitution, whereas the evidence so far is that with all the great conservative establishments being in favour of it, the people are not.
Perhaps we could initiate a serious debate which allows for dissent as well. The Houses, political parties and the establishment are in danger of becoming irrelevant on this issue while the people take the matter into their own hands.