Friday 28 November 2014

Guarantees a charade to throw voters: Higgins

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor in Brussels

Published 19/06/2009 | 00:00

GUARANTEES over the Lisbon Treaty are just a distraction to convince Irish voters the Lisbon Treaty has changed, newly elected Socialist MEP Joe Higgins said yesterday.

But Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it was important that the guarantees be clear and leave people in no doubt their concerns are being addressed.

And Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said he wanted the guarantees to come in the form of a protocol at some point in the future.

Mr Higgins said there were many red herrings introduced in the Irish debate on Lisbon by both sides.

"What we will witness at the European Council today is an elaborate charade. The so-called guarantees are simply designed to throw dust in the eyes of ordinary people in Ireland to give them the impression that something fundamental has been changed in the Lisbon Treaty compared to 12 months ago. "Absolutely nothing has been changed, not a dot, not a comma in the same document," he said.

However, Mr Gilmore said the content of the guarantees was most important.

"There are two things and one is obviously the content of it. I've made it clear to the colleagues I was speaking to that we were supporting the guarantees the Government are seeking, that it was important they were agreed to and we wanted to see them reflected as protocols in a subsequent treaty.

"And it was important that that would be the outcome of the summit and I asked those colleagues who would be attending the summit to support that position," he said.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party's group in Europe is blocking the swift appointment for a second term of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny are both backing Mr Barroso to return for a second term.

The EU leaders at the summit are expected to give their unanimous backing to Mr Barroso today.Mr Gilmore said the Socialist group was not giving a blanket pass and wanted to quiz Mr Barroso about the policies he intended to implement before giving him the nod.

He said he will have to "change his tune" from the free market and light regulation policies he pursued if he wants to get the support of the Labour and Social Democratic parties.

"What we are seeking is there would be a hearing by the group in the Parliament and he would outline to them what his proposed programme is for the next five years."

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