Wednesday 1 March 2017

Too early to decide on second poll, insists minister

Darren Ennis and Aine Kerr

The Government plans to engage with opponents of the treaty to understand why people voted 'No'

THE Government last night insisted it was "far too early" to start thinking or talking about re-running the defeated Lisbon Treaty.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin further insisted the Government would "clarify" how Ireland would respond to the current Lisbon Treaty impasse at a meeting of European leaders in December.

"We hope we will be able to provide clarity by the end of the year. Other people need clarity at the December summit because of various things," Mr Martin said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday.

"We certainly haven't decided to have another vote. It is far too early to talk about or contemplate a second vote."

His comments followed the alleged remarks by French President Nicholas Sarkozy last week that Ireland would have to vote a second time.

However, while on his six-hour visit to Dublin on Monday, Mr Sarkozy insisted he had never said a second referendum would have to be held.

He argued instead that there would have to be clarity in 2009 about whether next summer's European elections should be held under the Nice Treaty or Lisbon Treaty provisions.

Last night, Mr Martin also indicated that the Government would engage with opponents of the treaty in the coming months, such as Sinn Fein and Libertas, and undertake various research studies to understand why people voted 'No'.

"What we have to find out is why voters want to remain at the heart of Europe, despite voting 'No'," he said.


In line with the statement by Mr Sarkozy that the Lisbon Treaty could not be reopened, Mr Martin said there "was no appetite" for a renegotiation of the treaty.

"We will engage with our EU partners and the EU presidency has an obligation to resolve difficulties faced by the union. He (Mr Sarkozy) made it clear he wanted to help, not impose a solution," he said.

Back home, Fine Gael last night urged the Taoiseach to "come clean" and inform Mr Sarkozy that there would be no Lisbon re-run before next summer's European elections.

Fine Gael's Billy Timmins claimed it was now time for the Government to state that the 2009 elections would operate under the Nice Treaty provisions. "Mr Sarkozy's openness and frankness was refreshing and the Government should now reciprocate by telling him that there will be no referendum re-run before the elections and, thus, the upcoming European elections will operate under the Nice Treaty."

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