Cowen admits second Lisbon referendum must be an option
THE Taoiseach conceded yesterday that the Government would have to consider the prospect of a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Brian Cowen refused to rule out the option when he said that his colleagues would consider the need for another referendum in "due course".
But he also said more time was needed to analyse what had happened on June 12 when the public voted 'No'.
Mr Cowen's comments follow hot on the heels of those of European Affairs Minister of State Dick Roche, who said he felt a second referendum would ultimately be needed to solve the current impasse.
Although Mr Cowen said that there had been much "idle speculation" on the matter, he did not admonish Mr Roche for his comments.
Mr Roche told the Humbert Summer School, in Mayo, at the weekend that a second Lisbon Treaty would ultimately be required and that ratifying key elements by legislation was not a viable option.
In Ballyconneely yesterday, the Taoiseach said: "In fairness, I think Dick Roche was at a summer school and entitled to give his opinion as one would expect."
Mr Cowen added: "I think it's important to point out that the Government themselves are presently studying the outcome of that referendum, and until such time as we come back to it collectively, it's idle speculation at this stage."
Mr Cowen played for time when it came to nailing down a treaty strategy.
He said: "I'm saying it's simply a matter the Government have to consider in due course. But we're not at that point in our discussions at all yet.
"The point we're at in our discussions is examining the outcome of the referendum and obviously there will be a number of meetings with EU colleagues between now and the end of the year when it will be discussed further with them."
Fine Gael spokeswoman Lucinda Creighton said last night that talk of a second re-run was unhelpful, and only served to highlight the "arrogance and lack of respect" the Government has for voters.
A spokesman for the Labour Party reiterated the party's belief that there can be no question of simply putting the same proposition to the people once again.
He said comments about holding a second referendum were "not helpful".
Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald said the Government could not re-run the treaty.
"It has been rejected and a new deal must now be negotiated. Despite the Irish people's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, Brian Cowen and his ministers have quite literally sat on their hands waiting, it seems, for a solution to just fall out of the sky," she said.