Wednesday 16 January 2019

Gilmore 'took opposing views in public and in private'

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore privately told US diplomats he would support the holding of a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty -- despite publicly saying the opposite, a leaked embassy cable reveals.

In a candid disclosure that will prove embarrassing for the Labour Party leader, a leaked US Embassy cable says he admitted a "public posture" of opposition to a second referendum because it was "politically necessary".

At the same time, Mr Gilmore fully expected a second referendum and said he would support it.

After the No vote in the first Lisbon referendum in June 2008, the Labour leader said the "Lisbon Treaty is dead" and opposed a second referendum being held.

But Mr Gilmore presented a different scenario a month later to US embassy staff, according to then US Ambassador Thomas Foley.


"Gilmore, who has led calls against a second referendum, has told the embassy separately that he fully expects, and would support, holding a second referendum in 2009. He explained his public posture of opposition to a second referendum as 'politically necessary' for the time being," the Ambassador said in a 'confidential' dispatch sent to his colleagues in Washington and across the EU.

Of course, a year later, when the Government secured concessions on Lisbon, Mr Gilmore and Labour did back the second referendum.

After the first referendum was rejected, however, Mr Gilmore said there was no question of the question being put a second time.

"The speculation that there will be a second bite at it -- there won't be," he said on June 13, the day of the Lisbon I count.

Mr Gilmore told the Dail the following week the vote had to be fully respected.

"That is why there can be no question of going back to the people for a simple re-run of the Lisbon treaty," he said on June 18.

And the Labour leader advised his colleagues in the European Socialists on June 19 against assuming a second referendum would be successful.

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Dublin a month later, on July 21, Mr Gilmore still held this position as he told him there was "no basis for believing that a second referendum would produce a result which is any different from the first one".

But in that same week in July, Mr Gilmore was presenting a different view to the US Embassy.

Mr Foley wrote his cable on July 23 -- just two days after Mr Sarkozy met with the Yes and No campaigners in Dublin -- where he presents Mr Gilmore's expectation of a second referendum and his "politically necessary" opposition to a second vote.

Mr Foley reported how Mr Sarkozy followed his meeting with then Taoiseach Brian Cowen by having separate meetings with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Mr Gilmore

"According to press reports, Kenny added that between now and October was a 'period of reflection and analysis'."

Sarkozy reportedly emphasized that the following June's Europe-wide elections imposed some time pressure to resolve the issue.

"Both told Sarkozy that a second Lisbon Treaty referendum before next June's elections is not possible," Mr Foley said.

The US Embassy also spoke with Mr Kenny's chief of staff Mark Kennelly who told them Fine Gael was "quite happy" with the meeting and Mr Sarkozy's trip overall.

"He said that FG leaders believe Fall 2009 is the most 'realistic timetable if there were to be a second referendum'," Mr Foley wrote.

Mr Gilmore didn't give an expected date of a second referendum but still said he expected it to happen.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News