Monday 18 February 2019

Gilmore: Vote now would deliver a second 'No'

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

'I told him that his comments last week about a second referendum were distinctly unhelpful'

A SOLUTION to the Lisbon Treaty impasse will be extremely difficult to find before next summer's European elections, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore warned last night.

Following a frank and lively 10-minute meeting with the French President Nicholas Sarkozy, Mr Gilmore said calls for a second referendum from outside observers were likely to contribute to an even bigger 'No' vote in future.

The Labour leader added he had informed the French president that if a second referendum were to take place in the immediate future, the treaty would be defeated again.

"I told him that his comments last week about a second referendum were distinctly unhelpful just indeed (as) were some of the comments made by some of his ministers during the course of the referendum campaign. I told him bluntly that I felt that the comments made by some of his ministers during the referendum campaign contributed to the result we ended up getting," said Mr Gilmore.

The Labour leader also said he couldn't see how the matter would be resolved between now and the European elections next summer.

"There is no basis for believing that a second referendum would produce a result which is any different from the first one -- and calls from the outside the State for a second referendum are likely to contribute to an even bigger 'No' vote."

However, the Labour leader said he had been told there was no prospect of renegotiating the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Sarkozy also stressed there was a "certain time limit and time pressure" in finding a solution because of next year's Europe-wide elections.

The meeting between the two men, which followed Friday's decision by Labour to turn down an invite to speak for just three minutes in the French Embassy, took place in a meeting room beside the Taoiseach's office in Government Buildings.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who also held a 10-minute meeting with the French president prior to Mr Gilmore, said Mr Sarkozy had demonstrated a "distinct understanding" of the sensitivities involved in the Lisbon Treaty vote.


Yesterday's five-hour visit to Dublin was deemed to be "very important" in providing the European President with a "fuller understanding" of the treaty fall-out.

The issue of a second referendum was not raised in the Fine Gael meeting.

"The issue of a second referendum did not come up. I made the point to him that the question as put and decided upon -- that question is over.

"You don't put the same question again. We did not discuss the question of a second referendum," said Mr Kenny.

"We did discuss how he, in his capacity as president of the council (of Europe), would be in a position to help Ireland here and help Europe to understand how sensitive it is here in Ireland."

The Fine Gael leader said he did not ask the French President about his reported comments last week that the Irish would have to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty. Instead, Mr Kenny stressed that the summer period was need to analyse and assess why people voted 'No'.

"I did make the point to him that, in a political sense, to have a second referendum, if that were to be a decision of government, sometime before the European elections in 2009, would not lead to a clear mandate because of the political difficulties that that would bring about."

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