I stay up all night reading treaty, quips McCreevy
EUROPEAN Commissioner Charlie McCreevy last night gave a bizarre series of answers when asked if he has finally read the Lisbon Treaty document.
Having previously claimed no "sane person" would actually want to read the entire Lisbon Treaty, Mr McCreevy said he has been an avid reader of the text over the last six months. But he refused to be drawn on whether he has now read the entire treaty cover to cover.
When asked if he had read the entire treaty, 16 months after saying he didn't think ordinary, decent Irish people would go through it in full, the former Finance Minister said: "I stay up nightly. I didn't go to bed at all for the last six months reading the Lisbon Treaty, as I know everybody else in the country is so doing."
Asked again if he had read it, the European Commissioner added: "Sure, aren't I after telling you? Don't I stay up every night? Noeleen, my wife, has said to me on repeated occasions: 'Would you ever leave down that Lisbon Treaty and go and make me a cup of tea?'"
When asked again, Mr McCreevy said he hadn't been doing anything else for the last six month, like everybody else.
And when asked why he didn't read it the first time, he said: "This is what I've been doing since. I can only tell you what I'm doing now."
His approach to attempting to draw a line in the sand of last year's controversy over not reading the treaty differed with that of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who also admitted he had not read the treaty document cover to cover.
But, since the start of the second referendum campaign, Mr Cowen has come out and definitively stated that he has read and absorbed every page of the treaty.
Having also previously claimed that if other European leaders put the Lisbon Treaty to a vote, the answer in 95pc of countries would have been 'No' as well, Mr McCreevy changed tact yesterday and made a passionate call for a 'Yes' vote.
"Frankly, my great fear is that a 'No' vote would not just undermine confidence gradually, but could actually rapidly turn what is a very serious economic problem for Ireland into a full blown economic crisis," he said.
A second 'No' vote would send the signal that Ireland is determined to move from the centre to the periphery and would make it harder and dearer for the Government to raise capital and fund our Exchequer deficit, he said.
The former Finance Minister, who described himself as somebody who liked to gamble politically and otherwise, claimed another 'No' vote was a "gamble too far".
"A 'No' vote would be a major gamble. As you know, I am someone who has never been afraid to gamble -- politically and otherwise. But I must say that in these fragile economic circumstances, gambling on the consequences of a 'No' vote would, for me, be a gamble too far." On October 3, as the ballot boxes are opened, the focus of the international media on Ireland will be intense, Mr McCreevy said, at a seminar in Dublin hosted by law firm Eversheds O'Donnell Sweeney.
"At a time when international confidence in Ireland has never been so fragile we simply cannot afford doubts or more negative perceptions to take hold or indeed to be reinforced," he added.