Saturday 21 September 2019

Mandelson criticises weaknesses on the 'Yes' side

Peter Mandelson: voters' fears should have been addressed
Peter Mandelson: voters' fears should have been addressed

Aine Kerr and Conor Sweeney

BRITISH EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson yesterday hit out at the Government's failure to convince voters to say 'Yes' to Lisbon.

The former British MP and Northern Ireland Secretary attempted to deflect criticism directed against him by the farm lobby here over his controversial negotiating tactics at World Trade talks.

Instead, he turned on anti-Lisbon campaigners, who, he claimed, made "completely fallacious assertions", about abortion, conscription and neutrality.

And he accused the Government and 'Yes' campaigners of failing to face down the Lisbon opponents.

"An appalling number of rumours, on which people's prejudices and fears were built, had contributed to the 'No' vote in Ireland," he said.

"All of those fears should have been addressed, all those misrepresentations should have been corrected."

However, the major parties who campaigned for a 'Yes' vote here, last night refused to respond to Mr Mandelson's criticisms.

A Fine Gael spokesman would only say Mr Mandelson was entitled to his opinion. Labour were also reluctant to defend themselves against his criticisms.

"A lot of people could say a lot of things about the referendum, but some things are better left unsaid," a spokesman told the Irish Independent.

Meanwhile, Britain yesterday ratified the Lisbon Treaty after legislation passed by parliament was given Royal Assent. The Queen's approval of the European Union (Amendment) Bill represents the final stage in Britain's ratification of the treaty.

It follows the Bill's passage through the House of Lords, despite last ditch efforts by opponents of the treaty to delay its adoption.

Arriving at the summit yesterday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters the EU had to respond to the Irish no vote in a manner that was "respectful, calm and above all listens".

"I think there is unity across the European Union that the respect and space that the Brian Cowen has asked for should be delivered,'' he said.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News