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'Worthless' guarantees fail to win over treaty opponents

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

THE major groups which opposed "Lisbon Mark One" have vowed to do the same again in next year's referendum.

Despite the decision to allow the State to retain its EU commissioner, Sinn Fein, Libertas, the Socialist Party and others maintain that the content of the Lisbon Treaty remains unchanged. They have also accused the Government of ignoring the verdict of the people, who voted 'No' last June by 53.4pc to 46.6pc.

Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald said the Lisbon re-run was "an exercise in smoke and mirrors". The new declarations on taxation, abortion, neutrality and workers' rights were empty promises, she said.

"Unless 'protocols' are secured and ratified by all members states, 'guarantees' as described by the Government are worthless," she said.

Ms McDonald said the Government had failed to address issues such as the democratic deficit, workers rights, neutrality and Ireland's influence in the EU institutions in its negotiations with other EU states.

Former Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna also said that she was planning to lead the campaign to get her party on the 'No' side in the forthcoming referendum.

Precedence

"The treaty still remains the same, not one comma has been moved out of it and basically what we have are political promises, legally binding assurances, that the treaty will take precedence over," she said. She criticised the silence of Green Party ministers in Government.

But a Green Party spokesman said the party was pleased that EU leaders had recognised the concerns Irish citizens had about key issues.

Libertas plans to put forward candidates in elections next year to the European Parliament on an anti-Lisbon platform. Its founder Declan Ganley has accused the Government of betraying the Irish people by planning to hold a second Lisbon referendum.

The Campaign Against the EU Constitution also declared its intention to oppose a second referendum. It represents 12 groups, including the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance, the Workers Party and the Communist Party of Ireland. The Peace and Neutrality Alliance said that a legally binding protocol on issues like neutrality was needed.

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