New bid to sway Ireland over EU treaty

A proposal to break the logjam over Ireland's rejection of the EU's Lisbon Treaty may be presented to the gathering of member states' leaders in Brussels this week, it was revealed today.

The Republic's Europe minister, Dick Roche, suggested Dublin will seek binding assurances that the Treaty will maintain Irish neutrality and protect its abortion laws and independence over taxation, as well as changes to guarantee a commissioner in Brussels for every member state, no matter how small.

It is thought that, if accepted, these changes could pave the way for Brian Cowen's Government to declare a second referendum for next year, in the hope of reversing the No vote delivered by Irish voters in June.

Any call for a second referendum would infuriate campaigners against the Treaty, who argue that the judgment of the only electorate in Europe to be allowed a vote on the document should be respected.

Declan Ganley, who led the Libertas campaign for a No vote in the referendum, described the move as "almost Mugabe-esque" and said elites in Brussels were showing "absolute contempt" for the democratically expressed wishes of the Irish people.

Mr Roche suggested that the proposed measures might address the concerns which motivated voters in June and allow the EU to "move forward" on the Treaty, which is designed to streamline the Union's operations and allow it to function more effectively with 27 members.

Mr Roche told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "The Government has conducted very exhaustive research over the summer and identified various areas where we need robust guarantees of sovereignty - on taxation and social and ethical issues, and defence and neutrality.

"We are also seeking agreement that there will be one commissioner for each member state.

"We do believe we can craft legally robust instruments which are Ireland-specific and which will meet the requirements of the Irish people and would not require a renegotiation (of the Treaty).

"The arrangements we will be looking for on taxation, social and ethical issues, defence and neutrality have to be legally robust and able to withstand legal challenge and they have to be arrangements that satisfy the Irish people."

With the decision by the Czech Constitutional Court not to block Prague's ratification of the Treaty, Ireland's No vote is now the only significant obstacle to EU-wide adoption of the Treaty, which replaces the failed European Constitution.

Mr Roche said: "We are obviously uncomfortable with the position, but our first responsibility is to the Irish people and the decision they have made and we have to discharge that responsibility.

"We are aware that Europe has shown huge solidarity towards Ireland and we want to show solidarity to the Union. We also appreciate that the Union wants to move forward. We do have a complex and difficult situation but a way forward is beginning to emerge."

Mr Ganley told Today: "What we are seeing here is an absolute contempt for the democratic process being shown by the unaccountable elites in Brussels.

"A higher percentage of the Irish electorate voted No to this Treaty than the American electorate voted for Barack Obama. I don't hear calls for another election there.

"This is almost Mugabe-esque."

But he predicted that, despite the Irish Government "putting a ribbon on and pouring chocolate sauce" on the Treaty, it would be rejected again by the people in any re-run referendum.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk