Cowen 'must seek halt to ratification'


Taoiseach Brian Cowen must tell other European leaders to stop the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty at tomorrow's EU summit, an anti-treaty group has demanded.

The People's Movement today called on Mr Cowen to make clear to his EU counterparts in Brussels that it is futile to continue ratifying the treaty.

At a press conference in Dublin this afternoon, former Green MEP Patricia McKenna also argued that "threats" made by Yes campaigners that EU leaders could forge ahead with treaty provisions and leave Ireland behind were unfounded.

The chairperson of the People's Movement Patricia McKenna and Finian McGrath pictured at today's news conference
The chairperson of the People's Movement Patricia McKenna and Finian McGrath pictured at today's news conference

"They need Ireland's consent to do so. Even the claim that they can do so under enhanced cooperation is wrong as this only applies to the provisions of the Nice Treaty," she said.

She pointed that enhanced co-operation did not apply to military matters.

Ms McKenna, who is chair of the People's Movement, said that Ireland should now insist on a complete renegotiation of the treaty, that would take cognisance of the messages sent by Irish voters. That view was echoed by the other two spokespeople at the conference, independent TD Finian McGrath, and the former TD Declan Bree.

As expressed concern that Mr Cowen may capitulate and re-present Lisbon to the Irish people in a slightly altered form.

Ms McKenna cited the Laeken Declaration, which was agreed by EU leaders after the first Nice referendum in 2001. She said it provided that Europe must become more accountable to its citizens.

"This process must involve all 27 states. We believe that this is a huge opportunity to go back to the start and go back to the people of Europe.

"There is no mandate for a Nice II where they give little trinkets to Ireland but trinkets that have no legal validity. We have done it once before and I think that they cannot repeat the same thing," she said.

She agreed that reopening negotiations would take a number of years.

"It could take a number of years. But EU cannot come to a standstill. The question is how you can involve the citizens of Europe in this process."

She said that the People's Movement had no sure shopping list. She said key issues for it were the loss of a permanent commissioner; the change in voting system that discriminated against smaller countries; the loss of a veto; the issue of workers' rights; militarisation; as well as a "neo-liberal agenda".

Mr McGrath said that Irish people put down a marker saying they did not want a centralised Europe.

"It's clear that Irish women voted No on the questions of militarisation, equality and democracy," he said.

Mr Bree said that the response of what he called the political elite had been outrageous since the referendum defeat.

"The people do not want a federal united states of Europe. They do not want further militarisation. They do not want the Lisbon Treaty. Their will must be respected," he said.