Government set to decide on second Lisbon vote

 

The Government will make a decision on holding a second Lisbon Treaty referendum before a meeting of EU ministers next month, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said today.

Micheál Martin said the Government will table proposals at a European Council meeting next month to deal with the impasse following the Irish electorate’s rejection of the treaty in a referendum last June.

“We have indicated that by December, we will bring the elements of a solution to the December council meeting of all the European states,” he told RTÉ’s This Week In Politicsprogramme, to be broadcast tonight. “We’re working on that at the moment in terms of a range of issues.”

“We want to be at the heart of European decision making,” he said. “That would enable us to have some impact on decisions into the future and that would strengthen our hand in negotiations on agriculture and budgets and so forth.”

Mr Martin said the Government has yet to make a decision on holding a second referendum. “The Government will make that decision in advance of the December meeting,” he said. “We’ve looked at a variety of alternatives  and we have also consulted with our political parties here at home.””

Earlier this week, Mr Martin dismissed speculation about forcing Ireland from the European Union if voters reject the treaty a second time.

The so-called "Norwegian option" of reducing Ireland to associate member status has been floated by senior German foreign ministry officials as a means of clearing the way for the ratification of the treaty.

In 1972 Norway's negotiated EEC membership deal was rejected by voters in a referendum; today the country is a member of the free-trade European Economic Area (EEA).

Mr Martin insisted that the Lisbon issue in Ireland "is for the Irish people to decide".

"We are at a turning point in our relationship with Europe and, as a Government, we will offer advice that future generations are better at the heart of Europe than at the margins," said Mr Martin.

"But the Germans are very committed to Lisbon, they are not leaving us in any doubt about that."

The Norwegian suggestion was, he said, "not in any room of consequence".