Government will 'spare no effort' to address Lisbon concerns


Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said today the Government will "spare no effort" to ensure the concerns of the Irish people on the Lisbon Treaty are addressed.

The Minister said it is vital there should be "no doubt whatsoever" about Ireland's commitment to remaining in the heart of Europe, particularly in the current economic climate.

He was speaking after he met today with the Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra, with whom he discussed the package of legal guarantees to Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty was rejected by the electorate in a referendum in June last year.

Mr Vondra is visiting Ireland in advance of the February General Affairs and External Relations Council. The Czech Republic currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

Mr Martin met Mr Vondra in Cork, where he said they discussed issues relating to the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's economic situation in the context of the global economic crisis, and transatlantic relations.

"We had fruitful discussions on a series of vital issues for the EU and for Ireland. I renewed our commitment to supporting the Czech Republic as they provide leadership to the EU at this critical time when there are so many major challenges to be faced," Mr Martin said in a statement.

"Today's meeting provided a valuable opportunity to take stock of progress on finalising the package of legal guarantees for Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty to which EU leaders committed themselves at the December meeting of the European Council."

He said the Czech presidency was "playing a central role in taking this important work forward, and I thanked deputy prime Minister Vondra for his continuing efforts in this regard".

"It is very much in Ireland's national interest, particularly in the current economic climate, that there should be no doubt whatsoever about our commitment to remaining at the heart of Europe. The Government is absolutely convinced that it is vital that any uncertainty in this regard be removed."

Mr Martin said the Government will spare no effort to ensure that the concerns of the Irish people on Lisbon are fully addressed.

"Deputy prime minister Vondra has assured me that the Czech presidency stands fully behind us on this. I look forward to working closely with him as we seek to finalise this vital package, which will address the most significant concerns that emerged during last year's referendum campaign."

During his visit, Mr Vondra will also meet Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche.

The Government is working with other EU member states to give legal form to a package of decisions taken by the European Council in December to meet the concerns of the Irish people in respect of the Lisbon Treaty.

These include the right of each member state to nominate a commissioner, and guarantees of Ireland's right to take its own decisions in relation to taxation, defence and abortion.