Martin rejects British group's poll on Lisbon


Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin today accused a British eurosceptic think-tank of interfering in the national debate on the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Martin said a poll, commissioned by Open Europe, was an outside interference in discussions on Ireland’s future in Europe.

“I would like to know what prompted a British organisation with a strong ideological bias to commission a poll into Irish attitudes to Europe at this time,” said Mr Martin.

“Ireland’s future in Europe is a matter for decision by Irish people.”

He said the Government has commissioned a study aimed at exploring the reasons behind the No vote.

“This will provide an input into a national debate which needs to take place in the months ahead as we seek to find and agree a way forward that will serve Ireland’s interests. We will, of course, be consulting with our EU partners, but I do not believe that we have anything to learn from anti-EU bodies like Open Europe.

“Its views are not in tune with Irish interests.”

Neil O’Brien, director of Open Europe which commissioned the Red C poll, maintained that by appearing to bully the voters, EU politicians were driving lots more people into the no camp.

The poll suggested the Irish electorate would vote No by an even bigger margin if made to have a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Some 71 per cent of those questioned in the Republic opposed a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, with just 24 per cent in favour. Of those who expressed an opinion, 62 per cent said they would vote No in a second referendum, compared to 38 per cent who would vote Yes.

The Lisbon Treaty was rejected by 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent in last month's referendum.

The Dáil will be recalled early from its summer recess to establish an all-party committee on the Lisbon Treaty that can help plan a way forward.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said today that the EU must accept that the Irish rejection of Lisbon cannot be solved simply by a second vote by the Irish electorate.

"There must be a period of reflection, where all 27 countries participate collectively in seeking to determine a way forward. It appears that the European election in June 2009 can only take place under the Nice criteria. The sooner this is accepted by the Irish Government, and communicated by the Taoiseach to the rest of the member states, the sooner progress can be made in looking to a broader solution in the future," he said.

Chair of the People's Movement and former Green MEP Patricia McKenna said: "Minister Martin showed no concern about outside interference prior to the vote on Lisbon, when he and other Government Ministers invited with open arms every political heavyweight in the EU to come here and urge us to vote Yes.

"There was no concern expressed about outside interference when the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Vice President Margot Wallstrom came here to here to urge us to vote Yes. It¹s a bit late for Government Minister to be taking the moral high-ground now about outside interference."

Ms McKenna said the Government had never complained about polls commissioned by the EU political establishment.

"But because other interested parties, who have a different agenda, commission opinion polls on our attitude to Lisbon it just not acceptable."

Additional reporting: PA