No vote will have 'consequences' for Ireland


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen has said a rejection of the Lisbon Treaty would have “consequences” for Ireland.

He said other European Union member states might struggle to understand further Irish resistance to the treaty, especially now that guarantees on issues of concern had been secured.

“I would like to deal with this suggestion that rejecting Lisbon would not have any negative consequences for Ireland.

“Certainly it would not mean we would be thrown out of the European Union. But that does not mean there would not be consequences,” Mr Cowen said.

He was speaking to Fianna Fáil’s Dublin South organisation at the Irish Management Institute in Sandyford yesterday. Mr Cowen said Ireland was paying more than most other European Union countries for borrowings on the international money market because of negative sentiment towards the country.

That sentiment needed to be reversed by taking steps to correct the State’s finances but also by demonstrating that Ireland’s commitment to Europe was beyond any doubt. “It’s time to use the common sense that is the hallmark of the Irish character, to recognise that we need Europe and now Europe needs Ireland,” he said.

“This is not about whether you support or oppose the Government, or agree or disagree with Brian Cowen,” Mr Cowen said.

If voters were frustrated or angry about the current economic situation, they could exercise their vote to support the treaty and help Ireland increase its prospects of recovery, he said.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, said Ireland was responsible for inserting a reference to climate change into the treaty. “At our insistence, we put climate change into the Lisbon Treaty. It was Ireland wanted that in and it was accepted. Thank God we did. That is, equally along with energy security, these are the big issues of this era,” he said.

No one member state could deal with such issues alone, he said.

Mr Martin also said the treaty would be beneficial for Irish workers.

“It’s illogical to vote No if you are a trade unionist or you believe in workers’ rights. There’s no logic to it. I don’t say that arrogantly,” he said.

“A Yes vote gets you the Charter [of Fundamental Rights], a No vote you have no charter.”

ESRI economist John Fitzgerald said the European Central Bank had provided massive liquidity and support for the Irish banking system.

“Ireland would not be the Ireland [it is] today were it not for membership of the monetary union,” he said. “Now that we are in a mess, it has bailed us out.”

Meanwhile, Prof Brigid Laffan, chairwoman of the Ireland for Europe group, said Irish political parties were “hard-wired” to fight elections but found referendum campaigns more of a struggle.

The chairwoman of the Women for Europe group, Olive Braiden, said some women had felt ill-informed and left out of the debate last year, “and they followed the Ganley guide: ‘When in doubt vote No’.”

The Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche, and chairman of the Institute of International and European Affairs, Brendan Halligan, also addressed the gathering.

Fianna Fáil Senator Ann Ormonde, the former MEP for Dublin Eoin Ryan and Shay Brennan, who ran unsuccessfully in the Dublin South constituency in the last byelection, were among those who attended the event.