President will sign Lisbon Treaty legal documents on return to Ireland


PRESIDENT MARY McAleese has said she will sign the instrument of ratification giving legal effect to the referendum vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty following her return from a State visit to Luxembourg.

Addressing a dinner last night hosted by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Marie Teresa of Luxembourg, Mrs McAleese said the vote in the second referendum was a “comprehensive verdict” on the treaty and on the EU itself.

Referring to the legal guarantees secured by the Government, she said the EU “sensitively and honourably” addressed Irish concerns which had led to an earlier rejection of the treaty.

“Irish voters came out in large numbers to state their views as European citizens who have a powerful commitment to the great European project.”

Mrs McAleese is likely to expand on this theme today when she makes a speech on Ireland’s relations with the EU.

In her address last night, marking Ireland’s first State visit to Luxembourg for more than 30 years, she said Luxembourg’s involvement in the EU project from the outset “showcases the power of small states to shape the destiny of an entire continent”.

This demonstrated that smaller countries can “be effective partners with bigger neighbours in a common enterprise and to never be rendered voiceless or powerless by dint of size – rather the opposite to be strong by dint of effort and passion.

“Through your example we learned that the union provided an unparalleled opportunity to small states to play a significant part on a much broader and more effective stage.”

Referring to the Northern Ireland peace process, she said the relationship between Ireland and Britain “has never been better thanks in part to the collegiate which has developed between us around the common European union table and the stunning example which the union provides of replacing fighting against one another with working with and for one another”.

The President and her husband Dr Martin McAleese return to Dublin tonight at the end of their two-day visit to Luxembourg. Pending the completion of certain legal formalities, it is understood she may sign the instrument of ratification before the weekend.

The instrument will then be deposited in Rome, completing the ratification process in advance of an EU summit in Brussels at the end of the month.

Mrs McAleese met yesterday with Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker and his deputy Jean Asselborn.

She also laid a wreath at Luxembourg’s national monument of solidarity, which commemorates the country’s civilian and military victims of the second World War.

At lunchtime yesterday, she and her husband dined in private with the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess at the Pallas Grand Ducal in Luxembourg city.

“Luxembourg is an example par excellence of the benefits of international exchange and engagement, from the long-standing tradition of welcoming foreign workers . . . and later the European and financial institutions . . .”, she said.