Sarkozy Lisbon comments draw sharp response

 

Political parties have reacted angrily to comments made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in which he said Ireland will have to vote again on the Lisbon treaty.

"The Irish will have to vote again," Mr Sarkozy is reported to have told deputies from his UMP party in a meeting in his office.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said he couldn't comment on Mr Sarkozy's reported remarks. He said the Government is examining "all the options" after voters rejected the Lisbon treaty last month.

But Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said if reports about Mr Sarkozy's comments were correct, the French president "has seriously put his foot in it".

"These remarks are particularly unhelpful coming as they do only days before he is due in this country.

"We were given to understand that one of the principal reasons for the president's visit to Ireland next week was to allow him to hear the views of Irish people as to what should now be done. However, if he has already made his mind up on this issue, it will be a rather hollow listening."

Mr Gilmore added: "We need that time and space and President Sarkozy should be told that in blunt terms."

Sinn Féin described Mr Sarkozy’s comment as “deeply insulting to the Irish people”.

Party TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said: "In the month since the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to reject the Lisbon treaty we have listened to a succession of EU leaders lining up to try and bully and coerce us into doing what they want."

“The fact is that the people have spoken and the Lisbon treaty is dead. The ratification process should stop and the leaders of the EU must negotiate a new Treaty,” he said.

Declan Ganley of the Libertas group, one of the most prominent anti-treaty campaigners, told RTÉ: "This typifies the anti-democratic nature of what’s going on in Brussels."

Mr Sarkozy is to travel to Ireland next week to discuss the reasons for the Irish No vote and seek a solution to it, which he hopes to put forward by the end of the year.

Additional reporting PA