Strong EU is crucial - Tánaiste


EU DIMENSION:THIS WEEK'S events had given a clear indication of the importance of a strong European Union and the need for Ireland to remain centrally involved by ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan said yesterday in Dublin.

However, she told the Association of European Journalists it was too early to say whether the Lisbon issue should be resolved by ratification in the Oireachtas or through a second referendum.

"I don't have a preference. I think it would be wrong to say we're going to have another referendum because that just would infuriate people and rightly so.

"You have to listen to what the people had to say. If you can resolve the issues that are of concern to them, that's a different thing, but I certainly would not be of that view that you would force the issue," she said.

Reflecting on recent events, she said: "As you know, a very serious decision was made by the Cabinet very late on Monday night when the considered view on the advice of the governor of the Central Bank and the regulator was that we would have to initiate the proceedings that we did.

"Today we are giving legislative support to the principal decision that was made by Government at that time and, to be frank, my view is that, despite perhaps some procrastination within the House, a majority of members of the House support it.

"It has affected our markets in a true way and it has given a clear signal. The Government made a decision on the basis of the need to manage. It's not the shifting sands, it's bedrock of our economy.

"There has been a general acceptance that it was the right decision at the right time and my hope . . . would be that we never have to call in those guarantees.

"We have provided the stability for the economy to allow us to access the capital and equally on that basis we gave a clear signal, not just within the European Union but outside, that we are working within a framework in which stability of the Irish economy and the banking system is uppermost in our minds."