Thursday December 11 2008
Aine Kerr Political Correspondent
A FORMER senior MEP claimed last night that a rerun of the Lisbon Treaty vote was "a done deal" between Ireland and European Union leaders.
Danish veteran Jens Peter Bonde added that the deal means a new vote will contain declarations with lots of "nice words" that wouldn't actually change "one single paragraph" in the Lisbon Treaty text.
Mr Bonde, a noted Eurosceptic and an opponent of the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties, added: "I know that the French president has told European group leaders in the European Parliament, in confidentiality, that there is a deal now with the Irish government and the French presidency on the . . . rerun."
Mr Bonde's claims were rejected by Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, who insisted the Taoiseach was travelling to Brussels today to discuss "elements of a solution".
"No deal has been done," he said. "If a deal is done, it has to be arrived at by the 27 member states at the Council on Thursday and Friday. I can assure you that no deal has been arrived at."
With any future solution heavily reliant on Ireland being able to retain its permanent European Commissioner, Mr Martin said some states still preferred the proposed new system that allowed for a rotation of commissioners.
But the minister said he was encouraged by President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso's remark that he was "convinced" Irish voters' concerns could be met.
Meanwhile, an alliance of 'No' campaigners yesterday said the Government was "conspiring" behind voters' backs to rerun the treaty on the wider agenda of the economic crisis.
Pledging an "intensified effort" if there is a second referendum, Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party claimed there would be an attempt by the Government to "panic" people into voting 'Yes' to save their jobs and homes.
Patricia McKenna of the People's Movement said the Government was trying to make a link between EU membership, Lisbon and tackling the economic crisis. "The public aren't stupid and I don't believe they're going to buy into this argument," she added.
"There is now an attempt to go behind the backs of the people and to find another way to force this through, whether it be through a referendum or through some other procedure."
Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh claimed the Government was intent on getting people to "keep voting until you get the correct answer", while Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) claimed a constitutional challenge was possible against the holding of a second referendum.
NO TO LISBON