Monday, 16 June 2008

Irish minister: 'treaty is dead'

"In the end it is for the Irish prime minister to decide what his next moves are. He has got to decide whether or not to apply the last rites'' says David Miliband in today's Daily Telegraph.

It's easy to see the government's unprincipled strategy. Expressing respect for the views of the Irish people is clearly a much lower priority than wanting to stay in the EU's good books - by avoiding being blamed for turning the Irish 'No' vote into a snowball of countries halting ratification.

But Mr Miliband apparently doesn't seem to have noticed that several Irish ministers and 'Yes' campaign leaders have already made it very clear that there will not be a second referendum.

And as Miliband says today on his blog, "It is clear that if the Irish do not ratify the Treaty then the Treaty will not pass into law."

Dick Roche: 'treaty is dead'

As far back as March, Irish European Affairs Minister Dick Roche was condemning the treaty in the event of a 'No' vote.

In a statement on his website Mr Roche said,
"there will only be one referendum held in Ireland on the provisions of the EU Reform Treaty ... There is no plan B and there is absolutely no possibility of this Treaty being subject to a further renegotiation. The idea that we can reject this Treaty and have another Referendum as happened with the Nice Treaty is a dilusion. That cannot and will not happen."

"Without Irish ratification, this Treaty 'is dead'", he concluded.

In the Observer on Sunday, Irish integration minister Conor Lenihan reinforced that sentiment, saying it was "unlikely" the treaty would be put to the republic's electorate again.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland on Saturday morning, Lenihan said, "I can't see a situation where we can put this matter again, to be quite honest with you, because the risk to Europe and indeed to Ireland... is to cause even more damage."

"It's not comparable to the previous situation with regards to the Nice referendum," he concluded.

Also quoted in the Observer article are 'senior strategists in Fianna Fail' - Ireland's main ruling party - saying it would be "politically impossible" to try to repeat what happened in 2002, when Ireland voted in favour of the Nice treaty 12 months after having rejected it.

"This time around, the turnout was high, so there can be no justification for it. The government is caught in a political trap," one senior Fianna Fail source is quoted as saying.

"There are local as well as European elections in Ireland next year and Fianna Fail will not risk having to hold another referendum.

"Within the next 12 months, at the very least, there is absolutely no chance that Ireland will re-run Lisbon."

Fine Gael also rule out second vote

On Saturday, Enda Kenny - leader of the main opposition Fine Gael party, which was a major part of the 'Yes' campaign - also ruled out the prospect of a second Lisbon Treaty referendum.

He expressed disappointment at the 'No' vote, but is reported in the Irish Independent on Saturday as strongly against any plans to put the treaty before the electorate again.

"We made it perfectly clear that there would not be a second offering in this case . . . The governments have to look at the decision the Irish people have made and decide how best to move the concept of the European process forward from here," he said.

No excuse for delay

So, Mr Miliband. If, as you say, the treaty cannot pass into law unless the Irish ratify, yet Irish ministers and key members of the 'Yes' camp are already ruling out a second referendum, why the delay in declaring this treaty dead and calling off our own ratification?

It's hard to see how the last rites of Lisbon - at least in theory - haven't already been read.

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