by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 05:48:00 AM EST
President Sarkozy is reported as having told French Politicians at a lunch in the Elysee Palace today that "the Irish will have to vote again". This runs directly in the face of the Irish Government's request at the EU Council that:
- The Irish people's vote be respected
- That the Irish Government be given time to analyse the result and come forward with proposals to address the issues raised by the campaign at the next Council meeting in September or December.
The timing is particularly unfortunate in that Sarkozy is due to visit Dublin on Monday and it was hoped that he would do so in "listening mode".
Topical, since Sarkozy is now in Dublin - afew
The Irish Minister for External Affairs has been on Irish national radio engaging in damage limitation and supporting the right of our European partners to have their own view on the matter.
In an attempt to mollify irate callers to the programme he insisted that the Irish Government would listen to all views and then make its own decision on the matter in it's own time, that no decisions had been made to date, and that any final decision would be up to the Irish electorate. Some callers to the programme claimed to be Yes voters who would vote no if a second referendum were held at the behest of the French President. "What part on 'NO' does he not understand?" seems to be the most popular response
The Irish Times' Paris based journalist Lara Marlowe stated that the President had probably spoken in an unguarded moment at a private meeting but allowed that it was also possible that he was expressing some frustration and seeking to put pressure on the Irish Government.
Given the sensitivity of the "national identity", "European Elite", "respect for democracy", and big countries dictating to smaller countries memes in the referendum campaign, Sarkozy's intervention can best be described as unhelpful and ill-timed.
Ireland has to hold second referendum - Sarkozy - The Irish Times - Tue, Jul 15, 2008
Sinn Féin described Mr Sarkozy's comment as "deeply insulting to the Irish people".
Spokesman 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."
He said: "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.
"There can be no question of rehashing the Lisbon treaty and putting it to the people again. EU leaders need to listen to what the people of Ireland, France and the Netherlands have said about the contents of this Treaty," he added.
Declan Ganly of Libertas suggested on the radio that An Taoiseach should ask Sarkozy to hold a second referendum in France given that the Lisbon Treaty is substantially the same as the defunct EU Constitution. He noted that Sarkozy has himself said that a second referendum in France would be defeated and that his attitude exemplified the anti-democratic nature of the EU project.
However in the longer term I doubt whether this spat will have any influence one way or the other. Sarkozy is treated with some bemusement in Ireland and Carla Bruni will probably be the bigger attraction on his visit.
Le Monde is reported as floating the possibility that the Treaty will be amended to allow each country retain a Commissioner and that additional protocols could be added to give assurances on the (in any case largely irrelevant) issues raised in the referendum campaign.
Meanwhile Ireland has to hold second referendum - Sarkozy - The Irish Times - Tue, Jul 15, 2008
Earlier today, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said he did not expect any more countries to reject the Lisbon treaty after the Irish No vote.
Addressing the Italian parliament, Mr Barroso said Polish president Lech Kaczynski had reassured him his country would not block the ratification of the treaty. Mr Barroso also said the Czech Republic would also be no obstacle.
"There has only been one No to the ratification of the treaty, and I do not expect any more," Mr Barroso said.
Perhaps it is all part of a pincer movement to let the Irish know they are alone on this issue. However it sounds much more like inept diplomacy.