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13 March 2008 Edition

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Ahern refuses to rule out Lisbon 2

Bertie Ahern

Bertie Ahern

The Lisbon Treaty referendum will be held in the second week of June Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil on Tuesday, 11 March.
Ahern said the Government would consult with Fine Gael and the Labour Party to agree on a specific polling date.
Sinn Féin has persistently called on the Taoiseach to name the referendum date so an information campaign can begin in earnest.
When Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked Ahern whether he would rule out a second vote if the people rejected the Treaty first time round, Ahern did not respond.
Ó Caoláin has described as disgraceful Ahern’s refusal to rule out a Lisbon 2.
“I asked the Taoiseach to make it very clear that if the people Vote No to the Lisbon Treaty that they will not be forced to vote again on the same Treaty as with Nice 2.  I insisted that he make a commitment here and now that he will respect the outcome of the referendum and implement it. His response was a refusal to rule out a Lisbon 2. Such a blatant lack of respect for the Irish people is a disgrace”, Ó Caoláin said.
“I also asked the Taoiseach if he, in line with the vote of his party’s MEPs, shared Sinn Féin’s anger and concern that a majority of the European Parliament refused to respect the decision of the people of this state, whatever it may be, with regard to the Treaty. Again the Taoiseach doggedly refused to comment on the European Parliamentary vote of his own Fianna Fáil MEPs who voted to respect the Irish people’s decision”, he said.
Ó Caoláin said that Ahern had ruled out the circulation of a consolidated version of the Treaty text to every household as was done in France prior to the country’s referendum on the EU Constitution.
“The lack of information available to the electorate only months out from a referendum is unacceptable”, said the Cavan/Monaghan TD.
Meanwhile Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has accused Fianna Fáil Minister of State for European Affairs, Dick Roche of talking nonsense.
“Dick Roche said that the government aims to ensure that before polling day people will have more factual information than in any other referenda.
“Last week I contacted Government Publications to get a copy of the Lisbon Treaty for a constituent. They had no copy of the Lisbon Treaty, no consolidated text and no copy of the Treaties on which the Lisbon Treaty is based. Sinn Féin has published an alternative guide to the Lisbon Treaty. Our members are currently distributing 500,000 newsletters across the country. We have organised seven regional public meetings. And it is clear that the government has no interest in debating the facts.”
Speaking ahead of a debate on the Lisbon Treaty on Tuesday in Tralee, County Kerry with Fine Gael’s Alan Dukes,  Sinn Féin  Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD said the Treaty is a bad deal for Farming and Rural Ireland.
He said EU Agriculture policy had been bad for family farms and is actively undermining the provision of vital services to rural communities including post offices.
“EU policy has become synonymous with red tape and bureaucracy and rural Ireland is feeling the symptoms of that.
“Farmers need to be aware that passing the Lisbon Treaty will strengthen EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson’s hand as he attempts to dilute trade barriers. In fact it will copperfasten such policies allowing Mandelson to negotiate the future of the Irish beef industry with no recourse for Irish farmers”, Ferris said.

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