16 June 2008

A Time for Thinking and Analysis

Ireland's Minster for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has said that none of the other EU states have pointed the finger of blame at the Irish government over the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty referendum. Speaking after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, he said that all member states wanted to work with Ireland to find a solution to the situation.

He told a news conference that solidarity was the overwhelming message given to him by the other ministers and said "there was no talk of the other 26 states going ahead and leaving Ireland behind".
In particular, he mentioned the German Foreign Minister (and Deputy Prime Minister) Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who told him that Germany wanted to work with Ireland.

There has been no discussion of putting the Lisbon Treaty to another referendum, nor of any changes to the treaty text or its implementation.

Minister Martin said Ireland is "a strong supporter of a deeper EU, with a stronger global role" and did not want to be left behind.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, who chaired the meeting, said it was "time for a little bit of thinking and analysis".
"It would be risky to say we are going to bring the treaty back to life when we are facing a blockade," he added.

Dick Roche, Ireland's Junior Minister for European Affairs, whose job included organising and overseeing the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, was less positive and still sulking over his failure to deliver a YES vote. After bi-lateral meetings with other EU ministers in Luxembourg he said that there was "a real sense of crisis over the Irish rejection of the treaty".
Well, it seems that his boss Micheál Martin did not see that crisis and neither experienced any hostilities. Perhaps it is just the inability of Mr. Roche to see and accept realities and listen to the voice of the people. (One should never forget that this is the same Dick Roche who is personally responsible for the destruction of the Hill of Tara and who made a complete fool of himself - and damaged the image of Ireland - in Beijing in March of this year.)

Meanwhile Ireland's EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy conceded that the treaty as it was intended cannot come into force now, following Ireland's rejection.
Speaking on RTE Radio 1, he said that neither the Irish people nor the government could be 'bullied' following the result, which had to be respected by the EU.
However, he stated that it was possible that some 'new arrangements' could be made which would be in the best interests of Ireland and the EU.

Yesterday Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that his government and the EU were "in uncharted territory" in the wake of the referendum result. This shows clearly that neither the Irish government, nor the other parties in the YES camp, had read the signs of unrest in the population and expected a defeat. They did not make any plans, and neither did the ever arrogant EU bureaucracy.

A two-day EU leaders' summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday is expected to 'chart' the way ahead and to find some practical solution for Ireland.
It is obvious that the scaremongering of the YES side was not only unsubstantiated and silly, but also contributed to the defeat of the treaty. Ireland said NO, and the world has not ended. What is needed now - as the wise Slovenian foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel (a literary scholar of renown) put it so rightly - is time for thinking and analysis. Sooner or later that will create a solution with which both Ireland and the EU can live and prosper.

The Emerald Islander

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