Opposition parties in the 26 Counties joined forces this week to strongly criticise the Dublin government’s Europe minister Dick Roche after he said that a second referendum on the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty was on the cards.
In an unusual show of unity Sinn Féin, the only Dail party opposed to the treaty, and the largeropposition parties, Fine Gael and Labour, all insisted that another vote was not an option.
The Treaty, which seeks to move Europe towards an expanded federal structure and limit voter input into the European Union project, was rejected by the Irish electorate earlier this year in a voter rebellion against the wishes of the Dublin government, Fine Gael and Labour.
Mr Roche said it was his personal belief that a second referendum -- on the same Treaty -- was the proper response to the position faced by the state.
However, Fine Gael branded Mr Roche’s plan arrogant while Labour warned it could convince even more people to join the ‘No’ camp.
“It is clear that the Irish people said no and that verdict must be respected,” Lucinda Creighton, Fine Gael’s Europe spokeswoman, said.
“The government must clearly make changes in order for any progress to be made, whether through referendum or any other means.
“The fundamental concerns of the Irish people cannot be brazenly ignored by Dick Roche, Brian Cowen or anyone else on the government benches.”
Mr Roche said a second referendum could not be ruled out and it was his personal belief that it was the most appropriate response to the situation faced by the country.
He is the first government minister to publicly suggest a referendum rerun.
Labour deputy leader Joan Burton described the comments as unwise and said there was no reason to assume a second vote would produce a different result.
“There is no basis for believing that a second referendum would produce a different outcome to the one we got on June 12,” she said.
“Indeed Minister Roche’s comments may simply have the effect of driving even more people into the No camp.”
Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald said: “Minister Roche’s comments are yet another example of a government without a plan to tackle the political reality that the Lisbon Treaty is finished.
“The Irish people, like the French and Dutch before them, have rejected this treaty. A new deal now needs to be negotiated.”
Libertas, the right-wing organisation opposed to the treaty, and the People’s Movement said they would also fight any attempt to run a second referendum.