Cowen to explain Lisbon Treaty stance

The Taoiseach will appear before a cross-party delegation of politicians to explain his stance on the Lisbon Treaty, it was confirmed today.

Brian Cowen will be questioned by the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee on Tuesday in the first of a series of hearings with the leaders of the political parties in the run up to the October 2 referendum.

The meetings are being held to give political leaders an open forum and politicians the chance to quiz them about all facts of the Lisbon Treaty.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore will appear at the committee on September 22 and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny two days later.

The Green Party’s John Gormley and Sinn Féin leader in the Oireachtas Caoimhghin O Caolain have also been invited to attend.

Committee chairman Bernard Durkan said it is vital that in the lead up to the Lisbon referendum that there is an informed, impartial and reasoned debate.

“In order for this to occur, I feel it would be extremely useful for a platform to exist whereby leading politicians can plainly state their viewpoints and outline their position regarding the upcoming referendum,” said Fine Gael’s Mr Durkan.

“For the democratic process to be effective it is imperative that party leaders from all sides are given a platform to show leadership and direction and to outline where they stand on this referendum.

“A referendum which is one of the most important the country has faced since entry to the EU in 1973.”

Mr Durkan said politicians must ensure that when people go to the polls they have been given every opportunity to be properly informed and are fully aware of where their leaders stand on the principle aspects of the treaty.

“We are hopeful that the series of meetings which the Committee intends holding will contribute to a better understanding,” he added.

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