European Union Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said the Lisbon Treaty cannot come into force following its rejection by Irish voters but said “new arrangements” might be drawn up by European leaders.
Commissioner McCreevy insisted Ireland will not be bullied by Europe and the government “should not apologise for the democratic process we went through.”
As EU leaders pondered how to proceed with the fall-out from Ireland’s no vote last Thursday, Mr McCreevy told RTÉ: “We’re in unchartered territory, as such, the Irish haven’t ratified so the Lisbon treaty as it was intended cannot now go ahead.”
“The best thing is for everyone to keep a cool head about this. What is not on is that the Irish people, or the Irish government, be bullied by anyone. We should not apologise for the democratic process we went through,” he said.
Mr McCreevy said: “The whole success of the EU project is that no one has been bullied, and Ireland won’t be bullied either.”
He said other European leaders were well aware that if the treaty was rejected by Ireland, it could not go ahead.
“You cannot, after the game has been played, say ‘well we didn’t intend it to be like that.’ It was clearly understood that this had to be ratified by all 27 member states and now Ireland has said no,” he said.
“But that does not prevent politicians, the heads of the other governments, — together with the Irish government of the other governments, — to make some new arrangement or have some changes or whatever is decided in the best interest of both Ireland and the EU,” said the Commissioner.
Mr McCreevy said a meeting between Taoiseach Brian Cowen and other European leaders in Brussels this week will “mainly be a listening process on both sides.” He said it “too early” for decisions to be made on the best way forward.
Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, said the treaty cannot be put to the Irish people again. “The crux here is going to arise if and when the remaining countries of the 26 ratify Lisbon,” he said.
Mr Kenny said the no vote was compounded by the government’s “dithering” in naming the date for the referendum. He said people “made their views known as a protest against government” because of “economic mismanagement, health care, education and so on.”
Sinn Féin said it is putting together proposals for the Government with amendments and protocols that should be included in any possible negotiation of a new EU treaty.
The party’s MEP for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald, said: “From the outset the Irish government need to make clear we’re not looking for clarifications or minor alterations, they need to make it absolutely clear that the genuine concerns of the Irish people must be addressed. They also need to make it absolutely clear that any talk of a two speed Europe is unacceptable. The union must operate on the basis of partnership and equality.”
Party leader Gerry Adams said Ireland “will not be walked over” and must stay at the heart of EU decision-making.
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