ANN CAHILL: Roche signals interest in EU commissioner post

EUROPE Minister Dick Roche has become the first member of Government to express an interest in the job as Ireland’s European Commissioner, saying he would like to take up the position when Charlie McCreevy’s term ends next month.

Mr Roche said he would like Taoiseach Brian Cowen to nominate him for the job, having spent his adult life working with the EU, but added: “I would not bet on getting it.” Mr Roche made the comments yesterday as he gave his response to claims by the anti-Lisbon campaigner Declan Ganley that the treaty would be bad for jobs and “catastrophic” for the Irish economy. “The only job that would be saved by the Lisbon Treaty would be Brian Cowen’s job,” Mr Ganley said.

The businessman claimed the treaty would give the EU competence over economic policy and that “tax harmonisation, if we vote yes, will be right back on the agenda”.

He also dismissed the findings of a survey by business group IBEC which found that 86% of employers believe that ratification of the treaty is important for Irish exports to the EU and 98% believed EU membership has been important to the success of Irish businesses.

“I very much doubt that any one of that 86% have read the Lisbon Treaty or understand what it is about,” he said, adding IBEC is a proto-semi state organisation” which is “funded by companies that are dependent on the state”.

However, Mr Roche, said the views of Mr Ganley are diametrically opposed to the majority of independent economists, most trade unions and to a slew of business people who are advocating a Yes in next month’s referendum. In an interview on RTÉ radio yesterday, Mr Ganley claimed his Libertas organisation is “skint” and will not have as much money to spend on promoting a No vote as it did last year. The group, who caused controversy over their source of funding in last year’s campaign said it will spend between €50,000 and €200,000 ahead of the vote.

“We don’t expect to be able to raise much money because times are tight. We are skint,” said Mr Ganley who launched his campaign in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a new No campaign group “Women say no to Lisbon Again”, launched yesterday, claiming the Lisbon Treaty will lead to a decline in public services accessed by women including child care, health care and education services.

The group is made up of a number of Sinn Féin representatives as well as former Green Party MEP and No campaigner, Patricia McKenna. The director of the pro-Lisbon group, Ireland for Europe, Pat Cox, meanwhile, said conscription “was never intended” and “now the legally binding guarantees mean it will never happen”.


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