Ireland shoots down idea of swift Lisbon revote
The Irish government has insisted that no second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is in the works after Europe minister Dick Roche on the weekend told press that another vote on the text would be "appropriate."
"Nothing whatsoever has been decided vis-a-vis the next step, because we're only in the process of analysis at this stage," the Irish Times quotes an unnamed government spokesperson as saying.
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"People who are saying 'another referendum or legislation,' they are all jumping ahead to an outcome, and the government isn't anywhere near that."
Meanwhile, the UK's Financial Times reports that Irish government officials have privately conceded that any second referendum, should one take place, would not occur before next year's European Parliamentary elections, but rather in the second half of 2009.
The government clarification comes after a storm of criticism attacking Mr Roche's comments from campaigners for both the Yes and No sides in the failed June referendum as well as all main opposition parties.
Irish Europe minister Dick Roche had told the Irish Independent newspaper earlier this week: "A referendum is the appropriate response to the position we are in", while stressing that it was his "personal view at this stage."
"The government has made it clear that no option has been ruled in or out. We cannot exclude that at some stage and in the right circumstances it may be necessary to consult the people once again."
In response, the Labour Party's deputy leader, Joan Burton, described the minister's comments as "unwise and unhelpful," adding: "There can be no question of simply putting the same proposition to the people once again."
"There is no basis for believing that a second referendum would produce a different outcome to the one we got on 12 June," she said, saying the government should not be "threatening to ram another referendum down people's throats".
Leading opposition party Fine Gael's European affairs spokesperson, Lucinda Creighton, said Mr Roche's remarks showed the government had "learnt nothing from its disastrous referendum campaign."
Meanwhile, her colleague, MEP Gay Mitchell said of the minister: "I think he is jumping the gun. I don't think it's helpful ... I don't think it's helpful to be coming out in the month of August with proposals or solutions one way or the other."
According to the Irish Independent newspaper, both Ms Burton and Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald believe the government was using Mr Roche's comments as a trial balloon in order to see what the popular response to a second referendum would be.
Ms McDonald said the move displayed "another example of a government without a plan."