Cabinet approves Lisbon treaty wording

Wednesday 27 February 2008 12.57
Dermot Ahern - Bill precludes Irish participation in EU defence
Dermot Ahern - Bill precludes Irish participation in EU defence

The Cabinet today approved the wording for the Lisbon Treaty referendum, which is expected to be published early next week.

In a statement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said the wording provides for a continuing Constitutional prohibition on Irish participation in an EU common defence, as well as giving an enhanced role for the Oireachtas in EU law-making.

Mr Ahern said the Bill makes it completely clear that this country cannot join an EU common defence, and that those who argue that the treaty will somehow undermine Irish neutrality are 'badly mistaken'.

He added that the Bill would go beyond the requirements of the treaty, by providing for the Houses of the Oireachtas to give prior approval to Irish involvement in certain areas of EU activity.

Earlier, Fine Gael's front bench agreed to support the Bill in principle, but to reserve the right to comment on the detail of the final published text.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said her party would wait to see the final published text, but doubted whether the Government had done enough during the negotiation of the treaty to meet their concerns on neutrality.

Yesterday, Young Fine Gael criticised the Government over the expected commitment in the text not to become part of any European defence arrangements.

It claimed there was no link between Lisbon and neutrality, and accused the Government of pandering to the No campaign.