Libertas buys Cowen a ticket to Brussels

Tuesday 10 June 2008 11.34
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Tickets to Brussels - Libertas' Declan Ganley holds up his latest stunt
Tickets to Brussels - Libertas' Declan Ganley holds up his latest stunt
Gerry Adams - Calls for renegotation of treaty
Gerry Adams - Calls for renegotation of treaty
Brian Cowen - No campaign misinforming voters
Brian Cowen - No campaign misinforming voters

RTÉ.ie/lisbon has complete coverage of the Lisbon Treaty

Anti-Lisbon Treaty group Libertas has bought tickets for a flight to Brussels on Friday evening for Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore, which it says they should use if Irish voters reject the Lisbon Treaty.

In a publicity stunt, Libertas chairman Declan Ganley said the three leaders, who are calling for a Yes vote, should fly to Brussels to start renegotiating the treaty if it is defeated in Thursday's referendum.

His move comes as campaigning intensifies ahead of Thursday's Lisbon Referendum.

The same three leaders came together this afternoon to make a joint appeal for a Yes vote.

Speaking at a news conference in Dublin, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the treaty was crucial to Ireland's future prospects.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it would be irresponsible and wrong for anyone to claim a No vote would not have adverse consequences and Labour's Eamon Gilmore said the treaty would put a road block on what he called the race to the bottom in workers' pay and conditions.

Green Party leader and Environment Minister John Gormley has said that while parts of the Lisbon Treaty could be cherry-picked, on the whole, ratification of the deal would be better for Ireland and Europe.

He said the idea of going back and re-negotiating the deal is simply not realistic. He said there is no Plan B and any talk otherwise is nonsense.

He also said he was very satisfied at the amount of work the Green Party has done in encouraging people to vote Yes and if the treaty is not ratified no blame can be attached to the Greens.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says he wants the Government to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty to include a permanent EU commissioner as well as opt-outs or vetoes on issues like neutrality, public services and workers rights.

Canvassing in Limerick, Mr Adams said a No vote would send a strong signal, and renegotiation would be possible if there was a no vote on Thursday.

Separately, two independent Senators have called for a No vote because of concerns over tax and social issues.

Senator Shane Ross said France was seeking harmonised tax rates, and that Ireland would be put under pressure not to use its veto against those proposals.

And Senator Ronan Mullen said the European Court of Justice could over-rule the Irish Constitution on social issues if Lisbon is enacted.

Earlier, Mr Cowen was in his home town of Tullamore, where he attacked the No campaign, saying voters in his own constituency had been told their sons would be asked to enrol for a European army if Ireland votes Yes.

Mr Cowen said this level of mis-information was typical of the No campaign. He rejected suggestions that officials are working on a set of proposals to deal with the eventuality of a No vote in Ireland on Thursday.

'This is Plan B,' Mr Cowen said, adding that there is no Plan C, regardless of speculation.

Meanwhile, former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald said that a No vote would sabotage the work of 27 governments over six years, and would lose Ireland good will at the negotiating table.

No vote would cost Ireland, French FM warns

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has warned that Ireland would pay a high price if it rejects the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum this week.

Mr Kouchner said a No vote from the Irish would be greeted with 'gigantic incomprehension' from the rest of Europe.

He said: 'The first victims would be the Irish. They have benefited more than others.'

European governments are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the referendum on Thursday as the latest opinion polls show the result could go either way.

Mr Kouchner, speaking on RTL radio, argued that the 'Irish would be penalising themselves' by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty on reforming EU institutions and linked its fate to that of Ireland's buoyant economy.

He said it would be 'very, very awkward if we were not able to count on the Irish who have often counted on Europe.'

Ireland is the only member state constitutionally bound to put the issue to a vote.

French and Dutch voters rejected the proposed EU Constitution in 2005.