Former Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins has accused the Referendum Commission of 'straying over the line' in its interpretation of the effect of the Lisbon Treaty on workers' rights.

He was speaking at a debate with Labour's Ruairi Quinn on the impact of Lisbon on workers' rights at the Forum on Europe in Dublin.

Mr Quinn, who is the chairman of the Alliance for Europe, argued that a Yes vote would be a giant leap towards a social Europe; that it offered the best of both worlds - a successful economy which put the rights of the citizen at its heart.

But Mr Higgins delivered an impassioned denunciation of the Treaty, claiming it would lead to important services like health and education being traded like sacks of spuds on world stock exchanges.

And he criticised the chairman of the Referendum Commission, Judge Iarfhlaith O'Neill, who said on RTÉ Radio's News at One yesterday that a controversial European Court judgment on workers rights would not have happened if Lisbon was in force.

Mr Higgins claimed the Judge was 'quite wrong', and accused him of 'straying over the line' between the two sides in his comments.

Earlier, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said it is in Ireland's interests to have a more efficient and effective Europe, and that could best be achieved through a streamlined Commission of 18 members as set out in the Lisbon Treaty.

Opening a new European Commission public information centre in Dublin this morning, Micheál Martin dismissed concerns that Ireland would only have a commissioner for ten out of every 15 years under the new rules.

He said the idea that Germany and France will have exactly the same entitlement as Ireland is a 'remarkably successful outcome' to the negotiations that led to the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Martin said the key issue was how Ministers got on with individual commissioners and built up relationships with them, not the nationality of the commissioner concerned.

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