Taoiseach Brian Cowen has played down the significance of remarks by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the need for another referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Speaking in New York, Mr Cowen said Ireland had to acknowledge there was a range of views across Europe about the problems faced after the rejection of the treaty last month.

Mr Cowen's tone was measured, but privately those close to him are thought to be seething about President Sarkozy's intervention when he said Ireland would have to vote again.

The Taoiseach said we had to acknowledge that others across Europe had views about the fall-out from the referendum, but the Government was only at the start of its examination of the consequences and the way ahead.

Asked when ministers would decide on a possible second referendum, he said it was not just a matter of the Government deciding: an enlarged Europe represented not just a two-way but a 27-way street and we would have to discuss the situation with colleagues.

His Government had not come to any conclusion at this stage, he said.

The French president's remarks will not help preparations for his visit to Ireland next Monday.

Mr Cowen is in New York on a three-day visit. He rang the opening bell on Wall Street today.

He has held talks with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. They discussed US investment in Ireland and how to bring about efficiencies in public administration.