As life returns to normal in an Ireland that said “No” to the EU’s Lisbon treaty, the question being asked is… what happens next?
Other member states seem determined to plough ahead with ratification, something reflected in today’s European press. But papers are also stressing the full impact of Ireland’s rejection of the EU’s reform plans, which many believe could plunge the bloc into a new period of self-doubt.
The vote is a personal blow for the new Irish prime minister. Like most of the country’s political establishment, he backed the pact but failed to convince voters. Nonetheless, Brian Cowen sent this message to the EU.
“As Taoiseach, I wish to make it clear to our European partners that Ireland has absolutely no wish to halt the progress of the Union that has been the greatest source of peace and prosperity in Europe,” he said.
Scepticism voiced in working-class districts played a pivotal role in Ireland’s rejection of the treaty. Many Irish people, it seems, feel increasingly removed from a European Union that once did so much to underpin the country’s economic success.