Opponents of the Lisbon Treaty have been demonstrating in Brussels against asking Irish voters a second time to ratify it. Dublin is hoping to boost its chances with special assurances from its EU partners. But a ‘No’ spokesman warned that the prime minister was putting his career on the line: “We, as an opposition group, if you want to call it that, are more determined than ever. We are better organised now than we were the last time. We’ll just have to raise some funding, and we’ll put up a much better fight than we did the last time.”
The Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum last June. Brian Cowen’s centrist-led government is seeking legal guarantees of the right to determine Ireland’s own policy on taxation, ethical issues such as abortion, and military neutrality. Given the right political conditions, a second referendum could come after the European elections next June and by the time the European Commission’s mandate ends on October 31. The treaty does away with one-commissioner-per-country, streamling the number in the EU’s executive body to two-thirds the number of member states, appointed in rotation. The Irish want their own full-timer. Until Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland join the other countries in full ratification of the Lisbon treaty, the enlarged bloc has to make do with the Nice Treaty.