The European Parliament’s Liberal grouping could help fund an Irish ‘Yes’ campaign for the Lisbon Treaty if Fianna Fáil joins its ranks.
The leader of ALDE said he would welcome the arrival of Ireland’s biggest party. Unnerved by the company it was keeping, Fianna Fáil has already voted to jump ship from the eurosceptic UEN. ALDE president Graham Watson said: “They are a pro-european party and they are a centrist party, and I think that they have felt increasingly uncomfortable with former Italian fascists and all the rag-tag of right wingers that they have been together with. This marks a move by a major Irish political party into one of the major European political parties. It makes a lot of sense.” Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley had opposed leaving the UEN, of which he is co-president. He believes that, in any case, the musical chairs in Strasbourg will change little on the streets of Dublin. “My party has been very supportive with the Lisbon Treaty and has campaigned very strongly for it, and I individually and personally have campaigned very strongly for it. I don’t believe that the Irish people have a worry, a concern as regards what group you are in in the European Parliament and whether that means good or bad things and whatever else. It is about individuals, it is about the parties on a national level that determine what would happen in the referendum area,” said Crowley. A second Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty may be held in October. Some observers say a second ‘No’ vote could spell the end for Ireland in the EU.