Irish protest Sarkozy visit
Hundreds protested in Dublin yesterday as French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Ireland.
Demonstrators gathered outside government offices to protest comments made last week by Sarkozy that, in effect, called into question the result of the Irish referendum that rejected the Treaty of Lisbon.
Some welcomed Sarkozy, however, as many at the demonstration were farmers who support Sarkozy's policies on agriculture.
The French leader sparked outrage last week by apparently suggesting that Ireland should vote again after its crushing rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in a June 12 referendum.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside government offices in Dublin, Ireland's capital, where Sarkozy held talks with Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister.
At the time of Sarkozy's remarks, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, sought to downplay the comments, which were reported by politicians who attended a meeting with the French president.
Sarkozy dismissed the report during his visit. "I never said that Ireland had to organise a second referendum," he told a news conference with Prime Minister Brian Cowen.
"I did not in any way meddle in Irish domestic affairs."
Irish voters dealt a blow to the European Union last month by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty by 53 percent in the only popular vote on the text anywhere in the 27-nation bloc.
MORE THAN 1,200 farmers converged on Government Buildings yesterday with six tractors in the red and blue of France to welcome its president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his stand on European agriculture.
However, the Irish Farmers' Association, which organised the gathering with welcome banners in French, had a dual purpose.
While the farmers were strong in their praise for Mr Sarkozy, they also called for a veto on any deal on agriculture negotiated by the EU Commissioner for Trade, Peter Mandelson, at the World Trade Talks in Geneva.
"We want to explain to President Sarkozy, who is a friend of Irish agriculture, that we believe he is correct when he said Mr Mandelson had gone too far in WTO," IFA president Padraig Walshe said.
The Treaty of Lisbon (also known as the Reform Treaty) is a treaty designed to streamline the workings of the European Union (EU) with amendments to the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC, Rome), the latter being renamed Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in the process. The stated aim of the treaty is "to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam and by the Treaty of Nice with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action"
The Treaty of Lisbon was signed on 13 December 2007 in Lisbon (as Portugal held the EU Council's Presidency at the time), and was planned to have been ratified in all member states by the end of 2008, so it could come into force before the 2009 European elections. However, the rejection of the Treaty on 12 June 2008 by the Irish electorate has created uncertainty in this regard.[