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LISBON TREATY UPDATE: Main party leaders unite to denounce anti-treaty 'dishonesty'

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06/10/2008 09:38 PM
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LISBON TREATY UPDATE: Main party leaders unite to denounce anti-treaty 'dishonesty'
Main party leaders unite to denounce anti-treaty 'dishonesty'

THE TAOISEACH and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny rounded on the No campaigners in the Lisbon Treaty referendum yesterday, accusing them of dishonesty as the referendum campaign entered its final stages. Those opposed to the treaty insisted that a better deal could be obtained if it was rejected. STEPHEN COLLINS , Political Editor reports

At his final press conference, Mr Cowen pointed out that the parties for which about 90 per cent of the people had voted in the last election believed that it was in the national interest to vote Yes.

He conceded it had been difficult to get people to focus on the real issues but blamed this on the No campaign, and rejected the notion that it would be possible to renegotiate a better deal if there was a No vote.

"Extraneous issues are used opportunistically by our opponents in an effort to garner support for their weaker case, to create confusion about the treaty provisions themselves, to raise fears, worries and concerns needlessly in an effort to win support. Theirs has been, frankly, a dishonest campaign," he said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Enda Kenny as he urged people to focus on the facts.

"I ask you to ignore the false claims that have been repeated over and over again in an attempt to confuse and mislead people. It is very regrettable that totally untrue arguments about taxation, abortion, neutrality and even euthanasia have been put before the Irish people."

Mr Kenny said voters should evaluate the credibility of the various No groups. "I urge people to think about future generations when you go to vote on Thursday," he said.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said if the Irish people voted No the country would enter a period of doubt and uncertainty at a time of economic difficulties.

"Those who suggest that we should vote No to allow the Government to go back and negotiate a 'better deal' are either extraordinarily naive or are deliberately misleading the public," said Mr Gilmore.

He said the treaty was the end result of a long period of discussion and negotiation between the 27 member states, much of it conducted under an Irish EU presidency.

"There is no certainty that the other 26 member states would be willing to reopen negotiations and even if they did, there is no certainty that we would get a better deal."

However, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said a better deal was possible. Speaking in Dublin's O'Connell Street, he said Sinn Féin's experience during the peace process showed it was possible to continue negotiations.

He added that Government Ministers were not "wilting violets" and would be able to go back to Brussels to renegotiate if voters turned down the treaty.

Libertas chairman Declan Ganley also maintained a better deal was possible if the treaty was rejected. "We can't get a worse deal than the one we're being offered right now," he said.

Independent Dublin TD Tony Gregory described the treaty as a step too far that would hand over too much power to an unelected bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, Green Party leader John Gormley complained he was not allowed take part in Monday's press conference of major party leaders because Fine Gael and Labour objected. "I wasn't allowed to go to the press conference yesterday because apparently Fine Gael and Labour didn't want me to be there," he said.

However, Fine Gael said the arrangements to hold a joint leaders' press conference had taken some 10 days to finalise and that Mr Gormley's attendance had first been mooted on Sunday evening, less than 24 hours before the event.

Mr Gormley said: "I think there's no room at all in a campaign like this for pettiness and for politicking."

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