Irish Times
Stephen Collins

THE SQUABBLE between the Government and Opposition over a proposed Dáil commission to examine the pros and cons of the Lisbon Treaty only goes to prove that a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is doomed to almost certain defeat.

If a referendum cannot be won, the only solution is for the Dáil to find a way to ratify the essential nuts and bolts of the treaty[…]

The Government itself has made the winning of a second referendum almost impossible by compounding its botched referendum campaign with a poor tactical response to the Lisbon defeat.

So how can the Government find a way out of holding a second referendum while not ignoring the will of the people as expressed in June? The only way is for the Dáil to ratify the Lisbon Treaty while simultaneously opting out of areas such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights[…]

Dáil approval, with opt-outs being put to a referendum later, would require the agreement of all 26 of our EU partners, but it could allow all member states to proceed with the new arrangements for the European elections next year[…]

Such an approach poses huge legal difficulties, never mind political problems of a high order. The Government’s expert legal advice is that it cannot be done, as there are legal problems at EU level about opting out of elements of the treaty after the event, never mind potential legal problems at home in the inevitable event of a Supreme Court challenge.

Still, it should not be beyond the wit of constitutional lawyers to devise a solution to the problem. If the price that Ireland requires to ratify is some fancy legal footwork at European level then it should be possible to come up with a formula, empty or otherwise.

Of course the Government would also have political hell to pay for going the legislative route[…]

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