Sarkozy Says Ireland Must Vote Again

So the rumblings of a second Lisbon vote are getting steadily louder, largely thanks to the exceptionally loud voice of French president and hard-ass Nicolas Sarkozy. Not being known for beating around the bush, Sarkozy, whose country has just assumed the EU presidency, commented yesterday that Ireland will just 'have to vote again'. Brian Cowan, Dick Roche et al were quick to (nervously, I presume) laugh off Sarkozy's comments as 'just one of many views held across Europe'. Bless them.

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Like a clumsy autocratic parent, Sarkozy has resolved to address the issue in the manner to which he is accustomed- wading in and effectively saying 'this is how it is, just deal with it'. While the French may be quite partial to this style of government, the Irish are a very different bunch, and I fear Sarkozy is going to learn this the hard way.

Even those who may be inclined towards a Yes vote are bound to be miffed by comments such as these, and I can see opinions already changing out of spite. We don't like to be told what to do, and take great pleasure in telling people to bugger off when we think they deserve it. The French premier is putting himself firmly in line for such an act of defiance, and in all likelihood the Irish electorate will be more than happy to play the role of the stroppy teen. The sweat forming on Cowan's brow is telling. He is well aware of the fact that we need to be treated with kid gloves, and being manhandled by European big-shots is bound to be counter-productive.

Nervous shuffling can also be heard from certain parts of the No camp in the last few weeks, as comments like this add increasing support to the realisation that the treaty is unlikely to be renegotiated. One of the more vocal arguments for a No vote was that 'Ireland can do better', and like the perennial chancers that we are the majority of us put our hands up and asked for more.

Hence the current stalemate: the EU must continue to grow, and evidently the consensus is to grow as per the initial plan- through the Lisbon Treaty. With the 'all for one and one for all' thrown out the window, we're left with a simple 'are you in or are you out?'

Unfortunately this decision has already been made, and the only way the question can legitimately be posed again is if, like in the case of the Nice Treaty, the terms are in some way changed. Which brings us back to our request for more…

What exactly is it that we want? What exactly can we be given that we don't already have? This is the question that is worrying Messers Cowan, Roche et al, and the question which is prompting a characteristic 'cut the crap' response from Nicolas Sarkozy.

As much as we don't like being asked the same question twice, and as much as our own character demands a bullish retort rather than subservient compliance, maybe that's not the wisest plan of action in this particular case. We chanced our arm, and it didn't quite work out the way we'd planned. So now the question may be posed again, and though it will read the same, the ramifications will be very different. Let's not balk at the repetition, but instead really concentrate on what's being asked.

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