Ireland can hold new vote on EU treaty

By Jonathan Saul

IRELAND can legally hold a second referendum on the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, an Irish parliamentary committee report said yesterday.

The sub-committee was set up after Irish voters said "No" in a June referendum on the treaty of reforms which are aimed at streamlining the bloc's decision-making, but must be ratified by all 27 member states before it can take effect.

Treaty backers say the Irish rejection paralysed the bloc at a time when it needs rapid reform after taking in new members from the former communist east. They want Ireland to come up with a solution to the impasse by a summit on December 11-12.

"No legal obstacle appears to exist to having a referendum, either on precisely the same issue as that dealt with on 12 June or some variation thereof," the cross-party sub-committee on Ireland's future in the EU said.

Micheál Martin, the foreign minister, welcomed the findings.

"The report confirms that Ireland's place is at the heart of the European Union," he said in a statement.
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