Cablegate: Irish Government Seeks Time to Deal with Rejection

DE RUEHDL #0363/01 1691736
P 171736Z JUN 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 000363


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/17/2018


Classified By: DCM Robert J Faucher; Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).



1. (C) As the Irish Government seeks to fathom the reasons
for the surprise defeat of the Lisbon Treaty referendum on
June 12, the EU appears prepared to give Ireland some
breathing space to assess the poll result, conduct domestic
consultations, and negotiate with EU partners to find a way
to ratify the Treaty. Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin
and other EU Foreign Ministers are expressing confidence that
a way forward can be found. Still, it remains to be seen how
much time Prime Minister Cowen will need to resolve this
issue domestically and how long the EU will be willing to
wait, if necessary, before moving on without Ireland. End

What Went Wrong for the Yeas?

2. (SBU) In the aftermath of the June 12 defeat of the
Lisbon Treaty referendum, the overwhelming consensus of Irish
political leaders and analysts is that the 'Yes' campaign
(mainly the political parties) failed to adequately explain
why the complex, hard to understand Treaty was good for the
Irish people (reftel). Put on the defensive early by the
well organized, well financed, and emotive 'No' campaign )
which set the agenda and framed the arguments in the debate
) the 'Yes' campaign got into gear only four weeks before
the polling (weeks after the 'No' campaign hit the ground
running) and spent much of its time trying to refute
arguments made by the 'No' side ) even though some of the
'No' claims had little or no merit. Consequently, the 'Yes'
campaign took on a decidedly negative, rather than upbeat,
tone. Many voters were not persuaded away from the 'No'
mantra, "If You Don't Know - Vote No."

3. (SBU) Some observers saw a measure of arrogance in the
'Yes' campaign, noting that many Irish voters felt their
political leaders were talking down to them in saying that
the voters did not need to understand the Treaty, they merely
needed to trust their leaders. This rubbed many
independently-minded Irish the wrong way. The Irish streak
of independence (nationalism according to some) in a nation
that was a colonial subject of Great Britain until 1922,
encouraged many Irish voters to accept the 'No' declarations
that a vote for the Treaty was a vote for relinquishing Irish
freedom and sovereignty. The 'No' campaign found fertile
ground for its claims that the Treaty would introduce
abortion and euthanasia to Ireland, cause Irish youths to be
conscripted into a European army, shift the power of taxation
from Dublin to Brussels, result in Ireland losing its
European Commissioner, harm the farmers, and the like.

4. (U) A European Commission survey of 2,000 voters
immediately following the June 12 referendum (reported in the
Irish Independent newspaper on June 17) found that nearly
three-quarters of the people who voted 'No' believed that the
Treaty could be easily renegotiated. It also confirmed that
a majority of people who did not understand the Treaty voted
'No.' Other significant findings were that: young people
voted 'No' by a two to one margin; a majority of women voted
'No;' and the huge influx of immigrants into Ireland (mostly
from other EU countries) is producing unease among the
indigenous Irish, which prompted some to vote 'No.' (Note:
Since 2000, the percentage of the Irish population that is
foreign-born has soared from nearly zero to somewhere between
10 and 12 percent. End note.)

Libertas - A New Political Force?

5. (SBU) It is significant to note that there was a large
rise in the number of 'No' votes from around a half million
in the Nice referendums in 2002 to 860,000 in the Lisbon
referendum. Supporters of Sinn Fein, the pro-life movement,
and extreme left wing parties were joined by a new force in
Irish politics - Libertas. Libertas is led by Declan Ganley,
Chairman of Rivada Networks, a U.S. defense contractor
specializing in military telecom systems. Notwithstanding
question marks about its funding and motivation, Libertas
brought business respectability, good private sector
management, and a slick campaign to the 'No' side. More

DUBLIN 00000363 002 OF 002

importantly, Libertas brought a war chest of 1.5 million euro
) more money than available to the main political parties
who led the 'Yes' campaign. Most political analysts believe
that the impact of Libertas tipped the balance in favor of
the 'No' vote. (Comment: Libertas appears to have filled
the vacuum among middle class, business-oriented,
conservative voters created by the demise of the Progressive
Democrats party, which was virtually non-existent during the
referendum campaign. End comment.)

The Way Forward?

6. (U) As Foreign Minister Micheal Martin arrived in
Luxembourg ahead of the June 16-17 General Affairs and
External Relations Council (GAERC), he stated that the next
step should be a "comprehensive analysis" of the Irish vote,
saying it was too early to offer solutions. France and
Germany have already signaled they do not want to let the
Treaty die. With 18 countries having already ratified the
Treaty, pressure is on for all member states to declare their
views. UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband called for calm
deliberation. The EU's High Representative, Javier Solana,
expressed confidence that the EU and Ireland would solve the

7. (SBU) On June 16, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander
Stubb, in an interview with the Finish press, expressed what
seems to be the prevailing view of the EU Foreign Ministers
at the GAERC: that the EU will maintain solidarity among the
27 member states (recognizing that Ireland is committed to
the EU); that the Irish vote will be respected; that there
will be no quick fix to the problem; but that the
ratification process will move ahead.

8. (C) Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) European
Correspondent Pat Kelly, who accompanied Martin to the GAERC
meeting in Luxembourg, told POLOFF on June 17 that Martin had
been greeted cordially by the other 26 EU Foreign Ministers,
who, Kelly said, expressed "a great deal of understanding" as
well as an appreciation that time would be needed before a
way forward could emerge. Kelly revealed that Martin left
the meeting feeling "positive."

9. (C) Frank Smith, Deputy Director General, European Union
Division, DFA, echoed Kelly's views, saying that Martin was
pleased with the understanding and support he received from
his fellow Foreign Ministers. Smith said Martin's address to
the GAERC stressed that the Irish vote reflected the will of
the people and had to be respected; and that Ireland needed
time to effectively assess the poll result, conduct domestic
consultations, and negotiate with EU partners. Martin
expressed confidence, according to Smith, that a way forward
would be found. Smith predicted that this approach would
also be taken by Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Brian Cowen at
the European Council meeting on June 19.


10. (C) It appears that the EU is prepared to allow Ireland
some breathing space to chart a way forward. There will be
no rush to prescribe solutions. For its part, the Irish
Government will do everything possible to avoid the scenario
of a "two-speed Europe," where the other 26 countries agree
to proceed with a new Treaty that excludes Ireland. Still,
it remains to be seen how much time Prime Minister Cowen will
need to resolve this issue domestically and how long the EU
will be willing to wait, if necessary, before moving on
without Ireland.

© Scoop Media

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