Andras Gergely and Paul Hoskins
Monday, July 21, 2008
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Hundreds of protestors greeted French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Dublin on Monday, voicing both anger at his views on Ireland’s rejection of the EU reform treaty and support for his tough stance on world trade talks.
Sarkozy says he will use his visit to “listen and understand” after Irish voters rejected the bloc’s plans for institutional reform in a referendum last month.
Protestors, dismayed by Sarkozy’s comment last week that the Irish would have to vote again, chanted “no means no” as he arrived for talks with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.
“There is no going back on this, unless they don’t want to accept the democratic vote, which is absolute tyranny,” said 55 year-old Patrick Walsh, wearing a sandwich board bearing a picture of Sarkozy and the words “no and no again”.
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The treaty is a replacement for the EU constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 and the culmination of eight years of diplomatic wrangling but it cannot come into force until it has been ratified by all member states
Ailbhe MacThomais, a 42 year-old IT engineer, said the EU could not demand a second vote just because it did not like the result of the first one.
“Not accepting the Irish vote or not accepting the Dutch or French vote is bringing back empires,” said MacThomais. “They don’t accept any other viewpoint except their own.”
Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, was also met by fishermen who gave away free fish to highlight their anger over high fuel prices and EU quotas.
Sarkozy’s recent criticism of EU trade chief Peter Mandelson for giving away too many farm concessions in world trade talks won support from farmers however.
“Under no circumstances will we accept what Peter Mandelson has offered,” said 52-year-old dairy farmer Frank Byrne. “We’d look to France for our biggest ally in Europe.”
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) took out full page adverts in newspapers on Monday, reminding Cowen he had pledged to veto an unacceptable world trade organisation (WTO) deal.
“If the WTO deal on the table this week were to go through, it would profoundly damage support in rural Ireland for a future Lisbon (treaty) referendum,” IFA President Padraig Walshe said.
This article was posted: Monday, July 21, 2008 at 11:50 am