Dáil Éireann - Volume 600 - 20 April, 2005

Written Answers. - EU Constitution.

  196. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the choice the Government will make if it must choose between passing the EU constitution and maintaining the unanimity requirement on taxation matters in the event of a French “No” vote on 29 May 2005. [12467/05]

  197. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government will not put the EU constitutional treaty to another referendum vote if the Irish people vote against it. [12469/05]

  198. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the referendum on the proposed EU constitutional treaty will not take place in 2005 and will take place in 2006. [12470/05]

  199. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in the event of a French vote against the proposed EU constitutional treaty on 29 May 2005, the Government will demand that the French electorate vote again until it produces a “Yes” vote. [12471/05]

[1776]   Mr. D. Ahern: I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 to 199, inclusive, together.

The Government has not yet taken a decision on the timing of the referendum on the European constitution. It will be held either later this year or next year, to allow for the completion in good time of the ratification process by the target date of 1 November 2006. The necessary preparations are under way. Specifically, the Bill amending the Irish Constitution will be initiated in this House in the coming weeks.

There is no point in engaging in hypothetical discussion of the possible outcomes or consequences of referendums in Ireland or elsewhere. Ratification of the European constitution is for each member state in accordance with its own arrangements and the Government would not presume to advise others on how to proceed. In its approach to the ratification of the European Constitution by Ireland, the Government will in all circumstances continue to be guided by the national interest.

While I do not accept the premise which appears to underlie Question No. 196, I reiterate that Ireland’s position on decision-making regarding taxation is firm and unambiguous, is shared by several other member states, and is fully protected both in the European constitution and in the existing treaties.