Ireland will hold EU referendum

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Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Despite the strong 'no' votes in both France and the Netherlands, the Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern has confirmed that Ireland will still hold a referendum on the proposed European Union constitution. This comes following the Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty in 2002.

Speaking to BBC radio Mr. Ahern said "We've made a decision based on the commitment that we gave when we put the constitution together in draft form." He went on to say "Over 50 percent of the population of Europe have already ratified the convention. What do you say to those people: 'Your votes mean nothing'?" (note that the only country where the constitution was directly ratified by the population and not by the parliament so far is Spain). Unlike in most European countries, in Ireland by law any change to the core treaties of the EU must be put to a referendum.

The constitution was agreed upon by EU heads of state earlier this year under Ireland's European presidency. It is backed by all major Irish political parties including the main opposition, Fine Gael.

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