Sarkozy Would "Even Be Ready To Travel To Ireland" Over Treaty

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he is prepared to travel to Ireland to gather support for the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Last years vote on the controversial treaty returned a no vote in Ireland, despite visits from Mr Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Lisbon Treaty was designed to streamline the operations of the EU, but contained several aspects Irish voters were unwilling to accept, including questions over military neutrality, abortion legislation, and a reduction in the number of European Commissioners.

However, the Government has managed to get legally-binding guarantees for Ireland in response to these issues, and they are expected to be signed off at the next EU Council meeting.

After the guarantees were provisionally agreed, an opinion poll in May suggested that 52% of people would support a Yes vote with 29% still supporting No.

The document needs to be passed in the referendum before being ratified by the Irish Parliament, and a second failure of the document could lead to Ireland being forced to leave the EU.

In a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, the French President said: "Mrs Merkel and I will do everything we can to help the Irish make the choice for Lisbon."

'If it is of use, I would even be ready to travel to Ireland to support them,' he said.

Mr Sarkozy's offer came as the Minister for Foreign Affairs said that EU member states were supportive of the additional guarantees for Ireland to be incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty.

The second Irish referendum is scheduled for later this year.


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