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The result of the Lisbon Treaty referendum of 12 June has created considerable challenges for Ireland and for all EU Member States, the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, Mary Coughlan TD told the AEJ.

The Tánaiste, who was the AEJ’s Guest at its October 1 lunch said together with our EU partners, Ireland must now find a way forward that respected the will of the Irish people, while accommodating the interests of all EU Members and providing for the future development of the Union.

“We now need to reflect very carefully on the outcome of the referendum and its implications for Ireland,” she said.

The comprehensive research on the outcome of the Referendum identified the people’s key concerns and provided valuable information on public attitudes towards the EU, she said. The survey showed that people felt they did not have enough clear information in the run-up to voting day.

She added: “This lack of information was the single biggest reason given for the decision to vote ‘No’ or to abstain on 12 June.  However, the results also show that our people want Ireland to continue to be fully involved in the Union.  Seventy per cent agree that membership is a good thing, while a mere eight per cent disagree.  These are the highest levels of satisfaction recently recorded in the EU. The research work will form part of the in-depth discussions we will be undertaking both domestically in Ireland and with our EU partners in the coming weeks.”

The Tánaiste said the Union as an indispensable arena within which to pursue Ireland’s interests and to give effect to our national aspirations. This policy had served very well for the past 35 years and there was absolutely no desire or reason to depart from this successful formula.

On the WTO talks, she said what she would like to see is the membership of the WTO continuing to engage on this Round.

“I do not want to see countries withdraw into protectionism or enter into selected bilateral arrangements,” she added. “This makes the trading environment complex and complexity is not in the interests of our exporters. We want to see the continuation of a strong and effective WTO devoid of complex and varied rules. “

She said she regretted that the parties were unable to come to an agreement last July.

“Our approach will be to continue to look for a comprehensive, balanced, fair and ambitious agreement that will deliver real gains for the poorest countries,” she said.