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Home News EU – French far-right firebrand cancels Ireland trip

EU – French far-right firebrand cancels Ireland trip

Published on 06/03/2008

   PARIS, March 6, 2008  - Veteran French far-right leader Jean-Marie LePen said on Wednesday he had called off a trip to Ireland to join the debateon the EU's new reform treaty, after his planned visit sparked angry reactions.   Le Pen, who fiercely contested the Lisbon treaty's adoption by the Frenchparliament last month, was invited to speak at a public event in Dublin aspart of the campaign for a "No" vote in a planned Irish referendum on thecharter.   But the National Front leader said in a statement he feared his visit,along with his deputy Bruno Gollnisch, would have the opposite effect.   "Highly precise information, from quite reliable sources, has convinced usthat our presence would be exploited as outside interference in a nationaldebate, by provocateurs who favour the treaty," Le Pen said.   Irish MPs and lobbyists had criticised the decision to invite Le Pen, whowas handed a three-month suspended jail sentence last month for condoning Naziwar crimes by describing the occupation of France as "not especially inhumane".   Critics of the Lisbon Treaty, signed by the 27-nation bloc's leaders inDecember, have charged that it is broadly similar to the EU Constitution,which was left dead in the water when Dutch and French voters rejected it in2005.   Ireland is the only EU country to hold a referendum on the adoption of thetreaty, which must be ratified by all member states to come into force.   According to a poll published at the weekend, less than half of the Irishpeople would vote for the new text.   In 2001, Ireland sent shockwaves through the bloc when it voted down theNice Treaty on institutional reform and enlargement, although that decisionwas reversed in another referendum in 2003.