The ‘Irish problem’ has long been a euphemism in European Union (EU) circles for the contested status of Northern Ireland. The term took on a new meaning overnight on June 12, 2008, after which the ‘Irish problem’ debated across Europe was Ireland's second rejection of an EU treaty (Lisbon) and the consequent stalling of European integration. The breakdown of results for the referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon (46.6 per cent ‘Yes’ to 53.4 per cent ‘No’) was almost identical to that of the first referendum on the Treaty of Nice in 2001. It is evident that the ‘No’ to Lisbon does not represent a dramatic about-turn in Ireland's approach to European membership. This afterword considers three key features of this path: the lack of a ‘vision’ of European integration, the mediating role of the national political elite, and the public response to Irish official discourse on the EU. It explores how Irish nationalism's symbiotic relationship with European integration can be not merely reprieved but readjusted.
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