He arrived in Dublin shortly before 1pm and following a working lunch with the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, Mr Sarkozy held private discussions with the Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour’s Eamon Gilmore.
Mr Sarkozy, who currently holds the presidency of the European Council, then meet leading figures from the Yes and No camps at the French embassy. Those attending the embassy include Libertas founder Declan Ganley, an outspoken critic of EU reform under Lisbon, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance, Irish Farmers Association president Pádraig Walshe, director general of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation Turlough OSullivan and general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg.
Mr Sarkozy denied having suggested that Ireland hold a new referendum. “I said at some point or other the Irish must give their opinion,” he told reporters. “I never said Ireland had to organise a new referendum… I understand it’s the Irish who must decide,” he said, but added that “we’re a Europe of 27”. He noted that 23 member states had already ratified the treaty.