“We had a referendum on the last occasion obviously..”

Whilst the recent focus has been on the global credit crunch [see also Robert Peston, natch], and the Republic of Ireland’s budgetary response in light of local considerations, the matter of the Lisbon Treaty hasn’t gone away you know.. As the AFP report says

European Union legal experts have been drafted to help break the deadlock over the stalled Lisbon treaty by December, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Thursday. The suggestion to seek legal ways of assuaging Irish concerns over the text came from the French EU presidency, keen to solve the crisis caused when voters in Ireland rejected the wide-ranging treaty at a referendum last June. “The presidency has asked the (European) Council legal services to engage with us to see what can be achieved,” he added.

And, over at the Telegraph blog, Bruno Waterfield adds this

Jean-Claude Piris is the French director general of the legal service. One EU ambassador once described him to me as “God”. “His word on these matters is final,” he said. Mr Piris is the man who turned the EU Constitution into the Lisbon Treaty after its rejection by the French and Dutch in 2005. He knows its secrets better than anyone and was the inventor of the text’s dual structure as an amending Treaty of the EU (TEU) and as Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

The EU’s “cleaner” was also called into sort out the Danes after they rejected the Maastricht Treaty, in fact he helped write that one too and the later Treaty of Amsterdam. Whatever the Irish government is telling its people, the involvement of Mr Piris is a clear signal that there will be a second vote or a backdoor solution.