Posts Tagged ‘ Belgium ’

World Cup 2014: The Favourites


2014 is shaping up to be a great year for football. With exciting finishes ahead in the Premier League and La Liga, both of whom are currently topped by pre-season outsiders with only a few games to go, and a couple of exciting ties remaining in the Champions League, it will be a year to remember. There is, of course, a World Cup coming straight after the end of the club season, so quality football will continue well into the middle of the summer. Here, in the first of a two part special, we will examine the favourites for the competition, who look set to take Brazil 2014 by storm. Continue reading

The Globalisation Of The NBA


Brooklyn Nets kicked off the first global game of 2014 with a resounding 127-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks at London’s 02 Arena last Thursday.

Over the past 35 years the NBA have played 147 games globally, visiting 20 different countries including China, Germany, Italy and Russia amongst others.

Yet the globalisation of the NBA has extended far beyond bringing the game cross continent.  Continue reading

The Most Laid Back School in The World


You’re about to meet the most laid back school in the United States. Meet Sudbury Valley School – the school that allows you to do anything you want.

The school itself was founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts. The school is firmly based on the Sudbury model utilised throughout the United States, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

The model firmly runs of the system off;
– Educational Freedom
– Democratic Governance
– Personal Responsibility

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Ten Crucial Moments In European World Cup Qualifiers


With the nine automatic 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualification spots sealed in Europe, plus the eight contenders in the upcoming play-offs known, for many it is hard not to think how different it all could have been.

The final matchday of the European qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup saw group winners Bosnia-Herzegovina,England,Russia and Spain join already qualified Belgium,Italy,Germany,Netherlands and Switzerland on the plane to Brazil. Continue reading

Dublin To Play Host to Euthanasia Workshop


Dr Philip Nitschke, Founder & Director, Exit International.

A workshop on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide will be held in Dublin this weekend, led by the Australian doctor, Dr Philip Nitschke, also known in some circles as Dr Death. The workshop will take place this Saturday at Liberty Hall in the capital city.

The workshop is part of a world series by Exit International, the pro-euthanasia group of which Dr Nitschke is a director, and has and will be visiting Europe, the US and Australia between now and the end of the year. Formed in 1997, Exit International exists to provide information and act as an advocacy group on the subject of voluntary euthanasia and workshops offered by the organisation discuss a wide range of topics, including prescription/non-prescription drugs, poisons, suicide notes and autopsies, and only cater to those over the age of 50, or people who are seriously ill.

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Belgians Show Ireland That Success Starts At Home

European football is currently witnessing a revolution, one that has been simmering under the limelight for the past few seasons but is now fully realising its potential.

The football world has become synonymous with names like Dembele, Hazard and Verthongen, the backbone of a blossoming Belgium side that many are tipping for future success. Belgium, like Ireland, has never exactly been a football haven. There national side has enjoyed more success than Ireland in terms of qualifying for events but still it’s nothing worth bragging about. At club level its pretty much a similar story as Belgian teams have had limited success on the European front. Where it not for Anderlecht and Standard Liege then this revolution may not have been possible.

To the aforementioned trio add the names of Kompany, Vermaelen, Defour, Witsel, Fellaini and Lukaku, all household names on the European stage and it’s not hard to see why this team managed by Belgian hero Marc Wilmots looks set to shine. Throw rising stars in there such as Mirallas, Alderweireld and De Bruyne and one begins to instantly wonder how this team never made it to Euro 2012. Perhaps the Euros came too soon but Belgium were quite unlucky finishing two points off a playoff spot in what was a tough qualification group featuring a German side who won ten out of ten and a Turkish outfit  who narrowly pipped Belgium to second place.

The new golden generation of Belgium looks set to outshine its predecessors, who reached six successive World Cup’s between 1982-2002, which included a  4th place finish in 1986. They even finished as runners up at Euro 1980. Wilmots side have enjoyed a solid start to qualifying for Brazil 2014 grinding out a 2-0 win over Wales and a 1-1 draw with Croatia which is no mean feat, Irish fans would certainly agree.

But for all the prospects and potential this Belgian team has one wonders how Ireland cannot produce such a model for success giving we are country of a similar nature. Yes the Belgian population is double that of Ireland but in reality what does population matter if one has correct infrastructure?

The Belgian FA have incorporated a model for success, they are willing to do everything possible to provide themselves with success. The vision of Belgian football is quickly changing thanks in large part to the motivational factor whereby such a small country takes pride from punching well above their weight. Ireland have a similar outlook yet finances dictate success. Nonetheless the quality of the current Belgium team compared to Ireland is astounding as any of the Belgian players would walk into the Irish set up.

In recent years we have witnessed a reversal of our fortunes. The old guard of Given and Duff have retired while Dunne and Keane are on their last leg. Our input into European competition and the Premier League has steadily declined year after year. After all, how many Irish players will feature in this year’s Champions League?

Contrast this steady decline with the fortunes of the respective clubs in Belgium and Ireland. This season sees Anderlecht make a welcomed return to the Champions League group stages, a feat the 31 time Belgian champions last enjoyed in the 2006/07 season. The Belgian champions boast ten Belgians in their squad. Combine this ten with the current Belgian stars at other Champions League clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Zenit and it’s not hard to see the Belgians mean business. Meanwhile, Aiden McGeady holds his head high as Ireland’s sole Champions League representative and League of Ireland clubs remain light-years’ away from reaching Europe’s premier club competition.

Of course we can talk with a bit more excitement when it comes to the Europa League. After all Shamrock Rovers did enjoy success qualifying for the group stages last year. However this historic feat was quickly forgotten as the Hoops failed to earn a single point and bowed out of the competition. How long will we wait for another Irish club to break such ground, something the Belgian sides do year upon year with relative ease.

The old adage that success starts at home is universally true. This rising Belgian outfit would be nothing where it not for the backing it’s football association affords its national league. Contrast this with Ireland and the ever lacking FAI involvement in the League of Ireland and it’s not hard to see why we are struggling at both international and club level. Indeed it says something about the difference between the LOI and the Pro League when you consider the numerous Irish stars who had to move abroad in recent years to get a sniff at pulling on the green jersey.

So while Wilmots leads this golden generation onto bigger and better things Irish fans can only wonder what might have been if the FAI had a similar dedication to that of their Belgian counterparts. The longer the FAI are devoid of hope and enthusiasm the longer Irish football as a whole will suffer.


Tomorrowland 2012 – Romero,Guetta,Fatboy Slim & More Take Over Belgium

Rather than force anyone to wait until the end of this review in order to hear a verdict that will be obvious throughout the summary, I feel it’s better to lay my opinion on Tomorrowland out up front. It was epic. And that really is only the beginning of how to describe it. Epic covers everything though, the sheer scale of the event, the organisation, the acts and even the food! Anyone who has attended any Irish festival, as both myself and my girlfriend Sarah have several times, will just be amazed at the scale of the event. On the second day of proceedings we did two or three laps of the layout itself and were exhausted by it, it really is just never ending. The event comprises of 15 stages, encompassing over 400 acts and runs for three days. Comparisons with any other festival are pointless, not just in our collective opinion but also in that of the visitors from around the world we met whilst there. There simply is nothing like it. Upon entry to the gig you are greeted with what can only be described as Wonderland come to life. Staff members abound dressed in regal and fantasy outfits, props such as massive toadstools and water spurting flowers abound. Before you even come close to a stage the entire set up and representation of the recreation area in Boom is magical. What’s more is you then notice how relaxed the entire place is. There’s security alright, but they’re casually strolling around the venue, not much work around for them to do. Keep in mind that mere weeks before this we had been in attendance at the now infamous Swedish House Mafia concert in Phoenix Park and whilst I was personally adamant that the poor organisation played a major part in what transpired, there is also the case to be answered that everyone in attendance at Tomorrowland, that we saw anyway, was mostly interested in having a good time, nothing more.

First act up on our itinerary was John Digweed on the Carl Cox & Friends stage. Though Digweed himself was slightly disappointing (his set was a little too laid back for a middle of the day slot where some tempo was needed), the stage itself was incredible. Most who have seen videos or images from the gig will firstly note the stage with the sun face including moving eyes and video screens surrounding it, this is the stage in question. It transpired to be one of the coolest spots of the weekend, allowing us to grab some food and a drink, and just check out whoever may be playing at that time. Through the course of the weekend we caught Digweed, Ferry Corsten, Paul Van Dyk and more at this spot and for sound and comfort it was best by far. If I had only one gripe to mention it’s that not enough people ventured this direction during the day which led to unfortunately sparse crowds for the djs performing.

The next stage to pique our interest was the Q-Dance stage. This time around we were treated to Noisecontrollers and it was fun for a fleeting visit, although after a while it started to feel like being back in a teenage disco and we decided it was time to scarper. Still though, another great sign of how much variety is on offer at Tomorrowland.

On we went then to the Samsung Galaxy Secret Forest which was a gazebo placed out on a floating pier and seemed aimed towards anyone who wanted to chill out on the water, have a drink and take in the sun. It was a nice spot for retreat in the sweltering sun of the Friday let me tell you, as Belgium was reaching highs of thirty degrees on the first day of the festival!

Next stop was the main stage where we arrived in time to hear Thomas Gold finish off his set, a nice surprise it has to be said. Main stage it would be for the rest of the night, not including a few detours every so often to check out some other acts, and we were treated to Alleso, Fatboy Slim (who put in the set of the weekend it has to be said, showing all of his many years’ experience with large scale audiences) and Avicii, although the latter  it has to be said did not in any way live up to the hype his recent chart success created, with his set lacking cohesion in the transitions and he generally seemed out of his depth. All in all though as first days went it was a good one, and thankfully the weather was only to get cooler as the weekend went on.

Saturday we kicked things off back on the Carl Cox stage, which was now the Paul Van Dyk & Friends stage, starting our day with Ferry Corsten. He gave a solid set, throwing out the seemingly unwritten rule that the day time sets had to be laid back and chilled, as did Kyau & Albert before him. Both churned out up tempo hard hitting sets that set a good mood for the rest of the day. Hitting the main stage a bit earlier than the previous day then we took in Chuckie and Martin Solveig. Chuckie gave a solid showing, throwing out all the right lines to the masses in front of him, a sight to behold from the hilltop. Solveig capitalised on his set from the previous year with a powerful showing, although it has to be said he did wain slightly mid set, losing the crowd momentarily. Rain intervened and found us moving on so we wandered a bit only to return to main stage for Skrillex. Though we both agreed it wasn’t a set entirely to our tastes, there was no denying that the light show and involvement from the crowd made for an incredible sight around the packed main stage. What we didn’t do was hang around for Swedish House Mafia however, taking their appearance in Phoenix Park as enough for now. Instead we headed over to another of the many off the beaten track stages, Cocoon Heroes to see Sven Vath. It was Sarah’s call as I wasn’t familiar with him, but a call I’m glad she made as once again, the diversity of the event kicked in and from one minute experiencing the hyperactive adrenaline fuelled Skrillex set, we were then chilling out to a vastly different showing. Set under a large big top with a bitchin light show to couple it, Vath was another one of the nice surprises for myself and capped off night two well.

It’s at this point I should mention one issue with Tomorrowland and a word of warning for anyone planning to attend in future years. Unless changes are made soon, transport to and from the venue is a nightmare! Heading in the first two days, we had to endure more than an hour each time on a bus with zero air conditioning in sweltering heat. It is fair enough that Belgium wasn’t prepared for a freak heat wave, but that there wasn’t even open able windows on the buses was unbearable. Travelling back to Antwerp then the buses were very limited and though we tried to leave ahead of the crowd each night, the lack of buses meant we always ended up lost in the swarms trying to board. A small complaint, but an important one after having spent entire days, mostly on our feet, in attendance.

On then to the final night and we were main stage bound for the day. We started off with Nicky Romero, who is now firmly slotting in to my playlists for the time being, followed by Yves V who gave a serious set, mostly prompted by him having to squeeze it into an hour, with no time for lulls. Being a local boy helped too! Afrojack next then and he served as a fantastic warm up for the main event to come, Mr. David Guetta himself. Though it would be somewhat accurate to say that Guetta suffered from slight Avicci syndrome – more hype than proof – it can’t be denied that he drew the biggest crowd to the main stage we saw all weekend, the lower levels literally turning into a mash of people. His massive intro, which then dropped into Titanium, got a massive response and when he appeared on stage, headband camera included, he received a massive reception and it was clear why he is one of the top djs around at the moment. Unfortunately, just as he began to churn out some of his recent cross-over hits such as “Sweat”, the heavens opened. Not wanting to be fair weather fans we survived it as long as we could, but when you’re dressed for a summer festival, there’s only so much can be suffered! We decided it was time to head on, though at our own pace as we took in one or two more acts on the way out, then headed  once again for the rarest of buses. An early end; but a good one to what had been three incredible days of music.

All in all it has to be said that Tomorrowland has to be experienced to be believed. Even with all the waffle above, I couldn’t come anyway close to what we experienced in there. The entire thing is designed to leave you breathless and that’s exactly what it did. Any Irish revellers still lamenting the lack of Oxygen definitely need to look into making the trip to Belgium, though we would suggest camping or staying in Brussels which we found out all too late is actually twice as close to Boom as Antwerp. You live and learn!

Follow the link below for some pictures from the madness!

Kyle On Hibs Radar As Fenlon Wants To Add Steel To Squad

Supporters on both sides of the Edinburgh divide were shocked to learn that former Hearts and Scotland star Kevin Kyle is on Pat Fenlon’s radar.

The talismanic centre forward whose contract at Tynecastle was terminated by mutual consent after he contracted a serious hip injury has revealed that he has been contacted by Hibs assistant manager Billy Brown on behalf of Fenlon to enquire about his fitness.

Brown, along with Jim Jeffries resurrected Kyle stalling career down south when they signed him for Kilmarnock where he was a success, scoring 16 times in 46 games.

When Jeffries and Brown moved to Hearts, they were quick to bring Kyle with them, and he soon won over the supporters with his robust style, particularly in derbies where he was a continual thorn in the side of the Hibs defence.

Whether Kyle will be able to overcome his injury problems remain to be seen, but fans hope that his link is an indication as to the type of player Fenlon is tracking.

The former Bohs boss told Hibs TV: “I just feel we’ve played second fiddle for too long and that we’ve been too nice as a team and as a club for a period of time. I think that needs to change. We need to stand up and be proud of what we are and get the club back to where it should be. It’s easy for me to sit here and talk to supporters and tell them that. It’s all about actions and not words.

“So we need to show them what we’re about; on the pitch and off it. There has been a massive turnover of players here in the last two or three seasons. We have to make sure that the ones that come in this time are the right ones that can improve the football club.

He added: “We’ve spoken to all the players at this stage. We’re talking to one or two in relation to maybe staying. That is all part of rebuilding and without going into giving people names, we just want to make sure we get the deals over the line and do it right.

“There is a lot going on at the moment in relation to players; be it current players, who are out of contract and players we’re chasing.”

With moral amongst the long suffering supporters at an all-time low after the disastrous 5-1 defeat to city rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final, Fenlon has assured the fans that he shared their pain.

“I’ve never felt as low in my life as I did when I left Hampden that day. It was a disaster. I knew we had let a lot of people down and it’s not nice to have that on your conscience.”

“I understand the frustration and disappointment of the supporters, but we need them to stick with us because we are trying to do things the right way and I think most of them understand that.”

Given the capitulation that day, the former Bohs boss was quick to point out that he was working to recruit new players who would made his side more difficult to intimidate.

“We’re working very hard to try and get the right type of player into the club. We want to put a bit of steel into the place, a bit of resolve, a little bit of nastiness, so we’re not easily turned over.

The Easter Road side return to training on 2 July and are quickly back in action, facing Rapid Bucharest  at the Grangemouth Stadium, home of Falkirk Juniors, nine days later, before  crossing the North Sea to face Belgium clubs Royal Charleroi on Wednesday, July 18, Leuven on July 21 and a Zealand Select the following day.

On their return, the team will play German outfit Union Berlin at Easter Road on Wednesday, July 25 (kick-off 7.45pm) and wrap up their preparation with the visit of English Championship side Huddersfield on Saturday, July 28 (kick-off 2.00pm).

Meanwhile a meeting held at Easter Road on Wednesday featuring supporters, board members and management with the objective to work in partnership to benefit the long term future of the Club.

Working groups are being set up over the summer to support management in creating a shared Club unity and vision, generating additional income to benefit Pat Fenlon’s player budget, improving supporter communications and gathering fans views on the big issues facing Scottish Football. Hibernian FC will assign senior staff to work with each of the groups. The supporters have been tasked with recruiting further volunteers over the forthcoming weeks.

One of those attending said “It’s not about individuals. Our aim was to attract fans with energy, time and talent from all corners of the Hibs support. The group at last week’s meeting was drawn from the Hibernian Supporters Association, Sect43, Hibs12thMan, Hibernians for Change, Hibs.Net, HibeesBounce, The Hibernians, the Disabled Supporters group, and others with no attachment other than being a supporter of Hibernian FC.

“Most of us are critical of the way the Club has gone backwards in recent seasons but as lifelong Hibbies we think it’s time to roll up our sleeves and work together to get this Club back where it belongs.”

David Forsyth, spokesman for Hibernian FC, said: “The ‘Let’s Work Together’ project grew out of the largest consultation process ever undertaken by the Club during the winter of 2011. A club questionnaire was followed by three successful supporters’ forums which led to some great ideas for improving the Club’s fortunes. A growing number of supporters have come forward since January to offer their time – on a voluntary basis – to help management turn these ideas into action.

The Club also welcomes a plan, announced last week by the Hibernian Supporters Association, to hold a series of consultation forums to engage their members in the process of working together.

The GAA in London: Retaining a connection with home

There has been much debate recently as to the relevance of Irish cultural activities outside the island of Ireland, and whether involvement in such activities inhibits Irish emigrants from interacting with their host society. As part of my PhD research at Queen’s University, Belfast I am considering the role of sport in the Irish Diaspora. I’m particularly interested in the different roles of the GAA in London, and the ways in which it engages with London’s Irish community, other emigrant populations and wider society.

The GAA holds a prominent position within Irish society as a sporting, cultural and social institution. Therefore it is unsurprising that GAA structures exist in locations as far apart as London, New York, Belgium, Dubai and Sydney. Whilst many Irish people make a conscious effort to avoid anything remotely associated with Irish culture in a bid to embrace and become immersed in their host society, the growth and development of the GAA abroad demonstrates how Irish culture remains part of the Irish emigrant experience.

Every year during the month of February, the British University GAA Championships (BUGAA) attracts Men’s and Ladies university Gaelic football teams from across Britain, with a record sixty-three competing in 2012 including representation from France and the US in the form of Rennes and New York. Many of these teams comprise of a combination of Irish and British born students, with many second and third generation Irish involved as well as those who have no familial or historical connection to Ireland whatsoever. This indicates that the GAA in Britain is more than just an Irish sport for Irish emigrants, but encompasses members of the Irish Diaspora and wider British society. For example, GAA clubs in London attract Irish emigrants, second and third generation Irish as well as people who are not Irish.

In 2011 there were approximately 40 clubs established across London, with thirty-six Men’s Gaelic football teams, eleven hurling teams, eleven Ladies Gaelic football teams and six Camogie teams. Many of these clubs have been established for several decades and are situated in and around locations which are strongly associated with Irish emigration in North and North West London. Clubs such as Tir Chonaill Gaels, Fr. Murphy’s and Tara have a strong second and third generation Irish representation with many players referring the involvement of their parents in a club as their main reason for joining and playing for a particular club. Developing and maintaining Irish culture abroad enables both Irish emigrants and second and third generation Irish to retain a connection with ‘home’ and celebrate a sense of Irish identity.

I suggest that the GAA can be of benefit in terms of interacting with other Irish people, other emigrants in London and local Londoners who have no connection whatsoever with Ireland. Established clubs which have strong links with local communities and schools, attract non Irish players. This is the case with Dulwich Harps which attracts many London born underage players of African/Afro-Caribbean descent who play Gaelic games to a high standard at St Paul’s Academy in South London. It will be interesting to see if many of these young people continue to play after they finish school and underage level, and whether senior club teams become more diverse as a result.

The Ladies GAA scene in London attracts a diverse range of players from different backgrounds including Irish emigrants, other emigrants in London and London born women both second and third generation and those who have no Irish connection whatsoever. The London Ladies Gaelic football team, which won the All Ireland Junior Championship in 2008 comprised of Irish born, second generation Irish, Australians emigrants and English girls from London.

The London GAA is continually changing in response to the changing times and the shifting dynamics of Irish emigration. New clubs to the London GAA scene include Fulham Irish in 2006, Eire Og early in 2011 and there are current proposals to establish South O’Hanlon’s in 2012, all of which emerged in locations that have seen an increase in Irish emigrants within the local population. Many Fulham Irish Gaelic footballers and hurlers work in the city and live in and around the Clapham area which has become synonymous with the young Irish emigrants currently arriving and living in London. The club has become increasingly successful in recent years, with in excess of seventy players turning up for some Men’s Gaelic football training sessions. The level of commitment required in London is considered to be far greater than at home, as there is often a lengthy commute to training or matches to negotiate as well as the distraction of other attractions available in London. For many, the GAA provides a familiar structure which enables people to negotiate their new environment whilst retaining a connection with home and offsetting feelings of isolation.

Indeed there are some who do not require the established network of the Irish emigrant community or the GAA to find employment, accommodation and friends, preferring to immerse themselves entirely in their new environment. It has been suggested by several London based GAA players I have spoken to, that involvement at home is a general prerequisite for wanting to become involved in the GAA abroad. Those who had no more than passing interest in the GAA in Ireland are unlikely to seek out a club in London, New York, Amsterdam or Singapore. Whilst they don’t actively engage with the GAA scene or the Irish community, many will show interest in the fortunes of their county in the All Ireland Championships. The GAA is always a talking point for Irish people and those of Irish descent, everyone has an opinion on the style, players, management and the relevance of it with regards to Irish identity and the Irish Diaspora. The changing dynamics of the Irish emigrant population in London has influenced the role of the GAA, and the expectations held by individual emigrants.  The GAA and Gaelic games continue be a repository of Irish culture and identity for many Irish emigrants whilst also attracting members, players and support from those outside the Irish community.

To participate in my PhD research on the GAA in London an online survey can be found at:

“Nothing To Fear” – Kenny on Potential Fiscal Referendum

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has today said that there is “nothing to fear from a referendum” on the proposed eurozone fiscal treaty.

Mr Kenny made the comments ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels at which the wording of such a document will be agreed. Irish government officials are said to be hopeful that the final text will enable the treaty to be implemented without the holding of a national referendum.

Mr Kenny said, “I’ve made this perfectly clear: that when the text is finalised, I will ask the Attorney General formally to present the government with the Attorney General’s response as to whether the agreed text – as finalised by the politicians – is in compliance with our constitution. If it is in compliance with Bunreacht na hÉireann, there is no need for a referendum. If it’s not, there will be a referendum.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland radio programme today, Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said she was hopeful the core of the draft treaty would remain unchanged. She also acknowledged that it would be difficult for Ireland to remain in the eurozone if voters rejected the treaty, saying “I think it would make it almost impossible for us to continue as part of the currency union because being part of a currency union means you have to abide by the rules.” On the same programme, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pádraig Mac Lochlainn accused the government of “running away from debate” by not holding a referendum.

A Belgium-wide general strike is currently underway to coincide with the political summit in Brussels. The work stoppage was organised by trade unions in protest at the plans of the newly-formed government to cut €11 billion in public spending and to raise the country’s retirement age. AFP reports that no public transport is available and blockades are present on many of the country’s roads, forcing the Belgian government to arrange access for the arriving EU leaders through a military airport.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told assembled reporters in Brussels that he hoped the conference would capacitate Greece, Portugal and Ireland to become less reliant on EU funding and to return to the open borrowing markets.

Germany recently confirmed it is seeking to have an EU-appointed “budget commissioner” sent to Greece with powers to override its government’s budget policy if necessary. Any other bailout-recipient country, including Ireland, that consistently miss repayment targets could face a similar fate.

Twenty five of the twenty seven EU states have consented to a eurozone fiscal stability treaty, with Britain and the Czech Republic refusing to sign the proposed intergovernmental document.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has become the latest opposition politician to voice his reservations about the treaty, describing it as “too limited to solve the crisis”.

The treaty will be formally signed at the next EU summit in early March and ratified by 1 January, 2013.

If the Attorney General decides the treaty does not breach the Constitution and a referendum is not required to implement it, a legal challenge from opposition parties is likely. The United Left Alliance today described not holding a referendum as “utterly undemocratic”.