The EU Treaty of Lisbon was agreed among 27 national governments and it has been approved by 26 national parliaments. Ireland is different: The existing interpretation is that this international treaty requires a referendum and the supposedly pro-European Irish voters baffled the rest of Europe by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008.
In a few weeks time, the Irish are going to vote again, with assurances that each member state will retain a Commissioner and with clarifications regarding issues, which caused confusion ahead of the first referendum.
In order to understand a bit more about Ireland and the Irish, I found an excellent book in French: Histoire de l’Irlande et des Irlandais, by Pierre Joannon. (Éditions Perrin, 2009, 825 pages, 12 €).
This history guides the reader from the age of the monoliths to about 2005. The fresh pocket edition adds a chapter (Épilogue provisiore), which takes us to the present days of the wounded Celtic Tiger and to the threshold of the second Lisbon referendum.
As a non-expert reader, I can only offer my impression: Joannon manages to combine his deep sympathy for the Irish with a scrupulous effort to present the facts correctly. A great read for Europeans keen to understand more about Erin, and why not for the Irish themselves at their historic crossroads, with prosperity and Europe in the balance.