EUROPEAN affairs minister Dick Roche (pictured above, right, with Tom Parlon) has appealed to all sides on the Lisbon treaty debate not to let the argument descend into a "slagging match".

In a statement yesterday, the minister said that Europe had acknowledged the vote last year and consequently agreed to a number of legally binding guarantees in the forthcoming referendum. "The package which is now on offer is significantly different from that put before the people in June last year in that all issues and all concerns expressed by the Irish people have been addressed," he said. "Resorting to insult, mockery or name-calling serves no purpose and only deflects from the important issues of deciding on Ireland's future place in Europe."