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Lisbon Treaty vote: Irish voices

Yes and No posters on the streets of Dublin
Posters from both campaigns are everywhere on Irish streets

Ireland will vote for a second time on the EU's Lisbon Treaty on Friday.

Irish voters rejected the treaty the first time round, in June 2008, in the only public vote held on the complex document.

The "Yes" campaign is currently polling higher than at the same stage in last year's referendum.

Here, we revisit six Irish voters to find out how they will vote this time, whether they have changed their minds and if their reasons for voting "Yes" or "No" have changed.

SANDRA FITZPATRICK, 64, DUBLIN

Sandra Fitzpatrick

I have decided to vote "No" again.

I personally do not think anything has changed since the last referendum.

I think it is an illustration of the nature of EU democracy that we are required to take a vote again anyway. It's highly insulting.

This is also because of a lack of backbone on the part of our government.

I am aware that Ireland will be very unpopular if the "No" vote wins again and we are, of course, not in a good position financially at the moment.

But, bearing all this in mind, I feel that a "No" vote will serve us badly in the short term, but better in the long term, as it will force the whole EU machine to stand still and take stock.

And despite what the "Yes" side would have us believe, we cannot be thrown out of the EU, so nothing will really change.

TONY RODGERS, 19, CORK

Tony Rodgers

In 2008 I voted "No" and was against the treaty, as I saw it as a step towards a federal state.

I was concerned about losing a commissioner for five out of every 15 years and despised the idea of the EU becoming involved in social affairs.

However, after a year-and-a-half I am now an avid pro-Lisbon supporter, as I can now see the issues I raised in 2008 were due to a lack of education and the numerous inaccuracies spread by the "No" campaign.

I also previously lacked a proper understanding of how the EU worked.

Looking back on my federal point of view then, I almost feel ashamed to have believed it in the first place.

The Lisbon Treaty is there to simply reform and streamline the EU so it can become more transparent and efficient.

I believe Ireland will vote "Yes" this time.

Many believe it will solve the ailing economy. I don't, though I do believe that isolating ourselves from Europe at such a time is not the best choice.

Voters also seem to have become more educated on Lisbon this time and realise it will not affect abortion, taxation, neutrality and the commissioner issue, as the "No" campaign claims.

FINTAN HASTINGS, 25, GALWAY

Fintan Hastings

I voted "Yes" the last time and I haven't changed my position on the Lisbon Treaty at all since the last referendum.

If anything, the sudden downturn in our economy has reinforced my view of how important the EU is to our country.

More than any other nation, Ireland has been able to take full advantage of the benefits afforded by EU membership.

The arguments put forward by the "No" side this time around, as with last time, are based on issues that they know will elicit strong feelings among the general population, such as neutrality, abortion and taxes.

I feel that it is irresponsible to prey on issues which have nothing to do with the matter before us in the referendum - the restructuring of the EU.

Personally I feel that people will vote in favour of the treaty on this occasion.

People may still harbour the same concerns about the treaty, but the general confidence of the Irish people, particularly among my age-group - young college graduates - has been badly shaken by the rapid downturn in the economy and I think we all know that Europe will be crucial to our recovery.

JOHN JEFFERIES, 47, COBH, COUNTY CORK

John Jeffries

I will vote "No" this time around again, as I don't believe anything has changed in terms of what we are being asked to vote for.

The treaty itself is basically the same document as before and I have not changed my mind about what I think of it.

I also don't believe the so-called guarantees from the government this time around. I think they are attempting to frighten people into voting "Yes" this time.

People are frightened anyway due to the economic situation in Ireland, but they should not be bullied into voting for the treaty on this occasion.

I am still worried about the same issues as before, namely Irish workers' rights and Irish neutrality, both of which I believe are compromised by the Lisbon Treaty.

The outcome of this referendum will be very close indeed.

The "No" campaign are up against it, but I hope it is rejected once again - which would certainly see the treaty dead and buried.

BRIAN GOLDEN, 34, DUBLIN
Brian Golden

I voted "Yes" the last time and to be honest I surprised myself by how annoyed I was with the result, even though I suspected a strong "No" vote beforehand.

I said in 2008 that "No" was the default option for many who did not understand the treaty.

Crucially, that has changed. With the recession and a recognition that our standing in the EU will be damaged with another "No" vote, that is no longer seen as a viable option.

Also people are much more political now, given the mess the country is in and almost all of us are directly affected.

Maybe that's why I was so annoyed last time - I knew we would just have to vote again!

This time round, I still see the treaty as a hard sell, since it is mostly about institutional reform to enable an enlarged EU to operate.

The sensational messages are again being spread by the "No" side, but I think the onus is on them to point to the parts of the treaty that back up their allegations. Failing that, it's just fear tactics once again.

For me, the EU has flaws but I just do not see how a "No" vote would be constructive.

Maybe that's why I was so annoyed last time - I knew we would just have to vote again!

DECLAN BRENNAN, 22, DUBLIN

Declan Brennan

I voted "No" last time and I will be voting "No" this time for the same reasons.

I have reservations about the direction the EU is heading.

I don't see the need for an EU president or foreign affairs representative and I think the EU has taken a fundamental shift away from its initial concept and has started to encroach on areas of policy that are best left to individual member states.

I think we as a country need to take a step back and assess the direction Europe is going.

Lisbon has very suddenly become the thing that could both save and ruin our economy, depending on who you ask

As regards the most important issue this time around, the economic situation in Ireland has changed radically since the last vote.

A lot of people are concerned and this is being capitalised on by both sides.

Lisbon has very suddenly become the thing that could both save and ruin our economy, depending on who you ask.

The economic climate won't affect my vote because I realise that the "No" vote did not cause the recession here, nor will a "Yes" vote fix it.

I think that it will be passed this time, as the majority of opinion polls seem to suggest it will. I just hope that if it does pass we get a third chance to vote because the result of the first two polls will be tied at one apiece.



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SEE ALSO
Irish EU No vote: Voters' reaction
13 Jun 08 |  Europe
Irish EU referendum: Voters' views
04 Jun 08 |  Europe


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