Prime Minister Brian Cowen has called Ireland’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty this Thursday probably the most important vote the current generation will take part in for decades. The last survey allowed before the ballot gives the ‘Yes’ camp a slight advantage – after a poll carried out by a different company earlier put the ‘No’ clearly in front.
Sinn Fein is the only political party to publicly support the ‘No’ camp, while Cowen and the leaders of the other opposition parties called for the country to back the treaty. Ireland is required by its constitution to put its ratification to a referendum. The treaty has to be ratified by all the EU’s 27 member states. Fifteen of them have completed the parliamentary process.
Britain is not among them, and many in London are keeping a nervous watch on what happens in Ireland. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has fought hard not to have a plebiscite in his own eurosceptic country, is being challenged in the courts to hold one.