Voting in Ireland’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty got off to a late start after bad weather delayed the airborne arrival of the ballot boxes to three islands off the coast of Donegal. Polling eventually got underway in the afternoon.
Experts say the vote could go either way, while latest polls suggest the “no” camp is gaining support. One survey has put them ahead for the first time.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen accused the “no” campaign of resorting to misinformation to win votes: “They had “no” campaigners going around telling people at the doors their sons were going to be joining a European army. Then we have them talking about the need for an honest debate. The level of hypocrisy that is going on is quite astounding sometimes.”
In the face of cross-party support for the Treaty, anti-treaty campaigners like Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams insist small countries like Ireland will lose out under the current proposals and a “no” vote would allow for further talks: “We want the government to go back to renegotiate a better deal and that would include a permanent commissioner, updates on our strategic vetoes on issues like neutrality, public services, & workers’ rights. And we think its possible to get that if the “no” vote comes out on Thursday.”
The rest of Ireland votes this Thursday in the only referendum in an EU state, meaning a country with less than one percent of the bloc’s 490 million population could derail the treaty designed to reform its institutions.