Ireland has been richly rewarded since joining the EU 35-years ago but feelings of euro-scepticism have never been as high as now. That is because Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy, which roared to life in the mid-1990s and has pretty much been booming ever since, is suddenly looking deeply vulnerable as households battle rising prices and debts.
Many people believe the EU’s proposed changes have not been properly explained. “At the moment I’m undecided, because I think it’s undemocratic and a very unclear process what the actual treaty is about,” one man said.
But another man in Dublin said“I’m very pro-European, always have been. Always found when I was young Ireland was very isolated by the British paper wall, I spent a lot of time in Europe, I lived in Germany and I think Europe can only be good for Ireland.” Some critics say it is unfair that Ireland could derail the pact as its population accounts for less than 1 percent of the bloc’s 490 million people.
Irish MEP, Marian Harkin, says it is too much of a burden:“I think in some way Irish voters don’t like the fact that they are basically deciding for the rest of Europe. That is a huge responsibility to put on anybody’s shoulders.” Seventeen countries have now ratified the treaty in their national parliaments but EU leaders fear some countries such as Britain may suspend the process if Ireland votes “No”.