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Countdown to Irish vote on EU treaty

Countdown to Irish vote on EU treaty
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The countdown to Ireland’s referendum on a European Union reform treaty is on – but few would dare predict which way the vote will go.

The last survey to be published before Thursday’s ballot gives the ‘Yes’ camp a slight advantage – but a different poll carried out by a different company 48 hours earlier put the ‘No’s clearly in front.

The Prime Minister, Taoisech Brian Cowen, was due to be joined today by the leaders of the opposition Fine Gael and Labour parties in a call for the country to back the Lisbon treaty. The Irish constitution requires a referendum to be held.

Sinn Fein is the only major political party to publicly support the ‘No’ camp. It claims the treaty would strip Dublin of control over areas such as taxation and social and family issues.

The treaty has to be ratified by all the European Union’s 27 member states. If it say no, then Ireland, a country of just 4.3 million will scupper the project for the whole of the bloc’s 490 million-strong population.