The Irish government has promised it will deliver a resounding ‘Yes’ vote in next month’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
The EU’s ambitious reforms depend on Ireland’s decision and although the ‘Yes’ camp is ahead in the polls, its lead is shortening. Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen is putting jobs at the heart of his campaign to support the treaty. He said whilst canvassing in Wexford: “We’re emphasising today that in the context of the jobs we have in the country, two out of three are dependent on access to European markets and I think it’s very important that that sort of broad, big picture is understood by the people as we consider this referendum.” However, the ‘No’ camp is gaining ground. It says the treaty is exactly the same as the one Ireland rejected last year. The Vote No to Lisbon group warns it would put big business before workers and that public services would be run to make profit. Joe Higgins, an anti-treaty MEP and leader of the Socialist Party, told a press conference: “To ratify Lisbon would copper-fasten the right of business in fact to exploit migrant workers and enforce wages and conditions way inferior to accepted norms, in particular member states of the European Union.” Irish voters make up just one percent of the EU’s population but their decision on October 2 looks likely to decide the fate of the treaty and the face of a future Europe.