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Europe

Ireland Swings in Favor of EU Treaty

There has been a swing towards a "Yes" vote to the European Union's Lisbon Treaty in Ireland with 51 percent now in favor, according to a poll conducted by the Irish Times newspaper, published Monday, Feb. 16.

A referendum tally during the Irish vote in June 2008.

The poll suggests more Irish now see the EU's merits

The poll shows those in favor increased by eight points since November 2008 when the last Irish Times poll was published. Just 33 percent now say they would vote "No," a drop of six points since November's poll.

Ireland rejected the EU's Lisbon Treaty by 53.4 percent to 46.6 per cent in June last year. The treaty, which is aimed at streamlining decision-making in the 27-nation bloc, cannot enter into force until all member states have ratified it.

In the poll, people were asked how they would vote in light of the EU's commitment to allow Ireland to retain a European Commissioner along with legal guarantees on other Irish concerns with regard to neutrality, abortion and taxation, according to the Irish Times.

Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche, responding to the poll, said that the recession was responsible for a change in the public mood. There was a growing realization in Ireland that the country's future lies with the EU, he said.

Poll based on flawed question, opponent says

Declan Ganley, leader of Libertas, the group which spearheaded the "No" campaign in Ireland, said that the opinion poll was based on a flawed question which would lead people to believe that the treaty had been renegotiated. He said the treaty is the same document rejected by Irish voters last June.

Colm Burke, opposition Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South, called on the government Sunday to hold the second Lisbon Treaty Referendum in April, and not to wait until next autumn, as has been suggested.

"The current economic crisis has brought home to people, up and down the land, how vital is Ireland's membership of the European Union," Ireland's national broadcaster RTE quoted him as saying. "It is not alarmist to state that were we not inside the Union, our economic plight would mirror that of Iceland, with double digit interest rates and reliance on an International Monetary Fund bail-out," he added.

Burke said he would like to see the leaders of Ireland's three main parties, which all campaigned for a "Yes" vote to the treaty last June, coming together and agreeing a joint policy platform for putting the Lisbon Treaty to the people in an early referendum.

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