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Europe

Ireland Would Support EU Treaty, Poll Shows

With the economic recession raising fears about Ireland's status in Europe, a new opinion poll shows most Irish people would vote to back the EU's Lisbon Treaty if a second referendum was held this year.

Anti-Lisbon graffiti in Dublin

Have the Irish had a change of heart?

In June 2008, the Irish voted "no" to the Lisbon treaty aimed at streamlining the EU's institutions. But that was before the global financial crisis began making its effects felt.

Now, support for the treaty has surged, according to the Sunday Business Post / Red C poll, which showed 58 percent in favor, 28 percent against, and 14 percent undecided.

Excluding the undecided votes, pollsters said that if a referendum were held now, 67 percent would back the treaty, and 33 percent would vote against it.

"In analyzing the results, it is apparent that 20 to 25 percent of those who voted 'no" last time now suggest that they've changed their mind and will vote 'yes' if the referendum is held again," the newspaper said.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he is prepared to hold another vote later this year.

"Seismic change" in attitudes

Last week, another polling company, Lansdowne Market Research, said there had been a "seismic change" in attitudes in Ireland, which was once dubbed the "Celtic Tiger" during a period of sustained economic growth. But the country has suffered a reversal of fortune, with a two-year downturn in housing prices prompting the government to predict a 4 percent decrease in economic output this year.

This has been accompanied by an erosion of trust in Ireland's government. Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed in Sunday's poll said the government was handling the economy poorly. Around 56 percent said they expected the government would be forced into a general election this year. Red C interviewed a random sample of 1,001 adults from Jan. 26 - 28.

Irish euroskeptic takes message to Poland

Libertas leader Declan Ganley

Libertas leader Declan Ganley is branching out to Poland

Meanwhile, the leader of the euroskeptic Libertas party, Irish multi-millionaire Declan Ganley, is setting up a branch of his party in Poland ahead of June's European parliamentary election.

"We want the 2009 EP elections to be a referendum against the Lisbon Treaty," he was reported as saying in the Polish news media.

Ganley bankrolled a "no" campaign which contributed to the treaty's defeat in Ireland last year. He says that he is not opposed to the European Union, but believes that the Lisbon Treaty would restrict member states' national sovereignty.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski has said he won't sign the treaty until it is ratified by Ireland.

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