Cowen appeals for Lisbon Yes vote


Taoiseach Brian Cowen today called on the public to look above the political problems at home as he made a final push for a Yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty.

As the Fás saga rumbled on, Mr Cowen maintained voters understood Friday’s referendum was about the economic future of the country and not about domestic issues the Government faced.

Mr Cowen maintained voters would look at the Lisbon Treaty on its own merit.

“I honestly think the Irish people, the Irish electorate, have sufficient discernment to know that the issue before us next Friday is an issue for the country for years and decades ahead,” continued Mr Cowen.

“We will always have issues in our domestic politics as part of the debate that goes on. But this is a big issue for the country, an issue above party politics, and it’s an issue for the country to decide.

“I honestly believe that people are looking at that issue on its own merits.”

Mr Cowen stressed Friday’s referendum was too important for people to stand on the sidelines, claiming it was an essential step on the road to economic recovery.

“Not one single major investor in this country has called for a No vote, while 90 per cent of the people who create jobs, be it in small medium or large companies, have said that a Yes vote will help to protect and create jobs,” said Mr Cowen.

“The Union has been our rock of stability at the moment of our greatest need and it is the foundation upon which a return to growth can be built.

“A No vote will have major implications for both Ireland and Europe.”

The Yes campaigners were today boosted by a new poll which showed that supporters of the Lisbon treaty outnumber opponents by more than two to one.

The poll by Red C/ Sunday Business Postshowed 55 per cent of voters backed the Treaty, slightly lower than the last poll two weeks ago but some distance ahead of the No side. The Yes side fell seven points, and No side gained four points to 27 per cent.

The proportion of undecided voters in the October 2nd referendum rose by three points to 18 per cent. However, this figure is still significantly lower than before the previous ballot last year, under which the treaty was rejected, forcing the EU to shelve plans to reform its decision-making process.

The poll was conducted among more than 1,000 voters on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll, which was published on Friday, also showed that support for the referendum remains strong. According to that poll 48 per cent are likely to vote Yes on Friday, an increase of two points since the last Irish Times poll in early September, while 33 per cent say they would vote No, an increase of four points. The number of people in the Don’t Know category has dropped by six points to 19 per cent.

Despite the poll results, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams again urged voters to reject the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Adams maintained the Irish electorate was being asked to vote on the same treaty which was rejected last Summer.

He maintained the drop in wages would be a race to the bottom, adding that a Yes vote would also have repercussions for farmers and Ireland’s neutrality.

“We need to have a better Ireland and we need to have a better European Union,” he said.

“That is a social European Union where citizens’ rights are protected as opposed to this confederation.”

Elsewhere, Libertas leader Declan Ganley said he believed that voters would again opt to reject the Lisbon Treaty on Friday.

Additional reporting: PA