Cowen asks party chiefs to unite for Yes vote


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen will meet leaders of the main Opposition parties and the Greens tomorrow to discuss a co-ordinated campaign in favour of a Yes vote on the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum on October 2nd.

Mr Cowen has written to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore, asking them to meet him and Green Party leader John Gormley to discuss how they can wage the most effective campaign.

All of the pro-Lisbon parties will have launched their campaigns by the weekend. The Fianna Fáil campaign will be launched today, the Fine Gael campaign tomorrow and the Green campaign on Friday. The Labour Party campaign was launched on Monday.

One of the reasons widely credited with damaging the Yes campaign in the first Lisbon referendum was a squabble among the pro-Treaty parties about which of them was or was not campaigning effectively.

As well as ensuring that they all campaign more effectively this time, the meeting of the four party leaders this week is designed as a show of unity to convince voters of the importance of a Yes vote.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin yesterday launched a 30 Minute Guide to the Lisbon Treatywhich he said fulfilled the Government’s promise to make information on the treaty available as widely as possible.

“The guide, which can be read in about 30 minutes, will give readers a good sense of the main elements of the Lisbon Treaty. It also explains the package of legal guarantees and assurances secured by Ireland in June, which make the Lisbon Treaty a very different proposition for us this year,” said Mr Martin.

The guide is available on the Lisbon Treaty website, or by phoning the Department of Foreign Affairs on lo-call number: 1850 211 602.

The director of Labour’s campaign, Joe Costello, has called on Mr Gormley to extend the date for postal vote applications to ensure the maximum participation.

“I have been contacted by voters who will be away from home for work or education reasons on October 2nd and who want to avail of a postal vote. However, they have been told that the closing date for applications for postal voting was July 15th. This was just two days after the Minister for the Environment made the order setting the polling day for Lisbon as October 2nd,” said Mr Costello.

“This is an absolutely ludicrous situation and the Minister for the Environment needs to intervene to sort it out.”

Fianna Fáil Clare TD Timmy Dooley said that Cóir had already started to make ridiculous claims about the treaty, one of the most blatant being that the minimum wage will be cut by 75 per cent.

“The fact is that the EU has and will have no role in the level of the national minimum wage, in this or in any other country.”