Lisbon Treaty rejected by Irish electorate


Ballot boxes are opened in the RDS in Dublin as counting begins in the Lisbon Treaty referendum today. Photograph: Nial Carson/PA
Ballot boxes are opened in the RDS in Dublin as counting begins in the Lisbon Treaty referendum today. Photograph: Nial Carson/PA

The Lisbon Treaty has been rejected by Irish voters sparking a crisis for plans to reform European Union structures.

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A total of 53.4 per cent voted to reject the treaty, while 46.6 per cent voted in favour. All but 10 constituencies rejected the treaty, with a total of 752,451 voting in favour of Lisbon and 862,415 votes against. Turnout was 53.1 per cent.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen's constituency of Laois Offaly was last to declare a result and voted in favour of the treaty.

Tallies from early on in the count this morning showed the No campaign appeared to be winning in most constituencies across the State, with significant majorities emerging from rural and urban working class areas in particular.

Luxembourg Premier and Finance Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty represents a new "European crisis." 

"Ireland said 'no' to the Lisbon Treaty,'' Juncker told reporters in Luxembourg today. "This is not good for Europe." 

Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan has said Ireland had lost influence in Europe. Speaking as final results were being counted this evening, Mr Lenihan thanked those who voted Yes but said he was “very, very disappointed” with the outcome. “I think it is a very sad day for this country and for Europe as well,” Mr Lenihan said.

He said it was a “serious matter for Ireland” adding: “We have to accept the decision of the people…and that’s democracy and I accept that. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, who is also director of Fianna Fáil’s referendum campaign, said there was a perceived lack of information on the treaty. "People were on the doorstep were saying 'I still don't know enough about this treaty'."

This was a "significant" factor, the Minister claimed. The Minister said he was not blaming the Referendum Commission but said there was a sense that the treaty "just didn't register" and "lacked a clear tangible".

In his own constituency, Cork South Central, the treaty was rejected by more than 55 per cent of the electorate there.

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív conceded defeat this morning for the treaty in the constituency, Galway West, while Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny also conceded defeat for the treaty in Mayo early on in the count.

Speaking this afternoon, Fianna Fáil's  Dick Roche said the challenge now was how Ireland would "see a way forward from this", adding that the "reality is we are not in a position to ratify this treaty".

The founder of Libertas, Declan Ganley, who campaigned for a No vote, said: "The Irish people have rejected the Lisbon Treaty. "it is a great day for Irish democracy", he added.

"This is democracy in action . . . and Europe needs to listen to the voice of the people," Mr Ganley said. He added that the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, "has a mandate to go back to Europe and do the best job possible".

Polling stations closed at 10pm last night after 15 hours of voting in the referendum, the result of which will determine the future development of the European Union and its institutions. Voting began at 7am, and stations in 43 constituencies were open until 10pm.

There is concern in other EU countries about the impact of the decision by Irish voters, and the French and German governments are expected to make a joint statement later today once the Irish result is known.

Ireland was the only country to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.