Outcome of vote as important as accession to EU, says Cowen


BUSINESS BRIEFING:THE DECISION voters will make in Friday’s referendum will be as important as the one voters made in the EU accession referendum in 1973, the Taoiseach said yesterday.

Addressing business and community leaders at Dromoland Castle in Co Clare yesterday, Brian Cowen said the vote on Lisbon “is a national issue that is going to determine not only the direction of this country over the coming months and years, but decades”.

At the Shannon Chamber of Commerce’s annual president’s dinner, Mr Cowen said: “This is a national question, it is of the same import and importance of the decision we made in 1973. That I fundamentally believe.”

On voting against the treaty, Mr Cowen said: “It doesn’t mean we lose membership, but I think it puts at risk our effective membership of the union for the future.”

He added: “I’m not saying that we should vote Yes because of what others think of us. I’m saying we should vote Yes because it is in our interests to vote Yes.”

Mr Cowen said a Yes vote would form part of a national effort “where the people of Ireland can go out and say ‘yes, we are in favour of this reforming treaty, we are in favour of staying engaged with Europe’.”

It would say that the Irish people “are not prepared to marginalise ourselves when Ireland needs to be at the centre of things and needs to show solidarity with others”.

Mr Cowen added: “On any objective analysis, being enthusiastic for the EU is in our national interest and it is not some abstract thing.”