Resounding vote in favour greeted with elation and relief


YES CAMPAIGN REACTION:THE OVERWHELMING vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty was greeted with elation and more than a little relief by Yes campaigners, many of whom attributed the result to a more energetic and assertive effort by the Yes side compared to last year.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Fianna Fáil campaign director Micheál Martin said that while many factors had contributed to the Yes vote, it was important to recognise “the generous response of Europe’s leaders” to last year’s rejection.

“When the Taoiseach told them that strong legal guarantees were essential, all 26 heads of state and government agreed and this led to a substantial change in public support for ratification which was maintained until the end,” Mr Martin added.

Fine Gael’s European affairs spokeswoman Lucinda Creighton TD noted that the main Opposition parties “put party politics aside to campaign in the national interest”. Her own party had campaigned “vigorously and non-stop” on a “country first” basis, Ms Creighton added.

Pat Cox, a former European Parliament president who led the Ireland for Europe campaign, said Irish voters had put their country first. “This was a mature vote in which the Irish people rejected those voices telling them to make the referendum a verdict on the Government and on national policies,” he said.

Ireland for Europe’s Brigid Laffan said the electorate had rejected “the zealots” of the Left and Right. “With this massive endorsement, the voters of Ireland have also saved the European ideal. This is an emphatic statement about where we, as a people, stand and where we feel we belong,” she said.

Andrew Byrne of Generation Yes, a campaign group which targeted voters aged 18-30, said the referendum result showed Irish people had “put aside their anger at politicians to really look at the content of this treaty and see the very real opportunities it offers.”

Olivia Buckley, director of We Belong, another civil society group on the Yes side, hailed the way voters had engaged in the debate.

“The nature of the result was not just a statement on Ireland’s place in the EU but a statement about the Irish people. It is the story of genuine engagement with the major strategic decisions for our country and the recognition that those decisions will effect the generations that come behind us.”

Olive Braiden, chair of Women for Europe, described the overwhelming Yes vote as a “powerful endorsement by Irish women of the importance of the European Union in their lives”.

The Women for Europe campaign group was established to address the fact that last year women voters rejected the treaty in significant numbers. “Our campaign reached thousands of women all across the country and the women’s vote has been central to ensuring that we now have secured the right to equality both for women today and for future generations,” Ms Braiden said.