Slow start to Irish vote over EU Lisbon Treaty


Voting got off to a slow start Friday as Ireland went to the polls to decide — for the second time — on the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty.

Several polling stations in Sligo in the north-west of the country were reporting “a very slow start” to voting with very low numbers turning out so far.

Just 14 people out of 650 had voted in one booth by 9 a.m. in Tubbercurry.

In Dublin city there was an average voter turnout of 4.4 percent by around 10 a.m.

Turnout in the south-western city of Cork was estimated at around 5 percent by 10 a.m.

In County Kerry, in the south-west, the turnout in urban polling stations in Tralee and Killarney is estimated to be also at 5 percent.

Opposition Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who campaigned for a “Yes” vote, voted in Castlebar, Co Mayo, in the West of Ireland, where polling was reportedly “quiet”.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen, whose unpopularity is expected to cause some voters to vote “No” in protest, made an eve-of-poll appeal to voters to come out.

“People will go to the polls in one of the most important votes in recent Irish history,” he said on a last-minute walkabout of his native Tullamore in the midlands Thursday evening.

SindhToday.net

“The outcome will determine the future direction of our country and I am urging people to go out and vote and to think clearly before making this vital decision.”

Polling began at 7 a.m. in 43 constituencies, with 3.1 million eligible to vote, and was to continue until 10 p.m.

The Lisbon Treaty was rejected by the Irish electorate in a first referendum in June 2008, with the “No” side winning 53.4 percent of the vote.

All the major Irish political parties have been campaigning for a “Yes” vote, with nationalist Sinn Fein the only parliamentary party to oppose the treaty.

Although the final polls indicate this time the “Yes” side have a comfortable lead — with around 55 percent support — there were concerns at the close of the campaign that the “No” side was gaining ground among the 18 percent undecided voters.

This trend was “directed at the government”, said the Labour Party’s European Affairs spokesman Joe Costello.

“We want to get the message out quite clearly that this is not a vote against the government,” he stressed.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the momentum was with the pro-treaty side.

This time, farming leaders, business leaders, public sector leader

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