Ireland approves EU’s Lisbon Treaty in second referendum

Irish voters approved the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty in a second referendum with 67.13 per cent voting “Yes”, final official results showed on Saturday.

A majority of voters in 41 of Ireland’s 43 constituencies voted for the treaty in Friday’s plebiscite, according to the results released by Ireland’s electoral office.

Observers believe the higher turnout is part of the answer for the strong backing for the treaty designed to streamline the EU’s decision-making process. Nationwide turnout was 59 per cent, compared with the 51 per cent in the first referendum.

During the referendum in June 2008, Irish voters rejected the treaty with 53.4 per cent voting “No” and 46.6 per cent “Yes” due to their concerns over Ireland’s military neutrality, its opposition to abortion, and national rights on taxation.

In June, the EU took a major step forward, agreeing to provide Ireland with legally binding guarantees to overcome voters’ misgivings.

Speaking on the steps of Government Buildings, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen confirmed that the Lisbon Treaty would be carried “decisively” and the electorate had “done the right thing for our own future and the future of our children”.

He said the Irish people had “spoken with a clear and resounding voice” and declared their intent “to remain at the heart of Europe where our future belongs”.

The Irish people had taken “a decisive step for a stronger, fairer and better Ireland and a stronger, fairer and better Europe” and it was “a good day for Ireland and a good day for Europe”, he said.

Cowen claimed that the “resounding” backing for the Lisbon Treaty had sent a message to the other countries in the EU that “we stand with them as we seek to move forward together”.

The challenge now was to work “with all our partners to ensure that the reforms this treaty brings will be implemented,” he said, noting that climate change, cross-border crime and economic difficulties are key areas which would need to be addressed.

However, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the Irish political establishment had ignored the decision of the Irish voters after the first Lisbon Referendum and they would regret the day they ignored the views of “No” voters this time.

Ireland is the only country that holds a public ballot on the EU reform treaty and its “Yes” vote is believed to benefit the integration of Europe.

Earlier this afternoon, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the result shows the value of European solidarity.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, called it “an important victory for Ireland and for all of Europe”.

He said it was just a matter of time until the EU “finally can push the button for the better European cooperation that the Lisbon Treaty will give us”.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he would meet Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer and European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso on Wednesday to discuss the way forward on the treaty.

“Today is a good day for Europe. It has been a long journey. Now the presidency will be active to reach all the way,” Reinfeldt said.



One Response

  1. Although I understand there were pluses and minuses discussed in the ratification debate, I want to congratulate my European friends and say, chins up! It is difficult indeed to get unanimity among so many governments. I think it shows strength in Europe. If I haven’t disgusted you sufficiently already, I recommend the following post,

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