Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Irish voters are preparing to decide the fate of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in a referendum on 12 June.
Ireland is the only EU member state to have a public vote on the treaty and both sides have stepped up their campaigning, with many voters still undecided.
Here, Irish voters reveal how they will cast their ballots and what the main issues are for them.
SANDRA FITZPATRICK, 62, DUBLIN
I am voting No in the referendum.Not one person I have heard, or read, has given me a clearer view of what the central issues of this referendum are and what we are supposed to be voting for.
I feel under those circumstances, it would be extremely foolish to vote Yes.
We would be stuck with something we could never change, and to judge by the wording, anything at all could be implemented into the treaty after we have voted for it.
CONOR NEWMAN, 29, MIDLETON, COUNTY CORK
I will vote Yes. The naysayers have constantly been predicting negative implications from all of the EU treaties, and have been consistently proven to be wrong.Ireland’s economic wealth and success in recent years has been down to our membership of the EU.
If maintaining our country’s economy and global strength is not reason enough to vote Yes, then here’s another: Jean-Marie Le Pen wants us to vote No – if that does not ring alarm bells, there’s something wrong with you.
The big shout from the No campaign is that we will lose our commissioner.
I don’t know if it is a deliberate oversight, or if they are just ignorant of the role of our commissioner, but losing him is irrelevant, as currently he cannot show any preference to Ireland anyway.
He is appointed by us, but does not work for us, he works for Europe.
TERRY O’FLOINN, 33, DUBLIN
I will be voting Yes. The EU has been good to Ireland and we certainly would not have enjoyed the past decade of development without assistance from EU states and access to large trading partners such as Britain.The EU is far from perfect and needs much reform.
The Lisbon Treaty is another small step in reforming EU institutions and streamlining decision-making processes.
I do have concerns as a citizen of a small country that, for example, we will lose some of the benefits, such as a permanent commissioner.
But on the upside, the introduction of the citizen’s initiative gives citizens of EU countries a bit of a voice to introduce topics for debate in the EU parliament – not perfect but a step in the right direction.
TONY RODGERS, 18, CORK
I will be voting No. I personally don’t support a constitution for the EU at all.I only supported the EU as an economic union, and despise the idea of it becoming involved in our social policy.
That aside, even if I did support the EU having a constitution, it wouldn’t include Ireland not having a commissioner for five out of every 15 years, as proposed.
I do not like this emerging integrated federal state.
PETER BUCHANAN, 48, WICKLOW
I will be voting Yes, only because I believe, having lived in Poland, that the EU has a chance to unite Europe.I do feel, however, that it is wrong that Ireland is the only country in Europe that has an opportunity to vote.
The will of all the people is not being heard and that does not bode well for the future.
ELAINE NORTON, 26, KILDARE
The Lisbon Treaty remains a complete mystery as far as most Irish voters are concerned.I was recently asked by a work colleague what a Yes vote would entail.
I was unable to give an answer. There have been and will be many more publicised heated debates amongst our politicians on whether to vote Yes or No, but no one has outlined what exactly the Lisbon Treaty is or what it would change.
As a result I intend to vote No until the government decides to explain in full detail what it is we are expected to say Yes to.
If in doubt vote No. There is too much uncertainty as to what a Yes vote will bring.
FINTAN HASTINGS, 24, GALWAY
I will be voting Yes for the treaty.Having actually read the text of the document myself I have found that many of the points raised by opponents of Lisbon are either untrue or a distortion of the facts.
It is for this reason I feel that Irish voters must read the treaty and make an informed decision for themselves.
There has been an unfortunate tendency throughout the referendum campaign for the No side to prey on issues which they know will elicit strong feelings among the Irish electorate, such as taxation, the loss of sovereignty and in particular the compromising of our traditional military neutrality.
They have thus far, however, failed to provide any substantive evidence of how the Lisbon Treaty would in any way affect any of these matters.
JOHN JEFFERIES, 46, COBH, COUNTY CORK
The EU calls itself a democratic institution but the fact that only one of the 27 member states is holding a referendum on a major institutional change such as the Lisbon Treaty proves it is not.The only reason Ireland is having a referendum is because a citizen, Raymond Crotty, took a constitutional challenge in our courts 22 years ago which said that any change to the constitution required a referendum.
The EU must stop telling the people what to do and start listening, and stop handing down major institutional changes which affect the sovereignty of individual member states, and expecting us to merely rubber stamp them.
I will be voting No to the Lisbon Treaty and I believe we have a good chance of defeating it and forcing all governments of the EU back to the negotiating table.
Let’s hope next time they listen to the people of Europe.
BRIAN GOLDEN, 33, DUBLIN
I’ll be voting Yes because this is a hard-fought compromise treaty and it is the best on offer.
There’s significant support for a No vote here, and it’s spread across different groups.
Few yet understand the treaty and there’s a danger now that No will become the default option for Irish voters.
With the Nice Treaty referenda, many stayed at home the first time around but came out the second time.
The difference then was the turnout of the Yes voters, who were a lot less motivated than the No voters.
So turnout will be crucial this time. What I don’t like at all is that many, not all, No posters don’t have any name on them.
It could well be foreign groups or some Irish fringe groups trying to scaremonger.
DECLAN BRENNAN, 21, FREELANCE VIDEO EDITOR, DUBLIN
I am not anti-Europe, but I will vote No to the Lisbon Treaty.The EU has been good for Ireland, but this does not mean we should vote Yes out of obligation or some sort of feeling of gratitude.
A Yes vote will lead to the EU having the same legal standing as a state and we in Ireland will be under its umbrella.
It will also require Ireland to invest in its defence forces and contribute Irish taxpayers’ money to a fund to get an EU army or rapid reaction force or whatever they’re calling it these days up and running.
I will be voting No because it is a great deal for Europe, but an awful deal for Ireland. A No vote will send the EU back to the drawing board to work on a deal that will suit all member states.