Clear No vote as treaty fails
THE LISBON Treaty has been emphatically rejected.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen was facing into a nightmare summer after voters turned the treaty down in all but four constituencies.
The news was met with astonishment in Brussels.
It led the euro to fall to its lowest in over a month against the dollar.
Commentators claimed the vote was as much a reaction to the current economic downturn as a rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
“We believe people are upset are rising costs of food, mortgages and clothing. That we believe is as much a reason for today’s result as any public apathy towards Europe,” said one government minister.
European governments say there is no ‘Plan B’.
“If the Irish people decide to reject the treaty of Lisbon, naturally, there will be no treaty of Lisbon,” French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said yesterday.
In some areas, such as the hugely working-class Southill in Limerick, 84 per cent of people said rejected the treaty.
Tallymen and other observers said the pro-treaty vote appeared to be holding up only in Dublin's more middle-class districts.
But even there they said, the ‘yes’ votes were barely running neck and neck with the ‘nos’.
A ‘no’ result throws the 27-nation EU into diplomatic turmoil following the 2005 rejection by French and Dutch voters of the EU's proposed constitution. The Lisbon Treaty proposes many of the same reforms contained in that failed treaty.
All EU nations must approve the painstakingly negotiated pact for it to become law. Ireland is the only EU member country subjecting the Lisbon Treaty to a popular national vote.
All others are ratifying the document through their national governments.
“It’s a huge decision for this country,” said Labour TD and spokesman for justice Pat Rabbitte.
“One has to respect the decision of the people.”
The treaty, intended to make the EU stronger and more effective, had the backing of all the main political parties in Ireland, a country that has prospered from its EU membership.
But while Ireland ranks in surveys as one of the EU's most pro-European states, opponents have argued strongly that the treaty reduces small countries' clout and gives Brussels new foreign and defence policy powers that undermine Ireland's historic neutrality.
The treaty envisages a long-term president of the European Council of EU leaders, a stronger foreign policy chief and a mutual defence pact, and changes the rules for decision making.
Fourteen countries have already ratified the treaty in their national parliaments. The treaty was due to come into force on January 1 if it was ratified by all the nations.
Former British Labour TD Tony Benn said today: “I hope that Irish voters don’t underestimate the impact of their vote.
“As a British person I feel my freedom is in the hands of Ireland. That’s a turn up for the books,” said Benn.
“Even before the debate started, when I was out at farmers’ meetings, I detected a very negative view,” said Ireland East MEP Mairead McGuinness.