Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Irish voters may back Lisbon treaty, poll reveals

A fresh poll has suggested the Irish could back the EU's Lisbon treaty in a second attempt, repeating the same scenario as with the vote on the previous EU institutional reform.

The survey published in Irish Times on Monday (17 November) indicates there has been a change of mood among Ireland's voters since the June referendum, as 43 percent of respondents say they would vote for the Lisbon treaty against 39 percent who would vote No and 18 percent who have no opinion.

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The poll asked people if they would vote for a modified document which would allow Dublin to keep a national commissioner in the EU executive. Under the existing version of Lisbon, the 27-strong commission should be reduced so that from 2014, two thirds of member states would rotate in being represented in the EU's key law-proposing body.

The other modification suggested by the authors of the poll was that the Irish would get clear confirmation of their neutrality and their right to rule on issues such as abortions or taxation, in a document attached to the treaty - an idea already supported by several EU leaders as a way to enable a second ballot in Ireland.

The Irish Times pointed out that when the "don't knows" are excluded this gives the Yes side 52.5 percent, with the No side on 47.5 percent, which compares to the referendum result in June of 53.4 percent No and 46.6 percent Yes.

The Irish government is due to decide on whether to hold a second vote in early December. "We will make that decision in advance of the December meeting," Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin told RTE television on late Sunday (16 November), referring to the EU summit of heads of states and governments to be held in Brussels on 11-12 December.

"We have looked at a variety of alternatives," Mr Martin added in the TV interview, noting that the research carried out by the government "has shown up a range of issues people were concerned about."

A similar scenario as suggested by the Irish Times poll was followed in October 2002 when the Irish voted on the EU's currently-applicable Treaty of Nice for the second time, after rejecting it in a referendum held in June 2001.

Back then, the government of Bertie Ahern received a so-called Seville Declaration on Ireland's policy of military neutrality from the European Council, the gathering of EU leaders.

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