Final bid to grab Lisbon Treaty votes

Final bid to grab Lisbon Treaty votes

Groups campaigning for and against the controversial Lisbon Treaty today pitched their final appeals to voters before the referendum on Thursday.

As political parties and lobby groups hosted closing news conferences before international media, both camps were predicting a narrow victory in the poll.

Ireland is the only EU country holding a referendum on the Treaty because it has to amend its national constitution in order to ratify the document.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen today warned that future generations would not thank Irish voters if they halted EU progress “which has been the greatest force for peace and prosperity in our history and the history of Europe”.

He added: “Europe cannot stand still. We live in a more competitive and global environment. We must ensure it can compete in that environment.”

Anti-treaty frontman, businessman Declan Ganley, called for EU leaders to take the Treaty back to the drawing board to re-negotiate it.

The chairman of Libertas added: “We need to send this very bad deal back to the table. When the Irish people vote ’no’ minds will be focused in Brussels and they will get the message that we need to build an EU based on the foundation of democracy and accountability.

“The more people know what is in this Treaty, the less they would like it.”

Opposition leader Enda Kenny, who hosted a joint news conference with predecessors Garrett FitzGerald, Alan Dukes, Michael Noonan and John Bruton via a video link from a conference in Slovenia, said it was a moment of truth for Ireland.

Mr Kenny added: “A No vote would send out a message to the international community that Ireland has isolated itself from the rest of Europe, that we have removed ourselves from the centre of influence.”

Former 1990s Taoiseach Mr Bruton said the EU had proved to be “the most successful peace process in the world” over the past 50 years.

Referring to record Irish jobless figures announced today, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore told his supporters that a No vote would result in confusion and uncertainty in the current sluggish economic climate.

“Now is not the time to raise doubts about our relationship with Europe,” he added.

Sinn Féin, which is on the No side with Libertas, reiterated that a better Treaty deal was possible for Ireland and urged a return to negotiations.

Party president Gerry Adams said: “A strong No vote on will create a huge opportunity for our politicians to address the issues which are clearly of concern to the public.”

Media organisations are observing a traditional moratorium on coverage of the referendum tomorrow – the day before polling day.

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