‘Crucial strategic decision’ for public

VOTERS face a “crucial strategic decision” for the future of Ireland when they go to the polls in tomorrow’s Lisbon treaty referendum, according to the Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

In his last press conference ahead of the vote, Mr Cowen said the future success of the country “cannot be guaranteed unless we vote yes”.

He said he is confident the people of Ireland can “see beyond the scare tactics” of the no campaign and realise the government has found the best way of developing an EU that will deliver most for its citizens.

“It’s our decision on Thursday. Do we stay in the union, active participants, enthusiastic proponents of everything that has brought benefit, or we say no and go in an uncertain route” he said.

He appealed to the public to trust the people they voted for in last year’s general election.

“All of us in the mainstream of politics are in favour of this treaty. We have suspended our normal domestic issues for these couple of days so the people can see unambiguously that 90% of people they voted for in last year’s general election, in whom they have placed their public trust, all support this treaty and believe it is in our nation’s interest to vote yes,” he said.

The Taoiseach rejected the “shrill, narrow analysis” of the no side which he said has confused voters.

He accused them of using issues that are “extraneous” to the Lisbon debate “in an effort to garnish support for their weaker case, or to orchestrate confusion on the treaty provisions themselves, to raise fears and worries and concerns needlessly in an effort to win support”.

“I have always said I believe the common sense and discernment of the Irish electorate,” he added.

Mr Cowen asked people to look to Ireland’s past and future when voting tomorrow: “Look to our experience. Look at the possibility that has been provided to us as a nation by making the strategic decision to become enthusiastic participants in the European project.

“Look to the challenges that now face us in the future and we can confirm to ourselves on reflection that these are matters that cannot be dealt with by any country, big or small, in this continent alone.”

He said the Irish people have reaped the rewards of a pro-European sentiment: “We have seen that ratifying every amending treaty since 1973 has brought more jobs, more investment and more trade to this country, increasing the quality of life and the standard of living of our people.”

Foreign Minister Micháel Martin said: “We’ve won the argument in the debate, the issue now is to get good turnout on Thursday.”

Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche said: “I’m confident the Irish people will vote yes but don’t ask me to predict by how big a margin.”


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