JUST 6% of people voted no to the Lisbon treaty over tax and neutrality issues — the referendum was in fact sunk by three-quarters of young people voting against it.
The surprise finding comes from a poll carried out a few days after the referendum by the European Commission.
Both neutrality and tax had been firm planks of the no campaign and were being put forward as areas where Ireland could get undertakings from EU colleagues that they would be protected.
The biggest single reason for the no vote was because people said they did not understand the treaty, but this amounted to less than a quarter of voters, at 22%.
There were myriad reasons put forward, but none of them with big overall support. About one in eight said they did so to protect Irish identity, while 6% said they did not trust politicians.
The number of foreigners in the country was believed to have influenced people’s vote but, according to this poll, just 1% cited it as a reason.
On the other hand, the results showed that support for Europe and for EU membership is as high as ever it has been, with 89% of those polled supporting the union. This included 80% of those who voted no and 98% of those who voted yes.
However, just 5% said they were against the idea of a unified Europe, something most EU governments are not pushing for and the majority of EU citizens are against.
Carried out last Monday, just four days after the vote that soundly defeated the EU treaty, it showed the majority (76%) of those who voted no believed the result would be to renegotiate the treaty.
Two-thirds felt it would ensure that the Nice treaty was maintained. Even 39% of those who voted yes thought it meant the Nice treaty would remain in force also, suggesting they did not understand Lisbon was to replace it.
Among the no voters, a quarter believed Ireland’s position within the EU would be weakened and 13% believed Ireland would leave the EU as a result.
More than one-third said they thought the rejection of the treaty would strengthen Ireland’s position in the EU, possibly responding to posters telling voters to “vote no for a stronger EU”.
In the breakdown of the vote between the genders, 56% of women voted no and 49% of men.
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin said he was very concerned over this. “It indicates we have lost a generation in terms of engagement with Europe.”
Mr Martin said he regretted the overall negativity against the EU. “There seems to be the impression that they are waiting in the long grass to get us... rather than realising all the good that the union does in the world.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved