Lisbon vote a 'decisive step' to 'fairer Ireland'

Ireland’s decisive vote for the Lisbon Treaty will bring about a stronger and fairer Ireland and Europe, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said today

Ireland’s decisive vote for the Lisbon Treaty will bring about a stronger and fairer Ireland and Europe, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said today

With the referendum result to show about two-thirds of voters supporting the EU reform plan, Mr Cowen said: “Today the Irish people have spoken with a clear and resounding voice. This is a good day for Ireland and a good day Europe.

“We as a nation have taken a decisive step for a stronger, fairer and better Ireland and a stronger, fairer and better Europe.

Mr Cowen praised the leaders of the 26 other European Union member states for responding to Irish concerns over Lisbon after last year's defeat at the ballot box.

Following negotiations Ireland was given guarantees that the reform programme would not interfere with tax, neutrality, family values and the right to life or the rules on Commissioners.

“They listened to the people of Ireland and acted in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect that defines the European Union,” Mr Cowen said.

“That helped us to secure the vital guarantees that have made today’s victory possible.

“But on this day the full and final credit for this victory rests with the Irish people. They show that Ireland is embracing her future with Europe. Ireland is ready to grow and prosper.

“Today’s vote will help us achieve a common aim, a prosperous, productive and forward-looking Ireland.”

Mr Cowen welcomed the resounding victory in a five-minute speech on the steps of Government Buildings, flanked by senior Cabinet members including Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin.

“Today’s vote is a declaration of intent by the people of Ireland to remain at the heart if Europe where our future belongs,” the Taoiseach said.

“So thank you all for standing together and for standing with Europe, We are better together.”

Mr Cowen praised campaign and lobby groups who joined the pro-treaty ranks in the last few weeks.

“Business, trade union and community leaders from all walks of life played their part in helping to pass this referendum,” he said.

“Your powerful voice and passionate support helped convince the Irish people that much was at stake in this referendum.”

The re-run referendum has seen a massive swing in support for the treaty, with some areas recording polls as high as 80% voting in favour of wider European reform.

Mr Cowen said Lisbon will allow the EU to become more efficient and effective is tackling global concerns such as climate change and energy.

“We will now work with all our partners to ensure the reforms the treaty will bring are implemented,” he said.

“The Irish people have supported reforms that the EU can become more efficient and more effective in dealing with the global concerns ewe all face.

“Challenges such as climate change, energy, international crime, and of course the economic difficulties in which we now find ourselves.

“This is what the European Union is all about. States working together to achieve the common good.”

The result of the referendum was meanwhile welcomed by Cowen's British counterpart Gordon Brown.

“The treaty is good for the UK and good for Europe. We can now work together to focus on the issues that matter most to Europeans – a sustained economic recovery, security, tackling global poverty, and action on climate change,” he said in a statement.

European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom said she believed the yes vote was "the right result for Ireland and the right result for Europe".

Ms Wallstrom said Brussels had listened to Irish voters' concerns after the treaty was defeated first time around.

The European Council responded to those concerns "by agreeing on “guarantees” –making clear commitments on the issues which mattered most to the Irish", she added.

"I think these made a real difference and helped to reassure people."

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