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Irish anti-treaty voters moving ahead in opinion poll


Dublin : The Irish pro-Lisbon Treaty camp suffered a devastating blow Friday after an opinion poll revealed the “no” side had surged ahead just a week before the country’s referendum.

The poll, in The Irish Times newspaper, showed the “no” side in the lead by five percent.

Since the last survey the number of people intending to reject the treaty in the vital June 12 ballot has almost doubled to 35 percent, while the “yes” side has dropped to 30 percent.
Ireland is the only EU country to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

The “no” campaigners claim a rejection will mean diplomats will be forced back to the negotiating table, but the “yes” side insist it could damage Ireland’s position in Europe.

With just a week to polling day both sides are keen to get their viewpoint across to an electorate largely confused about what effects the treaty will have on the country, the paper said.

The reason most often cited by “no” voters is that they do not know what they are voting for or they do not understand the treaty, with 30 percent of “no” voters in this latest poll listing this as the main reason for their decision.

The Fianna Fail coalition government and main opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour insist the treaty will ensure Ireland remains at the heart of Europe and will strengthen it economically.

But the “no” side, which includes two leading trade unions and Sinn Fein, the only parliamentary party to reject it, insist it would threaten workers’ rights and the country’s neutrality.

Earlier this week, the “yes” side received a boost after the country’s largest farming union decided to back the treaty after a last-minute pledge by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to veto any world trade deal that was bad for Ireland.