- Title: IRELAND: THE IRISH BEGIN VOTING IN SECOND REFERENDUM ON THE NICE TREATY
- Date: 19th October 2002
- Summary: (U3) DUBLIN, IRELAND (OCTOBER 19, 2002) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. VARIOUS PEOPLE VOTING AT DUBLIN SOUTH EAST POLLING STATION (16 SHOTS) 1.23 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 3rd November 2002 12:00
- Location: DUBLIN, IRELAND
- Country: Ireland
- Reuters ID: LVA3VQPZ5PJITSPG85C0O7DKF7ED
- Story Text: From the hills of Donegal to the streets of Dublin,
the Irish began voting in a referendum on Saturday to decide
if the EU can bring in 10 new member states on schedule or
must suffer a messy delay to its expansion plan.
Sending shockwaves through Europe, Ireland voted in a
referendum last year against ratifying the Nice Treaty, which
lays the framework for EU expansion, with a 54 percent "no"
vote among a record low turnout of just a third of the
The campaign was dominated by concern about how the treaty
might infringe on Ireland's traditional military neutrality.
Polls this time put the "yes" vote comfortably ahead, with
one of the latest showing 42 percent for the treaty and 29
percent opposed. Bookmakers in betting-mad Ireland are quoting
almost unbeatable odds of six to one for the treaty's passing.
But Ahern's government is still worried people will take a
win for granted and has gone all out to be sure people cast
their votes for a treaty it says is crucial to Ireland's
standing and influence within Europe.
Ireland is the only EU state which needs a referendum on
the treaty and is also the only member not to have ratified
the treaty, which expires by year-end unless passed by all.
Ten states, most of them former communist countries in
eastern Europe, are waiting to join the 15-nation bloc.
"If the Nice Treaty is rejected again by the voters in
Ireland, we are facing an unpredictable and unprecedented
crisis," Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose
nation has the EU presidency, warned on Friday.
"We have no 'Plan B', but I'm confident the people of
Ireland know the importance of this vote."
Voting began midweek in some remote islands off Ireland's
Atlantic coast -- the westernmost edge of Europe.
The rest of the 2.9 million electorate started voting from
9 a.m. (0800 GMT) to 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) on a chilly day under
"No" voters argue the treaty will force Ireland into a
pan-European army, dilute its influence within the EU, and
perhaps encourage unwanted immigration.
As well as preparing the way for enlargement, the treaty
also ends the automatic veto power of member states and gives
muscle to a proposed EU Rapid Reaction military force.
The government said the low turnout in last year's
referendum was grounds for asking voters a second time to
approve the treaty. It has mounted a massive campaign to
convince the Irish, who have prospered enormously in the EU,
that they will retain more influence if they vote "yes".
It has sought to allay voter fears about neutrality by
adding a declaration from other EU nations guaranteeing Irish
troops do not have to serve in a European army, and by
enshrining neutrality in the constitution if the referendum
A loose alliance of socialists, pacifists, eurosceptics
and smaller political parties have campaigned for another "no"
After a seemingly never-ending campaign, and with streets
crammed with posters and slogans from both sides, many Irish
were showing signs of referendum fatigue.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None