Irish FM sees 'convincing win' for Yes camp in referendum

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin has said it looks likely the country has voted 'Yes' to the Lisbon Treaty. The first official result, in Tipperary South, showed a 68 percent win for the Yes camp.


AFP - Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said Saturday he expected the referendum on the European Union's Lisbon Treaty to result in a "convincing win" for the Yes camp.

"I am delighted for the country. It looks like a convincing win for the Yes side on this occasion," he told RTE state radio. "I think that is good for Ireland. I do passionately believe that our future is with the European Union."

The count was well underway across Ireland, with the very earliest indications from the ballot boxes beginning to emerge as more were unsealed.

A very early tally in the southern Carlow-Kilkenny constituency -- which voted 50-50 last time -- was indicating a strong Yes vote, according to RTE, after 15 percent of the ballot boxes had been opened.

Ireland's Europe Minister Dick Roche told AFP on Saturday he expects an "overwhelming" Yes vote based on early reports from count centres in Ireland's referendum rerun on the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

"I am confident it will be carried by close to two-to-one nationally. It is overwhelming. It goes back a long way to when we had anything like that," he said.

Roche said one ballot box from the coastal town of Greystones in his eastern Wicklow constituency recorded an "incredible" nine to one vote in favour of the reforming treaty.

"The economic reality that you have to be part and parcel of Europe was obviously playing on people's minds," he said.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen warned voters that rejecting the treaty for a second time risked jeopardising an Irish recovery from its sharp recession and would see Ireland marginalised in EU negotiations.

Meanwhile Fine Gael, the main opposition party, said the Yes camp was set for a comfortable win, according to its own exit polls.

A sample of 1,000 voters conducted at 33 polling stations showed a decisive swing away from the No camp, a Fine Gael spokesman told AFP.

"A very strong turnout in the Greater Dublin region towards the end of polling has pushed up the result of the Yes side in the Fine Gael exit poll," said lawmaker Billy Timmins, Fine Gael's elections director.

"As these last samples in the Greater Dublin region were tallied last night and this morning, the final result of the Fine Gael exit poll show a clear and decisive victory with 65 percent of respondents voting Yes and 35 percent voting No."

The Fine Gael exit poll suggested that the Yes vote in Dublin would be as high as 70 percent and that there was a realistic chance that the Yes vote outpolled the No vote in all four Irish provinces.

They found that 17 percent of those voted had not done so in the 2008 referendum, and the new voters supported the treaty by a margin of more than two to one.

Fine Gael found no difference between the male and female vote.

"While, of course, we have to wait until every vote is counted, I can only be encouraged by these figures," Timmins said.

"A Yes vote of this nature is a tribute to all the hard work done by Fine Gael and all those on the Yes side of campaign."

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