Firstly this is a vote against the Lisbon Treaty and not a vote against the EU as such. However it indicates a strong concern at the direction in which the EU is moving. This concern exists amongst voters not alone in Ireland but in countries such as France, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. There is a strong belief that Eurocrats are following their own agenda and are not in tune with the views of the voters. As the EU enlarges it runs the risk of disintegrating under the pressure of its own contradictions.
It is noticeable that Working Class areas voted strongly against the Treaty whilst more Middle Class areas were more in favour. In general rural voters leaned against the Treaty. The combined strength of FF, FG and Labour and the political establishment was unable to secure a Yes vote.
Reasons for Ireland’s No vote:
(1) Voters were not prepared to accept a loss of influence- particularly the loss of a Commissioner.
(2) Fear of the development of a European army- many women feared that their sons could be sent to war.
(3) Interference from Jose Manuel Barroso and threats from French politicians that Ireland would suffer angered voters.
(4) A fear that Europe is becoming increasingly bureaucratic and a pent up anger at high levels of bureaucracy.
(5) Anger in rural areas with Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner and a fear that the EU is determined to sacrifice farmers at the WTO. Agriculture is under enormous pressure. The destruction of Ireland's sugar beet industry is fresh in the minds of farmers.
(6) Fishing communities are under extreme economic pressure. They have protested strongly in the ballot box.
(7) Working class voters vented their anger at high inflation and increasing unemployment especially in building and construction.
(8) Many voters did not understand the Treaty.
(9) Respected businessmen such as Ulick McEvaddy and Declan Ganley-leader of Libertas- came out against the Treaty. In addition the NO campaign had excellent media performers such as Caroline Simons.
(10) Fear that Ireland’s 12.5% Corporations profits Tax would disappear.
A feeling that the EU Commission is undemocratic and is unprepared to listen to ordinary voters.
(11) Fear that abortion could be legalised.
(12) Some newspapers such as the Sunday Times opposed the Treaty. Shane Ross- business editor of the Sunday Independent- outlined arguments against the Treaty in a very influential article.
(13) Some voters wished to protest against the Government.
(14) The Government campaign was in all probability too slow getting off the ground.
(15) The NO campaign - a loose coalition of Libertas, some businessmen, Sinn Fein, some unions,the Socialist Party tapped into the mood of discontent which has been heightened by bleak economic news. Many voters are fearful for their future economic prospects.