Irish Parliament in Dublin (Photo: Irish Government)

Ireland has a population of 4.47 million and an area of 70,000 km2. It joined the EU in 1973 together with the UK and Denmark.

On 12 June 2008 Ireland had first voted "Nil" - No - to the Lisbon Treaty. The turnout was 53 % and there was 53,4 % No and 46,6 % Yes votes. France and Germany established a joint declaration where they asked the remaining member states to ratify the Treaty. Also the Irish government approved that the ratification process could continue in spite of the result.

In December 2008 the European Council decided that the Lisbon Treaty must enter into force 1 January 2010. Ireland was therefore asked to change their No to the Lisbon Treaty. The government planned a new referendum for 2 October 2009 after the adoption of a so-called Irish declaration in the European summit in June 2009.

Ireland also delayed the coming into force of the Single European Act and the internal market by six months because of a legal challenge to how constitutional its mode of ratification was, in the Crotty case in 1987. 

The Irish citizens voted "No" first time in a popular referendum on the Treaty of Nice on 7 June 2001 and thereby blocked the ratification process - all new EU Treaties must be ratified in all countries to come into force. Ireland was the only country to let the Treaty of Nice be put to a vote.

The government secured continued Irish neutrality, introduced a system of parliamentary control and organised a special forum for discussing Irish EU policy. With this background, in October 2002 a second referendum was held under different rules and with a different question. 62.89% of the votes were now in favour of ratifying the Nice Treaty, maybe because another "No" was presented as a rejection of EU enlargement 



In 1985 an Irish farmer and economist won a court case safeguarding the Irish voters a referendum on the Single European Act in 1987.

In 1995 an Irish MEP, Patricia McKenna won another court case forcing the government to inform the public in neutral terms before referendums.

In 2000 an Irish professor, Anthony Coughlan won a third court case safeguarding equaility on the coverage by the public broadcaster, RTE.

This principle of equaility is now being criticised by the Irish government and the rules for commercial. institutional and community coverage of the coming referendum has now been changed to allow more media space for the Yes-side.

The proportion of airtime allocated to opposing sides must however "be fair to all interests and undertaken in a transparent manner."

In the re-run of the referendum both the European Government, the independent Referendum Commission and the European Commission send leaflets to all households recommending the Treaty.

In previous referendum campaigns public broadcasters were obliged to give equal coverage of both the Yes and the No campaigns, after a former professor at Trinity College, Anthony Coughlan, made a complaint at Irish courts in June 1997 over unbalanced media coverage by the public broadcaster RTE, which gave 42,5 minutes coverage to the yes-camp and 10 minutes to the no-camp in a referendum on divorce.

The BCI announced a black-out on Lisbon treaty media coverage from the morning of the 1 October until polls close on 2 October.

During this period broadcast output could not include "material which relates directly to the content of the Treaty of Lisbon and/or the constitutional amendments associated with the Treaty."

The new guidelines covered "commercial, community, institutional and temporary broadcasters," but did not mention the Internet.



Irish Government  

Irish official websites