Ireland voting on EU treaty

June 12, 2008 at 8:40 AM

DUBLIN, Ireland, June 12 (UPI) -- Voters in Ireland Thursday went to the polls to decide whether to ratify the EU reform treaty, which would streamline the European Commission.

The main Irish political parties back the treaty but the "No" campaign has mounted a challenge, the BBC reported.

Parliaments of the other EU members decided the matter, but Ireland, by law, must conduct a popular vote on changes to its constitution.

The treaty, known as the Lisbon Treaty, would remove the national veto in more policy areas, provide for a new president of the European Council and strengthen the foreign affairs post.

Dick Roche, Ireland's EU minister, said the results would be "very, very close."

The "No" campaign is a coalition of organizations, including Sinn Fein, the only party in Parliament opposing the pact.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said a successful "no" vote would give Ireland's government "a strong mandate to negotiate a better deal for Ireland," the British broadcaster reported.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged EU members to back the treaty, which would go into affect in January.

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