THIS Thursday will see people given the chance to have their voice heard on the Stability Treaty.
With 50,992 people eligible to vote in Offaly and 55,305 eligible in Laois, both sides in the debate are hoping for a strong turnout.
Polling stations open in both counties at 6.30am on Thursday with the first votes being cast at 7am and will remain open until 10pm.
The counting of votes will begin in Tullamore Retail Park in the old Byrne’s World of Wonder store at 9am on Friday June 1.
Fine Gael’s Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said a key aspect of the Stability Treaty is that it will ensure access to the ESM, Europe’s new bailout fund, should we ever need it.
“The ESM is a bit like an insurance policy; we don’t want to use it, but having it there as an option gives us confidence and security. We will need to borrow about €19 billion to run the country in 2014, after our current funding runs out. Those opposing the Treaty cannot explain where we would get this money if we cut ourselves off from the ESM.”
However, Sinn Fein’s Deputy Brian Stanley voiced his strong opposition to the Stability Treaty stating ‘the ESM is not the only source of emergency funding’.
“A second bailout is not in the interests of the citizens of this state, indeed a second bailout is evidence of the failure of the first bailout. We believe that the best way to avoid a second bailout is abandon the failed policies of bank bailouts and austerity and invest in jobs while writing down our debt including the promissory note.”
Offaly has a history of securing ‘yes’ votes when it comes to referendums in recent years.
When the first Lisbon Treaty referendum was held on June 1, 2008, despite the treaty being rejected nationally, in Laois/Offaly it was passed with 56% of voters, 31,786, in favour.
With a turnout of 56,992, 54% of those eligible to cast their vote in the constituency did so. Offaly saw 57% support for the Lisbon Treaty.
In Clara 77% of those who voted supported the ‘yes’ side, while Edenderry gave the treaty the thumbs down.
In Laois, however it was a different story with only 48% supporting the treaty, with 54.6% of eligible voters turning out.
A second referendum was held four months later on October 2. This time both counties supported the treaty with 73% voting ‘yes’. This represented 46,624 voters for and 17,097 voters against. Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael joined forces to support the ‘yes’ vote.
There was a 20% increase in both counties in those supporting the treaty.
In Ballyfin counters were amused to find two miraculous medals folded into two ballot papers.
This time around, both sides will be hoping for divine intervention.
* Also see pages 14 & 15 for Stability Treaty Referendum coverage