By Ed Carty and Lyndsey Telford
Belfast Telegraph
1 June 2012

The Republic of Ireland is on course to back the European fiscal treaty with a vote of around 60% at the halfway stage in the count.

With 22 constituencies declared, Dublin South is leading the charge for the Yes camp with a 76% majority in favour.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore’s home constituency of Dun Laoghaire saw 74% of voters backed the treaty.

Ireland will now be the fourth country in the European Union to ratify strict new rules to rein in budget spending and set the groundwork for future bailout mechanisms in the eurozone.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government set the bar very high in its campaign for a Yes vote.

“The Minister for Finance and others are on the record as saying that in the event of a Yes vote, that there will be an easier Budget come next December,” said Ms McDonald.

“We want to see that happen. We want to see those who have taken the rough edge of austerity and cutbacks protected. Their lives, their standard of living protected and their communities protected.”

Ms McDonald also accused Labour leader Mr Gilmore of being on the wrong side of the debate and at odds with most of the trade union movement.

“It’s clear throughout the campaign that the Labour Party was on the wrong side of the debate,” she added.

Socialist MEP Paul Murphy warned that the referendum had exposed a huge divide between the working and middle classes.

“It’s looking like there’s been strong class polarisation where working-class areas have been voting No and the more affluent areas have voted Yes in high numbers,” he said.

“If it’s a Yes, which I think it will be, it’s no endorsement of this Government, it’s no endorsement of what’s in this treaty and it’s no endorsement of austerity. People are scared out there.”

Tipperary South was first to return results, for the second time in a row, and reported 61% of voters in favour while Galway East followed soon after with a strong 63% backing.

Other constituencies to have reported results include Limerick City 61% in favour; Tipperary North 66%; Waterford 58%; and Kildare North 65%.

Polls in the run-up to the referendum had predicted safe passage for the pact with a 60-40 majority.

The first constituencies to go against the treaty were Donegal South West with a No vote of 55% and Dublin South-West with 51%.

The neighbouring area of Dublin Mid-West narrowly accepted the treaty with a vote of just 50.01%. Officials verifying the figures confirmed that there were only five votes between the Yes and No camps in the region with 33,175 valid votes out of an electorate of 64,445.

The Tanaiste said the Republic now needs a deal on its bank debt.

“I want to welcome what appears now to be clearly the result of this referendum that the people of Ireland have voted in favour of the stability treaty,” he told RTE Radio.

“I think this decision taken by the Irish people is a necessary step on the road to recovery but we now have to build on it.

“This was not just an exercise where those of us asking people to vote Yes – it was also an occasion where we listened to what people where saying.”

The Tanaiste added: “We do need to have a deal in relation to our bank debt. We do need to see progress upon it.”

Elsewhere, Donegal North-East followed the pattern of the Lisbon treaty referendum in 2009 and rejected the latest European pact.

Ireland will now be the fourth country in the European Union to ratify strict new rules to rein in budget spending and set the groundwork for future bailout mechanisms in the eurozone.

Polls in the run up to the referendum had predicted safe passage for the pact with a 60-40 majority.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, at his home constituency in Castlebar, Co Mayo this morning, said he would be speaking to European leaders as the day went on.

“There are a number of prime ministers from around Europe who’ve been in contact, who I will have to speak to today,” he said.

The Taoiseach insisted that the referendum would always have only have been put to the people once, unlike previous popular votes on European reforms.

“I’ve made it clear it was a one off,” Mr Kenny said.

“We have to abide by and accept the people’s decision.”

Socialist MEP Paul Murphy later also accepted defeat.

“For this referendum, it looks like the game is over, but the battle on austerity continues. It goes back to the communities, to the work places,” Mr Murphy said.

“I think it’s certainly looking like it’s going to be a Yes vote. It’s looking like there’s been strong class polarisation where working class areas have been voting No and the more affluent areas have voted Yes in high numbers.

“If it’s a Yes, which I think it will be, it’s no endorsement of this Government, it’s no endorsement of what’s in this treaty and it’s no endorsement of austerity. People are scared out there.”

Richard Boyd-Barrett, People Before Profit TD and outspoken anti-treaty campaigner, said people accepted the new reforms out of fear.

“It looks like a Yes vote. I think people are hoping things won’t get any worse. The fear factor, I think, prevailed,” he said.

“But I think it’s quite socially polarised. The manual working- class areas have voted highly No because the people have been the biggest victims of austerity. They have rejected the Government’s advice.

“The middle classes, in the hope that things won’t get any worse, have voted with the Government and with the establishment.

“I think the people who voted Yes didn’t do so with enthusiasm, but voted Yes in the hope things won’t get any worse.”

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