EU treaty win nothing to cheer on Dublin streets
Dublin — Was it party time on the streets of Dublin as jolly citizens cheered Saturday’s referendum thumbs-up for the European Union’s reform treaty? Well, hardly.
Ireland largely went about its business as normal after 67 percent voted in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, 16 months after the country rejected it.
But voters certainly had plenty to say on the second poll that saw the lamp-posts of their towns and cities festooned with countless contradictory "Vote Yes" and "Vote No" posters once again.
The main opposition Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny turned up in a bus at Dublin Castle with a bevy of balloon-holding beauties wearing bright yellow t-shirts.
Young campaigners jumped around with the Irish and European Union flags, while disheartened anti-Lisbon Treaty religious campaigners watched on. Then they went away again.
Inside Dublin Castle, Yes campaign supporters cheered as the returning officer announced the final vote count.
However, despite the initial hoopla, the famous bars of Dublin were hardly awhirl with Lisbon fever.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen could have been forgiven a pint or two of stout after the weight of the European Union was lifted off his rounded shoulders.
But even he had no plans to leave the Government Buildings early and hit the bar.
"You can celebrate," he told reporters, with a grin. "I’ve got work to do."
That seemed to set the low-key tone for the rest of Ireland.
Anyone looking for riotous celebrating of the ratification of a complicated series of institutional accords would have been hard-pushed to find anything remotely approaching the wild knees-up that marked 250 years of the Guinness brewery last month.
The whole Lisbon circus, for many, was a fog of confusing arguments for people preoccupied by their own future prospects as the "Celtic Tiger" economy implodes.
"Why did it take two goes in the first place? They weren’t going to stop until they got a Yes anyway. It’s a farce," said musician Brian Brody, 37, who was walking up Dame Street with his guitar en route to a gig.
"The politicians will get what they want in the end," he told AFP.
"People who voted Yes or No probably didn’t know why they did."
His main concern was Saturday’s big rugby union clash between local side Leinster and provincial rivals Munster.
Unemployed Dubliner Patrick Blanchfield, 61, a Yes voter, was eating chips and smoking a roll-up cigarette on the steps outside Dublin Castle.
"Knowing the Irish I don’t think they’ll be much bothered either way. No-one’s going to be celebrating," he said.
A Yes win "has to help the economic recovery," he added.
"Even with a No, I think we’re at the bottom of the recession and it can only get better regardless. But it will be a big help.
"We’re more solid with Europe and it should make a hell of a difference: we’re all fighting it together."
However, such sentiment would provide little comfort for Dublin man and No voter Keith Byrne, 25, who recently lost his job.
"There is no evidence, nothing in the treaty that would protect jobs," he said.
"Ireland was pretty much the decider for 500 million people. The system is rotten. It’s nuts what’s going on.
"If you want to be fair and believe in democracy, you’d at least call it 1-1."