Irish voters back referendum on European Constitution

THE majority of people still want to hold a referendum on the European Constitution in Ireland, a survey found today.

The poll revealed the popular opinion, despite "no" votes in France and Holland and the decision to scrap the referendum in the UK.

The survey found 45 per cent of Irish people wanted to see a referendum on the EU constitution, 34 per cent said it should not go ahead and 21 per cent said they did not know or had no opinion.

If the referendum were to go ahead, 35 per cent of people said they would vote to reject the constitution, while 30 per cent would accept it. 35 per cent said that they did not know how they would vote.

Young people are most in favour of ratification, the poll by TNS mrbi found, with 36 per cent of 24 to 34-year-olds backing the constitution, while 25 per cent are against.

The greatest opposition is from older people, with 40 per cent of 50 to 64-year-olds saying they would vote against it and 26 per cent in favour.

A majority of the 1000 people polled across the country admitted they did not have a good idea of what the constitution involved, despite attempts by Irish politicians to raise awareness of the issues.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern brokered agreement on the treaty in the final days of Ireland's EU presidency last June.

The Irish government was expected to hold a referendum in the autumn, possibly in October, although a date has yet to be set.

But the future of the constitution has been thrown into doubt after it was rejected by voters in France and Holland.

And following the "no" votes in those two countries, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw then shelved a planned referendum in Britain by announcing that the second reading of the legislation needed to hold the referendum would be postponed indefinitely.

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