Ministers dismiss new poll on Lisbon as 'biased'
'We were surprised from the beginning that a similar poll hadn't been taken immediately, asking Irish voters how they feel...'
THE Government has attacked an opinion poll which showed that an even bigger number of people would vote 'No' in a second Lisbon Treaty referendum.
Ministers claimed the poll, commissioned by a British-based anti-Lisbon Treaty group, was "biased" and "not credible".
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin hit out at "outside interference", while Europe Minister Dick Roche questioned its validity.
The poll, which was carried out in the wake of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's state visit last week, found that 62pc of people would vote 'No' in a second referendum and 34pc would vote 'Yes'. This is up from the 53.4pc 'No' vote in last month's referendum.
The Europsceptic Open Europe think-tank rejected claims from Mr Roche that the survey was biased.
"It was an independent poll carried out by one of Ireland's leading independent pollsters, which is Red C, which is based in Dublin," its deputy director Lorraine Mullally said.
The question posed to voters was whether they agreed that "The Irish Government should do as the French president has reportedly said and organise a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty." Ms Mullally described this as an attempt to give the 1,000 people polled more background information, saying she would "refute 100pc" that it was a loaded question to ask.
She also said that while Mr Martin was claiming the poll was "outside interference", other foreign-based organisations like Eurobarometer did not face similar criticism when they carried out polls.
"Why shouldn't be able to carry out a poll? We were surprised from the beginning that a similar poll hadn't been taken immediately, asking Irish voters how they would feel about a second referendum," she said.
The Government is currently carrying out its own research project into the reasons for the 'No' vote before deciding on whether to hold a second referendum.
Mr Martin said there was nothing to learn from "anti-EU bodies" whose views were "not in tune with Irish interests".
But Labour leader Eamon Gilmore urged the Government to focus on coping with the economic downturn instead of the Lisbon Treaty, saying it was time to accept the decision of the Irish people.
Fine Gael's Michael Creed, whose party has not ruled out a second referendum, said it would not be feasible without some amendments to the Lisbon Treaty.