Voting 'No' to the Lisbon Treaty for a second time would damage Ireland's future investment and job creation prospects, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin claimed yesterday.
Lisbon II is the most important of all this country's EU referenda to date, Mr Martin said. A second 'No' by Irish voters would also erode Ireland's position at the heart of the European Union.
"There is simply no question that a rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by Ireland after receiving clear guarantees on our concerns would seriously damage our competitive advantages," he said.
Mr Martin said Sinn Fein claims that the EU was to blame for the present economic crisis was "nonsense" and "deeply cynical", adding he believed that the Irish people would "see through it".
"We can be sure that those who claim a 'No' vote would be irrelevant to investment and job creation have never been involved in negotiating investment and job creation," he said.
Opening the 23rd Humbert School in Ballina, Co Mayo, yesterday, Mr Martin described Lisbon as fundamental to our future. He said the debate would mark a defining moment for Ireland and make a fundamental statement about our future.
It was more important than party allegiance, interest groups or local issues and deserved a serious national debate, he said.
The minister added that the upcoming vote on October 2 would be the most important of the seven referendums that have been held since we joined the EU.
"This is not just another referendum," he said. "The outcome of this vote will fundamentally define the terms of our engagement with our European partners for years to come."