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Jody Corcoran: Women will decide referendum

WOMEN of Ireland, I love you. It is you who will sink this fiscal treaty or make it swim.

We have been here before. When the Lisbon Treaty went down in 2008 the government undertook detailed research to understand why.

It showed that the women of Ireland, quietly, without fanfare, had sunk Lisbon. They did not favour the notion of their sons, beholden, marching towards the Somme. No European army did they want.

Four years later, nothing much has changed. Eamon O Cuiv may have put down his foot in a manner and at a time which has raised a question as to the purity of his motivation.

He is like men everywhere. They shout, they roar, they threaten. Eventually they may calm down, but the damage is done. O Cuiv, like most men, will soon realise he should have listened to the voice of reason, which is usually the voice of a woman.

Joan Burton is that woman. Last week, she said the passage of the treaty would he helped if Ireland's €30bn-plus bank debt, foisted upon the taxpayer, was restructured. Spread over 50 years, perhaps?

The devil is in the detail. The detail is in our poll, buried in the numbers crunched, and it says this: "Yes, maybe, but it depends..."

A decisive 36 per cent of all polled said either they "don't know" (15 per cent) or "it depends" (21 per cent) when asked which way they will vote. So let us break it down a little further.

A total of 1,027 people were polled across the country, 332 of them before the intention to hold a referendum was announced, the rest afterwards.

The pollsters did not offer an "it depends" option, it just emerged in the face-to-face interviews.

Of the 332, admittedly a small and so less scientific sample, over a fifth of women, but only one-in-ten men, said "It depends".

It depends on what, you may wonder. Well, Joan Burton put her finger on it: restructure the bank debt.

After a referendum was announced, men sort of woke up to the elephant in the room: ultimately, around one-fifth (21 per cent) of men said "it depends", but more than a quarter (26 per cent) of women said it loudly.

Break it down further and that quarter of all women is remarkably consistent across social classes, urban and rural, but spikes somewhat, among women aged 25-34 and the over-65s.

"It depends," say the women who have or are planning a family. "It depends," say their mothers and grandmothers.

It is not difficult to imagine why.

No more than they want to behold their children marching towards the Somme, do they want them marching towards the mailboat between now and 2031, by which time, if the troika has its way, we will eventually have the debts of banks repaid -- but at what cost?

Sunday Independent