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Ireland set to ratify EU fiscal compact, opinion polls say

Two polls show strong support for treaty, as Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin says opposition will campaign for ‘yes’ vote

Ireland will ratify the EU’s fiscal compact, according to the first opinion polls on Irish attitudes to the new treaty.

Two separate polls on Sunday show strong support for a “yes” vote in the forthcoming referendum which Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced last week.

A survey by pollsters Millward Brown Landsdowne for the Sunday Independent found 37% would vote “yes”, 26% would oppose the treaty and 15% were yet to make up their minds. Among voters who had already decided, the poll found 59% were in favour of the treaty compared with 41% opposed.

A Red C poll in the Dublin Sunday Business Post found that 44% of respondents would vote “yes” in the referendum, 26% would vote “no” and another 26% were yet to make up their minds.

The leader of Ireland’s main opposition party Fianna Fáil called this weekend for the country to ratify the fiscal compact. Speaking at his party’s annual conference in Dublin, Micheal Martin said his party would campaign for a “yes” vote.

Martin also backed the current Fine Gael-Labour government view on distinguishing between the referendum and the campaign to lower Ireland’s debt burden. “I don’t believe in conditionality in terms of the promissory note,” he said. “I do think it should be dealt with, but separate to the treaty. I do think it will be dealt with ultimately.”

The Fianna Fáil leader also used his conference speech to apologise for the party’s mistakes while in government between 1997 and 2011.

“It’s not enough to point to the worst world recession in 80 years and the eurozone crisis, nor to point to the fact that other parties were demanding policies which would have made things worse. That’s for them to answer for,” he said. “We were in government and we should have acted differently. We made mistakes. We got things wrong, and we are sorry for that. No equivocation. No half-apology. Just the plain, unvarnished truth,” he told delegates.

While Martin can expect some positive bounce from the weekend conference – its first since his historic defeat at the ballot box last year – the presence of former prime minister Bertie Ahern at the gathering was a reminder that the errors of the recent past could cause Fianna Fáil some further damage. A major report on political corruption is expected to be published soon and it is understood will be critical of Ahern’s financial dealings while he was both Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds