\"Irish

Irish urged to vote yes or risk worsening economy

Big business urging Irish to vote 'Yes' on Lisbon

\"Irish

Irish urged to vote yes or risk worsening economy

A big business effort is underway in Ireland to convince Irish people to back the same European treaty they rejected last year.

Employers such as Intel and Ryanair have lined up to lobby Irish voters to say yes to the Lisbon treaty.

They say that Ireland risks creating an even bigger economic crisis if voters say no.

The treaty - which would create a permanent EU presidency, more unified EU-wide laws and  a single foreign policy - is key to further expansion of the EU.

Last year's "No" campaign was spearheaded by a strange grouping called Libertas which claimed that Lisbon was anti-democratic.

Their campaign focused on fanning fears that saying yes to Lisbon would threaten Ireland's neutral status neutrality and the total ban on abortion.

The second referendum on Lisbon takes place in four weeks (Oct. 2) and now employers are adding their voices to the Irish Government's calls for a Yes vote.

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary - no slouch in the public relations department - is spending €500,000 ($717,000) on a "Yes" campaign including repainting a Ryanair plane with the slogan "Vote Yes to Europe."

The fact that this is the same O'Leary who regularly assails the EU as "idiot Brussels bureaucrats," speaks mountains.

Intel - which employs 4,000 people in Leixlip in County Kildare - is spending €200,000 ($289,000) on promoting a Yes vote on Lisbon.

Business chiefs say the EU was key to Ireland's earlier economic success and will be key its recovery.

Current trends might favor a Yes vote.

Last year's No vote took place against a backdrop of a 5.9 percent unemployment rate and a slowing economy with a "soft landing" predicted for the housing market.

This year's vote takes place as unemployment has more than doubled to 12.4 percent; the economy has skidded to a halt and the housing crash has decimated savings.

Michael Marsh, a political scientist at Trinity College Dublin, told the Wall Street Journal. "We're the worst economic collapse in the developed world. It would be a brave people who would vote 'No' now."

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