More than 50 percent of Irish voters rejected the European Union Treaty meant to streamline decision-making for the 27-member union. Tendai Maphosa has this report from London.
Results of Thursday's referendum trickled in throughout the day Friday and it was not looking good for supporters of the EU treaty. The official announcement was met with jubilation by opponents of the document.
OFFICIAL: "Votes in favor of the proposal 752,451, votes against the proposal 862,415."
Ireland was the only EU member that required a popular vote on the treaty, because it would have needed to make constitutional changes before it could be ratified.
The changes outlined in the document were meant to make decision making easier in the EU, but Irish voters expressed fears of a loss of national identity. They were also worried that Europe is evolving into a super state with its own money and army; this they said would threaten Irish neutrality. There is also suspicion about a perceived loss of control of the economy and of cultural values. The predominantly Catholic electorate suspected that the treaty would bring in abortion rights, a sensitive subject in Ireland.
Despite pronouncements that the treaty would be shelved if the Irish voted against it, European Union President Jose Manuel Barosso said it is still up for discussion.
"Our position is this one; 18 member states have already approved the treaty. One, Ireland, voted no. We should go on now with the process. At the same time, the leaders should meet should meet and see what possibilities are there for a collective response to this issue, because there is a collective responsibility," he said.
In 2005 French and Dutch voters rejected a European constitution. This led to the current treaty which European leaders signed in Lisbon late last year, which has just been rejected by the Irish.