Ireland to hold second EU vote referendum

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Ireland will hold a second referendum on the European Union's Lisbon reform treaty, Prime Minister Brian Cowen, has announced. Mr Cowen has won legal guarantees from his EU partners to address concerns of voters who in June last year opposed the treaty, designed to streamline EU decision-making and give the 27-nation bloc a greater say in world affairs.

"I believe these concerns have been addressed in the shape of the legal guarantees," Mr Cowen told parliament.

"On that basis, I recommended to the government that we return to the people to seek their approval for Ireland to ratify the treaty and that referendum will take place on 2 October," he said. The government, which has been accused of failing to allay voters' concerns and not tackling opponents of the treaty head-on last year, has pledged to conduct a better organised and livelier campaign this time around, with plenty of information about the complex treaty text.