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Strong Irish support for EU's Lisbon treaty: poll

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(DUBLIN) - Nearly two thirds of Irish voters plan to back the European Union's Lisbon Treaty in a closely-watched new referendum next month, according to a new poll Saturday.

The strong 62 percent support comes less than three weeks ahead of the October 2 poll, called after Irish voters dealt the EU a stunning blow by rejecting the treaty in a first referendum in June 2008.

Support for the treaty, which must be ratified by all 27 EU member countries to come into force, has remained stable since the start of the year, according to the Red C tracking poll for the Sunday Business Post newspaper.

While more than one in six voters plan to vote Yes in the new referendum, less than one in four -- 23 percent -- say they plan to vote No, while 15 percent are undecided.

"Crucially, it finds there has been no collapse in the 'yes' vote as happened in advance of last year's referendum," said the paper.

In a referendum in June last year Ireland -- which is constitutionally bound to put the treaty to a public vote -- sent shockwaves through the EU when it rejected the treaty by 53.4 percent.

Earlier this month a TNS mrbi/Irish Times poll found support for the treaty had slumped by eight points to 46 percent since May, with the No increasing one point to 29 percent and the undecideds up seven points to 25 percent.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen's ruling coalition backs the treaty along with the main opposition parties. Only the republican Sinn Fein, with four seats in the 166 seat parliament, opposes the treaty.

Meanwhile a businessman who spearheaded the No campaign in last year's referendum was reportedly set to launch a similar push before the October 2 poll.

Declan Ganley, who had said he would not campaign after his pan-European Libertas movement was trounced in June European Parliament elections, is to announce his plans on Sunday, according to the Irish Times.

Almost all the EU members have endorsed the treaty through votes in their national parliaments.

The new poll was conducted on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week among more than 1,000 voters nationwide.

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