I propose to take Questions Nos. 280, 285 and 286 together.
The results of the comprehensive independent research, commissioned by the Government, which were published in September, confirmed that our people want Ireland to continue to be fully involved in the Union. Seventy per cent of Irish people agree that membership is a good thing, while just eight per cent disagreed. In that sense, the referendum result cannot be described as an expression of anti-EU sentiment. Ireland remains one of the countries most positively disposed to membership of the European Union.
It is evident, however, that many voters had genuinely-held concerns regarding aspects of the Treaty and these must be addressed. Between now and the December European Council, the Government will work closely with the EU Presidency, the other Member States and with the Union's institutions, with a view to defining the elements of a solution which will deal with Irish concerns and also be acceptable to our EU partners.
Our determination to ensure that Ireland remains at the heart of the European Union has been strengthened in light of the recent global economic and financial upheavals. Our membership of the Union, and particularly the support our financial system received from the European Central Bank, were vital in securing our national position. In the absence of these stabilising factors, the experience of other countries suggests that Ireland could well have encountered far greater difficulties.
It is clear that an element of Euro scepticism exists in most Member States. This is to be expected in open pluralist democracies like ours. However, there is no future for Ireland in aligning ourselves with marginal Euro sceptical elements across the Union. Our best interests will be served by remaining at the heart of the Union and working closely with countries that share our values and aspirations. The Government is firmly of the view that Treaty-based arrangements between sovereign States offer the best guarantee that the interests of small countries will be protected and advanced.
Ireland has always been strongly opposed to any concept of a two-speed Europe and that continues to be the case. The other EU Member States share this view. Any such development would not be good for Ireland nor for the Union as a whole. That is why there is such determination across the Union to arrive at a solution with regard to the Lisbon Treaty that all 27 Member States can endorse.