Senior civil servants are manning a freephone service to provide factual replies to areas of public concern regarding the Maastricht Treaty on European Union.

The Maastricht Treaty on European Union was signed by all 12 member states of the European Community on 7 February 1992. Since then a debate has raged in Ireland over the implications it could have on three main areas: conscription, neutrality and the loss of sovereignty.

As part of the government’s overall strategy on the Maastricht Treaty, Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews launched a freephone telephone service with the aim of giving callers the fullest possible information about the implications of the Maastricht Treaty.

The timing for the helpline, rather than being a panic measure, is strategic.

This is the correct time, a week before Maastricht, that’s absolutely perfect from any point of view.

Mr Andrews predicts the majority of people are in favour of Maastrict and he believes the yes side will win by a 2:1 majority. The Minister also said he believes the government will take into account the poll findings that the majority of people want another abortion referendum and 60% believe abortion should be allowed in special circumstances.

However, as the Danes have already rejected the Maastricht Treaty, those in Ireland canvassing for a no vote, still believe it is possible to snatch victory.

The Maastricht Treaty referendum took place on 18 June 1992 and was passed by a 68.7% majority.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 11 June 1992. The reporter is Charlie Bird.