The Irish Alliance for Europe has formally launched its campaign for a Yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty Referendum.

The Alliance describes itself as a non-party civic society organisation which brings together trade unionists, business people, academics and politicians.

Chairperson Ruairi Quinn said the Alliance had a vital role in correcting what he said were 'distortions and misrepresentations' about the Treaty created by its opponents.

He told the launch that the Treaty is the best possible deal for Ireland and it protects Ireland's vital interests and voice in Europe, while improving EU structures and allowing Europe to move forward.

Joining him at the launch were: former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald; former Foreign Minister and European Commissioner Michael O'Kennedy; and former MEP and President of the European Parliament Pat Cox.

Garret FitzGerald described opponents of the Lisbon Treaty as 'nitpickers of the extreme right and left'.

Describing Irish influence in the drawing up of the treaty, he said it was our treaty more than anyone else's.

Dr FitzGerald said if the people turn it down, it would be absolutely incomprehensible to other member states, and would lose Ireland the good-will of 26 governments.