Sinn Féin today launched its No to Lisbon Rural Campaign, claiming the Treaty is a step too far and is a bad deal for rural Ireland.

Today's launch in Dublin marks the beginning of a State-wide leafleting campaign.

Speaking at the launch this afternoon in Martin Ferris TD said, 'Sinn Féin is ambitious for Europe and it is with this vision that we come to the Lisbon Treaty debate. After serious analysis and internal debate we believe the Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland, for Europe and the wider world. Ireland must see its role in Europe as a champion of shared prosperity, fair trade and global justice. We may be a small country but we must think big.'

Meanwhile, former President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, told the National Forum On Europe that he believes the treaty is entirely consistent with Irish values, priorities and practice in relation to neutrality and defence.

A plenary session of the National Forum On Europe was held in Dublin today. It considered on the implications of the Lisbon Treaty for foreign policy, defence and neutrality.

Mr Cox, who supports the treaty, said that the treaty contains important innovations but also a strong element of continuity, with 'many existing articles unchanged'.

Calling for a no vote, solicitor Joe Noonan claimed it would mark the 'transition of the allow the EU from a primarily economic and political body to a military power with global ambitions'.