Ireland goes to the polls on Friday, but what are we actually voting on? In technical terms we are voting to amend the Irish constitution to allow the State to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, but that is not all. Europe Editor Sean Whelan reports.

Back in July the Dáil passed the 28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill, which only becomes law if it is approved by the Irish people in a referendum.

That is what we will be voting on on Friday.

If the people approve the 28th Amendment, they will place three new elements into the Constitution.

Firstly the State will be allowed to ratify the Lisbon Treaty (Read in English or Irish), secondly, the Houses of the Oireachtas will be given new powers over any future extention of Qualified Majority Voting in the EU and thirdly Ireland will be banned from taking part in any EU common defence.

The Constitution already bans the State from taking part in a common defence, a clause that was inserted at the time of the second Nice Treaty referendum. The 28th Amendment repeats the ban.

It means that Ireland can only take part in a common defence if the people of Ireland say it can in a referendum

The Lisbon Treaty says that ten areas where decisions are currently taken unanimously, can change to Qualified Majority Voting if all governments agree in future.

The 28th Amendment Bill says that this power cannot be exercised by the Government unless both Houses of the Oireachtas have voted in favour – giving more power to TDs over EU affairs.

The Bill also sets out how the Oireachtas will be involved in any future decision by Ireland to use its opt-in arrangements for EU cooperation in crime fighting, immigration control and civil law.

The Bill would insert a statement that Ireland is committed to membership of the European Union and its aims of peace and cooperation between soverign states.

If the bill is defeated in the referendum, Ireland will not be able to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

For more go to RTÉ.ie/lisbon