Economists say Ireland, and fellow bailout recipients Portugal and Greece, cannot hope to avoid several years more of austerity no matter how they vote. All are dependent on subsidized EU-IMF loans and will regain the power to resume normal borrowing on bond markets only when would-be investors are confident that these countries represent safe bets to repay their loans without outside help. That means reining in deficits that, in Ireland, stood at 13.1 percent last year.
"The country is bust, and rejecting the treaty cannot alter that condition," McCarthy said. "It could, however, make things worse."
Associated Press writers Geir Moulson in Berlin and David McHugh in Frankfurt contributed to this report.