The discussions arose on the back of Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon treaty in June.

Mr Martin insisted no final decision had yet been made on how to resolve the Lisbon impasse, but a second poll is now thought inevitable.

The Government is expected to bring forward its solution to a meeting of EU leaders next month, and Mr Martin said talks with the EU about Irish voters' concerns had "intensified" in recent weeks.

These talks centre on the commissioner question and the issues of Ireland continuing to set its own policies on neutrality, abortion and taxation.

An opinion poll published yesterday morning revealed a change in the public mood since the June referendum, with 43% now saying they would vote yes, compared with 39% who would vote no. The remaining 18% had no opinion.

The Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll asked respondents how they would vote if the treaty was modified to allow Ireland to retain its commissioner and the neutrality, abortion and taxation issues were clarified in special declarations.

Under Lisbon, the commissionerships would have revolved between the member states, leaving Ireland without a commissioner for five of every 15 years.

Lisbon would not have affected Ireland's positions on neutrality, abortion or taxation, but this point got lost in the debate. The declarations would reaffirm Ireland's right to set its own policies in these areas.

When the poll excluded the "don't knows", 52.5% said they would vote yes, compared with 47.5% who would vote no. But while the Government would welcome the swing, the figures are much too close for the coalition to be confident of a victory if it held a second referendum.

Declan Ganley, the leader of anti-Lisbon group Libertas, insisted yesterday there was "no appetite" for a second plebiscite and warned it would be defeated.

"I am confident the Irish people would reject Lisbon again should the Irish Government be so spineless as to allow themselves to be bullied into asking us a second time," he said.

Mr Ganley will appear today before a cross-party Oireachtas committee examining the Lisbon impasse.

Sinn FИin's PАdraig Mac Lochlainn said that by saying no in June, the electorate had already made clear their displeasure with Lisbon and wanted the treaty renegotiated to ensure "a better deal" for Ireland.