Taoiseach standing firm on fiscal treaty14/05/2012 - 14:32:50
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has shot down renewed calls for the referendum on the European fiscal treaty to be postponed.
He rejected claims from a group of independent politicians that uncertainty in France and Germany, and potential revisions to the treaty text mean it is too soon for the Irish people to cast their vote.
“The date is fixed for May 31,” he said.
“The reason it’s important we leave it at May 31 is that it allows us to send out a very clear signal of certainty from our people, about our country.”
The Taoiseach said sticking to the original referendum date shows potential investors that Ireland is serious about being part of the eurozone.
“We can send out a very clear and strong signal about where Ireland is headed,” Mr Kenny added.
“We know we are headed in the right direction and secondly, as a country in a programme, investors who are considering our country now will see the symbol of certainty and can make their decisions accordingly.”
Earlier, Independent MEP Marian Harkin said the referendum should be deferred due to game-changing events in Europe last week.
She said Ireland was in no position to vote on whether to ratify the fiscal deal until potential revisions, including a new growth stimulus, are written into the text.
Ms Harkin also pointed out that if one of the main architects of the treaty - Germany – was unable to ratify it in parliament with majority support, Ireland should hold back from voting.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to defer the ratification of the fiscal compact because she failed to drum up enough support from parliament.
“I think what happened last week was a game-changer. We had the German parliament unable to ratify the fiscal treaty,” said Ms Harkin.
The MEP, who intends to vote Yes in the referendum, said it was important growth measures suggested by French president-elect Francois Hollande are stitched tightly into an amended version of the deal.
Independent TDs Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Catherine Murphy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Shane Ross and Stephen Donnelly joined Ms Harkin in her calls for a postponement.
Mr McGrath said the Government owes it to the public to allow them to cast their vote only once fully informed of the details of the treaty.
“There are three sides to this debate,” said Mr McGrath.
“The Yes and the No and the people who want to know all the facts before they make a decision.”
The finer points, including the new growth and jobs measures that are likely to be tacked on, will not be discussed until a summit of European leaders on May 23, followed by another in June.
The independents have called for the referendum to be deferred until autumn.
Meanwhile Mr Kenny believes a deal on plans for jobs and growth will not be finalised at this month's EU summit and will need to go to a meeting of leaders in June.
And the Taoiseach described as premature weekend press reports of Government drawing up a list of projects that could be funded in any such plan.
"I've been very clear that for the last six months Ireland is one of a number of countries that have been calling for a growth agenda at a European level," Mr Kenny said.
"Clearly we could all put forward projects but I think the important thing on the 23rd is to have the leaders sit around the table and discuss what is now going to happen, which is a growth agenda for Europe.
"And Ireland will participate in that."
Read more: Call to postpone fiscal treaty vote
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