Bruton retracts suggestion of second vote on treaty

Thu, May 17, 2012, 01:00

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton briefly raised the controversial prospect of a re-run of the referendum in the event of a No vote when he took part in a radio debate.

He then retracted his comments.

In a statement this evening, the Minister said: “In the heat of a debate, I dealt badly with a question, and may unnecessarily have caused some confusion. “Let me be emphatic; there will be no second vote. We’re either in or we’re out," he added.

During the debate Today FM host Matt Cooper asked Mr Bruton if the Government had a “plan B” and inquired what he would say to Ireland's European counterparts in the event of a No vote.

“I suppose we will have to say that we will need access to this fund, and I think Ireland will be looking to say can we vote again because we will need access to this fund,” Mr Bruton said.

Asked if he was suggesting a re-run in the event of the referendum being rejected, Mr Burton said: “I’m saying that we will have a crisis on our hands and we will face a really, really difficult situation in funding ourselves. That’s the reality.”

Later in the debate Mr Bruton said there would be “no question” of a second vote. Mr Cooper put it to Mr Bruton that he had said the opposite earlier.

“I’m retracting what I said. There’s nothing wrong with being honest. Government has made it clear that there will be no second vote, and I just want to clarify that. This is a debate. We can all make mistakes,” he said.

Following Mr Bruton’s remarks, Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney issued a statement saying that under no circumstances would there be a second vote.

“Irish people need certainty, and the sooner they get it the better. Other countries don’t need Ireland to vote Yes; this is a decision that the Irish people will make on May 31st, and that decision will be final.

Mr Bruton also said Ireland cannot delay the referendum. His comments follow the rejection of a Private Member’s Bill from Independent TD Shane Ross allowing for the postponement of the fiscal treaty referendum.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil today the Referendum Commission had already made it clear it was not possible to postpone it.

"Secondly, it would not be a good idea anyway to postpone it because what this country needs is certainty and not indecision," he added.

Mr Gilmore said that citizens would have an opportunity on May 31st to show that Ireland wanted to have stability in the euro, confidence for investors and access to emergency funding if we needed it.

Mr Ross, who represents Dublin South, said that in response to the commission’s ruling, he had drafted a very short Bill proposing that the Tánaiste and the Government might, if they so thought, change the date in the light of evolving events.

“Such a Bill would take a day or two days to get thought this House and the Seanad,’’ he added. “It would give you the facility, if you wished, and if events changed, to postpone the referendum.’’

Mr Ross said that an opinion poll had revealed that 35 per cent of people were confused or did not know what the situation was. “It is important that the clarity we need is given to the people by delaying events, if it is necessary,’’ he added.

The Referendum Commission said earlier this week the referendum cannot be legally postponed. A number of Independent TDs, including Mr Ross and Stephen Donnelly, as well MEP Marian Harkin, had called for a postponement of the referendum in the light of developments elsewhere in the European Union.

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