Campaign to cost party up to €150,000 despite €1.7m debt

Fri, May 4, 2012, 01:00

FIANNA FÁ IL:FIANNA FIL will be spending between €120,000 and €150,000 on its campaign for a Yes vote in the fiscal treaty referendum, party leader Micheál Martin has said.

Some of these funds will come from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, a transnational alliance that includes Fianna Fáil, but he did not have “the exact numbers”.

The rest would be subscribed by the party, despite the financial problems it has been experiencing, with a debt of €1.7 million.

“Referendums come upon us and there is an obligation to compete. Funding is tight but we’re going to spend that amount of money on this particular campaign,” he said.

At the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin’s Ely Place at noon yesterday, the Fianna Fáil leader stressed that the referendum was above daily politics.

Although the Government had been too timid in its approach to EU negotiations, he added, Fianna Fáil was taking the same side on the treaty.

“For Ireland to recover we need Europe’s support. We need help in financing public services over the next number of years, but we also need a return to growth,” said Mr Martin.

The treaty was not the answer to all of Ireland’s problems, but he said it was an important part of the answer.

Mr Martin complained that all too often referendum debates were allowed to descend into a sterile exchange of charge and counter-charge.

“A critical mistake of pro-EU parties is to allow rebuttals to dominate their own efforts. If there’s one thing we should be very clear about now it is that the positive case for a Yes vote must be made. The treaty will not pass if all that the people hear is two sides exchanging attacks,” said the Fianna Fáil leader.

He emphasised that one thing the referendum had nothing whatsoever to do with was daily politics. “It’s about the future of our country, not about support for any party. We believe that the Government is making many serious mistakes in its economic policies. In its two budgets announced last year, the Government hurt employment and was deeply unfair. Their implementation is increasingly incompetent.

“We also believe that it has been too timid in its approach to European negotiations and has waited too long before supporting badly needed growth measures.

“We are on the same side of this referendum but nothing in this is in any way an endorsement of Government policies.”

Asked about a meeting he had on Wednesday with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore to discuss the campaign, Mr Martin said it had been positive and that they had concentrated on what the key messages should be.

He believed there was broad agreement “that we shouldn’t over-egg what is in the treaty. We shouldn’t pretend there is something in the treaty that is not in the treaty”.

He added: “We should be factual, realistic and put it in that manner to the people.”

Mr Martin expressed confidence that former deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív would not be campaigning against the treaty.

“He won’t be going on platforms,” said the Fianna Fáil leader.