Gilmore rejects 'rushed' treaty claims

Wed, Apr 18, 2012, 01:00

THE TÁNAISTE has rejected a claim by the Fianna Fáil leader that not enough time has been given for the EU fiscal stability treaty referendum campaign.

Eamon Gilmore said the May 31st date set for polling was 65 days from the time it was decided to have a referendum.

“This is a stand-alone proposition,”’ he added. “It is not as complex and as lengthy as previous European referendums.” Mr Gilmore was speaking at a meeting of the recently established Oireachtas subcommittee on the treaty in Dublin yesterday.

Earlier, Micheál Martin claimed that outside the committee’s work, the debate was being handled badly.

“The late-May date for the referendum is too rushed and runs a number of risks,” he added.

He said it would have been more reasonable to allow at least an extra month for the debate and to increase efforts to engage the public.

Strong advice from the Referendum Commission, and the experience of past referendums, indicated a longer period for preparation led to the public being more informed.

“Last year, we were promised longer preparation times for referendum information, but, in fact, we are to get even less time,” Mr Martin added.

“It may not sink the referendum but it is an unnecessary risk.” Mr Martin said there was a real risk that next month would see a rising uncertainty about the treaty in a number of countries.

The current favourite in the French election had said explicitly that he wanted changes, and there were issues in the Netherlands, he added.

In Germany, the SDP had said it would support ratification only if a financial transactions tax was pushed through, something which would be unacceptable to Ireland and others.

Mr Gilmore said that the French election, or any other election, was not a factor.

“We have to decide whether we want to ratify this ourselves or not,” he added.

“We have to make up our own minds as to whether this proposition is good for this country.” Mr Gilmore said it was a matter for other countries to decide how they responded to it.

He understood, he said, that the French socialist party candidate believed in the idea of adding to the treaty with a jobs and growth agenda. That was something that had already been agreed.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins claimed that the treaty was being dictated by the financial markets.

Unelected, unaccountable and faceless major bankers, hedge fund operators and bondholders within the EU held a virtual dictatorship in terms of economic policy.

“Shamefully, the elected leaders of the EU have fallen down in adoration and subjugation to the demands of the bondholders and financial markets,” he added.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy warned that if the treaty was passed, it would have a profound impact on people on low and middle incomes.

Ms Murphy said that people were looking for hope.

“And I have got to say that I feel this treaty gives them no hope,’’ she added.

Treaty information: Every home to get leaflet

Every home in the country will get a copy of the fiscal stability treaty and a short explanatory leaflet early next month, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has informed an Oireachtas subcommittee on EU affairs.

“Having negotiated the treaty we have a responsibility and a duty as a Government to make information available,” Mr Gilmore told the committee yesterday.

He said that people would have the choice on May 31st of voting on the ratification of the treaty.

“With that in mind I am determined that the Government will do everything possible to ensure that they are accurately and fairly informed between now and then,” he said.

The Government campaign will involve information only and will not be advocating a Yes, as it is prohibited from doing so. However, the Coalition parties, Fine Gael and Labour, will be campaigning for a Yes vote.

The Referendum Commission will also provide information about the arguments for both sides. STEPHEN COLLINS