Kenny firm on referendum date
The May 31st date for the fiscal treaty referendum will not be changed even though the German parliament has decided to defer its ratification of the treaty, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
Mr Kenny said he was eager to see the treaty promptly ratified as it was important Ireland sent out a clear message about its position in the EU.
Independent MEP Marian Harkin today called for the referendum to be put back following the decision of the German Bundestag to hold off on ratifying the treaty while discussions on an EU growth initiative proceed.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president-elect Francois Hollande were yesterday said to be on their way to agreeing the main elements of a growth strategy. A consensus on the issue between France and Germany would pave the way for a positive outcome to the EU summit on growth on May 23rd.
"This is a clear signal that there may be some amendments or changes to the current treaty," Ms Harkin said. "Irish people cannot be expected to make an informed decision in those circumstances."
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore today defended Ireland’s contribution to the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund, saying it was not unreasonable to expect Ireland to commit an initial €1.27 billion to the fund which could amount to €700 billion overall.
“The euro needs to have a supporting mechanism, a supporting fund which is an emergency fund for the members of the euro zone,” he said. “That’s what the ESM is about. It’s not unreasonable. I think it’s important that every country that is a member of the euro contributes to that.”
Ireland will commit itself to giving 1.6 per cent of the total fund, some €11 billion, but Mr Gilmore insisted not all this money will need to be handed over.
Ireland is to pay €1.27 billion to the fund in five instalments of about €250 million over the next three years.
The Government will ratify the European Stability Mechanism treaty after the May 31st referendum on the fiscal treaty is completed.
Mr Gilmore and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett clashed in the Dáil this morning over the treaty.
Mr Boyd Barrett said that the Government's determination to support the "austerity treaty is increasingly bizarre". "It appears to be taking the best boy in the class routine a bit too far," he said.
Mr Gilmore said Mr Boyd Barrett's "alternative to the treaty" was seeking to extract an additional €10 billion in taxes from the public each year. "He would double the amount taken in income tax and on top of that he wants to collapse the euro. Where does he think that will leave us?" Mr Gilmore said.
He said the Government wanted to work its way out of economic difficulty by attracting investment and jobs. "We are succeeding in that and we want to continue our success. In order to continue that success, there must be confidence in Ireland, the euro and our relationship with the euro. That is why we need to pass this treaty," he said.
Mr Boyd Barrett said his proposal would levy wealth taxes on the top 5 per cent of the population and increase income taxes for those who earn more than €100,000 per year. "We would not maintain the taxes for low and middle income workers that the Government has imposed," he added.