May 31st date set for vote on fiscal treaty

Wed, Mar 28, 2012, 01:00

THE GOVERNMENT has set Thursday, May 31st, as the date for the referendum on the European stability treaty.

Voters will be asked a simple question on whether or not they wish to ratify the treaty and adopt the legislation required to bring it into effect. The Government decision was announced by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

The amendment will involve the insertion of the following subsection after subsection 9° of article 29.4 of the Constitution.

The new subsection 10° will state: “The State may ratify the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union done at Brussels on the 2nd day of March 2012. No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of the State under that Treaty or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by bodies competent under that Treaty from having the force of law in the State.”

The full text of the treaty is available in both Irish and English on

The Bill to amend the Constitution will be published later this week and, once that has happened, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan will sign the order establishing the Referendum Commission which will be headed by a High Court judge.

The Dáil debate on the Bill is expected to be concluded before the end of April and that will give four weeks for the Yes and No campaigns to put their case to the electorate.

Mr Gilmore yesterday urged strong support for the treaty and insisted that it was an entirely separate issue to the effort to get an improvement in the terms of Ireland’s banking debt: “I have always said that these two issues are distinct. The treaty is about stability for the euro. The talks on the promissory note are about getting a better way for the country.”

Mr Gilmore also rejected any attempt to link the referendum with the controversy over the household charge.

“Everybody in this country understands the importance of the euro. That is what the treaty is about and we are not going to get it mixed up with anything else,” he told journalists.

The Tánaiste said lessons had been learned from the defeat of the referendum last October on giving more powers to Oireachtas committees and the Government would be waging a strong campaign. “This is a treaty on stability and is about ensuring long-term stability, recovery, growth and jobs. It’s about confidence abroad and maintaining and enhancing the influence we’ve been rebuilding with investors, job-creators and with our European partners,” said Mr Gilmore.

He added that recent job creation investments had come about thanks to renewed political and economic stability but above all because of the determination of the Irish people to restore the country to economic health.

“It’s about managing our debt in such a way that over time, taxpayers’ money goes not into servicing debts but more and more into public services and targeted growth initiatives to create jobs.”