Hollande and Kenny discuss treaty and growth

Thu, May 10, 2012, 01:00

THE FRENCH president-elect is sensitive to and cognisant of Ireland’s concerns, the Taoiseach has said.

Enda Kenny said that he had “a good conversation” with François Hollande yesterday morning when he telephoned him.

He said Mr Hollande was aware that Irish people would vote in a referendum on May 31st, on the text of the treaty signed on March 2nd and agreed by 25 countries.

“The president-elect fully understands and respects this,” he added.

Mr Kenny said they had discussed growth and the “reorientation of the European agenda towards a strong-growth future, in addition to what has already been agreed”.

He said he looked forward to meeting Mr Hollande on May 23rd when Ireland would contribute vigorously to that proposition.

“I reminded the president-elect that I noted his comments on the ESM [European Stability Mechanism] in regard to good budgetary discipline and the need for a growth agenda in Europe, which has been replicated in contributions from Ireland and a number of other countries during the past number of months,” he said.

Independent TD Shane Ross said that what would come out of the European summit on May 23rd would have a material effect on the treaty and, therefore, on the referendum.

Mr Kenny said he saw the summit as being one of a number of meetings at which leaders would discuss the propositions that could lead to growth.

Earlier, there were sharp exchanges between Mr Kenny and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on the referendum.

Mr Adams said the Taoiseach had indicated his desire to be the one to retrieve Irish sovereignty and yet he agreed with handing over fiscal sovereignty to a European central authority.

“As the Taoiseach is aware, he cannot have it both ways; he should tell members the reason he believes that decisions on tax increases, spending cuts or welfare rates should be made in Brussels or Berlin instead of in Ireland,” he added.

Mr Kenny said Mr Adams had been associated, in one way or another, with an outfit for 30 years, while the Border he sought to remove did not move a single inch. He said he had made no secret of the fact that he wished to lead the Government that would retrieve Ireland’s economic sovereignty.

The way to do that was to get our own house in order, to provide an impetus and a stimulus that would create jobs and an opportunity to allow people to use their creativity and grow the economy.

Mr Adams said he was associated with Sinn Féin, a party with a proud history of republicanism and of struggle which had a mandate across the island and was part of the most historic peace process in western Europe.

“It was a peace process against which the Taoiseach’s party set its face and had to be brought into by the rest of us,” Mr Adams added.

Mr Kenny said he had seen what could happen to a country in which there was a lack of investor confidence.

“What Sinn Féin is preaching to the people of this country is not the direction I wish to see them or this country go in,” he added.

He said he did not believe that Mr Adams’s heart was in the No campaign.