Mac Conghail calls for clarity as fiscal treaty Bill passes without vote

Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 01:00

SEANAD REPORT:FIACH MAC CONGHAIL (Ind) noted that Katherine Zappone (Ind) had spoken of the need for clarity in relation to the fiscal treaty referendum Bill.

In the Irish-language version of its provisions there were a lot of words he, a native speaker, did not understand. It was important that we learned from the experience of previous referendums, where insufficient time had been allowed to enable people to understand what was being proposed.

The Bill to facilitate the holding of the referendum on the European fiscal compact treaty was passed without a vote. Sinn Féin members David Cullinane and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Independent David Norris opposed its passage but did not have the necessary backing to cause a vote to be taken.

Dr Zappone asked what was meant by the referendum wording that no laws to implement provisions of the treaty could be considered unconstitutional.

With regard to laws said to be necessitated by obligation of the State under the treaty, could such laws be decided by Irish law-makers or would they be imposed on us? Was there a difference between constitutional protection of the treaty and straightforward ratification of it?

Usual practice was that articles or amendments to the Constitution were followed by laws with the democratic right of citizens to challenge them constitutionally. If this practice was not to be followed now, why was this the case?

Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello said the language used might seem somewhat obscure but it had been advised legally.

Michael Mullins (FG) said some of the trade union leaders who were opposing the treaty were very far removed from reality. They were on “fat cat” salaries and were out of touch with ordinary union members.

“I think we would be well advised to listen to the chambers of commerce, to the multinational companies that are creating jobs in this country, and to the farm organisations that are urging support for the treaty.”

Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF) said Siptu was straddling the fence on the issue. Was the Government going to try to buy it off by promising a jobs stimulus package?

David Norris (Ind) said he had been one of a very small number of people who had spoken against the treaty in the chamber on Monday. However, members from every single party in the House had come to him afterwards and had privately told him that they wished they had been free to articulate the same views.