Martin calls on Taoiseach to debate treaty with leaders
REFERENDUMS WERE for decisions by the people and not for securing profiles for individual politicians, the Taoiseach said. Enda Kenny was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said a party leaders’ debate on the fiscal treaty should be facilitated.
Mr Kenny said public support for political parties was never reflected in the case of a referendum.
“I have been through perhaps 22 of the 26 counties debating this publicly, in village halls, town halls and on the streets and, indeed, meeting the professional dustbin-bashers brigade in various locations around the country.”
Mr Martin said he understood invitations to debate had been issued by RTÉ, the public service broadcaster with a particular responsibility in that regard.
TV3 had attempted to organise a debate, but leaders, except for Joe Higgins and himself, had declined to participate. “People expect leaders to engage.”
Mr Martin said leaders should have the confidence in their position to be able to go on national television and debate the issues.
“People do not understand a reluctance to become involved.”
Independent TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Taoiseach should debate the treaty and stop hiding behind media soundbites. Mr Kenny always got the last word during brief Dáil exchanges. “The people should get full information on all the issues pertaining to this treaty.”
Mr Boyd Barrett said the Taoiseach should take the opportunity to tell the Irish people the truth about the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
“Will he admit the reality that we will be liable to pay up to €11 billion if we sign up to the ESM?”
Mr Kenny said the chairman of the independent Referendum Commission had pointed out in its guide that “the granting of financial assistance in the framework of new programmes under the European Stability Mechanism will be conditional, as of March 1st, 2013, on the ratification of this treaty by the contracting party”.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Taoiseach should stand aside from EU summits because he was clearly out of his depth. “Why does he not send Jedward to represent us? They might at least stand up for Ireland’s interests.”
Mr Kenny said as an elected representative Mr Adams might say he accepted the validity of the Constitution. “Of course I do,” Mr Adams replied.
“Thank you,” Mr Kenny said. “That is the first time I have heard the deputy say that.”