SF accused of 'absolute hypocrisy' in debate on referendum


Enda Kenny sharply responded to a call from Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin to withdraw “the bogus threat that in the event of a No to the austerity treaty on May 31st, we will no longer be able to access funding under the ESM ’’.

Mr Ó Caoláin said the Taoiseach should admit to the House that the “blackmail clause is not part of the austerity treaty’’, but was part of the ESM treaty that the Government had the power to veto.

Mr Kenny said Mr Ó Caoláin should be well aware that the ESM was a funding arrangement and it was not necessary to hold a referendum on it.

“It does not in any way limit the sovereignty of the State in the exercise of its economic affairs, but merely indicates the State’s willingness to participate as an equal sovereign nation in the permanent stability mechanism.’’

Mr Kenny said that “for Deputy Ó Caoláin to say now that this is a blackmail clause about an austerity treaty smacks of absolute hypocrisy’’.

“I suggest he might inform Deputy Gerry Adams of that, and he might also inform him that when he makes his proposition for a No vote, he should explain to the people of Ireland how he proposes that this country be run, how we should fund our services, how we should pay our people,’’ said the Taoiseach.

Mr Ó Caoláin said a question in almost all conversations throughout the land was why it was that the Taoiseach and his colleagues in Fine Gael and Labour were pressing the people to change the Constitution to facilitate policies that were inflicting more and more misery on the people.

Mr Kenny said Mr Ó Caoláin was seeking to challenge the referendum in the courts on the basis that the Government was not acting in accordance with the McKenna judgment.

He added that the Government would send every household in the country the exact wording of the treaty, in both Irish and English, together with a “factual explanation’’ of what the compact was about.

Separately, the Government parties would run their own individual party campaigns promoting a very strong Yes campaign. This was entirely in keeping with the McKenna judgment, he added.

Mr Kenny said the Government had made €2.2 million available to the Referendum Commission, which would act entirely independently in its work.

Mr Ó Caoláin said Mr Kenny had offered no information other than to regurgitate the same position and to utilise “the argument of fear’’.

He believed the people would see that the threat was bogus and they would have the courage to recognise that it was in Ireland’s interest, and in the interest of people right across Europe, to vote No.

Mr Kenny said that rectifying the problem in the public finances was central to the Government’s mandate.

“I know and understand, as does everyone, the challenge this places on our people and the difficulties that many people find with living up to the challenge, be it in terms of pay reductions or structural changes.

“These are issues we must address ourselves as a nation because nobody else will deal with it for us.’’