SF challenge to referendum body 'no stunt' - Adams


SINN FÉIN leader Gerry Adams has denied that his party’s High Court challenge to the Referendum Commission on the final day of broadcast coverage of the fiscal treaty campaign was a publicity stunt.

The High Court yesterday refused the initial section of an application from Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty to statements made by the Referendum Commission about the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) during the treaty campaign. The court will rule on a second aspect of the application this morning.

Mr Adams told journalists in Dublin that his party had written to the commission last Friday challenging comments made by its chairman, Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, about the ESM.

During a canvass in Dublin yesterday, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Referendum Commission was independent and Sinn Féin should respect that independence.

Mr Gilmore urged people to vote Yes for what he said was “a stable euro, investor confidence in Ireland, and access to emergency funding if required”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny exhorted his senior Ministers to “get the Yes vote out” and keep the campaign going until the last ballot box was sealed.

Mr Kenny also defended his decision not to take part in a televised debate during the campaign, saying he was not prepared to debate with Mr Adams.

“I am not going to be shoved around by Sinn Féin. I am not going to give a platform to somebody who I don’t regard as the leader of the Opposition to propagate what are blatant lies and hypocritical assertions,” he said.

Campaigning in Cork, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin urged people not to use the referendum as a vehicle for registering anger with the Government.

Mr Martin said he was confident that Fianna Fáil supporters would vote for the treaty in strong numbers as they recognised it was an important step forward in terms of helping Ireland to emerge from the economic crisis.

“The treaty offers the best opportunity to access vital funding for the country at affordable rates into 2014 and 2015 and that’s the essential message to enable us to pay for pensions, salaries, provide services and enable us to keep the country going in 2014 and 2015.”

Campaigning for a No vote outside the GPO on O’Connell Street in Dublin in the final Sinn Féin event of the campaign yesterday afternoon, Mr Adams accused the Yes side of running an “entirely negative” campaign.

“We want to appeal to citizens to come out and to do the positive thing. It’s a very positive thing to vote No to a treaty which isn’t good for you or your family or your community or your country.”

Mr Adams said the Yes side was attempting to suggest that Ireland would “fall off the end of the world” in the event of a No vote. He appealed to voters to “trust their instincts, do the positive thing and vote No”.

Also urging a No vote, Richard Boyd Barrett of the United Left Alliance denied that lack of access to EU bailout funds would have the dramatic impact claimed by the Yes side.

He said the Government’s own deficit figure of €18 billion included repayment of bank debt and other interest on debt.

“Obviously, if the EU cut off funding to us we would not be making those repayments and the actual gap between income and expenditure would then only be €3.1 billion,” he said.

Mr Boyd Barrett said this was a gap that could easily be filled and more by increasing income tax on those earning over €150,000 per year and by imposing a modest tax on the wealth and assets of the wealthiest 5 per cent of the population.

More than 3.1 million people are eligible to vote when polls open across the country tomorrow morning. Voting continued on a number of islands off the west coast yesterday, with residents on Inisturk, Inisbiggle and Clare Island going to the polls.