TDs and MEPs call for poll to be deferred

Tue, May 15, 2012, 01:00

FISCAL TREATY REFERENDUM:SIX INDEPENDENT TDs and an Independent MEP have called on the Government to defer the referendum on the fiscal treaty to the autumn.

The group of seven set out their reasons why the poll should be delayed at a press conference yesterday.

Most cited the possibility of treaty change to accommodate a growth pact as well as the decision by the German lower house of parliament to delay ratification until later in the year.

They also argued that the weekend electoral setback for German chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party in regional elections added to the mood of uncertainty about the current treaty text.

Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath, who chaired the conference, said there were diverse views among the seven parliamentarians about voting intentions but all were agreed the poll should not go ahead on May 31st.

All referred to the election of new French president François Hollande, with his promise to push for a growth compact, as well as the decision by the German Bundestag to defer its ratification of the fiscal treaty until later in the year, because the two-thirds majority could not be achieved. The one MEP in the group, Marian Harkin, said the decision last week by the Bundestag not to ratify the treaty was a “game-changer” and had convinced her that Ireland ratifying the treaty at this particular juncture was not the correct approach. Ms Harkin and Stephen Donnelly both identified themselves as Yes voters, with the Wicklow Independent TD contending that voting Yes was the least worst option.

Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan and Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy both said they would be voting No. Ms O’Sullivan said her stance was an ideological one and she had opposed Ireland’s entry to the EEC in 1973. Ms Murphy described the fiscal compact as a bad treaty that would make austerity a permanent condition in Ireland.

Dublin South TD Shane Ross, Tipperary South TD Mattie McGrath and Finian McGrath all said they remained undecided. The latter two said they would announce their voting intentions next week.

Mr Ross said he had not made his mind up because not enough information had been made available as yet. He said the outcome of the meeting between Mr Hollande and Dr Merkel would be crucial, as would be the decision of the EU summit on May 23rd, especially as it related to growth.

Ms Murphy said it was a “bad treaty and it will be found out by citizens right across Europe”. She said the only certainty about it was that it would build austerity into the future of Europe for the foreseeable future.

Ms Harkin said she was a Yes voter but decided to call for a deferment when the German parliament could not get the two-thirds majority necessary to ratify the treaty.

“The two main architects, the French and Germans, are now in a position where one country is saying it will change the treaty and the other does not have the majority to ratify it,” she said.

Shane Ross still undecided

Independent TD Shane Ross is normally outspoken in his views on fiscal issues. The Dublin South deputy has been unusually reticent, however, about his stance on the fiscal treaty.

When asked yesterday, Mr Ross said that he had yet to make his mind up and could not do so until more information became available after the meeting between the French and German governments this week and the meeting of EU leaders later this month.