Treaty a 'safety net' for future funding

Mon, May 28, 2012, 01:00

THE EUROPEAN fiscal treaty was a “safety net” which would provide Ireland with an insurance policy for future emergency funding, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

“This is an important and necessary step on the road to recovery. This is about having a stable euro, it is about having confidence for investors to create jobs here, and it is about making sure this country has access to emergency funding if we need it,” he said yesterday. He was campaigning in Dublin.

However, he said the treaty could not on its own deliver economic recovery.

“We’ve always said that other things are necessary to bring about economic recovery and that is why we welcomed the meeting last Wednesday, the European summit, which has moved the discussion on to talking about growth and investment and jobs. This treaty is a necessary measure, it is not the only measure required.”

Mr Gilmore criticised the decision of Independent TD Shane Ross to call for a No vote, but said he didn’t think his intervention would bolster the anti-treaty campaign.

“I think he has remained on the fence for so long that I think announcing a decision at this stage is less than credible for somebody who is in public life and should be providing leadership.”

Both sides in the fiscal treaty debate have again strongly disputed their opponents’ claims in the continuing row over Ireland’s access to emergency funding.

Access to European Stability Mechanism funds in the event of a No vote has been the dominant issue over the past three weeks of the campaign.

The latest row over access to the funds followed assertions made this weekend by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that ESM funding would be provided even if the treaty was rejected by the electorate. Mr Adams made the claim during his ardfheis address to his party and then repeated it in several interviews yesterday.

Referring to the separate ESM treaty (which does not have to be ratified by referendum because it does not touch on Ireland’s sovereignty) Mr Adams said yesterday: “It says that funding will be available when it’s indispensable for the stability of the euro zone.”

However, the contention was challenged by Fianna Fáil director of elections Timmy Dooley yesterday. He said Sinn Féin, in making that claim, was only “telling half the story to people” and claimed it was a bid to deliberately confuse and mislead people.

Mr Dooley said that if one continued to read the ESM treaty, it has made clear that availability of the funds is subject to “strict conditionality”.

“The next page of the ESM treaty then sets out the strict conditions. It states that ‘the granting of financial assistance will be conditional on the ratification of the fiscal treaty’.

“Sinn Féin has form in misrepresenting basic facts, having been caught misquoting a series of leading economists in their campaign literature. But this is even more serious as Gerry Adams is clearly misleading citizens and creating confusion where there doesn’t need to be,” he said.

Last night the transport union TSSA urged its 1,500 members in the Republic of Ireland to vote “No” in the referendum.

Its general secretary Manuel Cortes said the referendum provided an opportunity for people to say No to never-ending recession, unrelenting unemployment and a continued attack on public services.

Separately Labour TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin argued it was irresponsible for public sector unions to urge No votes when their members’ pay will be put at risk by being locked out of the ESM.

“It is only by borrowing that we can hold onto the Croke Park agreement,” he said.