Backers of EU treaty 'Thatcherite' - Adams


Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has portrayed supporters of the EU’s fiscal treaty as Thatcherite and Reaganite right-wingers.

Mr Adams said the choice facing the Irish public in the referendum on May 31st was between austerity and growth.

The Louth Deputy was speaking at the formal launch at the National Gallery of Sinn Féin’s campaign to urge the public to vote No on polling day. A pamphlet entitled Austerity isn’t working was also launched by the party.

Mr Adams asserted that proponents of the treaty were coming from a “a Thatcherite and Reaganite right-wing conservative ideological position.

He contended that if Ireland ratified the treaty, it would see the executive hand over powers “to unelected officials and bureaucrats in the EU Commission and allowing them to run this State, and to police fiscal as well as monetary matters.”

He said that austerity had not worked in Ireland, a point repeated by party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said that the national deficit had continued to grow since 2008 despite six austerity budgets.

Mr Adams said that providing a stimulus to create jobs was at the heart of Sinn Féin’s approach. “You cannot cut your way out of recession. This Government is for austerity. There is no jobs stimulus in the Government’s strategy,” he said.

He also dismissed as “complete and absolute rubbish” the arguments of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil that Ireland will not be in a position to access emergency funding if the treaty is rejected.

He claimed that the emergency fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), needed to be given a legal basis in EU treaties. In order to do that, all 27 member states had to ratify it. That is not due to be done until after the referendum.

Mr Adams suggested that Ireland could exercise its veto on the ESM at European Council level.

While a Sinn Féin strategist accepted it would be a difficult course of action to take, it was argued there was “no way” the EU would deny emergency funding to a member state.

Ms McDonald said the new structural deficit ceiling of 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product proposed in the treaty would entail a further €6 billion in savings in addition to the €8.6 billion in cuts required over the next three years.

Asked how Sinn Féin proposed to find funding in the event of a No vote and a second bailout, Mr Adams said that Ireland would get it from the “current sources”, namely the EU, ECB and IMF. He rejected suggestions a No vote would make a second bailout more difficult to achieve.

He said Sinn Féin recognised the deficit had to be reduced and was proposing alternative plans. In the pamphlet, the party has put forward proposals for a radical Europe-wide reverse of current policies. It argues for all member states to put in a “once-off investment” into the European Investment Bank, that would then initiative a EU-wide investment programme. No sum is specified.

It also calls for the writing down of a portion of the debt currently held by Ireland and other programme countries. This would entail the State being freed from its obligation to pay the €30 billion promissory note for Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide. Debt writedown would also involve senior bondholders.

The pamphlet also called on a “cleansing” of the European banking system with a writing down of a portion of toxic debt and deleveraging of assets.

It also calls on the European Council to instruct the ECB to lift its prohibition on lending money to states and take whatever emergency action is required to stabilise the euro. This could include the ECB entering into the primary market.

“We strongly argue the propriety and doability of our idea. No idea should be dismissed as impossible,” Mr Adams said.

Mr Adams accepted his party had urged a No vote in every referendum since Ireland joined the EEC in 1973 but insisted it had welcomed progressive EU social legislation.

Ms McDonald said that even though Sinn Féin voted against the Maastricht Treaty that paved the way for the single currency, it did not support the breakup of the euro but wanted it to be stabilised.