Gilmore reveals referendum date


The referendum on the European Stability treaty will take place on Thursday 31st May, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore announced in the Dáil today.

Voters will be asked to agree to a subsection being inserted into article 29.4 of the Constitution.

It will State: "The State may ratify the treaty on stability co-ordination and governance in the economic and monetary union, done in Brussels on March 2nd, 2012. No provision in this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of the State under that treaty or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by bodies competent under that treaty from having the force of law in the State".

Mr Gilmore said this meant the people were being asked to ratify the treaty and to enable the Oireachtas to adopt legislation in order to implement the treaty.

The Bill to amend the Constitution is being prepared for publication "towards the end of this week".

Once it is published, the Minister for Environment and Local Government will sign the order establishing the referendum commission.

"The Government will put in place a comprehensive infromation campaign to ensure that voters are informed of the contents of the treaty and that will facilitate a full debate about a decisions that we as a country have to take on this issue," Mr Gilmiore said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said his party would support and campaign for the ratification of the treaty "on the basis that it's good for Ireland and the right thing for the country and euro zone".

However, he warned it was not a panacea. "It's not going to solve all of the issues,"  he said, adding that signfiicant additional measures were required to bring stability to the euro zone crisis.

Given the relatively short timeframe, "it's extremely important that the maximum amount of information is energetically and proactively given", said Mr Martin.

He was disappointed the Government had decided to hold the referendum on a Thursday. "Many young people and students would have much preferred a Friday and I regret the Government didn't take that into consideration."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the treaty was bad for Ireland and the EU as it would institutionalise austerity into EU law. He said it would continue to cost Irish taxpayers billions of euro after 2016 and would also undermine the Oireachtas by giving significant control to unelected officials in Brussels.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said the announcement of the date would allow "a vigorous debate among the Irish people".

He said the treaty proposed "permanent austerity" which would do "further disastrous damage to the domestic economy".

He also demanded the Government explain very clearly why it agreed to insert a clause in the European stability treaty that would deny any state not ratifying the treaty accessing to funding. He said the Government has a veto on this "blackmail clause".