Kenny backs 'growth agenda' of French presidential runner Hollande


TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny and one of his senior Labour Ministers have expressed support for French presidential candidate Francois Hollande’s views on the need for a growth agenda in Europe.

Speaking in Cork, Mr Kenny said yesterday that austerity on its own would not restore the country to economic health.

“I do share the views of François Hollande for a growth agenda and investment.

“Its something we have been hammering away at European level for the past number of months,” said Mr Kenny.

He added that while austerity on its own would not bring about economic recovery, it was a necessary in Ireland as we were “borrowing €16 billion more than we are taking in”.

Mr Kenny described the referendum as “one of the most important decisions the Irish electorate will ever make” and he expressed confidence that the Irish people would ratify the treaty to secure continued inward investment.

The Taoiseach welcomed the decision by Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan to call for a Yes vote on the European treaty referendum.

“The governor of the Central Bank is entirely independent,” the Taoiseach said, echoing comments by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan earlieryesterday.

“This is a matter for the Irish people, all the Irish people. The governor of the Central Bank is one of those. He’s a very important personality. He makes his statement completely independently and I think it speaks loudly and clearly for itself.”

Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte also expressed agreement with Mr Hollande, on the need for a growth agenda in Europe.

“We in Ireland were to the forefront in seeking to prioritise growth in this treaty,” he said yesterday.

The Minister said the Hollande camp had made it clear he would not be seeking to unpick the treaty as signed or dismantle its fiscal disciplines but instead to complete the package with measures to promote economic growth in Europe.

“We do still live in uncertain times, with most of the uncertainty coming from Europe,” he said. “We need a Europe that is restored to stability, confidence and credibility.”

Meanwhile, the union representing lower-paid civil servants has decided to campaign for a No vote in the referendum.

The annual conference of the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU) in Cork yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion proposed by its branch in the Office of Public Works calling for it to campaign against the treaty in the referendum. No speaker in the debate was in favour of the treaty.

The CPSU is the third trade union to call for a No vote.

However, Siptu president Jack O’Connor has said it would be “illogical” to vote against the treaty if there was no alternative to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Mr O’Connor told a Dáil committee that if the State could not return to the financial markets and could not also access funding through the ESM, then rejection of the treaty could mean “even greater austerity”.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes attacked the approach taken by opponents of the treaty.

“The stability treaty is not about austerity. It is about something much more fundamental. The stability treaty is about saving our common currency – the euro in our pocket,” he said.