Kenny rules out treaty vote deferral

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected a call for the referendum on the fiscal treaty to be postponed.

 He said the “date is fixed for May 31st. The reason it’s important we leave it at May 31st is that it allows us to send out a very clear signal of certainty from our people, about our country.”

“We know we are headed in the right direction and secondly, as a country in a programme, investors who are considering our country now will see the symbol of certainty and can make their decisions accordingly.”

Mr Kenny was responding to a request from a group comprising six Independent TDs and an MEP to defer the referendum until the autumn due to uncertainty in France and Germany and possible revisions to the treaty text.

There are diverse views among the seven parliamentarians about voting intentions but all are agreed that the poll should not go ahead this month.

At a press conference this morning, chaired by Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath, the TDs and MEP set out their reasons why the poll should be delayed.

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.

MEP 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 out of two bad options.

Dublin Central TD Maureen O'Sullivan and Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy both said they would be voting No. Ms O'Sullivan said that 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, Tipperarty 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 all information had been made available as yet. He said that the outcome of the meeting between Mr Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel would be crucial, as would be the decision of the EU summit on May 23rd, especially as it related to growth.

He dismissed as "nonsense" the suggestion that the reason for his indecision is that he was secretly a No voter who was reluctant to say so because the overwhelming majority of his constituents in Dublin South would vote Yes.

"Ireland is being asked to vote in a vacuum," Mr Ross said. "We don't know what the full picture is. That's why we are looking for deferment."

He said that part of his reason was that crucial issues such as a growth compact, as well as other key decisions, would be decided by European leaders after the issue had been put to the vote in Ireland. "We should get clarity," he said.