Kenny says No vote will lower credit rating


AS THE fiscal treaty referendum enters its final stage, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned of a downgrading of Ireland’s credit rating and harsher budgets ahead if there is a No vote on Thursday.

Calling for a resounding Yes to the treaty, Mr Kenny endorsed the assessment of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that a No vote would bring tougher budgets.

The Taoiseach said that the consequences of a No vote for Ireland’s credit rating had been made clear by the agencies themselves, who had indicated that “if the people want to turn down the fiscal stability treaty then a downgrade of the country will follow”.

Mr Kenny said a No vote would threaten investment from international companies. “These people want to know what the future is going to hold if they invest serious money here,” he said yesterday at the opening in Blanchardstown, Dublin, of, a company designed to help small Irish producers sell a range of products.

The Taoiseach rejected calls for a postponement of the referendum by Independent TD Shane Ross, saying there were no grounds for delaying the vote even if that were constitutionally possible, which it was not. Mr Kenny insisted that people would only be given one chance to ratify the treaty. He said that in the vote on Thursday people could give “a very definite decision of clarity and decisiveness about what it is that we want”.

The Taoiseach said this would mean that companies and potential investors would “not have to have second thoughts about where they should go”. He also complained about obstructive protests during the referendum campaign and said there had been a “fundamental change” in the way politics operated. He added that protests had been deliberately arranged to obstruct people from going about their business or from engaging with him and that was new. Meanwhile, former taoiseach John Bruton warned voters not to be misled by Shane Ross, who has called for a No vote. He described the campaign for a No vote, in an effort to force a second referendum on the treaty, as “too clever by half” and said it would be a mistake to follow that course.

Leading No campaigner Richard Boyd Barrett yesterday accused the Government of deceiving the public by refusing to acknowledge the further level of cuts and austerity required to meet targets in the fiscal treaty and the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). “The Government have lied and utterly deceived the public about the actual contents of the fiscal treaty and the ESM,” he said. He added that the Government’s own figures had made it clear that an enormous level of cuts and austerity would be imposed on the Irish people in order to meet the debt and deficit targets in the treaty after Ireland had exited from the EU-IMF programme. His Dáil colleague Joan Collins said commitment to participate in funding the ESM meant more cuts, and she asked where the Government would make the savings.

“Are they going to hit healthcare, are they going hit more public services, are they going to attack pensions and other vulnerable sections of society? The Government keep dodging this question and, instead of telling the truth about the treaty, are trying to bully and scare people into voting Yes,” said Ms Collins.

Also yesterday a group of trade unions campaigning in favour of the treaty said a No vote would trigger savage cuts in pay and welfare benefits. Secretary of the Charter Group of trade unionists Blair Horan said a No could lead Ireland to default on its debt and exit from the euro and that would cost everybody in the country €11,500 in the first year alone.