No decision on euro plan - Kenny


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected a report that he will be conveying to fellow EU heads of government by the end of the month the likelihood of Ireland holding a referendum to ratify a new intergovernmental treaty.

Mr Kenny said today no decision had been taken on whether Ireland will need to hold a referendum on the euro zone's proposed fiscal plan.

Responding to reports this morning, Mr Kenny told the Dáil a final draft arising from discussions between EU officials on the treaty was expected tomorrow. He said the draft would be presented at the EU council meeting on January 30th.

"That does not mean that the draft concluded tomorrow will be the draft concluded at the council meeting," he added. "Nor does it mean that discussions at a political level on the 30th will conclude on whatever draft is before them."

Mr Kenny said that as Taoiseach and leader of the Government, he was not in a position to ask for formal legal advice from the Attorney General until the politicians in the political process, at heads of government level, had dealt with the draft which came before them.

He said the Government fully supported the potential of the EU to grow economies and provide opportunities for the strengthening of exports, deepening of trade links and career opportunities and jobs for Irish people and throughout Europe.

The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who referred to an RTÉ report that he was expected to convey, on behalf of the Government, to the EU leaders within 12 days whether or nor Ireland would need to hold a referendum to ratify the new treaty leading to a fiscal stability union.

"I think it is ironic, Taoiseach, that it is on RTÉ that we have learned this," he said, adding that the Taoiseach should brief the Dáil and the people on the matter.

He claimed Mr Kenny was involved “in a desperate attempt" to avoid a referendum.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams claimed the Taoiseach was actively supporting a treaty which would institutionalise what was now Government policy.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said tody she was hopeful that the fiscal pact now being drawn up will retain stricter budget discipline limits as envisaged. "We're still in the thick of the negotiations," Dr Merkel told reporters in Berlin today. “I'm not pessimistic that we will make progress."

Earlier today, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said it was "not clear at all" that a vote would be held.

"There's only one reason why you have a referendum and that's where there is a requirement to change the constitution," he said this morning.

"It's not clear at all that that is going to be the case with this fiscal treaty," the Minister said on RTÉ radio, adding: "I don't particularly like referendums."

Mr Varadkar said a vote will be held if it needs to be and that the Taoiseach will probably wait until a final text is ready before deciding whether a vote is needed rather than making a decision as soon as this month.

Yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil the Government would have no difficulty in holding a referendum amending the EU treaty if it was required. He said that senior Government officials were involved on a day-to-day basis in the negotiations. “We have an obligation to work in a way that complies with the Constitution,” he added.