Decisions unlikely at EU summit, says Kenny


IT WAS unlikely that decisions would be made at a summit of EU leaders on May 23rd, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil.

“Being honest, I do not see the meeting of May 23rd being one where a range of decisions will be taken. There are different views about the ECB, the EIB, the ESM, the adequacy of firewalls, and what Europe must do now to turn its face to the growth agenda.”

Mr Kenny said the discussions between French president François Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel would give the Franco-German view of the principle of giving belief to that agenda.

He added that the focus at the summit would be a growth agenda, and Ireland would prepare its own case and contribute to the debate as appropriate.

He said while the public finances had stabilised, consumer confidence had risen for the fourth or fifth month in a row, and while there were clearly projects that could be considered, there was also the question of structural funding. If Greece had €16 billion in structural funds that it could not spend because of the need for the Greek government to put up money, there must be an understanding of how Ireland might be able to avail of unused funds without being seen to take them from any other country.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said decisive action to deal with the crisis was now necessary on a more fundamental level than had been seen to date. Ireland should be bringing more urgently to the table the absolute necessity to do something radical and urgent to turn around the story in Europe. “In my estimation Europe has a month to sort this out to prevent something no one wanted from happening.”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the economic difficulties across Europe were a direct consequence of austerity, the very policies which the Taoiseach wanted in the fiscal treaty.

Mr Kenny said Mr Adams had never supported any EU treaty. “He wants nothing to do with it because he only wants to face his own party and get it ahead of Fianna Fáil by hook or by crook.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, on behalf of the technical group, asked what cuts would be required to meet the debt charges in the treaty. “Most important, who will the Government cut and tax? Will there be more property taxes, water charges, health cuts, special needs cuts, education cuts or more sales of natural resources?”

Mr Kenny said that Mr Boyd Barrett had said that if people were to reject the treaty it would require €10 billion extra in taxes.

“The deputy might like to point out who his proposition on the No side would hurt. He will have to close that deficit in one year. Imagine the catastrophe he will inflict on the Irish economy.”

Work was continuing on the proposed referendum on children’s rights to be held this year, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil.

“The process is strongly focused on ensuring the proposed wording of the constitutional amendment reflects the deliberations and conclusions of the joint committee and the commitment in the programme for government.’’