SF criticised over referendum leaflet


Fine Gael TD Pascal Donohue has accused Sinn Féin of “misquoting and misrepresenting impartial experts” in a leaflet advocating a No vote in the upcoming fiscal treaty referendum.

Economists Colm McCarthy and Karl Whelan are among those quoted on the Sinn Féin leaflet.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams appeared before an Oireachtas committee this afternoon to outline his opinion of the treaty. He said he believed the Government parties and Fianna Fáil were “trying to frighten people into voting Yes”. They had failed to put forward “positive” reasons to support the treaty, and claims that it was an “insurance policy” in the event of the need for a second bailout were “bogus”, Mr Adams said.

He accused the Government of adopting the same strategy as the previous administration during the Lisbon treaty campaign.

However, Mr Donohue said economists quoted on a Sinn Féin leaflet had been quoted out of context and had gone on to say it was in Ireland’s interests to pass the treaty.

“You deliberately misquote them. You selectively represent them,” Mr Donohue told Mr Adams.

“The reason that you are doing this is because there is a black hole in the centre of your argument. The black hole is you can’t answer how in the context of a No vote, our hospitals and our schools would be funded,” he said.

“The only option you therefore have is as this leaflet demonstrates to misrepresent impartial experts.”

In the leaflet, Prof McCarthy, who lectures in economics at University College Dublin and chaired the government-appointed group which prepared the “An Bord Snip Nua” cost-cutting report, is quoted as having said: “As an exercise in addressing the euro zone’s twin banking and sovereign debt crises, the fiscal compact makes no worthwhile contribution”.

The quote is taken from an opinion piece in the Irish Independent newspaper, under the headline ‘A Yes vote is the correct response, unavoidable and in the country’s best interests’, in which Prof McCarthy went on to say: “If there has to be a referendum, the electorate would be well-advised to swallow hard and vote yes, notwithstanding the inadequacies of the proposed treaty.”

Karl Whelan, Professor of Economics at University College Dublin, is quoted in the leaflet as having said: “…the economics of this treaty are pretty terrible…”

Prof Whelan, on his blog, recently stated that what he said in full at the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs was: “All that said, although I think the economics of this treaty are pretty terrible, on balance, the arguments favour Ireland’s signing up to it.”