Speeches removed from website
A series of speeches calling for a Yes vote in the upcoming European fiscal treaty referendum have been removed from a Government website designed to provide neutral information on the treaty.
Addresses by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore have been taken down from the website - www.stabilitytreaty.ie.
The move followed criticism of the neutrality of the website by Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy during Mr Kenny’s appearance at an Oireachtas sub-committee on the European fiscal treaty, the referendum on which takes place on May 31st.
A Government spokesman confirmed that the speeches had been removed but said it had always been the intention to do so in advance of the Referendum Order being signed next Monday.
He said the McKenna judgement, a 1995 Supreme Court ruling which stated that taxpayers’ money can not be used to promote one side in a referendum, would come into effect once the order was signed.
“The Government is determined to ensure that this referendum will see the most comprehensive information campaign being held on any European referendum to date,” he said.
Mr Kenny defended the website during his appearance and insisted it was not biased. “It’s important we, from a Government perspective, we give the people the facts and explain what that means,” he said.
Once the speeches were removed, Mr Murphy said: “It is a vindication of what we were saying: an admission of guilt.”
He added that Treaty opponents still regarded some other elements of the website such as the explanatory material and a video as “imbalanced” and in breach of the McKenna ruling.
The Taoiseach told the committee he had “four key messages” for the campaign. “Firstly, this Treaty is part of our journey to economic recovery, both for Ireland and for Europe - it is not the full picture, we have never argued that-but it is certainly an essential part of it," he said.
“Secondly, this Treaty will make an important contribution to restoring stability to the euro - our currency - and this is of vital importance to this country and its recovery.
“Thirdly, ratifying it will underpin the efforts we are making to build confidence and certainty in Ireland as a place in which to invest and do business.
“Fourthly, it will ensure that we have continuing access to external finance, should the need arise,” he added.