Taoiseach makes final pitch to voters

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has appealed to voters to play a role in Ireland’s recovery by voting Yes in Thursday's treaty referendum.

In a televised address, Mr Kenny admitted the treaty will not solve all of Ireland’s problems, but was a step to keep the country moving in the right direction.

He said the electorate was making a decision that will have enormous implications for the country’s future.

“This treaty strengthens the economic and budgetary rules that apply to countries like Ireland that use the euro,” said Mr Kenny in his four-minute address.

“It will create stability in the euro zone that is essential for growth and job creation. A strong yes vote will create the certainty and stability that our country needs to continue on the road to economic recovery.”

The Taoiseach had refused to take part in televised debates on the controversial issue, but was invited to make the address by RTÉ after Gerry Adams’s speech at the Sinn Féin ardfheis was aired yesterday evening.

Mr Adams said Irish voters burdened by economic hardship should not be scared into backing the treaty.

He also attacked the coalition Government, claiming it had broken the promises that got it elected and was pursuing policies that fuelled mass unemployment and emigration.

Mr Kenny accepted some measures government took were painful for many people, but claimed the sacrifices being made were starting to make a difference.

The Fine Gael leader said Ireland’s international reputation was being restored, public finances were coming under control and unemployment, though still far too high, was stabilising.

“We have proven that we are a country working that is hard to solve the economic crisis,” he added.

Mr Kenny maintained the treaty was one of the many foundation blocks needed to ensure Ireland’s economy stands on firm ground in the future.

He stressed it has been signed by 25 countries, that its contents will not be changed, and that it has nothing to do with corporation tax or allowing other countries impose service cuts or charges on Ireland.

Mr Kenny said there were three positive reasons to vote yes on Thursday.

“First, a yes vote is the best way of ensuring that the strong flow of investment in jobs continues and grows,” he said.

“Second, only a yes vote will give Ireland guaranteed access to Europe’s permanent rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, should Ireland ever need it.

“Third, a yes vote will ensure that good housekeeping rules are put in place so that responsible budgeting becomes the norm throughout Europe.

“While the creation of budget rules alone will not be enough to solve Europe’s economic problems, it will ensure that no future government will be able to behave recklessly with the people’s money.”

Three opinion polls published today all indicated that the Yes side still has a commanding lead ahead of Thursday’s referendum.

The polls were conducted by Red C for the Sunday Business Post, Behaviour and Attitudes for the Sunday Times, and Millward Brown Lansdowne for the Sunday Independent, and all suggested the Referendum would be comfortably passed.

The polls come after the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, published yesterday, also showed the Yes campaign had maintained its lead in the run-up to the referendum.

However, the outcome is still in the hands of undecided voters.

Asked how they were likely to vote on the treaty, 39 per cent of voters said Yes, 30 per cent said No, 22 per cent said they did not know, and 9 per cent said they would not be voting.

When the 31 per cent of undecided and non-voters are excluded, support for the Yes side stands at 57 per cent with No support at 43 per cent.

Support for the Yes side has increased by nine points since the last Irish Times poll five weeks ago, while support for the No side has gone up by seven points.

The number of undecided voters has come down by 17 points since the last poll.

The poll was taken between lunchtime on Wednesday and lunchtime yesterday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.