Yes vote will create jobs - Kenny

 

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has said a Yes vote in the Lisbon referendum will help create thousands of new jobs by returning confidence to Ireland's "battered economy".

In an address at his party’s Lisbon meeting in Dublin's IFSC today, Mr Kenny said that in the past, European Union support was "crucial" in helping to maintain social services in areas such as housing, health and education.

"Transfers from Europe also allowed us to fund a capital programme, which would have been impossible otherwise, and protect thousands of jobs and livelihoods in agriculture," the Fine Gael leader said.

Without EU assistance, "the recession of the 1980s would have been even worse. Our recovery much slower. The numbers speak for themselves. Since we joined the EU in 1973, Ireland has received net benefits of €41 billion".

Mr Kenny said Ireland's membership of the European Union has also been "crucial" in bringing foreign direct investment to Ireland.

This, he said, was "the principal reason" why Ireland’s exports have grown from €3.2 billion in 1997 to €88.6 billion in 2007.

The message from international companies operating in Ireland "is very clear: A No to Lisbon is a No to jobs," the Fine Gael leader insisted.

Mr Kenny said the current economic crisis has made Ireland more dependent on the EU. He said the only reason the country's banking system has not collapsed is due to an injection of €120 billion into the system by the European Central Bank.

Countering the argument that a No vote to Lisbon would not affect the country's economic standing, Mr Kenny cited comments by economist Colm McCarthy last week when he addressed the Fine Gael parliamentary think-in.

"He was asked what he thought of this argument. His answer was both fair and measured. He didn’t say that our EU partners would suddenly turn on us. That’s not the European way. However, he did say that our partners could choose whether they wanted to help Ireland a lot or a little," Mr Kenny said.

"Colm McCarthy also made one thing clear: if we reject Lisbon, the cost of Ireland’s debt will go up as the markets worry that Ireland will no longer be at the centre of Europe or that our support for the European Union has weakened. A recent report has warned that just a 1 per cent increase in the cost of Ireland’s debt would equate to Ireland paying €900 million more each year on the national debt."

Mr Kenny said he was "certain" that the majority of Irish people understand how important Europe is to Ireland and addressed his final comments at those who have not decided on how they will vote in the upcoming referendum.

Calling for a Yes vote, Mr Kenny said Ireland must be at the centre of Europe. "I believe that Lisbon is good for Europe - and good for Ireland and its people."

"If we vote Yes to Lisbon, we will attract more investment into this country, and help create thousands of desperately needed new jobs.

"If we vote Yes, the cost of Ireland’s debt will be several hundred million euros lower than if we vote No. Money that we can use to stimulate our economy and protect vital public services."

"If we vote Yes, we will increase our influence in Europe, at a time when Ireland needs all the friends it can get," he said. "We should not be afraid of the Lisbon Treaty Ireland has nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving a strong approval to Lisbon."

"A yes to Lisbon is a yes to jobs," the Fine Gael leader concluded.