THE MINISTER FOR European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has said she believes it is in Ireland’s interest to vote Yes in the upcoming fiscal compact referendum - but that she was “not going to dictate to any citizen” on the issue.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme today, Creighton said that the amendment of the country’s constitution was “the reserve of Irish citizens”, and that how to vote was a personal decision.
However, Creighton dismissed as ‘fantasy’ the suggestion that Ireland could vote No and still be in a strong position to secure further funding from European allies if needed.
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Pádraig Mac Loughlainn rejected Creighton’s assertion, saying that funding could be found from “a range of places” in the case of Ireland voting No.
When pressed on where Ireland would find funding, if it required one, after voting no on the treaty, Mac Loughlainn said: “Ireland is a member of the eurozone – is anyone seriously suggesting that if we don’t sign up to new rules that we won’t be able to access funding?”
Meanwhile, on the issue of the household charge, Creighton said the money due from the levy is needed “in the coffers as quickly as possible” in order to pay for locally-based services.
Creighton admitted that the Government had “made mistakes” regarding the information made available to the public about how to pay the charge, but that most of the confusion had now been cleared up.
She said the money collected via the charge would be used to provide services at a local level, describing the current funding situation as “dire”.
“We need the money in the coffers as quickly as possible,” she added.
Mac Loughlainn insisted there were other ways that money could be raised for local services, for example a ‘wealth tax’.
Mac Loughlainn said he was “amazed” at the profile of people who were refusing to pay the charge, describing them as members of society who had always been law-abiding. However, he said that there were “just and unjust laws” and that people could take a stand against what they view as injustice.
Sinn Féin have not advised the public not to pay the charge, he said, because the party “would be writing their cheques” if the matter went to court. As such, Mac Loughlainn said the decision rested with each individual.
Creighton attacked the Sinn Féin’s position on the matter, calling it “grossly irresponsible”.