THE IRISH PUBLIC will be asked to vote in the referendum on the Fiscal Compact on Thursday 31 May.
The date of the referendum was confirmed this afternoon after being decided upon at this morning’s cabinet meeting.
The date means campaigners will have 65 days to persuade the public to either accept or reject the treaty, which is due to take legal effect on 1 January next year.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, confirming the date, said the attorney general’s advice was to insert a new clause into the Irish constitution, between points 9 and 10 of Article 29.4, allowing the state to ratify the deal within certain parameters:
10° The State may ratify the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union done at Brussels on the 2nd day of March 2012. No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of the State under that Treaty or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by bodies competent under that Treaty from having the force of law in the State.
A bill leading to a referendum is being prepared and will be published at the end of the week, he added.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked the government to reconsider choosing Thursday as a polling date, saying many young people may be disenfranchised by their inability to leave college or other places and return home to cast their ballot.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the matter of choosing a date must have been a difficult one for the government, given the efforts it had seemingly gone to to avoid the need for a referendum at all.
Speaking for the technical group, Joe Higgins welcomed the decision to hold a referendum in the first place, saying the debate on the treaty would underline its demands for “permanent austerity” on the part of European governments.
An opinion poll published at the weekend indicated that when undecided voters were discounted, the referendum was currently set to be passed by a margin of 60 per cent to 40 per cent.
Translated: The Fiscal Compact rewritten in layman’s terms