THE TAOISEACH HAS said there will be no decision before March next year on whether or not Ireland will need to hold a referendum to ratify the proposed EU treaty changes.
His comments came as Sinn Féin today queried one aspect of the draft agreement that was thrashed out by leaders in Brussels last week. The opposition party claimed the proposal for states to introduce a constitutionally bound 0.5 per cent deficit ceiling was “draconian” and unworkable.
Enda Kenny said today that “a great deal of technical work, of legal work and wording [need] to be gone through” between now and next year ahead of any decision on whether or not a referendum will be required to ratify the agreement, RTÉ reports.
He insisted: ”If a referendum is necessary then a referendum will be held,” while speaking to reporters in Westport, Co Mayo today.
The ‘fiscal compact’ agreed by 26 of the 27 EU leaders in the early hours of last Friday will enshrine greater fiscal discipline and integration within the eurozone and proposes to impose tight restrictions on country’s deficits.
This includes a requirement that the annual structural deficit does not exceed 0.5 per cent of nominal GDP, a measure which was criticised by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald today.
She claimed that the measure would “lead to a decade of crippiling austerity and economic stagnation” which would increase unemployment and emigration and would not even reach the 0.5 per cent target.
“The Government needs to clarify whether or not it intends to place this draconian proposal into the constitution or if it will seek to avoid the required referendum and introduce this element of the Agreement into primary legislation,” McDonald said.
Yesterday, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore suggested that a referendum would not be needed as the new rules are “not a change to the European treaties.”
The matter is to be considered by the Attorney General, the Taoiseach has already said.