MICHAEL NOONAN has said he stands by his controversial comments from yesterday, when he said a No vote in the Fiscal Compact referendum would result in a “dramatically more difficult” Budget this December.
Speaking after a meeting of the European finance ministers in Brussels, Noonan insisted a No vote would “create uncertainty and a lack of confidence” which would ultimately curtail investment into Ireland.
The minister said this would then require him to lower his expectations for economic growth in 2013, which would require a more ambitious Budget in order to meet the targets laid out under Ireland’s bailout programme.
“We’re expecting growth of 2.2 per cent in GDP next year,” Noonan told reporters. “The uncertainty caused by a No vote will cause that to come down.”
Noonan also said the fact that Ireland would be blocked from accessing the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund would mean lenders could be less willing to lend to Ireland when the EU-IMF programme ended in mid-2013.
“In my view, in planning the next Budget and the one after that, because of the absence of growth and the uncertainty of funding, any Minister for Finance would be in a position where if planning it, he’d have to be looking at more austere measures.”
Noonan also criticised Sinn Féin for accusing him of seeking to bully the electorate into a Yes vote.
This idea because you can’t have a debate because it upsets Sinn Féin… Sinn Féin might be afraid of the truth, on a number of issues, but the Irish people aren’t afraid of the truth.
We appreciate that the Irish people have made a lot of sacrifice, and we think we can correct this [...] I don’t want to be put in a programme where we have to increase the pace of the correction.
Translated: The Fiscal Compact rewritten in layman’s terms