FIANNA FÁIL TD and former deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív has formally broken ranks from his party to advocate a No vote in the Fiscal Compact referendum.
Speaking on Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning, Ó Cuív said his stance on the treaty was clear – and that it had specifically cost him the deputy leadership of his party.
Describing the deal as a very bad one for Ireland, Ó Cuív said arguments from supporters of the treaty – that there was no option but to ratify it, if Ireland needed access to more bailout funds – were weak.
Ó Cuív told the Adhmhaidin show that a No vote against the fiscal compact would lead to the appraisal of the European Stability Mechanism treaty, which is due to be ratified by Ireland in the Oireachtas in June pending a Yes result in the referendum.
He added that it was becoming “clearer and clearer” that people around Europe were opposed to the treaty, and that Ireland should reflect on this when it held a public vote on it.
A No vote from Ireland would be symptomatic of a divide between Europe’s bigger and smaller countries, Ó Cuív said, and would probably prompt a renegotiation of the Fiscal Compact and ESM Treaties to be more favourable towards smaller ones.
The Galway West TD further argued that there were “many other choices” for how Ireland could seek external funding if it needed to.
The former social protection minister went on to argue that Ireland would be unable to abide by the terms of the treaty – which requires countries to limit their budget deficits, and work to reduce their government debts – unless a deal was struck on reforming its banking debts.
His remarks were followed by those of party leader Micheál Martin, who told Today with Pat Kenny that it was “important for the Irish people, in my view, that we vote yes.
“I don’t see any upside at all from voting No… if you vote No, you run the risk of a more accelerated case of austerity than we’re currently experiencing, because you’re creating an insecure and uncertain scenario.”
Martin said Ireland was currently borrowing not only to cover its Budget deficit but also to service its previous debts, and that access to such borrowing could be severely damaged by a No vote.
Martin also distanced himself from Ó Cuív’s suggests, first articulated in an interview with the Connacht Tribune last week, that Sinn Féin would appear to be a natural coalition partner for Fianna Fáil if it was ever to return to government.