They may not have met in any debates but Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams have written for TheJournal.ie about how Ireland should vote in Thursday’s referendum. Gerry Adams can be read here; and in this piece, the Taoiseach writes about how a Yes vote won’t magically transform Ireland overnight – but it still matters.
SO THE CAMPAIGN for the Stability Treaty referendum is nearly over. Your decision later this week will be a very important one for Ireland and I want in this short piece to repeat my case for a Yes vote.
I want to say at the start that a Yes vote isn’t going to transform us overnight into a full-employment, deficit-free Ireland, just as a No vote definitely isn’t going to magically end austerity or wipe out debt. You’d be right to be cynical if told either of those arguments. And yet the stakes for Ireland are very high indeed.
Why is this? Why is the government recommending it to the people as good for Ireland? Why has it got so much support from outside politics – from job-creators big and small, from farmers and food sector people, from high-achieving sportspeople, from trade unionists, from small businesses and from our innovative IT sector?
Well, firstly, a Yes vote will ensure that the flow of investment and jobs continues and grows. It reassures potential investors that we are staying the course, that our recovery is on track and that we remain at the centre of Europe. I meet investors every week. They are impressed with the track record and talent of the Irish people but they are looking for certainty about Ireland’s recovery plan. A Yes vote on the Stability Treaty provides that certainty so that those who are about to make decisions about investing in Ireland can follow the many major companies who already have done so with confidence.
Secondly, the Stability Treaty gives us the right to access the new permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – it’s the only certain show in town for emergency funding if needed for our public services and we can’t access it if we vote No. The independent Referendum Commission has confirmed this. I want Ireland to have the same access to this important insurance policy as the other Euro countries.
Finally, the Treaty allows us to get our house in order and move towards a balanced budget gradually. Although budget rules are not the solution to all of Ireland’s or Europe’s problems the Treaty will help prevent the mistakes of the past being repeated, like unsustainable spending based on temporary revenues, such as a property bubble.
I believe there are really positive reasons for voting in favour of this Treaty. As well as maintaining investor confidence, providing a certain funding mechanism for Europe and better budgeting rules, it is fundamentally about creating stability in the Eurozone. Stability provides the platform for growth.
It is also important to say that some of the issues raised during the campaign were not true. The Treaty has nothing to do with corporation tax. The Treaty has nothing to do with a financial transaction tax. There are no circumstances in which Irish budgets will be drafted by others. And the Government’s work on reducing the debt burden on the Irish people continues, but is entirely separate.
I know that people have endured a lot as a result of Ireland’s economic crisis. Those who have lost jobs. Those who have lost family members to other shores. Those who have seen their family incomes dramatically reduced and are struggling to make ends meet. The reality is we continue to face challenging times and tough decisions, but we have made a start on the road to recovery. I do not want to see us diverted from that path.
The decision is in your hands. A Yes provides certainty. A No creates uncertainty. I ask you to vote Yes on Thursday. For Ireland, for stability, for investment and for recovery.
Enda Kenny TD is Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael