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AG to decide on need for referendum

Independent TD Richard Boyd Barrett has echoed other opposition parties’ calls for a referendum on the new EU fiscal compact.

United Left Alliance finance spokesperson Richard Boyd Barrett
United Left Alliance finance spokesperson Richard Boyd Barrett
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE OPPOSITION HAS said that a referendum on the new EU fiscal compact agreed in Brussels last night is a “democratic imperative” as the matter looks set to be considered by the Attorney General.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny will recommend to the cabinet that the text of the new intergovernmentnal treaty be formally sent to the AG Marie Whelan to determine if a referendum is required, RTÉ reports.

Last night 25 of the 27 EU member states signed up to the new fiscal compact which will put in place a set of measures aimed at ensuring economic governance and budgetary discipline with automatic penalties for countries that exceed the so-called debt brake.

The debt brake on budget deficits will have to be set up either at constitutional or legislative level but the Sinn Féin foreign affairs spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn has said: “It is now a democratic imperative that this issue be put to a referendum.”

Meanwhile from the Dáil Technical Group, the United Left Alliance finance spokesperson Richard Boyd Barrett has said that at the “at the very least” the people of Ireland should be allowed to vote on the issue.

“I think this treaty is going to have very  far-reaching consequences,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

It’s going to lock the country into many years of austerity. Austerity which in my opinion is doing immense damage to our prospects for economic recovery.

Boyd Barrett said that there needed to be a a referendum irrespective of whether or not one is constitutionally required while also harshly criticising the government’s economic policies to date, saying the “debt burden [is] absolutely suffocating our economy”.

“Suggesting we’re going to create jobs while we’re imposing this brutal austerity and we’re suffocating with this debt burden is really like saying you’re going to save a man from drowning while holding his head under water,” he added.

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Hugh O'Connell

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