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Cabinet to discuss timing of 'one-off' fiscal compact referendum

The Cabinet will this morning discuss a draft timetable for putting the fiscal compact referendum to the public.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE CABINET will this morning discuss a draft timetable for the holding of a referendum on the fiscal compact, a vote which the Taoiseach yesterday said would be a “one-off”.

Ministers will discuss a proposed timetable to hold the vote, amid reports that they are split on whether to press ahead with a vote before June, or whether to delay a ballot until the autumn.

This morning’s meeting will be the first since attorney-general Máire Whelan last week advised that because the fiscal compact does not fall into the architecture of the EU, which has already been approved by constitutional amendments, a new vote would be required “on balance”.

Though the cabinet are unlikely to agree on a specific polling date this morning, they will consider the question of exactly what question should be put in the referendum, and a timetable for when to publish the legislation that will trigger the vote.

This morning’s Irish Times reports that some within the cabinet are keen to hold the referendum after the summer break, as it would leave more time for the Troika to offer a deal on the Anglo Irish Bank promissory notes.

A delayed vote would also mean that the referendum would take place after the French presidential election – where frontrunner Francois Hollande has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

An earlier vote could be preferred, however, as it means Ireland would have ratified the deal before the new European Stability Mechanism takes formal effect in July. The terms of the compact mean access to the ESM will be limited to countries which ratify the deal.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach moved to end speculation that a ‘No’ vote would result in the government simply holding a second ballot, saying there was no reason to do so when Ireland did not have a veto on the compact.

RTÉ quotes him as saying that because only 12 countries need to ratify the compact before it comes into effect, the Irish referendum would be a “once-off” event regardless of how the public voted.

Read: Young Fine Gael branch told Ireland is not a ‘victim of foreign bogeymen’

More: Moody’s expects Ireland to require partial second bailout

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Gavan Reilly

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