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Simon Coveney Photocall Ireland

Coveney admits many people don't know what referendum is about

The Fine Gael Director of Elections said he and the government had to ensure that everyone in the country knows what they are voting on next month.

FINE GAEL’S DIRECTOR of Elections for the upcoming referendum has admitted that many people do not know what the Fiscal Compact treaty is about but has pledged to inform them in the coming weeks.

The Agriculture Minister was responding to a poll in the Sunday Times yesterday which indicated that less than one in five people understand what the Fiscal Compact treaty is actually about.

Around 32 per cent of those who responded to the Behaviour and Attitudes poll indicated they had no understanding “at all” of what the treaty was about, a stat which Conveney acknowledged this morning.

He told Newstalk’s Breakfast programme: “It’s true that the reason why so many people are undecided at the moment is because so many people don’t know what it’s about.

“The main focus of my job over the next five weeks will be to ensure that literally nobody in the country can say that they don’t know what this is about and we are planning a very comprehensive campaign to make sure that that happens.”

He pledged to campaign alongside Labour’s Director of Elections Joan Burton on the issue as well as other government ministers and stressed the importance of the decision that the Irish people face on 31 May.

“This is the most important decision that Irish people will make between now and the next general election,” he claimed. “In fact this is arguably as important a choice as the next general election because this is about the future funding of our country.”

Coveney said there was going to be “no arrogance” about the campaign but warned that a No vote would mean that Ireland would not be able to access the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) fund.

He denied that this was tantamount to admitting Ireland would need a second bailout.

He  explained: ”The irony of this is the likelihood of us having to access a rescue fund significantly increases if we vote No but we won’t have that rescue fund to access should we vote No,” he claimed.

Coveney also said that it was improtant for people to “get their head around” the treaty before they vote as this is “an issue of national significance”.

Read: Do you know what the fiscal compact treaty is all about?

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