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Government accused of designing referendum guide 'to mislead public'

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláín says the Stability Treaty guide being sent to homes understates the loss of sovereignty.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

SINN FÉIN HAS accused the government of distributing “deliberately misleading information” in the referendum booklet being sent to every home in the country.

The government’s booklet, in conjunction with its StabilityTreaty.ie website, is being distributed to homes at present – but Sinn Féin says the booklet understates the effects of the Fiscal Compact’s “new enforcement and punishment mechanisms”.

The party’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the booklet claimed to offer balanced and objective information, but did not “explain the full consequences of key elements of the Treaty”.

Ó Caoláin said the booklet was particularly silent about “the consequences for our economic sovereignty” as a result of the provisions of articles 5 and 8, which deal with the methods through which European bodies and other countries can ensure that rules are the followed.

He said Article 5 ceded “significant new powers” to the European Commission, which could allow it to dictate what happened in future Irish budgets if Ireland was to breach the treaty’s rules, while Article 8 gave the European Court of Justice the power to fine countries which did not comply with the rules.

“All of this undermined the ability of the Dáil to control our economic affairs and is a significant transfer of powers to the EU. And this is happening without any proper debate or scrutiny,” Ó Caoláin said.

Sinn Féin has previously complained that the material on the government’s website, and that contained in the guide, is in breach of Supreme Court rules which ban the use of public funds on material advocating one side over another in the referendum.

The booklet being sent to homes contains the full text of the treaty, across 16 of its 19 pages, with the other two pages devoted to a general guide to the Treaty and the reasons why it is important to Ireland.

Under one of these sections, ‘Access to EU Assistance Funds’, the booklet reads:

It is important that Ireland be eligible to receive this [ESM] funding in the event of any future economic problems, and to reassure those who wish to invest in Ireland.

Read: Translated: The Fiscal Compact rewritten in layman’s terms

More: Today’s your last chance to post your application for a Fiscal Compact vote

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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