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Government refuses to engage in bidding wars over treaty

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has questioned the ‘No’ stance taken by trade union Mandate.

Enda Kenny, Lucinda Creighton and Eamon Gilmore at the launch of the Government's online campaign.
Enda Kenny, Lucinda Creighton and Eamon Gilmore at the launch of the Government's online campaign.
Image: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT WILL “absolutely not” consider engaging any group in a bidding war over the upcoming referendum on the fiscal compact treaty, said the Minister of State for European Affairs.

Lucinda Creighton has also questioned the position taken by the Mandate trade union, which today called on its members to vote against ratifying the treaty on 31 May.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One, Creighton said she finds it difficult to understand how representatives of people whose jobs are contingent on the government’s stability plan can advocate such a vote.

“What we are hearing is based on fantasy,” she said. “We have to question whether investment will be affected by a no vote. Trade Unions have a responsibility to reflect on that…We do not want to do anything that would drive away investment.”

Following Mandate’s path could lead Ireland into “unchartered waters”, she added.

Creighton’s comments also come in the wake of Siptu demands for a stimulus package in exchange for support for a yes vote in the referendum.

Earlier today, Mandate called on its 45,000 members to vote no and join campaigns in their localities to fight against the fiscal treaty.

General secretary John Douglas said that a yes vote will lead to more job losses and further contractions in the economy.

It will not create one job but only “copper fasten austerity measures,” he added after a meeting at the group’s Biennial Delegate Conference in Wexford.

Mandate’s 300 delegates represent about 45,000 retail workers. Douglas also outlined the union’s own demands.

We demand that this government embarks on an investment strategy for growth and for jobs, that this government puts the needs of its own citizens above the needs of the banks’ balance sheets.

The trade union think tank, the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI), has identified funding sources of up to €15 billion for investment in vital infrastructure and services. This level of investment would clearly improve our national infrastructure, boost demand by creating much needed economic activity and jobs.

The matter is to be debated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions at a Dublin gathering next week. According to a report in the Sunday Business Post this morning, general secretary David Begg believes Ireland has a gun pointed to its head with regard to the vote.

Responding to suggestions that ICTU will have no choice but to support the ratification of the treaty, Douglas said that “just because someone has a gun to your head, it is not a reason to do something.”

Begg argues that Ireland needs access to the emergency funding which could be provided through the ESM in case a second bailout is required.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has also expressed her disappointment at Mandate’s rejection of the treaty.

“The national debate on the Stability Treaty is only now getting underway and it would have been preferable to have a discussion on the pros and cons…before taking a position,” she said.

Burton added that those urging a no vote should set out an alternative.

“We cannot avoid dealing with really difficult issues. Given the frequent levels of turbulence in markets, it would be very important to Ireland to have access to a safety net, even if in the end we do not need it.”

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

Siptu demands stimulus plan in exchange for Fiscal Treaty support>

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