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Kenny: Government has "nothing to fear" from an EU referendum

The government has “no fear or concern” about the prospect of having to put the fiscal compact deal to vote.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said his government has “nothing to fear” from the prospect of running a referendum on the proposed European ‘fiscal compact’ deal.

Speaking on his arrival in Brussels for this afternoon’s European Council meeting, Kenny said the government had “no fear, or concern, or anxiety” about any requirement to hold a public vote ratifying Ireland’s participation in the deal.

“I’ve made this perfectly clear: that when the text is finalised, I will ask the Attorney General formally to present the government with the Attorney General’s response as to whether the agreed text – as finalised by the politicians – is in compliance with our constitution,” the Taoiseach said.

If it is in compliance with Bunreacht na hÉireann, there’s no need for a referendum. If it’s not, there will be a referendum.

Kenny said he hoped the deal would be finalised at this afternoon’s meeting, but said it was also important to focus on the issue of credit and lending for small and medium enterprises, which is also to be discussed, as well as youth unemployment.

The Taoiseach welcomed the move of Council president Herman van Rompuy to commission reports on those topics, and said he hoped those subjects could be discussed more regularly at future meetings.

“After all, that’s what European politics should be about,” he said.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told assembled reporters that his goal from the summit would be a deal that ultimately allowed Greece, Portugal and Ireland to become less reliant on EU funding and to return to the open borrowing markets.

Read: EU leaders in Brussels for summit on fiscal treaty

More: Welcome to Brussels, EU leaders! Everyone is on strike

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Gavan Reilly

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