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Kenny says no decision due on holding of EU referendum

A decision can’t be made on holding a referendum until the final text of the deal is agreed – and that won’t be for a while.

THE GOVERNMENT has distanced itself from reports that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, is set to decide by the end of next week on whether Ireland will need to hold a referendum to pass the new EU ‘fiscal compact’ treaty.

RTÉ News had reported that Kenny was likely to outline Ireland’s position when he attends an informal summit of European leaders on January 30 in Brussels.

It also added that the text of the treaty would also ensure that membership of the new ‘Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union’ would be required before any country could access bailout funds.

It is not clear whether this clause would supersede the current funding deal between Ireland and the EU-IMF – and therefore whether any rejection of the deal by Ireland would result in Ireland losing its current funding deal.

Kenny told the Dáil this morning that RTÉ’s report was “not accurate”, saying a new draft of the deal was expected tomorrow.

“I am not in a position to ask for formal legal advice from the Attorney General here” until a draft has been approved by the European heads of government, he said.

“Tomorrow I would expect that there would be a conclusion, at the technical level, of a draft text.”

That draft text would go before the “political process” of approval from EU leaders on January 30.

‘Contempt’

Micheál Martin urged the government to lay draft copies of the deal before the Dáil, complaining that no Oireachtas committees had been given a chance to have input on the EU treaty even though drafts of the treaty had been posted online.

He accused the Taoiseach of “speaking in riddles” by suggesting that technical drafters were not taking input from political leaders, and said Kenny was “treating this House with contempt.”

This morning a government spokesman said a decision on holding a referendum could not be made before a final text – which had not been agreed yet, and which is not likely to come before the EU summit is held.

“There is no change in the government position,” the spokesman said. “There is no need for a referendum unless the constitution has to be changed.

“We won’t know that, and we won’t be able to send it onto the Attorney General, until a final wording has been reached.”

Transport minister Leo Varadkar told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that it was “not clear at all” whether a referendum would be needed, and that Kenny would wait until after the final text had been agreed by all parties before reaching a decision on a referendum.

Ireland’s constitution requires a referendum to be held whether Ireland is transferring competencies (decision-making powers) to the EU – though a clause contained in last week’s draft of the deal may require a change to the EU treaties currently in place, which may necessitate a public vote.

Read: Latest draft of EU deal raises further questions of Irish referendum

More: Better deal for Ireland if we pass EU referendum?

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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