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No vote on treaty would drive foreign investors away, warns Committee chair

Dominic Hannigan, who chairs the committee scrutinising the Fiscal Compact, also said that Europe needed to move away from right-wing economics that have been the focus in recent years.

Dominic Hannigan (File photo)
Dominic Hannigan (File photo)
Image: Photocall Ireland

THE CHAIR OF the Oireachtas committee scrutinising the Fiscal Compact treaty has warned that voting No on the treaty would send the wrong message not only to international markets but to potential international investors in Ireland.

Labour TD Dominic Hannigan is currently chairing the EU Affairs Sub-Committee on the Fiscal Compact Referendum which will hold its last session today after hearing from politicians on both sides of the argument, trade unions, business groups and others since late February.

Though the Meath East TD said that the committee intends to produce a neutral report early next month, he warned of the impact of voting No on 31 May, telling TheJournal.ie in an interview:

If we turn around and give two fingers to the rest of Europe, and say: ‘You know what, you can shove your currency’…

“In effect, if we turn around and say we’re not interested in the stability pact then the danger is that companies looking in and deciding should they invest here or should they invest in the UK or in France, they’ll choose to go somewhere else and that can only be bad news.”

Hannigan will chair the final session of the committee today which will hear from Jack O’Connor of SIPTU. This week it has already heard from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in which the controversy over the party’s leaflets advocating a No vote were brought up.

On Wednesday, Hannigan sharply criticised the “scaremongering” of Sinn Féin in producing leaflets that selectively quoted economists criticising the treaty when in fact those economists were advocating a Yes vote. Despite this Hannigan said that Adams’ appearance was worthwhile.

“It was great that he turned up and I think it was a very worthwhile event,” he said.

Hollande is ‘great news’

He also denied that the Yes side of the argument was engaging in similar tactics to Sinn Féin having been forced to remove speeches advocating a Yes vote from the officially neutral StabilityTreaty.ie yesterday.

Outlining the justification for the government publishing the speeches in the first place he explained: “They probably looked at making sure there was some sort of content on the site.

“It was probably more that people would start looking at it but that it wouldn’t get that many hits at this stage,” Hannigan added although he admitted that he expected to see “fairness and balance on the stability treaty website.”

The Labour deputy said that although the treaty would provide stability more stimulus measures would be needed across Europe to boost economic growth. He welcomed the widely anticipated arrival of a centre-left government in France.

“Somebody like [French Socialist Party candidate Francois] Hollande… for me, it’s great news if he gets elected because we need to see a more left-of-centre agenda at the heart of Europe.
At the moment for the last ten years we’ve seen from the main countries focus on right-wing economics. I’d like to hope that will now change.

Hannigan said that he expected that the committee hearings have contributed to the wider debate about the Fiscal Compact and that a lot of what was said during them would be used by parties on their campaign literature.

The campaign proper will get underway on Monday when the Environment Minister Phil Hogan is expected to sign the official polling order. Hannigan said he expected the electorate to “wake up to the issues” when that happens.

Read: Ministers’ Yes statements removed from treaty website

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Hugh O'Connell

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