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Opposition parties welcome announcement of referendum

Fianna Fáil will campaign in favour of a ‘Yes’ vote but Sinn Féin will say ‘No’.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

OPPOSITION PARTIES AND independent TDs have welcomed the announcement that a referendum will be held to ratify the EU fiscal compact treaty later this year.

The Taoiseach confirmed that a referendum will be held following the advise of the Attorney General at a cabinet meeting this morning. No date has been set for the referendum nor has there been any detail on what the question will be.

The referendum is to be held in order to ratify a new fiscal compact agreed by 25 of the 27 EU member states last month. The compact proposes tough new budgetary discipline and implements a so-called debt brake, limiting the amount of debt governments can have.

Only Britain and the Czech Republic have outlined their opposition to the compact. It will be signed by Enda Kenny and other EU leaders on Friday but will need to be ratified by the Irish people, it was confirmed today.

Reacting to today’s announcement, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused the government of trying to avoid a referendum in the first place and said “it marks another failure” that a plebiscite will now be held.

“Since the first drafts of this Treaty were leaked to the public last December Sinn Féin has argued that there is a democratic imperative to have a referendum and I am glad that there is also clearly a legal case,” he said.

“I think the value of a referendum is that the people will have their say on a matter that is profound and will have long lasting importance.

“The question is: will the government accept the outcome? Are we going to have the usual re-run? Will the government phrase the question in such a way so the people will be able to have an informed debate as opposed to bullying tactics that have been used in the past?” he added.

‘Our journey through the EU’

Adams confirmed that Sinn Féin will campaign against what he called an “austerity treaty” in contrast to Fianna Fáil whose leader Micheál Martin welcomed the decision to hold a referendum and confirmed his party would be supporting a ‘Yes’ vote.

“The people need to be taken on our journey through the EU,” he told the Dáil earlier today saying that the decision to hold a referendum had been the “right one”.

It is not yet clear how independent TDs in the Dáil Technical Group will campaign but Catherine Murphy, independent deputy for Kildare North, said the decision to hold a referendum was “very welcome.”

“This referendum will hopefully offer a welcome counterbalance to the worrying type of intergovernmentalism we’ve been seeing in the last few years,” she said.

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Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins was more clear in his opposition to the fiscal compact and told RTÉ’s Drivetime programme that he would be campaigning for a ‘No’ vote as would his colleagues in the United Left Alliance.

“This particular proposal would be to institutionalise austerity in perpetuity in Ireland and every other country. It would therefore be an economic disaster,” he said.

Meanwhile Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said his party would campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum subject to approval by the wider membership of the former junior coalition government partner.

“I will be advocating that our party supports a yes vote in the campaign as I believe that adopting the measures provided for in the fiscal compact is in our national interest,” he said in a statement.

AS IT HAPPENED: Announcement that Ireland WILL hold referendum on EU fiscal compact treaty

Government confirms referendum on EU fiscal compact treaty

Twitter slideshow: TDs react to the referendum announcement

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Hugh O'Connell

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