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New Enterprise Minister Peter Burke and Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne Alamy Stock Photo
Up In The Air

Peter Burke's first big test as minister? Fighting off patent referendum postponement, says FF senator

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne accuses Sinn Féín of being inconsistent on business.

NEWLY APPOINTED ENTERPRISE Minister Peter Burke will bring a memo to Cabinet tomorrow on the future of the Unified Patent Court. 

The next steps for the referendum, which was set to be held in early June alongside the local and European elections, will be discussed by coalition leaders tonight, but it is widely expected to be postponed. 

Despite Tánaiste Micheál Martin stating over the weekend that he is favour of pushing out the referendum, a senator from his own party, Malcolm Byrne, has criticised the move, stating that in his view, it is Burke’s “first big test” as minister. 

Those in government circles have said there was not enough time to explain and campaign for the patent court, but it was also flagged that Sinn Féin were expected to be campaigning against the move.

Byrne told The Journal

“This is Peter Burke’s first big test as enterprise minister, and if he’s going to go out there and fight for small business and content creators, this is the perfect example to show that we’re going to go ahead and do it.

“I get that it’s not a referendum that will excite everybody. But for those who are creating content, those who are inventing things, this is really important. We go out and fight for it,” said Byrne. 

He said the government should proceed with the referendum, stating: “We should be looking to support and protect their intellectual property.”

“This was a perfect example to go out and fight for it, because it’s something in which we believe in. And if Sinn Féín came out against it, it would be another example of Sinn Féin, flip flopping on an issue and showing how they’re inconsistent on every issue in business,” he added. 

Byrne went on to state that the government “certainly shouldn’t be afraid” of Sinn Féin and what position they are planning to take in the referendum campaign.

The referendum relates to Ireland joining the Unified Patent Court. If passed, it would mean EU Member States can recognise each others’ patents.

Currently, 17 countries across the EU take part in the Unified Patent Court, which opened last June. 

In order to solve any disputes that may arise through the patent court, an amendment to Article 29 of the Constitution is needed through a referendum.

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