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Referendum will effectively decide whether Ireland wants to keep the euro – Noonan

Michael Noonan also says that only the nitty-gritty of the new European treaty will indicate whether a vote is needed.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

IRELAND’S POTENTIAL REFERENDUM on whether to ratify last week’s European financial treaty will be tantamount to a vote on whether Ireland wishes to remain in the eurozone, finance minister Michael Noonan has said.

The minister for finance, speaking in London in advance of a meeting with chancellor George Osborne, said legal advisers would not be able to make a final decision on the necessity for a referendum until an original text had been put together.

Noonan told Bloomberg TV that he hoped the first draft would be completed “before Christmas,” allowing for an immediate legal assessment over the break.

Any referendum that may be required, he added, would come down “to a simple question of whether we want to continue in the euro area or not”.

He added that the Irish public was more likely to approve the deal if Ireland was first given “an arrangement on its banking debt”, allowing for bank debts to be repaid over a longer term and at a lower rate of interest. ”We have commenced that discussion,” he said.

He had told an earlier London event that Ireland’s legal advisors “won’t be able to call it until they see the text, because it’s a fine legal position in Ireland. [...] On one interpretation of what’s on the table, this can be done without constitutional change.

On the question of whether any referendum would be passed, he commented:

We have won every referendum that has been put to the Irish people – though on one [sic] occasion we had to have two goes at it… I’m not predicting, but I certainly wouldn’t like a replay.

Noonan separately commented that last night’s telephone conversation between Enda Kenny and the British prime minister David Cameron was “very full and amicable”, and that he was confident the UK would not “inhibit” the drafting of the new treaties.

Read: Noonan to meet Osborne amid concerns over Britain’s EU isolation

Poll: If there was a referendum, how would you vote on the new EU deal?

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Gavan Reilly

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