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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams found cause for optimism in the Court's declaration that there was room for "legitimate legal and political debate" on a potential Irish veto of the ESM. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

SF welcomes High Court's agreement on 'legitimate room for debate'

Gerry Adams says the court’s findings are “a far leap” from the Yes side’s belief that the ESM was “set in stone”.

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Gerry Adams has welcomed the High Court’s ruling in Pearse Doherty’s complaint against the Referendum Commission, despite the Court finding it could not uphold the complaint.

Speaking outside the Four Courts after Justice Gerard Hogan’s ruling was delivered, Adams hailed the judge’s comments that there was “room for legitimate debate” on the question of whether Ireland still had a veto on the European Stability Mechanism.

Justice Hogan this morning dismissed an application, brought by Doherty yesterday, saying it was not sufficiently clear how Irish law interacted with European and international law on the procedures by which a country had ‘approved’ an international treaty.

Doherty had claimed it was still within the power of the government to decide not to approve a treaty, by not tabling the appropriate legislation in the Oireachtas – a claim the Referendum Commission said was invalid, given Ireland’s inherent requirements to implement decisions reached at the European Council.

Justice Hogan said the area was not clear enough to firmly decide which argument was correct, but said there was “room for legitimate legal and political debate” on that point.

‘Vote as an informed citizenry’

“I absolutely agree with Judge Hogan in his assertion and hope that people will go and vote as an informed citizenry,” Adams said.

Obviously we see this as a vindication of our argument – that it’s legitimate, that it has merit – and that people should inform themselves of the issues involved and vote accordingly, and that means voting No.

Asked about the judge’s finding that the Referendum Commission was not wrong when it said Ireland had foregone its chance to veto the ESM, Adams claimed the Court had not found the Commission to be correct either.

Adams said this equivocation undermined the Yes campaign’s assertion “that the statement by [Referendum Commission chairman] Judge Feeney was absolutely writ in stone”.

“What the Court said was, there’s room for legitimate debate on this issue. The Court’s not in a position to pronounce. There’s room for debate and there’s merit in all the arguments.”

Adams also dismissed Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s comments that the case was a “sideshow”, describing Doherty’s challenge as “a serious effort by citizens to inform the debate and seek redress through the courts, as we are entitled to do”.

In a statement of his own, Doherty – who was not present in court – said the High Court had not shared the Yes side’s view that the Referendum Commision’s comments were definitive.

“The view of the Referendum Commission is not fact but opinion,” he said. “We believe that for the ESM to be underpinned in EU law it has to be ratified by all member states and that the Irish government retains a veto.

“Sinn Féin took this matter to Court because this is an issue of central importance to the referendum. I believe that the significant questions raised, vindicates our decision to pursue this course of action in the interests of the voters.”

Read: High Court refuses Doherty complaint against Referendum Commission

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