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Shatter refuses to rule out second Fiscal Treaty referendum if voters say 'no'

Minister for Justice says the Fiscal Compact Treaty is about preventing future governments building debt for future generations.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE and Defence Alan Shatter has refused to discuss whether the Irish electorate would have to face a second referendum if the Fiscal Compact Treaty referendum is rejected.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced this afternoon that the Attorney General has advised that a referendum should be held on the treaty.

Speaking to Matt Cooper on Today FM this evening, Shatter was asked if the referendum would be put to the public a second time, as per the Nice Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty.

“I’m not anticipating we will lose the referendum,” the minister responded. “I believe that the majority of people in this country truly understand why we’re in the difficulties we’re in, what is necessary to get us out of those difficulties, [and] the importance of giving a message to Europe that we recognise the need to engage in sensible financial policies.”

“And I believe the majority of people don’t want ever again to have a government that can spend the way past governments did spend,” he added.

Shatter said that the Fiscal Compact Treaty was about ensuring responsible economic policies by the government to bring a degree of stability not just to the Irish economy, but across Europe. The treaty’s debt limit measures would also ensure that states don’t run up deficits to unacceptable levels, or that governments can impose future debt on future generations.

The minister said he did not believe that a ‘no’ vote would result in Ireland’s ejection from the EU, though it would send a negative message that “we rejected sensible financing and sensible fiscal policies.”

He also warned that if Ireland is not part of the treaty, then it would not be able to avail of the EU’s €500bn emergency bailout fund.

Shatter said that he did not envision Ireland requiring the fund, but that if it reached the end of its EU-IMF programme and required further funding, it could be sought through the European Stability Mechanism. Only members of the treaty will be able to avail of the ESM fund.

The minister also said that no timeframe has been discussed for the referendum and that it is not something to rush into. The ministers and TDs supporting the treaty “will work very hard” to get a ‘yes’ vote, he added.

As it happened: Govt announces referendum on EU fiscal compact treaty >

Twitter slideshow: TDs react to the referendum announcement >

Opposition parties welcome announcement of referendum >

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