Thursday 30 March 2017

Taoiseach and backbenchers at odds over need for Dail vote on IMF bailout

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

Two Fianna Fail TDs will attempt to force Taoiseach Brian Cowen to put the EU/IMF bailout deal to a Dail vote, saying the Oireachtas can no longer be "undermined", the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Cork South Central TD Michael McGrath and Meath East TD Thomas Byrne, regarded as two Cowen loyalists, have tabled a motion for this week's parliamentary party meeting saying only the Dail can give the deal "popular legitimacy."

The Taoiseach maintains there is no legal necessity to put the deal to a Dail vote -- but the two TDs have now told Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of their intention to put down the motion on Thursday.

The motion, which reads: "To add legitimacy to the agreement and to force the opposition to take a definitive position on the matter, that the Memorandum of Understanding between the Irish Government and the EU /IMF be put to Dail Eireann for approval", will now be voted upon by the party at its meeting on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Byrne said not only would a vote give it much needed popular legitimacy, it would also force the opposition to reveal precisely where they stand.

"I feel that we cannot continue to undermine the Dail. Only the Dail can give this deal popular legitimacy. However, I would be confident that the Dail would approve it overwhelmingly, despite the Opposition playing games," said Mr Byrne. "The implications of rejecting it for the wages of public servants, for social welfare recipients and the running of frontline services are too unimaginable to describe."

Mr McGrath said: "I believe it isn't tenable not to put an agreement of this substance and national importance before the Dail for approval. Calling a vote on the deal would also force the opposition to take a definitive position on the issue.

"If they reject the deal, how do they propose that Ireland be funded for the next few years? The only alternative is pay 9 per cent for borrowing in the market. The opposition would have to think long and hard about the implications of voting down the agreement."

Both Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore have called for a vote on the deal.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the public want the matter put to a vote in the Dail.

Of those polled, 71 per cent thought that the Dail should be given the opportunity to vote on the bailout. People felt the whole deal had been foisted on the country and that there was a total lack of transparency in the way it had been discussed and constructed.

They argued that if the Irish people were being asked to make huge sacrifices to pay for the bailout, then the least the Government could do was put the deal to a Dail vote.

Twenty nine per cent of those polled did not think there was any need for a parliamentary vote on the bailout.

Sunday Independent

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