Monday 9 December 2019

Taoiseach dismisses European uncertainty over fiscal treaty

Lyndsey Telford and Sarah Stack

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has dismissed growing uncertainty in Europe surrounding the stability treaty and insisted the referendum in Ireland will go ahead regardless.

The Taoiseach said there is every point in giving the public a say as to whether Ireland ratifies the fiscal deal, because it sends a message of certainty to potential investors.

"As we are in a programme, investors and potential investors outside this country are looking at Ireland now as part of Europe. They want certainty, they want decisiveness, they want clarity of a horizon," said Mr Kenny.

"And I don't want to damage that in any way so the sooner we are in a position to give a clear signal about our own future, the sooner we are in a position to have continued certainty of investment coming into the country as I meet these people on a very regular basis."

He said polling will still take place on May 31, as part of Ireland's own ratification process, and that uncertainty in Germany and France will have no bearing.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was yesterday forced to delay the ratification of the treaty until June amid struggles to get the majority of her parliament to pass it.

The Bundestag vote was originally planned for May 25, but calls from French president-elect Francois Hollande to tack on an economic-growth agenda to the package have prompted the re-think.

Before topping the French presidential polls last week, Mr Hollande warned that France would not ratify the treaty unless it incorporated further stimulus plans.

A European Summit has been scheduled for May 23, where eurozone chiefs will deal with implementing growth into the compact, which aims to enforce stricter budgetary rules for member states and drive down deficits.

"Clearly from the comments from other leaders abroad there now should be a growth agenda in addition to what was already agreed and we will participate in that enthusiastically," Mr Kenny went on.

He said concrete proposals are likely to be established by June.

Meanwhile, opponents to the treaty have called for the Government to postpone the referendum, saying it is pointless given the turning tide in Europe.

Sinn Fein and members of the United Left Alliance have argued Europe is becoming increasingly anti-austerity and that Ireland should follow suit by refusing to ratify the fiscal deal.

Meanwhile, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called for the Government to pledge full support to Mr Hollande.

Congress general secretary David Begg also said if Ireland is unable to postpone the referendum, it should at least give assurances that it will delay the ratification of the treaty until the end of the year.

"In the meantime they should stand four square behind Hollande and assist him in every way possible to achieve his stated objective of a growth strategy," said Mr Begg at a Communications Workers' Union conference in Galway.

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