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Friday 23 February 2018

Begg under attack after call to delay ratification

ICTU chief executive David Begg
ICTU chief executive David Begg

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

ICTU chief executive David Begg was last night accused of spreading confusion after he called for a delay in signing the fiscal compact treaty into law.

The treaty can only be ratified if there is a Yes vote in the May 31 referendum -- and it is then up to the Government to choose when to do so before the December 31 deadline this year.

Mr Begg said last night that he was not calling for the referendum to be postponed -- merely for the ratification to be delayed to boost the chances of getting a growth pact agreed alongside the treaty.

"It seems to have been somewhat misunderstood. I said the Government ought to give an assurance that they wouldn't ratify the treaty until the various interventions of Francois Hollande had worked out," he said.

The union boss said the elections in Greece and the election of Mr Hollande in France meant "the tectonic plates have shifted again" in Europe. He also said he believed his remarks would be helpful to the Government because it would still ensure that the country was not isolating itself from the European mainstream.

But Fine Gael TD Simon Harris, the director of his party's online treaty campaign, said talk about the ratification date could confuse the debate. He said it was "kind of academic" what date it was ratified on.

"The key decision before the Irish people on May 31 is whether or not to give the authority to ratify the treaty. If they do, then it's up to the Government to proceed with ratification," he said.

There have already been calls for the referendum to be postponed due to the row between France and Germany about whether the fiscal compact treaty should also be accompanied by a growth pact.

Mr Begg made his remarks yesterday at the conference of the Communications Workers' Union -- which subsequently voted to back the treaty. Mr Begg's Irish Congress of Trade Unions has decided to adopt a neutral stance on the treaty.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the May 31 referendum was being held at the right time because the country needed certainty as soon as possible.

"We've announced jobs decided by multinational companies investing here at the rate of almost 1,000 a month and the appreciation of the way Ireland has moved from a year ago -- we want that to be able to continue," he said.

During a visit to new companies in the Digital Depot in Dublin's Liberties, he attacked the No side for saying that the treaty would allow Europe to run our affairs and our budgets.

"What we're about here is having good housekeeping rules and it's only when you go outside those housekeeping rules that there might be intervention from Europe. We don't expect that to happen," he said.

But Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams called yesterday for a No vote to avoid handing over fiscal sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats in the EU.

Irish Independent

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