Cabinet puts off setting date for treaty vote
THE Cabinet has put off setting the date for the referendum on EU Budget rules for at least another two weeks.
With ministers travelling to destinations around the world for the St Patrick's Day festival, the issue will not be considered until the Cabinet meets again on March 27.
And a final decision may not be made until April -- because Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will be in charge at the next Cabinet meeting while Taoiseach Enda Kenny travels to China for an important trade visit.
Government backbenchers still expect that the referendum will be held towards the end of May to avoid clashing with Leaving and Junior Certificate exams in June, as well as the Euro 2012 championship and the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
Mr Kenny told the Dail yesterday that he was not going to lock himself into a timeframe on the fiscal treaty referendum.
"We will be very clear on the process and the timescale and the opportunity for everybody to have a full and comprehensive debate," he said.
But he emphasised again that it would be held separately from the children's rights referendum and the referendum to abolish the Seanad.
"People have a right to deal with it (the fiscal treaty) on its own in the full knowledge it's important for their children and the future of this country," he said.
The fiscal treaty has been signed by 25 out of the 27 EU leaders and will give the EU greater control over member states' budgets. But Ireland is the only country so far holding a referendum on it, after the Attorney General Maire Whelan advised that it was necessary under the Constitution.
A Government spokesman confirmed the Cabinet had decided that the necessary referendum bill would be drafted. The Referendum Commission to provide people with information will be set up after that.