Monday 18 December 2017

Court challenge to implementation of Fiscal Treaty to be heard next week

Tim Healy

A CHALLENGE to the implementation of the May 31 referendum on the Fiscal Stability Treaty will be heard next week in the High Court.

The action is being brought against the Government by independent Donegal South West TD Thomas Pringle who says the "Yes" vote in favour of the treaty is to be used to push through another treaty in relation to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and to change an existing treating on the functioning of the EU itself.

The ESM is a permanent rescue funding programme for the 17 member countries of the Eurozone.

Mr Pringle says these additional treaty changes are being done without putting them to a vote of the people.

He wants the High Court to examine the legality of this because he says the Fiscal Stablity Treaty is intertwined with the ESM Treaty and with an amendment to an existing treaty, Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

If the court finds that the ESM Treaty is unlawful, then there will be a question over the validity of the result of the referendum, he says.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy was told today by John Rogers SC, for Mr Pringle, that a timescale had emerged in relation to legislation implementing the Fiscal Treaty and two Bills were currently before the House.

Mr Rogers said his case would "not have traction" without those Bills being enacted but he accepted there was a value in getting it started

before they are enacted. The stability treaty must be ratified by

July 9 and if the State was determined to go ahead with ratification, it was fair to say his side would be looking for injunctive relief from the court to prevent this.

Mr Rogers also said the ESM treaty has been signed but not ratified and ratification will not take place until July 2 or 3.

Michael Cush SC, for the Government, said he wanted the action to proceed next week because the 17 members of the Eurozone will ratify the treaty on July 9 and the national legislation will have to be passed before then.

He accepted the court could not be asked to rule on this case until the legislation is enacted but that was not to say it (court) could not hear arguments in relation to it.

The case will take five to seven days to hear, Ms Justice Laffoy was told.

The judge said if at all possible, an application for an injunction should be avoided, and the case should start next week.

In his action, Mr Pringle claims the ESM Treaty will set up a €500 billion bailout fund which will give the power to an ESM institution to call on Ireland to contribute more than €11billion to that fund in various forms of capital.

He wants the court to consider whether the ESM Treaty is in breach of existing EU principles which have been approved in previous referendums.

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