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Monday 11 December 2017

Fiscal Treaty: Deficit will fall from €18bn to €3.1bn if bank debts not paid – claim

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

CAMPAIGNERS against the European fiscal treaty have accused the Government of lying through its teeth over the state of the country's finances.

With less than two days to go until polling begins on whether to adopt the treaty, the United Left Alliance (ULA) argued the country's deficit will fall to €3.1bn next year if bank debts are not paid.



Richard Boyd Barrett, ULA finance spokesman, said the Government's own deficit figure of €18bn includes re-payment of bank debt and other interest on debt.



"Obviously, if the EU cut off funding to us we would not be making those re-payments and the actual gap between income and expenditure would then only be €3.1bn," he said.



"This is a gap that could easily be filled and more by increasing income tax on those earning over €150,000 euro per year and by imposing a modest wealth tax on the wealth and assets of the wealthiest 5pc of the population."



Three recent opinion polls revealed a 60/40 split in favour of the European fiscal treaty among Irish voters when polls open nationwide on Thursday.



More than 3.1 million people are eligible to vote when polls open nationwide on Thursday. However less than 60pc of those eligible turned out for the Nice and Lisbon treaties.



Voting got under way on the islands off the west coast of Ireland yesterday, with residents on Inisturk, Inisbiggle and Clare Island at the polls today.



In a last bid to swing the undecided to the no side, Mr Boyd Barrett argued the Government was lying through its teeth and would have the money to pay nurses, pensions and social welfare next year.



"We just wouldn't have the money to pay-off bankers' gambling debts and debt interest," he added.



But Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said ratifying the treaty is the only secure way for Ireland to access vital long-term funding for public services.



"In spite of the negative and cynical campaigns of the main parties against the treaty the central fact has remained that a no vote is a vote for greater uncertainty and austerity," he said.



"Over the next two days we will keep working for a yes vote."



Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will not be pushed around by Sinn Fein - which accused him of running scared from a TV debate.



On his way into this morning's Cabinet meeting, the Taoiseach insisted he made the right decision not to debate with party leader Gerry Adams.



"I am not going to be shoved around by Sinn Fein," he said.



"I am not going to give a platform to somebody who I don't regard as the leader of the Opposition to propagate what are blatant lies and hypocritical assertions."



A broadcast moratorium on referendum content will start tomorrow afternoon.

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