Sunday 18 November 2018

Government forced to remove ‘yes’ vote speeches from website

Independent.ie reporters

SPEECHES advocating a "yes" vote in the fiscal compact treaty have been removed from Government website – www.stabilitytreaty.ie.

The move was made in a bid to adhere to the McKenna judgement –in 1995 the Supreme Court ruled in a case taken by Patricia McKenna MEP that the State could not use public funds to promote a particular side in a referendum.

The Government has spent up to €2m on its campaign for a yes vote on the compact which is designed to bring Government budget deficits under control and has come under fire in other European countries.

The speeches in question were those made by the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and Minister of State Lucinda Creighton.

According to the Government, the judgment comes into force on Monday when the Referendum Order is signed and it has made no apology for advocating a position in advance of that.

"The Government is determined to ensure that this referendum will see the most comprehensive information campaign being held on any European referendum to date," a Government spokesperson said.

"It was always the intention to remove speeches in advance of the Referendum Order being signed.

"The order will be signed on Monday, from which point the McKenna judgement takes effect."

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said some "red herrings" had entered the treaty debate and that there was a number of myths he wished to dispel.

He rejected arguments from the opposition that the fiscal compact was a recipe for austerity, saying instead it ensures a balance between money raised and money spent across Europe to bring about stability.

Mr Kenny also shot down calls from Sinn Fein's Padraig Mac Lochlainn to join "the tide of revolution" in Europe against the treaty.

French presidential candidate Francois Hollande said if he is elected to office, he would not ratify the treaty unless he can secure a deal to include job promotion and growth measures.

The Socialist Party candidate, who led president Nicolas Sarkozy after the first round of voting, also said the result of the Irish referendum should not be taken for granted given the country's history in voting European treaties down.

There is also uncertainty surrounding the position of Holland, after the collapse of the coalition government earlier this week over budget cut rows.

Despite political upheaval within the eurozone, in which 25 of the 27 states had previously agreed the treaty, Mr Kenny has insisted Ireland's stance should remain in favour of it.

"There are only two options here," said Mr Kenny.

"The question is, by voting Yes, people have real certainty. By voting No, you're asking the Irish people to walk out into the darkness where there is uncertainty."

He also criticised Sinn Fein for suggesting Ireland allows itself to be dictated to by other European countries that are involved in the turning tide.

"I am astounded that the Sinn Fein Party should put forward a proposition that we are not able to make up our own minds," he said.

Additional reporting: Press Association

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