Thursday 22 February 2018

Noonan fears public will tire of treaty talk

Barry Duggan

THE Government launched its 'Yes' campaign for the Stability Treaty referendum only earlier this month, but Finance Minister Michael Noonan is already warning of campaign fatigue among the electorate.

Fine Gael and Labour brought their canvass to Limerick city yesterday and rolled out three government ministers, two MEPs and a former MEP to woo voters.

Cabinet members Michael Noonan, Pat Rabbitte and Jan O'Sullivan were joined by Ireland South MEPs Sean Kelly and Phil Prendergast, along with former MEP John Cushnahan, in a canvass of Mr Noonan's home suburb of Dooradoyle.

Beforehand, Mr Noonan rallied his fellow canvassers and constituents to ensure the May 31 referendum is passed. "Anyone can understand it (the Stability Treaty). It is 12 pages; you can read it in 20 minutes. A lot of previous treaties were complicated. This treaty is straightforward," he said.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Noonan admitted that he was worried that voters would lose interest before polling day.

"One of the concerns I have is there will be campaign fatigue among the public because there aren't that many issues in it (the Stability Treaty). People say, 'that is grand now so and I understand that, let's talk about the European Championships'. So it may be hard to keep public interest in the campaign until the end," Mr Noonan said.

He referenced foreign companies based in the country to sell their products and services to European and worldwide markets and warned that a treaty rejection would lead "boardrooms in Boston and Chicago to think twice about putting money into Ireland".

"The reasoned debate is going to be media debate. That is on for a couple of weeks already. There is a good bit to go yet, but we are confident," he said.

Regarding the election success of Francois Hollande in France, Mr Noonan said: "It is incorrect to say the French election was a vote against austerity.

"There was no austerity in France. Sarkozy had done very little to correct the budget position and France was driving along as they always do and people were living their lives and spending their money. It was a vote against Sarkozy, not austerity."

Canvassing his neighbours in Dooradoyle, Mr Noonan received handshakes and friendly welcomes from all, whom he greeted by their first names.

Accusations of 'scaremongering' by political opponents following his recent remarks about the implications for this year's Budget if the treaty was rejected were also addressed.

"We are pointing out on the doorsteps the positives of the treaty. I can't script the opponents of the treaty and what they lay at me. Anyone with any bit of sense knows that a 'No' vote is going to make the Budget more difficult. Does anyone think a 'No' vote will make the next Budget much easier?" he asked.

Sunday Independent

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