Monday 27 January 2020

O Cuiv says FF won't expel him over treaty

Eamonn O'Cuiv
Eamonn O'Cuiv

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FIANNA Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv has said he does not expect to be expelled from Fianna Fail because of his opposition to the EU fiscal compact treaty.

It had been predicted that Mr O Cuiv would be forced out of the party that his grandfather Eamon de Valera founded for refusing to back the fiscal treaty legislation in the Dail.

But Mr O Cuiv said there would be no vote on the necessary legislation before the May 31 referendum was held.

"Now obviously if the Irish people pass the referendum, I've no bother bowing to the will of the Irish people. So there's no question of me voting against the party," he told the Irish Independent.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin had warned last February that Mr O Cuiv would be expelled from the parliamentary party if he voted in the Dail against the party line on the fiscal treaty issue.

That could have seen Mr O Cuiv become another high-profile departure -- following the resignations of Bertie Ahern and Padraig Flynn as a result of the Mahon Tribunal findings.

But Mr O Cuiv , who resigned in February as deputy leader due to his opposition to the treaty, said there was now no prospect of him being expelled from Fianna Fail.

"That was always wishful thinking because I'm not going," he said.

As a party, Fianna Fail is supporting a Yes vote in the fiscal treaty referendum, which would commit the State to tough EU budget control rules and reducing Ireland's debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio from 104.9pc to below 60pc over time.

Yesterday, a specially formed Oireachtas fiscal-treaty sub-committee heard the views of foreign ambassadors and Irish MEPs on the treaty.

Blackmail

Independent Ireland West MEP Marian Harkin criticised the clause in the treaty which would bar any country that did not accept it from receiving future bailout funds.

"Blackmail is a strong word -- I myself used that word. I couldn't believe this was happening and I'm afraid I haven't changed my mind on that," she said.

But Fine Gael Galway West TD Sean Kyne said passing the fiscal-compact treaty might increase the likelihood of eurobonds -- which would see all debt risks shared among the single currency's 17 members.

However, Germany is totally opposed to this because it would lead to a rise in German borrowing costs as it became partly liable for the debts of others.

Labour Senator John Gilroy said the referendum debate should not be about the loss of sovereignty to the EU.

He argued: "It should be about the changing nature of sovereignty and how we deal with that."

But Socialist Party Dublin MEP Paul Murphy said it was better to reject the treaty than "institutionalise austerity".

He added: "This Government's policies means we are snowballing to a second bailout. We need to go the opposite direction to what this treaty pushes us in."

Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers' Association has said that it will encourage its 90,000 members to vote Yes.

IFA president John Bryan said: "As a small open economy, Ireland benefits from membership of a stable currency regime. This prevents price uncertainty, keeps interest rates low and improves access both to the eurozone and other markets."

Irish Independent

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