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Parties draw battle lines for key vote on future of euro

THE referendum campaign is likely to split between established political parties and interest groups advocating a 'Yes' vote and smaller, fringe ones campaigning for a 'No'.

The Fine Gael-Labour Coalition will lead the pro-treaty charge, with Fianna Fail also on the 'Yes' side.

The 'No' campaign will be led by Sinn Fein and a group of left- and right-wing Independent TDs, ranging from Shane Ross to Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett of the United Left Alliance.

Businessman Declan Ganley, who spearheaded the 'No' Lisbon campaigns, said he would make his position known this week.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "It is very much in Ireland's interest that this treaty be approved, as doing so will build on the steady progress the country has made in the past year.

"Ratification of this treaty will be another important step in the rebuilding of both Ireland's economy, and our international reputation.

"In this referendum, the Irish people can confirm our commitment to responsible budgeting and in doing so, ensure that the reckless economic mismanagement that drove our country to the brink of bankruptcy will not be repeated by any future government."

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said 'Yes' was "a vote for economic stability and economic recovery", and said the treaty was "part of a package of measures being put in place in Europe to stabilise the situation in the eurozone".


He also warned that rejecting the treaty would lock Ireland out of further bailout funds, if they were needed.

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"Ratifying the treaty will also provide Ireland with access to emergency funds in the future, if we need them, through the new European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

"Our intention is to emerge from the EU/IMF programme without having to resort to the ESM, but the facility itself is an important backstop that will further enhance international confidence in Ireland."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin welcomed the referendum decision and said his party will campaign for a 'Yes' vote.

"The referendum will only pass if we present it to the people as part of a series of measures required to return Europe to jobs and growth. It cannot be presented as the only major reform on the agenda," Mr Martin told the Dail.

However, in what appeared to be a snub to Mr Martin, his deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv last night declined to say what way he would vote, claiming it was "a personal matter".

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams committed his party to a 'No' vote, and said the treaty was "an austerity treaty that won't help to regenerate the economy".

"It will condemn the people, particularly those on lower and middle incomes, to endure the Government's terrible policy of austerity," he said.

ICTU's general secretary David Begg said he expected it would be taking a position on the referendum, but it had not been decided.

He said the first moves towards that would be at its spring executive council meeting next month, and they would make their position public if agreement can be reached among council members.

Business group IBEC will be "firmly" campaigning for a 'Yes', its director general Danny McCoy said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he would also be campaigning for a 'Yes' vote because the fiscal treaty was in the "national interest".

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