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Postpone the Fiscal Treaty referendum, government urged

THE Government has been urged to postpone the referendum on the fiscal treaty following game-changing events in Europe last week.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin said Ireland should not vote whether to ratify the deal until potential revisions, including a new growth stimulus, are written into the text.

She also argued that the fact the German parliament was forced to defer its ratification of the European deal because Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to drum up majority support was evidence it is too soon for Ireland to go to the polls.

"I think what happened last week was a game-changer. We had the German parliament unable to ratify the fiscal treaty," said Ms Harkin.

The MEP, who insisted she will vote in favour of the treaty, said it was important growth measures suggested by French president-elect Francois Hollande are stitched tightly into an amended version of the deal.

She was joined by a number of Independent TDs calling for the postponement, including Dublin South's Shane Ross and Dublin North Central's Finian McGrath.

Mr McGrath said the Government owes it to the public to allow them to cast their vote only once fully informed of the details of the treaty.

The finer points, including the new growth and jobs measures that are likely to be tacked on, will not be discussed until a summit of European leaders on May 23, followed by another in June.

Ms Harkin and the Independent TDs have suggested the referendum be deferred until the Autumn.

The Labour Party stepped up its campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum, due to take place on May 31.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton argued that ratifying the treaty will ensure Ireland has access to emergency funds should it require another bailout.

She said she could not understand why the country would walk a financial tightrope and reject the deal, which aims to impose stricter budgetary rules on member states and drive down their deficits.

Mr McGrath said while the latest Red C poll showed support for the treaty has increased to 53%, the number of people who are still undecided is too large.

The Independent TD said the public needs more time to understand the full extent of the deal and its consequences.

"There are three sides to this debate," said Mr McGrath.

"The Yes and the No and the people who want to know all the facts before they make a decision."

Both Mr McGrath and Mr Ross said they could not say how they intend to vote in the referendum as they are as yet undecided.