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Sunday 21 April 2019

Thumbs up: 60pc of voters say YES to Fiscal Treaty

Mary Lou McDonald, SF TD (left) and Taoiseach Enda Kenny (right)
Taoiseach Enda Kenny gives the thumbs up at the Bord Bia Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: PA
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: PA
Libertas leader Declan Ganley in the Dublin count centre at Dublin Castle for the Fiscal Stability Referendum as the votes are counted across the country. Photo: PA
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton watches the counting earlier. He said he is confident that the pact has been supported by the people after tallies suggested at least a 55-45 majority. Photo: PA

IRELAND has given a resounding endorsement to tough new budget controls under the European fiscal treaty.

Official referendum figures declared at the Dublin Castle count centre showed the controversial pact was backed by a margin of 326,003 votes, or 60.3% in favour.

Five of the countries 43 constituencies rejected the plan including both electoral regions of Donegal and three others in Dublin, one of which is home to two ministers.

Returning officer Riona Ni Flanghaile announced a total of 955,091 votes in favour compared with 629,088 against the agreement.

Among the first messages to Europe after voter support was secure, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, said the country now needs a deal on its bank debt.

"I think this decision taken by the Irish people is a necessary step on the road to recovery but we now have to build on it," he said.

"This was not just an exercise ... asking people to vote Yes - it was also an occasion where we listened to what people where saying."

The Tanaiste, whose Dun Laoghaire constituency saw the second highest support for the treaty, added: "We do need to have a deal in relation to our bank debt. We do need to see progress upon it."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams warned that the Government will be tackled harder now on whether it can meet commitments to ease the pressure of austerity.

"The Government has given firm commitments in terms of committing on a bank bailout, in terms of growth and jobs incentive initiatives so we will be holding the Government to those promises.

"The problems which are facing people today will be there tomorrow.

"Clearly an element of the Yes vote was ideologically committed to the Yes camp and others did so very, very reluctantly."

With official confirmation of the final figure expected mid-afternoon, the Government was toasting success while key players in the No camp have conceded defeat.

Tipperary South was first to return results, for the second time in a row, and reported 61% of voters in favour while Galway East followed soon after with a strong 63% backing.

After five constituencies reported, the turnout was 50% of the 3.1 million eligible to vote.

Other constituencies to have reported results include Limerick City 61pc in favour; Tipperary North 66pc Waterford 58pc; and Kildare North 65pc.

Ireland becomes the fourth country in the European Union to ratify strict new rules to rein in budget spending and set the groundwork for future bailout mechanisms in the eurozone.

Polls in the run-up to the referendum had predicted safe passage for the pact with a 60-40 majority.

The first constituencies to go against the treaty were Donegal South West with a No vote of 55pc and Dublin South-West with 51pc.

The neighbouring area of Dublin Mid-West narrowly accepted the treaty with a vote of just 50.01pc.

Officials verifying the figures from the 43 constituencies confirmed that there were only five votes between the Yes and No camps in the region with 33,175 valid votes out of an electorate of 64,445.

Europe must now repay Ireland's trust in political leaders to deliver the country from crippling bank debts, according to Libertas founder and No campaigner Declan Ganley.

The businessman said a Yes vote in the referendum on the fiscal stability treaty was an expression of trust in government to deal with the chronic insolvency that is killing the economy.

"This was the only democratic exercise on this particular treaty to be carried out in Europe," he added.

"The majority of the electorate here have expressed trust and faith in our partners in Europe to do the right thing by us with regard to this bank debt."

Arriving at Dublin Castle national count centre, Mr Ganley said the Irish people can no longer be treated as "patsies" picking up the bills of private banks who refuse to pay their own debts.

Asked why the No campaign faltered, he simply responded: "Not enough votes."

Mr Ganley said it was "way too early" to say if he would run again for elected office under his Libertas banner, which he recently rebranded as a think-tank.

"I wouldn't rule it out either," he added.

"It's going to be a long hot summer in European markets, and a lot is going to happen."

Damning Enda Kenny with faint praise, he congratulated the Taoiseach on a successful strategy of not debating opponents.

"If you can't win a debate, don't have it," he said.

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