Tuesday 20 March 2018

Yes vote will not solve all problems but is part of solution, says Kenny

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny last night made his only set-piece broadcast of the referendum campaign, saying a Yes vote "will not solve all of our problems, but it is one part of the solution".

Mr Kenny is still refusing to take part in a broadcast debate, but made his pitch during a televised address to the nation.

It came after a string of opinion polls over the weekend showed the Yes side with a comfortable but narrowing lead and, worryingly for the Government, a massive number of voters still undecided.

Mr Kenny's address was just over four-and-a-half minutes long, to counter the amount of time Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams dedicated to the treaty in his ard fheis address on Saturday night.

The Taoiseach was to be given the same amount of time Mr Adams allocated to the treaty in his televised address on Saturday, but Mr Kenny's pre-recorded message ran around 30 seconds longer.

In it, Mr Kenny said the treaty will "create stability in the eurozone".

"This is essential for growth and job creation. A strong Yes vote will create the certainty and stability that our country needs to continue on the road to economic recovery. A Yes vote will send out a powerful message internationally about the kind of country Ireland is."

He also said "the sacrifices that everyone is making are starting to make a difference", and passing the treaty is "the best way of ensuring that the strong flow of investment in jobs continues and grows".

The Taoiseach also said a Yes will give guaranteed access to the European Stability Mechanism, the EU bailout fund, and ensure "good housekeeping rules" are in place across Europe. But he is steadfastly refusing to take part in a televised debate, despite repeated requests from broadcasters, challenges from other party leaders, and the massive number of undecided voters.

"The Taoiseach of this country is not going to have his agenda dictated by the political interests of Gerry Adams, or anyone else for that matter," Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney said yesterday. "He is not in the business of raising the profile of opposition TDs."

Mr Coveney also confirmed he had not asked Environment Minister Phil Hogan to take a more active media role during the campaign, amid speculation Mr Hogan has gone to ground after being involved in months of controversy over water and household charges.

"No, I haven't done that because we have lots of other voices who are out actively campaigning," he told RTE's 'This Week'.

Mr Hogan last night said he had been consistently canvassing, and had been out on numerous occasions in the past week.

Meanwhile, Independent TD Shane Ross came out for a No vote, saying a second referendum can be held in the autumn when turmoil in Europe subsided. But Independent senator Martin McAleese threw his weight behind a Yes last night, saying it makes more sense to pass the referendum.


"Despite the uncertainties in the arguments of both sides of the debate, the proposition which makes better sense to me at this juncture is to vote Yes, principally because we will be able to apply for funding, if required, through the European Stability Mechanism," Mr McAleese, the husband of former president Mary McAleese, said. "Financial stability is essential to economic stability. If there is to be hope of economic growth, of a fully functioning domestic economy, of a revitalised European economy and, most importantly, of jobs -- then I have to place my trust in this treaty."

James Downey & Bruce Arnold

Irish Independent

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