FG door-steppers 'scared' of voters in treaty backlash

Kevin Doyle

FINE GAEL supporters are refusing to go door-to-door to campaign for the Fiscal Treaty. Party leaders are worried that there is "no enthusiasm" among the party's grassroots to hit the hustings.

Sources say that recent controversies such as the household charge and water meters have left rank-and-file members afraid of canvassing.

"It's hard enough to get people to go campaign in the first place but when they are asked to do it off the back of these things it's impossible," said a minister.

They noted that while Fine Gael is still "doing well" in opinion polls, "the tide is turning a bit".


"It's going to be an extremely tight vote and we know it could go either way. It would be a disaster for the country and the party if it's not passed.

"Nobody is confident that it will be passed, which is why we need people to get out and knock on doors more than ever but I can't see it happening," said the source.

"For a general election there is a motivation. They want their local politician elected but in this case there isn't that same reason to risk getting b****ked on the doorstep."

The fears were raised as the first week of the campaign was widely seen as falling flat for the Yes side.

Fianna Fail's support was struggling as three councillors back Eamon O Cuiv's call for a No vote and the Government parties appear to be having little impact with the electorate.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore -- whose apparent absence from the campaign has been criticised by colleagues -- has accused the People Before Profit party of encouraging "lunatic economics".

He was responding to claims by Richard Boyd Barrett that up to €10bn extra in taxes would have to be raised if the country is unable to access the EU bailout fund.

"We estimated prior to the Budget that we could get on higher income taxes on earners over €100,000, €150,000 and €200,000. You could get between €1bn and €2bn extra into the State coffers."

He said that through a 5pc wealth levy on the top earners, "the top most wealthiest people in this country, you could raise between €5bn and €10bn".

He also said the international markets would still lend money to Ireland, even if the country didn't repay its banking debt. He added: "That would go a lot further towards bridging the gap than anything this fiscal treaty proposes and furthermore it would allow us to begin to invest," Mr Boyd Barrett said.


Mr Gilmore responded by saying the ideas were "irresponsible and incredible".

"The reality is that we export 80pc of everything we produce, the reality is that the euro is our own currency -- it's not somebody else's.

"It's the money in our pocket and it is lunatic economics to be suggesting that you collapse your own currency. Nobody in their right mind suggests that -- the impact of that for workers, for our services for our country. We need to take the sensible and responsible route in relation to our currency."