Ireland to hold referendum on euro pact
Ministers insist that danger of No vote is remote
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Wednesday 29 February 2012
Irish voters will have their say on the European Union fiscal treaty after the Dublin authorities reluctantly announced a referendum yesterday.
The Irish coalition government had hoped to avoid a vote, but advice from its Attorney-General said that one should be held. Ministers will now be campaigning strongly for an endorsement of the treaty and crossing their fingers that things go to plan, acutely aware that previous referendums have produced results which the authorities did not hope for or expect. Voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 before passing it at the second time of asking a year later.
A distinct strain of anti-European sentiment is obvious in the Irish Republic where the bailout from the EU and other institutions has produced resentment about the strict austerity measures which accompanied it.
A signing ceremony for the fiscal compact is expected to go ahead on Friday at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels despite yesterday's Irish announcement. Some 25 countries will sign up – all the EU nations except Britain and the Czech Republic. David Cameron, who vetoed an EU-wide treaty in December, will arrive late for the session so that he will not witness the ceremony.
Irish ministers maintain they are confident of winning the vote, which could take place in May. But European sources have openly said that Dublin lobbied for treaty wording that would make a referendum unnecessary.
Although the government has a solid majority the Irish Labour party, who are the junior partners in the ruling coalition, slipped in a recent opinion poll. Support meanwhile rose significantly for Sinn Fein, whose anti-Europe stance means it will be campaigning for a No vote.
The referendum was announced in the Irish parliament by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who said the Attorney-General, Maire Whelan, had advised the cabinet that one should be held.
Ms Whelan's belief was that the treaty was a unique instrument outside the EU treaty architecture and that on balance a vote was needed to ratify it.
Downing Street said the referendum decision was "a matter for Ireland".
The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "We had our own particular issues but we have always known that those countries in the eurozone bound by new fiscal rules would be pooling sovereignty. The possibility of a referendum in Ireland has certainly been talked about so I don't think it's a great surprise."
Mr Cameron's stance in December was attacked as a "phantom veto" since the other 25 EU members went ahead anyway with an agreement outside the Union's governing treaties.
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
Kim Jong-un, crowds and contraband: Inside North Korea with the Pyongyang marathon winner
Cover up! Mother told to show less cleavage during Disneyland family trip: 'Are we supposed to wear turtlenecks our whole lives?'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...