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.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...