Referendum a chance to “cement” relations with Europe - Kenny
By Sarah Collins | Thursday 01 March 2012
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said a referendum on the fiscal compact treaty will “cement” the country’s relationship with Europe and prove an essential link in securing future jobs and growth. Speaking to reporters two days after Ireland announced it was bound to hold a vote based on legal advice from its attorney-general, Kenny said Irish people would not be “bribed” into voting ‘yes’ through promises of better terms on its bailout. “In this particular referendum the Irish people will have a real opportunity to cement their relationship with Europe both for the future of Ireland and for the future of jobs and growth,” Kenny said.
Ireland is negotiating with the European Central Bank to reduce the interest rates and lengthen the maturity of promissory notes it used to wind down the former Anglo Irish Bank - a bailout which was agreed before Ireland’s rescue loan from the EU and IMF and which will end up costing the state €3.1 billion a year in interest. The first €3.1 billion payment is due on 31 March. Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan insisted the bailout issue was entirely separate from the vote. “We are not going to tie the two issues together that would be an attempt to induce the Irish electorate to vote for a treaty,” he said on his way into a Eurogroup meeting, on 1 March. “They must be allowed establish the facts in full and make a free and open decision on whether they vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
Adoption of the fiscal compact is a condition for countries drawing down aid from the future European Stability Mechanism, which is due to come into force in July this year. Without the backing of the fund Ireland is likely to pay very high interest rates when it attempts to go back to the markets in 2014.