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Friday, April 27, 2012
The Government has bowed to pressure and removed from an information website a series of speeches calling for a yes vote in the fiscal treaty referendum.
Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy claimed the removal was a "clear admission" that the website would have breached the McKenna judgement.
In that judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that taxpayers’ money could not be used to advocate one side in a referendum campaign.
Despite this, the Government’s stabilitytreaty.ie — meant to offer merely explanatory information — had until yesterday a series of speeches by ministers calling for a yes vote.
But they were removed after Taoiseach Enda Kenny told an Oireachtas committee they would be "taken down" once the campaign for the May 31 referendum kicked off "officially".
The Government’s view of the McKenna judgment is that it does not come into effect until the referendum is ordered.
Mr Kenny signalled to the committee that Environment Minister Phil Hogan would sign the polling day order on Monday next.
Speaking after the committee hearing, Mr Murphy said that, despite the removal of the speeches, "the content of the website remains biased in favour of the yes side".
The committee itself saw minor spats between the Taoiseach advocating a yes vote and Mr Murphy and Sinn Féin TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn a no vote.
Mr Mac Lochlainn said there was a "turning of the tide against austerity" across Europe, and questioned why the Government wanted to ratify the treaty.
He criticised the stipulation that only countries which ratified it would be allowed to access the EU’s future bailout fund.
The Government was using that stipulation to "scare the bejaysus" out of people, he added.
Mr Kenny responded by questioning why Ireland would "want to do down its own insurance policy".
While he did not believe Ireland would require a second bailout, that was "wholly different" to saying the country did not need a "backstop for unforeseen circumstances."
A yes vote would "underwrite" Ireland’s recovery whereas a No vote would undermine it, he claimed.
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