Gilmore: No change to EU treaty

Gilmore: No change to EU treaty

The Tánaiste has given his absolute assurance that there will be no change to the text of the European fiscal treaty following growth talks at last night’s EU summit.

Eamon Gilmore repeated claims from Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the deal Ireland votes on in the referendum in seven days has not been altered to include added growth measures.

He insisted any new stimulus plans discussed at the meeting in Brussels will be separate and will not be formally considered until the next EU meeting in June.

“Absolutely categorically, there will be no change to the text of the treaty that has been agreed and signed, and that the people are voting on this day week,” said Mr Gilmore.

“What is going to happen is that the European leaders will continue to discuss issues to lead to economic growth within Europe, to promote job creation, and last night’s meeting set out a list of things that are now being worked upon between now and the meeting in June.”

Mr Gilmore told RTÉ that future growth talks will include ideas to make project bonds available to smaller countries, which means money available for things like infrastructure projects.

Discussions on structural funds may also take place, which could see the transfer of funds that had been allocated to one country but not used transferred to another that needs them for areas including youth unemployment.

Following the six-hour informal summit last night, Mr Kenny confirmed some countries supported the idea of struggling banks being recapitalised directly through a licensing system with the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

He said there was also agreement that the board of the European Investment Bank - the European Union’s bank – considers increasing its incentive lending capacity.

“The issue of stability and investment in jobs is fundamental to growing an economy,” Mr Kenny added.

“For that reason we hope for a very strong outcome. It’s also clear that what we want the people to vote on next Thursday will not be changed and that’s the treaty.”

Mr Gilmore launched an attack on Sinn Féin over its opposition to the fiscal treaty.

He accused the party of continually talking the country down and standing in the way of its recovery.

“I’m sick and tired of Sinn Féin taking every opportunity to talk down this country, to talk down the people of this country and to talk down the opportunities that should be there,” said Mr Gilmore.

He said the opposition party had made wrong decisions in the past - particularly when it voted in favour of the bank bailout in 2008 – and that it continues to make the mistake of advocating a No vote in next week’s referendum.

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghin O Caolain challenged Mr Gilmore over Ireland’s part in the informal European summit last night.

He said Taoiseach Enda Kenny could not take responsibility for the fact the text of the fiscal treaty is to remain unchanged.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD suggested Mr Kenny brought nothing to the table at the meeting of the 27 heads of the European Union.

Mr Gilmore's position was however backed up by the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin when he spoke to reporters in Dublin this morning.

"The decision last night by the (European) Council was that the treaty, that has already been signed by 25 member states, is the one that will be concluded and ratified by all member states.

"Obviously the growth agenda is an important additional factor, but it's separate.

"The wording of the treaty being put to the Irish people next week is the wording of the treaty that will be ratified across the Union."

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney meanwhile said the clarification at the EU summit in Brussels that there will be no changes made to the text of the treaty "categorically removes any doubt surrounding the treaty".

“It's time for No campaigners to accept the facts as they are, so that voters will not be confused by misleading information in the run-up to polling day," said Minister Coveney, Fine Gael's director of elections for the treaty referendum campaign.

"It's important for voters to know that two of the key arguments of the no campaign no longer have any credibility whatsoever; in relation to access to ESM funding and now on the text of the Treaty.

"Voters need to know the truth about the consequences of voting no," he added.

"It is simply an accepted fact that this treaty will not change following the vote next week and that Ireland cannot access the ESM unless we vote Yes.”

Anti-treaty campaigners however continued to insist that it is not too late to change the document.

Paul Murphy of the United Left Alliance said Ireland's vote can play a crucial role in adding to momentum to 'bin' the treaty, because it is the only public vote on the text.

With just seven days until polling day, both Yes and No campaigners are gearing up to make their final canvassing push.

The Taoiseach will make a televised state of the nation address on Sunday night in a bid to balance comments Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is expected to make live on TV on Saturday in his party’s Ard Fheis speech.

Mr Adams has led Sinn Féin in opposition to the treaty, which he has claimed will bring years of unending austerity to Ireland and further cripple the economy.

Independent TDs have also argued against the deal, saying it will lock Ireland under European control and will not guarantee access to emergency funds should the country require another bailout.

If implemented, the deal will see stricter budgetary rules imposed on member states and harsh penalties for those that do adhere to them.

It also aims to drive down deficits and promises access to the ESM.

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