Kenny defends 'courageous' Bruton after referendum gaffe

Kenny defends 'courageous' Bruton after referendum gaffe

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has today defended Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, who was forced into an embarrassing U-turn last night after he said that the Government would seek a second referendum if the public rejects the treaty on May 31.

"I think Richard Bruton was very courageous and man enough to immediately recognise that he made a mistake and own up," said Mr Kenny about the Minister's slip-up during a live radio debate.

"It will be very good if some of the people on the other side were to own up in a similar fashion to some of the same mistakes they've made."

The Taoiseach said that everyone makes mistakes in life and praised Mr Bruton for immediately correcting himself.

Mr Bruton said during the Today FM debate that the Government had a Plan B in case the public rejects the treaty - to seek another vote.

He was quick to retract his statement however and Fine Gael's director of elections Simon Coveney was forced to issue a statement insisting a second referendum will not take place.

"It's a once-off opportunity and my advice and my counsel to the people in asking for their authorisation here is to give a resounding signal, not just about Ireland but about Europe," Mr Kenny went on.

The Taoiseach was speaking at the Impact Annual Conference in Killarney this morning, where he insisted ratifying the treaty would ensure further investment, job opportunities and access to emergency funds from Europe should Ireland need a second bailout.

Businessman Declan Ganley was the latest to weigh in on the opposition side to the treaty, which if implemented aims to strengthen budgetary rules across eurozone member states and drive down deficits.

He has called for the public to vote No in the referendum to buy more time to find out about the impact of a growth package that is to be stitched into a revised version of the treaty.

New French president Francois Hollande has confirmed France will not ratify the fiscal treaty as it is. He has therefore demanded plans for jobs and growth to be written into the text of the deal.

Mr Ganley, as well as Sinn Féin and a number of left-wing independent TDs, has said it would be foolish for Ireland to vote on a deal that has not yet been finalised.

The Libertas founder, who led Ireland's revolt against the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, said the Government should keep its cards close to its chest until learning what Mr Hollande has up his sleeve.

A Red C poll announced today found 50% will vote in favour of the treaty, 31% will vote No and 19% remain undecided.

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