Kenny: Hollande has 'no intention of interfering' in referendum

Kenny: Hollande has 'no intention of interfering' in referendum

French president-elect Francois Hollande has no intention of interfering with Ireland’s referendum on the European treaty, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted.

The two leaders spoke this morning by telephone where the incoming head of state in Paris made it clear that he understands and respects the need for Irish voters to have their say on the fiscal pact.

Mr Kenny said: “President-elect Hollande is fully sensitive and cognisant of the concerns of Ireland; of the fact that our people are holding a referendum on May 31 on the text of the treaty signed on March 2 and agreed by 25 states.”

The Taoiseach, campaigning for a Yes vote, said the referendum at the end of the month is more important than a general election because its impact will be much longer-lasting.

He said it is Ireland’s decision alone as to whether it ratifies the fiscal treaty which aims to enforce stricter budgetary rules in eurozone states.

“It’s the Irish people’s decision alone. It’s not another country, any other nationality or any other people who are voting,” said Mr Kenny.

Mr Hollande, the Socialist party candidate who topped outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy in the polls at the weekend, said before the election he would try to have the text of the treaty amended.

He said if he were elected, France would refuse to ratify the fiscal deal unless further measures for growth and job creation were written into its framework.

This, coupled with political instability in Greece and The Netherlands, has led to uncertainty about the treaty’s future and, as a consequence, has called into question the need for Ireland’s referendum on May 31.

The Government has continually insisted that the public vote will be held regardless of politics in other eurozone states.

Mr Kenny added: “The president-elect fully respects and understands the Irish situation. He has no intention of interfering in any way. We strongly support the development of such a growth agenda, why wouldn’t we? It’s in the interest of our people.”

The Taoiseach said he is looking forward to meeting president-elect Hollande face-to-face at the next meeting of the European Council on May 23.

The council is likely to further discuss France’s position on the treaty and whether its conditions for ratifying it will be acknowledged.

Only 12 of the 25 countries that have signed up to the deal have to ratify it in order for it to be implemented.

Those arguing in its favour, including Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil, have insisted the treaty will ensure Ireland has access to emergency funds from Europe should it require another bailout.

Opposition TDs, including Sinn Féin and members of the United Left Alliance, have stated it will result in further austerity and plunge Ireland into another economic crisis.

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