THE President of ICMSA, John Comer, has stated that any sensible examination of our options with reference to the upcoming referendum can only result in a recommendation to vote ‘Yes’.
He said that prudence, logic and the overwhelming need for funding stability had to be the decisive factors in deciding in favour of a Yes vote and he asked farmers and anyone involved in the agri-food sector not to listen to what he called ‘siren voices’ who were urging people to indulge in a massive gamble with the state’s already precarious finances.
“We may not like the difficult economic position we are in and we may have different views regarding the cause and solution to the economic crisis, but any rational examination of the facts — and any likely unfolding scenarios — will quickly tell you that it is in our best interest to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming Referendum,” said Mr Comer, who also confirmed that his Association’s National Council had unanimously endorsed a recommendation to support a ‘Yes’ vote.
“Many distortions of the facts and the purpose of the Treaty have already been put before the electorate, and many more will be trotted out before voting day on 31 May. But none of these should hide the essential choice to be made which is that we either vote ‘Yes’ and rebuild our economy and our economic future jointly and with the help of our European partners, or we set ourselves adrift as a small open economy with an unsustainable debt level — regardless of the cause or origin of that debt.
“This Referendum must not be presented as an opportunity to vote on what happened and why it happened; that is for another day. It is rather about next month, next year and the next five years in which it is of paramount importance that the ability of the Irish state to guarantee funding is established and is internationally recognised. Voting ‘Yes’ on the 31 May will do that and that is the prize at stake here. The consequences for all families and business of a ‘No’ are, at best, uncertain and, at worst, are potentially catastrophic.”
The ICMSA leader stated: “While everyone with a vote should grasp that essential choice it’s also true to observe that not all individuals would suffer the same as a result of a ‘No’ vote. People who are in secure employment in the public sector, or the non-traded sector, may have the luxury — in the short term — of voting ‘No’ as a protest against a whole variety of domestic issues, but that luxury does not apply to people depending on the international traded sectors – most specifically, the farming and the food sector. We just don’t have that luxury.
“A ‘No’ vote could very well set in train a chain reaction which would be very negative for business in Ireland — particularly for the export dependant sectors. The practical instruments necessary for development of our sector, such as access to credit at rates which are internationally competitive, would be very difficult in the event of a ‘No’ vote as we would gradually but inexorably become slowly more disengaged from the European scene and less able to have any meaningful influence on the setting of aims and ambitions and the drawing-up of the policies required to achieve those aims,” Mr Comer added.
“My strong advice to farmers, and to our partners and colleagues in the wider agri-food and general exporting sector, is to be resolute and certain about what needs to be done on 31 May and that is to vote ‘Yes’. Our sector and our families and our future require a vote in favour of the Fiscal Compact so let’s not leave the decision to others. Let’s take our future in our own hands and do what we can to ensure the result that we need. We need a huge turnout of farmers voting ‘Yes’ and I’m confident that we’ll get it”.
“This is about the Irish state securing a line of credit that it, hopefully, will not require and ICMSA is no different to every other association and organisation that has the best interests of our country and our people at heart in that we would prefer to have full sovereignty over our own economic affairs. But that is not the case at present and it is simply to misrepresent the facts to pretend that this referendum is somehow a choice between regaining that sovereignty and ceding more control to the EU, or the even more fanciful proposition that this is a choice between austerity and growth. Ireland’s situation cannot — and certainly will not – be advanced by any more fantasy arguments and false choices. God knows we’ve had enough of those. This referendum is about securing that line of credit to enable this state to get the ‘breathing space’ that we so badly need to allow our food and other exports to grow jobs and indigenous business while the Government attempts to downsize our current deficit and strip some of the more outlandish costs out of its own spending programmes.
“We need that breathing space and stability, and voting ‘Yes’ will guarantee it. This referendum is the original ‘no-brainer’: we have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” concluded Mr Comer.
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