Cabinet ‘frightening nation to pass treaty’

Ministers are putting the “frighteners” on people in order to try and force a yes vote on the fiscal treaty, Socialist TD Joe Higgins has said.

Mr Higgins hit out at claims by Finance Minister Micheal Noonan that a no result would make the December budget cuts and tax rises much worse.

“Mr Noonan is trying to put the frighteners on people,” said Mr Higgins.

“They are trying to scare people into voting yes.”

However, he denied the Socialists were misleading people by claiming a no vote in the referendum would lead to the abolition of the household tax and stop the introduction of water changes.

Launching a poster campaign against the fiscal compact treaty in a Dublin wine bar, Mr Higgins said that voting no could trigger the collapse of the Government.

Dublin Socialist MEP Paul Murphy said a yes vote would lead to more austerity as he accused the pro-treaty side of putting forward “arguments of fear”.

Mr Murphy said the Government was attempting to put “a gun to the heads of voters” with talk of dire economic consequences following a no vote.

Mr Murphy said that austerity was not working, and would be made worse by putting into Irish law measures in the treaty which he said are austerity-maintaining.

Mr Higgins warned that “billionaire newspaper owners” would push a yes vote via their publications to forward their own interests.

The party said it would be spending €55,000 on its anti-treaty campaign, with €47,000 of that coming from funds it shared with allies in the European parliament.

Meanwhile, groups representing farmers and hoteliers have come out in support of the fiscal treaty.

The Irish Farmers’ Association yesterday launched its campaign for a yes vote, saying it was “in the best interests of farm families, the agri-food sector, and the economy”.

IFA president John Bryan said it was crucial that Ireland maintained its “influence” within the EU because “key decisions will be made on the future of the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] in the next 12 months”.

John Moloney, managing director of Glanbia, said that from an agri-food perspective, EU membership had been hugely beneficial, both through the CAP and access to a market of 500m consumers.

“It is critical we have a stable currency base to maximise our competitive position as we further develop export markets,” he said.

The Irish Hotels’ Federation also called for a yes vote.

It said that treaty ratification would “assist in bringing greater stability to the economy and provide much-needed certainty around sources of future exchequer funding” when the current EU/IMF bailout ends.

IHF chief executive Tim Fenn said the “economic rollercoaster” of the past four years had “had a devastating impact on domestic consumer confidence, with knock-on effects” for tourism.

“The effect has been particularly severe in the hotels sector, where the home market accounts for over 65% of bed nights and €1.21bn in annual revenues,” he said.

“A yes vote would show our European partners that we are fully engaged with the eurozone project and a fully committed member of the EU.

“This is increasingly important when it comes to how Ireland is viewed by visitors from our main European markets.”


A Spectacular 28.86-carat ring, the largest D-colour diamond ever offered online, will come up at Christie's Jewels in New York from June 16-30.High value diamond adds serious sparkle to online sale

A whiff of new normality is in the air, writes Des O'SullivanAntiques: How to put a post-lockdown world in the frame

Buy everything on Michelle Darmody’s list and create five meals.One List, Five Meals: Irish stew with a twist; Yellow Pepper Omelette

‘There are two of us, in it together’From Chestnut to Sage - how family food businesses, real labours of love, are coping with Covid

More From The Irish Examiner