Gilmore denies hiding bad news to avoid backlash on referendum day

THE Government has insisted it is not trying to hide bad news items ahead of the crucial referendum on the EU fiscal compact.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the work of the coalition is “continuing as normal” despite a raft of reports, new charges and cuts being put off until after the May 31 vote.

A new property tax report recommending site valuation charges ranging from €188 to €3,000 was due to be published by the end of April. The Department of the Environment said it has still not been presented to Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

A registration system for septic tank charges was to be implemented by the end of March, but the department said there is no time frame for when it will happen.

Mr Gilmore denied there was any plan to hide news that would provoke a backlash from voters: “What we are doing is doing our normal business and we are campaigning for a yes vote because we have to have stability in the euro in order to build our economic recovery,” he said.

Speaking at the annual James Connolly commemoration in Arbour Hill, Mr Gilmore said he was “encouraged” by the latest opinion poll showing the yes side leading with 53% compared with 31% who plan to oppose the treaty.

The minister said he would treat it with “caution” because “we learned the lessons from the past that what opinion polls may say and what happens on polling day can differ.”

Responding to no campaigner Declan Ganley, who argued that the treaty will not lead to any reduction in the bank debt burden, Mr Gilmore said the two issues have to be kept separate.

“The issue of bank debt is a separate set of negotiations the Government has had under way for some time,” he said. “We’ve had some success in that area with the reduction in the interest rate and the change in the promissory note.”

In his commemoration speech, SIPTU president Jack O’Connor renewed his call for a stimulus package to accompany the treaty as an “urgent requirement”.

He said if the Irish people were presented with a substantial investment programme that would create tens of thousands of jobs “we can offer them a reason for voting in favour of the fiscal compact.”

Mr Gilmore said the Government has “for some time been working on a plan to increase growth in the Irish economy” and was “encouraged that there is now emphasis in Europe on getting growth”.

He appealed to individual workers to support the treaty, even without the backing of their unions.

“Anybody who is working in a company which is exporting understands very clearly how important it is to have a stable euro to secure our exports,” he said.

“Anybody who is working in the public sector understands how important it is that this country will have access to emergency funding if we need it.

“And anybody who is out of work understands how important it is that we get investment into the country in order to create jobs.”


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