FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny has hit out at the contribution of EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy to the Lisbon treaty referendum campaign.
Just 24 hours after the three main political parties put on a united front for a yes vote, Mr Kenny risked causing tension with Fianna Fáil again when declaring himself unimpressed by Mr McCreevy’s recent comments.
Last week, former Fianna Fáil finance minister McCreevy admitted in an interview that he had not read all of the Lisbon treaty, and predicted there would not be 250 people in Ireland who would.
Canvassing for a yes vote in Limerick yesterday, Mr Kenny said he had read the document in full, and was not impressed by Mr McCreevy’s admission.
“As [Fine Gael TD] Michael Noonan said in the Dáil, this was Mr McCreevy tinkering around the engine of a car with a hammer again. I wasn’t impressed by his performance,” he said.
Mr Noonan, who was accompanying his party leader on the canvass, also criticised Mr McCreevy.
“When I was Fine Gael finance spokesman in the Dáil, Charlie, the finance minister, didn’t even read his own finance bill.”
Mr Kenny said politicians had to get out and explain to the electorate how important the passing of the Lisbon treaty was for the country.
Mr Kenny’s party and Fianna Fáil have already been involved in one damaging row over remarks made by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, in which he appeared to criticise the campaign efforts of Fine Gael. Mr Cowen said he was misinterpreted.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin accused anti-Lisbon group Libertas yesterday, of setting “a new low” in political debate.
On Wednesday, Libertas founder Declan Ganley claimed a clause in the Charter of Fundamental Rights could lead to the detention of children as young as three for educational purposes. The treaty, if passed, would give effect to the charter.
Fianna Fáil described Mr Ganley’s claim as “scare mongering”, with Mr Martin saying: “That’s just a new low in terms of political debate, in my view.”
He said he could not understand the motivation of Mr Ganley, a millionaire businessman.
“The motivation escapes me. The hostility in his campaign escapes me, in terms of why now all of a sudden a prominent businessman like that comes out and demonises the EU to the degree that he does.”
Mr Martin, Enterprise Minister for four years, said the EU had been exceptionally good for Irish business, providing a major export market.
“So it makes no sense why you would be negative,” he added.
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