Kenny: Protesters stopped people meeting me

Enda Kenny claimed protesters have blocked people approaching him and obstructed job launches, insisting this was a fundamental change for Irish politics.

The Taoiseach’s claims came as he was asked whether the yes side itself was using bully-boy tactics.

“In a number of instances around the country there have been protests,” he said. “Now, I have no objection to legitimate protests, but when I find that protests are deliberately arranged to obstruct ordinary people from going about their business or from wishing to speak to the Taoiseach about any issues or concerns, I find that a very fundamental change in the way politics is being operated in the country.”

Asked if he was deliberately targeted during the campaign, he said: “I have had a number of occasions where the intention was to obstruct the proceedings of a perfectly legitimate operation, be they an announcement about job creation, job investment.

“Some of these are deliberately constructed to obstruct and to prevent normal business being conducted. That is not a healthy sign in this country.”

Mr Kenny did not specify any group or party with his claims. He also said a no vote would see Ireland downgraded by rating agencies. His claims came as trade union leaders backing a yes vote argued that a no vote could lead to pay cuts and to living standards falling back to the levels of the 1950s.

Blair Horan, secretary of the Charter Group of trade unions, said: “There are frightening consequences if we got a no vote on Thursday.

“We won’t get access to funds, so immediately we will have difficulty in terms of public servants pay, pensions for pensioners, social welfare benefits.”

He said Ireland could also face an exit from the euro.

“An exit from the euro would have catastrophic consequences. It would put our living standards back in the dark ages.”

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said a rejection would lead to a harsher budget as investors would back off. “They’ll stall on their decisions and we’d have to mark down growth. The other thing is we’d have no access to the bailout fund which would be available at the end of 2013, the ESM.

“For two reasons I’d have to plan a tougher budget.”

The no camp said a yes vote would be financially destructive. People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said a timebomb of austerity would go off if voters approved the treaty.

“Whether it’s the ESM or whether it’s the fiscal treaty, either way what we’ve got in front of us is a timebomb of austerity cuts and attacks which are going to blow up in the faces of the Irish people when we exit the EU-IMF programme.

“If people don’t want that austerity time bomb blowing up in their face, they should vote no on Thursday and demand that we have an alternative that puts jobs and growth first.”

Parties will host their final press conferences today ahead of a broadcasting moratorium tomorrow.


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