No vote a huge risk, says Gilmore

Ireland will be put back in the “eye of the storm” in Europe if voters reject the EU fiscal compact treaty, Eamon Gilmore has said.

The Tánaiste also said it was too early to talk about changes to future budgets but that a no vote would hit investor confidence here.

He welcomed the weekend election of François Hollande as French president but said the socialist’s calls for more growth and jobs would not require changes to the treaty.

Speaking at a launch in Dublin of Labour’s yes campaign, Mr Gilmore said: “Across Europe there is a growing mood to do more for growth. The election of François Hollande as president of France has given an immediate boost to that agenda.

“This is something that Ireland has already been promoting. And this will mean an addition, not an alternative, to the treaty,” he said.

The party says it is circulating close to a million leaflets nationwide and that the intensive phase of the campaign is beginning.

He said the referendum date of May 31 would not be postponed as the issues being raised by Mr Hollande would not open the treaty but add to it.

Any claims that Ireland should consider leaving the eurozone was like playing with fire, he added.

Mr Gilmore did not answer a query on how much Ireland must reduce its debt by under the “debt brake” rule for member states if there is a yes vote, as cited in the treaty.

Party referendum director Joan Burton said Ireland’s contribution to the European Stability Mechanism was a minimum of €1.27bn over three years but would not be linked to the exchequer. Payments to the future bailout fund will be made in five tranches, beginning in July and October. Payments to the mechanism would be rated as “investments,” said the social protection minister.

The Government said that payments to the fund were factored into its budgetary forecasts and would not impact on its general deficit target for 2012. Commenting on the scenario if voters reject the treaty, Mr Gilmore said if the stability treaty is defeated “it won’t be business as usual”.

“A defeat in the treaty has enormous consequences for this country. It will have a huge impact in undermining investor confidence in this country. This would be ‘seriously damaged’.”

“If the treaty is defeated, this country will be back in the eye of the storm on the first day of June,” he added.

Mr Gilmore refused to say if income taxes would be raised if the treaty is rejected as it was too soon to speculate about future budgets.

Finance minister Michael Noonan recently said a no vote would make this year’s budget “dramatically more difficult”.


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