Enda Kenny has ruled out any possibility of a second referendum on the EU fiscal compact treaty no matter which way the people vote.
The Taoiseach’s decision comes as Joan Burton, the social protection minister, looks increasingly isolated after calling for Europe to offer a sweetener for a yes vote.
Several ministers have shot down her call for a cheaper deal on paying off the Anglo debt in exchange for passing the referendum.
Mr Kenny said the referendum was a separate matter to EU negotiations on bank debt. “As this treaty does not require unanimity, therefore there is no veto involved here so it’s a once off and when the Irish people make their choice, that’s it,” he told RTÉ.
Voters have been asked to vote twice on both the Lisbon and Nice treaties, which were passed after a second vote.
Mr Kenny and some ministers yesterday continued to play down Ms Burton’s suggestion that a cheaper deal on the Anglo bailout could help secure a yes vote.
Leo Varadkar, the transport minister, criticised Ms Burton’s suggestion that a cheaper deal on paying for the promissory notes, or IOUs, for Anglo’s bailout would be “helpful” in passing the referendum.
“What I don’t think though is it’s helpful to connect the two... there’s nothing about the promissory notes in the treaty,” he said.
There were two reasons why connecting the two did not make sense, Mr Varadkar said: Unlike the Lisbon and Nice treaties, the fiscal compact deal can be implemented without Ireland’s support; and secondly, discussions on reducing Anglo debt are at a sensitive stage.
“It would be very counter-productive of us to go off now and make threats and say we want a special concession or we’ll vote no.
“It’s not smart in terms of real politic and diplomacy to link the two,” he told Newstalk.
Mr Varadkar later said he had “sympathy” with what Ms Burton said and was “not furious with her”.
Ruairi Quinn, the education minister, said Ms Burton’s observation was “correct”, but to “say that one is conditional on the other is utterly misleading”.
Lucinda Creighton, the European affairs minister, played down claims of disagreement in the Cabinet.
“There are no divisions in Government,” she said. “We are all very much determined and will campaign very rigorously to ensure that this treaty is ratified.”
A Government source last night ruled out talk of a rift: “The two issues are separate. Everyone is in agreement on this.”
There is speculation the treaty vote may be called for May, and the Cabinet is expected to discuss the issue at its weekly meeting today.
Meanwhile, credit ratings agency Moody’s yesterday predicted Ireland may need a second bailout and would likely need to rely on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), at least partially, when the current bailout programme ends next year.
Mr Varadkar said this was unlikely: “What the ESM is is our insurance policy just in case we need a second bailout, which is increasingly unlikely, but it would be unwise not to have that insurance policy there.”
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