Working towards recovery

‘Austerity isn’t working now and won’t start working on June 1’
NO - Gerry Adams TD

TODAY is the people’s day, the day on which the citizens of this State will pass judgement on the austerity treaty.

When considering what way to vote, people need to ask themselves if the austerity of the last four years has worked.

Has austerity got people off the dole and back to work? Has austerity helped ease the mortgage crisis? Has austerity reduced the toxic banking debt? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding no.

Austerity isn’t working now and won’t start working on June 1. It is the cause of the social and economic instability at home and across Europe.

The austerity treaty seeks to enshrine these failed policies in international and domestic law. It also seeks to impose even greater levels of austerity in the future.

And it transfers fiscal powers from the Oireachtas to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels and Luxembourg. None of this will provide stability or certainty.

If this treaty is passed the Government will have to find an extra €6bn in spending cuts and tax hikes from 2015. This will be on top of the €8.6bn of tax hikes and spending cuts already agreed to between now and 2015.

This will mean more cuts to vital frontline spending in health and education. It will mean more charges on low and middle-income families, such as the household charge. All of this will hurt families. It will also hurt the economy.

More austerity means less money in people’s pockets. This will mean less money spent in the local economy. At worst this will cost jobs, at best it will block economic recovery.

The austerity treaty also seeks to transfer more power to the European Commission and European Court of Justice. This means taking power away from the people.

If you do not like the policies of the Government you can sack them. You won’t be able to do that with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Frankfurt and Brussels. This is undemocratic. If you don’t want to give your democratic rights away then vote no.

Fine Gael, Labour, and Fianna Fáil have not offered any positive arguments in favour of this treaty. They are trying to scare people into voting yes. Whether it was British rule or a domineering Church hierarchy, Irish citizens have had enough of being ruled by fear. We are done with that.

The Government is also out of step with Europe. Other EU states are refusing to ratify the treaty because they know the mood in Europe is changing.

Unfortunately Fine Gael and Labour are willing to settle for less than anyone else, despite Sinn Féin’s clear warning about the foolishness of accepting this bad treaty.

The Government simply cannot be trusted on this treaty. Throughout the campaign, the Government has claimed rejection of the treaty will close off future access to emergency funding from the European Stability Mechanism. This is simply not true.

The rules of the ESM are clear. Funding will be provided to any country where such funding is deemed indispensable to safeguard the financial stability of the eurozone as a whole.

If the Government requires emergency funding in 2014, and I believe it will, this funding will be provided by the ESM. Failure to do so would jeopardise the entire eurozone economy.

Sinn Féin believes the Government has misrepresented this issue. We are also concerned that the Referendum Commission has grossly misrepresented the true legal position in a manner favourable to the Government.

This treaty is a bad deal for Ireland and for Europe.

If passed it will mean more austerity and less democracy. It will also be virtually impossible to change. Today the patriotic and positive thing to do is to say no.

This treaty is bad for you, bad for your family and community, bad for society and entirely without any social or economic merit.

Today you have an important decision to make. Do you vote for more austerity and more power being transferred to the EU? Or do you vote for a change of direction?

All across Europe people are abandoning the failed policy of austerity. The debate has moved on. The austerity treaty is clearly past its sell-by date. Today when you go in to the polling station trust your instincts.

If you believe, as I do, that we need a change of direction, that we need investment in jobs and growth, then vote no.

‘A yes vote today will help give us the strongest possible hand’

YES - Taoiseach Enda Kenny

TODAY, Ireland has an opportunity to take another important step towards recovery. A step forward in stabilising the economy and protecting investment and growth. We can do this by voting yes to the stability treaty.

I and my colleagues in the Government are recommending this treaty to you but we’re far from alone in doing so. I’m very taken by the amount of people coming out to stress the importance of a yes vote for Ireland’s recovery. All-Ireland-winning GAA managers. Leaders of the farming and food community. Small business leaders. Major job-creating employers — homegrown and multinational. Trade unionists. The tourism and restaurant sectors. Great Irish musicians and cultural figures.

Many of the people I have mentioned may not usually be involved in political debate. And yet, they’ve felt motivated to state their personal case for a yes vote because they believe passionately that this great country of ours can and will recover. They believe a yes vote is the next step on the path to recovery. As do I.

The work of the Government in managing Ireland’s recovery and in playing its part in Europe’s stabilisation efforts has one central goal: Investment, leading to employment. Employment which we need to heal the enormous social damage caused by the current crisis in Ireland.

Employment which we need to create other jobs in related businesses, services and in the retail sector. Jobs to give our talented but unemployed people self-esteem again.

Thousands of new jobs are now being announced every month and I want that to continue. Not only that, I hope to accelerate it. We need more and more investments and expansions like that of Eli Lilly in Kinsale. Like the investment of Apple in Cork. I know personally from my daily contacts with investors that they do hope to invest more. But right now, they’re looking to see if we’re determined to stay the course. Today, each of us can answer them when we get our ballot paper and vote yes.

This treaty will not bring about an overnight transformation. I’ve never claimed it will. However, it is a very good building block for stability and sustained recovery. At its core is the concept of good housekeeping, with your tax money raised fairly and spent wisely with appropriate flexibilities in good times and bad. We have to close the gap between revenue and spending and the stability treaty framework allows us to do so gradually.

The treaty also protects key public services such as education, hospitals, gardaí, and social welfare by allowing those that ratify it to have access to the new permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

If we don’t vote yes, we don’t have that access and security and certainty it offers this country. I fully intend us to get back to the financial markets to raise money next year but we could be affected by events outside of our control. We need an insurance policy to cover all eventualities and voting yes gives us that cover.

I and all those calling for a yes vote are saying the same things today as we said four, six, and eight weeks ago — stability for the euro, recovery, good housekeeping, and investor confidence. We’re sure of why we support this treaty. The no side keep changing their tune as their arguments unravel week after week, whether it’s on the ESM funding mechanism or on other issues. Most recently, they’ve turned to issues which have nothing to do with the treaty at all.

I reject all of that. I’ll promote this country’s interests as the EU develops its growth strategy in parallel to the good housekeeping measures the stability treaty provides. The Government will continue to work to reduce the debt burden on the Irish people.

And I and the Government want to ensure this nation of ours is back at the heart of Europe when we take up the EU presidency in January of next year. The Government is preparing for a challenging agenda during our presidency. We hope to do that very effectively.

We win for Ireland if we successfully recover at home and we negotiate with a tough but constructive attitude abroad. A yes today will help give us the strongest possible hand.

For our part, the Government has sought to provide more information than ever before about the stability treaty so that people can be sure what this vote is about, and what it is not about.

Now the decision is in your hands. It’s an important one for this country and I hope you’ll join those of us voting yes.


Kim Sheehan is an opera singer from Crosshaven, Co Cork, and is this year’s recipient of the Jane Anne Rothwell Award from Cork Midsummer Festival.A Question of Taste: Cork opera singer, Kim Sheehan

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