Belfast Telegraph

Bank boss backed on 'yes' vote call

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have backed the Central Bank governor over his call for a yes vote on the European treaty referendum.

The Cabinet chiefs said Patrick Honohan is free to speak his mind and was acting entirely independent of Government when he urged support for the fiscal compact.

"The governor of the Central Bank is entirely independent," the Taoiseach said.

"This is a matter for the Irish people, all the Irish people. The governor of the Central Bank is one of those. He's a very important personality. He makes his statement completely independently and I think it speaks loudly and clearly for itself."

No campaigners in Sinn Fein, themselves under fire for misrepresenting the position of some leading economists on the treaty, claimed Mr Honohan had stepped outside his remit.

In a speech on Thursday night, Mr Honohan said a yes vote in the May 31 referendum would be a safer alternative. The governor was widely commended for breaking ranks with the last coalition government in 2010 to confirm that Ireland was on course for a bailout before the International Monetary Fund was brought in.

And Mr Noonan used the row to have a dig at the opposition party. The minister suggested the party had not been given a chance to censor the governor and "cross out" bits ahead of last night's speech.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has rejected suggestions the no campaign is gaining momentum and warned that the fiscal compact would not be renegotiated. He said: "The treaty won't be torn up."

Three major unions have already pledged to reject the treaty, saying it will create further austerity in the country, while the Irish Congress of Trade Unions refused to take any decision on it.

Jack O'Connor, Siptu general president, has said he was being swayed to vote yes through the guarantee that emergency funding could be provided through the European Stability Mechanism. He told TDs in the latest session of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on the EU Fiscal Treaty that he would vote no if he thought there was a viable alternative.

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