EU treaty 'will create instability'
Ireland faces another humiliating bailout and Greece-style chaos if it votes in favour of the European fiscal treaty, opponents have warned.
However, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said the country could be cast adrift from Europe, losing its financial backing and opportunities for investment if voters reject the EU deal.
Richard Boyd Barrett, member of anti-treaty group United Left Alliance (ULA), argued that the "austerity treaty" will create economic instability instead of stimulating growth. "We are absolutely careering towards a second bailout. What will the conditions of a second bailout be? If you want to know the answer to that, look at Greece. Greece is in bad trouble, not because it resisted austerity, but because it implemented austerity," he said.
The People Before Profit TD said Ireland should refuse to pay back its debts to European financial institutions, and instead invest its money into jobs and growth. He said: "If we repudiate the debt, we have some chance of returning to the international markets. Currently we have none."
The treaty aims to give greater control to Europe and impose stricter budgetary measures, meaning Ireland will be restricted in its future borrowing and spending. No date has yet been set for the public vote, which Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced on Tuesday. However political leaders have called for the referendum campaign to be informative and open to debate.
Mr Gilmore argued that joining the so-called compact will both strengthen ties between Ireland and Europe and further protect the single currency from collapse. He added: "For Ireland to succeed, Europe must also succeed."
He said: "People should not listen to those who try to make cynical use of the debate to advance narrow partisan interests to the detriment of the interests of the Irish people. The situation is too serious and the issues involved are too important."
The Tanaiste also suggested that rejecting the deal would send the wrong message to the union, which could result in Ireland losing emergency funding should it require it down the line. Mr Gilmore said having access to the European Stability Measure funds was a sensible and prudent backup.
However, the ULA argued that Europe would never leave a country to drown without stepping in to help, because if one goes down they will all feel the effects. Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins, also of the ULA, said the treaty will have disastrous consequences for citizens through further cutbacks in public services, including health and education.
The Dublin West TD said he was confident the anti-treaty campaign will win given the thousands of people who have rallied against the household charge, which was implemented at the start of the year. He said: "You never know the outcome of any referendum. But we will have a huge campaign and I believe our message will win."