Belfast Telegraph

Kenny 'not afraid of referendum'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted the Government is not afraid to hold a referendum on the EU fiscal compact.

The main text of the plan is expected to be finalised this week in Brussels, where Mr Kenny and other European leaders have gathered for a summit.

"The Government has absolutely no fear of a referendum," said Mr Kenny.

The inter-governmental fiscal plan will include strict budgetary rules for member states and penalties for those who do not comply.

Mr Kenny said when finalised, the text would go before Ireland's Attorney General Maire Whelan, who will determine whether a referendum will be required.

"When the text is finalised I will ask the Attorney General to present the Government with the Attorney General's response as to whether the agreed text as finalised by the politicians is in compliance with our constitution," he said. "If it is in compliance, then there is no need for a referendum."

Mr Kenny's Fine Gael colleague Leo Varadkar sparked controversy over the weekend when he said he had concerns for a possible referendum. The Transport Minister said he was not a fan of the system - which gives the public a say on significant political issues - saying he believed it to be undemocratic.

"I don't think referendums are very democratic," Mr Varadkar told RTE. "By and large, referendum campaigns are never about what they are supposed to be about."

He said the main issues behind referendums get clouded by domestic political point scoring.

Meanwhile, a new Red C Survey for the Sunday Business Post showed that 72% of the population is in favour of holding a referendum. Some 40% said they would vote in favour of the fiscal compact, 36% said they would vote no and the rest were unsure.

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