Belfast Telegraph

Legal advice sought over referendum

The Irish Government is getting legal advice on whether Ireland needs a referendum on a new European treaty as part of a plan aimed at solving the debt crisis and saving the euro.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said its Attorney General Marie Whelan will have to forensically examine a fiscal union deal struck at a European summit.

At least 23 of the 27 European states, with the exception of Britain, are expected to form a new Fiscal Stability Union, which would mean stricter budget and debt rules and penalties for those who breach them.

"The first thing is that once the text has been approved and agreed every country has to do its own thing," said Mr Kenny in Brussels.

"In our case the Attorney General will have to analyse that, forensically examine it and give official and formal information and advice to the Government as to whether a referendum is required or not. Obviously I wouldn't speculate on that because I'm not confident to do so."

The summit was initially expected to result in an EU treaty change, but British Prime Minister David Cameron refused to support it because it would not guarantee London's financial services the protection he demanded.

However, Mr Kenny was positive about the outcome of the meeting of Europe's top leaders, saying firewalls had been established to help prevent contagion of the crisis.

"Ireland's economic security has been defended and protected," said Mr Kenny.

Earlier, Ireland's Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton insisted that increasing the Irish corporation tax was not addressed during the summit despite French President Nicolas Sarkozy's previous calls to end unfair taxes across the eurozone.

She said hiking the controversially low rate of 12.5% was never on the table to begin with. "There never was any intention of having a discussion around corporation tax," said Ms Creighton.

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