Republic to hold EU treaty referendum
The Republic is to hold a referendum on whether to accept the European fiscal treaty which tightens controls on member states' budgetary decisions, it has been confirmed.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was confident the public will vote in favour of ratifying the contentious compact.
"I believe it is in Ireland's national interest that this treaty be approved," said Mr Kenny.
The Taoiseach, who announced plans for the referendum in the Dail, said that adopting the fiscal compact would be vital for Ireland's economic recovery and job creation.
A decision to hold a referendum was taken on advice from Attorney General Maire Whelan.
The treaty, agreed by 25 of the 27 European Union states after Britain and the Czech Republic refused support, must be ratified by January 2013.
It is designed to prevent a repeat of the Greek debt crisis and protect against the potential collapse of the euro currency.
The fiscal compact carries a number of firewalls aimed at protecting individual states from contagion from countries on the verge of defaulting on their debts.
The Irish Government will set up a special referendum committee in the coming weeks, normally headed by a senior judge, to advise the public on what the vote is about but not whether to support or reject.
Sinn Fein has argued that the latest treaty and tighter budget controls will do little to boost the Irish economy.
Party president Gerry Adams described it as an austerity measure that will result in the public paying for the mistakes of greedy bankers.
"You tried to avoid a referendum and you failed," Mr Adams told the Taoiseach in the Dail parliament.
"The question is whether the Government will accept the outcome."
Mr Adams said there is both a legal and democratic need for a referendum.