Belfast Telegraph

Treaty opponents in bullying claim

The Government has been accused of holding a gun to voters' heads to force them into a Yes vote in the referendum.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan issued a stark warning that refusing to accept the European stability treaty would result in a much tougher budget next year - claims opposition TDs have described as scaremongering.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had been guilty of bullying the electorate.

"The Government has no positive argument why the people should support this treaty, but they have resorted to threats and bullying," said Ms McDonald.

She added that the pro-treaty campaign is based on "sheer dishonesty", which will result in years of austerity and plunge Ireland into another economic crisis.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny vehemently rejected the scaremongering accusations.

He also leapt to Mr Noonan's defence, saying he was merely pointing out that Ireland is in a Programme for Government and that tough budgets lie ahead.

"It's not a question of attempting to scare anybody," said Mr Kenny.

"It's an attempt to deal with what we know is a reality."

Mr Kenny launched his party's campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum which, if successful, will see Ireland ratify the treaty to bring about stricter budgetary rules.

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