Belfast Telegraph

TDs seek European treaty referendum

A group of left-wing TDs have threatened to petition the President to invoke a never-before-used Article in the Constitution to force a referendum on the new European treaty.

If the Government refuses the vote on whether Ireland should adopt tough Brussels budgetary oversight, the Technical Group will call on Michael D Higgins to exercise one of his few powers.

Article 27 of the Constitution dictates that the President can refer a Bill to referendum provided at least one third of the Dail and the majority of the Seanad support it.

The group of 16 TDs, made up of Independents and the United Left Alliance, has called on other members of the Oireachtas to support them.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has sent a formal request to Attorney General Maire Whelan to examine the text of the treaty to determine whether the Government is legally bound to hold a referendum.

But opposition leaders in Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have insisted the public should have their say on whether it is legally required or not.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said pushing the treaty through without a referendum would damage the people's confidence in any future European Union initiatives.

"For the sake of rushing through this treaty, we could damage the possibility of ever again winning support for an EU initiative," said Mr Martin. "Given that this treaty commits us to a new major EU treaty in the next few years, this is an urgent concern."

Sinn Fein accused the Taoiseach of hiding behind the Attorney General. Donegal North East TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn said the treaty was "a suicide pact" and the public should be given a voice. "It's clear that the people want to have their say on this matter," he said.

A Red C Survey for the Sunday Business Post last week revealed that 72% of the Irish public are in favour of a referendum on the treaty, which will see much stricter budgetary rules for member states and harsh penalties for those who breach them.

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