Taoiseach confronted by protesters while campaigning for the fiscal treaty in Athlone

Monday 14 May 2012 22.29
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Protesters from the anti-household charge and septic tank campaigns in Athlone
Protesters from the anti-household charge and septic tank campaigns in Athlone
Fiscal treaty - deadline for voters to add their names to supplementary register
Fiscal treaty - deadline for voters to add their names to supplementary register

There were angry exchanges on the fiscal treaty campaign trail this afternoon when the Taoiseach was confronted by protesters in Athlone.

Enda Kenny was confronted by protesters from the anti- household and septic tank charge campaigns while conducting a canvass at the Golden Island Shopping Centre in Athlone.

He was accused by one protester of being responsible for the emigration of thousands of people.

Many of the protesters shouted abuse at the Taoiseach at the shopping centre and there was a separate verbal confrontation between former justice minister Paddy Cooney and one protester who said he was a member of Sinn Féin.

Mr Kenny told RTÉ News he was not surprised by the vociferous nature of the protests and could understand why emigration was such a concern for people, but a Yes vote was now needed to get the country back on its feet and try and get back to the markets.

"Issues over the charges can be debated and resolved at home, but Ireland’s future depends on a Yes vote in the referendum."

Timing of vote 'absolutely wrong'

An MEP and a number of TDs who are members of the technical group in the Dáil have called for the referendum to be postponed.

Dublin South TD Shane Ross told a news conference that uncertainty in Europe meant that the timing of the poll was absolutely wrong.

He said the Germans had decided to delay ratifying the treaty while new French President Francois Hollande would be looking for changes ahead of the June elections in his country.

Kildare TD Catherine Murphy said the safest thing to do would be to postpone the vote, claiming she and her colleagues represented a broad spectrum of opinion.

MEP Marion Harkin said the decision by Germany was a game changer, and she denied that postponing the vote would facilitate those who wanted to sit on the fence.

Dublin TD Finian McGrath said people on the doorsteps in his constituency were telling him that the vote should be put back, and said he had yet to make up his own mind on the treaty.

The TDs calling for a postponement are Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Catherine Murphy, Stephen Donnelly and Maureen O Sullivan.

No vote would bring uncertainty - Coveney

Elsewhere, Minister for Agriculture and Marine Simon Coveney has said a No vote in the referendum on the fiscal treaty would create an atmosphere of uncertainty, which is the last thing Ireland needs.

Describing the events in Greece as a tragedy, he said the ability of Ireland to access bailout funds, on an ongoing basis, was a very strong element of our recovery.

Meanwhile, Libertas founder Declan Ganley has said Ireland's debt is a ball and chain dragging the country down and represents a cancer at the centre of our economic plight.

Launching his campaign for a No vote, he claimed democracy was being diluted in the Chancelleries around Europe and that democratic deficit had to be remedied.

He described the budget for his campaign as a shoestring one which will be around €50,000.

People Before Profit/ULA TD Richard Boyd Barrett said both the Yes side and increasingly the media were failing to debate the actual provisions of the treaty and the consequences of its implementation.

He said the debate had become one about dire warnings of the consequences of a No vote.

Last day to register for referendum vote

Today is the last day it is possible to be added to the supplementary voting register in time to vote in the fiscal treaty referendum on 31 May.

All adult Irish citizens can register. Voters can check their details on the register in all local authority offices, post offices, garda stations and public libraries.

People can also check they are registered by logging onto www.checktheregister.ie.

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