Commission says referendum cannot be postponed

Friday 18 May 2012 14.18
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Commission says referendum cannot be postponed
Referendum Commission clarified position over poll date
Referendum Commission clarified position over poll date
Joe Higgins said the treaty should set "alarm bells ringing"
Joe Higgins said the treaty should set "alarm bells ringing"

The Referendum Commission has said the fiscal treaty poll cannot be postponed.

The clarification comes after a number of TDs and an MEP yesterday called for the referendum to be deferred because of the uncertainty in Europe.

In a statement, the Commission said once the minister signs the order for a referendum, the polling date could only be changed if a general election was called.

The minister had no power otherwise under the relevant Act to postpone the referendum or to cancel it.

Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath, who had called for the postponement, said he was disappointed and dismayed that the law did not allow for such a move.

Meanwhile, the Socialist Party has claimed the fiscal treaty represents a "massive threat to democracy".

The Party said the treaty will remove free choice from elections, because every Government will have to apply policies of austerity.

Joe Higgins said the treaty should set "alarm bells ringing" throughout the country.

The party also dismissed talk of a growth strategy to go with the treaty.

MEP Paul Murphy said you could not have austerity and growth at the same time, as it would be like putting your foot on the brake and accelerator of the car at the same time.

He accused the Government of trying to "buy" the referendum with talk of a growth pact.

Earlier, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said it was unlikely that a growth pact would be agreed by EU leaders before the referendum on the fiscal compact.

The Tánaiste said that the upcoming EU council meeting was an informal one and that firm conclusions regarding a growth pact would be more likely following a formal council meeting in June.

He said a timeline for a growth agenda could be agreed at the informal meeting next week.

Mr Gilmore said there would be an accelerated drive for a growth agenda in the EU following the swearing in of Francois Hollande as French president this morning.

Sinn Féin’s Peadar Toíbín has said the Government is wedded to the strategy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and what he called an "austerity treaty".

Mr Toíbín was speaking as Sinn Féin launched proposals for a €13bn stimulus package that it says is the only way out of the economic crisis.

Sinn Féin claims the plan would create 130,000 jobs, or 40,000 per year, and also said that it would save €800m per year in social welfare payments.

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