Taoiseach Enda Kenny has sought formal advice from the Attorney General on whether a referendum will be required on the new intergovernmental treaty.

The treaty was agreed by European Union leaders at an informal summit in Brussels last night.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil, Mr Kenny reiterated that the Government will act on the advice it receives from Máire Whelan.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on the Government to ensure that the public will be properly informed on the treaty, saying it was "morally right to consult with the people".

In response, Mr Kenny said he presumed that in asking him to consult with the people, Mr Martin was asking him to hold a referendum.

He said that if a referendum was required then it would be held.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused the Taoiseach of being "buddy buddy" with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at yesterday's summit.

Mr Adams said Mr Kenny was "ag imirt an amadán le Sarkozy".

In response, the Taoiseach accused Mr Adams of being "buddy buddy with some very shady characters over the years".

Mr Adams also said that the Taoiseach has refused to allow people have their democratic right to have a say on the treaty, while giving away more powers to unelected officials in Brussels.
25 of 27 states sign fiscal stability union

The new fiscal stability union was signed by 25 of the 27 EU member states, with Britain and the Czech Republic opting out.

The fiscal compact enshrines in a binding treaty much of the economic governance and budgetary discipline that already exists at EU level and which was agreed to prevent a repeat of the Greek debt crisis.

Each member will be required to set up a debt brake, either at constitutional or legislative level, and sanctions against repeat offenders will be more automatic.

It represents a triumph for German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has argued that market confidence will be restored only when eurozone economies get their public finances in order.

Meanwhile, unemployment in the 17-member eurozone has risen to the highest level since June 1998.

The EU's statistics office, Eurostat, said the unemployment rate reached 10.4% last December.