Ireland won’t hold a second referendum if voters reject the European Union’s fiscal compact, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said today.

''The Government hasn’t made a decision on when the planned vote will take place, though it may happen “before the summer,” Howlin said in an interview with Bloomberg news agency in Singapore today.

The Government said last month it will hold a referendum on the fiscal compact after receiving advice from the Attorney General.

“This is not like other treaties, other treaties required unanimity, so it’s a once-off selection for people to determine if they want to be part of this pact or not,” Minister Howlin said.

“The train is leaving the station and it’s just a matter of
determining how many countries want to be on board,” he added.

The Government will not be able to access the euro zone's permanent aid fund if it doesn’t pass the vote. Two newspaper polls published this month showed that about 60% of the Irish public, who expressed a preference, will vote for the referendum.

“I think there will be a great deal of public support for it because it is an important part of our trajectory for an orderly exit from the support package which we’re on from the EU-IMF,” Mr Howlin said.

It will also “ensure that when we return to the markets at the end of next year, there is that insurance there of access to the European Stability Mechanism,” he said.

The Government is seeking support from Europe to reduce the cost of bailing out its banks. Finance Minister Michael Noonan said last week that the
Government has not ruled out getting an agreed delay this month on a €3.1 billion cash payment on promissory notes used to bail out the former Anglo Irish Bank.

“We see this as two completely separate and distinct issues,” Minister Howlin said.

“The stability treaty will stand or fall on its own merits and we are advocating people to support it on the basis that it is necessary for Ireland, and the euro zone and our common currency,” he added.