Jim Power, chief economist with Friends First, has told an Oireachtas subcommittee on the Referendum on the Intergovernmental Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, that it is difficult to see how Ireland could remain part of the euro, if we fail to sign up to the rules of the club.

He called on opponents of the Treaty to ask themselves, where does Ireland go, if it is not prepared to commit itself further to the euro project.

He added that Ireland needs to be part of the debate on the future of European monetary union unless, he said, someone can come up with an alternative model to manage the Irish economy outside of the euro.

He added that there is a flexibility in the Fiscal Treaty in terms of the correction mechanism which national parliaments can trigger when they need to. That is why, he said, that he believes this is a political cover which will allow the political leadership in Europe to put architectural structures in place to develop a sustainable EMU.

He said he is going to vote in favour of the Treaty, as there is no up-side to rejecting it. It will go into law anyway, without us, he said, and we will obviously be excluded from financial assistance from the ESM.

The economist went on to say that the market view, were we to reject it, would be that Ireland does not desire to manage our public finances in a prudent manner, and this could have an affect on our re-entry into the bond markets in the future.

He accepted that the Treaty is flawed, with the academic community divided on structural deficit and how it should be measured. But he said Treaty is a necessary step in the right direction to creating a stable economic monitory union.

Dan O'Brien, economics editor of The Irish Times, also told the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on the Referendum, that there are profound problems with the way the Euro is designed, and things have to change to make the monetary union sustainable in the longer term. He said the Fiscal Treaty is only a small part of the changes which are needed to achieve this.

Mr O'Brien gave examples, which he said, illustrated that Italy and Portugal would have been in a better position to deal with their economic crises, had the Article 4 clause in the Treaty, which requires Government debt to be reduced by one-twentieth each year, been in place prior to it.

In relation to Ireland, he said that since 1999 our structural deficit rose every year up to the time of the crisis, with one exception, and was at 8.4% of GDP by 2007. If, he asserted, the measure in relation to structural deficit in the Treaty had been in place at that time, it would have made a profound difference to our management of the crisis.

He added that there is nothing in the Treaty that affects the right of people to elect a Government or constrains the democratic role of the citizens of the euro zone.

Philip Lane, Professor of International Macroeconomics at Trinity College Dublin, has said the Fiscal Compact is the gateway to the reform that is necessary. He said it is in general it is very helpful to the Irish economy.

Mr Lane said Ireland is now at a very high debt level, but we need to have a credible plan in relation to this; it does don't need to achieve a low debt level tomorrow, but there needs to be comfort there to garner market confidence, that this country will reduce debt level at appropriate speed and this, he added, is the logic behind the approach being taken in the Fiscal Treaty.

He also said that in the Treaty the structural balance will vary by country by country over time, according to the condition of the economy. He added that a country specific target is a good idea, especially for Ireland.

He praised the insertion of the correction mechanism in the Treaty; saying if a budget balance turned out to be inappropriate, there is a correction mechanism that countries can trigger when they need to.

Dr Gavin Barrett, UCD School of Law, has said the treaty is the most limited european treaty, as its scope is narrower than previous ones. He said in terms of its substantive economic rules, it represents a narrow departure from the status quo. The debt rule in article 4, when debt to GDP exceeds 60%, is already in place, and the deficit rule marginally tightens regulation put in place in 1997.

In relation to the structural deficit rule, we are not bound by it, he said, in the absence of strong economic growth. We don't have to hit 0.5% structural deficit rule, he added, as it only applies when debt to GDP exceeds 60% or over.

The consequences of voting yes won't make tremendous amount of difference to our economic obligations, he said, as it is covered already. However, he said, a rejection of the Treaty will not top the Treaty from coming into force but it will barr us from accessing a new programme in the European Stability Mechanism and this, he said, is significant. He added that we would be depriving ourselves of access to further bailout funds and there is a possibility of needing another bailout.

Dr. Barrett said that the idea of vetoing the ESM Treaty does not make sense, as it will be our main insurance policy against a default. He said one needs an outstandingly good reason to veto that.

Dr John O'Brennan, NUIM Department of Sociology, has said to the committee it is going to take a full scale general election style effort, going door to door, to convince people of the merits of a yes vote in the Treaty.

Dr O'Brennan said, he is not sure there is a seriousness of purpose amongst political parties here, as the only time that politicians engage with european affairs is during the course of referendums. Their engagement has been "episodic and fitful" and this neglect of european affairs will come home to roost, he added.

He questioned how politicians, who argue for a yes vote, will be received on the doorstep, as issues like the household charge and septic tanks inspections might be attached to the larger european question.

He also said he fears the referendum will be narrowly framed over the single question that if we vote no, we will not have access to funds, and this could lead to economic catastrophy for Ireland.