Belfast Telegraph
7 March 2012

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins has accused the Government of treason for trying to frighten the public into voting in favour of the European fiscal treaty.

The Dublin West TD said the Government was blackmailing people into a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum by warning the country will have no access to emergency funds from Europe if it rejects the treaty.

“We have ministers saying the country will not be able to get money from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) if we don’t agree,” said Mr Higgins.

“People are being frightened with a big stick held up to their faces to vote in favour.”

The Socialist Party member accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of signing the treaty last month, knowing the threat of Europe withholding emergency funds would force the public into a Yes vote.

“Taoiseach, isn’t it true that Dail Eireann must accept this section that money cannot be taken from the fund without accepting the fiscal treaty?” Mr Higgins went on.

“Doesn’t this mean that Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers must come in here and vote to give a big stick to hold over the people? Isn’t that treason for our people?”

But the Taoiseach insisted the public was not being blackmailed and said that adopting the treaty would ensure Ireland access to the ESM should it ever need it.

“We’re not talking about a big stick here. There is no big stick,” said Mr Kenny. “But in the future the economy will be much strengthened for the country and there will be jobs for the people.”

Mr Kenny signed the treaty last week but it cannot be ratified until the public has a say. No date has been set for the referendum day.