In his television address on December 4th, just prior to the budget, the Taoiseach said:
“I want to be the Taoiseach who retrieves Ireland’s economic sovereignty, and who leads a Government that will help our country to succeed.”
Yet last Monday this same Taoiseach signed up to an austerity treaty that hands significant new powers over to the European Court of Justice and European Commission to impose economic policies on democratically elected governments and to impose heavy fines where they believe these policies have not been adhered to.
How can he claim to be for restoring sovereignty while giving away important Irish fiscal and budgetary powers to unelected bureaucrats, and at the same time refusing the people their right to vote on an issue that will significantly affect their lives for years to come?
The austerity treaty confers significant new powers on the European Commission and European Court of Justice to compel member states to alter their fiscal and budgetary policies or face significant fines.
The Treaty is anti-growth and anti-jobs.
If ratified, it will place an economic straight jacket on this state for decades.
Its debt and deficit limits are draconian and will mean decades of austerity imposed on a people crying out for investment in jobs and growth.
No one should be surprised by the Taoiseach’s support for the Treaty. He has long advocated cuts to public services and stealth taxes as the way of tackling the financial crisis.
In addition it is abundantly clear that fearful of the anger of the Irish people to this strategy the government negotiated a treaty text that would avoid the necessity to hold a referendum.
A high level EU official confirmed this in the Irish Times on Wednesday.
So too did the Tánaiste, speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs. He confirmed that government negotiators actively sought to weaken that text and to put in the words “preferably constitutional” in order to avoid the requirement to put this proposition before the people.
But rather than face up to this and tell the public the truth the Taoiseach and his colleagues are now passing the buck to a cabinet colleague – the Attorney General – to decide whether a referendum is necessary. They already know the answer. They negotiated a treaty text to avoid a referendum!!!
This is one time when TDs and Seanadóirí from the every party and none need to put the people above party self-interest and come out publicly to demand a referendum.
This blog believes that if it is ratified this austerity treaty will have a profound and adverse impact on the Irish economy and people for decades to come.
Thursday saw the Irish Central Bank downgrade the growth forecast for 2012 by 1.3%. This is the sixth downgrade of Irish growth forecasts for 2012.
Thursday’s figures represent a serious challenge to the government. The Minister for Finance is on the record in response to questions from Pearse Doherty that a 1% reduction in GDP as a rule would see a loss of €800 million in revenue from the state.
This may well force the government to introduce a mini budget to make more cuts.
It already plans to cut €8.6 Billion from the economy in the next three years to meet the Troika Deficit target of 3%. Monday’s austerity treaty demands that this be reduced to a 0.5% target. This is predicted to mean a further €6 billion in cuts and new taxes!!
What is needed is a strategy for jobs and growth through stimulus.
The summit noted that there are 23 million citizens unemployed across the EU but not one additional cent has been allocated to job creation.
But there are solutions.
Sinn Féin is for:
Investment in jobs and growth. We have a National Pensions Reserve Fund with €5.3 billion. Combine this to the resources of the European Investment Bank and utilise that to invest in various projects, for example, the roll-out of next generation broadband.
Cleanse the European Banking system of toxic debts through a new round of rigorous stress tests and deleveraging followed by recapitalisation where necessary funded by the European Central Bank.
There should be debt-restructuring agreements for over indebted economies involving debt-write-downs to assist them return to debt-sustainability. This would allow the state to end the €3.1 billion annual payment to Anglo which will cost the Irish taxpayers up to €76 billion before it concludes in 20 years.
Within existing EU treaty provisions the European Council must ensure that the European Central Bank takes all necessary action to stabilise sovereign bond interest rates and ensure market access for all member states.
On the day after the treaty was agreed the EU released its youth unemployment statistics. Nearly one third of young people in Ireland and almost half of Spanish young people out of work.
Thousands of young people have to leave the State every week to try to make a living elsewhere.
This austerity treaty will only make this dire situation worse.
Demand a referendum.