Thursday, April 26, 2012
Vote NO on May 31st
This blog has written much in recent time about the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union or for short the Austerity Treaty.
As most readers will know there is to be a referendum in the south of Ireland on May 31st. The vote will determine whether this state does or does not sign up for a Treaty which in this blogs view is a bad deal for citizens, for the state and for Europe.
The public debate has well and truly begun. Yesterday Sinn Féin launched our analysis of the Treaty and I addressed the Oireachtas sub-committee on the Treaty. The Taoiseach is before the same committee this morning giving the government view.
Across Europe also there is growing opposition to the Treaty. I’m told for the first time ever the European Trade Unions Confederation has come out against a European Treaty.
The Dutch government has collapsed because of a disagreement over austerity policies.
And the Socialist candidate for the French Presidency, François Hollande, is quoted in the media this morning saying: “There will be a renegotiation ...Will the treaty be changed? I hope so. Or another treaty arranged? That is up for negotiation. But the treaty, as is, will not be ratified.”
In recent days some of the largest trade unions have come out calling for a NO Vote. At the weekend the Mandate Union came out against the Treaty. On Monday the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union rejected the Treaty. And the Unite union is also calling for a NO vote. SIPTU has demanded a €10 billion jobs package or it will vote NO. So to all intents and purposes SIPTU is saying NO.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions met on Thursday and found it could not achieve agreement on a position on the Treaty. ICTU’s General Secretary said there was no one in the trade union movement in agreement with the treaty. The Treaty was “completely inimical to our interests and our particular analysis on what is wrong in Europe at the moment”.
The government’s spin which connects a Yes Vote for the Treaty with further access to the European Stability Mechanism, in the event that a further bailout was needed, is what is causing concern for some in the trade union leadership.
But as I explained to the Dáil’s Oireachtas Sub-Committee on the Treaty on Thursday afternoon, this is a government bluff which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
The Government parties and Fianna Fáil are claiming that if we don’t sign up to the Austerity Treaty we will not get access to emergency funding from the ESM.
This is utter nonsense. The simple fact is that this is not a done deal. For the European Stability Mechanism to come into effect it has to go into the EU Treaties (Article 136) and all 27 member states, including the Irish state have to ratify this. The Dáil will only debate this issue after the referendum.
This decision about access to the ESM therefore is in the hands of Fine Gael and Labour.
The government has the power to ensure that there is no block on access to the ESM. Are Enda Kenny and Éamon Gilmore seriously suggesting that they would if the referendum was lost then sign up to an EU Treaties provision that would jeopardise access to emergency funding, if the state needs it?
So, the Yes side’s claims on this issue are as bogus as were the claims during the Lisbon Treaty campaign that passing that Treaty would create jobs.
Since Lisbon 170,000 jobs have been lost.
As part of the battle for hearts and minds over the Treaty Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have asked Sinn Féin how would we pay for running the state in the event that their bailout scheme fails?
This is the same government which boasts that the bailout will not fail and that we won’t need further emergency funding!
The real question is how are the government going to pay for anything. Currently the government is committed to further cuts to public services of €8 billion over the next three years. The Austerity Treaty will add a further €6 billion in cuts and taxes. Where is this money to come from??
Sinn Fein has argued consistently that there are alternatives to the Government’s austerity policies and bank bailouts.
The Sinn Féin approach is based on fair taxes, investing in jobs, debt restructuring and growing the all-Ireland economy.
Sinn Féin would :
• not pay the promissary note.
• support those on low and middle incomes
• introduce a third tax rate and a wealth tax,
• bring in savings by for example, capping public sector salaries at €100,000.
• And critically we would invest in jobs and growth.
• And Sinn Féin would not sign up to a Treaty that would drive the country deeper into recession.
Sinn Féin has also called for:
• Increasing the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank to stimulate activity in the real economy.
• Cleansing the European Banking system of toxic debts.
• Debt-restructuring agreements involving debt-write-downs for heavily indebted states
• Ending the obligation on the state to pay the Anglo Irish Promissory Note and un-guaranteed senior bondholders in Anglo and other banks.
Sinn Féin has also set out in budget submission after budget submission exactly how we would close the deficit and fund the state and put public finances back on a sustainable footing. This includes paying the wages of nurses, teachers and Gardaí and providing decent frontline services.
For all of these reasons and because there is an alternative this Austerity Treaty must be opposed. Vote No on May 31st.