Government plays dirty on treaty referendum
Lawyers for Sinn Féin have written to the Attorney General seeking advance copies of government “information” being sent to homes about the EU Austerity Treaty. Sinn Féin also threatened legal action over an official government “information” website was seen to be promoting a ‘Yes’ vote.
Under the 26-County constitution, public funds cannot be spent advocating only one side of the referendum debate, directly or indirectly.
Once exposed, the government was forced to remove three speeches by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for European Affairs to be withdrawn from the website.
The government parties also accused Sinn Fein of using “selective” quotes in its leaflet on the treaty.
However, that failed to distract from the scandal of the so-called ‘Stability Treaty’ website, which was exposed as thinly-disguised propaganda. Media commentators noted that it failed to even mention that the treaty will entrench austerity for years to come -- nor that it was instigated by Germany, who will also be able to directly police Ireland’s austerity program.
“Distributing information on the Austerity Treaty is the responsibility of the Referendum Commission and the Government is undermining its work by producing its own publicly funded information campaign,” said Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald.
She said it was “a partisan misuse of tax payers’ money” and that it should not be left to the opposition to pressure the government into obeying the law.
SF LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN
The controversy came as party leader Gerry Adams launched the Sinn Féin’s campaign for a ‘No’ vote next month.
Speaking at the National Gallery, Mr Adams argued that if Ireland ratified the treaty, it would mean the handover of powers to unelected officials and bureaucrats in the EU Commission.
He said that providing a stimulus to create jobs was at the heart of Sinn Féin’s approach.
“You cannot cut your way out of recession... There is no jobs stimulus in the government’s strategy.”
He also dismissed as “rubbish” Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail arguments that Ireland will not be in a position to access emergency funding if the treaty is rejected, pointing out that the European Stability Mechanism is not due to be ratified until after the referendum takes place.
Mr Adams said that the choice facing the Irish public in the referendum on May 31st is profound. Proponents of the treaty were coming from a right-wing conservative ideological position in the mould of Margaret Thatcher, he said.
“The choice is between austerity and economic stimulus and growth,” he said.
“The choice is between us handing over powers to unelected officials and bureaucrats in the European Commission and in the European Court of Justice and allowing them to run this state, and to police fiscal as well as monetary matters.
“Or we can vote No to this and assert the right of citizens to elect or sack our governments; and for citizens to have democratic authority over those who govern us.
“It is quite clear Austerity doesn’t work. We’ve had six austerity budgets. The deficit has grown not reduced. Half a million citizens are unemployed. Working people and lower and middle income families are bearing the brunt of the government’s decisions.”