Yes vote returned in Irish European Fiscal Compact referendum

A Yes vote has been returned in the Irish referendum on the European Fiscal Compact, clearing the way for the Irish parliament to ratify the compact. The Yes campaign took 60.3% of votes. Turnout was 50%, compared to 59% in the last referendum on the Nice treaty.

The document, formally called the “Treaty on stability, coordination and governance in the Economic and Monetary Union”, has already been signed by Ireland and all other members of the EU except the UK and the Czech Republic, but will need to be ratified by the parliaments of at least 12 signatories to come into effect. 

Ireland is the only country that has put the fiscal treaty – a German-led plan for stricter budget rules – to a referendum. Fine Gael, Ireland’s centre-right ruling party, and its left-wing coalition partners the Labour Party ran pro-treaty campaigns, stressing the risk that a withdrawal of bail-out funds would pose.

The Irish anti-ratification campaign was spearheaded by Gerry Adams, head of left-wing party Sinn Féin, the fourth largest party in Ireland’s lower house. Éamon Ó Cuív, of Fianna Fáil, Ireland’s centrist third largest party, stood down in protest against his party’s pro-treaty stance.

The compact was described as “the Austerity Treaty” by the No camp, who had insisted Ireland would not be cut off from bailout funds whatever the outcome, and warned of the effects of three more years of government austerity on the recovery.

However, as the ballots began to show a clear lead for the Yes vote, Sinn Feinn MP Sean Crowe told reporters that he accepted that they had lost the campaign.

Meanwhile, Sin Féin MP Mary Lou McDonald told reporters: “Now let’s see what happens next because we held public meetings right across this state, and things are really, really tough. People want to see progress, they want to have a sense of hope. I remain absolutely sure that if the government persists with its policy of austerity and cutbacks then we won’t see that improvement, we won’t have that hope.”

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