Irish PM confident of 'Yes' vote in EU treaty poll
(DUBLIN) - Ireland's prime minister said Thursday he was confident voters would back the EU's fiscal pact treaty in a referendum next month despite a poll showing the outcome was wide open.
Launching the government's campaign for the May 31 referendum, Enda Kenny and Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said the treaty was a chance to show Ireland, bailed out in 2010, was determined to make its comeback at the heart of the eurozone.
"It's a framework for ensuring long-term stability, recovery and economic growth and it's an insurance policy giving us access to the European Stability Mechanism if we need it," Kenny said, referring to the new permanent crisis fund.
"Knowing the determination of the Irish people -- despite great sacrifices -- to restore Ireland's economic health, I am confident that they will endorse this treaty," he added.
The campaign launch came as an Ipsos MRBI poll in The Irish Times newspaper showed 30 percent of voters would back the treaty, with 23 percent against.
Some 39 percent were undecided and eight percent said they would not vote.
The broadsheet said that when undecided voters and those who would not vote were excluded, the 'Yes' side was ahead 58 percent to 42 percent "but the outcome hinges on the attitude of the currently undecided voters."
Kenny's centre-right Fine Gael party and Gilmore's centre-left Labour party, the junior coalition partner, are in favour of the treaty, as are the Fianna Fail main opposition.
The left-wing Sinn Fein and Socialist parties plus a number of independent lawmakers are against.
Kenny said that were Ireland to reject the treaty it would not be "pushed out of the euro but we would have marginalised ourselves."
He said the world would be watching and a 'Yes' vote would send out a signal that Ireland was "moving forward and tackling our economic problems."
The new fiscal treaty, drawn up in response to the eurozone debt crisis, forces member to enshrine in national law a so-called "golden rule" to balance budgets or face automatic sanctions.
Any state which fails to ratify the pact, which comes into effect once 12 states have ratified, will lose the right to future European Union bailouts.
In November 2010, Ireland had to seek an 85-billion-euro ($112-billion) rescue package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund when massive debt and deficit problems left it on the verge of collapse.
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