A ‘no’ vote in the upcoming European treaty referendum would effectively deliver a fatal knockout blow to our economic fortunes, a public meeting has been told.
In what was the second open forum to be held in Longford, ahead of the May 31 vote, last Friday evening, Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins warned of the potential repercussions should a no vote be carried in two weeks time.
Flanked by Longford-Westmeath TD James Bannon, the Co Mayo born politician also took a thinly veiled swipe at comments made by Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams at a similarly held public forum in Longford just eight days previously.
“We are not bullying people,” he said following an article in last week’s Leader. “We are putting the facts in front of people and we are essentially alerting people to what the situation will be. Sinn Fein have voted against every single treaty. They voted against us going into Europe, they voted against the Single European Act, they voted against the Nice Treaty, Lisbon 1 and so on.”
In a mildly surprising outburst, the normally composed former government minister directed his ire at both Socialist TD Jim Higgins and other ‘no’ vote lobbyists.
“We all know his (Mr Higgins) agenda. He believes nobody should pay for anything, that all services should be free. You can’t run a country like that. He boasts that he comes from a socialist background and is still espousing the same failed model that was behind the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.
“One of the aspects of this treaty that I am quite disappointed and in fact angry about is that IMPACT and MANDATE have come out against it. These are two unions that are strongly pushing the Croke Park Agreement. If we are to see the Croke Park Agreement deliver we need to be at the heart of Europe,” he said.
The meeting itself, which attracted a smaller than anticipated attendance, was opened by local TD James Bannon.
The Legan backbencher said the treaty’s ratification later this month was essential in order to re-affirm our committment to the Eurozone.
He also spoke of the need to keep budget deificts and public debts within tight limits, one of the treaty’s key provisions.
But it was the sobering admission from the evening’s keynote speaker which appeared to strike the biggest chord with those watching on from the floor.
“People talk about austerity, but if this doesn’t go through that is when we will have austerity,” added Mr Higgins. “The budget in December 2011, yes it was tough because we had to redress the economic imbalance in the economy. But if this (fiscal treaty) doesn’t go through then you ain’t seen nothing yet.”