Less than half of Ireland's eligible voters turned out to vote but Ireland’s backing for Europe's fiscal pact was warmly welcomed in Brussels yesterday, with eurocrats calling it a silver lining amid the economic gloom.
An Irish No would not have derailed the new pact since only 12 out of 17 of the eurozone countries need to ratify it, but it would have been seen as Ireland thumbing its nose at the EU and it would have bolstered all eurosceptics.
'A No vote was the last thing anyone needed at this time,' an EU official told the Irish Examiner before adding: 'However, let’s be clear, a No would have directly affected Ireland.'
The vote followed the decision by twenty-five of the EU's 27 member states to sign a landmark treaty that will co-ordinate their budget policies and impose penalties on all rule-breakers, the so called 'fiscal compact.'
Rejecting the pact, which also sets debt and deficit reduction targets with penalties for breaches, would have blocked Ireland from any further emergency EU funding following its $105 billion bailout from the EU and IMF.
As Brussels welcomed the Republic's 'sensible' vote, the UK Independence Party MEP and deputy leader Paul Nuttall who was in Dublin Castle for the count said: 'A very sad day for the Irish people, deluded by Yes side promises of investment and cowered by economic threats. It is cumulative Yes votes to EU treaties which have led Ireland to its current dire economic circumstances.
Today’s result cements its status as an economic vassal state. I hope in a few years, Irish people who love freedom and want prosperity for their country will remember the Yes campaign’s promises of jobs and investment with contempt, then once again seek their self-governance from their new masters in Berlin and Brussels.'
Ireland North West Fianna Fail MEP Pat Gallagher told the Examiner: 'The Treaty (fiscal pact) will ensure that Ireland has access to the European Stability Mechanism (emergency bail-out money), if required. This brings a degree of certainty to our public finances as the Irish State will be able to apply for assistance, at sustainable interest rates, if needed.
'The ESM is an important safety net for Ireland and the eurozone. I have consistently maintained during the referendum campaign that stability and growth are two sides of the same coin, and the housekeeping rules contained in the pact can help to pave the way for future growth by ensuring a positive climate, conducive for investment and job creation.'