Labour Party spokesperson on justice, Pat Rabbitte, believes the Irish Government could be in breach of Article 29 of the Constitution by going ahead with the EU / IMF program for Ireland.
He called on the Coalition Government to clarify the “exact status” of the agreement in Irish and international law.
Maverick Fianna Fail RD for Tipperary South, Mattie McGrath is taking a similar stance. He said “If, as the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] has said, the agreement is not going before the Dáil, we will be constitutionally required to hold a referendum on it.”
Minister for Children, Barry Andrews said the joint program was not an international agreement for the purposes set out in the Constitution. He also said neither the Oireachtas nor any future government was restricted by the agreement.
When asked whether he would take legal action Pat Rabbitte said he would “not rule out anything”.
Article 29.5.2 of the Irish Constitution states “The State shall not be bound by any international agreement involving a charge upon public funds unless the terms of the agreement shall have been approved by Dáil Éireann.”
Mr Rabbitte said “Yet the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance have made it clear that they will not submit this program to a Dáil vote.
“If the bailout deal is meant to be a binding contract, then how does the Government square that with the judgments of the courts that prohibit any government from fettering its own discretion . . . these are questions to which the Dáil, the public and the international community are entitled to answers,” he said.
“If the Government does not answer them then the courts will inevitably become involved. In the meantime, the reticence if not refusal of the Government to deal with the issue can only add to current instability and further undermine its credibility.”
Barry Andrews responded by saying “I want to assure people the loan facility agreements and the Memos of Understanding under the EU-IMF joint program for Ireland are not an international agreement for the purposes of Article 29.5 and 29.6 of the Constitution.
“The nature of the loan facility agreement for the European Financial Stability Mechanism specifically derives from Council Regulation EU number 407/2010, under which Ireland can request financial assistance.
“Under this regulation Ireland is provided a facility to draw down certain monies in the future…A future government is not obliged to avail of any drawdown. Accordingly, future executive action of a government is not fettered, nor is the legislative freedom of the Oireachtas.”