Ireland will hold a referendum on the European Treaty recently negotiated by 25 counties to stabilize the economic situation in Europe.
The announcement came as a shock after the Attorney General informed the cabinet that she believed a vote needed to be taken. Recent polls show the treaty would pass narrowly.
It was generally believed that the treaty was drafted in such a way as to avoid a referendum in Ireland.
Speaking to the Irish parliament, Prime Minister Enda Kenny made clear that he believed the treaty would pass.
“I strongly believe that is very much in Ireland’s national interest that this treaty be approved, as doing so will build on the steady progress the country has made in the past year.” he said.
The treaty gives new powers to European institutions over sovereign governments.
The treaty includes a rule that annual structural deficits should not exceed 0.5% of gross domestic product.
There will also be sanctions for countries whose deficit exceeds 3% of GDP. Should Ireland reject the treaty, it will remain outside the pact and could not borrow from Europe in the event of a future crisis.
Kenny stated that the “ratification of this Treaty will be another important step in the rebuilding of both Ireland’s economy, and our international reputation.”
“It gives the Irish people the opportunity to reaffirm Ireland’s commitment
to membership of the Euro, which remains a fundamental pillar of our economic and jobs strategy.”
Opposition leader, Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein stated he believed the treaty would be defeated and that the government had been forced unwillingly into giving the people a voice.