15th May 2021

Irish PM takes hard line on EU treaty rebels

Irish prime minister Brian Cowen has warned that he will not tolerate opponents to the EU treaty from within his own party Fianna Fail, raising the prospect of expulsion for any rebels.

"We are absolutely committed to the ratification of this treaty. It is fundamental to how we think, what our philosophy is," said Mr Cowen on Wednesday (14 May), according to the Irish Independent.

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"And if there were to be anyone - and I don't know of anybody, but take it hypothetically - who had a conscientious problem, they would have to consider that outside the context of my parliamentary party."

His words come amid a general heating up of the debate as the referendum campaign was officially launched earlier on this week.

On the same day, the "no" organisation Cóir said it had put up a over 5,000 posters around the country containing messages such as "People died for your freedom, don't throw it away. Vote no" and "The new EU won't see you, won't hear you, won't speak for you."

Cóir's website says the organisation is working to "protect Irish sovereignty and the constitutional rights of every Irish person."

Meanwhile, speaking to an American Chamber of Commerce audience in Brussels on Tuesday, Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan sought to lay to rest arguments from treaty opponents that the new EU charter would undermine Ireland's corporate tax regime, which the country jealously defends.

"Ireland's veto over any EU proposals in the taxation area remains. I do not think it is possible to be more unequivocal than this," said Mr Lenihan.

He also said he thought that a "very significant number of member states" opposed the idea of creating a common corporate tax base, something currently being looked into by EU tax commissioner Laszlo Kovacs.

Ireland's EU treaty referendum will take place on 12 June, it is the only country of the 27 member states to hold a public poll resulting in huge public interest and scrutiny across Europe ahead of the vote.

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