Some issues are above politics and I believe this referendum is one of those issues. The vote on 31st May is one of the most important we will face about the economic future of our country for many years. It’s ratification will impact on the actions of future governments and not just this government.
This treaty is about the future of our currency, the money in our pockets and in our bank accounts.
At this critical period in our fragile recovery, we need stability, we need certainty and we need confidence in our economy. The fundamental purpose of this treaty is to provide those three elements and for those reasons it is vital for continued security and growth.
Ireland is taking small steps on the road to recovery - it will not be easy and there are still many difficult years ahead of us. But I firmly believe, our recovery will be easier with a stable Europe and Euro behind us and this treaty aims to provide that.
A Yes vote will enhance our reputation in the European markets which are so important to a growing number of Irish businesses. A Yes vote will show those watching us that we are serious about returning our economy to stability and growth. A Yes vote will galvanise our core position in the Eurozone as we move to the influential position of presidency of the EU in January 2013.
The varying different proponents of a No Vote with their various different agendas can guarantee only one common result – Uncertainty. We cannot afford uncertainty in our current economic environment.
I have been hugely impressed and enthused by the calls for a Yes vote from many business and agricultural groups. Whatever government is in power, these groups form the backbone of our economy.
IBEC, the Small Firms Association, Chambers Ireland, IFA, ICMSA, Macra to name but a few. These are the groups who will rebuild our country and get people back to work - with our help. A Yes vote will allow them to continue their ongoing work. Why would we not support them?
The Agricultural sector is experiencing growth at present but is dependent on the negotiations currently underway on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Irish rural communities have benefitted hugely from EU funding and continue to do so with the current CAP budget estimated at €1.2bn in direct payments. In a recent farm income survey, it was found that direct EU payments now account for 72% of total farm incomes. This is critical national funding and has wider implications than just the farming community.
Irish farmers spend almost €8bn per annum on agricultural inputs and living expenses, the majority of which are purchased locally. Therefore the majority of our local newsagents, supermarkets, hairdressers and co-ops are being funded by EU funding paid to the agriculture community.
This is a huge platform from which we can grow and improve further but it requires us now to support the rules that are being implemented at an EU level through a Yes vote in this referendum. There has never been a more important decision.