Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has accused left-wing campaigners of employing “lunatic economics” for saying Ireland could do without the euro if a “No” vote in the referendum led to the collapse of the currency.
The Labour leader criticised People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett following the launch of his party’s anti-treaty campaign on the European fiscal compact.
Mr Boyd Barrett said Britain and other states within Europe do well without the single currency, pointing out that some of the biggest multi-national US companies are based in the UK.
The Dun Laoghaire TD also accused European bailout masters of making hollow threats to withhold emergency funds if Ireland rejects the treaty, saying they would never risk Ireland going under and dragging the euro with it.
The Tánaiste described the remarks as irresponsible and incredible.
“The euro is our own currency, it is the money in our pocket,” said Mr Gilmore.
“It’s lunatic economics to suggest you collapse your own currency – nobody in their right mind suggests that – the impact of that for our workers, for our services, for our country.
“We need to take the sensible and responsible route in relation to our currency. A ‘Yes’ vote would ensure our currency is stable.”
The attack came after Finance Minister Michael Noonan was under fire for warning that a ‘No’ vote could result in a dramatically tougher budget in 2013.
Despite being accused of using bully-boy tactics and scare-mongering, the minister insisted he stood by his comments.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny appealed to the opponents of the European treaty to be truthful to the electorate in their campaigns.
“I hope that those who propose a ‘No’ vote here are factual and truthful about the issues that arise from this treaty,” said Mr Kenny.
“I don’t want to see any more deliberate obstructions of the truth which are designed to mislead people about what this treaty is about.”
Meanwhile, Mr Boyd Barrett suggested the government should try to grow its way out of the economic crisis instead of making cuts, which he argued was an inevitable part of ratifying the treaty.
He said ministers should repudiate private debts owed through the banks – to different financial institutions and bondholders – to help plug the deficit.
He also suggested a five per cent wealth tax and levies on individuals earning more than €100,000 a year, and taxes on assets, excluding the family home, over the value of one million. This, he claimed, could help bring in up to €10bn a year.
Mr Boyd Barrett said Ireland could survive if it were cast out of the eurozone for rejecting the treaty. He also said he is confident that if Ireland needed help, funding would be available for a revised bailout.
“Whether we’re in or out of the euro is not the issue,” said Mr Boyd Barrett. “I don’t believe for a second Europe will risk the collapse of the euro.”
Referendum polling day takes place on May 31 and the count on June 1.
The Referendum Commission will kick off its independent and impartial information campaign tomorrow, outlining the facts of the treaty.
If ratified, those in favour have argued the fiscal deal will see stricter budgetary rules imposed to achieve a balance between money in and money spent.
It will also, they claim, ensure Ireland has access to emergency funds in event of another crisis, as well as bringing about stability to the nation and making it attractive to foreign investors.
Opponents argue it will result in further austerity and plunge Ireland into another recession.