Glen Dimplex manufacturing and GlaxoSmithKline urge voters to say yes to European stability pact on 31 May
A no vote against the EU stability treaty will force Ireland out of the euro, a leading Irish business leader has warned.
Sean O’Driscoll, chairman of the Glen Dimplex manufacturing group, said proponents of a no vote on 31 May were being “disingenuous” in claiming the republic could remain in the euro even if the electorate rejected the EU fiscal treaty.
O’Driscoll joined the Irish heads of the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the chairman of the agri-food business Greencore in calling for a yes vote in the Irish referendum at the end of this month.
Speaking at the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Dublin, O’Driscoll, whose company exports 30% of its household appliances to the UK, said exit from the euro was inevitable if Ireland said no to the new rules on EU states’ budgets.
“There is only one vote, and it’s a yes vote,” he said. “It is very interesting that those who are advocating a no vote will not then come out and say whether or not Ireland should leave the euro.
“That is quite disingenuous, and it’s wrong. Ireland signed up to the currency in 1999 [and] that brought rules – rules which we broke by allowing our economy to become inflated. We now need to stay within the system and we need to argue our case within the system. Yes, there has to be a balance between austerity and growth. That balance has not been secured yet but the way to get growth back on to the European agenda is to vote yes and then argue our case within the system.”
Sally Storey, the general manager of GSK in Ireland, said a no vote on 31 May would create a fresh wave of panic on the international markets.
She said multinational export-driven companies would reconsider new investments in the republic if there was a no vote and subsequent instability across Europe.
“A yes vote is very important to ensure future stability, and it is important that businesses have confidence in their investments in Ireland,” she said. “And what’s also important is that Ireland needs access to future funds from Europe if necessary. A no vote would create a new nervousness. The EU commission has said that anyone who fails to ratify the treaty can’t access emergency funds after 2013. Businesses planning ahead need to know that Ireland would have access to those funds.”
Eoghan Tonge, the group development director of Greencore, which manufactures most of the leading-brand breakfast cereals in Britain and supplies sandwiches to supermarket multiples such as Tesco, said he was vehemently in favour of a yes vote.
“I actually find this treaty different from other European ones before, which were confusing to a lot of Irish people. This one is very straightforward: we signed up to the euro in 1999 under a set of rules, and this treaty is reinforcing those rules. The rule about controlling national budgets is going to be tough but it’s a sensible one.
“In the longer run, we signed up for the euro. We got the benefits of the euro in the past, and those benefits will come back. It’s called the stability treaty, so there seems to no point to signing to an instability treaty if we say no to this.”
The two governing parties, Fine Gael, and Labour, and one of the major opposition forces, Fianna Fáil, are calling for a yes vote in under three weeks’ time; Sinn Féin, the United Left Alliance and a range of other groups from across the political spectrum are urging voters to reject the treaty.
The latest opinion polls indicate a majority in favour of the treaty, which has to be ratified under the Irish constitution. However, successive polls since the referendum was announced show a large remaining proportion of undecideds and don’t knows .