Noonan's Euro Threat; Minister Says a Referendum Would Be Vote on Currency
Byline: Senan Molony Political Editor
MICHAEL Noonan was last night accused of being a mouthpiece for our French and German overlords after he seemingly threatened the electorate over an EU referendum.
The Finance Minister told Bloomberg Television that voters here would be told they had a 'nuclear' option - to be either in or out of Europe.
'It comes down to a very simple issue - if we want to continue in the euro or not,' Mr Noonan said during a visit to London to discuss Britain's isolation from proposed new rules among the other 27 member states.
'When faced with that question (in or out), I think the Irish people will pass such a referendum,' Mr Noonan said on the business television station, drawing immediate charges that he was engaged in scaremongering.
Last night, he repeated the stark choice in an RTE interview, saying: 'It will come down to whether one wants to continue in the euro or not.' the euro or not.'
His words were a reminder of the stance taken by France and Germany when former Greek prime minister George Papandreou wanted to hold a referendum on the terms of his country's second bailout.
Opposition parties immediately seized on Mr Noonan's blunder in apparently revealing a government strategy aimed at getting the referendum passed. In contrast, the Taoiseach and Tanaiste have maintained that they have no idea as to whether a referendum would be required.
Fianna Fail's finance spokesman Michael McGrath said: 'Michael Noonan's extraordinary intervention on the question of whether or not there should be a referendum on the new intergovernmental agreement is an insult to Irish people's intelligence.'
Mr McGrath said the Taoiseach had stood up in the Dail and said he did not know any of the details of the emerging treaty, agreed by 26 heads of government in Brussels last Friday. …