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Irish leader urges vote for EU treaty

DUBLIN - Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland made a nationally televised appeal Sunday to voters to support the European Union’s fiscal treaty in a referendum this week, warning that rejection would send the signal that Ireland was not serious about tackling its deficits and was no longer a secure member of the euro currency.

Kenny said a “yes’’ verdict in Thursday’s referendum was essential to ensure that Ireland could tap EU bailout funds in 2013, if necessary. Ireland’s EU-International Monetary Fund loans are due to run out by the end of next year, and the treaty specifies that only ratified members could access future EU loans. “A strong ‘yes’ vote will create the certainty and stability that our country needs to continue on the road to economic recovery. This treaty will not solve all of our problems, but it is one part of the solution,’’ Kenny said in his TV address to his debt-burdened nation.

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Ireland is the only nation among 25 signatories putting the deficit-fighting treaty to a national vote, and critics of the German-led push for austerity are hoping that Ireland’s voters reject the pact.

Treaty architects ensured that an Irish “no’’ could not veto progress elsewhere, stipulating that it would require formal ratification from just 12 countries to become law in those countries. And Kenny argued that an Irish rejection would do far and away the most damage to Ireland’s interests.

“Only a ‘yes’ vote will give Ireland guaranteed access to Europe’s permanent rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, should Ireland ever need it,’’ said Kenny, who has insisted that Ireland should be able to resume normal borrowing on bond markets next year.

Kenny added that Ireland’s exceptional reliance on foreign corporate investment also made the treaty’s approval essential. Ireland’s tepid return to economic growth over the past year has been driven by strong exports from the approximately 950 high-tech multinationals, including 600 US companies, with Irish operations.

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