The Irish government has decided to hold a popular vote on the European Union's new fiscal pact, which requires signatories to observe much stricter budget discipline.
The Irish government announced on Tuesday the country would hold a referendum to endorse a new European fiscal pact which most EU member countries agreed in January. The pact aims to implement tighter spending rules particularly for countries that use the euro currency.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny informed Parliament that the government's legal adviser had said the fiscal pact must go to a public vote.
"The Irish people will be asked for the authorization in a referendum to ratify the European Stability Treaty," Kenny told legislators.
Kenny said the popular vote would be prepared over the next few weeks and argued that it would be in Ireland's interests to vote in favor of the accord. In January, all the members of the EU except Britain and the Czech Republic approved the pact.
Support for the European Union has cooled in Ireland after three years of economic contraction and budget cutbacks in exchange for aid to prop up the country's ailing banking sector.
Irelandhas a record of rejecting or delaying European agreements. Unlike other EU member countries, it has frequently subjected far-reaching accords to public votes.
Voters in Ireland rejected two of the bloc's treaties in 2001 and 2008, delaying their ratification. In both cases, the government resorted to staging second referendums in 2002 and 2009 in successful bids to overcome anti-EU sentiments.
hg/mll (AP, Reuters)