Was St Patrick for or against the EU?

September 21, 2009 § 1 Comment

My latest Presseurop blog.

Less than twstpatrick1o weeks to go before Ireland votes on the Lisbon Treaty, the Irish press is awash with Yes editorials. With little left to be said beyond sleep-inducing reassurances as how the fraught text will not compromise national taxation, anti-abortion laws and the continued presence of an “Irish” commissioner in Brussels, the tone is inevitably taking a shrill turn. Not without some light entertainment value. Leading the attack is columnist Kevin Myers, who declares that he would rather be governed “by a parcel of fork-tongued Euro-reptiles” than our home-grown “inept and unrepentant thieves”. Given the state of the Irish economy, Myers might be right in condemning the narrow assumption that Irishmen best serve Irish interests, but until reptiles have faces, people will always prefer to be led by their own species, even if it means ruin. Being recognizable, they’re still accountable, or would at least seem so.

On the No side, Vincent Browne’s GBH job on the treaty has been a gift to the No camp which continues to claim that the treaty will compromise our neutrality. Browne points out that a single European foreign policy would have had Ireland involved “up to the gills” in the 2003 Gulf War. This sounds fair enough, until you remember that Ireland in all its little fishness was complicit in the Gulf War anyway. Our so-called neutrality never prevented US warplanes from refuelling at Shannon airport, nor, as it’s suspected, serving as stopovers for extraordinary rendition flights. Until we live in a society that isn’t dominated by war and spoliation, Ireland will always be swimming alongside great sharks. Its neutrality has always been a fiction. Read on…

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Vote 1916 for a better Europe

September 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

Coir 1My latest blog at Presseurop.

A new poster by anti-Lisbon Treaty group Coir with portraits of James Connolly, Patrick Pearse and Thomas Clarke, three of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter rebellion against British rule, accompanied by the slogan “They won your freedom, don’t throw it away” has Ireland’s pro-Lisbon establishment in a patriotic lather. Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Garret Fitzgerald has accused the organization, a spin-off of anti-abortion group SPUC, of seeking “to abuse the memory…of our 1916 leaders…in aid of their own xenophobic campaign.” Tremulously noting that his father fought alongside these enemies of British imperialism, he writes “…my father spoke of the need to go beyond securing political independence from Britain by forging closer links with the rest of Europe.”

He is echoed by Eoin Ryan, a former minister of Fianna Fail, Ireland’s ruling party, who has declared “outrageous” a hypothesis aired by Nigel Farage, the outgoing leader of British eurosceptic party Ukip, that the men and women who took part in the Easter rebellion would have been against the treaty. “…our revolutionary heroes…believed passionately in Ireland as a European nation that would belong to strong international bodies,” he says, not before summoning up the memory of his grandfather, also present at Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO), the rebels’ HQ, in 1916. Read on…

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