Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Ireland says "no" to Lisbon... gombeens rejoice!

So, after billions of Euro funding and cohesion money - which is soon to dry up as the we become net contributors in the next few years - it seems that the Irish have become eurosceptics (a term first coined by the Little Englanders of perfidious Albion).

The Lisbon Treaty was drafted over seven years by member states - much of it during Ireland's presidency - and was designed to make the expanding EU easier to run on an organizational level, given its expansion to 27 member states. That's all it was. Qualified majority voting would take the place of unanimity, so as to prevent one state of 27 preventing the others moving forward. Every country would have a commissioner two terms out of three, instead of every country having a permanent one as had been the case when the EU comprised fewer countries - we have the laughable Charlie McCreevy at the moment. That's all it was. So what was the problem?

While there were some honest, earnest people campaigning on issues of workers' rights - this incompetent Government refused to back the EU charter on this issue - Gombeen Man suspects much of the "no" vote was on unrelated issues. For instance, one group with a Gaelic name exhorted people to vote "no" to "keep Ireland Irish". No problem taking all that "foreign" money though.

Others voted to prevent women's right to choose being introduced in Ireland, others voted to prevent immigration, others voted to prevent their sons being drafted into an imaginary European army. The farmers' leaders belatedly backed it after trying to use it as a bargaining chip to get more money - but too late. Rural constituencies overwhelmingly voted it down as did working-class areas with high levels of simmering racism. People voted against "tax harmonisation". So, do they want to keep paying nearly twice as much for their cars, for instance, as they do in some other EU states? Do they want the "right" to continue to be screwed by "their own"?

The Celtic Cubs were out in force. Spoiled by their parents' easy property equity money (thanks to cheap EU credit) they gloated, their crabby, spoiled, overfed faces puffed up with triumph as they sang songs in Irish celebrating Ireland's step back into the past. A past, the misery of which their cossetted upbringings do not equip them to understand.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. Maybe the coming economic slowdown will rid Ireland of much of its new found arrogance? Maybe the EU will forge ahead with tax harmonisation, with Ireland's voice weakened? Maybe they won't, and the multinationals will go to the accession states offering even lower corporate tax and cheaper labour costs? Maybe, in a two-tier scenario, Ireland will not be allowed unfettered access to European markets, and this will sway the multinationals' hand?

Whatever happens, the "no" vote could prove to be a watershed. Erin go bragh, eh?

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