C: European Central bank / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A real debate would also look at what we lost when we joined the EU  

As the state, and the vast network which is dependent upon it as a conduit for their existence, prepares to embark upon a year-long celebration of the 1973 accession to the European Union, it seems clear that many are determined not to tolerate any sort of debate on the past 50 years.

An interview with Ray Bassett, former ambassador to Canada and author of Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, and an opinion piece in the Irish Times by Anthony Coughlan have inspired several of those who wax lyrical about how “Europe” brought us freedom of speech and democracy as well as trousers with an arse in them to object to this, presumably, abuse of those freedoms.

After all, we must be eternally vigilant.

 

The above pretty much encapsulates the view shared by all parties in Leinster House, with the exception of Aontú on some issues. It’s a view that claims that had Ireland not joined the EEC as it then was, that we would not have “progressed” as much.  Of course, progress is a loaded term. No doubt the twitter above would include abortion on demand as progress.

The economic argument appears to be incontestable, but the assumption that we would not have progressed “as much” had we not joined, or had the EU taken a different direction, is a fallacy. This is proven by the experience of Norway, but also by the fact that Sweden, Austria and Finland were hardly basket cases prior to 1995.

The EU groupies also object to anyone pointing out that our “friends” in Brussels, backed by our “friends”, Obama and Biden in Washington, basically forced Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan to agree to the terms of the bank bailout in 2010.

In his book, Bassett claims that Lenihan’s proposal to force the lenders, the bond holders, to share a substantial part of the costs, was rejected in the interests of the overall financial stability of the EU, and in particular Germany.

So it came to be that the costs were placed on the hapless “pixie heads,” as became a derisive terms among some of the German elite for the Irish people who were landed with an unpayable debt generated by some of our own shysters facilitated by the likes of Goldman Sachs, a not unimportant influence within the EU and the Irish establishment. Goldman Sachs were not only one of the bondholders listed at the time of the bailout, but subsequently benefitted from state contracts awarded by the National Treasury Management Agency. Goldman Sachs in dual role on Anglo – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

 

The table above illustrates not only the size of the debt, but the fact that it is destined to continue to increase if the overall pattern is followed. While some would point to that being a reduced proportion of Gross Domestic Product – a dubious metric in any case given the scale of exported profits – a better indication of the scale of the debt is found in the per capita figure. Between 2008 and 2021, that more than doubled from $25,897 to $55,165.

Coughlan refers to what he describes as the “monumental betrayal of democracy” facilitated by the Irish elite, as epitomised by their ignoring the “people’s instincts and – more importantly – their instructions” when a majority voted to reject the first Lisbon and Nice Treaties.

It is important to, to note that this was not some weird aberration by the Irish electorate – who were subsequently cajoled and threatened into reversing their decision – but reflected a European-wide opposition to the transformation of the EU into a federal state. The 2004 Treaty – dubbed the EU Constitution – was rejected in referendum in France and the Netherlands in 2005, and all the other states which has been planning a referendum cancelled them.

Thus, Ireland became the only state to have a referendum on Lisbon in 2008 and it voted No. More snake oil and semantics ensured that the Treaty which enshrines the primacy of EU law over that of every member state came into force anyway. The implications of that are now being witnessed where a left liberal Parliament in Brussels is providing the Trojan Horse to ride roughshod over the law and even constitutions of Poland and Hungary.

If you think that it is a good thing that Europe is governed by one central entity, then own it. Don’t dress it up as anything other than an abject surrender of the “backward notion of sovereignty.”

And don’t ignore the fact that when Coughlan and others compare the elevation of the material benefits above all other considerations, that you are making exactly the same argument as the late 19th century Irish elite who said that we would be reduced to beggary if we left the Empire of which they were clients at that time.

It is also worth noting that there is a strong correlation between those who pour scorn on our cultural and religious traditions and those who argue that the quicker we abandon all of that, the more truly “European” we shall become. Neglecting of course that two of the strongest connections to the Europe whose civilisation Ireland contributed to in no small way for over a millennium were the Irish language and the Catholic faith.

Irish was one of the main languages of Europe at one time, as reflected in a rich literary heritage and was also the means of communication of the missionaries who helped to save Europe from barbarism and who in the process helped to preserve Latin and Greek as the languages of the European intelligentsia.

An intelligentsia among whose giants was Eriugena – a man who spoke and annotated his great works in Irish, and who was also one of the greatest Greek scholars of the medieval period.

Point being, that we did not become “European” in 1973. No more than did the Czechs or Italians or Latvians when they joined. Being European is about sharing a common culture, which is fundamentally Christian, but is also about respecting the separate traditions and cultures of each peoples of Europe. The hard-won recognition of those traditions and cultures, for the most part, occurs in sovereign independent states.

At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, it might be worth reflecting on who in the 20th century believed that all of that was archaic nonsense to be swept aside by one dominant race, or another elite claiming to represent universal liberation and prosperity.

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