Mícheál Martin went over to the European council summit in Versailles, this week, and instead of spending his time seeking a reduction in excise duty on fuel for the Irish people as stated earlier in the week, appeared to spend most of his time advocating that Ukraine join the EU. Well-intended, perhaps, but ill judged.
If Ukraine joins the EU, does he think that tensions between Brussels and Moscow will ease, or heighten? At minimum, we will have a new, and potentially deadly, cold war between the EU and Russia. Perhaps that is what Putin wants: an excuse to ultimately invade the Baltics, Poland and every other former Soviet country now in the EU. Putin wants to make the USSR great again, whatever the cost, while our leaders only care about creating what they perceive to be positive headlines.
The Irish government have stated that there will be no cap on the number of Ukrainian refugees permitted entry to our country. We will house them and give them full social welfare entitlements. I know the government mean well and their heart is in the right place, but if we get 80,000 refugees as government have suggested and they stay for a year, and each receives a basic social welfare payment. It will cost the Irish taxpayer up to €1 billion on welfare payments alone.
We will also need to house arriving refugees. I got quite annoyed listening to Minister McEntee speaking to the news at 1 last Wednesday, as she stated the government were looking at constructing modular homes that would bypass planning permission requirements. I thought we were in a housing crisis, why are the government only looking at this now, when Ukrainians need housing? What about our own people’s needs?
It appears to this observer to be a case of another week, another chance for government to demonstrate their moral superiority over the British, as they repeatedly tell us we have taken in multiples of the refugees they have.
Imagine one year from now if – as is perfectly likely – Ukraine falls to the Russians and the refugees’ visas run out. The Irish government will have an extremely challenging time sending them back to the new Russian state. There will be an outcry from the media. They will want to bring their spouses who were fighting in the Ukrainian army over here to join them. I suspect this is the reason our nearest neighbour is not taking in as many Ukrainians as us. They can think long term. We appear to think no longer than Fintan O’Toole’s next column.
I long for a political leader like De Valera today. He knew how important neutrality was for a country the size of Ireland. He did not allow Ireland to be pushed around by bigger countries who wanted us to give up our own interests to serve theirs. Even now it suits the US a great deal to ban Russian oil and gas in the hope their allies will follow suit, pushing up global prices and making it economically viable for the US to frack.
Western leaders have imposed severe sanctions against Russia in the hope that things will get so bad for the Russian people i.e., extreme hunger and poverty they will revolt against Putin. An ideology that is immoral and deeply flawed. When it was determined after WWI that Germany would have to pay for the war it had waged, it did not put manners on them, as intended. In fact it was the sole reason Hitler rose to power.
The same can be said about western companies pulling out of Russia. It is not going to stop Putin’s war; it will make more Russians unemployed. Effectively punishing Russians for the war their leader has started. The irony is most of them will probably end up joining the Russian army – they will be the only organisation hiring.
The cost of living keeps rising and is only going to rise further and it is feared we may even see food shortages come September. These sanctions may backfire, and it could very well be us that end up revolting against our leaders.