There is a new political concept in recent times. It’s called being pro-European. In France and Germany (having lived in France for a year and spent a few weeks in Germany and much time among many German friends and learning the German language even whilst in France ), this seems to be pro-integration with regards to European political union. To be against such a concept, for whatever reason, is to risk being called a nationalist or anti-European.
The word nationalism means different things in different European countries. In Irish history it tends to be associated with a United Ireland, Republicanism and in some instances, to have left wing sympathies is to be either Nationalist or Republican. Irish nationalism, or republicanism for the two are oft linked, are concepts that arose out of a suppressed colonised history. 7 centuries of oppression led to the concept of an Irish Republic, first touted by Wolfe Tone in 1798.
Its roots essentially stem in part to French republican ideals, as many Irish revolutionaries in the late 18th century such as Tone and Emmet had dealings with the French Revolutionary Republic in a bid to liberate themselves from English rule and establish an Irish Republic. One modern day equivalent might be found in Scotland where nationalism in the form of the Scottish Nationalist Party has led to an independence referendum in late 2014 ( http://www.scotreferendum.com ). One thing bearing in mind is Scottish First Minister’s Alex Salmond’s desire to follow the Nordic energy fund model of Norway, and any implication that might have on Irish affairs (the status of Ulster, possible Irish reunification, possible withdrawal from the EU along with Scotland, who have been told by Jose Barroso, an unelected well paid technocrat that they will need to leave the EU if they declare independence which the Scots might look on as an opportunity) but more on that later.
In German history, nationalism has shown itself to mean something different altogether. In fact it would seem that the German establishment has developed a phobia of the word. As anyone knows, such a concept in Germany is a right wing concept due to obvious historic reasons. The fact that the two terms are intertwined in countries like Ireland, and possibly Scotland, and that they signify left wing and inclusive ideals, must only make matters more confusing for those who might be for whatever reason incapable of (or unwilling to) differentiating the concepts of self determination (the right to a people’s sovereignty, freedom and exaltation among the nations of the World) and nazism (superior nationalism or xenophobic nationalism). Fear fits a fine pair of blinkers.
In Ireland we have 3 main political parties, which are all pan European vessels. They operate on the basis that they are pro-european and anyone who opposes them must therefore be anti-european, dangerous radicals, or else extremist.
It is a little reported fact in our media that since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, we have been the victims of a creeping coup on our semi-democratic but nonetheless sovereign Irish institutions. It is funny how the Brussels accounts have not been signed off on in nearly 2 decades which shows that Europe’s elite has been investing untold sums and time in full political and economic union.
Take the European Commission for instance. Nobody elects these people, yet they represent Ireland, a constitutionally neutral country on the U.N. Security council. They would potentially have the right to decide in the not so distant future whether to send Irish people, and other people across the continent in different E.U. member states, to fight a war for economic or vested interests. Given that we live in the 1930’s this is not an altogether unrealistic prospect.
European Law now accounts for most modern Irish laws. Ireland may no longer have the right to military neutrality since the passing of the EU Treaty. A very good legal paper by Karen Devine which she composed after the first Lisbon Treaty campaign ( http://doras.dcu.ie/14898/1/Irish_Ne…bon_Treaty.pdf ) states the following: In the Lisbon Treaty referendum, neutrality emerged as the most divisive issue in referendum debates (IMS/DFA, 2008: 25) and was the second most important reason why people voted ‘no’ (IMS/DFA, 2008: 14). Evidently, many Irish people have consistently demonstrated a belief through their voting behaviour that further integration in the area of EU foreign, security and defence policy is incompatible with the concept of neutrality they support.’
Since the passing of the Lisbon Treaty at the second go, largely due to ‘vote yes for jobs’, it has emerged that the Treaty, which no member of the government or opposition (the current shower) who supported it at the time publicly stated they had read, fears have emerged over article 42.7 which states a need for ‘mutual defence’ in the case of EU member states. Thus it appears, that after the Lisbon Treaty passed in 2009, Ireland had, under undemocratic threats of economic chaos from both home and abroad (‘yes for jobs’, and Sarkozy’s visit to Dublin being but small examples), ceded its right to assert neutrality which has been a key factor in determining our sovereignty throughout the history of the state, most notably during World War Two when despite threats of invasion from Churchill’s British government (who along with America occupied our Nordic neighbour Iceland during the war), from Hitler’s Germany and even from America, southern Ireland stayed neutral for the duration of the war. As Devine rightly states in her paper, many Irish people quite reasonably oppose and have opposed on many an occasion since the Single European Act of 1987 full EU integration on the grounds of neutrality alone.
Another way in which the EU has creepingly come to control our affairs was the establishment of the Euro. In 2002 we adopted the common currency, which flooded a booming Irish economy with cheap credit, something we have been paying for the last 5 years, as we are constantly told we all partied and need to clean up our own mess and to front Europe’s banking bill 100% on our own shoulders (despite the fact that the cheap credit which could not have been made available had we still had the Punt was lent by central European Banks and most notably, the ECB, at rates of below 1%). The question then arises, who sought to lend this much money to an Irish economy which did not need such credit as it was already booming ? The answer in the main, is Germany(by which I mean German businesses, German investors, the ECB which is based in Frankfurt and which has an uncanny reputation for following German Monetary policy and German banks).
This excellent article by Laura Noonan not someone given to criticising bigger European economies, states the following:
As of early 2011, it was known that German Banks were exposed to Irish banks for over 21 Billion euros, which explains why ‘Germany, along with other European countries, has been vigorously opposing Ireland’s efforts to enforce losses on certain categories of bank bondholders. German banks were owed another €64.7bn by Irish enterprises, suggesting that the banks have an interest in making sure Ireland survives the economic crisis. The final sum owed by Ireland to German banks was €2.3bn, attributed to “general government” debts. Germany’s exposure to Ireland significantly exceeds the country’s €25bn exposure to stricken Greece and its €27.5bn exposure to crisis-ridden Portugal.’
When understanding why Ireland has, under considerable duress from fellow European states, forsaken its’ economic sovereignty entirely, it is worth bearing in mind that the governments of some fellow European states, especially that of Germany, have stated that as our banks borrowed from their banks, all Irish people must pay back these banking debts to ensure no European bank closes, thus the reason for Ireland’s so called bailout in 2010. Germany was far more exposed to Irish banks and businesses than it was to those of any other EU Member State.
Considering the German media’s castigation of a Greek society and a Greek government whose banks and businesses owe(or rather owed as we, and most likely the Greeks as well have paid much of the European bondholders back, having being told by the ECB to do so) far less than our banks and businesses do (not forgetting the Spiegel’s recent headline on why Athens must leave the Euro) to Germany, it is worth remembering the type of people who lent this money ridiculously.
Essentially we are being told the Banks are Irish, you’re Irish, so you’re all guilty.
A European political union would seem to many within this society to be tyrannical, undemocratic, imperialistic, and against our sovereign wishes, economic and political interests and our wish to retain neutrality in the normal event of war which often follows economic depressions. Perhaps it is time to look to other countries, most notably our Nordic neighbours Norway, Iceland and Greenland, (as well as a potentially independent Scotland), outside the immediate union with vast energy, and fisheries reserves and small populations like ours, ideal for trade and in our own case, mass food production.
A political union, particularly one which fails to address the understandable and perhaps healthily cynical Irish suspicion of external powers wishing to control our affairs, is looking increasingly incompatible with Irish economic and political interests.
Arguably, it was always incompatible with our desire to maintain political and economic sovereignty, which was once stated by a small group of brave men as ‘indefeasible’ and which has now become a supposedly dangerous and radical concept.
Apjp September 2012
Photo: EU Commission EUFOR
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