Deja Vu


Listening today to An Taoiseach Brian Cowan on RTE’s News at One exhorting us all to vote yes in the second, upcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, I had a terrible sense of Deja Vu. You know that feeling where you are sure you have heard or lived through something before?

Our glorious leader warned us all that the best way to keep our commissioner was to vote yes. If we wanted to be at the heart of Europe we should vote yes. If we wanted to retain our ‘influence’ in Europe we should vote yes. If we didn’t want to be shunned by Europe we should vote yes.

Hadn’t I heard all this before not more than fifteen months ago? Did not our Taoiseach Mr Cowan himself tell us all this during the first and very recent referendum? Didn’t he have anything new to bring to the table? Then it occurred to me that I might possibly be listening to an interview which RTE had dragged up from the archives of the last referendum debate, but no, the presenter clearly informed the listeners that the interview was conducted live in the studio today Wednesday Sept 02 2009.

Is it truly possible that this Government thinks that it can win this referendum by repeating the arguments of the last one, arguments which were rejected by the people little more than a year ago? Is it conceivable that despite all the consultations, summits and other activities since the last referendum the Taoiseach can only come up with a repeat of the same arguments put forward back then? Or is it possible that Mr Cowan, having seen the so called ‘legal guarantees’ being exposed as little more than a toothless political agreement between heads of state, now realises that in fact what he is putting to the people next October is exactly the same as was put to them over a year ago, hence the repetition of the same argument as last time? And if this is true then could not Mr Cowan and many on the yes side be accused of corrupting and manipulating our democratic process to suit their wishes over those of the people by presenting the exact same argument which the people rejected on June 13 last year by a sizeable 53.4% of the votes?

A further worrying familiarity is that at the end of the interview Mr Cowan was asked again if he had read the treaty. This was a question he chose, for whatever reason, not to answer, instead preferring to tell us that the Government and all Departments would be ‘au-fe’ (I’ve never really understood what the hell that means) with all aspects of the treaty.

Today’s interview raises many questions which those who have been through the first referendum will find familiar. That is because they are exactly the same questions raised last time out. Questions like, if we vote no will we lose our Commissioner? If we vote no will we be shunned by Europe, and if so, who wants any part of that kind of democracy? Is our influence in Europe dependent on us saying yes to everything Europe demands? Oh and one last but very important one. Has our Taoiseach actually read the treaty this time?

Please tell us that you have Taoiseach….Please….

See what I mean about Deja Vu!


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About Ronan Gallagher

Writer and Film-maker living and working in Leitrim in the North West of Ireland. View all posts by Ronan Gallagher

7 responses to “Deja Vu

  • lmcg1

    What is is with politicians these days. We are having the same thing in Canada, trotting out the same old nonsense, withholding information, twisting stories. The politicians seem to want to dumb down everything, not even engage in a proper discussion, limiting it all to a sound bite or two – no in depth, real debate and discussion.

    BTW I think that the ‘au fe’ may be ‘au fait’ – in the online dictionary it means ‘being up to particular standard or level especially in being up to date in knowledge; “kept abreast of the latest developments”; “constant revision keeps the book au courant”; “always au fait on the latest events”; “up on the news”‘. Sounds like those people who have never been to Italy, or who visited once and then say ‘ciao’ to be cool and trendy. All superficiality, no substance.

  • Mary C. Dolan

    Yes, I do believe it is ‘au fait’ — a term I never heard in the US but a term that peppered nearly every sentence uttered by Belfast work colleagues when I relocated to Ireland.

    I don’t know what do say about Lisbon — I am really on the fence! However, I am wondering after hearing today’s announcement that Scotland will likely seek independence next year, whether an idea that was mooted some 30-odd years ago may now have some better merit.

    It was a federation of independent nations in–geographically speaking–the British isles with each nation having full sovereignty but cooperating for economic benefit. I think we have more in common economically and culturally with Britain, Scotland and Northern Ireland than we think and I believe that given the chance to vote to opt out or not approve Lisbon, this part of Europe (which is perhipheral if you are realistic) will still survive.

    Rejecting Lisbon may give Ireland the only chance it has of raising itself out of the current situation.

    I’m not an economist nor do I have a crystal ball, but I do think that the entrepreneurial spirit that evolved during the Celtic Tiger years (yes, with its excesses from which surely we have learned) can be harnassed to get Ireland back on track.

    Whether we opt in or not, Ireland is not the centre of Europe and will not be given favoured status ever again. Economic recovery is Ireland’s problem to solve and I am wondering if it is better to be in a position to hoist our own sails???

  • Martin Prendergast

    I will consider voting “yes” on Lisbon if every other single citizen in the EU gets to vote on it too.

  • bigrab

    Good post.

    It will be very interesting indeed if Ireland votes no for a second time. If it turns out like that stand by for a third vote!

    Plainly a vast majority in Europe are against the current pace of integration. The EU is a corrupt inefficient entity in desperate need of reining in – not the granting or extending of further influence and power.

  • wheelsofire

    If we vote ‘No,the sky will fall!
    Funny how the likes of Intel and Michael O’Leary, both notoriously anti-union, are in favour. Pretty much clinches it for me.
    As usual, excellent post, Ronan.

    And what a surprise to hear Garret Fitzgerald and Alaan Shatter supporting NAMA. The former had huge personal debt forgiven by the ever-generous AIB,the bank which was bailed out by the taxpayer for screwing up the Insurance Corporation, and for which we still pay; the latter is a Director of Anglo-Irish Bank.
    Hmmm…

  • Seadhna Logan

    Lisbon is a joke and a lie. It is a rehashed version of the failed European Constitution that was rejected by both France and Holland.It has adapted a new form or guise under the name Lisbon Treaty as a technical loophole so as to avoid referenda in other E.U states.While the Fianna Fail/ Greens/Fine Gael and Labour Party are running a very costly vote Yes campaign, they are being less than honest or transparent in what a yes vote would really mean for Ireland. I have yet to see mention in their propaganda of the fact that if Lisbon is ratified it can be changed and altered in anyway the E.U see fit without notification to or the assistance of the electorate of member states.This means any of the so called assurances or garauntees the Irish government claim to have are absolutely worthless. HAVING READ THE DOCUMENT AND TRIED TO DECIPHER MUCH OF THE LEGALISTIC BULLSHIT LANGUAGE WITHIN I HAVE CAME UPON NUMEROUS ARTICLES THAT WOULD BE HUGELY DAMAGING TO IRELAND AND ITS FUTURE.BELOW IS A LINK TO A VERY INTERESTING VIDEO I FOUND ON YOUTUBE IN RELATION TO THE IMPACT AND THE DANGERS OF A YES VOTE TO LISBON

  • Seadhna Logan

    I just wanted to leave a link to another masterful piece of political propaganda on why Lisbon is a bad deal for Ireland our Nation, our Rights and our Sovereignty. I personally feel the government have a very biased and unfair advantage in the way their vote yes campaign is covered by the media. The way the Fianna Fail government and the disgracefully biased referendum commission are running their campaigns in pursuit of Lisbon, while trying to avoid any real debate or questioning is just shameful. It is quite clear that as it stands there is no real honesty, integrity or conscience in the Irish government, or they would openly come out and debate the real issues with the real opposition and not those posers Fine Gael.

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