Tag Archives: Europe

Lisbon: Post Coital.

The Lisbon Treaty referendum which we just went through was a bit like sex for Catholics.  We wanted to do it, but was it right? In the heat of the moment, with Lisbon, beautiful Lisbon, spread before us and simmering with seductive promise, we gave in, and in one  lustful moment threw caution to the wind resulting in a Yes! Yes! Yessssss! And now, as we lie, exhausted, sated, and puffing ponderously on  the post coital cigarette, the first tinges of guilt and the prospects of regret begin to creep in.

The tinges of guilt will stem from the fact that perhaps the whole thing was kind of forced, that in our lust we just couldn’t take no for an answer, the prospects of regret perhaps coming from the knowledge that now that we have made our bed, we must lie in it and can only hope we don’t get the wet side.

And if we do get the wet side what then? As the pro Lisbon forces in the country danced ‘the seven veils’ in front of our eyes, tantalising us with the promise of better things to come, they risked raising our excitement and expectation to levels they might not be able to live up to. The promise of jobs, economic stability, and a voice at the center of Europe was at the heart of the Yes campaign’s seductive moves as they strutted their stuff in a sensuous political pole dance which ended with them having their way with us. But as we all know, relationships often change and after the memory of the climax of our yes vote has faded, if those promises are not fulfilled, will we look to our bedfellow with the same dreamy, lust filled eyes? Or, in the cold light of day, will we  begin to see imperfections in our partner? If the result of the seduction does not lead to an improvement in our economy, more jobs, and our voice being heard effectively in Europe, will we become more distant and more critical? Will our lust turn to resentment, anger and ultimately blame? Will we begin to see Europe as a mistake, and, as with all mistakes in relationships, will it eventually lead  to increased pressure for a parting of the ways? And what if the same unfulfilled promise results in similar ‘relationship difficulties’ for other countries who ratified Lisbon, many without being even allowed to vote? What then for this new post coital Europe?

Will we be sitting together around the table come breakfast time or will we prefer to quietly slip out of the bed, sneak down the stairs and scuttle off into the cold, lonely, dark of the night? The outcome of this relationship depends on whether the seed of our seduction bears fruit or falls on barren ground. It is an outcome which now lies firmly in the control of our seducer whose power over us has been greatly enhanced with Lisbon.

Let us hope it is a power and an outcome that lives up to it’s promise.

For all our sakes.


Fab Vinnie, David Lee Roth and Michael O Leary

Back in the early eighties Dave Lee Roth, the spandex wearing ‘wella’ haired front man for 80’s superband Van Halen was being interviewed by Vincent Hanley otherwise known as ‘Fab Vinnie’ for the then hugely popular MT-USA Show on RTE. Vinnie, obviously in awe of the golden haired Roth, couldn’t contain himself and asked him what it was like to be so fabulously wealthy?

With a deft wave of a gold and diamond bejewelled hand, Roth flicked back his hair and looked right at Vinnie with those dreamy eyes and said

‘ You know Vincent, by the time I get to pay my manager, my lawyers, my accountants, my staff, my entertainment bills and the taxman, I’ve just about enough left to buy a small Caribbean island!’

I was reminded of this the other day while watching Michael ‘Arc Angel’ O Leary tell the nation in RTE’s Prime Time debate on Lisbon that we should vote for Lisbon because we are broke, because it is good for business and because he would rather have Europe run Ireland than the ‘Shower of incompetents in Leinster house‘. Michael went on to tell us that he was an important businessman. He employed a thousand people. He paid huge amounts of taxes here in his home country and told the nation that he brought inward investment with his company Ryan Air. Readers should note that it was at that point the memory of Vincent Hanley interviewing Mr Roth nearly a quarter of a century ago popped into my head.

You see, when Michael pays all his taxes etc you can be sure that his take home cheque wont leave him standing at the ATM machine praying to the God of ATM machines to please give him something, anything except that heart sinking message of

‘Sorry you have insufficient funds for this transaction’.

That aside, as long as Mr O Leary pays his fair amount of taxes and covers his costs which I’m sure he does, no matter how much he pays he should not feel that he has any rights or privileges over other tax payers, or that this gives him a right to a bigger say in our democracy than any other citizen of this state, be they taxpayer or welfare recipient.

And there’s where my problem with Europe lies. Deep under my skin I get the creeping feeling that Europe is getting more concerned about markets than people. More concerned about the economic imperative than the  social one. The more I hear ‘We need to be at the heart of Europe winning friends and influencing people‘, I can’t help but wonder if the whole European project amounts to nothing more than a lobbyists paradise? If so why not send a ‘Frank Dunlop’ to Brussels and save all this voting malarkey. Frankly speaking, a word in the right ear from a ‘Frank’ would surely see a jacuzzi in every house in the land. Just imagine it. A Europe with a budget worth billions of euro, covering nearly half a billion people, controlled by a gargantuan political structure where things get done by ‘winning friends and influencing people’ and where the social agenda is being tamed to allow free market conditions to prevail. What’s not to like for  Michael and many like him. It’s a businessman’s paradise!

So every time I hear a well paid business man, politician, economist, banker,  or lawyer tell the nation that they too are sharing the cuts and the pain like everyone else in this seemingly ‘banama’d’ republic, the memory of Mr Roth comes back to me. It rises up when I hear well paid commentators and journalists tell the nation that public sector pay must be cut, education and health cuts must be implemented, that we are all living beyond our means. And it really hits home when one realises that the cuts that the well heeled are taking are more than the average yearly wage of over 80% of the people in this country.

Europe and Ireland. A world of equals? I don’t think so.


Europe, Vincent Browne, and Me

Poor Vincent Browne. What Faustian deal did he make in his life that gave him that eternally perplexed look. Complimented by his raised eyebrows, crusty the clown haircut, and sad resigned sighs, it was very prominent on Monday night (11th May 09) when he had Euro Candidates Marian Harkin, Pascal Mooney, Jim Higgins and Declan Ganley on his panel. And who could blame him? Having sat for an hour through the ‘discussion’ I am, as he apparently was, no wiser as to why any of them should be paid hundreds of thousands of euro to ‘represent’ us in Brussels. Fianna Fails Pascal Mooney informed us that he wanted to be in Europe so he could win friends and influence people. He read about this kind of approach in a book, he told us.  Jim Higgins of Fine Gael said that he wanted to position Ireland in the ‘slipstream’ of France and Germany’s financial recovery. Not much of a plan if you ask me. A rather shrill Marian Harkin seemed hell-bent on ripping Declan Ganley’s throat out and Declan Ganley spent so much time defending himself against the other three that one has no idea what he wants apart from democracy and accountability which is hardly a revolutionary call. For some reason Padraig McLaughlin from Sinn Fein wasn’t at the table.

Vincent I’m afraid did not do too well in the chair, allowing the debate/discussion to plunge into  a chaotic cross talking cacophony of raised voices, accusations, and shouting matches, ending with Marian Harkin telling Mr Ganly somewhat childishly that ‘You started it!’

Somehow it all seems so distant. So irrelevant.

But then when I look at the powers which Europe has increasingly taken upon itself to run our lives I get a little nervous and suddenly it doesn’t seem so distant or irrelevant. For example why does nobody see Europe’s recent comments on our budgetary measures and on how our Government is running the economy, as tantamount to outside interference in our economic and political affairs? Are our budgets drawn up for the Irish people, or for a group of unelected mandarins in Europe? If these mandarins did not accept our budget would we have to draw up another one? One that is perhaps more suited to Europe’s interests than Ireland’s?

The lack of interest by the electorate in Europe is a dangerous thing and no doubt suits the politicians. It allows Europe to forge ahead with its plans without scrutiny or accountability. Ireland has a population not much bigger than the average European city. Four million out of a population of four hundred million means that we are at a numerical disadvantage and as such we run the risk of being swamped and trampled on by the vested interests of the bigger, more influential countries. It is for this reason we need to pay attention to what is happening in Europe and who we elect to represent us. Every day we seem to cede more financial and political power to Brussels without as much as a whimper. Our own Government seem to increasingly need the permission of Europe before they can pass any legislation in our own so called sovereign parliament. If our role in Europe has been reduced to ‘winning friends and influencing people’ then what can our expectations be from it? Playing along unquestionably to Europe’s tune as long as there’s a few bob in it? This would not be new. After all we played along with our friends in Boston when they needed a place to fuel planes for their illegal war in Iraq and turned a blind eye to rendition, and there was a nice few bob in it too.

There is no doubt that our future lies with Europe, but that future must be based on equality, respect for our vote, our independence, and our right to determine our own future.

If that is not in the mix, we might find that eighty years after our war of independence, we are in real danger of losing our voice and becoming little more than subdued vassals of a European regime we have no control over.


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