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Referendum Day - And After
Whatever the result of the referendum on the European Stability Treaty, we need to renew the idea of Europe as a matter of urgency...
The Whole Hog, 05 Jun 2012
You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. That’s the long and the short of it. For all the debating of pros and cons, in the referendum on the European Stability Treaty, we’re faced with a choice, yes or no. And whichever way it goes, we’re not in a great place.
Only a madman would suggest that voting yes will solve Ireland’s economic problems. The country was taken to the cleaners by gamblers and chancers. The chaos they left behind them will take years to sort. Is taking years…
And there’s more. In addition to the mess, we are confronted daily by the extraordinary injustice whereby there is no debt forgiveness for ordinary people – the taxpayers and mortgage-holders who have to bail out the banks – but wholesale debt forgiveness for the banks.
Cash has been sucked out of the economy like oxygen is sucked out of the atmosphere in a big fire. A lot of dreams are going up in the ensuing conflagration. Mortgage debt is a millstone around our collective neck. Businesses don’t have necessary access to credit. As a result, we are sinking under pervasive and marrow-deep cynicism and pessimism.
Sadly, hoewever bad the status quo may be, it’s daft to suggest that voting ‘No’ would resolve these issues. It wouldn’t. For a start, voting ‘No’ would isolate Ireland from the low interest money that will be available through the European Stability Mechanism. The other option is to gamble on our ability to borrow from the money markets. Many people reckon we’ve had quite enough gambling, thanks a lot – and much as they resent the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, they fancy submitting to the whims of the markets even less.
As this is being written, the polls are suggesting a comfortable win for the Yes side. If that’s how it pans out, fine. But it would be a mistake for either the Government or the European Union to interpret any result of this sort as enthusiasm for the present path.
It’s much more likely to reflect a deeply rooted fatalism, a weary acceptance that forces are in play that are beyond our control and an allied feeling that our best bet, of a bad lot, is to play along. Voters look at Greece and shake their heads. Maybe they don’t trust the assurances of the ‘No’ side.