Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Irish EU Referendum battle intensifies


The Irish Referendum campaign on the EU Austerity Treaty is being fought
tooth and nail in the final days before voting on Thursday. Door to door canvas
will continue until late evening today in all areas. World media have been arriving
in force since last week and citizens are likely to be invited to comment for
Japanese or Swiss television viewers as they go about their business on the
streets of Dublin.

In the past week, solidarity actions have been taking place outside Irish Embassies
In Rome, Lisbon, Helsinki, Madrid, The Hague, Vienna and Brussels where 
statements were handed in urging Irish people to vote NO on behalf of Europeans 
deprived of an opportunity to vote by their own governments in the setting aside of 
democracy which characterizes the current EU.

Tuesday night’s RTÉ “Prime Time” debate on television on the Referendum was a disaster for the ‘Yes’ side. Clare Daly,TD, Socialist Party and Mary Lou McDonald,TD, Deputy Leader of Sinn Féin, fresh from a successful Ard-Fheis (annual conference) in Killarney at the weekend, wiped the floor with the two ‘Yes’ supporters, Joan Burton, TD, Deputy Leader of the Irish Labour Party and Timmy Dooley, TD, of Fianna Fáil, the previous government party ousted in the 2011 general election.

Ms Daly and Ms McDonald pinned down the lies and falsehoods of the ‘Yes’ campaign with forensic detail and demolished the pathetic attempts of the other two to defend the contradictory stance of the pro-Treaty campaigners in wanting to commit the nation to a vicious austerity regime with no democratic accountability while mouthing hollow slogans about “growth and recovery” which can never be provided by such a regime.

Joan Burton, who is also Minister for Social Protection, looked distinctly uncomfortable as she tried to stave off criticism which exposed the glaring contradictions of the government position and her own departmental brief which will become practically irrelevant if the Austerity Treaty is incorporated into Irish law. Mr Dooley, a light-weight in the FF front bench, with no credibility on economic matters, floundered and blustered in a welter of redundant clichés showing no knowledge of the matters being discussed and the absence of any coherent policy by his party, Fianna Fáil, in the wake of their disastrous government performance 2007-11.

Earlier today, in the High Court in Dublin, Sinn Féin leaders launched a challenge to the Referendum Commission’s declaration last week that Ireland could not veto the setting up of
The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) the legislation for which comes before Dáil Éireann after the referendum. It is important that the voters have correct information before the poll on Thursday and as explained here yesterday, Dáil Éireann has every Constitutional right to veto this proposed legislation.


The proposed Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union is in reality a permanent Austerity Treaty. A completely undemocratic attempt to institutionalise austerity across Europe. Its so-called 'Fiscal Compact' would deny the right of Member State governments to run a 'structural' budget deficit of more than 0.5%. This would remove the democratic right of national parliaments to decide national budgets, with that power shifting to the unelected European Commission and European Court of Justice. This would be a fundamental transfer of power away from elected governments.

The demand for “balanced budgets”, and fines of hundreds of millions of euro for countries which breach EU targets, is an attempt to impose austerity regardless of what government is elected or what mass movements against austerity develop. This attack on democratic rights is part of the same process that has seen elected governments in Greece and Italy replaced by ex-bankers, who represent the interests of the powerful and wealthy.

The proposed Austerity Treaty will not revive the economy or reduce unemployment. It would result in a Europe where millions are out of work for years; where welfare and other benefits are driven down; where education, health and other essential services are cut. It would exacerbate the differences between rich and poor, and between the wealthy core and indebted peripheral countries - shifting the burden of the crisis onto ordinary people.

The proposed Austerity Treaty is a means to compel governments to reduce public spending so as to pay public debt. But public debt has grown because banks have been given €billions to stop them collapsing or because the rich paid little or no tax – not because of excessive spending on public services. Yet the banks and financial markets now insist that governments must become more “credit-worthy”: spending cuts are demanded - to ensure that the state can pay debts that were taken on to bail out the banks in the first place.

Cutting public spending on health, education and welfare will only make the current crisis worse. The economy is in recession, yet €billions of accumulated profits are not being invested productively. Instead, money has gone into financial speculation, which is at the root of the financial crisis and has fuelled the growth of huge debt on the part of households, businesses and states. Therefore it can be seen as a clear agenda for the complete dismantling of the welfare state across Europe by disabling democratic decision making in state parliaments and enforcing a bureaucratic regime from Brussels which would be unaccountable and uncontrollable by any democratic means. It wouldn’t matter what government was elected, they would be unable to alter the legally binding Austerity Treaty and would be forced to continue with the right-wing neo-liberal ‘necronomics’ policies of stagnation and public spending cuts which has been the bureaucrats and the financial elite’s plan all along.

In the past, recession and a refusal to invest profits were addressed by state investment in public works. But the Austerity Treaty would prevent states from running deficits to fund public works; it would further reduce economic demand and risks turning the current recession into a long-term depression.

The decision on the Austerity Treaty is about the kind of Europe we want: a Europe for the millions or for the millionaires. The real issue in a referendum will not be the euro or membership of the EU. It will be a choice between accepting an EU Austerity Union, with protection for the wealthy and poverty for ordinary people; or struggling with others across Europe for a People’s Europe, where the priorities are democracy and equality, full employment, social protection and sustainable development.  

What has been imposed on Greece is exactly what is intended for all of 
Europe by the league of Liars, Thieves and Traitors who are 
propagandising  for this Treaty.


Áth Cliath/Dublin 30 Bealtaine/May 2012.


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