21/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 10:02

EU fiscal treaty debate failing to ignite in Ireland

Category: Northern Ireland

Published: 26th May 2012 00:22:50

Not even the intervention of President Barack Obama's distant cousin has ignited the debate in Ireland over whether to ratify the new EU fiscal treaty.

It has been a relatively low-key campaign and, in many ways, that is just what the Irish government wanted.

For the past month, opinion polls have indicated the treaty is likely to be passed by a comfortable majority, and the government strategy seems to be "make sure you do not lose the vote" rather than "go out and win it".

The Irish prime minister, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, has not taken part in any live TV head-to-head debates with opponents of the treaty. He has steered away from potential political banana-skins ahead of Thursday's vote.

The coalition government in Dublin has relied upon a "ground war" rather than an "air war". Politicians and supporters across Ireland's 26 counties have been knocking on doors and handing out leaflets.

That is where Barack Obama's eighth cousin has come in handy. Henry Healy helped to promote the "Yes" campaign in County Offaly.

He is from Moneygall, the small village where President Obama's ancestors lived in the 1850s before emigrating to America. The president came to visit a year ago to meet his distant cousin.

Henry Healy - nicknamed Henry the Eighth - has developed a taste for politics. This week he posed for the cameras with a large pro-treaty sign emblazoned with the slogan "Yes we can".

He said: "The only way forward for our country is to ratify the treaty - to ensure growth, jobs and prosperity.

"It will continue our recovery and lead us back to a more stable nation within the EU."

He condemned vandals who spray-painted local road signs with "No treaty" graffiti.

In County Longford, some Yes campaign posters have been defaced with slogans referring to the number of Irish young people emigrating to Australia to seek work.

The collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy has led to three years of austerity measures being implemented by the Irish government.

The new EU Fiscal Treaty was drawn up in response to the debt crisis.

It will force countries in the Eurozone to abide by strict new budget rules, or face sanctions.

Sinn Fein are leading the campaign against the treaty in Ireland, saying it will merely guarantee austerity for the foreseeable future.

Some believe the only way for Ireland to recover economically is to ditch the euro, and bring back the Irish punt.

James Reynolds from the Farmers For No group said: "Ireland must exit the Eurozone if we're to have any chance of achieving economic recovery, and if we've any chance of regaining our economic sovereignty.

"Imagine the benefit to Irish agriculture of a floating punt, being able to devalue and sell cheap beef exports into the UK market. Okay, some British farmers might not like it, but it would be a fantastic boost for rural Ireland."

At the moment, it is a minority view. The three largest parties in the Irish parliament support the treaty and the likelihood is that it will be passed.

The latest poll, for the Irish Times, predicted a 57-43 split in Thursday's vote.

In some ways, the debate has turned into a battle between anger and fear.

Anger about austerity is likely to lead to protest votes against the government, and therefore against the treaty.

However, the fear that things could become even worse in Ireland if the treaty is rejected is also strong.

"We're damned if we do, and we're damned if we don't," said one Dundalk woman struggling to work out which way to vote.

When pushed, she admitted she was edging towards voting Yes.

Almost a third of voters are estimated to still be undecided, but the reality is that many will simply not vote at all.

The issues involved are complex, and the turn-out will not be huge.

It will take a highly dramatic last-minute surge against the treaty for it to be defeated.

Given the lack of drama in the campaign so far, that seems extremely unlikely.

BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. EU fiscal treaty debate failing to ignite in Ireland [Online] (Updated 26th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1431030/EU-fiscal-treaty-debate-failing-to-ignite-in-Ireland [Accessed 21st Aug 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Emma Stone to make Broadway debut in Cabaret

    Hollywood star Emma Stone is to make her Broadway debut in the current revival of Cabaret.
  • Assisted suicide: One Briton a fortnight goes to Switzerland

    An average of around one person a fortnight travels from the UK to Switzerland to receive help to take their own life, a study has suggested.
  • Emma Stone to make Broadway debut in Cabaret

    Hollywood star Emma Stone is to make her Broadway debut in the current revival of Cabaret.
  • Obituary: Gerry Anderson

    To radio and television audiences, Gerry Anderson meant humour, music and a wry look at life.
  • Kieran Agard: Bristol City agree fee with Rotherham for striker

    Bristol City have agreed a fee with Rotherham for Keiran Agard, and the forward is set to discuss personal terms with the League One club.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com