Category: Archive

Europe embraced

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

And this time, their answer was a resounding affirmation for plans to consolidate the union of 27 nations to the point that all will be represented by a president and foreign minister.
There is more to the treaty of course, a lot more, but what was a mystery to most voters, and indeed a few politicians a little over a year ago, seemed to be somewhat clearer to voters this time around.
Or at least the concessions that the Irish government managed to secure for the second referendum were.
Those concessions centered on Irish taxation laws, military neutrality, the right to life part of the Irish constitution, and the matter of every member state, not least Ireland, retaining a seat on the European Commission.
Apart from the concessions, of course, there was the dramatic difference of the Irish economic landscape even compared to June, 2008, when voters were last asked to say yes or no to Lisbon and, for a variety of reasons, answered in the negative.
This time, more voters turned out to deliver their verdict. One reason for this might have been that more of them had the time to vote because they no longer had jobs.
Europe might appear to some as an overbearing bureaucracy but more lately, and to many Irish voters we suspect, it looks like a big lifeboat in a storm tossed sea.
The vote was good news for Taoiseach Brian Cowen who has himself been weathering a series of political storms borne on the winds of an economic maelstrom that has consigned the Celtic Tiger years to the history books, at least for the foreseeable future.
Cowen and his colleagues, of course, are far from being out of the woods. But the emphatic affirmation for Lisbon is a fillip at a timely moment and the outcome of the referendum will now allow Cowen to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of economic recovery and, in that context, his government’s upcoming budget.
That said, the fate of Cowen’s government, a coalition arrangement with the Greens, remains uncertain and there is still a chance that Irish voters will be called upon again before 2012, the year by which there has to be general election.

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