Tsipras in London March 17, 2013Posted by doctorfive in European Union.
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Tsipras began his speech by framing the European conflict as a battle between neoliberalism and democracy. “Europe is on edge, with two forces colliding. On one side stands the productive forces of democracy, the people fighting to create a society of justice, equality and freedom. And on the other side a neoliberal political project unfolds. Its aim is to control bodies and minds through the politics of fear, to discipline human life in its entirety, to intensify the exploitation of labour and to increase the profits of capital.” SYRIZA, he said, “declare that we are part of the experiment of democracy.
Debt, so often the centrepiece of discussions about contemporary Greek politics, played a more minor role in this speech. Its role in this crisis was, Tsipras said, as a weapon of “blackmail” in a “transformative tragedy”. “Their scheme is a subtle technology of power aiming to exclude alternative political programmes. So, I think that if the debt did not exist the elites would have to invent it.”
Forty Years Ago Today… May 10, 2012Posted by irishelectionliterature in European Politics, European Union.
Forty Years ago today we voted on entry to the EEC. Any thoughts?
Many thanks to John O’Driscoll for the below photos taken…
.. last year of an ancient bridge in Cavan that yet has the words ”EEC NO” that were spraypainted on it in 1972. When I drive the little road it’s on and look at it I reflect on how prophetic and ignored were the warning signs like it
Compact Discussions March 1, 2012Posted by Wu Ming in European Union, Ireland.
It may be no surprise that the Fiscal Compact is going to be put to a referendum in Ireland, but the manner in which this has come about certainly is. Taken the Government statements issued yesterday at face value, it’s possible that a legal requirement exists because the Compact exists outside of the formal framework of the European Union, it’s not covered by previous amendments to the Constitution; a more cynical suggestion would be that if even a reasonable possibility existed that the Supreme Court might find that a referendum was required (and the enabling legislation was going to the Supreme Court in any case) then it’s better for the government to appear to have put it willingly to the people, and not to have been dragged kicking and screaming to the ballot box.
As to the campaign itself, I think it’s very difficult at this point to predict anything, other than it will be unlike any previous EU Treaty campaign, that it will be particularly dirty, and that Eamon Ryan’s support for the Compact is unlikely to be a ‘game-changer’.
This is not another Lisbon, Nice, Amsterdam or Maastricht referendum, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Ireland has no veto power over this one. The Treaty doesn’t require unanimity to come into force. It’s reasonable to assume that it will, and it may well be in force by the time Ireland comes to vote (whenever that is). A rejection by Ireland will not lead to any renegotiation, nor will it impede any progress towards implementation. The argument sometimes used in previous referenda – that Ireland should bring down the Treaty because others did not have the opportunity to express their views – does not apply in this case. This time, we’re voting for ourselves, and no one else.
It also differs from previous referenda in that the issues at stake are ultimately quite simple. Of course, certain aspects arise which are technically difficult and open to debate – not least whether the Treaty can retrospectively impose conditions of the ESM which were not in place at the establishment of the mechanism. But it broadly comes down to a relatively simple choice – access to ESM funding at some point in the future (if required) in return for signing up to draconian budgetary rules in perpetuity. This isn’t a situation where one can reasonably argue that there’s not enough information available, or the issue is too complicated – the old ‘If you don’t know, Vote No’ approach.
I mentioned previously (excuse the self-promotion) why I think a ‘No’ vote is the only conceivably left position to take, and won’t repeat the same points now. However, I would make a few observations.
Any ‘No’ campaign should focus on the substance of the issue, and not on extraneous points. It does no credit to previous anti-EU Treaty campaigns (in the broadest sense) that many of the arguments put forward at the time have since proven to be untrue; this is, admittedly, far more the case in relation to far-right/Libertas arguments (abortion, gay marriage etc.) but it must be said that much of what was argued about the consequences for Irish defence policy during previous campaigns have, to put it mildly, not turned out as predicted.
This is not simply arguing that the ‘No’ side should tell the truth for moral reasons. There are important campaigning considerations as well. It is necessary to distinguish this campaign from previous ones, to avoid the argument that all opponents of the compact are simply kneejerk anti-EU crackpots (see Stephen Collins in yesterday’s Irish Times). A more effective strategy would be to stick to the facts, and allow the ‘Yes’ campaign to expose itself as indulging in scaremongering/bullying tactics, as it undoubtedly will.
It’s also important to acknowledge that there are no easy fixes, and that there are substantial risks associated with a ‘No’ vote. No one can say, with any certainty, what the consequences of such a vote might be. It may well be that it could lead to a sovereign debt crisis if Ireland is unable to return to private lending markets, and is cut off from availing of ESM funding. And while it could be argued that an ad hoc solution might be found among EU partners to ensure the survival of the euro, let’s not pretend that this is assured.
It should also be made clear what this Treaty is not about. It is not about the current bailout programme, or current government policy (although obviously a ‘Yes’ vote would substantially impact on future governments). Nor is it about any previous Treaty, is not Lisbon III, or any of the issues which arose in that context. It changes nothing about the structures of the European Union. And, of course, it should go without saying that it has nothing to do with septic tank, the household charge or the infamous Vatican Embassy.
However, there are two very strong arguments about why this Compact should be opposed. The first is that it enshrines permanent austerity policies – policies which, by any standard, have failed time and time again – into Irish law. It rules out, forever, any government policies except neoliberal ones, almost the equivalent of putting Fr. Brendan Smyth in charge of a child protection agency. Secondly, the manner in which this compact was introduced completely undermines the institutions of the European Union, as well as the spirit of solidarity in which it was formed. It is an explicit attempt by France and Germany (and, more importantly, by the global financial interests those governments represent) to bounce weaker Member States into a suicidal economic policy, of benefit only to multinational financial institutions, completely sidelining not only the European Commission, but the national governments within the Member States as well. It is a template for unelected, unwanted, technocratic governments across the Union. To paraphrase George Orwell, if you want a picture of the future, imagine Ayn Rand’s stiletto heel stamping into a human face – forever.
There is clearly much work to be done, and a difficult campaign to fight, if this Compact is to be defeated. However (and I know I won’t be thanked for this) those on the ‘No’ side could do worse than looking again at President Higgins’ speech at the LSE last week for at least some powerful arguments against what is being proposed.
Joint Statement of the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the 5 Countries with Highest Levels of Unemployment in the EU February 28, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, Communist Party of Ireland, European Politics, European Union, KKE, Workers' Party.
“Organization and struggle for stable work with rights. Immediate measures for the unemployed. Struggle for a society without unemployment, exploitation, capitalists. The answer is socialism.”
The Communist and Workers Parties of the countries of Europe which have been most affected by unemployment Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and Ireland call on you to struggle and organize.
We address the 24 million “officially” unemployed people in the European Union, particularly the long term unemployed, the unemployed young people and women who are most badly affected.
We address all those who are not recorded in the official statistics, but experience the same nightmare of unemployment.
We address the semi-employed, the agency workers, the workers without social security, those who work in a state of employment by rotation with flexible shifts, with individual contracts, with piece-work contracts, who experience employer intimidation, who face the danger of dismissal and unemployment.
We address those who are forced into unpaid labour under the pretence of opportunities to return to work; those who are deprived of their entitlements to redundancy payments by employers’ pleading “inability to pay”; workers who are on strike and engaged in occupations and sit-ins to protect their jobs and rights.
We also address the farmers who are being wiped out, the small professional and self-employed who have been led to closure by the assault of the monopolies, the anti-people political line of austerity which attacks the working class-popular families.
All of you, as well as every worker today, better understands that this labour “jungle” is spreading and is becoming a general law which, slowly or quickly, big capital, its governments, and the EU seek to impose in every workplace. There is no time to lose.
In the countries where our parties operate, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and Ireland unemployment has reached very dangerous levels. The bourgeois class in each country and the predatory alliance of the EU as a whole, have declared war on the working class and the poor popular strata. The capitalist economic crisis brings new measures which smash whatever the anti-people offensive in the previous period had left upright, especially after the Maastricht Treaty.
In this harsh reality, a handful of plutocrats have made fabulous profits. And yet they demand further measures. Their crisis is not a debt crisis, it is a capitalist crisis which came about due to the over-accumulation of capital.
In order to overcome the crisis in favour of capital, the industrialists, the bankers and the other sections of the plutocracy along with their political representatives impose hard measures in order to further reduce the price of labour power and force more people into unemployment.
In this situation the people’s resistance to these harsh measures has been hindered by those elements in the trade union and labour movement who, having long ago accepted the logic and the ideology of capitalism, now plead that there is no alternative but to succumb to the offensive of capital.
The way forward is to win the majority of workers and their families for class based popular struggles on the strategy which promotes their interests. The Communist and Workers parties must be at the heart of this process.
Struggle together with the class-oriented forces, together with the Communist and Workers parties.
Organize in your unions and workplaces. Contribute to the development of activity. In this direction the strength of the working class can be reinforced.
Demand immediate measures for the protection of the unemployed:
Decent unemployment benefit for all the unemployed.
Comprehensive medical pharmaceutical healthcare and social security protection.
Freezing of their loans and mortgages.
Unemployment is not a natural phenomenon. It is bred by the capitalist system which is characterized by the anarchy in production, by exploitation.
Only a socialist economy, that is to say a centrally planned economy that will be based on workers’ power and the socialized means of production can guarantee the right to work for all.
This is what happened in the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries and it is a historical achievement and one of the many accomplishments of the socialist countries.
Our parties call you to struggle every day, to struggle for the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, for a society without unemployment, for socialism which can satisfy the needs of the people.
Communist Party of Greece
Communist Party of Ireland
Workers Party of Ireland
Socialist Party of Latvia
Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania
Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain
New Broad-Based “Campaign Against Austerity Treaty” Launches Call for EU Referendum January 24, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in European Union.
A new broad-based campaign calling for a referendum on the proposed EU fiscal compact treaty has been launched. The RTÉ report is here.
Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy said the treaty would allow unelected bodies like the European Commission and the ECB to control our economic affairs.
He said if a referendum is held there would be an “horrendous campaign of fear and intimidation against ordinary people” to scare them into voting yes, but the people now know what the austerity imposed by the EU and IMF is like.
Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the compact was bad politics and bad economics, and would not solve the crisis.
Padraig Mannion of the Workers’ Party said campaigning through the political process could make it politically impossible for the Government not to hold a referendum.
“I, for one, welcome our new …”: Stephen Collins and the euro crisis December 7, 2011Posted by Wu Ming in Capitalism, European Union, International Finance, Media and Journalism.
As we approach one of the most significant European Council meetings in recent memory, no one quite knows what the nature of the plan to resolve the euro crisis once and for all is likely to be. Will it involve new EU institutions with a specific remit to oversee national budgets, or will this role be assigned the the European Council (or Council of Ministers)? Will it involve substantial Treaty change, or an additional Protocol to the Treaty? Will it apply to the EU-27 or just to Eurozone members? And to what depths will the proposed fiscal unity extend?
Whatever deal is agreed, one thing is clear: it will be a good one. Well, at least according to Stephen Collins in Saturday’s Irish Times. Whatever price ‘we’ pay to save the euro, according to Collins will be worth it. This is rather shocking, even by the standards of the Times. They usually have the discretion to wait until a proposal is on the table before agreeing to it. But Collins’ broad sentiment is echoed across the mainstream Irish media. There is debate, of course, on what the likely outcome will be, with a wearied acceptance that whatever it is, we’ll have to suck it up, or end up scavenging for tins of dog food in a post-apocalyptic economic future. However, there’s little or no attempt to engage with the fundamental democratic deficit not just within the EU, but at the heart of the international financial system more generally.
Collins hints at this when he writes:
Irish politicians and the media are already focusing on the threat to Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate as if it is the only important issue for debate. While President Nicolas Sarkozy has certainly targeted low corporate tax rates, Germany has taken a very different view, while the UK and the countries on the eastern side of the EU will all block the French threat from their own perspectives.
Whatever treaty changes emerge, harmonisation of tax rates is unlikely to be one of them. What Irish negotiators need to focus on is not just what we want to block but what kind of treaty changes we favour. EU institutions’ loss of power to the governments of the big powers is a trend that we should work to have reversed.
However, what is missing here is a real understanding of what has been demonstrated over the past year. What we have seen has not just been the larger EU member states (Germany and France in particular) getting a little big for their boots, the solution being to reign them back in under the happy familial embrace of the EU, with the Commission acting as the warm benevolent Daddy. No, it is now clear that when it comes to a genuine threat to the interests of international capital, the institutions – even the principles – of the Union are essentially irrelevant. Nice to have during the good times, when we’re all friends, but when things get tough, best to leave the hard work to the grown ups.
Where was the European Commission, the supposedly defender of small countries against the dominance of large Member States when Papandreou was summoned to Cannes to answer to Merkel and Sarkozy for the impertinence of acting as the Greek head of government without their prior approval (not that this should be taken as any defense of Papandreou?. The answer is nowhere, because the Commission – the EU qua EU – had no role to play. Where was the principle of solidarity when Sócrates’ administration in Portugal was forced into requesting a bailout under pressure from national banks under the direction of the ECB (thanks to Donagh at Irish Left Review for the link – both pieces well worth reading) which led to the collapse of the government (again, not to be taken as a defense of Sócrates himself)?
At the risk of hyperbole, it could be argued that one way of looking at what we are witnessing has been the overthrow of last vestiges of democratic government by the forces of international capital, where national administrations which threaten financial markets must be removed, and replaced by more friendly regimes. Like Chile in 1973 without the massacres. Or perhaps that’s naive, and what we’re seeing is simply a more blatant, more naked display of the power of the markets over nation states, even over the European Union as an institution.
It was certainly the case that the run-up of the IMF/EU ‘bailout’ of Ireland last year was less an example of pan-European solidarity with a partner which found itself in difficulty, and more a shakedown reminiscent of a Sopranos plot. Ireland was forced into accepting an extortionate loan to cover the liabilities of those who had irresponsibly thrown money at Irish banks over the past decade (and, needless to say, didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts). Ireland was like the hapless store-owner forced to sell off the business to repay gambling debts owed to the mafia. Or, to be more accurate, we’re like the family of the gambler, watching our home sold from under us to cover the costs incurred by one idiotic member of the household.
But what must be borne in mind is that the gangsters in this analogy aren’t France, or the Netherlands or even Germany (although maybe they’re the enforcers). It’s the system of global capital itself, where a Prime Minister, even one as odious as Berlusconi, can be removed from office on the basis of the judgment of a private credit agency.
And, at a time when neoliberalism is finally genuinely in crisis (wishful thinking on the part of some over the past twenty years aside), we are likely to be faced with an agreement to enshrine the Goldman Sachs consensus into European law, binding on Member State governments in perpetuity. This kind of blinkered thinking is exemplified in Collins’ piece where he writes:
Over the next few months, if all goes well, there will be agreement at EU level to a series of binding budgetary disciplines. This will probably require treaty change and, even though that may result in a bitter referendum, it is very much in Ireland’s interest that it happens. In the long run, such a development will ensure the Irish people will be saved from a repeat of the economic indiscipline and political incompetence that characterised the Bertie Ahern years.
as if the current dire budgetary situation in Ireland was caused by marginal increases in social welfare rates rather than the suicidal decision to guarantee bank debt (and to socialize the private losses).
In a sense, it doesn’t really matter whether the final deal envisages control over Member States’ budgets ceded to the Council of Ministers or to an independent body within the EU. Once the principle of enshrining the failed policies of fiscal austerity into EU law is agreed, the battle is already lost. The immediate challenge is to prevent this, and to imagine a Union founded on genuine democratic governance, one with the power to act as bulwark against the power of international markets. The longer-term goal, of course, must be a meaningful challenge to the neoliberal consensus itself.
Of course, with cheerleaders like Collins declaring the fight over before the opening bell has sounded, this will be anything but easy.
Time for the Periphery to Leave the Euro? October 2, 2010Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism, European Union.
Only a brave person, or an appropriately paid official, would be optimistic about the future of the eurozone at present. Austerity has spread and there is a risk of long-term stagnation with high unemployment across Europe. Social tensions are on the rise, and frictions among member states will probably intensify …
Much of the trouble originates in the peripheral countries of the eurozone – Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. All went into recession during 2008-9 as the global crisis unfolded, narrowly avoiding disaster thanks to public intervention. But before they had properly recovered Greece, Spain and Portugal were forced by the EU to cut public expenditure, reduce public employment, and further liberalise markets. Ireland had gone down the same path earlier, though very much in line with EU thinking. The disastrous implications were demonstrated this week: the Irish economy has contracted and, to make things worse, further gigantic cuts are planned in order to rescue banks.
These words are from an article in Saturday’s Guardian by Costas Lapavitsas, a Marxist Professor of Economics in the University of London. He lays a lot of the blame for the suffering of the periphery at the door of the core countries, Germany, France, Holland and Belgium, for their setting of the limit of public debt so low and their seeking to drive down wages as part of a broader neo-liberal agenda.
He also stresses the issue of debt – and the responsibility of the private sector in this area.
The main beneficiaries of the explosion of debt were the banks of both the core and periphery, who profited handsomely. Indeed, German and French banks behaved in an extraordinarily foolish way by continuing to lend heavily to peripheral countries, even in 2009. But the crisis extended the deficits of peripheral countries, and core banks eventually realised they were in a pickle. They held a lot of peripheral public debt, while also facing funding problems as the euro fell against the dollar. By spring this year, European banks were on the brink of a major crisis.
The austerity measures are part of the plan to rescue the banks again. Governments throughout the eurozone have succumbed to an alliance of banks and large holders of public debt who are desperate to avoid the implications of their foolish lending. Expensive funds were made available to Greece and others with the ultimate aim of protecting core banks.
Workers are, he reminds us, being made to pay to protect these core banks. The politicians are responding to the needs and the demands of the financial sector to which they are, to resurrect an old phrase, inextricably linked, and not just in Ireland (nor, of course, is this a new phenomenon). Nor are “austerity” and deflationary policies working, as predicted by the likes of Michael Taft from the beginning. The result is that the peripheral countries are unable to act in their own best interests, with the needs of the core economies dictating Eurozone policies.
The eurozone has become a trap for peripheral countries. They are crushed by debt, unable to compete against the core, saddled with austerity and facing long-term stagnation. Defaulting and reconsidering membership of the euro are no longer unthinkable. But for this to work the political power of the alliance of bankers and lenders has to be broken. There must be social change in favour of the working people who protested this week and who are the source of future prosperity. Then economic policy might be designed to deliver growth and jobs.
Hard to argue with that. It seemed at certain points in the crisis that people might turn against the Euro, and start to question its rather dubious benefits, given the rampant inflation its introduction helped fuel, and now the limits it places on our options for recovery. That’s without even touching the broader argument about the surrender of democratic control involved in supranational fiscal policy-making. And yet that is another debate that never quite happened, and yet more proof of the remarkable success the government and the right have had in shaping public discussion of the crisis and possible solutions. We hear a lot about restoring competitiveness, the need to drive down wages and costs etc. One wonders if devaluation would have been as traumatic and would have hit workers as hard as the so-called austerity measures. I doubt we’ll find out.
All this raises the attitude of the left here to the EU. Unlike in say Britain or Denmark, withdrawal from the EU is not really a major plank of hard left discourse over here, although I think it’s fair to say that the People’s Movement deliberately echoes some of the attitudes and arguments made elsewhere about the EU. Does the current crisis, the government response and the limits imposed by the Euro show a need for the left in the south to take the issue of withdrawal more seriously? What do people think?
What planet are these people on? July 25, 2010Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism, European Union, The Right.
Two recent stories make it still clearer just what an alternate universe those who control financial institutions and governments of the world live in. The first is the recent “stress tests” carried out on 91 banks by the Committee of European Banking Supervisors. 7 banks failed – 5 Spanish, 1 German and 1 Greek. Amazingly, AIB was passed as healthy, as well as the Bank of Ireland, the only two Irish banks included. The summary report is available here. The 7 banks that failed the test needed 3.5bn euro of new capital to meet the standards required.
In AIB’s case, passing the test assumes that it would succeed in a €7.4 billion plan to raise further capital by the end of the year.
I wonder where they got the idea it would be able to raise whatever extra capital it needed?
Let’s call this stress test what it was – an attempt by the European financial elite to con the public into believing that the capitalist system has resolved the contradictions that led to the recent crisis. They must think we are stupid, and that throwing a few sacrifical lambs to the wolves will give it added credibility. Nonsense. See the RTÉ report for Lenihan’s attempt at spin.
Speaking of whom, the second story that shows how the political elite remains trapped in the failed ideology of neo-liberalism is the planned privitisation of public assets such as the ESB, CIE, An Post, and Bord Gáis, with the “stock-taking” under the chairmanship of Colm McCarthy. This has been aptly described by WP President Mick Finnegan as “a firesale of the people’s assets”. The market has failed disastrously. So what is the answer these people propose? Take the semi-state companies that have been working well, and hand them over – cheaply of course – to the market, so that customer service standards can fall, the workers can see their working conditions devestated, and multi-nationals can make still more profits. This money can then be used to avoid increasing taxation on those best able to pay, and will also realise cash to throw into the black hole of the banks and property speculators should they need it. Awesome. Back to Mick Finnegan.
Having near bankrupted the country with reckless economic policies and crippled the next generation of our people with debt through the banking bailout, the government is now intent on selling the family silver. These state and semi-state companies were built over many years of public investment and hard work. They must not be sold off by a deranged government and there is an onus on the trade union movement, the left and anyone who believes in the future of this country to stand up and oppose this madness.
Thanks to LeftAtTheCross for this report on the lecture on the EU and its global ambitions held by the Ireland Institute as part of a series of lectures on imperialism in the 21st century. I think his points raise some interesting questions about the left’s attitude to what imperialism actually is, and what its relationship to Ireland might be.
There was a decent crowd at this event last night, maybe 40 people. The subject was EU neo-imperialism. In particular Kevin McCrorry’s talk was very detailed and over-ran somewhat, to be cut short by Deirdre Uí Bhrógáin of the CPI who was chairing the meeting (to the annoyance of many of the audience).
EDIT: I have received an email from someone else present who pointed out that Kevin McCorry was not asked to stop but responded to a remark about the need to leave time for questions by unexpectedly stopping straight away rather than him being cut off by the chair.
The big question for me however, which wasn’t addressed, is what is the alternative to the EU? Leave aside the neo-imperialistic ambitions of the founding members (the ex-colonial powers) for a minute, and how their agenda has driven the development of the EU. I wouldn’t argue against that for a second, but it is a distraction from another underlying argument.
One of the arguments made last night was that Europe cannot exist as a state because there is no common European people, no European nation. I simply don’t buy that argument, that a state must be founded on a nation. The USSR survived as a state for quite a while, and dealt with its nationalities issue reasonably successfully (whatever about the differing opinions of Lenin and Stalin about how it should have been handled). The Ottoman empire, the Habsburg empire are other examples. Again, leave aside the inherent nagatives we associate with the word “empire” for a second.
It seems that the only alternative being offered is some cosy notion of “nation states” or the evils of multi-ethnic “super states”, with the underlying assumption that the latter is just a guise whereby one dominant nation state fools its smaller neighbours into accepting its hegemony. A continuation of the historic empire building dynamic by different methods if you like, the domination of some nations over other nations.
But so what? It is the emphasis on the “nation” which jars.
Whether people, citizens of whatever form of state, are oppressed by transnational capitalism (last night’s subject) or by the local national bourgeoisie (as Conor McCabe has highligted in many of his posts here and on ILR) somehow seems to be ignored in the analysis. Is it a stagist thing maybe?
An interesting meeting all the same. The organisers asked that people who attended the meeting might publicise the series of lectures and encourage other to come along to the next event.
Selling Sovereignty – Literally March 4, 2010Posted by Garibaldy in European Politics, European Union.
This is one of the suggestions for dealing with Greece’s debt made by two members of the parties that form the German government. Comparing Greece to a bankrupt forced to sell his/her possessions, they called on Greece to sell some of its 6,000 islands as well as stakes in national treasures such as the Acropolis. I have been on the English-language version of the Bild website but can’t find the story there. There are however a couple of other stories reflecting tensions between the Germans and the Greeks here and here. It’s hard to know without seeing the original whether there was an element of tongue-in-cheek in all this, though I suspect there might have been. Equally, they may have been serious. What it does reflect though is the correctness of the concerns of the left about the diminution of economic sovereignty and freedom of manoeuvre involved in membership of the EU and the Euro. I’m fairly sure though that it won’t be too long until some right-wing commentator in the Irish media pops up and says that this story justifies the cuts made in the Republic otherwise the Germans/IMF or whoever would do it for us, and be nastier. Yeah, right.