‘No’ stance preys on fear rather than realities

I think about my mother’s old age pension which she and her generation deserve after a life bringing families up safely in this state.

Because the Government is spending much more than it takes in through taxes currently, and due to the financial crisis enveloping the country, part of these pensions are now being funded from the ECB, IMF and other EU states under the troika.

I think about a niece who is starting out on her career and works hard for a US multinational that has chosen Ireland for its European headquarters because we are committed to being inside the European project for a long time.

Employers like that want stability and reassurance in a time of extreme volatility.

I think about the neighbours who farm dairy and beef cattle and depend significantly on support and payments under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy for their livelihood. Single Farm Payments come from the same coffers that provide overarching support to Ireland’s finances as it sets out on a recovery path.

And then I think about those who are applying for work and struggling with unemployment. The supports they are given while trying to find work are also part funded by the troika that currently underpins the financial system in Ireland.

All of these issues are connected to and affected by our willingness to rebuild credibility for the Irish economy over the next decade and more.

All of them will have some uncertainty placed over them if we reject the fiscal treaty on which we vote in the coming weeks.

Given the trauma that has been imposed on Irish people in the past four years through unemployment, increased taxes and reduced government spending, the temptation to tear the walls down is strong. Saying No seems instinctively appealing even for someone like me who has the fortune to have a good job and good health.

But that is a selfish urge that ignores the hard realities surrounding every aspect of Irish society today.

An emergency is live and current across Ireland as you read this paper. It would be nice to have the luxury of creating chaos in the European financial system by turning over this treaty but it would, in my humble view, be a pyrrhic and short-lived “victory”. Aside from the direct turmoil that would ensue in financial markets, it is more about what Ireland now stands for mid stream in the unfolding European crisis.

Ireland is the stand-out Republic that has taken brutally hard decisions in its efforts to move from collapse to stability. It has put its hand up as a responsible but proud member of the EU and already it has undertaken severe change to steady its finances. You can now envisage a time when we are earning what we spend, something any family understands as an objective in civilised society but has been missing from the arithmetic in the Irish exchequer for some time.

Of course there are many things to do yet. The mountain of debt created while the banking system was under the wing of the ECB before the crisis began must be restructured. That is an urgent priority for politicians as we head through 2012. All of this work, however, would be heavily compromised and twisted by indulging in the unknown.

It is the easiest thing in the world to construct an army of reasons why you should vote No when morale is low, optimism is absent and emigration is widespread. That stance, however, preys of fear rather than facts. That’s why I’m voting Yes.

* Joe Gill is director of research with Bloxham Stockbrokers


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