Different type of Eurovision as two camps vie for votes

Feta cheese, Swiss funds, and Greek business. A different type of Eurovision contest was under way yesterday with the yes and no sides throwing all sorts of ingredients into the EU treaty debate while singing from different hymn sheets.

In a cramped room in Buswell’s Hotel, Independent TDs mixed it up early in the day with accusations that Europe would be committing suicide without offering poor Oliver Twist Ireland some more handouts. But there was no sign of Dublin TDs Finian McGrath and Shane Ross, who may have changed their tune after their call for a delay on the vote was shot down last week.

But in the sweeter surroundings of the stately Shelbourne Hotel, businessman Declan Ganley introduced his newest and fairest recruit to his no campaign. Enter Patricia Tsouros, a Greek-Irish businesswoman who proclaims that she has a “good feeling how people feel internationally”.

She spoke of how her father was in the middle of the crisis in the Mediterranean country while her daughter here in Ireland faced an unstable future if the treaty is passed.

One wonders with the plethora of issues being thrown into the treaty debate on a daily basis who or what might appear next in the campaign. There have been British, Danish, and Finnish MEPs, the Irish buying Feta cheese, and even a Swiss asset firm involving Mr Ganley. And now there’s a Greek businesswoman with an artistic background.

Who will be next? Jedward? Although that duo are facing a more pressing voting matter of course in this week’s Eurovision.

Ms Tsouros said Ireland had common links with Greece.

“There is a danger that we could go down the same road as Greece if we don’t consider how we vote...we have one major parallel, that’s the euro. The second one is that we’re both in the European Union.”

Ms Tsouros criticised remarks by Michael Noonan, the finance minister, that our ties were not much more than Irish people putting feta cheese in their shopping baskets.

The former head of fashion house IG Whistles said she was “new at this podium” and only entering the debate. But the Greek entrepreneur argued: “I feel very disappointed that Michael Noonan let down his brother and sister by making that comment. The minister obviously doesn’t understand Europe. Greece is the bedrock of civilisation. I think he owes the Greek people and the Irish people an apology.”

No stage fright there then.

But all eyes by yesterday evening were turning toward mainland Europe for one major blowout and banquet, the results of which could help undecided voters make up their minds.

Enda Kenny hopes to come away with some kind of doggy bag with essentials for the Irish economy after attending the emergency EU summit and leaders banquet in Brussels.

Any crust of a project backed by European funds could help boost the Taoiseach’s call for a yes vote.

No doubt he’ll be singing for his supper and promising that Irish people will continue to pay their debts and back the EU treaty if he wants any goody bags from Europe.

The no side is making a song and dance about his refusal to appear on a television debate ahead of next week’s referendum vote.

Simon Coveney, the agriculture minister, yesterday told reporters his boss was making enough appearances on stage in the Dáil and elsewhere.

“There’s no issue in relation to the Taoiseach and debates,” he snapped.

And when Mr Kenny meets France’s new president at the informal European bash for the first time today, let’s hope that some of that socialist sheen of François Hollande rubs off on our tough Taoiseach. More funds, fewer cuts.

The outcome of this contest and debate among European leaders could sway Irish voters either way.


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