SEAN MONCRIEFF: Vote ‘no’ and we’ll become Greek and grow moustaches

FINALLY, the streets of Ireland are plastered with ‘vote yes’ and ‘vote no’ posters, both claiming they will save us from economic doom.

No doubt, you’ve trilled to the sound of the referendum commission adverts droning through the details of what it is we are voting on and how it is terribly important that you exercise your mandate, because, if you don’t, the issue could go the wrong way and it will be All Your Fault.

For those unable to muster any passion about the fiscal compact — or for those who feel that a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote won’t make much difference — there’s been little to engender enthusiasm or even to make a special diary entry for polling day. Whenever that is. The continuing chaos in Europe has some of the ‘yes’ side admitting that it might not be too clever to ratify the compact until we know, for sure, if the new French president is a raging commie or if we’ll be using old socks for currency by the end of the summer.

Yet, this week, Michael Noonan may have accidentally hit upon a way of giving the ‘yes’ side the impetus it has been sorely missing until now: Irish people should vote ‘yes’ because we are not Greece.

Actually, it’s surprising the Government hasn’t used this one before. Perhaps it’s because it was one of the favourite mantras of the previous administration. Just before the country was plunged into penury.

But, hey: everyone knows the voters can’t remember what happened last week, never mind a few years ago. And so, last week, we had the minister for finance’s hilarious ‘feta cheese’ gag, which, through the medium of quips, demonstrated the scant economic links between the cradle of civilisation and us. So, over the next few weeks, you can look forward to squads of politicos forcefully pointing out the inherent un-Greekiness of the Emerald Isle. They vote in anti-austerity lefties; we don’t. They protest; we don’t. No one likes the Greeks; but everyone loves us. It rains here; it doesn’t there. We like rice pudding; they don’t even have rice pudding. (Unless they did something unspeakable with feta cheese).

The explicit threat, of course, is that rejection of the fiscal compact will turn us into Greece. If we vote ‘no,’ then, suddenly, all Irish men will grow moustaches and women will sprout bushy underarm hair. Everyone will think of us as deadbeats who don’t pay tax and who deserve to get kicked out of the euro — and would be only for the fact that it might bring down the European economic system. So, they’ll probably be let off another huge wodge of debt. You know, the stuff we’re paying back. And there isn’t a voter in this country who would want that.


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