SHAUN CONNOLLY: Knives are drawn as Mikados fail to soften the sides up

It’s not the Stability Treaty, it’s the Stab Treaty — because all either side does is try to knife the other.

So thank goodness for the Referendum Commission restoring a bit of bonhomie into proceedings yesterday at its inaugural press conference where they channelled a touchy-feely vibe from days gone past with a plate full of gloriously pink Mikado biscuits — but don’t worry about them blowing their €2.2m budget on such niceties, as the packet boasted a prominent label declaring: “Jumbo Size For Just €2” as proof that we really are all in this together.

The commission is billed as the independent arbiter which will tell the truth about the Stab Treaty without cutting anybody up.

And to this end they are sending out a glossy little leaflet intended to explain everything with a supposed cross-section of the Irish population on the cover — but unfortunately of the 21 people featured, only just over a third are women, and nearly 10% are non-white, which might suggest the commission’s grasp on reality might not be a tight as it would hope.

Also, the fact their forthright chairman, High Court judge Kevin Feeney, could not answer a central question about when forced reduction of debt would kick in under the Stab Treaty boosted suggestions the whole referendum push may have been done in a rather hasty fashion.

No such thing as biscuits at the Sinn Féin Stab Treaty gig though, where they gathered in their usual doom under a banner proclaiming: “Austerity Isn’t Working” — but the subliminal message to the pampered press corps was starker still: “Austerity Means Not Even A Mikado”.

While over at Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin was so excited about people actually listening to his views on something again he used the Stab Treaty to plunge the knife into just about everyone — the no side, the Government and his own rogue TD Éamon Ó Cuív.

At one point it felt like Micheál Scissorhands had been unleashed.

Announcing he’d sort-of silenced O Cuív, maybe, Martin despaired that “every family in the country is split on the treaty” before insisting he had been “firm but tolerant” with young Éamon — in the patronising manner of a disappointed father who had reluctantly allowed Ó Cuív to go to Oxegen as long as he promised not to over indulge.

Then the blade went into the other Eamon — Mr Gilmore — as Martin remembered: Labour’s pro-Lisbon Treaty slogan “Don’t Punish The Government — Yet”, before adding in a deliberately unconvincing manner: “Not that I’m saying the shoe is on the other foot now.”

Then, after attacking his allies and own party members, he spared a few moments to have a lash at the no side before insisting he was an honest broker as he was “not out to deny reality” on Europe and the economy.

Which would be a startling transformation from the same Martin who as one of the senior members of government willfully denied reality when he denied the reality of him and his buddies being so incompetent they were surrendering the country’s economic and financial sovereignty to the troika.

But that’s all austerity under the bridge now, the worrying truth is that neither the yes nor the no side actually know what the likely outcome of endorsement or rejection on May 31 would be — the Stab Treaty is in reality the Stab-In-The-Dark Treaty.


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