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Europe didn’t create the mess we are in – but Europe can help us to get out of it

IN her letter (September 7), Maureen O’Donnell painted the EU as the big bad wolf and argued that the Irish electorate are suffering from the consequences of decisions taken in Europe.

First of all, it was the Irish electorate who elected the Fianna Fáil administration in every election since 1997.

The EU or politicians from any of the other 26 member states played no part in the decisions taken by the Irish electorate. The economic difficulties that we now face are as a result of poor management decisions taken by Government over the past 10 years.

Secondly, it is important to point out that the number of people working in this country doubled in the period between 1973 and 2007 from one million to more than two million. A large part of that success was having unrestricted access to European markets. This enlarged market made it attractive for American companies to base in Ireland.

In addition to access to this large market we also had a very well educated young and enthusiastic population who were prepared to take on the new challenges. We still have that workforce who are prepared to take on the new challenges once leadership is provided.

Thirdly, having visited war-torn countries like Chad and the Sudanese border area in 2008 and Gaza and the West Bank area in 2009, I very much value the peace that has been brought about in our own continent as a result of the EU. I value the work that has been done over the past 50 years, a Europe that was brought from armed conflict where more than 67 million people were slaughtered between 1900 and 1950 in two world wars (the vast majority in Europe), to a situation where now more than 493 million people are living in total harmony without the fear of waking up in the morning to look out at armed soldiers, tanks and missile launchers on their streets.

As someone who has worked in Brussels and the European Parliament, Europe is not about the French, the Germans or the British dictating to the smaller member states.

It is about moving forward together trying to negotiate and compromise. It is important that in arriving at our decision as to which way we vote in this referendum, we should look at:

- The elimination of armed conflict and the establishment of peace across 27 member states.

- The growth of the Irish work force from more than one million in 1973 to two million in 2007.

- The freedom from domination by the British.

- The right of each person in this State to travel to work, to live and to establish a business in any place from the Dingle peninsula to the Russian border without restriction.

Each and every voter should look to the years ahead and the part we can play in continuing to influence the future direction of Europe. We can play that part by voting Yes on October 2.

Colm Burke

Washington House

Washington Street

Cork


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