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The no people want us to send a clear message to Europe and the world that we, the proud Irish, will only accept those bits of ‘austerity’ which we like (ie none!), that we will only play by those already agreed rules which suit us (even fewer!) — and that, anyway, austerity is only a nasty type of kinky fringe-sadism thought up by a bunch of crazy academics in the Chicago School of Economics.
Those of us who have experienced periods of personal or family financial ‘leanness’ know only too well that when the household accounts are in the red, the debate over the kitchen table about ‘austerity’ — in the home — is not about ‘whether’ but about ‘how’ and ‘how much’. Thousands of Irish families are in this situation right now. Yet, though ‘we are where we are’ because of gambling on a mega-galactic scale, the no-nos want usto gamble yet again on a bunch of nice-if-they-happen but unverifiable — and ‘unbankable’ — possibilities.
In the good old days, if one went to look for a mortgage or an overdraft, and said that we were going to finance it by winning the Sweepstake, digging up the pot of gold at the bottom of the garden or stumbling over the suitcase of notes left by Granny (maybe), we would have been shown the door.
Fun though taking risks may be(occasionally), on this occasion we are staking our children’s future.
We need to grasp the fact that we are very small players in this game which is about our future — whether or not we are at the table. If we vote no (which, strangely, our European partners will think actually means no), our input will be irrelevant because we will have voted — very publicly — not to play. By any set of rules already agreed or to be agreed. Therefore we cannot be taken seriously, and will not create ripples if dropped into the septic tank.
It may well be that the stability treaty in its present form ends up irrelevant, either in the context of a bigger ‘package’ or because ‘Europe’ (which incidentally is ‘us’ not ‘them’), continues to dither. But equally, if 12 of those countries which have already signed up ratify it, it goes ahead, creating a fast-track ‘core’ with a solidarity of which we will not be a part.
As matters stand, it probably is still all to be played for. But we must be at the table, as full partners, with a voice which is not compromised or neutered by ourselves.
We simply cannot take the risk implicit in a no. We must vote yes.
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