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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 16, 2012 @ 9:51 am

    Cling to Nurse for Fear of Something Worse?

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Anecdotal evidence was suggesting the Fiscal Treaty referendum was going in a negative direction so it was a little suprising to see the RedC poll in the Sunday Business Post indicating a very comfortable margin for Yes.

    At a time when there is something of a groundswell against “austerity” on mainland Europe, it seems the Irish electorate is standing aside. Rather than swept along in the same direction as the populace of France, for example, we are adopting a cautious, take-no-chances approach.

    It was famously said that a week is a long time in politics and there are, let me see, just over two weeks to go to our Fiscal Treaty vote on May 31st. But it would be hard to get good odds on a Yes defeat, one suspects.

    Nobody likes the Fiscal Treaty any more than we like having to pay taxes or the broadcast licence fee but it looks like the Irish have taken the time-honoured stance of  ”clinging to nurse for fear of something worse”.

    The No side doesn’t seem to have the same fire in its belly as it had before. Sinn Fein are not unlikely to be vying for participation in government here after the next election but which of the other parties will go in with them on a Eurosceptic platform? Joe Higgins and Paul Murphy of the Socialist Party are having a good run.

    Events in Greece are, of course, an undending horror story. It is heartrending to see good, hardworking citizens now being forced to queue for food handouts.

    The cradle of democracy is also nurturing a very undemocratic far-right political current at the moment. All in all, not a pretty sight.

    Democracy in the modern era is a relatively new and fragile growth in Greece. It is not so long ago since the Colonels held sway. From what we are hearing about the inadequacies of the tax-collection system, it appears that Greece should not have been admitted to the eurozone in the first place.

    It is terribly sad: such a beautiful country which has given the world so much in cultural and – many moons ago – democratic terms. One wishes them well while earnestly hoping to avoid “contagion” from that quarter.


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