Tarnished euro still shinier than our bad pennies


Q: Is Ireland falling out of love with the EU?

For years they gave us what seemed like unlimited amounts of structural funds but lately it has been all about austerity cuts and a lack of enthusiasm for giving us a deal on our banking debt. The EU’s image has taken a battering here and if RTÉ’s Irish Pictorial Weekly is anything to go by, we see our true ruler as a smirking Angela Merkel who thinks of us as “pixie heads”.

A new survey shows a drop of 12 percentage points in the number of people saying they are in favour of the euro – 67 per cent in favour, compared to 79 per cent in the spring, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll.

Irish people’s trust in the EU has dropped slightly to 29 per cent (down 3 points), with 57 per cent saying that they tend not to trust the bloc.

“We effectively bail out the euro by bailing out German and English banks and now we are getting shafted by Europe,” says Thomas Pringle, Independent Donegal TD, who lost a court challenge to the EU’s bailout fund last month.

“The drop in favour for the euro has a lot to do with the way we’re being treated as a country,” he adds.

But Barbara Nolan, head of the European Commission’s office in Dublin, dismisses any notion that Ireland has fallen out of love with the EU. She points out that the 67 per cent of people still in favour of the euro is well above the EU average of 53 per cent.

“Given all that has happened in the last five years, Irish support for the euro remains strikingly resilient,” she said.

The survey also details people’s attitudes towards the Government, which polled far worse than the EU. Just 18 per cent said they tended to trust the Government – a drop of six percentage points since the last survey.

“Trust in politicians has fallen across the board in Europe but in Ireland, as in most countries, people tend to trust the EU considerably more than they trust their national government,” said Ms Nolan.

So the bottom line is: we may not love her as much any more but we’ll take that smirking Angela Merkel any time.