Protesters in mourning at death of the pound


Around 30 protesters gathered outside the Central Bank in Dublin yesterday to lament the passing of the pound and to object to the introduction of the euro.

Members of "Citizens for Keeping the Irish Punt" said their protest marked "the start of the fightback to break the link with the euro and re-establish a national currency".

Yesterday's protest was supported by Green Party MEP Ms Patricia McKenna and Mr Anthony Coughlan, a veteran campaigner against European integration.

Mr Coughlan said the euro was "a profoundly undemocratic and economically unwise project".

"It's going to generate an enormous democratic reaction when people everywhere discover that they've lost one of the most fundamental characteristics of being a state. People will become strangers in their own country when they have to pay for their pints of beer and cinema tickets in euros.

"How long the euro will last? Nobody knows, but we've seen the break-up of monetary unions that were also political unions and fiscal unions, such as the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. They had far more democracy in some senses than the European Union has."

Ms McKenna said there was "a huge democratic problem" with European economic integration. "We're handing over control of the economy to a very undemocratic European Central Bank, even though our economic boom is a direct result of the fact that we could have our own independent exchange rate, where we could devalue when we wished. "It begs the question of what we're electing governments for. In the future, if the economy goes wrong and the people complain, the Government are going to say: `Well, it's out of our hands'. We can't `de-elect' the people who are going to be making the decisions in the future as regards our economy", she said.

A statement from the group described the introduction of the euro as "a form of national treason by the bulk of our politicians". It said the single currency signalled "the end of the economic independence of the Irish State and a fundamental subversion of the national democracy of the Irish people". The group said the harmonisation of interest rates was "precisely the opposite of what the Irish public welfare needs", although it suited "recession-locked Germany and France".