Greece and a European crisis

 

Sir, – Watching the EU reaction to the Greek referendum brought Swift’s words to mind: “In reason all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery; but in fact, eleven men well armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. But I have done. For those who have used power to cramp liberty have gone so far as to resent even the liberty of complaining; although a man upon the rack was never known to be refused the liberty of roaring as loud as he thought fit.”

In this instance it is 27 states ganging up on one. Will Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan now praise Alexis Tsipras for accepting their overseers’ advice and persuading his people to bend their backs for the lash? – Yours, etc,

CATHAL KERRIGAN,

Cork.

Sir, – Alexis Tsipras reminds me of Michael Collins during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations of 1921. The parallels are striking. Collins was a young man facing the might of the British Empire political establishment of that time – Lloyd George, Birkenhead ,Chamberlain and Churchill – just as Tsipras has had to negotiate with Merkel and the euro zone leadership. The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed under threat of “immediate and terrible war”, just as Tsipras has been threatened with economic annihilation of Greece if he did not accept the terms of the bailout agreement. Tsipras, like Collins, knows that he faces deep divisions when he presents the bailout conditions to the Greek parliament. Let us hope that it does not lead to Greek society tearing itself apart. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL J MAHONY,

Limerick.

A chara, – The foreign elite throughout Europe, and in particular Germany, seem to be focused on ensuring that the Greek people pay a heavy price for their current financial predicament. In light of this weekend’s troubling events, and given our own experience of having budgets plans vetted by the Bundestag, surely it is time that we started a serious national discussion as to whether our long-term future, both economically and democratically, will be best served by remaining in this currency? – Is mise,

ERIC CREAN,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Germans are fond of making the sensible point that the present generation bears no moral responsibility for the depraved savagery, without precedent in human history, carried out during its recent past. As yet unborn millions of Greeks apparently need not hope for the extension of this logic to fiscal matters, nor any sane application of the principles on which the European Union was built. – Yours, etc,

CONOR McGONIGLE,

Adliswil, Switzerland.

A chara, – Your editorial of July 14th states that the Greek prime minister had to chose “between the bad choice of a stringent economic and debt consolidation programme and the catastrophic one of being forced out of the euro zone” and he chose the former “to avoid the chaos of default and economic collapse outside the euro”.

Yes, a man with a gun to his head will generally make the rational choice to hand over his wallet in order to avoid having his head blown off; that doesn’t mean the one who put the gun to his head in the first place has reason on his side.

Austerity programmes are generally agreed to be what might be termed “junk economics” and the heavy-handed tactics used to force it on Greece will ensure years of misery for the people of that nation. This shows not only a worrying intellectual vacuum at the heart of the European project, but a moral one also. – Is mise,

Rev PATRICK G BURKE,

Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – The European working time directive limits doctors hours to prevent them making disastrous decisions through exhaustion. The bank guarantee, the Greek bailout and the Iran nuclear deal were all agreed by exhausted politicians in the middle of the night. Shouldn’t the directive apply to the masters as well as the servants? – Yours, etc,

Dr JOHN DOHERTY,

Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole (“Tormenting Greece is about sending a message that we are now in a new EU”, Opinion & Analysis, July 14th), who previously called for the suspension of Irish democracy and the imposition of a triumvirate of three appointed people to run the country, now describes the community of democracies that make up the European Union as akin to the mafia.

That may be his view. But it ignores that the European Union is comprised of a community of democracies and receives its mandate directly from the people who live in it. That this community of democracies plays by agreed social and economic rules. And that this community of democracies is also engaged in providing €80 billion worth of funding to one of its members so that its people can continue to live in a functioning country.

Indeed, surely he must also acknowledge that until Syriza came to power in Greece six months ago, the Greek economy was growing and the country was in a better place than it is today. Yet, following the posturing of its government, the country now finds itself with its banks shut, its future uncertain, and the prospect of leaving the euro zone.

While this does not seem to have occurred to Fintan O’Toole, it has, at least, dawned on the Greek government, which is set to agree a package of measures with the EU.

Yes, EU terms and conditions for being the lender of last resort are tough. The Irish experience tells us as much. But do they offer the best means for Greece to reform itself and rebuild its economy? Probably.

I have no idea what Fintan O’Toole’s solution for Greece actually is. He never seems interested in providing it,

Six months ago he told us that at this “moment of truth” Ireland should “stand with Syriza”. Does he still stand with it today? – Yours, etc,

ERIC BYRNE TD

Dáil Éireann, Dublin 2.