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From: Irish Political Review: Editorials
Date: January, 2012
By: Jack Lane

The European Union vs. The Euro-Zone! Has Micheál Martin Lost The Plot?

All politicians across Europe will remember where they were on 9th December 2011.  Enda Kenny was sitting next to David Cameron and left the EU Council meeting with him. But he had to jump, and he jumped in the opposite direction to Cameron—though there is no doubt went against his instincts.  With an agreed and determined Franco-German position, he had little choice, which is just as well. Irish Taoisigh in recent years have got themselves into a mindset where hard choices need never be made as regards Europe. But Kenny has had to make his bed and if there is to be a referendum he is committed to the Euro whether he likes it not. 

What then of Fianna Fail?  It is necessary to consider the position of that party, as it could be critical to getting a referendum passed. The omens so far are not good.

Martin made clear where he was on the  9th of December and he was quick out off the mark in opposition:

"Martin urges Government to reject Franco-German calls. Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin has urged the Government to reject the Franco-German proposals to tackle the Eurozone debt crisis. As Taoiseach Enda Kenny continues negotiations at the crucial EU summit in Brussels today, Mr Martin said the Franco-German plan was flawed. 'Too high a price is being asked for action which will not solve Europe's problems', he said" (Irish Examiner, 9 Dec. 2011).

He elaborated on this over the weekend that followed, making it clear this was no knee-jerk reaction. 

"In a detailed written response to the summit, Mr Martin argued the deal had failed to deal with the underlying causes of the sovereign debt crisis....

"Fianna Fail Leader Micheál Martin said the rift opened with Britain at the European summit last week could seriously threaten the survival of the European Union itself. Mr Martin also said that the outcome of negotiations on Thursday night and Friday represented almost the 'worst-case scenario' for Ireland. If the euro is to be saved, he added, it was not on the basis of anything agreed last Friday" (Irish Times, 12 December).

That seems clear enough and, if he is consistent, he will be opposed to the implementation of anything agreed at the summit in a referendum.  Why?  He went on: 

"'The split it has caused may lead to another crisis, this time impacting on the future of the union itself rather than just the euro. The result is close to a worst-case scenario for Ireland as the Government's negotiating tactics having been flawed from the start', he asserted. The reason for calling the summit, said the Fianna Fáil leader, was to find a final and decisive answer to the sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone. That should have resulted in an all-encompassing agreement and an adequate firewall to prevent contagion." (ibid.)

There is undoubtedly a conflict between the EU and the securing of the Euro. It is plain for some time that this is the case. The EU institutions have been too incoherent to deal with the crux. Three years is long enough to have proven that conclusively.  Because of that, an inter-Governmental solution is the only feasible way to do so. As Micheál Martin was Minister for Foreign Affairs in the last Government, less than a year ago,  he must surely have come to appreciate this?  He is now proposing the preservation of a political  skeleton—the EU—in place of a  real plan to secure the Euro and thus achieve a real piece of  European integration.  Real because it is not for the usual high faluting mantras so beloved of our EUophiles. This is for something clear and specific that concerns every single person—the securing of their currency.  

Mr. Martin is not dealing with the real world if he maintains his present position.  Worse than that, it means that he and Fianna Fail  will not be at the party, will not be involved in the new development which the crisis is forcing into existence.  For Fianna Fail, as for all of us, it should be goodbye, EU, Hello to the new Europe!  Moreover, it could also  be goodbye to Fianna Fail forever if its leader takes his present position to its logical conclusion.  The party could become another hulk, like the EU institutions hanging around being a nuisance to all concerned.

There is likely to be an even clearer break with the EU institutions very soon. Het Financieele Dagblad, a Dutch finance daily, reported recently that France and Germany are considering giving the new supervisory powers over national budgets, which will be created by the new Treaty, to the ESM (European Stability Mechanism), the Euro-zone's bailout fund, rather than to the European Commission.  Since the ESM is mostly an inter-Governmental institution, it would  decisively shift the balance away from the use of formal EU institutions in the new Treaty.  This is a  logical continuation of the tendency that has arisen since the demise of the Commission that was put firmly on the agenda by Pat Cox over a decade ago, with the success he and the European Liberals had in undermining the authority of the Commission.

Martin has spent so much time in public relations chatter, that he does not seem to have seen the wood for the trees in recent EU developments.  The EU is dead and he seems to have missed the funeral—which is unusual for him. And now he is trying to resurrect its ghost. He has lost the plot.  His position is about as impressive as his preference for Gaybo as President.

As regards an  "adequate firewall" to defend the Single Currency from the predatory attacks of globalist markets, led by the City of London:  it  is being created as a result of the determination  of Germany and France to do whatever is necessary to protect the Euro. Martin seems to assume that the  only  "firewall"  must be one of a deluge of money in order to secure the Euro currency. He goes for the simple demagogic option of the European Central Bank simply printing money.  This is the policy which is advocated strongly in London.  But a currency is built on politics not money. The financial firewall would follow if the political firewall is built.  The ECB, quite rightly, is not going to pour money into a political black hole. When the ECB, following the clear political message from the Franco-German alliance that it was serious, made €469 Billion available to banks on 21st December, I did not detect a whoop of joy from Martin.  On the contrary, he was still pining for a link with Britain.  He complained that leaders had "steamrolled" through "a solution for up to 26 member states but without thinking how issues would be handled in the absence of Britain at the table" (ibid.).

So 26 to 1 is steamrolling, an overwhelmingly majority of over 96% is suddenly suspect, when less that 4% decides to opt out! 

This is ironic coming from the man who ran the campaign to change the referendum decision on the Lisbon Treaty.  I am sure if he had won that by one vote, he would have been satisfied and would have declared it the clearest result there could be.  Suddenly, overwhelmingly democratic decisions are belittled. I suppose the 1918 Election result could be described as "steamrolling" the British Empire of the day. 

Martin seems to assume that the majority of EU Member States are complete idiots and did not think about  the consequences of what they were doing despite the long-heralded problem with Britain about the Euro—and many other issues. Their actions since belie any indication that the proponents of the new policy did not know what they were doing.

"According to Mr Martin, if the agreement was looked at from an Irish perspective, the absence of Britain from key discussions and regulations represented 'a huge threat to our long-term economic prospects. They are both our largest trading partner and our biggest competitor. The tens of thousands of jobs dependent on the financial services sector are only part of the areas for concern'." (ibid.).

This is pathetic. Britain will always want a trading relationship—no more and no less—which is what they always wanted with Europe. Trade will continue. He cannot seriously be suggesting that Ireland should be so concerned about its 'financial services' competing with those of the City of London's that the future of the Euro should be compromised?  These are the 'services' which gave rise to the banking crisis in the first place. Those profiting by them would have included their mothers in credit default swaps if it helped their 'services' profit!

If Mr. Martin has any doubt about this, or has forgotten it, he should note the view of the current Business Minister in the British Cabinet, Vince Cable of the LibDems.  He told the Andrew Marr show on the BBC on 18th December:  "Our big banks were at the very centre of the financial crisis, what the Europeans call Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism. It needs reform." He elaborated later, "we need to put the whingeing of the City to one side and concentrate on delivering our core narrative, to achieve growth by rebalancing the UK economy" (Dec. 20th). Cable sees the need to put the interest of business before these 'financial services' of the City and here we have an Irish Party leader who seems prepared to do the opposite by using their concerns to stymie a plan to secure the future of the Euro.

As was to be expected, the breakdown caused by the British veto was not welcomed by the Irish Times.  It was more loosening of the links with Britain, which they classified as "A disappointing day's work" (10 Dec) in a sad little editorial. But a few days later they had come to terms with it in a more realistic way than Martin had. The more he thought about it, the worse he got whereas the Irish Times got better!  It wrote editorially:

"From an Irish perspective, fears of loss of business to the City have been overplayed…  But if the UK is marginalising itself in the EU, a renewed emphasis on the bilateral relationship will be important. In the end, however, Ireland's place, though once defined on the world stage by our relationship with our neighbour, is now in Europe.  Britain's casting off of the lines to the mainland and drift into the mid-Atlantic does not change that reality" (Editorial, 13 December 2011).

It is an extraordinary development that we have a Fianna Fail leader who cannot say anything like that. A leader who is more concerned with pandering to the alleged needs of 'financial services' than establishing a positive relationship with the Europe that is now emerging. What a turn up for the books!

The Irish Times was part of, and is heir to, the Anglo-Irish element in Ireland and one quality they developed was an antenna to detect how the political wind was blowing from Whitehall and how to attune itself to it. Now they detect that the wind to be attuned to is coming from Berlin and Europe. Their survival instinct in this regard has not deserted them and it may prove stronger than that of Fianna Fail's!


The European Union vs. The Eurozone.  
Has Micheál Martin Lost The Plot?   Jack Lane
The Coalition's First Budget.  John Martin
ECB Acts As Political Europe Consolidates.  Philip O'Connor (report of letter)
Thoughts On Northern Ireland.  Wilson John Haire  (review)
Priory Hall And The Irish News.  Report
Shorts from the Long Fellow (Promissory Notes;  An Embarrassing Climbdown?;
Solvency And Liquidity;  Nonsense;  Fianna Fáil;  The Budget)
Items From The Irish Bulletin.  1919:  Part 6
Es Ahora.  Julianne Herlihy  (History And Irish Academia;  John A. Murphy;
Elma Collins)
The Dunmanway Killings, curiouser and curiouser.  Jack Lane
William Sheehan And Britain's Militarism.  Brendan Clifford
Biteback:  Gallipoli, Two German Officers And The Fog Of Military
History.  Donal Kennedy  (unpublished letter)
Does It Stack Up?  Michael Stack (More Semi-State Bodies;  Cost Of Dying;
Household Charge;  Secret Service;  Documentary Of 2010)
It's Not Sufficient To Be Sour.  Desmond Fennell
St. Fintan's Widgery Hit By Well-Deserved Belt Of A Crozier.  
Manus O'Riordan
Naval Warfare.  Pat Walsh  (part 17)
Index To Irish Political Review, 2011. 
Antiquum Documentum.  Ruairî Ó Domhnaill
Inside The Spider's Parlour.  Wilson John Haire
Communist Comment: Mondragon III.