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Saturday 10 December 2016

Enda relives how past statesmen made their mark -- as he hints at making his

Published 01/12/2011 | 05:00

Hands were clutched to hearts all over Leinster House yesterday morning. The Taoiseach, it was announced, was off up the town to unveil the Treaty.

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Well, now. While we've sort of got our heads around the loss of our economic sovereignty, surely the rest of our democratic rights weren't in such flitters? Was it possible that Enda was going to unveil Lisbon III in all its ghastly glory, without a by-your-leave from the rest of us?

But -- phew -- it transpired that he was making a trip to the National Archives where the original copy of the Anglo-Irish Treaty signed in Downing Street in 1921 was being put on display for the first time to mark a new Treaty online exhibition.

The Taoiseach spent plenty of time poring over the famous signatories, the bold flourishes of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith and the hasty scrawl of David Lloyd George.

But for Enda, the immediate future looks grim -- next week brings two Budgets and a trudge to Brussels for an EU summit where Angela the German Grinch will probably endeavour to steal Christmas for once and for all.

No wonder the Taoiseach wanted to wallow in the past for a wee while. But even in the interesting surrounds of the National Archives, the parallels between past and present were inescapable, and the prospect of having to capitulate to holding a third referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was the elephant in the room.

Even the calendar conspired to draw links between all sorts of important documents. During his speech, the Taoiseach pointed out that the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on December 6, 1921. "Think of that. And think of next Tuesday, the sixth of December when another crucial document is going to be launched," he mused.

But it was also clear that Enda feared the formidable political forefathers would be less than impressed with the serious recent backsliding of the Republic.

"When we think that having achieved a remarkable degree of independence, 90 years on, the leader of the country is trying to retrieve our economic independence from forces that were never thought of when this Treaty was signed," he told the crowded room of historians, academics and The Big Fella's two grand-nieces, former Justice Minister Nora Owen and her sister, former MEP Mary Banotti.

However, standing over the glass case containing the Treaty, the Taoiseach returned to the perilous waters in which the country finds itself, as the global economic storm gathers strength once more.

"I draw consolation and courage from what's in front of us here as we face a future that in its own way is even more uncertain and more difficult than any that has been faced since the foundation of our State," he concluded cheerily.

Afterwards, fired up by the fierce ghosts of Collins and Griffith, he got all scrappy about the pressing need for a bit of decent leadership among the political poobahs of the EU.

"I hope that the deliberations over the next week will lead to a point where there will be clarity and decisiveness about this," he said.

"The facilities that exist within the existing treaties at the disposal of the eurozone leaders must be used now to deal with this crisis," he added, digging in his heels over the fraught issue of Lisbon III.

It's all very well for the Taoiseach to be gung-ho -- earlier in the Dail yesterday he declared he was going to kick ass and take names at next week's EU Summit: "I have very clear views on what needs to be done politically and I will not be afraid to express them on behalf of this country when I attend the Council meeting." But what real influence can he wield over the intransigent likes of Nicolas and Angela?

For if the euro is the Titanic, then the French and German leaders are the clueless crew of the nearby RMS Carpathia who mistook the sinking ship's distress flares for jolly fireworks.

Enda knows there are icebergs ahead. All too easily the euro, like the Anglo-Irish Treaty, could be history.

Irish Independent

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