Analysis

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Irish MEPs' outburst smacks of Euro-loving self-deception

Published 20/06/2008|00:00

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In her next defence of Europe, will Avril Doyle remind the UKIP of 1798? Will Brian Crowley lecture them on Terence MacSwiney?

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Do you know, I never, ever thought for a single second in the merry whirligig that has been my journalistic career that I would find myself writing repeatedly about the European Parliament, and moreover, not merely without compulsion, but even loving it! It's a funny old world. Actually, it's a funny old Euro-world.

The truly wonderful thing about professional Europhiles is that they do not register what they're actually saying; nor do they possess any sense of the ridiculous, which of course enables them to say what they say. In their cosmos, wherein all argument must lead down the one path to Rome (or in this case, Lisbon), they permit no counter-argument, also known to European history as "heresy".

On Wednesday, members of the UK Independence Party in the European Parliament donned green t-shirts to congratulate the electorate of Ireland for voting 'No' to Lisbon. Avril Doyle MEP, quivering with indignation, promptly denounced UKIP as a motley collection of Britons. Did she actually hear herself when she thricefold sneered at the national origins of UKIP?

Did she understand the import of her observation about how different Irish history would have been if the British had respected the Irish? And then of course, Brian Crowley threw in his three ha'pworth by declaring that the UKIP were insulting the Irish flag by wearing green.

There we have it. The default position taken by Irish MEPs supporting the Lisbon Treaty, when confronted by British opponents, wasn't to resort to some non-national, multi-ethnic, single, undivided, pan-Europeanism. No, indeed not. Instead, they reverted to a wrap-the-green-flag-around-me, Brit-bashing, self-pitying, lip-quivering hibernianism. Because, you see, this term "European" apparently only applies to Europeans whom Europhiles approve of: however, if they're dissenting Europeans, why, they're not Europeans at all, but from the country of their birth, and are therefore responsible for all its sins. And not merely are they therefore not European, but their accusers (for the moment anyway) cease to be European too, and reverting to their pre-EU national identity, may freely indulge in pre-EU national stereotyping.

So, in her next defence of Europe, if the boys in green turn out to be red, white and blue underneath, are we going to hear Avril Doyle remind UKIP of the "British" atrocities in Wexford in 1798? Is Brian Crowley going to tell everyone about Tomas MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney? Perhaps they could sing a denunciatory duet about UKIP's part in the Famine or as Black and Tans, though offering a reassurance to Europhile British MEPs that they're all right, because they are good Europeans. And good Europeans believe in the purifying grace that comes from Europhilia, a virtue which applies to all fellow-Europeans, provided they are not Eurosceptics -- for whom no term of abuse is unacceptable. Because, if the Eurosceptics triumph, then we are bound to have another Auschwitz!

Ah yes, Auschwitz, the Calvary of this new religion of Europhilism. The avoidance of more such extermination-camps is a prime theological justification for the EU.

Yet few people -- even the most depraved Eurosceptics -- would assent to the notion that massacres are good things: for we all have our particular horrors to commemorate -- Cromwell at Drogheda, the Sicilian Vespers or the St Bartholomew Day Massacres. And all of these slaughters were considered virtuous by their perpetrators, for they were done in the name of a unifying religion, rather like Europhilism.

However, it is logic and history at their most debased to say that without a united Europe, we will have another Auschwitz: because the Holocaust occurred when, thanks to Mr Hitler, Europe was actually united -- and the Eurosceptics of that time are today hailed as Resistance heroes. Yes, I know it's not like with like, but once you start playing the Auschwitz card, that's what you get.

As it happens, the new creed of Europhilism didn't even make it through The Last Supper of Lisbon without Irish MEPs reaching for the dessert of nationalist sour grapes and draining the bitter dregs of historical grievance. So maybe, the next time the UKIP hurts their lickle-ickle sensibilities, our MEPs should storm out of the European Parliament, bravely bawling 'Kevin Barry', and 'A Nation Once Again'. Because, unlike the poisonously jingoistic UKIP, they're such very good and tolerant Europeans: Up The Republic!

Listen. This kind of fissiparous, self-pitying, exceptionalism knows no bounds. Once one particular Euro-tribe uses a Euro-forum to remind everyone of the injustices it has endured, then the queue for the grievance-podium begins. Ask the component parts of former Yugoslavia. Ask any European state with a contested boundary or bloody history -- and there are lots. For look! Here come the Germans of Schleswig-Holstein, waving their banners saying that they too are good Europeans, just like the Irish, but the Danes were beastly to them in the 1880s -- can they please be governed from Berlin? Mama Mia! Similar echoes from the Germans of Alsace Lorraine about the French? Gott in Himmel! Likewise from the Tyrol? Mon Dieu! And sooner or later, what self-pitying noises will we hear, once again, from the drumlins of Tyrone and the Fews of South Armagh?

kmyers@independent.ie

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