IT might be thought that the people who gave us "Frankfurt's way or Labour's way", and "Not another cent for Anglo", would have noticed the French presidential election. Apparently not.
Here we are with the referendum campaign getting into what passes for top gear and the favourite to win in France -- socialist Francois Hollande -- is saying in so many words: "Berlin's way or Paris's way."
To state baldly, as he did, that he will not ratify the fiscal compact as written, is every bit as dramatic as Eamon Gilmore's challenge. The difference is that such words can mean something from the leader of France, whereas they mean nothing at all from the leader of the Irish Labour Party.
That is, if they mean anything. The question buzzing around the chancelleries of Europe is whether Monsieur Hollande is just electioneering, or whether he really does intend trying to change the economic policy stance of the eurozone.
Ah, how it takes me back. Way back to when another President Francois -- Monsieur Mitterand -- decided to go for a "dash for growth" in 1981. Such dashes were all the rage then (we had our own in 1977) but the debt tended to dash even faster than the growth, and widespread selling of the franc forced Monsieur Mitterand into a humiliating retreat.
I have had the impression many times since those days, that part of French thinking about the euro was that it would free governments from the tyranny of the markets and allow politicians do what they, and the people who elected them, want.
The complaint is not confined to France: we hear it often at home -- and even in Germany there is rage and bafflement at the ability of bond traders in London and New York to inflict mayhem on carefully crafted plans.
Which also takes me back to the agreement in Dublin Castle (when Ireland had the EU presidency) to launch the euro. Agreement was delayed at the last moment as the French thought the rules were too deflationary -- too Germanic.
All they got in the end was the word 'Growth' put into 'Stability Pact'. The difference speaks volumes about contrasting attitudes in Berlin/ Frankfurt and Paris, but there was nothing actually about promoting growth in the rules, as finally drafted. France never took them too seriously -- and worse, Germany was unable to keep to them in the early years.
Europe could feel pretty pleased with itself when the common currency began in 1999; now it faces what could easily be a terminal crisis. This is very much Round Two, with even stricter rules, backed by force of law in the fiscal treaty -- and again, nothing much about growth. The arguments are much the same, but the conditions are very different.
Yet it looks as if Monsieur Hollande is pushing an open door, and all will be well if he does not try actually to kick it down. ECB president Mario Draghi has spoken of the need for growth as well as fiscal correction; the EU Commission is reported to be considering plans to let countries in good shape run larger deficits than allowed under the existing rules.
And here comes Frau Merkel herself, saying on Wednesday that she sees the need for growth, provided it is not pursued by borrowing more money. Who could disagree, especially since Germany is the country best placed to grow faster -- not by borrowing more, but by saving less?
The fall of the Dutch government has put the frighteners on everyone. But such talk may be a premature version of what was meant to wait until the fiscal treaty was ratified by those who decide to do so.
Concessions were not going to be offered to Italy and Spain on things like money supply until fiscal probity and debt reduction had been locked in via the treaty. What a pity then, that our referendum will take place while these shifts are under way, but their impact is still unknown.
As a "programme" country in a bailout, Ireland is subject to different, tougher conditions than the treaty's; enforced, not by law but by money -- the fact that we will not get any if we do not play ball.
That regime will continue until the bailout comes to an end, irrespective of the result of any referendum vote. A key consideration is whether a 'No' vote would prolong the bailout and its penal regime. But key considerations are likely to get lost in the new fog of uncertainty.
It is clearly more difficult to argue for a 'Yes' vote if the president of France is saying the treaty is not good enough for him. It might be much less difficult if, in a few months' time, it is officially a Fiscal Stability and Growth Pact.
There are big risks for the Government in postponing the referendum, but the risks of holding it just got bigger.